In Which Our Heroine is Misdiagnosed

I’m not dead!

But it has been a hell of a couple of months.

I have so much to tell you all! I thought about making a list and blabbing it all out in one go but then I though how silly! Let us have a leisurely conversation about where I have been, and where you have been.

The very first thing I want to tell you about is probably the biggest reason I didn’t blog during the month of November AT ALL.

I was freaking out, y’all.

It all started back in late October, when I got the bladder infection from hell. I have never had a bladder infection in my life. I was not impressed. It was AWFUL!!! And conscientious application of echinacea tincture and plain (yes, UNSWEETENED) cranberry juice failed to resolve the situation. So I finally made an appointment with a naturopath–someone I didn’t know at all, but he was close by and willing to fit me in to his busy schedule. I have been mostly quite healthy lately, and I thought I would be in and out quickly, with some big antibiotics and even bigger PRObiotics and an admonishment to drink more water and less tea.

Imagine my surprise when my cup of pee turned out to have sugar in it. Mr. Doctor Man poked my finger and we got a scary high blood sugar level.

He immediately launched in to an explanation of how I was diabetic, and I needed a primary care physician. He gave me a list of what to eat and what not to eat. He told me I’d better start checking my feet, because diabetics lose sensation in their feet and don’t realize when they injure them and don’t treat their wounds and end up with festering sores and have amputations. He told me to go buy the little blood sugar test monitoring machine. He gave me a list of bloodwork to get done at a lab and have the results faxed to him. He wrote me a prescription for Metformin.

Then he took my blood pressure. Surprise, it was high.

I asked him if there was any other possible explanation for the sugar in the urine and the high sugar level, and he said no.

I cried. I always cry.

I met the hubster at our friend’s house, and cried some more, and told them everything the naturopath told me.

They  helped me calm down, reassured me that I was right in feeling mistrustful of this immediate prescription of pharmaceuticals with no monitoring or discussion, told me we could figure it all out, encouraged me to trust my instincts.

Just in case, I radically altered my diet. I made an appointment with a different naturopath, one recommended to me by a friend I trust.

I wrote a novel in about two weeks. It was easier to write than to think about the possibility of being diabetic. (More about NaNoWriMo in a later post, probably). I knitted a LOT. I talked to friends who were diabetic, I did research. I made meal plans and cooked every meal. I fought really, really hard to keep panic at bay.

I did have a pretty horrible melt down which the hubster helped me get through.

On November 22nd I went to the naturopath I wanted to see and explained the whole situation to her, starting with the bladder infection from hell. She asked me about my eating habits before and after my dietary changes, and then she suggested we check my sugar level even though I hadn’t been fasting.

It was perfectly normal. There was no sugar in my urine.

She said: “You are not diabetic.”

Of course, that’s not the whole picture. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome several years ago. Insulin resistance  is often part of that picture, as is hormonal wonkiness and all sorts of other fun stuff. We need to do more blood work, get a more detailed picture of where I’m at, all of those very responsible and grown up things.

I need to be careful how I eat. Diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, all these things run in my family.

STILL, though, the relief of knowing I’m not diabetic was HUGE. Huge.

And here’s the thing. If I had done what the doctor told me to do without question, I would have been put on a drug I didn’t need. And then I would have gone back to him and my blood sugar level would have been much better and he would have said “See, it’s working so well, I’m so pleased”. He would have felt like a hero. I would have felt like shit.

I’m sharing this story with you all to say this: always, always question. I have always been of the opinion that doctors are just regular people, and they can be wrong. They can make assumptions based on something like what size pants a woman wears or whether or not she has insurance. And I’m sure that often enough those assumptions are correct.

And that’s where personal responsibility comes in. A doctor who just met you and has only spoken with you for 15 minutes doesn’t really know where you’re at. He or she is getting a snapshot of you. YOU know the whole you, you live with you day in and day out. You know where it hurts, you know when it doesn’t feel right. It’s up to you to filter what the doctor tells you through your knowledge of yourself. It’s up to you to decide if you feel comfortable with what you’ve been told, or if you want to seek a second opinion.

I’m very sure that the man I saw had my best interests at heart, and really thought that he knew what was going on and wanted to help me. But that doesn’t change the fact that he almost put me on medication I didn’t need, based on one blood sugar rating taken when I was sick and way off kilter. Most doctor’s mean well, I’m quite sure. But doctor’s are not god. They aren’t here to take it all away from you. They’re here to HELP you be well. That works best when you are invested in taking part in your own well being.

At least, that’s what I think. You can take that or leave it, as you wish.

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3 thoughts on “In Which Our Heroine is Misdiagnosed

  1. sorry i missed this when you originally posted in michelle. glad you trusted your instinct to get a second opinion. i freaked like that when i was told my daughter was a diabetic.. and undiagnosed juvenile diabetic.. 😦 glad you aren’t!xx

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