Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Self Diagnosing

Here’s the thing. Misled as I may be,  I think I’m pretty healthy. I exercise a crap load (duh)! I cook 90% of our meals and make everything from scratch. I try to get my fruits and veggies. I take a calcium supplement. I get massaged. I don’t eat fast food. I don’t consume much of anything processed. I drink lots of water. I get my fiber (but you knew that didn’t you – hence the craps along the road). I might drink too much wine, but I’m not ready to give that one up yet. I know it’s supposed to be good for me, but not in the quantities I drink it.

That said, I’m not having the greatest week in health.

I went for my annual physical. Since I started running a couple of years ago I like going to these to see if I really am healthy after all or if I just think I am because I can run a marathon. I always think it’s funny how people think you’re automatically studly and a health nut if you run marathons. Have you seen some people who run marathons? It’s not a prerequisite that you look like Kara Goucher or that you are mentally competent. Matter a fact, most people don’t and aren’t. Haven’t you seen this guy at the race?



He may be in shape but he’s also insane.

Regardless, running a marathon takes a certain amount of commitment, drive and balls, no matter what you look like. And chances are if you can run a marathon you are on your way to being pretty darn fit.

Back to my physical.  I don’t care for the pelvic or rectal exams. And the breast exam is weird because the doc talks to me about running and other things while she gazes into my eyes and massages my breasts. Beyond that, I like to see how my blood pressure is doing and what my blood test results are.

Here’s the dirt:

Weight: 111 lbs.
Height: 5’ 5”
Blood Pressure: Within normal range (can’t remember what it is)
Resting heart rate: 55 bpm

My labs were all good except:

Bilirubin: High
White blood count: Low
Cholesterol: High (231 overall; 106 LDL, 111 HDL – I know that doesn’t add up to 231, so I don’t get it. Please advise if you know. )

The RN called me to tell me my cholesterol was high. Said I should control it with diet and exercise. What the freak should I be doing beyond what I am already? It’s not like I’m this slovenly slut laying around eating Ho-Hos and watching Days of Our Lives (God, that sounds nice). Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In talking to my mom I know high cholesterol runs in our family. So does a low white count. But knowing that isn’t enough for me. I must self diagnose to see what kind of awful life threatening disease I might have that causes my levels to be off.

Do you ever Google-diagnose? I do it all the time.

This time I found out that I must have Wilson’s Disease. It’s a life threatening condition caused by too much copper in the blood. It can cause your WBC to be low and your bilirubin to be high. Although I don’t have symptoms (I’ll probably be the first symptomless case) it seems that any day now I’ll become confused, lethargic and somewhat paralyzed.

Next week is the mammogram or breast made into a pancake as I like to call it. Can’t wait to tell you about that. Too bad I didn’t have this blog when I got my colonoscopy a couple years ago. Now that was SWEET and would have made for some great material.

My other health issue is that I found a bump in my gum above my front tooth. It’s a cyst requiring gum surgery. The dentist actually said they will pry it out with their fingers. I just love the thought of that. I hope they don’t wash their hands after a trip to the water closet.

Do you have weird health problems or is it just me? Do you self diagnose? Do you hate the dentist?

Guess I should be thankful it’s not worse.


  1. I self diagnose myself and I google in regards to my kids. I am a difficult patient. I don't understand the cholesterol....maybe call and talk to the nurse to understand it a little better. And I hate the dentist....I get anxiety just taking my kids...and I hate the smell.

  2. I'm a terrible self diagnoser...probably because of the setting I work in. While I learned to cholesterol stuff in school, I don't remember off the top of my head, so if no other brainy person reads this and explains it, I will dig out my books and let you know. Hang in there:)

  3. As a doc, I have a lot of respect for nurses but this one doesn't know what she is talking about! Your total cholesterol is high, but the true picture is the ratio of the LDL and HDL and yours is super low. Your HDL (good cholesterol) is very high, and you probably have your lifestyle to thank: both exercise and alcohol raise your HDL. You mentioned your family history - is there a strong history of heart disease/heart attack? That should make you worry more. BTW - total cholesterol also contains triglycerides in the formula, which is the reason the LDL and HDL don't add up to the total.

