Monday, May 18, 2009

More Fun With Medicine!

My doctor called this afternoon with the results of my bloodwork. My thyroid levels are splendid. The various tests that measure infection and inflammation (sed rate, etc.) were all normal. My Vitamin D is a bit low, so I went out and bought a supplement. The weird finding, though, is that I had a positive antinuclear antibody (ANA) test.

This test is often positive in people with lupus and other autoimmune disorders, but there's also a high false-positive rate. I'm sure mine is a false positive; even given my overactive medical imagination, I can't for a minute fit myself into the profile for lupus or any of the other conditions. My doctor's sure it's a false positive too. He's referring me to a rheumatologist anyway, as soon as he finds one who accepts my insurance (oy!).

I have a long history of alarming test results that turned out to be nothing. "You have a huge ovarian mass! It's almost certainly cancer!" Ultrasound a few days later reveals . . . nothing. "You have a visual-field defect! It could indicate a brain tumor!" Brain MRI a few days later reveals . . . nothing. (No brain! No, that's not what I meant. Hold the jokes, please.) "You have an abnormal abdominal CT! It could be Crohn's Disease, or even lymphoma!" Colonoscopy a few days later reveals . . . nothing.

So this is almost certainly also nothing. But when I called my sister to tell her about it, she freaked. She's the one who always minimizes medical stuff, mind you; I'm the one who always asks a zillion questions. But she was shooting out questions as quickly as I could say "I don't know" or "hang on a sec, I gotta check this webpage for the answer."

"What's the false-positive rate? Why did your doctor order this test, anyway? What else besides lupus can cause it? When are you going to the rheumatologist?"

My favorite was, "Are the conditions this tests for hereditary? I don't think I want to be related to you anymore!" (My response was, "You're older than I am. You'd have them already.")

I just kept saying, "Liz, relax. I'm fine. It's going to be a false positive." I probably shouldn't even have called her, but I'm used to checking in with family about this stuff. I really didn't think she'd be so alarmed, but in retrospect, this wasn't the day to lay more medical crud on her. Mea culpa.

She's also more rattled than I am about my gum-graft-plus-two-gingivectomies tomorrow. Her own gum work was miserable, so she's anticipating the same for me; I'm anticipating that mine will be better, since hers was a number of years ago and I've heard very good things about my doctor. I hope I'm the one who's right! But if not, miserable gum procedures are still better than losing teeth.

Gary and I went grocery shopping today and picked up a lot of soft stuff for me: soy and rice milk, soy yogurt, potatoes for mashing -- I can also have polenta -- and some bottled smoothies. I'm going to turn into a soybean by the time this is over.

We also went shopping at REI. I got a phone case that attaches to a backpack strap, and each of us got new shoes (both pairs on sale). Because, y'know, if you're about to spend several thousand dollars on dental work, of course you need to splurge on spiffy new shoes to cheer yourself up.



  1. Of course you must have new shoes before dental work. They will be a lovely and visible sign of hope during the dental work and soft food phase--soon you'll be out hiking with Gary!! Prayers continuing.

  2. Hi Susan
    I hope everything goes ok for you...

    Oh and try not to get all Soya'd out! xx

  3. Anonymous8:15 PM

    Just so you know - there are times when women can have false positive ANAs, especially if they are taking hormones. So talk to the rheumatologist - lupus has a list of symptoms associated with it that you would need to have to be diagnosed.


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