Friday, October 11, 2019

The One in Which I'm Tired to the Max

Cartoon Black Woman Sleeping At WorkI'm not so great at going to the doctor. Although I'm better at making doctor appointments than I am at dentist appointments. Then again, that's not really saying much.


I had been feeling really ridiculously fatigued for some time when I finally broke down and made an appointment.

"What are you seeing the doctor for?"

"Um, I want to see the doctor because I'm tired. I mean, like really tired. I'm afraid I'm going to fall asleep at school and the kids will videotape me and put it on Youtube, and I'll become a meme known the world over. Then it'll be, 'You know that sleeping teacher meme? Yeah, that's me.'"

"So you want to see the doctor because you're (pause) tired?"

"Not just tired. Tired to the max."

Yes, I felt like an idiot making an appointment because I was tired. I mean, hello? I'm a single mom; of course I'm tired. And this was back in May so all the students in the land were officially done with school despite the fact there were 3 more weeks left. This means they were acting like this:


I mean, the good ones were acting like that. The others were acting like this:


So it was perfectly normal that I was tired. I mean, I'd worry more about any teacher who wasn't burned out and tired in May. Because clearly, any teacher who isn't exhausted in May has access to the good drugs.

So I went to the doctor with my perfectly inane legitimate complaint of I'm tired. The doctor was too busy to see a patient who was "tired" so I saw the PA. I have issues with anemia so I asked her to please do some bloodwork to see if that was the cause of my fatigue. She did that as well as some tests to check my thyroid 

When my results came back, she told me that I was a little vitamin B12 deficient.

"But I already take B12 and iron because of the aforementioned anemia."

I swear I saw the PA throw up her hands and shrug her shoulders through the phone. "Well, you also tested positive for some thyroid antibodies."

"Okay? What does that mean?"

"I'm not sure. I'm referring you to an endocrinologist."

It took a couple months to get in to the endocrinologist. I paid my $45 and met with another PA.

"Your primary care doctor referred you to us?"



"Um, I guess I have some thyroid antibodies."

"Yes, but your thyroid function is normal," she stated, puzzled.

I shrugged because, well, I'm not the one with the MD. "I just don't want to be so tired anymore."

"Well, the antibodies are indicative of an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. It can cause thyroid problems. Your thyroid is fine right now though. You definitely need to have it rechecked every year because it could develop in the future especially with your family history of thyroid disease and autoimmune diseases. But it isn't the cause of your fatigue now."

"Okay. Well, just so I don't feel like that $45 was a waste, could you maybe hook up an IV with a caffeine drip for me so I can stay awake all day?"

Apparently not.

In August, I went back to my regular doctor, or well the PA that is, for my annual physical. 

"I'm still excessively tired, and now everything hurts too. My ankles, my knees, my hips, my hands, my left elbow, these fingers . . ."

The PA ordered some autoimmune tests. I tested positive (which sounds like a good thing, but isn't) for many of the antibodies, prompting the PA to refer me to a rheumatologist.

It took a couple more months to get in with the rheumatologist during which time, my hips have become so painful, I can hardly walk some days. I can't handle walking up stairs. I haven't had an uninterrupted night's sleep in 2 months and not just because my neighbors like to let their dogs bark all night, but because the pain awakens me every time I turn over. So I paid my $45 and saw yet another PA.

The nurse tells me to strip down to my undergarments, put on a "gown" (which, let's face it, is basically like when you were a kid and you cut a slit down the middle of a brown paper grocery bag to make a "vest" so you could be an "Indian" when you had your little classroom Thanksgiving celebration where you invited the classroom next door who dressed like Pilgrims.) So I stripped, donned my paper vest, and hopped up on the table. I'm using the word "hopped" here, but honestly, I grunted as I tried to maneuver onto the table because MY HIPS HURT SO MUCH.

It took almost 20 minutes before the PA came in. I nodded off twice. The second time my head bobbed, I looked down and saw a dryer sheet stuck to my underwear, which is always classy. Worried that the PA would finally walk in right as I was peeling the April fresh scented sheet off my unmentionables, I quickly grabbed it and looked around for a garbage can. No garbage can. What kind of doctor's office doesn't have a garbage can? I surmised it was probably in a cabinet, but I wasn't getting down to find out because A. MY HIPS HURT and B. It would be thoroughly awkward to be tip-toeing around the office, dryer sheet in hand, while opening cabinets in search of a trash can when she walked in. So I stuffed it in my purse.