    As to the low white count and high bilirubin - you probably have Wilson's disease. (just kidding)

  4. I do google educate myself when it comes to medical issues. I don't believe in completely relying on the doctor (who has loads of patients) to put me first on his priority list. (I learned this fact when my father was battling lung cancer! Educate thyself!)

    I am borderline terrified of the dentist.

    Where in the world did you find that guy?!?! insane indeed!

  5. I self-diagnose 24/7 and it drives my hubby nuts.

    OMG you weigh less than me and I am only 5'1'' !!!

    The cholesterol sounds like a genetic thing. I don't know that you could improving your lifestyle any more than you are now!

    Don't give up the wine!

  6. I love to Google-diagnose. You could also have Gilberts disease which makes your bilirubin high. And the cholesterol thing is only bad if your LDL's are high.

  7. I visit Dr. Google all the time!

    To date I have had:

    1)Heat Stroke which I was sure I was going to die from, because "the Doctor" said in extreme cases that can happen. Turns out I as just tired.

    2)Alzheimer's. I am 31.

    3)Mad Cow.

    4)Overactive thyroid because I was really skinny. Now I've put on some pounds, so it must be underactive? It can't be all the chocolate and deserts and fatty greasy fries I consumed after my divorce.

  8. Alberto Salazar had a heart attack & needed a stent. Dude is FIT. Unfortunately with heart disease & hypercholesterolemia, genetics has a huge part that can be mitigated (but not eliminated) by diet & exercise. You might want to ask your doctor about Omega 3 supplements or other supplements that can help.

    Ugh. I sound like one of those pharmaceutical TV ads.

    As for the rest of the lab work, try getting it drawn again in a few months - see what the trend is.

    PS - hated the prep for my colonoscopy, but it was the bestest sleep I'd ever ever had!

  9. You have good HDL and good LDL and you happen to be a runner. Does the Nurse not know her job?

  10. i totally self diagnose.

    my dad smokes 2 pack cigs a day - no exercise - eats crappy - he gets better lab work them my mom who exercises and eats healthy. unfortunatly it seems that genes will play a role as well.

  11. I refer to Dr. Google all the time. Too addicting - instant answers / or not. It is still fun to check it out and feel half way educated about the possibilities.

  12. I like the picture there...he seems he really having fun with the run and to his outfit..lol Anyway great story there...keep posting...

  13. Dr. Google is great!

    My wife has high cholesterol and she is thin and eats right, and I am morbidly obese and my cholesterol is fine.

  14. i used to have high cholesterol when i was in high school but now it's low. hmm, thats weird. could it be from too much meat? I don't use the web to self-diagnos but Ryan used to, he'd always find these crazy illnesses and think he had one. did ur cholesterol used to be higher? maybe it used to be like 300 so 231 is better than it was? maybe it takes time for it to come down? how frustrating, sorry :-(

  15. I am all over googling my ...issues. Last visit to my doc, they said my BP was high so I have been monitoring it. It is only high at the DR office though...hmmm....

  16. I too have high cholesterol. I first found out when I was in my mid 20's in Prague and at my HEALTHIEST. I thought it was a mistake. Then again in Africa.. And still now. I know I should take medicine but it's SO DEPRESSING. I'm the healthiest person in my family and the most active and the only one with high c. :( I'll watch to see what mature thing you do with it. Maybe I will learn from you.

  17. I try to avoid self-diagnosing... I once had myself convinced that I had Toxic Shock Syndrome and it scarred me for life. Then again, I self-diagnosed my blood clot in my arm even though my aunt (a doctor!) insisted it couldn't be.

    Hope you can get your sh*t figure out!

  18. Yes, I often use Dr. Internet.

    I have high cholesterol too. Sometimes you just can't exercise or eat it away, it's genetic...I think you can take cholesterol medication or just live with it.

