I haven’t written in a bit (don’t you love my talent for understatement) because I was on the hamster wheel of medical tests. I almost envy people who have a specific illness – they have a crisis, they get tested and the doctors discover what caused the crisis, they are treated and things return to normal.
I don’t have that kind of luck when it comes to illness. First off, of course, there’s the fibromyalgia – that took them years to even recognize it as an illness and find a name for it. Many (who obviously don’t suffer with it) still doubt it’s existence. It’s probably in my head. More recently it has been a hodge-podge of medical issues. I tried to terminate hormone replacement therapy, only to turn into the living dead. Even though I went back to the estrogen, my body did not go back to working as well as it had prior to the “test.” Suddenly, my energy level was lower than it had been in years (which, if you have fibromyalgia, you know how low that can be!). The doctor suggested that the fibromyalgia might be flaring up but decided to do a few blood tests “just to make sure everything was okay.” Yes, reassure me that my fatigue is normal.
The fatigue wasn’t normal. It was due to iron-deficiency anemia. No wonder I was short-winded and tired. The normal levels for iron should be 11-15. Mine was 4. Okay!! Something we can treat. Take iron supplements and call me in the morning, right? Not completely — we have to find out where the iron went. There are two main causes – internal bleeding (usually the digestive tract) or malabsorption. So back on the wheel – colonoscopy, upper endoscopy, capsule endoscopy (camera pill). All of the results were – you guess it – normal. Bloodwork to check malabsorption – normal. So all that and no explanation for the loss of iron —– I guess someone just left the iron faucet running.
Now I’ve begun having palpitations again. I’ve had them off and on for years, but they are becoming more frequent. The most likely explanation – atrial fibrillation. This is an irregular heart rhythm. It’s the most benign of the arrhythmia’s because it is the upper chambers of the heart that are involved. There are some treatments, mostly for comfort and to prevent clots. It’s the ventricular fibrillation you have to be really worried about. That’s the one that can stop your heart cold.
So now you can imagine where I am — yes, back on the wheel! My doctor did an EKG in his office – normal. Still having palpitations. I walked around for 24 hours with a Holter Monitor. The results: normal. Still flutter and palpitations. Now it’s time for an echocardiogram and stress (which will probably be normal with my track record).
I got the paperwork for these tests in the mail a couple of days ago and read through them quickly. Mostly the same old same old – bring your insurance card and an ID, wear comfortable clothing, have someone drive you . . . . you will be having a echocardiogram at 1:30 followed by a Nuclear Stress Test at 2:00. Nuclear – say what? They’re going to turn me into a radioactive specimen?! I read up on the test on the internet. It gives better pictures but involves an IV, a radioactive tracer medication and physical stress on the heart (either by treadmill or by medication if you can’t exercise). I’m taking bets on the outcome of all this – normal is the odds on favorite!
Today will be a treadmill in and off itself. After the 3 hours of testing, I have to change clothes and head to Woonsocket, RI for a wake. We’ll grab a quick bite to eat on the run and head up to Westboro, MA after we pay our respects. Tonight is my EFM class. I wonder if I’ll be able to stay awake – good thing my husband will be driving me home.
I’ll let you know more about the tests in the next few days. In the meantime, I need to lace up the sneakers and jump on the wheel!