Eighteen-year-old Jessica Terry, brought slides of her own intestinal tissue into her AP science class and correctly diagnosed herself with Crohn’s disease.
“It’s weird I had to solve my own medical problem,” Terry told CNN affiliate KOMO. “There were just no answers anywhere … I was always sick.”
For years she went from doctor to doctor complaining of vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and stomach pains. They said she had irritable bowel syndrome. They said she had colitis. They said the slides of her intestinal tissue were fine, but she knew that wasn’t right.
“Not knowing much about a disease you’re growing up with is not only nerve-wracking, but it’s confusing,” Terry told theSammamish Reporter.
So when local pathologists stopped in to teach students in her Biomedical Problems class how to analyze slides, the high school senior decided to give her own intestines a look.
What she found? A large dark area showing inflammation, otherwise known as a granuloma–a sure sign of the intestinal disease.
To confirm her suspicion, she checked in with her teacher.
“‘Ms. Welch! Ms. Welch! Come over here. I think I’ve got something!” she shouted.
Mary Margaret Welch, who has spent 17 years teaching science at Eastside Catholic School, had a feeling Terry was on to something.
“I snapped a picture of it on the microscope and e-mailed it to the pathologist,” Welch said. “Within 24 hours, he sent back an e-mail saying yes, this is a granuloma.”
The finding impressed doctors.
“Granulomas are oftentimes very hard to find and not always even present at all,” said Dr. Corey Siegel, a bowel disease specialist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. “I commend Jessica for her meticulous work.”
While Terry’s glad to finally have answers, she now knows she’ll have a tough road ahead.
Crohn’s disease is an incurable, though treatable condition caused by inflammation in the intestines. It can cause malnutrition, ulcers, pain and discomfort.
Still, she looks towards the future with optimism. She’ll begin nursing school in the fall and hopes to have a kid’s book on Crohn’s disease published.
Why does this not surprise me? June 16, 2009
monday morning blues June 15, 2009
Monday morning blues…So much to do, but I’ve got the flu.
A Tale of Two (or 3) Doctors June 11, 2009
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” -Charles Dickens
It has been a while since I wrote of my medical stuff. Probably some sort of psychological avoidance issue. Or possibly because of the amount of time that I have been dealing with it of late, the last thing I’ve been wanting to do is write about it. But there have been some new developments so I feel obliged to share them.
As soon as I was adequately recovered from the last angiogram, I began intensive work with my chiropractor-2-3 times/week. The work was hard, deep and usually left me feeling pretty crappy for the next day or so. The good news was, that we were seeing some definite, although not permanent, improvement. We at least felt that we had honed in on the root of the trouble. The bad news was that we weren’t really sure what she was doing that seemed to help and if her work would/could have any permanent effect.
Also, my last 2 doctors, neither of whom do I respect (see May 21 post “A Bitch of a Week”), suggested that my problem was caused by my pain medicine and not the other way around. Although this seemed completely illogical to me, I was so desperate, that I think I was open to hearing just about anything. So, when they suggested I get off my pain meds, I was at least willing to give it a try. My fear was, what if I get off the meds and the pain is still there only now I get no relief, have no safety net? That concerned me, especially since getting off the drugs is a long drawn process which need to be undertaken with great care so as to avoid or at least ease withdrawal, which can be a very painful experience on its own. Also, neither of these doctors told me how I should do the withdrawal and neither referred me to another doctor who specializes in helping people wean gently off of narcotics. I was, yet again, alone in my journey.
So, I started calling around to different clinics or programs that were designed to help people kick their drugs. Only problem was, I wasn’t nor am I a drug abuser. Evidently one has to be a hard core addict or as rich as Miss Lohan or Spears to get any help. I was told point blank by 2 different admissions directors that they weren’t the place for me because I am simply dependent on my medicine to feel well, not addicted in order to get high. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I did speak with one facility that would have happily helped me to part with a great deal of my money for the privilege of spending 28 days away from my family, attending NA meetings, etc.
