Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Results Are In

The other day I wrote a post about my current medical status entitled "Waiting Too Long For Answers" . I hadn't mentioned to anyone outside of my immediate family what I was truly fearing. Since I was first put on TNF Blockers at age 15, I've been acutely aware of the risks - mainly the rare but increased chance of developing a form of cancer called Lymphoma. This concern is always in the back of my mind, but I had never let it get to me until I was presenting with all the symptoms (including several swollen glands). Now you can see why waiting was so brutal.
Thank goodness there is no cancer. Instead, my blood results revealed low iron levels and extremely low Ferritin levels. In short, I'm anemic and the doctor agreed that this could explain my constant, extreme fatigue, mild hair loss, "brain fog", mouth sores, paleness, etc. Like most of us searching for a diagnosis, I was thrilled to have found the problem because that meant I could potentially solve it! My doctor prescribed iron sulfate supplements 3 times a day and, although she said it may take weeks until I truly notice a difference, I think I'm already feeling better. I'm able to make it through the day without a long nap and the intensity of my fatigue has mellowed out. I'm also finding much less hair in my shower and on my pillows! It has made me hopeful again.

There is a slight chance that some of my symptoms may be side effects from Orencia and, in that case, I may have to taper down my dose or extend the time period between infusions. The IVs have worked well to combat my pain and inflammation, but they might just be overkill for my immune system. There is also another possibility. Because I've had some stomach pain and digestive issues lately, my doctor wants me to finally get that endoscopy we've been talking about for almost 2 years. It's believed that I once had an ulcer from the overuse of NSAIDS (oops), but since the pain went away after taking daily Prilosec and modifying my diet (eating less acidic food, cutting out coffee and alcohol, etc.), we dropped the issue. However, now that the pain has resurfaced, I have to confirm that the reason for my anemia isn't another bleeding ulcer. I'm not too crazy about the idea of being under anesthesia or getting scoped, but I'm told this is an easy procedure. Has anyone had an endoscopy before? If so, what was your

This evening I'll be getting my Orencia infusion at the hospital and, although I'm in the middle of finals period, I can't skip this. It's times like these when I pat myself on the back for extending my masters program by a year. I'm confident in the doctors who are on my medical team and, while the road ahead may seem daunting at times, I need to keep my eye on the prize: finally feeling well enough to truly enjoy each day.



  1. i was very relieved to hear the results. we all know the risks, but even in spite of those risks becoming reality for me in this spring, i will continue on my anti-tnf because i must have quality of life and that seemed impossible to achieve without it on board.

    no worries for the scope. they just give you a little versed and you are out of it enough to not care. i have no clue how long my last one took but i had several biopsies done of the ulcers found and it felt like maybe a minute, even though i am sure it took much longer.


  2. It will be the best nap EVER! And way too short. No worries.

  3. So glad to hear that the result was not cancer. Hope you are able to get on top of all your symptoms.

  4. whoa. SO glad to hear it isn't cancer. man, that would be super scary.

    i had an endoscopy a couple of years ago. it was not bad at all. the drugs they used to put me under were amazing. the only rough part was not eating or drinking all morning before my appointment.

  5. I am so relieved for you! I've had a few scares like that in the past but fortunately it has always turned out good. Hopefully now you know the cause you can focus on feeling better :)

  6. I've had an endoscopy and colonscopy at the same time. From what I remember, the endoscopy was no big deal.

  7. I watched few videos at YouTube before my scheduled endoscopy two years ago, and I told my doctor that I was scared after doing so, and he laughed at me. Told me instead that I will be sedated during the procedure, which, thankfully, he did. Never had colonscopy, but I heard it's beneficial especially to deter colon cancer development. Best wishes. Tim