Wednesday, August 17, 2011

paranoia is a (useful) bitch

As usual, I'm reading everything I possibly can about anemia, since the lab work finally revealed it end of last week as the likely cause of my recent months of listlessness and fatigue. I knew it was more than just my heart-break and grief over losing Jasper. No, this drag-ass-ed-ness is more than that. Literally, I have been feeling like I just have absolutely nothing in the tank, no matter how much I sleep or caffeinate or beg and plead. Nothing. It has also affected my thinking, which is such a drag given that I started a new job in January. Many a day has gone by where I bet they've rued the hire of this moron.

Seriously! I have been feeling like an utter idiot, can't keep information connected in my head, making mistakes I would never, ever otherwise make.

But there it is.

For a moment I thought this was it, I'd had my Flowers for Algernon peak, I'd had my brief flash of intelligence and creativity, and now was making the precipitous unstoppable slide into imbecility. For a while I toyed with the notion of Parkinson's, from which my Great Aunt Cuquita died. And thanks to my aunt and my cousin and my baby sister, naturally I entertained the idea that perhaps, finally, I had a brain tumor, some voracious mutant cells squeezing the life out of me.  Less dramatically, I began to wonder if this was what it was to age, to feel this dimming of energy, this dull loss of joie de vivre.  If this was menopause, it sucked.

[Aside: a friend quoted and praised my recent post on eyebrows on Facebook the other day, highlighting these lines "
‎"...there has to be a way to replace Crazy and Good with Not-Crazy and Good. Good doesn't mean I have to put up with Crazy, and Not-Crazy shouldn't mean Crap. I'm nowhere near giving up on this possibility..."  In response, one of her friends wrote, "In my opinion there is no such thing as good and bad, it's all relative. So make it mean anything you want. It's only your own perception about it that matters anyhow."  That kind of yogic la-la relativity makes me want to throw things -- when I have the energy.  A fucked-up eyebrow is not relative.  It is.  And it sucks.  Doing something well rather than poorly matters.  Feeling bad is relative, sure,  to feeling good, but it still sucks.  I'm not loving it because it's my duty as a yogi.  I'm doing my utmost to kick its ass and crawl my way back to full health and strength.  Namaste on that, yo.]  

Thank goodness for my medical plan. It allowed me to advocate for myself as strenuously as possible under the circumstances, and to have rapid-fire email exchanges with my doctor in which I could express the full extent of my concern and, yes, paranoia.  And yeah, that paranoia that can be such a bitch, keep me awake in the middle of the night, mulling over every possibility, that paranoia landed me where I am now, in the spotlight of my doctor's full attention.  That is good.

Here's how it went over about 30 minutes on Monday.  Note that I have copied and pasted the exchange just as it took place, not correcting for punctuation or spelling.  My doctor talks loud, moves fast and clearly doesn't have time for pauses, let alone full-stops, when she writes.  When she's not dealing with nightmare patients like me, she's doing relief work in Haiti, for reals.  [Aside #2: but sometimes I wonder whether she's got a little too much Crazy bundled with the Good.  Except that right now I don't feel capable of making a change.]

Me: Based on the ferritin result (17), I am wondering what's next. I would love to feel better than I do right now!

Doc: Take iron twice daily i just sent you a letter, get iron over the counter, twice daily 3 to 6 months.

Me: OK, thanks. Since it may take the letter a couple of days to reach me, can you let me know how much iron I should be taking daily? I'd like to get started on this asap. Thanks so much.

Doc: Twice per day. 

Me: OK, will do. As for the Vitamin D, am I to continue supplementing this, as well? I am a bit concerned about why these should both be a problem for me all of a sudden, if perhaps there is some underlying cause.

Doc: Everyone is low in vitamin d. Hematologist says heavy periods common to cause this and g.i. Work up is next endoscopy colnoscopy have you had those before?

Me: Haven't had either endoscopy or colonoscopy. I'm sorry if I'm seeming paranoid, but there's been so much cancer around me lately (my sister, my husband) - kind of messes with your head. Thanks for your patience and care!

Doc: i will send consult to gastro for those tests.

I think Woody Allen said, "Paranoia is knowing all the facts."  In my case, honestly, I think what may seem like paranoia is a well-placed desire to protect myself and my family from further misery.  With Joe, I think he and I both wonder if they might not have caught that damn Potato (our name for the lymphomic tumor which grew to large Russett proportions) sooner had we not pushed harder.  Based on that experience alone, I don't feel like I can afford to take some la-la everything-is-good attitude.  I want to live a long time and I want to live well, hearty, hale, with full faculties, taking names.

But it's going to be a while before I'm back to hearty, etc.  From something I read this morning, it can take 6 months to a year for the body to recover from anemia.  I'm not sure how serious mine is compared to what I'm reading about, but 6 months?  That's so long!  Meanwhile, I'll keep drinking my iron twice a day, waiting for test dates, and picking my way out of this bog.  And trying not to make my doctor too much crazier with my paranoid questions.

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