Surprisingly, my playing around on the web landed me right at the internet doorstep of the most amazing perfect e-match of a doctor that I could imagine. Her website described someone who was the doctor equivalent of tall dark and handsome. Dr. Gayle was western trained and she is an M.D. Her field of specialty was gastroenterology (a girl after my own spleen), and internal medicine, but she had also studied with a medicine man on a Native American reservation and she became open to other ways of healing. She then learned about other healing modalities and now runs a completely integrated practice. She is well known in her profession and highly respected. She treats the body, mind and spirit as a whole and considers herself a partner with the patient to figure out a way to health and wellness. Imagine that! AND her practice is about a 20 minute drive from my house.
I called her office and was able to get in last Tuesday. And what happened next was truly amazing. We sat, I spoke, she listened. She took some notes and asked a few questions, but mostly she just listened. And then she stated quite simply and matter of factly, that she had a pretty good idea about what could be causing my pain. Just like that. At the end of our meeting she looked me directly in the eyes, put her hands on my arms and said, “We will figure this out.” And I believed her.
We all have a very large muscle that runs up the length of the torso, connecting at the hip and up near the diaphragm (the very diaphragm from where the median arcuate ligament was cut in my original surgery), called the iliopsoas muscle. Her thinking (which was confirmed on examination) is that this muscle has been in chronic spasm since the surgery, likely as a result of the body trying to protect itself from the trauma of the surgery. She said that it would account for all of the pain that I have described to her-the squeezing inside my body, the wrapping, the burning-all of it (other than the normal aches of being a grown up and having 3 kids and living in a stressful world). But not only that, she actually has a plan for dealing with the muscle. She told me that we have to break the cycle of the spasm and re-teach the muscle that it doesn’t need to be that way-that it can simply relax now. Not only that too, but she has a plan for breaking the cycle and that is through the use of magnesium injections which cause muscles to relax.
So, last week I had my first injection. I won’t say it was a pleasant experience, because it wasn’t, BUT at the end of the treatment, my pain was gone–GONE!. And for the nest several days I woke up without pain. It was truly amazing. She wouldn’t venture to guess how long the relief might be, planning several more injections-once a week for the next month and we’ll take it from there. I still take my meds because A. I can’t just stop them and B. there is no expectation that one shot is enough. In fact as the week has gone by, I have felt some pain creeping back in, but I am taking much less medication than I was even a week ago. I am scheduled for another injection this afternoon.
It’s too early for me to claim victory-way to early, but for the first time in a very long time, I actually feel hopeful…
More to come.
Dear Mr. President, June 9, 2009
While I would never presume that you will actually ever read this, I am going to write it anyway. The Supreme Court today, rejected, some yadda-yadda thing about DADT (I’m not trying to make light, I just really don’t know the details and for now, am too tired to study up on it. I do, however, know the gist.). A couple of weeks ago, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, preventing gay couples from marrying in the State of California. It wasn’t that long ago that the same conversation took place about people of color in the military, women in the military, interracial marriage. It seems that gay is the new black.
You may wonder where a letter like this fits in a blog about being a parent. This is exactly the place it belongs. It belongs here on behalf of my children for whom I wish a world in which equal rights are a given, and on behalf of the children who have had to lose their jobs because of their sexual orientation. I write it on behalf of all children who would be safer because of having certain individuals back in the military protecting us rather than back here fighting for the very rights the rest us take for granted.
When you were running for president, you stated explicitly, that while you were not personally in favor of gay marriage, you were in favor of equal rights and that you would very quickly into your presidency, overturn Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Now, I understand that you are a very busy man, running a country that was previously run into the ground, dealing with a war started by criminals, trying to rescue a sinking economy that was set afloat and then popped by your predecessor, etc, etc. You are busy, as am I. I don’t run a country, but I do run a household, and I can tell you that it is no easy task either. All in one week, washing machines break, brakes on 2 year old cars go, toilets back up, lamps short out, televisions flash their dying whatever it is they flash, children get sick, dinners need to get made, etc, etc. (BTW, I have been in chronic pain for the last 2 1/2 years as well and I am here to tell you that that in and of itself, is a bitch.) Like you, I have almost no time off, no time to myself, and people who rely on me for their every little (and big) thing.
