Monday, February 20, 2017

More About Sea Ice, and More

And, just for the record, Arctic sea ice extent is currently ranked 3rd lowest for February 20ths, behind 2016 and 2006, and global sea ice extent is ranked lowest for this date.


Sorry for not posting much interesting lately, just numbers and political fluff. I haven't been feeling well for some time -- a few years -- and I thought it was that I was just getting older or not sleeping well or not in the best shape. But I just recently learned I have a disease called hyperparathyroidism -- my parathyroid gland is producing too much of its hormone ("PTH") that regulates calcium in the blood. As a result, my body thinks it needs more calcium in the bloodstream, which it is leeching out of bones and other tissues. The result can be a host of symptoms -- fatigue, headaches, weakness, poor sleep, depression, more and just feeling crummy -- and eventually, due to the bone loss, broken bones can show up, and osteoporosis. I haven't broken any bones in a long time, but I do feel pretty crummy these days, with a flushed face, very tired, headachy, easily exhausted, and kinda like the way one feels the day before you know you're getting the flu. My face is tired. I've had, very often, a flushed face for several years, but the other symptoms have come on only in the last 6-12 months. Again, I thought it was only that I was getting older, and I needed to bear down and tough my through it. But a blood test in December -- the first comprehensive blood test I've had since 2011, due to lack of health insurance -- showed my calcium level was a good bit too high, as was my PTH hormone level (produced by the parathyroid). It was the first time I had ever had that routinely checked, as far as I know. (I've kept a spreadsheet of my blood test results starting in 2005, when I lived in New Hampshire and there paid $350 cash for a blood panel, $25/month at a time.) Luckily my doctor put two and two together and raised the alarm for hyperparathyroidism -- the first time she ever caught one, she told me. (Hyperparathyroidism affects about 1-4 people per thousand, and not because they did anything "wrong." Usually, but not always, it strikes people in their 50s, and more women than men.) The disease also affects vitamin D levels, and mine were very low -- already a problem in the Pacific Northwest, due to its high latitude and relative lack of sunshine. (I've read that above about 45 degrees latitude, one simply can't get enough Vit D from sunshine -- the Sun's annual average angle is simply too low -- and supplements have to be taken). I was taking 10,000 IU of Vit D a day, and still the level in my blood was too low.

So I'm going up to OHSU in Portland in about 10 days for a full battery of tests and to consult with a physician and a surgeon. Thank God Obama I now have health insurance, at least until the Republicans take it away. The cause of hyperparathyroidism is usually (80% of the time) a tumor on one of the four small parathyroid glands (they're behind the thyroid, two on each side, each about the size of a grain of rice), causing it to overproduce its PTH hormone. The tumor is almost always benign, and removing it and the associated parathyroid gland usually fixes the problem, relatively simply. Some patient testimonies I've read -- OK, maybe they select just the good ones -- say it's effective within days and a striking improvement is felt. Which by now I'm really hoping is the case, because I'm feeling increasingly lousy. Part of what I'm feeling now is, I suspect, that I know that I have this disease, so I'm more attuned to the symptoms, and perhaps happy just to have an explanation, but some of it is, I can tell, that the disease is progressing and has already gone quite a ways -- I never had these headaches until the last month or so, and I never felt this smacked around the head all the time.

As I wrote, I thought I was just getting older and this is how older people feel, or that I wasn't getting enough exercise, or that it was somehow my fault. In fact I didn't even mention most of my symptoms to my doctors, and I probably would not have for a good while longer, maybe even years, absent the results of the recent comprehensive blood test.

So I'm very much hoping the upcoming tests suggest a path to a sound treatment. I'm fine with surgery, at this point -- it's relatively minimal, but it's still surgery. But I've had several in my life. And if that happens I hope it works and I can get back to feeling good again, or at least better, and back to regular work and regular life again. Probably it won't be that simple -- things usually aren't -- but I'm glad to have a place to at least start.


Lars said...

Sorry to hear this, David. I hope that all works out well for you and that this problem is easily fixed.

JoeT said...

I hope everything works out for the best David. Don't forget to treat yourself well. In the scheme of things, all of the other annoyances and irritations we face each day aren't worth bothering with.

Layzej said...

Keep us posted. We're all rooting for you.

Mike said...

Best of luck. Been reading you for years. And I love the ice spikes!

Steve said...

Thanks for explaining an interesting disease that all readers over 50 will be alert to now!

PS: in Australia, anyone can go to a Medicare funded doctor for free (or, if they prefer a doctor who works in a clinic that charges, a co-payment of around $20-40) and I think my last blood checks were completely covered by Medicare as well. I'm probably telling you nothing you don't know - but its incredible to other nations how long Americans have put up with their shambolic access to health care.

DrTskoul said...

Good Luck!!

OnymousGuy said...

I'll keep thinking of you, David.

Martin said...

Best of luck David! Hope everything goes well and that you soon feel better again.

I have enjoyed your contributions to the AGW debate and in particular your comments on other places such as Roy Spencer's blog.
I very much admire your persistence and stamina in continuously fact checking and providing relevant information to the discussions in the comment section there and elsewhere, even more so now when I learn you have not been feeling well recently.

I rarely make comments on blogs myself but like to keep updated on talking points and the most recent denier memes so sometimes go to "climate sceptic" blogs to read. I dont have the expertise to debunk many of the claims so it is very useful for me to have people like yourself commenting and fact-checking on these blogs.

Just wanted to let you know that you are doing a really great job and that you have an very positive influence on "the silent majority", which I consider myself a part of. While convincing true deniers is almost impossible, convincing those who just occasionally read blogs and are open minded is both possible and very important.

Thanks for being so active in the discussions, it really makes a difference!
Hope the treatments you get will help you and that you soon feel much better!
Best wishes

David Appell said...

Thanks for all your comments and good wishes.

I do appreciate them.

Brian Schmidt said...

Just read this David - good luck!! I always appreciate your thoughts here and at our blog, and look forward to you having more energy to contribute.

"In fact I didn't even mention most of my symptoms to my doctors"

Good lesson for all of us - mention symptoms even if we don't think they're relevant.

Dano said...

Sorry to hear this, David. Hang in there!