Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Medical Results

Thomas had his doctor's appointment yesterday and I went in to it a nervous wreck. I was so afraid of what they might find. To begin with, since Thomas hadn't been to the doctor in 2 years, they took his blood pressure. It was good at 102/60. My first sigh of relief accompanied that announcement. Then the nurse practitioner came in to examine him. I really like this woman because she has always cared about Thomas and has been responsible with how she handles him. When he came out of his second hospitalization and didn't have anyone to handle his meds, she saw him but then told him that schizophrenia was something she didn't want to mess with and she felt he needed a proper psychiatrist to handle his care. She did what the hospital couldn't upon release, she found him a local psychiatric nurse practitioner to handle his meds. She got Thomas into the right hands and for that I will always be grateful.

She listened to his heart and lungs and immediately told us that his heart sounded good. That's good but it wasn't enough for me. I feel like anyone can listen to a heart beat but can they really tell if a heart is doing well just by taking a couple minutes and listening? I didn't have faith in that but I let her finish her exam. We had told her all about his symptoms, especially the pressure in his chest and she had him lay back and she pushed on various parts of his stomach and chest and pinpointed points of pain on Thomas. I had no idea that he had suffered with such pain. That has always been a sticking point for me with Thomas. He's just not in touch with his physical body and oftentimes his mental health. By pushing on his chest she discovered that he has a great deal of pain along his sternum. Could that be what was causing the "pressure" in his chest?

She went on to ask a few more questions and then delivered her diagnosis. To begin with she believes he has something called costochondritis which is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the rib bones to the sternum. That made sense, I guess. Then she also felt he had some form of gastritis, probably from all of the meds he takes, which she said would account for his stomach pain. It seems he probably has some acid reflux that is damaging his esophagus which also could be an explanation for his chest pain. I understood that this all made sense and was probably a valid diagnosis but I couldn't get past all of the heart disease in my family and I worried she might be missing something with his heart. I looked her in the eye and told her with desperation about how my dad had just died of a heart attack and I was very worried about Thomas because of his sedentary lifestyle and she said she'd do an EKG.

Thank God.

That was a heart test I could trust.

They ran him through one of those and the news came back good. He had passed the EKG with flying colors. I could finally relax.

Then she ordered a huge battery of blood tests and while we waited I Googled chostochondritis. Everywhere I looked I couldn't find one thing that mentioned chest PRESSURE. What is the deal here? Is it really chostochondritis? After what I read I still had doubts but I felt that his blood tests might show something that we're missing with this.

When she came back in after the labs she told us all of the tests she had ordered to be run on his blood and I felt better about it. She is looking for inflammation in his body and is also testing for an ulcer and also for markers in the blood that would indicate if he had had a heart attack at any point in his life. She had it covered so I decided that I just had to make peace with all that had gone on in the appointment.

I did ask her at the end if she felt that his chest pressure could be the result of anxiety and I liked her answer. She said she "wasn't going to go there" because she wanted to rule out everything else. She said she wanted to take the testing one step at a time and be conservative as we went along but she promised we would get some answers. I liked that she didn't want to hang the chest pressure on anxiety. I think that doctor's are so quick to assign a mental issue with physical issues and sometimes they miss a bigger problem. The fact that she wasn't going to write things off to anxiety made me happy and we got ready to go. She wrote a prescription for ranitidine, an antacid, and we left.

So, for now, that is where we are left. All of the things she did and said made sense and I figure, now, I just have to let things run their course for a little bit. We will see her again in 3 weeks for a follow up on the blood tests.

My main concern had been Thomas's heart and with that cleared I feel better. For days I have worried about that and prayed every night that Thomas wasn't going to have some kind of heart attack or other issue. That's just the way my life seems to go. We get cleared for one thing, like Thomas now being relatively stable mentally, and then something else crops up in its place. We did this for 2 years with my dad. First it was a stroke and as he started to get back on his feet and we'd relax and then something else would happen. In the end we ended up with him having 2 brain surgeries, becoming unable to walk, then developing dementia and then finally, him dying. My family does not have the best track record when it comes to health issues so it's always in the back of my head that I just have to wait for the next thing to go wrong.

But, again, Thomas's heart sounds good. That is really all I wanted out of this doctor's appointment and I got my results. He still feels the pressure and I don't know, after reading about costochrondritis, that it will ever go away but at least we're working towards managing it somehow.

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