Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tests, Tests, and more Tests

I don’t like going to the doctor, when new symptoms appear. Don’t get me wrong, my GP, nurse and Rheumatologist are all lovely, and I am so thankful to live somewhere where I do have the option to go to the doctor when I need to; I just dislike the process that follows once something new happens. Because these diseases can present in such a range of ways, basically anything that happens could be down to one of them. It also could be down to a range of other diseases or infections, some of which could be serious if left untreated. So we go through the process of running tests, and usually one of two things happens:

  1. The tests all come back normal, and the symptoms get put down to one of the diseases I’ve already been diagnosed with, or 
  2. The tests don’t come back normal, the results are abnormal but in some non-specific way that doesn’t point to anything clear-cut… and the symptoms and test results get put down to one of the diseases I’ve already been diagnosed with.
It’s often tempting to not go in to see the doctor in the first place. In fact, I do tend to sit on symptoms for quite a while, before finally dragging myself off to an appointment when it becomes painfully obvious they aren’t going away. The problem is, the times I have decided things are just down to one of my autoimmune diseases, and not gone in at all, those have been the times it actually was an infection or something new that really did need to be dealt with.
The week before last, I had the MRI I wrote about a few months ago. As I was filling out the forms, ready to go to the appointment, my dad reminded me that a number of years ago when I had to have an MRI I developed sudden claustrophobia, panicked and had to be pulled out. Fortunately this time I didn’t panic, and the whole process was a lot less traumatic than I thought it was going to be. Really the only problem was that after lying completely still for so long, my joints all locked up so that once I was allowed to move again, I couldn’t. My blood pressure did also crash when I stood up, but judging by how quickly the radiographers picked up the signs that I was about to flake out, I’m not the first patient that has happened to!
I haven’t had the results back from it yet, but I’m taking that as a good sign, as I’m sure they would have been in touch pretty quickly if there was something wrong. 
The other thing that’s been happening lately is that I’ve been having some irregular heart rhythms, one episode in particular of which was quite unpleasant. This afternoon I'm having an ECG, to check on that, and last week I had some extra blood tests done along with my monthly labs. The process was complicated somewhat by the fact that my severe latex allergy meant the blood test nurse couldn't wear gloves, but her severe alcohol swap allergy meant she couldn't take blood my blood without them. The ridiculousness of that situation caused some confusion, but in the end she did manage to find a single nitrate glove, and completed the test. After fifteen years of regular blood tests, the vein in my arm is a tad scared and the blood tests, which used to be painless, have started to hurt quite a bit. The regular tests are to check inflammation levels, liver function, blood counts, and electrolytes. While these have all been out, on and off, for the past few years, my GP said they’ve all be normal since the beginning of March, so I may be able drop back to having them 3 monthly instead if my rheumy agrees, which would be fantastic for my poor wee vein.   
That should be the last of the tests for a while, then it’s just Hungry, Hungry Hippos until the results come back. Perhaps it’s just because I’ve been reading Eric Hill’s lift-the-flap Spot books to my nephew lately, but the whole thing has started to feel a little bit like a game of hide-and-seek.
        Is something wrong in your brain? No, keep looking Spot! 
        Is something wrong in your blood? No, keep looking Spot!
        Is something wrong in your heart…?
If nothing else, maybe it’ll inspire my next picture book.
Thanks for reading,
Little Miss Autoimmune

UPDATE: After posting this this morning, it turned out the doctor was able to review my ECG and give me the results pretty quickly after the appointment, so no Hungry, Hungry Hippos/waiting game on that one. It was normal, so no obvious problems there. Yay! 

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