Monday, August 11, 2014

Looking Through the Sjogren's Lens

My thoughts today are about my own personal struggle when it comes to assessing my health problems.

Now, before the cascade of Sjogren's symptoms hit me this past Spring, I was the consummate-doctor-avoider.  I hadn't had a mamo or gynecological check-up in ten years. . . had never dared to submit to the horrors of a colonoscopy even though my father contracted colon cancer at age 54 . . . and switched dentists every two years because I always was ashamed that I hadn't followed up with the last one.  I suffered from fear of the doctor in a BIG way and my anxiety regarding doctor's offices totally outweighed my innate sense of responsibility.  The only responsible thing I did was to visit my primary care physician (when they refused to refill prescriptions) to get my hypertension, cholesterol, and Xanax scripts renewed - the last of, without which, I couldn't even dream of entering a doctor's office.

The other responsible thing I did way back in 2010 was ask my primary to run an ANA on me because my daughters all struggled with rheumatological and autoimmune issues.  Of course it was positive.  I then visited a rheumatologist who did a full lupus panel and found the Sjogren's antibody. But because I didn't feel I had the symptoms (and the nurse who insisted on weighing me was the neighbor of another woman I knew and - in my paranoia - could just image her whispering my over-weight over her back fence. . . ) well, I never returned and didn't get treatment.

Until it hit.

And hit with a vengeance after I had the flu this past Spring.

So in the past four months I have seen more "ologists" than I ever envisioned seeing in an entire lifetime. And - after a visit to the ER this past weekend which the old me would have put off until the symptoms went away or killed me - I'm wondering how this new me. . .  this Sjogren's me. .  . can find a happy medium.

If I get a headache now, the new me tends to think. . . this d**#*d disease has given me a headache!, when the old me would have taken a couple of advil and not given it much thought.  The Sjogren's me experiences a fever and assumes it's yet-another complication, but perhaps it's not!  Do I call the doctor when I wake up and can't move my fingers?

And perhaps (pardon my french here) diarrhea is just crappy no matter when - and how - you get it. . . .

Am I making the mistake of viewing my entire life through this new Sjogren's lens?  Have I gone to some kind of extreme and can't see the forest through the trees?

How do others handle this distinction?

How do you know which doctor to consult?  When a symptom is urgent?   When it's nothing to worry about?

And how do you know which lens to look through?

Just wondering. .  .