Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Celtic gene

After alluding to it, I should probably end the story of medical abnormalities, in case anyone was wondering. As I mentioned, when I went to emergency with a torn calf muscle, it soon became my pulse rate and my ECG that was the cause for concern. This led to a follow-up ECG, blood tests, more blood tests, a 24-hour heart monitor, all mixed in with an ultrasound on my leg and other doctor and physiotherapist appointments for that. So time consuming! I don’t know how people with ongoing medical problems keep up. Along the way the doctor mentioned structural heart problems, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases (I told her those would be unlikely!) ... So, you know, there wasn’t much left out of the range of possibilities. And then I’d get texts telling me to make an appointment to review test results and I’d have to then wait a couple of days for the appointment, which was a torturous method.

But in the end it is all OK. The first lot of blood tests showed that my iron levels were elevated (which can be the result of malignancy or infection, thus the cancer and STD ideas), which led to further blood tests. The results of all of those were perfectly fine, only my gene typing revealed that I have a heterozygous H63D gene for haemochromotasis. But so do one in five Caucasian Australians, so whoop de do really. If you have Celtic origins you might too. As I don’t have homozygous genes (and generally it is the C282Y homozygous combination rather than the H63D that actually gives people haemochromatosis) I am unlikely to have significant iron-loading problems.

If you have never heard of haemachromatosis and you are a Caucasian Australian, let me suggest you take a quick look at this website and this document. I believe they have routine screening for this condition in some countries where it is common, as the benefits of knowing early are huge, before you start loading iron in your heart and liver where it can cause significant damage before you are aware of it. Curiously too, haemochromatosis can be the cause of chronic fatigue and other fairly generic symptoms.

So, that was all nothing much. My iron saturation level was a little high though, which I don’t particularly like, so I might see what I can do about it (and stop scoffing Vitamin C tablets through winter, which increase iron absorption). I was feeling a little on the tired side before I tore the muscle, and actually thought they might tell me my iron was low, as not so many years ago that was the case, which makes it seem strange that it is now high, so who really knows (perhaps I'll blame the Vitamin C), but I will have my iron levels checked regularly.

Then I wore the holter monitor for my heart, and while I have fairly frequent ectopic beats there were not enough over 24 hours for that to be a concern (you apparently have to get to about 6,000 in 24 hours before they consider those a problem). There too, haemochromatosis can actually give you heart arrythmia, so that could have explained it, only I don’t actually have haemochromatosis (I wonder about the effects of iron saturation though).

So, I am thankful for those results. The whole process was a little sobering along the way. Even when I tore my muscle, when I was finished in emergency and needing to get home I checked with my Aunt and Uncle, but they were already on their way to the coast to see their daughter, then I called some friends, but they were caught up with their own stuff and kids, and so I just sat there wondering what to do and eventually called a work colleague, who then left work in their lunch hour, came and got me and dropped me home and then went back to work, which was extremely kind of them. In hindsight I should have just called a taxi, but for some reason I didn’t think of that at the time. And then I had two weekends at home without being able to drive, but worked out that I could get to the shops on one crutch, which would give me one hand to carry a bag of groceries home (and when my Aunt and Uncle came back my Aunt was fabulous at driving me to medical appointments, otherwise that would have been another level of difficulty). It all made me realise the limitations of my current living arrangement, and that of anybody who lives alone. Not that I know what else to do about that as I don’t particularly want to find temporary flatmates for the rest of my life, and there is no guarantee that a flatmate would be of any assistance in a time of need in any case. So, while I was fairly optimistic about the proceedings, I was forced to wonder, just occasionally, how I might manage it if I needed treatment for something like cancer, but thankfully that is a bridge I didn’t have to cross.

After each text message and before the actual appointment I’d tell myself that God was still good no matter what happened and I could deal with what came my way with his help, then when I finally got to the end there was nothing to contend with, so that is a relief.


Georgina said...

My mum copes through a combo of friends and public transport. It's possible.

Georgina said...

And glad you're ok.

Ali said...

Hi George, yes I am sure you find ways to do these things should the circumstances require it. Once my leg started improving and walking to and from public transport was more of an option it got easier. (The OH&S person at work was saying to me "you're very independent", but I don't know how else she thought I'd do it!) Does your Mum have cancer? I think chemo would be horrible on your own, but I suppose it all depends on how exactly it works out.

Georgina said...

No just lots of medical issues. Older women seem to support each other better with this bc no little kids anymore