Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Something's Wrong

I have to make an appointment to start another endless round of doctor visits, but this time it's for me. I have to do some reading first, though, since it seems that doctors can't diagnose anything unless you already know what it is that's wrong. You come to them and say "I think I have Dread Disease X" and they run a test for Dread Disease X, but you come to them and say "I've had diarrhea for a year, and my knee hurts" and they say "eat fiber and take some ibuprofen" or send you home with a prescription for Obecalp. * They call these conditions "idiopathic," meaning that you're a freakin' idiot for thinking there's something wrong with you, and you should just go home and quit wasting their precious time. (Yes, I know what "idiopathic" really means, but this is what it implies.)

Anyway, I still haven't diagnosed myself, but my main candidates are fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. If you know any other diseases I might consider, do drop their names in the comments. Here are the symptoms:
  • diarrhea on and off for a year
  • pain that comes and goes, but mostly comes, in my right elbow (radiating up and down my right arm) and my right knee and ankle, to the point that it's too painful to walk (knee) or lift anything heavier than a couple of pounds (elbow)
  • pain worse in morning
  • occasional numbness in right pinkie and ring finger, not caused by nerve damage (this was tested, test showed no nerve blockage or scarring), associated with holding right arm at right angle
  • skin itchiness, worsening in afternoon and evening, not associated with change in laundry products
  • stiffness in morning-- hard to walk when first getting out of bed, feet feel like useless lumps, painful to take first steps of day
  • developed bunions on both feet a couple of years ago, even though I don't wear tight shoes and I'm only in my mid-30's and nobody else in my family has them
  • fatigue; can't climb stairs without needing to rest at the top
  • depression; flat affect
  • near constant muscle aches in shoulder/neck (could be tension from having to practically go to med school before I go pay someone to diagnose me)
  • Orthopedist says there's nothing wrong with my knee or elbow
Any ideas?

* Obecalp is "placebo" spelled backwards. My dad has a funny story about how, in the pre-Viagra days, he successfully cured a man's erectile dysfunction with Obecalp, the pharmacy's name for sugar pills.