Just in case you have been waiting with bated breath to know the results of all of our recent medical tests, I thought I'd do a quick, and hopefully not sleep-inducing, update.
In an effort to get some answer about an unusual positive test result (ANA -- antinuclear antibody -- test), I saw a rheumatologist in September. The test was originally done as a whole battery of blood tests requested by my family doc, because I was experiencing some very achy joints, mostly in my feet, ankles, knees, hips and pain in my lower back, and at the same time they did the ANA test, they tested my thyroid hormone levels. As a result, I found out right away that I had hypothyroidism, also know as low thyroid. I've been on synthetic thyroid hormone ever since, having had my dosage adjusted once, to get my levels to normal. Hypothyroidism can cause achy joints, but so can a number of autoimmune diseases, and the ANA test was an indicator that there could have been something going on in regard to autoimmune disease. The rheumatologist did another whole battery of blood tests and, thankfully, there is nothing else going on. He suspects that the positive ANA test was the result of the abnormal thyroid hormone levels, and he believes my achy joints will subside when my thyroid hormone gets to therapeutic levels. So far, I still have achy joints, but I know it can take as long as a year to reverse the "damage" a below-normal-functioning thyroid can cause.
Another issue I have going on is numbness and burning in my right thigh. I had this numbness (and burning when I walk or stand for very long) when I was pregnant with Faith. My doctor did not give the condition a name, but said it would probably go away when she was born, and it did. It came back four years ago when I had my hysterectomy/pelvic reconstruction surgery. It only hurt when I walked for a really long time, or stood for a really long time, and though my leg was numb, it didn't hurt most of the time, and it didn't affect my muscle use, so I decided it didn't really need medical attention. I did some research on my own and diagnosed myself with meralgia paresthetica, a condition that really has no "cure" and it not life-threatening.
Early this past summer, I had a sore lower back and left hip from gardening, and my doctor did an adjustment to manipulate my hips back into the position they should be in (they were both rotated, one more than the other). Later that day after the adjustment, the burning in my thigh got much worse, and I started experiencing a weird electrical feeling, sort of like a bee sting. I would get the stinging 20 to 30 times a day, and I couldn't stand for more than about 5 minutes without my thigh burning like there was boiling water running over it. Ouch! This is on the outside of my right thigh, from hip to knee.
I went back to my doctor the following week and she put me on a medication used for nerve pain. It didn't work very well at the lower dose, but it did make me "stupid," as two of the side effects are a memory problems and trouble concentrating. To see if it was going to work at all, my doctor raised the dose, and at the higher dose it does keep me from experiencing that bee sting pain, and fortunately does not make me more stupid. She also started me on an another medication used to treat this condition, and the only side effect is drowsiness, so I take it at night. Unfortunately it hasn't really made the condition any better. I had an EMG and nerve conduction study and the neurologist diagnosed meraligia paresthetica, the same condition I diagnosed myself with several years ago. Unfortunately there is no treatment that is sure to work, and I could possibly have to live with it for the rest of my life, a fact I'd rather not think about too much.
The truly strange thing about this condition is that it got so much worse after my doctor straightened my hips. The neurologist can not explain that. It's rather disheartening to think that when my hips were rotated and my back hurt, my leg did not hurt as bad, so it almost seems as though I might have to just live with one pain or the other (though I really can't put my hip back in that position intentionally).
The other specialist that I saw recently was a urogynecologist. I was diagnosed about two years ago with Interstitial Cystitis, and my primary symptoms are (without giving you to much information) pretty much like having a UTI all the time. The urologist I was seeing was not really able to help me, so I sought out the only uro/gyn in our insurance network. She is very well known in our medical community, highly sought after, and also recommended by the IC Network. At my first visit with her, she told me she does not think I have IC. That was quite a shock, since I have been treated for it for two years. She feels my symptoms are not classic IC and she said the test my urologist did under anesthesia was not conclusive. She believes my issues have more to do with the pelvic floor muscles that were reconstructed during my surgery four years ago. She sent me for the MRI I had several weeks ago, but unfortunately the results were not remarkable. I have degeneration at L4, L5 S1. Probably at least 50% of people my age have degeneration at L4, L5 S1. I start physical therapy next week, and she is hopeful that the therapy will help my "not IC" symptoms, as well as the meralgia paresthetica. I think we are putting a lot of eggs in one basket, but I'm willing to try.
Onto my son Joshua. Joshua has been having frequent headaches for about a year. A year ago, I felt it was stress related. He had just started college, he was commuting 30 minutes to a branch of Ohio State, and there was a lot going on for him. He is the kind of kid who likes things to stay the same, so changes stress him. He is also the kind of kid who worries about doing things right. I didn't make too much of the headaches. They went away with advil or tylenol and he wasn't using too much. Then in the spring the headaches weren't going away for long with advil or tylenol, so we saw the doctor. The doctor diagnosed rebound headaches, so in June, as classes were ending, he stopped using analgesics. Eventually the headaches went away, so we felt pretty sure the doctor had been right.
In August, right after classes started back, the headaches came back and Joshua developed a tic. It was a quick shake of the head, ut it was fairly often, so it was pretty noticeable He said that when he did it, the headache pain went away for a split second. After about two weeks of it, however, the tic went away for the most part. In the meantime he had been pretty stressed about school starting. He was going to be taking classes at the main campus at Ohio State, though he was still living at home. He was really uptight about getting to class on time, not getting lost, doing well academically. All pretty normal college student stuff except Josh takes it to a higher level because that is just who he is. I called the doctor and he referred us to a neurologist.
The neurologist did a very thorough exam and told us she thinks he may have sleep apnea. She ordered an MRI, an EEG, blood work and a sleep study. This past week, when I asked for prayers, he was having the MRI. He did great, and did not need any medication to make it through the test. He, apparently, is not claustrophobic.
We have not heard anything from the doctor, which I take as a good sign. I think if they found something remarkable in his head, they would have called. On Monday, the EEG is scheduled, and we're trying to work the sleep study in around his school and work schedule.
So that's where we are with all our medical issues, or my issues and Joshua's issues. Nobody else has anything particularly reportable going on right now.
I hope I was able to provide all the relaxation (ie boring reading) you need to get a good nights' sleep.