  19. I quit self-diagnosing in 2008! I was getting too neurotic. My bro is anti-exercise and always has the lowest cholesterol in the fam.

  20. I'm over at your blog from Healthy Strides, and Pam the doc's comments above are exactly right on. Your HDL (good chol) is frickin' amazing!!! Great job!!! Your healthy lifestyle is exemplified by your gorgeous lab results. Congrats to you. No worries!!! Keep up the awesome lifestyle . . . it's working!

  21. I don't know why it doesn't add up, but I do know that your HDL is really good at 111 and your total to your HDL is at 2.0, so that's good too! But your LDL is high, should be under 100. Hmmm, I'd talk to your doc again.

    I'm a self diagnosing freak and my husband has threatened to ban me from google and webMD. I have self diagnosed at least a 100 blood clots in my leg, feet, and currently in my wrist (I just know that's what that lump is). Some of my more outlandish diagnosis have been lupus, AIDS (this is when my husband threatened to ban me), and pre menopause (wishful thinking).

  22. I agree with Pam, about 4 years ago my doc. checked my cholesterol, and it was one point from being high. I freaked, but figured it was all the bad food I had been eating since we had gotten married(still in College). Last year I finally asked my doc. and he told me my "bad" was very low, but my "good" was more than double, which was a very good thing.

  23. google and webmd are the DEVIL when it comes to trying to figure out what's wrong. i swear i've been told that i'm dying from ebola or something equally as unpleasant too many times to count.

  24. Yeah, that nurse is whack. Your HDL is amazing!!!! Average woman's HDL is 55, so your good cholesterol is phenomenal. LDL can be under 100, or even under 160. The ratio of HDL/LDL is great, so I wouldn't worry too much. You should have told her to shut up and run!

  25. Holy crap, I'm an inch taller than you and weight almost 20 lbs more...eek.

    I definitely self-diagnose. WebMD is my cyber best friend.

  26. Google what? I used it four times just in reading your post. colester-what?

    I say eat ho-ho's and watch Oprah then see what she tells you to do.

    Oh and the pain in my a*s - I googled that, phew it's just my hubby. [wait that sounds wrong . . ] screw it - I'm too lazy to re-write.

  27. I've never heard of anyone having HDL that high (but Doc Pam up there doesn't question it, so I don't). At 80 miles per week of running (and a wee bit o' the drink) my HDL was 57 and I thought that was impressively high.

    Wilson's disease is part of a drinking game I play with the TV show "House." He's diagnosed two people with it so far and it's so rare most doctors will never know anyone who's ever diagnosed someone with it. The game also involves drinking when you hear: lupus, paraneoplastic syndrome or scleroderma.

    I've diagnosed myself with all of those...

  28. Wow, borat in the man thong has some pretty ripped quads.....and I'm pretty sure he stuffs his jock with sock. Maybe. No one is THAT big, right? RIGHT!?!?

    Good call on the self diagnosis. Last time I did that my symptoms pointed to the flu or bubonic plague. I called in sick for a month just to be sure.

  29. Don't do it! You'll just freak yourself out. I have weird blood too... Crazy high cholesterol, but super high HDL's so no worries.

  30. I self diagnose as well just to avoid the doctor (and dentist) at all costs. Just wanted to say that I love this blog. I just discovered it and look forward to reading it from now on. Also love Colorado. Miss it terribly.

  31. Oh I'm so bad about webmd! Once I pinched a nerve (in some really cute shoes) and my toe was numb for a week. I convinced myself that I had diabetes and was loosing my foot ... totally rational. Love your blog!

  32. I try not to self-diagnose--I have a Mom who believes she catches everything under the sun so I tend to want to do the opposite.

    Dentist--I love it! I love the feel of my teeth being super clean after I visit my hygienist (yes, I am loony!). I had a gum cyst a few years back, it was caused by a root canal gone wrong--it was the pits getting everything fixed. I am sure yours won't be as bad as mine. They had to re-do the root canal and I ended up with a crown afterwards--the only type of crown I will ever get, hahaha.

