Monday, January 28, 2013

Hot Attack

Lately I've done some thinking about problems. Everyone has them but how bad are they? It’s a hierarchy that's constantly changing. Am I lucky or unlucky? What is the difference? It's a recurring theme in the conversations I have in my head. It's all relative. We know that.

If I start to feel sorry for myself I try to catch myself. Someone always has it worse - all too frequently someone I know. That can help, but you still feel what you feel even if it's not as bad as it could be. I've had the strange experience of feeling simultaneously grateful and resentful which is a bit confusing.

I've been going through some stuff- much of it unpleasant and physical, but I am basically healthy. That said, for a while there it was not very much fun to be me.

After four years of avoiding and deflecting I finally agreed to the dreaded routine colonoscopy. It was a little less than routine because I have a history of bleeding problems. Prior surgeries led to potentially fatal complications. Decades of heavy periods and battles with anemia were ongoing challenges. I have a daughter who has Von Willebrand's disease, which is a bleeding disorder in the Hemophilia family. The condition is hereditary. You get it from your children. Not really, but I think of it that way since Allie was the first to be diagnosed.

Due to my medical history and the fact that Allie has VWD, we assumed that I also have it, but there had been no official diagnosis. The colonoscopy would not take place until blood tests could confirm it. Special precautions could then be made before and after the procedure.

Menopause became a complicating factor. I had heard the expression that the weather in San Francisco is like menopause. You're always either too hot or too cold. I didn't really know what that meant until I started having what I call "hot attacks". My thermostat broke and my body betrayed me. I was waking up every hour or two drenched in sweat. More exhausted than I've been since Lucy was a newborn, I could barely get through the day. Enter hormone replacement therapy. I took it for a few months to stabilize my sanity or some semblance of it.

Unfortunately, hormones can disrupt the results of the blood tests for VWD. Reluctantly I tossed out the pills and decided to tough it out so we could get the answers we needed. Theoretically, it would be for a short time and if I was miserable I could go back on the hormones.

It was not a short time. I was beyond miserable. I could not sleep. The fourth quarter of 2012 is a blur. The lab kept screwing up the tests. The first draw was twelve vials of blood, but they managed to not do the required tests. After several weeks of waiting and hounding the hematologist, I got the news. The test was done improperly and they needed to draw again. Seven more vials. When we went through this with Allie we learned that diagnosis is difficult and it can take multiple blood draws and complicated lab tests to get definitive answers.  It's especially difficult when the tests are not run properly.

More delays, more hounding. More weeks without sleeping. At a certain point lack of sleep becomes a medical issue. I was there. Working a new job with kindergartners every morning but not sleeping at night, I was also working at the shop three days a week. I was so tired I couldn't exercise and gained weight. Beside myself, I sent a frantic fax to my doctor and the hematologist. I was technically well but felt so poorly. Blood was drawn a third time at the hematologist's office. They personally walked it to the lab with the proper

Finally the doctors were satisfied with the results. In the third month of testing it was decided my clotting factor is low normal. Call me cynical, but I don't believe the results. I don't think the gastroenterologist believed them, either. She would only do the colonoscopy in the hospital, just in case.

In the beginning of January I had the procedure. Eric took good care of me through the indignities. All is well up my butt and beyond. Just as I thought it would be. It seems like a huge ordeal for a routine test when I had no symptoms or family history. However, if they'd found something I'm sure I'd be feeling pretty damn lucky that I'd done it.