Monday, May 21, 2012

Adventures in hypochondria

I've already established that I'm a hypochondriac.  The story I always tell about PKD is that for months before my diagnosis, I was convinced that I had a tumor on my liver.  I would feel uncomfortable in a certain spot, palpate that spot, and feel something round.  I even double-checked in my anatomy books to make sure what I was palpating was indeed my liver.  It bothered me for a while, but what do you do---walk into a doctor's office and say, "I think I have liver cancer."?

I DID, however, mention it often to my husband, who alternately laughed and got irritated, saying that my hypochondria was a little bit annoying, and that I inherited a fascination of all things disease-ish from my mother.

Turns out there is a GOLF BALL SIZED CYST on that part of my liver.  I've seen it in ultrasound and on MRI.

There are few things my husband hates more than to eat his words.

And the problem is that my hypochondria has often been validated, independent of PKD.  One night, as I was falling asleep, I was convinced that I had a tick crawling on me.  Tick season is in full swing right now, and they are particularly bad this year.   Nothing like having your 4 year old pull a tick OUT OF HER OWN HAIR, hand it to you, still wriggling, and say, 'Here mom, here's another tick for you.'  EWWWWW.

Anyway, one night I had the heebie jeebies, convinced there was a tick crawling on my body.  My husband, again with the exasperation, told me to just go to sleep.  I even went to far as to turn on the light to check, and I swear his sigh could be heard 3 houses down.

But guess what?

I FOUND A GIANT TICK SUCKING ON MY SHOULDER.  And since ticks don't attach right away, that means that before it found its spot, IT COULD HAVE BEEN ON ME FOR HOURS.

I freaked out, flushed the tick down the toilet, and came back to bed in a frenzy.  I said, "I HATE it when my fears are validated!"

My husband just moaned, "Oh, so do I."

If he had a syringe full of valium, he would have used it on me at that second.  Not even kidding you.

Here's the other thing.  I've mentioned before that my twin sister has diabetes.  She got diagnosed in her 30s with Type I.  She was totally convinced she had it, calling me and telling me how thirsty she was, and how often she was peeing.  Unlike me, she lives in the freakin' desert, though, and I, like everybody else, told her as much.  She persisted, and I finally said that it was worth a phone call for her peace of mind, because really, how could it hurt?

Yeah, when she finally got to the doctor, she was hospitalized for 3 days as they tried to regulate her sugars.  Nice.

Also, she was the one who said I shouldn't ignore my initial symptom, numbness in my toes.  If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have been diagnosed in the first place.

And, AND (yes, it gets better), she just got diagnosed with vocal nodules.  VOCAL. NODULES.  Her voice has been hoarse for months, and I told her it sounded like nodules, but how would she have nodules? I did tell her to see an ENT, that the only way they would know for sure is if she got scoped.  She sort of believed me, but went to her GP first, who told her she had allergies.  He prescribed the most expensive nasal spray on the planet, which helped a little bit, but when she finally went to the ENT, he scoped her and found the nodules.  She's now trying to decide between therapy and surgery.

Hypochondriac, you say, or incredible body intune-ness?  (That's not a word, I know.  I just can't think of any other way to describe it.)

So, let's get back to me.  I have this grape-sized lump behind my left ear.  It came out of nowhere, is hard and fixed, and painful to touch.  I haven't been sick, have had no discernible infection, just seasonal allergies that I treat with Breathe Right strips (don't judge me they are awesome). Dr. Google says that it's either a swollen nymph node secondary to allergies, or, you know, cancer.  But it's only cancer if it's hard and fixed, painful to touch, and shows up out of nowhere with no relation to another infection.

Oh, wait. That describes my symptoms EXACTLY.  I HAVE ALL THE SYMPTOMS OF LYMPHOMA.

I called my sister today and told her my latest fear.  She told me that I had to go to a doctor RIGHT THIS SECOND because lately, the odds haven't really been in our favor.

I have an appt with an ENT tomorrow.  It's probably just a swollen lymph node due to seasonal allergies, and everything will be fine.  But with our record, we just can't afford to ignore anything.

With my luck, it will be something related to Lyme Disease, from that nasty blood sucking ticks.  Have I mentioned I hate ticks?  I hope when the apocalypse comes, they all burn.

UPDATE:  It's not lymphoma (shocking, I know).  The doctor thinks it's a swollen lymph node, and started me on antibiotics.  I'm going back in 3 weeks, because he wants to check on my progress --TO MAKE SURE IT'S NOT LYMPHOMA! Ha,ha, actually, no, he said it's hard to tell if it's a swollen lymph node or a cyst, so if the antibiotics don't work, then we will have to think about something more aggressive--LIKE CHEMO!  Or, maybe just a simple surgery where they remove it.   It's not in any way related to PKD, he said.  So really, that means my entire body is just a hot mess.


lrwardell said...

I have a solution to the tick problem - stay inside like me. LOL I know, I know, you have your garden to look after and children that like to play outside, but it really does help keep the ticks off of you if you can avoid going outside. Just a suggestion.

I'm glad you don't have lymphoma.


Hildie said...

As an avid anti-hypochondriac you are freaking me out!


Alison Hyde said...

If it helps any: I have had three episodes, one lasting six months, the current one three months so far, of, if I talk more than a few sentences I go hoarse, and back when I had four kids at home I would completely lose my voice. Nada. I had to choose very carefully what to spend my syllables on before that point.

And then it just...went away.

For me, it's autoimmune. I'm not saying your sister has lupus too; I'm just saying it's probably no big deal and probably the most benign thing one's immune system could get all het up about.

Alison Hyde said...

p.s. So it's like they always say in parenting: pick your babbles.

sostinkinhappy said...

I h.a.t.e ticks, too. I always tell Jeff if I ever get my own planet, there will be no ticks. NONE. I think they are a failed experiment of this mortal realm, if I say so myself.

Like Irwardell and many others, I am glad the doc thinks it is just a swollen lymph node. Keep up updated!

~ Melynda

Rob Monroe said...

I've got something like this, but in the opposite direction. Whenever I go to the nephrologist feeling good about my progress, I get shot down and find out how badly things have gone down. Now I try to ignore any visits until the week before so I don't psych myself out.

Congrats on (just) the swollen gland!

swedemom said...

I had a swollen lymph node much like you described. I also have lupus so when anything crops up I can't afford to ignore it. I didn't know it, but at the time, I was also pregnant.

So the doctors weren't quite sure what was going on. Because of the pregnancy, I was so tired I would sleep all day. I spent weeks going to different doctors every day. It's pathetic when your 3-year old daughter gets excited about going to the doctor because it is an actual outing. Anyhow, when it dawned on me that I might be pregnant, and that pregnancy was confirmed with multiple tests and an ultraound, pretty much everything calmed down. Still, it was a bizarre episode. . .

swedemom said...

P.S. I hate ticks!

Anonymous said...

I hope you are okay, Heather! I miss your posts:(