Thursday, 22 September 2011

A Brief History of Whine: Symptoms

So, as this blog is basically a self-contained whinge festival, I thought - what better way to spend my third post than in lengthy enumeration of my various aches and pains? It's important to remember that we're all essentially old people in training, and it's good to get a bit of practice in while you can.

People do ask about my symptoms, perhaps because of the slightly confusing fact that, whilst I technically have a brain tumour, I have thus far (very disobligingly) not gone obviously mental. Hospital drama scriptwriters would be very disappointed in me. I do get headaches - a classic sign! - but for the most part my symptoms have been to do with the hormonal side of the condition.

Contrary to popular opinion, hormone imbalance does not manifest itself solely as PMS/raving menopausal women rushing outside to cool down, despite the many undoubtedly hilarious jokes on the subject. In my case, I had a whole range of pituitary tumor symptoms which built up gradually over a number of years: my hair started falling out when I was in the sixth form at school; I was getting really hungry all the time; I felt the cold particularly badly (that one really baffled the doctors, as people with too much thyroid hormone are supposed to get too hot); I bruised incredibly easily;* my heartrate would go up for no reason; I kept getting ill with various coughs and colds.

That last point really managed to muddy the (already murky) waters of diagnosis. After starting university I was constantly in-and-out of the doctors; in my first year I had bronchitis, and in my second, glandular fever. If they gave out badges for GP visits, I'd have a full display case; in-between actual illnesses, I kept going back and complaining at them. Regular barrages of blood tests - including checking my thyroid - were carried out, and they all came back fine. If they gave out badges for hypochondria, I'd probably have been given one of those, too.

I only really managed to get my GP's attention in January 2010, when I developed tachycardia - i.e. my heartrate suddenly jumped up to about 140 bpm for no apparent reason.** That, for those of you who haven't experienced it, is a rubbish heartrate to have, given that your resting heartrate is supposed to be about 70-100 bpm. It's like constantly feeling that you've just sprinted several hundred metres. To evade a mountain lion. While wearing a dress designed by Lady Gaga Couture.

As well as a high heartrate, I had the shakes, and any loud noises suddenly became surprisingly stressful - plus, I kept twitching worse than Nick Clegg trying to throw off Cameron's Imperius Curse. Fortunately the doctors stuck me on beta blockers, the medication of the aged, and as long as I remembered to take them it wasn't too bad. I couldn't really do any strenuous exercise - but on the plus side, for the first month or two the pills gave me some excitingly vivid dreams.

The high heartrate eventually got a cardiologist involved, who ordered the right kind of thyroid function tests, which flagged up my very high levels of thyroid homornes, eventually led to diagnosis when they realised I was overproducing Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, blah blah. Since my pituitary surgery in April, some of my symptoms have improved; I've halved my dose of beta blockers and found that I can actually go running without collapsing like a pansy,*** which is definitely appreciated. I've had more headaches, though, so I guess it's swings and roundabouts.

So those are my crazy TSH-oma pituitary tumour symptoms! Or at least a quick run-down of the more important ones. I imagine that's more than enough for one post. Hopefully we can all agree that my old-lady bitching skills are being finely honed.

UPDATE: Click here to read my post about my first trip to hospital.
* Current record: 22 bruises over three days, with no idea how they got there.

** Interestingly, but not relevantly, that's about the same heartrate as a domestic cat.

*** I tried jogging to catch a train in the summer of 2010 and even though I ran for less than a minute, I was hyperventilating for about half an hour afterwards. Caught the train, though. Slick.

1 comment:

  1. What was the response of TSH to TRH test?