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
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.