Tuesday, February 27, 2018
A Potential Diagnosis, Fear, and Loneliness
My blood test results from earlier this month came back with good news... and some not so good news. The good news is that my iron level has gotten better and my platelets went up a bit. The (very) good news is that while my white blood count went down a bit, it was still within normal range which it hadn't been for about 2 years or so. The bad news, I'm borderline anemic... and for the first time ever, my lupus/ANA panel came back abnormal.
My doctor called to give me the news the day after my last blood draw, less than a month ago. She said that I had to see a specialist (in rheumatology) because of what was found in the blood test. There are several possibilities -- it could be that I have rheumatoid arthritis (which would explain both the fatigue and the nagging right shoulder pain that has been presented since early January), it could be lupus (which, again, would explain the pain and the fatigue), or it could be a fluke. I believe about 3% of blood tests have shown an initial abnormality in otherwise healthy individuals and have then been discounted as a fluke. I'm hoping for the latter... for preparing myself for either of the former.
As some of you (who have been reading this blog for a while) may remember, I had an acute kidney injury from dehydration a year and a half ago. The possibility that it could be lupus and that my kidneys are in danger honestly worries me. Those of us who get pop-culture news know what a potential lupus diagnosis can mean; we've heard the stories about how Selena Gomez nearly died because her kidneys began shutting down and how her friend, Francia Raisa, saved her life by donating one of her own kidneys. We've heard about how Nick Cannon also nearly lost his life due to kidney failure from lupus complications. I mean, these stories -- while turned out well for those involved -- worry me about a potential lupus "life sentence." But, this is the worst case scenario. The best case scenario is that it's a fluke or that it's rheumatoid arthritis (which I can deal with; I would prefer this between lupus and RA).
I'm not going to sugarcoat or be alarmist about my own symptoms; I'll just be honest. My fatigue has gotten worse in some ways. I spent more days fatigued last month than I have this month. I've only spent 12 days bedridden this month, though I've felt very fatigued about 16 out of 27 days, but when the fatigue hits, it's really bad. This month I began experiencing frightening moments where I feel like I can't walk or move, at all. I've had to rely on my mom to get from my bed to the bathroom, only a couple of feet apart, on at least two occasions. I would be lying if I didn't say that this not only freaked me out but it also reduced me to tears out of both frustration and fear.
In the past week, I've had two near-fainting experiences and an additional day on which I was so lightheaded that I thought I was going to pass out all day. There's a chance I caught the same stomach bug my mom also had last week (we've had similar symptoms) but I decided to get checked out either way because, as I said, my weakness and fatigue has gotten much worse in the past month.
All of this has come at the best time -- Lent! No, that's not sarcasm. It really is the best time to experience this stuff. Not only am I having so many memento mori moments that bring forth my own mortality (which has, honestly, always scared me; I've been scared of dying since I was a little girl... don't ask me why because I don't know what triggered it). The fact that I haven't been well and I haven't been able to go to Mass and confession for the past 10 weeks just compounds the feeling of frustration and restlessness that I feel. I'm hoping to have a priest come over to hear confession and bring the Eucharist sometime this week because I just need it. I can't explain it but I don't feel right going this long without either. My soul yearns for both. I have my moments in which fear that I won't be able to go to confession or receive the Eucharist again. I have no doubt that it's part of spiritual attacks but it happens and it never fails to reduce me to tears.
One more thing before I wrap up this blog post, because I just feel like I should share this: all of this has left me feeling incredibly lonely. Want to know who are your "through thick and thin" (or "ride or die") friends? Go through something like this. I've seen so many of my friends disappear, even when I try to maintain some form of communication. I'm incredibly grateful for the amazing, supportive friends I have. My friends -- my "ride or dies" -- have gone above and beyond to make sure I have what I need to keep going and that includes ordering me food for local restaurants who deliver when I'm too sick to go out and have nothing to eat. But, sadly, everyone lives all over the country (and as far as Italy at the moment) so I don't get to see them. I'm grateful for social media and phones and whatnot but it's not the same.
Not only that, I had a fella basically fall off the face of the earth late last year as I started getting more sick. Yeah, I know, I don't typically talk about this area of my life but I'm willing to share this. The guy was interested, sure, but I guess he didn't want to deal with my health not being perfect so he disappeared. It all makes me think that, if it's God's will that I bear this cross, I feel like it's going to take a miracle to find someone who will love me for me and not care about what physical and medical crosses I will have to bear. I know good guys exist out there -- I've seen guys marry and start families with girl friends and acquaintances who have leukemia and other types of medical issues -- but the longer I stay single, and the worse my symptoms get, the harder it is not to think that perhaps I discerned my vocation wrong and that perhaps I'm called to stay single for the rest of my life. It stinks because I've had my heart set on one day becoming a wife and mother but God knows why things happen and why they sometimes don't. It's a sad thought that adds to my feeling of loneliness but it is what it is.
Anyway, I didn't mean to end this post on a downer but I wanted to get all of this out of my system because I've been carrying it around with me for weeks. I hope that I get some news regarding my blood work tomorrow and that I don't have to wait another month before I know one thing or another.
Please say a prayer for me -- that I may have the courage to bear whatever news is coming my way, that I may never lose hope that things will get better (even when things are seemingly getting worse) and that my faith never wavers during this time.
I will keep y'all updated on any official news I get tomorrow and/or on April 2nd.
As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :)