Friday, October 4, 2013

The Appointment

So I saw Dr. S., my pulmonologist, on Tuesday.

I actually missed a class to see her, which I hate doing. (And it's a class with 12 people in it--everyone knew I wasn't there, though at least my program advisor knew I had a valid excuse.) I missed a speaker I wanted to hear.

I was early, which was awesome because I was taken in 10 minutes before my appointment time. She came in to do my exam after I was in a nice, gray-blue gown.

She greeted me with "Hello, stranger," which I thought was awesome (I hadn't seen her in nearly 10 months). She proceeded to tell me how awesome I looked, health-wise. She also complimented me on my hair cut. (How did she remember that I had such long hair the last time I saw her?)

My lungs were clear (as usual), everything else was fine (as usual, and thank God). She sent me off for a breathing test, which she assured me would be fine (as usual), and off I went.

I hate the breathing tests. I don't find them annoying nearly as much as I find them painful. Yeah, that's right. I said painful. They aren't supposed to be. But my chest hurts during and after every, single time. Also, I tend to be more short of breath afterwards.

And then I got in to see her. My breathing test was normal (yay), my diffusion capacity was normal (no surprise, but also yay). But there was this one test that was off.

There's a test they can do that shows the muscle strength of the muscles you use for inhalation and for exhalation. They make you blow (or suck) as hard as you can against resistance. My exhalatory muscles, apparently, were working at 51% capacity.

She told me that it's not an objective test--it relies heavily on the participation of the patient (meaning me). But I DID try, which makes things...interesting.

I don't think this test is used as a diagnostic test so much as it's used for confirmation. But we KNOW I have muscle issues, mostly with repeated movement. (Or at least I do, since no one ever makes you do repeated muscle movements for a strength exam.)

She recommended that I see the neurologist I saw last year again. If she says nothing's changed, she'll do another exercise study to be sure, followed by...nothing.

I hated the neurologist I saw last year. She's an MS specialist, and I went to see her because the neuromuscular diseases clinic wouldn't give me the time of day (apparently she'd had trouble with several other patients and these idiots, so she no longer sends people there). But this doctor wanted nothing to do with me because I (VERY THANKFULLY) don't have MS. She kinda waved me off and left me to hang out there to dry. But she also told me to stop testing my blood sugar so much, because there's obviously no reason to. (Like I said: I hated her.)

I brought up the wrist pain I'd been having for...months. (I've been ignoring it, and it's been getting worse.) She recommended that I see my rheumatologist for that. Yay.

Someone recommended that I see the rheumatologist instead of the neurologist, because he did strength testing, too, and because the neuro is basically useless, and because I have to see Dr. A., anyway. I put in a call to Dr. S. about it, but I missed her call back because I was meeting with my creative writing professor. Now I have to put in another call to her and hope she calls when I have my phone on me (and that my phone decides to ring when she calls).

I made an appt with Dr. A. for November 26th. And I'm to call back every week or so to see if there are cancellations, because I don't want to miss another lecture for that seminar class. (It was either that appt or something at the very end of December).

I went home in a terrible mood. I'd basically been told that there's nothing wrong with my lungs except stress and if I stop seeing doctors, it'll go away. Now, aside from the obvious "that's no way to treat a patient", there's another reason why that bothered me so much.

I've had breathing problems since I was seven. Yes, I had just switched schools, but no, I wasn't terribly stressed. And it only happened when I ran. It got worse as I got older, especially after I had mono when I was ten, and then gradually worse after that.

I know myself. Quite well, actually, since I live inside my own head. I know what shortness of breath feels like, I know what stress feels like, and I know when one is causing the other. I only get shortness of breath when I feel extremely stressed (like when I have two exams and a paper due in the same week). I don't get it when I'm minimally stressed or when I don't feel very stressed.

But also, I started seeing her at a time when I could hardly finish a sentence. That went on for six months. It was the worst "attack" of whateverthehell this is I've ever had. It started when I got bronchitis, it went away after another bout of bronchitis and another course of antibiotics (same antibiotic, same dosage--go figure). Those aren't stress-marked situations, they're health-marked situations. Correct me if I'm wrong, but does that sound like stress to you?

Admittedly, this is the first time I've gotten the stress talk from a doctor who really tried to figure it out first. Usually I get it when doctors have no clue what's going on. She admitted that she doesn't know, but she also spent a year and a half looking.

Maybe it is muscular, after all that. (She got upset when she heard I still have trouble with my arms getting tired when I wash my if cutting it all off would've helped with that. It helped with brushing, since there's very little to brush and no knots, but it didn't help enough with the washing. Admittedly, I didn't know it was that abnormal.) Maybe the muscles around my lungs are weak. There's no real way for me to know. But I do know that on that day, I had trouble with my legs getting tired while doing the stairs. Some days my arms get tired when I get dressed. (No, I'm not kidding.) There are things I don't even notice, because they're so usual for me by now that they're beyond normal. Maybe my other issues are the key to my breathing problems.

I do wonder what my rheum is going to say. My wrist isn't swollen, it isn't hot, it isn't red. I don't recall any injuries to it. And it only hurts with one motion. (If you have your hand with your thumb pointing up and push down, that's the motion.) But it's been interfering with putting on my backpack, carrying pots between the stove and the table, washing dishes, and some other things. It's inconvenient, and this is my non-dominant hand. (Therefore I guess it could be worse?)

I just don't know what to think anymore. I'm sick of being sick, I'm sick of seeing doctors, but more, I just wish I felt healthy.

And I get to see my endocrinologist in two weeks. Yay again?

1 comment:

  1. I hope they find out what's going on soon. It sounds like at least you have some leads you didn't have before the appointment.

    I get so sick of health issues and doctors sometimes, especially when I have to miss work/school for them. A month or two ago my mom was lecturing me about putting off doctor's appointments and "neglecting" my health, and I ended up getting kind of mad at her because I don't think she fully understands how many doctors and appointments I have. I currently see a GP, endocrinologist, two ophthalmologists (retinal specialist and glaucoma specialist) plus an optometrist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist, and podiatrist. And that's not including an allergist as I don't like the one I've been seeing so am currently not seeing any. And I'll likely be getting a referral to a rheumatologist when I see my GP next (or at least I hope I will, since I've had unexplained arthritis and joint pain for the past year or two). Oh, and my dentist, who I see every six months for cleanings or more often if issues crop up.

    I feel like not many 30-somethings see this many doctors. It definitely burns me out sometimes, in addition to all the daily tasks and filling of prescriptions.