May 25, 2014

Curing What Ails Me - Adventures in My Decrepitude

Over the past six weeks or so, I've gotten several opportunities to put my employer-supplied health insurance to work.

I've had numerous inflamed and painful joints. I've been to the nurse practitioner, to Urgent Care, to the ER, and to the rheumatologist.

First, it was my right hand and wrist. I could not type with my right hand and couldn't turn the car key in the ignition or hold the steering wheel.

Then it was my right knee.

And I've had two occurrences with my left foot. Walking unaided was impossible. I was limping, gimpy, in pain.

Finally, it was my right shoulder.

Sleep was almost impossible during the random onslaught of pain; there was no position in bed where I found comfort.

Blood tests were performed; tests were repeated. I had test levels that indicated severe inflammation as well as lower than normal platelet levels.

Is it gout? Rheumatoid arthritis? Lyme disease? Lupus? A yet-unnamed autoimmune disorder?

My deductible has been met, and I'm close to surpassing my out of pocket expenses.

At the ER, I received IV morphine and Dilaudid - and these drugs did not provide total pain relief.

X-rays of my foot and chest showed nothing. In fact, all of the interventions show that something is going on, but there isn't a result or indisputable blood level that has let the doctors nail down a diagnosis.

Prescriptions have been filled - NSAIDs, Percocet, two courses of steroids, and antibiotics and an inhaler (for bronchitis and shortness of breath).

I feel like my warranty has expired - why didn't I purchase that extended warranty on my parts, as we did for the car?

I have missed work; I have neglected my domestic chores. I am constantly fatigued, and find myself almost nodding off at work. Weekends, I am hitting the couch for a much-needed nap (despite being a complete slacker).

Over the past week, there has been some improvement. Though I have random joint pain, it has not interfered with life too much. I worked 40 hours, and slept. I'm still tired, but it's better than it has been.

So far, I have two appointments set up for June - one follow up with the nurse practitioner, and an appointment with a hematologist as my platelet counts continue to decrease in follow-up blood work.

I can understand the doctors focusing on an autoimmune disorder of some type - I have always been my own worst enemy. In my research, I read that there are 100+ autoimmune disorders and conditions that can cause the pain and inflammation I've experienced.

As the physicians and other medical staff continue to practice medicine, I can only hope that a definitive diagnosis will one day be declared to be what ails me - and we'll explore the therapies to keep me moving.