Dec 8, 2011

One phone call

This week I went to my doctor (well, actually, she's a Nurse Practitioner in my OB's office) to discuss the results of some lab work she had ordered the week before.  I just haven't been myself since Kate was born, and three and a half months out, I expect to feel more normal.  The extreme fatigue, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, vision and memory problems, and irritability, coupled with my nursing struggles, prompted my initial visit. Lab work validated how lousy I have been feeling.  My thyroid numbers were way low. Liver enzymes were high.  Progesterone and estrogen levels were post-menopausal. Although blood counts didn't point to anemia, the  other markers definitely showed reason for my lethargy and malaise.  Melinda (the NP) wasn't surprised that I felt lousy! She was also quite concerned about what the labs meant.  Two things seemed like possible culprits: early-onset menopause or a tumor on my pituitary gland.

Gulp.  You know things are bad when menopause at 32 sounds terrific.

My meeting with Melinda was on Tuesday.  She was content to wait for the results of additional labs, but I was not.  Once the word "tumor" popped out of her mouth, I needed to know if she was right or wrong.  I needed to know if I had a foreign body growing in my skull, threatening to take over my hormones, my sight, my personality.  I pressed, and on Wednesday morning I found myself in an MRI machine, getting a map of my brain.  That experience is on my short list of freaky medical things I never want to experience again. Aside from having my head caged and my body shoved in a tiny tunnel, the noise was deafening and frightening.  And that only covers the physical discomforts!  I couldn't believe what I was doing--that those 40 minutes could define the rest of my life.  I would be quite content to never have another MRI in my life.  It was not pleasant.

And then the waiting game began.  Garry and I discovered we have very active imaginations.  During waking and sleeping hours, we imagined every scenario--from best case to worse case--associated with impending brain surgery.  Two of my friends have had pituitary tumors, and knowing about their experiences added details to our dreams that were scary and surreal.  We certainly haven't slept enough in the last couple of days as we have pondered my mortality, five little kids who need their mama, our stressed-out bank account, and the Christmas holiday around the corner.  But through it all I had complete peace.  I knew that whatever happened, we'd make it through.

This afternoon I was unloading kids from the car after school and talking to a friend who was dropping something off when my cell phone rang.  Immediately my heart started racing.  It was Melinda.  I knew she was calling with the MRI results.  So with kids swarming and a friend standing by, I stood in the garage and heard her say, "The MRI looks great.  You do not have a tumor."

Sweeter words were never spoken!  I went weak in the knees and had to sit down.  I had convinced myself that I had a tumor, and that I would be spending Christmas in a Denver ICU.  Poor Garry sounded shocked when I called with good news.  Of course he was relieved, but like me, he had expected the worst.  My mom cried when I called her.  Our prayers were answered!

Of course my symptoms persist, tumor or not.  The quest to feel better has just begun.  I am going to try some hormone and thyroid supplementation to see if that helps remind my body how to function properly.  The way is uncertain, and I already feel like I need a nap.  But I also feel like I have a new lease on life.  

It's not a tumor!  Hooray!!!!!
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