Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Health Update: My Test Results

Okay. I just came home from the dr's a while ago and I'm still trying to absorb the news. I suppose that will take me a while.

As I wrote about here last week, I was having major pain in my mid-back, shoulder, hips and knees (with some nerve pain down my arm as well) - all on the right side. So, after having to put up with the incompetent Dr "it's the lupus" in the walk-in clinic near here (and believe me, now that I have my test results, he'll be sorry he ever dismissed me - the quack), I finally did see my dr who sent me for x rays of my knees, hips and spine. Today, I got the results.

The Good News: There's nothing visibly wrong with my hips or knees. The pain I have in them is coming from my spine.

The Unexpected News: (No, I'm not pregnant. As if.) There were 2 "calcified" spots found in my pelvic area. One possibility: bladder stones (which are like kidney stones and can be treated the same ways). The second: calcified fibroids in my uterus, which there's not much to do about at this point. (Ignore that butt-ugly fibroid pic at that site. My masses are only 5 and 7 mm big.) Anyway, I need to go for an ultrasound to find out what's going on there and whatever it is, it's not causing pain at least.

The Bad News: They found scoliosis, which my dr labeled as degenerative. Since I've never had that portion of my spine x rayed before, it could be congenital. My 81 yr old mom was born with it and also has osteoarthritis, but she's still mobile. But, in addition to that, I also have bone spurs in my spine. Thus, all of the pain.

As for what's to be done about my back, my dr advised me to "stay very active" and to see a physiotherapist ASAP to get some exercises and, hopefully, some treatment to help the pain. I certainly won't be doing Jane Fonda style aerobics, I can guarantee you that. But maybe more exercises will help me shed that extra 10 pounds as a bonus too.

Of course, the word that bothers me the most in all of this is "degenerative". In other words, this isn't going to get any better and could end up being debilitating - not that it hasn't been already at times - but it will get worse. So, I'm a bit rattled, to say the least.

Chronic PTSD diagnosed in 1995 (yes, I still have symptoms); fibromyalgia in 1999 (or so); lupus, one year after that; and now this.

I'm falling apart.

There's one other syndrome that I suffer from that I'm sure others do as well. It's called Not Quite Disabled Enough syndrome. The symptoms include believing that, even though you can barely move or think some days, you don't qualify for government help. (Let's face it: the gov't disability income program here is called Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH). Severely handicapped? Me? No.) So it took me a while to figure out that I actually did qualify for it, much to my financial detriment at that time (not that the amount they give a person to live on is much to speak of at all, but it's better than what I had been surviving on then.)

Along with that, through the happenstance intervention of my new guardian angel penlan - who contacted me last weekend about something else and decided that maybe I was too stubborn for my own damn good once I told her more about my circumstances - I've found out now that I probably qualify for accessible housing (who knew??) and the Handi Bus service (which I always thought was just for people in wheelchairs etc) after she discovered that I was having a heck of a time traveling by bus and c-train to my dr's office for over an hour while in major pain.

penlan knows her stuff and, as she's mentioned here before in the comments, she has very painful osteoarthritis and gets around in a scooter. So you see, I assumed I was Not Quite Disabled Enough to qualify for any extra help. (Being a stubbornly independent hard-ass at the best of times doesn't help either). Who knows? Maybe someone else will read this and discover there may be more help out there for them too. I hope so.

There are also several other services that I need to check in to. (penlan's got me working hard now.) For Albertans, Inform Alberta is an invaluable search site to find out which services are available. I've used it before, mainly on behalf of other people ironically, and it provides concise summaries of what's out there. In Calgary, we also have a 211 service through which you can also get listings for gov't and NGO services.

I think I'll leave it at that, except to offer this special cheesecake to all of you - especially penlan - as my small showing of gratitude for all who've been so supportive. It's really meant a lot to me. I'll try not to "awfulize" these test results. Maybe some comfort cheesecake will help... (One of these days, I need to buy the real stuff again. This virtual cheesecake only goes so far.)

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