01 April 2009

General Update

I went to my primary care doc today. I'll tell what we discussed/did after I summarize what's been going on.

  • The endocrinologist wanted me to wean off Zoloft and try Pristiq, thinking Zoloft may be causing symptoms. However, I am having difficulty slowing/stopping Zoloft. I mean, I take an anti-depressant for a reason! My attitude, appetite and sleep were all being affected, not to mention the bouts of crying (including in my doctor's office today).
  • I've had CT scans of my head, chest, abdomen and pelvis. I've had an MRI of my head, as well. The only abnormal findings were that my spleen and left adrenal gland were both slightly enlarged. All tests have shown that there is nothing inherently "wrong" with these organs. I am to have another CT scan in 6 months to make sure the adrenal gland is not getting any larger, but it is most likely just some kind of fatty deposit on the gland.
  • I have had all kinds of blood and urine tests. Everything which has been tested has come back "normal" - and we all know I am NOT normal. :-)
  • The headache has been practically non-stop since early December and I have not worked since December 5. No drug I have tried has done anything to lessen the headache pain. Sometimes it is drastically affected by noise levels or over stimulation, but other days the intensity does not change no matter what is happening around me.
  • My short-term disability ended March 19. No decision has been made by the insurance company regarding my long-term disability claim. I officially have no job now and only the approval of my long-term claim will allow me to continue my health insurance at the same amount I had been paying. Otherwise, I have no insurance after April (unless I use COBRA and pay the entire amount). [Note: 3 boxes containing the personal contents of my cubicle/desk were delivered on Monday, so the "not working" is very real.] This, of course, will make it nearly impossible for Bobby and I to pay monthly bills. We're ok for April, but beyond that it is hard to say.

Now, here is what happened at the doctor's office today:

  • Due to the very obvious emotional and physical effects of reducing the Zoloft dose, the doctor said not to try and make a switch right now. He said the odds of Zoloft causing problems after this amount of time were pretty slim and were definitely outweighed by the negative consequences of trying to switch anti-depressant types at this time. So, I'm going to work my way back up to my regular Zoloft dose. This should definitely help my coping abilities.
  • My doctor agreed with the plan to have the adrenal gland checked in a few months. Since all the other tests are normal, he does not think there is a reason to pursue anything else at this time.
  • My doctor also reassured me that he believes this is a real, physical problem for me. It is not psychological or something else. He has been my doctor for a long time and knows that if I have pain, it is real. He told that if I feel lost/hopeless or like I am losing my mind, to remember that I am not imagining all this.
  • He wants me to try taking Topomax to help with the headache. However, he wants me to check with the neurologist first to make sure there is no contraindication about the drug. Topomax is an anti-seizure drug, but has also shown to help with headache pain. I have the prescription, along with a card to make it only $5/month prescription (otherwise it is a lot more). Once I hear back from the neurologist, I will get it filled.
  • The nurse had told me when I got there that the disability forms/medical records had been faxed to the insurance company. However, when I told the doctor a decision had not yet been made, he took me to his office and called the insurance company. There was no indication in their file that the fax had been received. They asked if the doctor could send the fax again. This time, use a different fax number and break the fax down into several smaller faxes (it was 35 or so pages). The insurance rep said that, once the records are received, it should only be a day or two for a decision. My doctor asked if calling/checking on Friday would be appropriate. He was told that was reasonable. So, the nurse was re-faxing the paperwork when I left and the doctor told me to check the status Friday and to call and let him know if there was no decision yet. He will call the insurance company again, if need be. Now, I just have to hope it is approved! It will pay me 60% of my salary as well as continue my eligibility to some benefits for up to 30 months (which I hope I do not need). Then, once this issue is resolved, I'll just need to find a new job. No problem, right?

The endocrinologist's nurse just called with my latest blood test result. Once again, I'm "normal"! This was the estrogen level check to see if, perhaps, I was entering menopause. Apparently I'm not. Gee, does that mean I'm NOT as old I feel right now?

Thank you to all of you for your thoughts, prayers and offers of assistance. They are all appreciated. Please continue to keep me in your prayers...they're all I have right now. I don't currently have plans for more tests, but once the depression is stabilized again, I'll work with my doctor to figure out what else can be done.

30 March 2009

One test result

Just got a call from the hematologist/oncologist about my results on the serotonin level blood test. Of course, the level is normal. What a surprise. He's out of ideas right now as far as other things to test/check. His nurse said, "You're a mystery!" Now, as much as I enjoy mysteries, I am NOT enjoying being one!

Still waiting for return call from endocrinologist about estrogen level blood test.

I'm also going to go see my primary doctor sometime this week and go over all this stuff with him. Perhaps he/I/we can figure out something to do/check/test if we look at everything all at once.

I'm almost out of ideas. Note the "almost" - I have come up with another possibility while searching desperately for answers on the Internet. [By the way, it's hard to do complicated research when you can only keep at it for 15 - 20 minutes at a time! I end up having to take breaks more often than I can do heavy research. Oh, well.]

Still waiting for an answer as to whether or not I am going to receive long-term disability payments. Sure hope so, otherwise it's going to be difficult to pay for anything with no money. My case status is still officially "pending" at The Hartford.