Monday, June 5, 2017

Here's to Hoping For Answers Soon

Moving was really hard on me, physically and emotionally. When is moving easy though? After 5 solid months here, I'm starting to at least feel settled, though I don't quite feel like I'm home. Maybe when I stop feeling like the new kid on the block, I'll start feeling like this is my home. Time will tell, but I'm still ready to move back "home." I broke down crying to Perry last week about just wanting to go home. I miss my people there!

Earlier this year, I touched on my anxiety in this post. I haven't had many anxiety attacks, but almost daily for several months I started to have, what I would call, mini attacks. For no reason what so ever, my heart would start racing. It's such an uncomfortable feeling! I was never able to pinpoint it to a trigger, but multiple times a day it would feel like my heart was going to beat out of my chest, and then after about a minute it would go back to normal. Always at random times too - waking up from a nap, vacuuming, doing laundry, talking to a neighbor, grocery shopping...

With Ms. Gail's birthday on the horizon, Grandma decided she'd come out for her birthday party and then take her to Seattle to have girl time with Ms. Gail's aunt and her little cousin. Knowing she'd be gone for a couple days, I took the opportunity to schedule a dentist appointment, and a physical at the doctor's office, since I hadn't had one since Ms. Gail was born. In order to have that done though, I had to go in for an establishing patient appointment first, so Ms. Gail came along to that one. (I figured it'd be so much easier and a lot less confusing and scarring for her to come with to that one than a physical...)

While at the appointment in early May, I spoke with my new doctor about my anxiety and lack of sleep. I feel tired all the time. She was thinking that my anxiety might be coming from lack of the good sleep. Though I "sleep" for around 8 hours every time, I would wake up almost at the same time every night and then toss and turn for the rest of the night. No pillows, or sheets, or room temperature seemed to change any of my sleeping habits. She ordered a few blood tests to rule out thyroid problems and such, and started me on some meds to help with sleep.

I think anytime you start new meds, there is an adjustment period. The pharmacist basically said you'll probably just get dry mouth as most of the possible side effects listed are more common in the higher doses. The first day on them was a little rough. I felt nauseous, weak, and I was having a hard time getting words to come out of my mouth correctly. That was really frustrating for me - flipping words around or just slaughtering words altogether. I wasn't seeing a huge difference in my sleep after a few days though, so I jotted it down on my list of more things to talk to the doctor about when I go back in two weeks.

Later that week though, my blood tests came back. Everything was normal except for my platelet count. The nurse explained the range for a normal amount of platelets starts at 140. Mine were at 83 so the doctor wanted me to come back in a few days for a re-draw. The next week roles around and I bring Ms. Gail back with me for another sampling. After the technician drew another sample, I held the cotton swab over my vein while he labeled the tube and such. Some alarm should have went off in my head when he checked it and it didn't immediately clot. It finally did, but by the time I got to the car, I noticed, I had sprung a leak again. I was able to use my first aide kit in my car to redress it, and then it seemed to heal fine.

A few days later, the nurse called again, and began with, "don't panic" so I immediately panic. My platelet count had dropped to 47 in a week. Because of the significant drop, my doctor was wanting to send me to an oncology clinic to get my blood tested yet again. She was quick to alert me, "She doesn't think you have cancer, so don't be scared about the name, they have blood specialists there." Oh good. Still doesn't make me feel any better. The nurse from the oncology clinic called me the next morning to schedule me an appointment. She was a little more clear as to why I was being sent there.

In short, my doctor is thinking I might have idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura, ITP for short. To sum it up, it's an immune disorder that can lead to easy or excessive bruising due to the low levels of platelets. (I've been an easy bruiser for quite some time now. It's to the point where Perry will bump me and then joke, "Oh you're going to have a bruise there now." I never thought much of it though.) When your platelet count drops into the 30s, you have severely low platelets and it's at that level that spontaneous bleeding could occur internally. She strongly cautioned me to lay low over the weekend, no strenuous activities that could cause bumps and bruising, and NO SHAVING because you could knick yourself and have problems with it clotting. Ohh yay... Aside from that over load of news, it was Ms. Gail's birthday weekend so I was already on edge about getting her cake done, but then I was starting to get anxious about my upcoming appointment at the oncology clinic, plus my meds were making me irritable. Such a wonderful combination when I have guests... Just kidding. Things got pretty tense here.

Once Ms. Gail had left for her little vacation, I headed across town for my re-draw. I was told I'd have an appointment with another doctor shortly after to go over the results, but their machines were down so the samples had to be sent out. They were able to at least get a few results back from the 12 or so test tubes they took. In short, my count went up a few notches to 69. Still way lower than it should be though. We briefly discussed treatment for ITP after ruling out other possible reasons for the low counts. We'll discuss it more next week at my follow-up, but possible treatments would be weekly steroid injections to get my numbers up and then taper them off after a few months, or there's the option of doing an immune globulin injection which is a two day hospitalized procedure. Once the other results get back, we should know more about what exactly is going on. Is it an immune disorder? Is it a vitamin deficiency? Do I just naturally have low platelets? We shall see soon...

At the beginning of May I had gotten a cheap version of a FitBit to help me track my sleeping patterns, but mostly to check my heart rate. Anytime it was racing, I was able to look at my wrist and see - is it racing, or is it in my head. I was constantly checking it for about a week. And then all my anxiety symptoms seems to immediately stop. My anxiety started in August. You know what I learned in August? That my mom had cancer. You know when she was done with treatments? The same time my anxiety stopped.

Early in the school year, I had a little chat with HD's teacher, as she just happened to call me at the wrong time so I broke into tears over nothing, so I had to apologize an explain what was happening in my home life so she could be aware of it for HD's sake. Anyways, her mom also had cancer several years ago, and looking back on it, she remembered nothing of it - not helping her with the day to day stuff that she was too tired to do, taking her chemo, or fixing her food. She completely blocked out everything going on with her mom, and can only recall how stressful and hard it was on her, not her mom. For whatever reason, that's always stuck with me too. It's never easy watching someone we love and care about go through difficult things, but I have to wonder if that's where my anxiety came from...Timing is quite a coincidence though!

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