Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More Medical Drama

It's been a while since I posted.  Here's why.

The Very Short Version

I had some mysterious medical issues, at first very scary, now largely resolved, which for several weeks meant that if I looked at my computer, I felt sick.  After extensive medical testing, everyone's best guess seems to be atypical migraines brought on by anemia.

The Long Version

On Thursday, April 29th, just before bedtime, after I'd been at my computer for several hours straight, I started experiencing a visual anomaly: basically, I had a big splotch in my field of vision that looked like the kind of bright semi-blindness you get after a camera flash.  I had it in both eyes.  It freaked me out, but it went away after five or ten minutes.  When I got in bed and tried to read a book, I couldn't.  I could read each individual word, but when I tried to string them together to make some kind of sense, I couldn't.  Which really freaked me out.  I felt perfectly fine otherwise, and I thought maybe I'd just given myself such a scare with the vision thing that I had, I don't know, made myself temporarily unable to concentrate.  Or something.  I put the book aside and went to sleep, figuring I'd deal with it in the morning if whatever it was was still happening.  And it wasn't: in the morning, I was fine, and I chalked it up to eye strain and freaking myself out, and went about my business.

Nine days later, Saturday, May 8th, it happened again.  This time it was around 9:00 PM, and I'd been playing a computer game for about an hour, and I got another camera-flash blob.  I left the computer and went into the living room and turned on the TV.  Again, the blob went away within five or ten minutes, and what followed was some kind of disorientation.  I was watching Lost (on the TiVo), and though I could understand everything that happened, I couldn't follow the thread of the plot from scene to scene, and nothing seemed to have context.

I thought I was having a stroke.

We hauled the kid out of bed and went to the ER, for the second time in a month.  They took my blood and pronounced me extremely anemic (from the blood loss from the miscarriage) as well as dehydrated.  They did a CT Scan which showed nothing.  They said it was probably atypical migraine or atypical seizure, and I should see my doctor as soon as possible.

The next few days are kind of a blur.  I felt like hell, in retrospect partly because I kept looking at my computer, which it took me some time to realize was provoking a lot of the rotten feeling, but also because I was terrified.  My doctor wanted me to get an MRI to rule out some very scary shit including brain cancer, and it was a couple of days before those results came back totally clear.  I didn't have any more visual anomalies or periods of disorientation.  What I had was a lot of nausea, dizziness, and general feeling like hammered crap.  I also had a full work-up by a neurologist, including an EEG to rule out seizures, the results of which I'm still waiting for: I have the follow-up appointment this week.

Once I figured out that the computer, particularly reading anything on the computer, made me feel terrible, I turned it off and stopped looking at it entirely.  Books and magazines were the same, but less intense: I could read non-electronic text for a a few minutes before it started making me feel weird, and my ability to read non-e text without adverse effect returned within a week or so.  Oddly, I could read my iPhone comfortably.

By Friday, six days after the episode that sent me to the ER, I was feeling considerably more like myself.  Feeling normal again made me realize just how wrong I'd been feeling all along.  That wasn't the end of the episodes, but it was the end of feeling shitty all the time.  From that point on, I felt mostly normal and fine, with isolated incidents of not-OK.

I went back to my GP, and she said that based on all the data she had by that point, her best guess was that I was having clusters of migraines, the first few "with aura" (that's what the camera-flash blob was), and that it probably had everything to do with my extreme anemia (which I have been beating back with massive doses of iron since my first GP visit after the ER) and the stresses on my body caused by the miscarriage and hemorrhage, and that she doubted it meant I'd become a migraineur.  The neuro said basically the same thing, but wanted to rule out seizures, which I'll find out about later this week.

It's common, apparently, for women (most migraineurs are women) to begin getting migraines during some big hormonal change: pregnancy, menarche, menopause, etc.  And the migraines often stop at some other hormonal event.  Some women have them during pregnancy and never have them again.  Many female migraineurs tend to have them at particular points in their menstrual cycle.  Anyway, it makes some kind of sense that the the anemia along with the hormonal upheaval of my system resetting after the miscarriage would have provoked either a one-time cluster of migraines or the beginning of some migraine phase of my life.  Of course, I'm very much hoping it's the former, but I can live with the latter.  Better nauseous and disorienting migraines than the kind with blinding pain, after all (presuming, if I continue to get them, they will be like the ones I've already had) or any of the far-more-terrifying possibilities ruled out by the MRI.

Did you know they have TV in MRIs now?  I couldn't actually see the Today Show because I had to take my glasses off, but the sound was pleasantly distracting.  So was the Valium.  The neurological evaluation was nifty, too.  It was all a bunch of follow-my-finger, walk-in-a-line-heel-to-toe, tell-me-where-I'm-sticking-you-(gently)-with-this-pin type stuff, all of which made me want to grill the dude about neurology.  I'd have even warmer and fuzzier feelings about all of it if all the tests and hospital visits and the fact that Andy's employer hosed us this year on medical insurance didn't mean that we had to cancel our modest September beach vacation.

Anyway.  I had my last arguably migrainey spell on the 23rd after having a short night's sleep and being a bit hungover.  And really, for the past few weeks, it's been tough to tell what's migrainey from what's just a bit queasy and wifty.  I started back at the computer five or ten minutes at a time last week with no adverse effects, and now I'm spending upwards of an hour here (hello!) without even having little panic attacks about it.  My guess about why the computer and to a lesser extent other reading provoked the spells is something to do with eye strain and maybe needing bifocals (I've been myopic since I was 8).  So I'm hitting the opthalmalogist this week, too.

I talked to my pal the midwife at my OB's office a couple of weeks ago, and she said she didn't think it was a good idea to start trying to conceive until the anemia was gone.  She said "a couple of months," but I can't see it taking that long.  My hemoglobin had gone from around 8 to over 10 the first week after the ER visit, when I was taking three iron pills a day.  That's already nearly normal, and I've been taking two a day since, so I'll be very surprised if my blood test next week doesn't show perfectly respectable levels.  I've already had a normal (I suppose) period, which means I'm (probably) ovulating again, so now that I feel normal and am no longer freaked out about this whole thing, I'd just as soon get back on the horse ASAP.  Especially since this entirely-without-fun roller coaster ride started when I got pregnant in February and it is now June, and I am in no way getting younger.

I'm off to the OB for a follow-up ultrasound and sit-down with one of the full-metal OBs this afternoon, so I'm going to talk to him about it.  And I'll see my GP next week after getting the EEG results and also the results of a blood draw, so I'll be talking to her about it, too.  And then I'd really like not to see the inside of another medical establishment until I'm safely and successfully and without incident knocked up.  Cross your fingers!


Phantom Scribbler said...

Fingers crossed. And, bah, I'm so sorry it's been such a rough road.

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Leah said...

love you, girl. hang in.