After a referral to a neurologist turned out to be mostly a waste of time, I went back to the physician’s assistant at my primary doctor’s office on Tuesday.
You know what, before I go any further, I just want to say that as medical professionals go, this PA is amazeballs. She’s one of the most personable people I’ve ever met. She listens, she looks up stuff she’s not familiar with, and she’s not afraid to dig for answers when they’re not staring her in the face.
But back to my story. After a 45-minute chat with the PA, I said something that made her eyes get kind of big. She was going through a sort of flow chart related to my complaints of muscle weakness and asking me questions to see what could be ruled out completely and what might need further investigation. “This,” she said, “is related to the heart. You’re so young, that it’s not very likely. But we might want to explore it if you have a family history of heart disease.”
“Well, my grandfather had a couple of heart attacks later in life, and my dad underwent a procedure for WPW syndrome and had a heart attack last year.”
She wrote that information down and then asked if I ever felt short of breath. “Sure,” I said, not even thinking it was a big deal.
“Well, like when I go up a flight of stairs or walk down the hall.”
Apparently, when it came to listing my symptoms, I had buried the lede. But after being weight shamed by The Rheumatologist from Hell, I thought I was getting winded because I was fat now. Until that moment I hadn’t seen shortness of breath as a symptom so much as a personal shortcoming—despite the fact that even the most gluttonous of humans rarely put on 30 pounds in a few months.
She sent me down the hall for an EKG and chest X-ray immediately after the appointment.
This morning, a nurse called to let me know that my EKG showed signs of atrial enlargement. The next step is to go in for a cardiac stress test on Monday afternoon. Should be loads of fun, considering my annual employment review will take place that morning!
The nurse told me to wear comfy clothes and shoes, to eat nothing for 2 hours before my appointment, and to expect the stress test to last 2 hours.
My PA also ordered more blood tests, but I have to fast for those and haven’t been back yet. Maybe by Tuesday I’ll have that done too. One of the tests she’s ordered is for my thyroid.
Depending on whether they’re seeing the irregularities on the right or left atrium, this heart shit could very well be an indication that I’m hypothyroid, despite being on levothyroxine (Synthroid).
As I mentioned in an earlier rant, one of the rare but serious side-effects of taking duloxetine (Cymbalta) is hypothyroidism. It’s listed right there in the drug information that accompanies my refills. Sure makes me wonder why The Rheumatologist from Hell denied there could be any connection with my weight gain and my thyroid and didn’t want to order thyroid tests after I’d been on the Cymbalta for a few months. Of course it’s too early to say for sure what’s going on. But if your patient is complaining that something’s not right, why the hell wouldn’t you check it out?
While I get fatter, my mobility continues to decrease, and the search continues for answers, there’s a pretty bitter part of me that wishes I knew more about malpractice law.