Thursday, July 5, 2012

Google is smarter than my doctor

The last post I wrote before this recent burst of blogging activity about Blogopolis was back in February this year. I talked in detail about how I was suffering from terrible Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) which was having an affect on nearly every aspect of my life. I couldn't sleep properly so I was exhausted, anxious, irritable, unmotivated and feeling downright terrible most of the time. This was having a serious follow-on effect on my closest relationships, particularly with Noo. So much so, that for the first time since he was a tiny baby, I was hating being a parent. I love Noo, don't get my wrong, I just stopped liking being a parent because I wasn't coping.

I am happy now to report that I have been cured of my RLS. Yes. Cured. After three years of suffering. And the only reason why I am cured is because I, once again, used Google to self diagnose and to find out what course of action was required to sort out my problem.

This is not the first time the internet has saved me:

After Noo was born I suffered from extreme anxiety, profusive sweating, insomnia, insatiable appetite and these horrible brain buzzes that would make me feel extremely dizzy. I saw my GP and psychiatrist several times a week trying to get back on track with my recovery which had been going well in the lead up to Noo’s birth. Both of them said I was just feeling the new mother blues more than other new mums because of my history. After three months of suffering I’d had enough and told my psych I wanted to change my antidepressant. Because she had been increasing my dose since Noo was born, to come off the drug I had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital to be kept under surveillance while 'washing out' before I could start the new antidepressant. As is routine, the hospital’s GP did a stack of blood tests when I was admitted. By the next day I was told that my thyroid was extremely overactive to the point where the GP thought I could have Graves Disease, which I later discovered would explain a lot of my symptoms. 

I had my laptop with me so went straight back to my room and Googled it which frightened the living daylights out of me – not great when you’re coming off a massive dose of Effexor!

After further research online I came to the conclusion I had post-partum thyroiditis which is a temporary condition and is actually quite common and very often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms very much sound like what a normal new mother would go through, although my symptoms were very severe. 

When I took the printed information I'd gathered from the internet to my GP and psych they dismissed it and told me to wait until I saw a specialist. It wasn’t until I was able to see an endocrinologist many weeks later that my research was confirmed as correct. I just wish I’d Googled my symptoms much earlier because I think it would have helped me to know that I wasn’t going mad, that I actually had a physical condition.

So back to 2012, I was getting desperate again, so scared I was back on a downward spiral into depression. You can hear it in my posts around that time. I felt dreadful. I am a regular at my doctor. I go all the time. I have to have regular check ups for various reasons or another. I guess because I have been so unwell in the past I am hyper vigilant about my mental health. I over analyse my over analysis. I'm a nutcase basically, but let's get on with the story...

So I had my list of symptoms that I kept asking the doctor about: exhaustion, feeling down, anxiety, hairloss, constipation, headaches and of course RLS. Many of these symptoms could be put down to another bout of depression. But just like when I had post partum thyroiditis which wasn't diagnosed for four months because of my history of mental health issues, I wasn't going to back down until I got some answers.

I get that, because my anxiety does manifest itself in my body, for example headaches and chest pain,  neck and shoulder pain, etc, it could be easy to just shrug it off and think, come on, get over it. But when the symptoms are persistent I don't want to keep being told to do some relaxation or whatever. And this is why I am telling this story. Because if you don't feel right in yourself, don't just take your doctor's word for it. Because we know our own bodies best. No one else can feel what you feel.

So back in early February I mentioned that I was asking my doctor to order some thyroid function tests to see if my thyroid hadn't gone hypo again which could explain the tiredness, hairloss and constipation, but those tests came back negative. I got a referral to a new psychiatrist to discuss coming off my medication even though it was agreed by all that after nearly three years on Cipramil it was pretty safe to say that wasn't what was making my legs twitch through the night.

So I went to Google again and found that RLS was one of the symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia. Back to the GP I went, did tests and found out my iron stores were so low and had been for so long I was now anaemic. Hello!! Exhaustion anyone? My haemoglobin levels were well below normal. No wonder I was feeling so shit and tired and wanting to sleep all day and biting everyone's heads off and wanting to trade Noo into the highest bidder!

Next stop was the gastroenterologist to find out where I was losing blood. One top n tail (colonoscopy/gasoscopy) and one adventure swallowing a camera to look at my small intestine later and still we were nowhere near finding out the source of my 'leak'. 

I asked the specialist about my symptoms. What could I do about this bloody fucken Restless Leg Syndrome this iron deficiency was causing in the meantime? He looked at me blankly and said he didn't know there was a correlation between RLS and iron deficiency anaemia. Oh, I thought. But Google told me there was! The doctor looked at me like, you going to trust the internet over me?

But I wanted something done about it anyway. And so the next week I was booked in for an iron infusion. This sounds really painful and icky but it was just a matter of laying around while I got all this synthetic iron pumped into me via a drip.

The synthetic iron in a drip bag

All hooked up - thank goodness I had a fresh manicure!

Morning tea

4 hours later... nearly finished

Within two weeks of that infusion I was cured of my Restless Leg Syndrome.

I shit you not!

Always trust yourself when it comes to your own body! Don't suffer unnecessarily because your doctor tells you it is in your head. 

I can now go to bed without fear of twitching and aching, or of pacing or going mad. I don't need to take benzos to get to sleep and I wake up feeling refreshed (most days, at least on the days that I'm not suffering from some daycare sourced cold or flu!). Even my dreams are more calm because I am not going to bed in fear every night.

I am back to loving being a mum! Noo and I have that thing going on where we enjoy each other's company again. Since the iron infusion my energy levels have slowly risen and I am back on the road to recovery. 

What a diversion from that road it has been! But at least I'm back.

Has anyone else used Google to help with a medical concern?


Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, these are just my experiences. Please do not use Google as your only source of medical assistance. ALWAYS see a doctor. Not all people who suffer RLS can be cured by sorting out any iron issues they may or may not have. 

1 comment:

20 to go! said...

OMG! I only use Doctor Google. It is so hard to fit real doctors into your day (especially when you have to wait so long to get in!)I am so glad that you rid yourself of RLS! That is awesome!

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