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, or like I've been a few rounds in a boxing match with a few blows to my temples. My face is tired. I've had the 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.