Monday, July 20, 2015

Beyond Frustrated

Thursday around noon, I got a call from the hospital where I get my primary health care.  They needed me to come in the next day to see a doctor.  It was important and related to the lab tests I'd had the previous Friday.

I agreed to be there, but the tone of voice and urgency put me on edge.  They made it sound like something new had been found that required immediate intervention.  So, for 27 hours, I worried.  A lot.

At the appointment, which was with a doctor I have worked with professionally, but whom I'd never seen as a patient, I was confused.  After the preliminaries were out of the way, the doctor sat down and said "So, what can I do for you?"  I told him that the hospital had scheduled the appointment and I assumed he knew what it was about.  I told him about the anemia diagnosis and assumed the visit was related.

He said it sounded like I needed some lab work.  I told him that had been done a week ago.  Quickly, he pulled up my lab results and we looked at them together.  The one odd thing is that my iron levels are fine.  I am right near the top end of the normal range.  So, he said while I am very anemic (hemoglobin of 9.3, with a reference range of 13.5-17.5, and my last test in April was in the high 17's), it didn't appear to be iron-deficiency anemia.  Nonetheless, he didn't want to contradict another provider, so he wants me to continue with the iron supplements.  To be honest, that seems dangerous to me.

However, unlike my former primary care doc, he recognized that this was out of his league, and he referred me to a hematologist.  I see that doctor this coming Friday.

I first noted (in my training log) that I was feeling bad on May 4th.  I've gradually gotten worse by then, a very steady down slope.  I've lost 30 pounds.  In early June, my primary care doc didn't want to do any blood work, although a very basic blood panel would have shown the anemia.  Finally, in July, he had to do the blood work.  I can only assume my hemoglobin has been dropping this entire time and it may still be dropping.  So, eleven weeks after this all started, I still don't have a complete diagnosis, I have no reason to believe it's not getting worse, and I've had no treatment at all.

My hemoglobin level is at a level where the anemia is considered moderate.  If I drop to 8, the rules all change, as I would cross into the "severe" level.  Hopefully, I won't have to worry about that, but it would be nice to have a full diagnosis and some sort of progress towards recovery.

Yesterday, my wife and I saw Neil Young here in Vermont.  It was a great show - some songs from his new album and a whole lot of classics.  He started out acoustic and solo, and after 4 songs, his band joined in.  He stayed acoustic until about the mid-point of the show and then switched to an electric guitar.  It was his first show in Vermont since he played as part of a group in 1965.  That band played one night at a nightclub near Killington and was not invited to return.  This return, almost 50 years later, was very successful.

The only downside was being tired.  I essentially napped all day just so I'd have energy to get through the show.

I might have written this before, but I honestly feel like I aged 20 years in 2 weeks and it's not getting better.  When Neil sang "Old Man" last night, I was standing there, feeling a lot like an old man.

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