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Ups and Downs

Many of my readers didn’t know me last winter, as I only started blogging in May.

But last winter, I had some very strange… I’ll call them "episodes", that sent me to the ER twice and to four different doctors.  Tests uncovered two relatively minor medical issues that were deemed unrelated, but no answers as to what caused these episodes and the residual symptoms that eventually went away entirely.

Everyone seemed to consider this event a little "blip" in the ups and downs of life, but I always had a nagging feeling that I hadn’t heard the last of it.

Well, I was right.  I had another incident yesterday.

The first time around, I was terrified.  We couldn’t figure out what caused it and didn’t know what to do to prevent it from happening again.  Of course my imagination ran wild.  After all, I had a new baby and two young children who needed me to be healthy, and well… alive.

I felt a sense of desperation to live and to care for them.  I spent nights in prayer, pleading with God to grant me health and long life so that I could raise my children.  And in those darkest hours, I did find peace and comfort in knowing that my children are only on loan me from my loving heavenly father, and that whatever might happen I could trust Him to be faithful.  I guess that’s what I was supposed to learn through that.

After making the rounds of doctors and tests and finding out I was indeed going to live, at least for the foreseeable future, my anxiety lessened, but I have never taken health and well-being for granted quite as much since.

This time I am not scared.  I’m mad.  After months of living a relatively normal life, how dare this drama enter my life again, making me fearful to go out alone and wondering when the next episode will strike?  I resent the time and energy that is sure to be involved in making the rounds of doctors once again, when I have an ominous feeling that no one will have an answer for me, the same as before.

So, you might be wondering, what on earth is involved in these "episodes"?

I do want to share in case, by some extraordinary stroke of providence, someone has some insight that four doctors and multiple acquaintances have not had.  I’m not holding my breath, but it’s worth a shot.

These incidents always start with a horrible stomach ache and a couple trips to the bathroom.  Once my system is cleaned out, the heart palpitations and flushing feelings start and escalate until I pass out or lie down.  I end up very weak and cold.  When the EMTs arrived that first time, my blood pressure was extremely low.  Then as I become more coherent, I start to get chills.  These last about an hour, longer the first time.  And then hives are the last symptom to appear and usually last several hours.  I believe I had some dizziness the first time or two, but not yesterday.

After those first two incidents, which occurred 5 days apart last February, I did have some residual symptoms. I felt waves of dizziness from time to time.  I had mild flushing feelings sometimes.  In retrospect, I wonder if anxiety was causing those symptoms, mainly because I seemed to have some mental control over them.

I had an EKG, extensive bloodwork (when they found hypothyroidism), a CT-Scan and MRI (when they found a possible meningioma – Google is your friend) and probably more that I can’t recall because I was so out of it when I got to the ER that first time.

I saw an endocrinologist who said it sounded like a food allergy but swore it had nothing to do with the hypothyroidism, an allergist who said it was not a food allergy but likely related to the thyroid problem, and a neurologist who said it was definitely not neurological in nature and in no way related to the meningioma.  My family doctor gave me little hope that we will every figure out what caused it, but he did mention anxiety.

Well, yeah, NOW I have anxiety.  I didn’t before all this started, though!

I am scheduling an endoscopy due to some assumably unrelated stomach pains I’ve had off and on for over a year, so I will be seeing a gastroenterologist and plan to run my history by him in case he has anything enlightening to offer.

In the meantime I plan to go to Virginia to spend Christmas with my family, and I am determined to have a happy, fun-filled holiday in spite of it all.

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3 thoughts on “Ups and Downs

  1. Ooops, I should have added that a vasovagal response to stomach cramps, though frightening, isn’t necessarily anything serious. Often it’s a normal physiologic response. Also, it doesn’t always lead to syncopy (passing out). The best treatment is to lie down with your feet elevated. If you can’t lie down (if you are on the toilet for example) put your head between your knees. Try to breath slowly and normally. Holding your breath and straining can cause vagal stimulation (valsalva maneuver.) Hyperventilating can cause further lightheadedness.Have I confused you enough? Whew…ask for a simple opinion and get comment spammed 😉

  2. Lynanne, that’s all very interesting. I, too, have had, my entire life, unexplainable bouts of stomach cramps and diarrhea, with the same result you described. I have wondered if these episodes are that with extra stuff. But why has the extra “stuff” started happening now, and why 2 so close together and then another 9 mos later? It is just so strange. I am eager to meet with the gastro-guy and see what he has to say.

  3. OK. The allergist said WHAT? Did he actually test you for anything? Did he take a history? (If he didn’t, he ain’t a good allergist.) Did he have more than 10 years as an allergist? Was he board certified?Now, it doesn’t have to be food allergy, but what you describe is pretty consistent with systemic allergic reaction, a.k.a. anaphylaxis. I know, I have it. Of course, since I don’t swell, and don’t get hives, most idiots (ER Docs) don’t recognize it. (I just had an episode and am a wee bit irritated right now.)You need to get FULLY tested for allergies. Even environmental and drug allergies can cause anaphylaxis. It is a rare disease so a lot of people don’t know a lot about it. It doesn’t happen very often – and vasovagal responses can be part of an allergic reaction. I don’t know where you live, but you need to haunt some boards online and ask for a good allergist and endocrinologist in your area. Unfortunately, there are lot of fine generalists that are supposedly specialists that really can’t help those with the rare disease form of the disease they treat.If you want to talk to me in detail, you can contact me at:m l o w s l e y at a o l dot c o mI think you can figure out how to redo the address into the right format.Pax,MLO

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