Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Don't Avoid the Doctor

I usually do not use this blog to post personal information, but I feel the need to share with everyone what is going on and encourage readers not to put off doctor's visits or avoid the doctor.

This week was given a "life changing" diagnosis from my doctor.

Several years ago, I discovered that I had psoriasis. Psoriasis is an auto-immune skin disorder that causes patches of redness and causes areas to build into a silvery scale and flake. Mine is fairly mild and certainly not as bad as many other cases. Generally, I use a topical ointment that keeps it under control and, up until a few months ago, I never really gave it much of a second thought.

A few months ago, I started noticing joint discomfort. This would come and go. The discomfort was in my fingers, my shoulders, and other joints, but I always had an excuse for it. I would think, "oh, I just typed to much," or "I need to clean out my laptop bag," or things along that line. At first, it would last a short while and go away. I avoided the symptoms. I ignored the symptoms. I hoped the problem would just go way. Then, I noticed that it was virtually constant. I also noticed that this was no longer discomfort, it was pain.

Finally, after a lot of encouragement from my wife (and pleading and arguing), I gave in and went to the doctor.

We discussed the pain I was having. He poked and prodded. He went over my history with me. Then he said, "it looks like you have psoriatic arthritis… I'm going to refer you…" This started me down a path of researching what this condition was and what I needed to do.

Psoriatic Arthritis (PA) is a condition that occurs in 10 to 30% of people who have psoriasis. It is somewhat similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis. PA can cause a variety of symptoms. Joint pain is common These symptoms can include deterioration of the joints, deterioration and fusing of bones in the spine, swelling of fingers to a "sausage" appearance, swelling and inflammation of the whites of the eyes (conjunctiva), deterioration of the bones in the fingers, inflammation of the lungs (pleurisy), inflammation of the heart and inflammation of the kidneys. Sometimes people with PA eventually need knee or hip replacements because of the damage to the joints. PA symptoms can be treated, but it cannot be cured or reversed. Treatment will slow, but not stop, PA.

After reading about all of this, I was, needless to say, not pleased. I am still young (I will turn 40 this year) and I enjoy being active. I enjoy hunting, backpacking, camping, and all sorts of outdoor activities. Additionally, I work in Information Technology. Typing is a big part of my profession and livelihood. Having a condition that will cause deterioration of my fingers is not something that will help career growth. To say I was upset about the diagnosis would be a bit of an understatement.

I am not giving in to this diagnosis. I am learning everything I can about PA and things I can do to make my life better. I am seeing a couple of specialists and making some lifestyle changes to be a healthier person.

I will continue to write. There are days when typing is not easy to do or comfortable to do. However, this is something that I love doing. So, there may be days where I do not write much, but it is not because I am not wanting to write. Rest assured, on those days, I will write what I can, and I will continue to research, read and look for material that will hopefully encourage thought, discussion and debate.

In the mean time….

Readers, especially men, don't put off that physical or trip to the Doctor. I am thankful that for me, the delay did not cause irreparable damage. But, there are other conditions and other symptoms that men tend to ignore or avoid. Putting off a doctor's visit can make things worse and can even be deadly. When you hear your wife or significant other say, "you really need to see the doctor about that" take the suggestion to heart. Avoiding the doctor will probably not make symptoms go away…and putting up with a bit of discomfort at the doctor's office may just save your life.


Post a Comment

All comments are welcome- However, Anonymous Comments might be subject to deletion.