This post is about my most recent doctor’s appointment and an update on my health.
I went to my doctor’s office today to follow up on some blood work. Earlier this year, they discovered that I had a HUGE vitamin D deficiency. (As in: “normal” is somewhere around 100 or so, and I was at 6.)
Today, I’m somewhere around 80 or so. Still not great, but better. This improvement is due to months worth of prescription strength vitamin D (that are so strong they are taken once a week). The pharmacy gives me 4 of them at a time, and I’ve got 1 left from my current prescription. My doctor gave me one more refill, and then I switch to over-the-counter- vitamin D.
Oddly enough, the type of vitamin D I’m supposed to look for is Vitamin D 3. This amuses me, because my favorite video game, Diablo III, is called “D3″. So, maybe I’ll actually remember what kind to buy.
This changes the pattern. Previously, I would see the doctor, and get assigned to go to the lab for blood work one week before my next appointment with the doctor. That next appointment would be in three months from the previous one. This is how we tracked the vitamin D deficiency.
In short: When I first started seeing this doctor, my vitamin D was so low that I scared the hell out of her. So, we worked on fixing that – because it was possible. My allergies on the other hand… as my doctor put it “Yeah… you’re just stuck with that.”
Right now, I’m exhausted from dealing with the current pollen season. I survived the Spring pollen earlier this year, but it pretty much took three months out of my life. I was waking up with eye pain almost every day. It felt like someone was literally poking my eyes with a sharp stick.
It turned out that is what happens when my allergies get so bad that the sinus pressure in my head expands to behind my eyes. I learned what medicine to take when that happens, and then to wait for the pain to subside. This typically causes me to be exhausted, and I fall back asleep (for hours).
I also became nocturnal so I could avoid being conscious after the sun came up and the pollen started spewing. This only works so well, because I have to be functional during the day sometimes – to get groceries, and go to doctor’s and acupuncture appt. – which are only available during the day.
So, now that we are in Fall allergy season, I was a bit more prepared. But, I’m still hopelessly exhausted. Today, my doctor talked me into trying Flonase, which is a steroid medication that you spray up into your nose. I’ve been avoiding it, because ewwww.
One of my friends uses it and highly recommends it. My doctor noticed how sick I was at her office (pollen count was high today). My doctor suggested it would help on days “when you’re really draggin’ ass”. She said I can use it and my Zyrtec and Benadryl without complications. She said take the Flonase first, and then the rest as needed. I’m going to give it a try. Never thought I’d be agreeing to try Flonase, but my allergies have gotten so bad this year I don’t know what else to do.
Part of the problem with allergies is that it causes inflammation as my body tries to fight off substances that most humans can easily tolerate. That inflammation is one of the things that makes my joints stiffen, swell, ache, or hurt.
My doctor has been, for months, trying to find time to talk to a rheumatologist about my aching, swelling, stiff joints. Today, she told me that she finally managed to talk to him about me and all my ailments.
Previously, we had me do blood work to see if I had the rheumatoid arthritis that runs in my family. The test came back negative. Great…. sort of. If it wasn’t that… what the hell was causing the joint problems?
Anyway, my doctor talked with the rheumatologist, and he will see me. She is going to refer me to him. My insurance is Medicaid, and my doctor is my primary, so she has to refer me to a specialist in order to have the insurance cover it. So, that’s what we did.
Now, this is progress for a couple of reasons. One, the rheumatologist must think that he can help me, or that I have some kind of arthritis, or something. If not, why would he bother to see me? It’s nice to have this small amount of confirmation that my joint problems aren’t all in my head.
Two, I going to actually get to see a specialist. I’ve read a lot of spoonie blogs, and understand that the journey from “hey doctor, something’s wrong” to “hello, specialist, what can you do for me?” can take years. This took less than a year.
Why? Part of it is because I’m stubborn, and I do a ton of research before I see my doctor(s). The other part is I’m past 40, and doctors tend to take you more seriously then. (It removes all the bullshit about “you’re too young to have that.”) The other reason is that my doctor is awesome, and she and I work really well together. The best kind of doctors are the ones who see themselves and their patient as being on the same team.
So, now I wait for the rheumatologist to call me and give me an appointment. He is going to come to the same building that my doctor is in, which is nice, because it is in town.
Before he can see me, I needed to do some blood work. The lab is in the same building a my doctor’s office, so I just went down the hall to do it. They are testing my blood for HCV (?) or “Hep C”.
That might sound odd, but I looked it up online. It appears the first step to figuring out joint pain/arthritis stuff is to have that test done to confirm or deny if a patient has “Hep C”. If they have it – there’s treatment (medication). If they don’t, then the rheumatologist can move on to the next step in diagnosis. I learned from the internet that so many people have “Hep C”, and don’t know it, that they go ahead and test everyone before they see a rheumatologist. One of the symptoms of “Hep C” just so happens to be…. joint pain.
Today, I learned that if I have to have blood taken for lab work, I WILL fall asleep after I get home – for hours. Why? Oh, it’s this little thing I have called borderline anemia. Remove blood – upset the balance – and I crash. I spent most of today either at the doctor’s office or asleep.
The good news is maybe the Flonase will help me live through the current allergy season. The best news is I’m finally going to see a specialist about my joint pain / swelling / stiffening.