Saturday, May 28, 2011

Anemia? Huh.

Those that know me and maybe some of my readers here know that I have been struggling with health issues for several years now, the worst being the past 2 years.  Extreme fatigue, chest and abdominal pain, heart palpitations, numb hands and feet, dizziness, gastrointestinal problems, hair loss, low thyroid, high blood pressure, racing pulse, shortness of breath, off balance when walking and just plain feeling beyond crappy.  I've seen my physician many times over the past few years and he's treated me for each of these symptoms with medication and it seems that my stock of pills just keeps growing and I don't feel any better.  This past week I decided to schedule another appointment since I had been having severe gastrointestinal problems, a pain in my upper right abdomen and awful nausea.  What I was basically told was I probably just needed to change my diet, exercise more, oh and by the way it might just be psychological.  So now he thinks I'm a nut case?  Great.  Wonderful.

Since I am sure he was covering his bases, blood tests were performed and expanded this time to include testing for vitamin B12 levels and an abdominal ultrasound.  Now I've been trying to get to the bottom of these health issues for quite some time now and having a doctor who thinks you're "too young" for problems like this or "crazy" in the head is just plain ANNOYING.  Plus, I don't want to take more pills!!  I want to know what's wrong with me because it's just not normal to feel the way I do!!

After ultrasound I am informed that my liver is "abnormal" or enlarged.  Ok, what does that mean?  No one explains it other than to say you probably need to change your diet.  Great.  One day later a nurse calls to tell me I need monthly B12 injections because my levels of B12 are "extremely low".  What does that mean?  Oh, you probably just need to change your diet.  Ok....?

Two days later I go to get the B12 shot but ask the nurses why do I need this, what caused it, etc.  They stutter, glance at the floor, look confused at me and say they don't really know.  Mind you, the doctor has not talked to me at all since the blood tests, just the nurse.  Then I'm told I have Pernicious Anemia.  Pernicious Anemia?  Um, ok.  So again I ask, what's that?  And again I'm told I probably need to change my diet.  Are you kidding me?  For the record, my diet is not great but not that bad.  I eat plenty of dairy products, milk, yogurt, etc., eggs, a variety of meats but mostly chicken and fish.  I eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, try to pick whole grains and carbs that are high in fiber when I can.  We do eat fast food sometimes, I drink too much pepsi but I seriously don't think that is causing my body to be completely depleted of vitamin B12.  And guess what???  I did some internet research.

Pernicious Anemia is an auto-immune disease where the body's immune system has mistakenly destroyed the cells necessary for the body to absorb vitamin B12.  This results in the body being unable to make enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your organs.  The result is you feel tired and weak, out of breath, have digestive tract problems, may suffer nerve damage and risk damaging the heart, brain and other organs.  And as a side note, an enlarged liver (which is where stores of B12 are!) is also a complication of Pernicious Anemia.  Joy.  Why would my doctor neglect to bring this to my attention and not take the time to explain?  Many years ago, this disease was fatal.  FATAL!!  It can now be treated with success through lifelong B12 injections.  But, seriously, I am very unhappy with my doctor.  First of all, why did he never test for this if I have been complaining of these very symptoms for years.  Second, why would he not talk to me personally to explain this condition.  I could go on and on and but will refrain from the rant.

Time for a new doctor and a 2nd opinion!!