I’ve had so much bloodwork and other testing in the last month! Unfortunately, we’ve had no answers from any of it. I can tell you that I’m sick of needles at the moment, though.
In late March, I had nine vials of blood drawn to run 28 tests for my allergist. I got the results back in early April. First, let’s just say that I was relieved to find I’m not allergic to my cats. There was some concern that I might have developed an allergy! Second, it turns out that I’m not allergic to any of the pollens and other common irritants they tested me for. Third, I tested negative for mast cell activation syndrome and other hive-related diseases. Yay! In fact, the only thing these tests showed is that I have almost no protection against the 23 strains of strep-pneumonia that are now vaccinated against. This makes me susceptible to sinus infections and bronchitis – I get bacterial bronchitis every time I get a cold! – and so I needed a strep-pneumonia vaccine. (Which I got. And that thing HURT in the days that followed. In fact, even though it’s been three weeks, there’s still a dark spot on my arm where the vaccine lump swelled.)
That vaccine won’t stop the hives, though. It’s purely to keep me from having to get on antibiotics several times a year for bronchitis, sinus infections, and other chronic problems of that kind. My allergist believed that I was still having the same hive attack that came from all my antibiotics/probiotics (since mast cell attacks take 120 days to go away on their own), so she prescribed me another round of steroids. Unfortunately, the hives returned within days of the treatment, so I’m obviously still being exposed to whatever is causing the problem. I’m back to square one and waiting to meet with the doctor again. At this point, it’s been four months of continuous hives and fatigue, and I’m so very tired. 😦
Note: Bloodwork isn’t as accurate as skin testing for allergies, but since I’m on antihistamines, skin-testing isn’t possible. So there’s still a small possibility that I’m allergic to my cats or some other common irritant. However, I’m told it’s unlikely, and that it would be very mild.
Everything came out normal. Woohoo! My ob/gyn is concerned about the hives, though. She’s the one who sent me to the allergist I’m seeing, and she says that hives can be an early indicator of an emerging auto-immune disorder. The last time I was tested for a bunch of auto-immune disorders was autumn 2015, so anything’s possible. I see her again in three months for my two-yearly hormone panels (related to PCOS), and I guess it’s possible we’ll explore further testing then.
My primary care doc does full-panel bloodwork twice a year, and I came due mid-April. I was particularly interested to see how this panel went because a lot has changed in the last six months. The two big things that come to mind are the four months of chronic hives/inflammation, and the switch to a higher carb diet about a month before the tests. I also wondered how the tests might be skewed by the fact that I’d just gotten off a steroid round two days beforehand.
On the plus side: My fasting glucose dropped from the low 90s (over the last two years of tests) to 72, my cholesterol (previously on the high end of normal) dropped to levels I haven’t seen since I was much thinner, and my LDL cholesterol is normal for the first time ever (even lower than when I was at my thinnest/fittest). My HDL cholesterol is back up to normal too, probably because I reincorporated some wine into my diet. Additionally, I track several liver measurements because of my high-iron blood disorder, and both of those decreased dramatically as well.
Neutrally: My A1C (long term marker of insulin fluctuation, as an indicator for diabetes) remained exactly where it always is, on the high end of normal.
On the downside: My triglycerides are back up, probably because I’ve had an increase in sugar consumption with the increase in carbs. I’ve also had an increase in some numbers I watch for my iron disorder (hemoglobin, hematocrit) and both are slightly too high again. These two are always borderline, though, and I have a feeling they were influenced by the steroid use, as the steroids cause dehydration which in turn causes elevation of those two numbers. Last, my TSH (thyroid) increased to the highest it’s ever tested (3.6) which is still technically considered normal but probably has a lot to do with the chronic fatigue I’ve been feeling.
So generally, I saw a significant increase in two numbers, but dramatic improvements in several other measures. I had my follow-up with the doctor yesterday, and we had a lot to talk about: chronic fatigue/inflammation, four months of hives, eight years of insomnia, five years of depression, and sixteen months of smell loss/distortion. Clearly, something is very, very wrong, and I need someone to figure out what the hell is going on now. I need someone to really listen to me and not just blame all this on my weight or age. Unfortunately, my doctor has gotten so busy and overbooked that he no longer spends time talking to his patients. I remember having actual conversations with him a few years back. Yesterday’s appointment was the new typical: five minutes with two other strangers in the room and my doctor cutting me off mid-sentence every time I tried to talk. In the end, he prescribed an antidepressant and a prescription-strength antihistamine, then said he’d see me again in a month. And even though I said the insomnia and anosmia were the most pressing, longterm issues, he didn’t even bother to address them. This, of course, just contributes to my frustration, and I’m just about at the point of looking for a new doctor. Again.
Square 1. I seem to live here these days.
Ugh, so sorry for your lack of answers and a doctor who doesn’t listen. Most doctors start out wonderful and then get busier and busier… it’s so aggravating because our health is so important to us but to them… $ signs. I have some great doctors, luckily, but have had some bad ones too.
LikeLiked by 1 person
So sorry about the hives 😦 I joke that I’m allergic to everything, but figuring out the culprit is always a challenge. My worst allergies involve plant fertilizers and birds. It took years to figure this out; I always thought I was allergic to my grandfather’s house because garden and birds *facepalm*.
Maybe reach out to an endocrinologist, if that’s available to you. In my experience, generalists tend to under-diagnose thyroid issues and rely on outdated standards.
I really think endocrinologist is my next step. I’m posting more about it this week, but I’ve noticed a pattern over the last five months. Every time I start taking a new med or have a change (vaccine, dietary, etc) that causes my body to work (making antibodies, dealing with side effects, etc), the hives disappear. As soon as the work is done, the hives reappear. It’s like when my body isn’t busy fighting something else, it turns to attacking itself. You’d think if it’s an allergy, I wouldn’t stop having a reaction just because I have a big hot vaccine lump on my arm and a mild fever from it, right? I don’t know. I need to see what my allergist says. Since nearly all my symptoms align with some kind of autoimmune thyroid issue (particularly Hashimoto’s, which I’ve suspected for almost a decade now but have never gotten a doctor to take seriously), I think endo is the next route.