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12 Vials of Blood Later…

Blood Vials (public domain image from army.mil)I had my first appointment with the rheumatologist today. Dr. Abraham is a very nice man who asked me a lot of questions and wrote a lot of notes down during our 35 minute visit. I only had to wait about 5 minutes in the waiting room, and Dr. A knocked on the door to see me within two minutes of the nurse finishing up with my vitals. (My pulse was 80. My BP was 112/72.) The exam table was low to the ground, so I only needed to seat myself on it. (Yay to them for furnishing the room appropriately for patients with joint pain!)

The Reason for My Visit

Dr. A had everything in front of him that my primary care doc had sent over, including the list of symptoms I’d given her. He said that was very helpful, but he wanted to hear it all in my own words. I told him about the pain, the weakness, the fatigue, the stiffness, and how there were days when I couldn’t drive, walk, or sit up. I told him how I’ve had similar symptoms in a much milder form since at least 2005, but how it all got exponentially worse this past May 7.

He showed me the actual numbers from some of the bloodwork I had done. I don’t remember the specific numbers now – I wish I’d requested a copy – but I remember the gist. A normal CRP result is generally under 10 mg/L, preferably lower, but mine was above 50. I think it showed a normal range for SED rate as being a decimal less than 1, but mine was somewhere around 5. Both results, he said, indicated nonspecific inflammation, which could be anything from a cold to a broken bone to cancer. Basically, they’re helpful for knowing something’s wrong, but not what is wrong.

I didn’t get an actual value for my ANA, but he said it was considered a “low positive.” He also said that the test has a high rate of false positives, but for me, he didn’t think this was false. An autoimmune disease is strongly suspect. But I already knew that.

Strangest Exam Ever

I didn’t have to put a gown on or anything, but he did examine my body. He looked at my rash, which I explained was “not bad” now, and although it’s smooth now, the spots will be raised later. He pressed on various parts of my body and asked if it hurt; I think that may have been a tender point test for fibromyalgia, but I don’t have all the requisite tender points. He pressed down on my legs and asked me to try to kick up, then pull back. Similar thing with my arms, trying to push him away, then pull him closer. The arm things were much easier than the leg things, but I would have had different results on a different day. My legs were very, very shaky, and my muscles did show soreness. It was very weird.

So for a working diagnosis, since insurance companies like that sort of thing if you want to continue treatment, he wrote me up as having “polyarthritis of multiple sites” on my office visit summary. Polyarthritis, Wikipedia tells me, “is any type of arthritis which involves 5 or more joints simultaneously…Polyarthritis is most often caused by an auto-immune disorder such as Rheumatoid arthritis, amyloidosis, Psoriatic arthritis, and Lupus erythematosus.”

The Plan from Here

I have a followup appointment in two weeks.  He gave me a script for more lab work, and asked me if I could get it done today. The lab was right downstairs from his office, so that was easy. None of the bloodwork was fasting. The technician who took my blood explained that most of the tests that were ordered are “cyclic,” which apparently means it takes an extended period of time to return results. She said they won’t have results for a week and a half, so an appointment in two weeks is really quite speedy.

Because I’m intensely curious about what I’m being tested for, I had to look up what all of these tests show:

Oh, and a urinalysis. Fun times. Glad I brought my bottle of water with me.

I gave them 12 vials of blood. (I asked her, because I couldn’t count them all from my vantage point.) I won’t be getting a phone call about my results because my appointment follows soon after.

Waiting sucks, but I know this literally could not go any faster because of how the blood tests are run. I’m hoping one of these things pans out and provides me with an actual diagnosis.

Christina Gleason (859 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I’m a relatively high-functioning Aspie who also lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. I am not ashamed to admit that I am in the care of a psychiatrist, who assures me that people in therapy are often better adjusted than “normal” people who are not, because at least we know what our issues are and are working on them. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including World of Warcraft and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead. I have started writing no fewer than five novels, and I hope to finish one of them...eventually.

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Nick P. July 1, 2013, 4:01 pm

    12 vials of blood? I’d be on the floor…

    • Christina Gleason July 1, 2013, 4:06 pm

      I was surprisingly okay. It’s funny, because the doc had told me the last time that I might not be able to drive when they were running 20 tests on me, but then they took 7 vials. This time, the doc was more about getting this done ASAP, with no warning about driving home afterward. Different docs, different concerns, I guess!

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