The PA came in and asked me 101 questions. How long have your joints hurt? Are they swollen? Do you get any rashes? Do you have ulcers in your mouth? Are your eyes dry? Do your fingers turn white in the cold? What was the name of your first pet? What is the name of the street where you grew up? Coke or Pepsi?

In the end, they're treating me as if I have lupus even though she was hesitant to actually diagnose me with lupus at this point. They're running more tests. I'm starting some medications that will hopefully decrease my pain and fatigue. Oh and I have some pretty bad bursitis in both hips. Since I can't take anti-inflammatory medication because I'm on blood thinners for my antiphospholipid syndrome, I'll be getting shots in my hips next week. Although I don't relish getting a needle that's roughly the size of a flag pole stuck in my hip joints, I'm in so much pain that I say bring it on! Plus, it won't be nearly as bad as someone giving me a shot IN MY MOUTH! So there's that.

You would think I'd be upset that I may have another incurable autoimmune disease, but honestly, I had convinced myself that my diagnosis was going to be - You're crazy; it's all in your head. Oh, and you're old and fat. So knowing that something real is going on and there's medication to help combat it is actually a relief.


Karie D said...

While I reading this, I kept saying to myself yep, been there done that. I'm sure you've done the research it normally takes up to seven years for a Lupus Diagnosis. Please always remember you aren't crazy, and it isn't all in your head. I have three grown girls and two of them have been dx with Lupus. The other with an oddity of autoimmune issues and I have RA and Lupus like disease (whatever the heck it really is who knows). That tired to the max symptom in my honest opinion should always be listen to. Hope the flagpole size injections work for your hips, and that meds help your other symptoms. Thanks for sharing 🧡

Dianne said...

Please follow the first Hashimoto's Thyroiditis thought. I am a retired teacher, I was so tired I would sleep when the kids were at PE. Could not stay awake and no energy for anything. I hope you find the cause of your problems and get some help. You are to active to become inactive.

Ernie said...

Love the 'coke or pepsi', etc part. I recently had a colonoscopy. They asked me a million medical questions: heart issues, thyroid disorder, smoker? All of which I answered 'no' I told them if I had not already done all the prep, I might just go home because clearly I was very healthy.

I had insane fatigue. Would need a nap at 9 am after sleeping all night. I was also anemic. Took a few years and eventually required an endoscopy because I was having trouble swallowing. Turns out I have celiac disease. Most of my adult life. I was not absorbing my nutrients because my filia in my large intestines or somewhere were ground down to nubs.

My pinkie fingers always feel broken. They thought maybe Lupus too but decided I did not after said pinkies did not feel better after lupus meds.

Good luck. Constant exhaustion is awful! I am much better 5 years later on a gluten free diet. Nubs grew back. Yeah.

Kim said...

Hey Dawn,
I'm also a collector of autoimmune diseases, 2 so far. One is Hashimoto's. Numbers "in range" do not mean optimal, or even that you feel semi normal. In all that spare time you don't have, do a little research. So many people have to wait to feel nearly dead before doctors finally give in and let you take meds. Keep pushing, and good luck!

Kelli Standish said...

I went through 21 doctors before I finally got sick of being treated like I was crazy. I decided I needed to be my own Chuck Norris because no one else was going to do it. I got online, began reading medical whitepapers, and diagnosed myself.

I asked my GP to test me for HLA B27 ( )

They told me there was no way I'd test positive. I insisted. And I was right.

Ask them to test you for this antibody.

All this you're describing is eerily similar to what I've been battling for the past 7 years. Accurate treatment can give you your life back, so don't stop searching or fighting or asking questions until you know exactly what's happening.

You deserve that.

I'm cheering for you. <3

Bonnie said...

Ack! Doctors make me crazy. I, too, have Hashimoto's and really had to push the doctor to treat me. "Your numbers are in the normal range" But I'm still having symptoms. "But your numbers are in the normal range." I feel the best when my TSH is much lower than what my doctor is comfortable with. I'm much more comfortable seeing his PA because she, at least, acknowledges that what is "normal" may not be normal for me. I know from experience that fighting with the doctors when you're not feeling well is not something anyone wants to do, but keep fighting. Keep being your own advocate. Do your own research. Remember that your doctor is working for you. You wouldn't hire a plumber and accept it when he said that a clogged drain was normal and he didn't feel it was important to treat it. Just keep using that clogged up sink. It'll eventually drain. Don't accept that kind of treatment from your doctor.

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