Tuesday, July 13, 2010

At Least *This* Isn't A Mystery!

It's been a rough few weeks, complicated by a weeklong visit from my parents that started the day after I spent a chunk of the night in the emergency room last night. 

It's great for Ellie to get to spend time with her grandparents, of course, but disruption of our routine is always complicated, and with my having severe new symptoms, it was not as easy a visit as any of us would have liked.

I've had several more of those weird episodes, thankfully none quite as severe as the one that had me writhing in pain and moaning like a ghost. 

Last week, I had a follow-up appointment scheduled with my gastroenterologist, which was wonderful timing because I'd realized, with the help of some friends on Facebook, that it was likely my gallbladder causing these episodes. 

I hate my GI doc's assistant, although it probably isn't her fault that I couldn't get scheduled for an ultrasound and bloodwork over the Fourth of July weekend. I saw him the Tuesday after the holiday weekend, and managed to get into an ultrasound appointment two days later. 

Although the tech was a real stickler for most of the rules, he took pity on me at the end when I asked if he'd seen anything that could explain my symptoms. I was hoping for a yes/no answer, not expecting even that much, and was delighted when he responded with a grimace, "It's probably your gallbladder."

Of course, an ultrasound tech doesn't make official diagnoses, so I had to wait over the weekend to get a call from my GI doc's office confirming that I have gallstones "and a really sick-looking gallbladder that needs to come out." (I failed to ask what a "sick-looking gallbladder" looked like.)

So, now I'm awaiting referral to a surgeon, and then will probably have to wait for an office appointment, and then wait for an OR appointment. I'm crossing my fingers that it will be taken care of before the end of summer, and hoping that's not an unrealistic goal. 

I was a little surprised that my GI doc doesn't make the referral himself. His office referred me back to my primary care doc (who's in Hawaii all month). I'm hoping to hear from her in the next couple days, or from her assistant, who I spoke to on Monday and promised to discuss it with my internist on their daily phone call. 

Meanwhile, my acupuncturist is doing her best to calm my gallbladder down, and I'm using my pain meds when necessary. 

I find it a little funny that I essentially diagnosed myself (with a little help from my friends, of course), because when I google gallstones and gallbladder disease, my symptoms were fairly classic for it and I fit the profile. I guess, however, that those symptoms are vague enough to fit way too many other health problems, including heart attacks and panic attacks. 

I am thinking of writing a perfectly polite letter to the ER doc and telling him what it ended up being, although I know it's unlikely he'll have any clue who I was because he has undoubtedly seen hundreds of patients since seeing me on June 16.

Meanwhile, I'm sorry for disappearing from the blog without notice. It has felt like a lot to deal with on top of everything else. I'm grateful to have this mystery, at least, solved, and that it's something that should be fairly easy to get rid of (and hopefully not have any further repercussions for me). 


Anonymous said...

When I had gallstones I didn't have as much pain as you did. I experienced nausea that was room spinning. The stones were discovered after an ultasound. I hope you can get the surgery done quickly to end this misery.

Queen of Optimism said...

I think you should write a letter to that ER doc. If we don't tell the docs of their mistakes, they may never think to think twice.

I'm not sure how involved gallbladder surgery is, but I'm hoping for a speedy appointment scheduling and speedy recovery. I, of course, have no real idea why the referral goes back to your PCP, but I do not that a lot of surgery centers are now separate businesses from hospitals even if located within one. BIG business.

Glad you made the best of the time with your parents and that you have some answers in moving forward. It's always better than the blank stares or the "I'll call you" statements that never result in a return call!

Much love. xoxoxoxoxoxo

Aviva said...

Thanks, ladies!

So the ironic thing is I'm no longer convinced that the ER visit was related to what I have going on with my gallbladder.

After the 6-16 episode, I had a number of other weird episodes but they had a clear starting point in the upper left quadrant, and then the pain radiated up the sternum and around the back on the right side. Those are classic gallbladder symptoms and how/why I self-diagnosed gallstones. But those episodes were never as startling out of the blue nor as off the charts painful. I thought that was because the gallbladder was already calming itself down or the gallstone that was stuck got itself loose or something.

So today, shortly before Ellie and Scott got home from camp/work, I had another episode like the 6-16 one. It was crazy high pain levels that kicked in between my putting my laptop on the floor and standing/walking to go to the bathroom. What stood out for me again was the armpit pain and the way it all wrapped around my entire torso, not just the right side. I went to get pain meds, which we have in an upper cabinet in the kitchen, and I could only reach my arms up so my elbows were level with my shoulders.

Crazy, crazy, crazy. Thank goodness Scott got home, got me pain meds (which I took a full/double dose of) and two ginormous icepacks from the freezer, which actually seemed to do the most good. One behind me, one clutched to my chest, and it really really helped. (I'm one of those people who gets more pain relief from ice than heat.)

It was a shorter episode than the first (about 45 minutes instead of 90), and I didn't go to the ER this time. But so scary-weird to me.

I see the rheumy that I keep thinking about replacing tomorrow. I guess I'll see what he says.

My fear that I'm almost afraid to type out in case it makes it true? That it's an MS hug, which I've read personal descriptions of now that really match these experiences. I don't have any brain lesions, but as I understand it, the "hug" is caused by spinal lesions, which I haven't had checked yet. Another reason why I desperately need to find a decent neurologist here or go somewhere else in search of a diagnosis. :-/

Oh, and Q, I will write that letter to the ER doc. Not so much because I think he made a mistake, exactly, but because I think he should have ordered additional testing that might have at least determined my gallbladder problem even if that turns out not to be the cause of the really bad episodes.

Mo: Ugh -- I'm glad I haven't had that kind of nausea you suffered with! Now that I've got consults set up with two surgeons, I'm expecting to have the procedure within the next few weeks. My goal is to be recovered from it and back to my "normal" before school starts Sept. 1. Think good thoughts for me that I can have the procedure done laparascopically, which has the much faster recovery!! :-)