Monday, September 29, 2008

It Could Always Be Worse

In June, when Dr. Arrigo looked me in the eye and said, "I think you have PCOS," I was devastated. However, after my umpteenth round of blood tests—none of which has ever made clear what was wrong with me exactly—and my fourth imaging test, it seemed that everything was pretty darn normal. Now, for most people, normal test results are a thing to be celebrated. For me, on the other hand, I would rather get a positive. A negative for me is not so much "Yay! I don't have a disease!" as it is "Crap! They still can't figure out what disease I have!"

So far I don't have the following conditions:
  • Pregnancy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Celiac disease
  • Excess DHEA
  • Too much Prolactin
  • GERD
  • Ulcers
  • H. pylori infection
  • And MORE!

Which I suppose is good news . . . or it would be if my body functioned properly!

Anyway, I followed up with a doctor here, who sent me to a different clinic, where they decided to do an oral glucose tolerance test.

After chugging my favorite sugar-laden beverage, I did the blood test and hoped for the best (worst). They said the results would be ready within a couple of days, so two Fridays ago I called them for my results. Yes, I realize I'm being a little impatient, but you would be too if one easily solved problem were at the root of all your health and beauty ills and you were just waiting for the doctor to tell you if it's true! They put me on hold for a really long time, transferred me three times, and then told me to call another number. I waited until the end of the day to call that number, got their answering service, then called back Saturday morning, when they were supposed to be open. Then they tell me I need to call back Monday. I call that same number on Monday, and they send me back to the first number I ever called. Exhausted? Well, I'm not done yet.

I called that first number again, then was put on hold for about 10 minutes before I was cut off. I called back, got shuffled through call transfers more times than I can count, and finally reached a person who pulled my file and read me my test results. I'd told them about fifty times at the test and on the phone that the tests the doctor ordered were insulin, glucose, and testosterone. I was a little surprised when the girl on the phone said, "Let's see . . . your hematocrit is great! It's at like 40!"

"What's that?" I asked.

"The iron levels in your blood."

"But I was only supposed to have insulin, glucose, and testosterone labs done."

"Oh," was all she had to say.

"So what were the results of the rest of the tests?"

"Well, your glucose was a little high, so you'll need to go down to the hospital where they'll do the three-hour test. Then, they'll probably diagnose you with gestational diabetes and keep an eye on you for the rest of your pregnancy."

All I could say was, "I'm not pregnant." That phrase looks all innocent with the period at the end, but it certainly wasn't an exclamation point sentence. It came out in a voice so angry it could barely be classified as human. I suppose that I shouldn't have been shocked when the girl replied,

"Uh . . . " and then paused for a full minute. But I was.

"What were my other test results?" I said.

"Um, this is all we have. You'll need to wait for your doctor to call you. Bye!"

I was so pissed, I left work, stopped at the store for some groceries, picked up a box of donut holes, then sat in my car in the parking lot until I was ready to drive without intentionally smearing nearby puppies across the pavement with my tires. Seven to ten donut holes later, I was ready to face the drive home. After a two-hour angry nap (a habit Lindsay Bluth and I share), I whined to Tim about it. After a night's sleep and a day's work, I felt better enough to joke about it. To this day I'm still shocked at the amazing insensitivity it takes to assume someone is pregnant when in reality they're being tested for one of the leading causes of infertility. Anyway, I began to suspect that they had done the wrong tests from the beginning, and that the lab tech had assumed I was preggers when she took the tests and just took the wrong ones.

So last Tuesday I called the clinic again and asked for some follow up on my results. I finally talked to a competent nurse, who did a little research and got back to me. Yep, they did the wrong tests, and I'd have to do the whole freaking thing again. The nurse I went to see the next morning was really TO'd over the whole thing. Her indignation made me feel infinitely better. She decided that they'd salvage the data from the last test and do another one. I still suspect that depending on my results, I'll have to take more tests.

They promised to call me back today, but since their phones roll to the answering service in 35 minutes, I'm willing to bet that's not going to happen. Oh well. It could always be worse:

Oregon Hospital Tells 71-Year-Old Grandfather: 'We Know You Are Pregnant'

PORTLAND, Ore. — John Grady Pippen of Gold Beach doesn't look pregnant. And he's not.

But after a hospital visit earlier this month, the staff gave the 71-year-old grandfather pain pills and paperwork explaining his delicate condition.

"Based on your visit today," the paperwork told him, "we know you are pregnant."

The retired mechanic and logger had sought help for agonizing abdominal pain at Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach.

Hospital administrator William McMillan says an errant keystroke caused the hospital's computer to spit out the wrong discharge instructions.


Lisa said...

Wow. That grandfather thing. And your whole experience. But that's how it is in good ol' Provo, unfortunately. You HAVE to be pregnant!!!!

When I had my first miscarriage we were in Provo and they had me wait for an hour in a waiting room with tons of big and happy pregnant women, when I was there because my baby had died. Sometimes they just need to THINK. Ugh.

Andee said...

Good lord. Not that indignant people should be made to feel better or anything....but I really do know what you're going through. I have PCOS, which reached pretty advanced stages of "let's fuck up your body" before it was ever diagnosed. I may be infertile, I'm permanently on birth control to control my hormone levels, I'm on a diet for the rest of my life because the hormone imbalance screwed up my digestive system, I'm on metformin for the rest of my life, which makes me sick, and I'm trying hard not to get cancer or diabetes. Yeah. Fun stuff, right?

On the plus side, the sick from the metformin coupled with the World's Meanest Diet have had me loose a bunch of weight (which was a side effect of the digestive screw-up anyway). My saga to diagnosis: I put on a huge amount of weight in no time and mysteriously without eating anything bad, or even vast quantities. My doctor told me she thought I was binge eating. I told her I'm a recovering anorexic, and that that was highly unlikely. I didn't eat a morsel for 2 weeks, and finally decided she was on crack and demanded to see a ENDOCRINOLOGIST. She diagnosed me after 5 minutes. She was brilliant. OR, just request a freaking ultrasound. The deal with difficult diagnosis is that they're trying to diagnose you based on a bunch of symptoms. It's insane. They could just give you an ultrasound and LOOK for the damn cysts, right???

Eileen said...

WOW. How horrible. I'm so sorry you have to work with retards.

Sarah McMullin said...

Glucose-testing... yay. Let's just hope they do some better test that is less tough on the stomach.

I agree, though, see a reproductive endocrinologist if you can. They are much more likely to do REAL tests.