  33. ok so as a NP...I say that your doc friend was right on...the numbers don't add up because there are other players in that total. As for the low white count..I would consider if you had just had a vigorous exercise the day of or before? That could certainly account for it. The Bili..there are lots of different reasons this could be elevated. So I would want to know, how elevated? mild elevations could also be linked to the exercise thing possibly, I would exercise careful watching. The nurse is only call you back by the way and likely reading your labs off to you. Before I got upset or over concerned about anything I would ask to speak with the doctor or if all else fails return for consult regarding you information. BUT I don't think that this is something of great concern. get a copy of your reports and review them yourself. but DON'T self diagnos by google..you may learn here but be an educated consumer! If you are going to self diagnose....go to a site that is the leading in knowledge with research based information. You can search for questions to ask your provider on the internet but please don't self dx...it will scary you to death!

  34. I have quite a few weird health problems so I know how you feel. My cholesterol is also high (220 - HDL is 87 and LDL is 110). It also runs in my family but as long as your LDL is 100 or less you're ok. The HDL is just a measure of the good stuff and anything over 50 is amazing, so props to you for 111!

    Also, I just found out my liver enzymes are high (like triple the amount) so that's great. No more wine??? AHHH! No, I don't know what it is and I'm so pissed off at doctors right now I don't want to know. But I've been Googling like a madwoman.

  35. Sorry, late to the party (as usual).
    Choloesterol could be hereditary or so i have heard.

    I have/had high bilirubin and low whites and I have celiac. I am sure they must be common for other disease as well but that was a big indicator for me.

    As was low weight and lots of crapping.

    I forget which but one of my cholesterols is high and they tell me "stop eating carbs and get more exercise" Um, HELLO? I run ultras and have CELIAC disease?

    Sometimes I think doctors are not exactly know it alls at all . . . but like you, I just like to know the blood test numbers and stuff. Then I google.

  36. dr. google is the cheapest around! no co-pay. I like to say that I'm a "self-diagnosed hypochondriac." If I ever make shirts, I'll send one your way. I can't believe you're only 5'5" you look so much taller. Weird.

  37. Also a complete hypchondriac- I too have low WBC and I cycle through all the possible diseases that could be causing this. I am currently grounded from google for anything having to do with illness.

  38. i love the dentist. call me crazy but there is nothing better than clean teeth. physical? not so much- i hate having the doc pokin her nose where it don't belong. as for mammogram, never had one... but i do know these saucers wont hold up real well & i'll probably cry. fail.

  39. Someday when I die I will be somewhat satisfied that I can finally, FINALLY, say "I told you so" or "see I knew I had XYZ".
    The upside to self diagnosis.

  40. Angie beat me to it-- but my mom and I always say that! When I go, everyone will say "she knew she was sick" because I always have something going on!!!!

    I had a doctor tell (in not so many words) me I was fat once- stellar move- when I was only 125lbs. But because I am only 5'1 he recommended that I "get down to 105" to be healthy. Instead, I got a new doctor!

  41. I hate going to the Dr and Dentist!! I'm an RN so you'd think I'd be okay with it...but I'm not! I have diagnosed my mom in the past with google. Sometimes it's hard to be heard so you have to take matters into your own hands!!

  42. I once had a migrating tumor. I swear it was!!

  43. I am pretty bad about never going to the doctor. My health insurance includes free access to edocs who will answer questions so I use that way too much. I am pretty sure those edocs think I'm a hypochondriac. Oh well, at least you actually saw a doctor before you started googling stuff!

  44. Isn't high bilirubin associated with excessive exercise?

  45. I've had high bilirubin levels my entire life and was finally diagnosed with "Gilbert's Syndrome" last week. It's a totally benign condition, but it may be something you want to ask your doctor about...Good luck!

  46. ohh man i do this all the time! i have had soo many deadly diseases, it's a miracle i'm still alive :)

    i have no ideas/suggestions for you... i can't interpret my own health junk.