Wednesday, August 23, 2017

After many years, my health issues diagnosed and treated

     Friends and followers know that for some years now, I have been plagued by health issues that have remained undiagnosed  and therefore untreated health issues. These issues started possibly as fare back as fall of 2009, when an undiagnosed illness caused me to be incapacitated by headache and fatigue for six weeks. Following that, I developed intolerance to gluten, a nut allergy, and increased issues with dairy. By spring of 2011, I was suffering from severe constipation, debilitating abdominal pain, periods that left me doubled over and anemic, and an increasing number of foods that seemed to aggravate my abdominal pain, sleep patterns, candida, and arthritis of the hands and wrists. In 2014, I pulled my IT band running, causing another source of pain and debility that I had trouble getting treated.

     In the past 6 years, I could not even tell how much time and money I have spent at doctor's offices, or the total number of specialists I've seen. I have had multiple CAT scans,ultrasounds,  fecal occult tests, X-rays, nerve conduction tests, a colonoscopy, and more complete blood panels than I can count. With the exception of ultrasound showing that I have adenomyosis, which was treated by endometrial ablation. Let me take a moment to say, enthusiastically and without reservation- of you menstruate and kids are not in your future, look into an ablation. It's one of the best choices I've ever made. It changed my life greatly, and I believe I would not be able to work on a daily basis now if I hadn't had it.

     On my quest for diagnosis and treatment, I found myself switching doctors several times, as it took those changes to find the help I needed. Early in the process, I asked my then primary care provider if an endoscopy could help find the problem. She replied that my pain was "too low", and it would be years before I got one. One doctor I saw said that the pain in my leg (from hip to foot) wasn't due to injury, but due to "anxiety", which she based upon the fact that my teeth were gritted and my shoulders hunched. She offered anxiety medication instead of the physical therapy I was seeking. Another doctor, a rheumatologist, asked if the pain caused me to miss work and when I said no, told me to come back "when you're disabled". I gave up for a while after that, with my only medical help coming from chiropractors and from Alleve.

     This spring, the combination of IT band pain/debility and the abdominal pain sent me searching for a new doctor. A friend recommended one, and while that doctor had no openings, another doctor in her practice did. I set up an appointment,and she immediately diagnosed me with trochanteric bursitis and set up physical therapy. We set up a follow up after the school year to deal with the GI issues, though I would finds myself dealing with them long before that.

     Over the spring, my GI pain had been getting worse and worse. I took painkillers, I watched what I ate, I used a heating pad and a TENS unit; nevertheless, I ended up back in the doctor's office at the beginning of June. The doctor who was in suspected diverticulitis,and ordered a CT scan. I went in for that in the morning, but by afternoon was vomiting bile, and my husband took me to the ER. The ER doctor told me I had diverticulitis, an ovarian cyst, and what looked like a gastric ulcer.I was given heavy duty antibiotics, morphine, and sent home. He noted that if they can see an ulcer on a CT scan, it's large and has been developing for a while. I was given antibiotics, and a referral to a GI doctor (this would be my third).

     Without sharing every detail, I ended up in the ER two more times, didn't eat or poop for a week, but came out on the other side on the path to healing. I finally have a GI doctor who knows what he's doing. I finally got the endoscopy, which confirmed the ulcer and ruled out anything scarier. It turns out the Alleve I was taking to deal with my many types of pain *caused* the ulcer, which makes me even more upset at the years my pain issues weren't treated.By treating the sources of my pain, I now need to medication for pain. I am on ulcer medication, and in addition I'm on a low FODmap diet, which has made a huge difference in how I feel. How I eat has been such a huge part of my healing that it deserves a separate post. Oh, and I graduated with PT, with much higher flexibility and strength.

     If you have ongoing, undiagnosed medical issues, please keep searching for help, as much as your resources allow. You deserve respectful care from doctors who won't brush you off as hysterical or a drug seeker.


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