Chronic Pain,  Fibromyalgia,  Health & Wellness,  Lupus (SLE),  Mental Health

Doctors, They will Come and They Will Go-Whoa-Whoa

Isn’t it funny how monitoring symptoms and practicing medicine seems to assist in alleviating a patient’s concerns?

If you don’t hear Stevie Nicks singing along with that title line, then I am sorry, but you need to go listen to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors because your musical education is sad and wanting.
I took a nap this morning when I felt yet another migraine coming on and had a dream that the actor Andrew Scott in his role as  Jim Moriarty was licking my neck (Please see BBC One’s Sherlock. I confess to a not-so-mild obsession with the program). It was creepy and gross. The kind of creepy you expect when a remorseless psychopath is invading your space. Not that I have a great deal of experience with psychopaths or neck licking. I’m just saying that such an experience would be off-putting. Moriarty and I were watching a video of how he had destroyed a little girl’s life by convincing her to do something wretched. There were curly, blonde dolls and lots of Buffy the Vampire Slayer references in the video. Jamie (husband extraordinaire) witnessed Moriarty’s assault on my person and bundled him up in a coat. Jamie carried him outside like a bride and proceeded to beat the holy bee-jeepers out of him with a baseball bat.
As things go, it was a pretty strange jaunt into my psychic landscape.
I think the trip was a result of some mental house cleaning.  I had two doctor’s visits this week, both took a lot of energy for different reasons. The first visit was with my rheumatologist, Dr. Fantastic, who has been less than attentive as of late. He is a fantastic doctor when his patients are well. This presents a bit of a challenge for a gentleman who has chosen to focus his life and his research on people with degenerative disease processes and bouts of debilitating pain. He has served as my rheumatologist  for a decade. A few years ago I was a star patient. I fought back against the autoimmune madness. I lost 40 pounds, practiced Ashtanga yoga for about 2 hours a day, had just finished my master’s degree, and saved orphans from zombies in my spare time.
Okay, maybe not the orphans and zombies part, but you get my drift, I was fierce.
I blogged about how awesome it was to beat the odds with my cluster of stupid chronic illnesses. Now I feel a clenching, swoop in my gut when I think about that blog. I think it’s a mix of shame and embarrassment that gets me. I took for granted how difficult life with a chronic illness is and had little insight into the rapidity with which the sea will change. Squalls blow up fast at your back when you are celebrating the clear skies on the other horizon.  I hadn’t experienced anything like what we are experiencing now at that point in my disease process. Sure, it sucked at times, but back in the golden days Lupus (SLE) flares lasted 3 or 4 days not eight months. My first Fibromyalgia flare lasted 2 weeks and that felt like forever. Dr. Fantastic would see me twice a year, poke at my joints, and show his colleagues my advanced vitiligo like he was a 10-year-old boy who had brought an albino garter snake to show-and-tell. He would then pronounce me awesome and send me on my way. Appointments are now a study in frustration veiled by small talk about the weather. Dr. Fantastic asks how things are going. I tell him that they are not going well. Jamie tells him things are not going well. He pokes at my joints, tells me to stay the course, and asks me to take part in whatever research study he is doing at the time. No more show and tell with his buddies. I guess only A+ students get shown off. The whole process makes Jamie all cross and sweary.
How does this relate to that whacky dream?  I’m pretty sure that Moriarty was Dr. Fantastic and Jamie was Jamie doing his overprotective thing. I guess in my subconscious overprotective equals beating someone bloody. Please, do not for a moment interpret Jamie’s overprotection as him treating me like a china doll. The man is an ardent feminist. He does not get all puffed up because I’m a helpless woman, he gets puffed up because he loves me and he doesn’t like people treating me with disrespect. The licking?  I think that may be a sign that I feel Dr. Fantastic takes advantage of us. Jamie even said that this man gets more out of us in terms of research information than we get out of him in terms of healing. The baseball bat?  That’s just detritus from a sketch on WWE Monday Night Raw between Mick Foley and Dean Ambrose.  Yes. We are a house of masters educated, intelligent individuals who watch BBC programming, read books without pictures, and indulge in watching entertainment wrestling. Everyone needs some lightness in their life. I choose to watch grown folks throw each other around a wrestling ring and follow the trials and tribulations of the WWE women’s division. Say what you want, the WWE Divas are phenomenal athletes and John Cena appears to be a reasonably intelligent person.
I mentioned some new symptoms including a hand tremor that gets worse with fatigue, three migraines in as many weeks, and increasing cognitive fog. I was also concerned because when the nurse took my blood pressure at the start of the appointment it was higher than it has ever been at 140/112. My blood pressure has always been low. I cannot remember a time when that bottom number has been over 80, so numbers that high are unheard of in my body. Dr. Fantastic did nothing. He mentioned the mild winter. He told me that after I am done this prednisone taper that I will feel worse for a bit and then everything “should go back to normal.” I felt like I was in the old Dana Carvey SNL sketch from the late 80s: “Stay the course. A thousand points of light. Stay the course.”
I took the initiative when we got home from our appointment with Dr. Fantastic, who did not even comment on the freakishly high BP or the tremor or the headaches, and called my primary care doctor. She is a wonder. Let’s call her Dr. Legit. Dr. Legit and her Medical Student asked questions, paid attention,  and did a thorough exam. Kudos to the Medical Student, who received glowing reviews from both Jamie and I.  She had Jamie extolling the importance of not losing her focus on patient centered care by the end of the appointment.
I love that dude. Have  I mentioned that he is amazing? He is. I win.
Dr. Legit and her Shiny Med Student made recommendations that included a referral to a neurologist for the tremor and headaches and a few holistic solutions including increasing our turmeric consumption. Jamie was less than impressed with the suggestion about turmeric, but he is a pragmatist and if it doesn’t have some solid science behind it, he remains suspect.

Here is the Mayo Clinic’s report about curcumin, the substance in turmeric that is purported to have cancer shrinking properties, and a link to the Mayo Clinic Health Letter (Volume 31, Number 11, November 2013) that mentions the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties it may possess.

The upshot: there is not enough clinical information out there to demonstrate a correlative or causal relationship between positive health outcomes and turmeric consumption. There is however, a great deal of anecdotal information out there. Check out Web MD’s page on turmeric for a start.

Dr. Legit was careful to note that I am already on a cocktail of pharmaceuticals which has the potential to be unbalanced by a new addition to the mix, so we decided to stick with remedies that would not induce seizures. I was excited as I figured that an increase in turmeric consumption meant eating as much Indian food as I could manage. I was corrected.  I also get to wear a blood pressure monitor for 24-hours. We left that appointment with the sense that our medical team was making an effort to help move me one step closer to my health goal of returning to work full time. Isn’t it funny how monitoring symptoms and practicing medicine seems to assist in alleviating a patient’s concerns?
As for Dr. Fantastic, T minus 11 days to the second opinion.
Doctors, they will come and they will go,                                                                                         when the rain washes you clean, you’ll know.

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