Maybe it’s because when I have discussions about diagnoses it’s usually with other members of the chronic illness community, but I’ve been equating diagnosis with answers for a long time. I’m used to posts where people are grateful, relieved to have a diagnosis of a chronic illness. To be honest, so was I – they gave me answers to symptoms that had been plaguing me since childhood. “You have asthma”; Oh, that’s why I can’t breathe deeply without coughing. “You have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome”; Ah, that would explain the constant pain and loose joints. “You have POTS”; Yeah, I’d figured that one out too due to the tachycardia when I stand up. But not all diagnoses are answers to puzzles, but puzzles themselves – as I am finding out.
Dear body, please stop.
2018 has been a ridiculous ride of hospitals and new things turning up so far, mostly within a 10 week period. With housing stress and overwhelming anxiety being my baseline this isn’t ideal, but I thought I was coping until a week or so ago. Being diagnosed with heart failure at 32 was a bit of a shock but the fog quickly cleared and I realised it didn’t really change anything except how I viewed my body’s need for rest and recovery (in a more sympathetic light, by the way – I struggled before with the psychological need to “shake off” the fatigue, especially when confronted with articles about other EDS patients who ran marathons or “didn’t let their condition stop them”). You can’t really argue with heart failure. Even I, who likes to argue with everything and everyone, am trying my hardest not to argue with it.
Can’t we have a one-in-one-out policy?
Then came the Central Sleep Apnea, which was more of a surprise. I did a sleep study in November and the results were revealed to me earlier this month. I guessed I had some degree of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and was prepared to be told to lose a little weight, or to see about getting my adenoids out or something but no – it’s my brain failing to do its basic job of keeping me breathing. *facade drops slightly* Stupid body, stupid brain, why is so much going on at once? Oh well, CPAP therapy trial coming up, hopefully that will improve my fatigue by a fraction…
*MARCHING BAND INTERRUPTS TRAIN OF POSITIVITY TO DELIVER MORE TEST RESULTS*
Oh good, more unwanted news. My prolactin levels are approximately 25 times higher than they should be, which was unexpected considering the lack of symptoms (aside from the occasional uh, leaky boob). High prolactin levels can be caused by stress, a side effect of medications (notably older generation anti-psychotics), or a small brain tumour in the pituitary gland called a Prolactinoma. My GP suspects the latter due to the high levels of prolactin, and the fact I don’t take regular prolactin-increasing medications. There will be a scan soon, with an urgent request sent by my GP, then whatever treatment follows. Whatever it is, I need to get my levels down as prolactin levels that high can cause a loss of bone density which I’m already susceptible to. I’m not overly alarmed, but I am weary of my body ramping up its trickery.
And I’m annoyed. Very, very annoyed. It’s just too much now. My diagnosis list reads like someone typed “fatigue” into Google and wrote down all the causes. It’s getting to the point where I’m scared to talk openly about my health because it’s just so ridiculously hyperbolic at the moment and I don’t want to start causing eye-rolls and “oh great, Nina is talking about their health issues again” with every additional, bloody stupid, and unconnected diagnosis. It’s just more questions (“is this obscure co-morbid condition causing Central Sleep Apnea?” “is taking an anti-emetic every week or so enough to ramp up my prolactin levels?”), when what I’m used to getting from a diagnosis is answers. I feel like I need a chart on my wall like in dramas about over-involved investigative journalists, with each condition and symptom connected by coloured yarn, in order to keep track of what’s going on. And this is on top of the ever-present housing stress. No wonder I have trouble getting to sleep.
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Normal service will resume soon.