O.K., to get to the point. We all have tasks that we put off, even willing to take on harder, more grandiose tasks, to avoid doing-tasks that (and here is the important part) when all is said and done, we imagine to be much harder, much more onerous, much more difficult than they really are. In our imaginations, we make the task bigger than it is and in doing so, we give the task power over us. (For an example, see my post from last week called “A Daunting Task.”)
You can, with the stroke of your pen, overturn Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. There is a bill in the House called HR 1283, which, when it passes, will do just that. But meanwhile, you hold the power in your hand. You know the facts-since DADT became policy, 13,000 service men and women were released from their duties-men and women who actually want to be in the military, all the while extending tours of personnel who want to come home. There is no evidence that keeping gays and lesbians out of the military is of any benefit to our country and could, in fact, be a major detriment. The public, overwhelmingly (yes, church going Republicans, even), are in favor of ending DADT. It is time. It is a task, that I can only imagine, seems worse to you than it could ever actually be. Once DADT is repealed, the conversation around it will disappear, the people who support you will continue to support you, those who don’t will continue to not, and those that are now sitting on the fence, those GLBT folks who supported you in a big way and are having doubts, will have faith that they will see equal rights in their own lifetimes. We will have access to thousands more troops who can live their lives openly, willing to fight for and die for our country just like any other poor soul. (I can’t believe I actually just typed those words, considering what a pacifist I am.)
Let those in the military closet come out. Let those that have served long past their commitments come home. Reinstate those that were discharged and give them back their dignity and honor. You are a smart man, and the writing is on the wall. DADT will end. Let it be part of your legacy to end it sooner rather than later. I assure you, once you do it, you will realize that it is not nearly as big a deal as I am imagining you are imagining it. You face big, complicated, scary issues. This one is easy.
I’ll make you a deal. You overturn DADT (by weeks end, let’s say) and I will tackle those EOB’s and medical bills in the corner of my office. What do ya say?
Then I’ll give you an earful on healthcare…
Yes, You Can!
With the utmost respect and admiration,
out of the mouths of babes June 5, 2009
Sometimes when my nails are clipped, it’s harder for me to get my boogies out.
Don’t call me a genius. It rhymes with penis.
Is cynical like testicles?”
-Little Miss T (age 3 1/2)
baseball word of the week june 3, 09 June 3, 2009
cashew-An undisciplined, zany nonconformist; a nutty player.
I had just dropped my daughter at preschool-preschool mind you, when I struck up a conversation with the dad of another child. At some point, I mentioned that I had 2 other kids, one in middle school and one in high school. He suddenly became very interested. He wanted to know where my son attends high school. I told him and he became very excited. “Oh, that’s where I want Katie to go, I’ve heard amazing things about it. I’ve heard they have the best test scores in town. I’m just not yet sure how I’m going to get her in there yet.” Yet? Katie is 3 years old. I’m not sure if this is a phenomenon of Los Angeles or if it is prevalent elsewhere as well. When I was pregnant with my son, people asked me if I was on a preschool waiting list yet. I thought they were joking. They weren’t and not only that, they were willing to pay what I paid to go to college for their 3 year old to learn to share and play in the sand. I think I signed my son up for preschool about a month before he started. We couldn’t have been happier with our choice and his best friend is still a boy he met there. When my oldest daughter was of age, we signed her up for preschool about a month before as well and same with the little one. Somehow, despite my failings at working the preschool “system”, our 2 eldest have managed to learn to read, to perform complex algebra equations, and are incredibly well adjusted socially and just happen to be straight A students. My 3 year old just got a certificate from her preschool acknowledging that she can recognize all the letters of the alphabet. Yea! (read that with appropriate, yet not over the top, enthusiasm)
To get back to the conversation I had with the dad-I told him where my 2 big kids went to elementary school. There is another, slightly more prestigious school near our home. I never had any interest in sending my kids there. Most of the kids there are white and come from affluent homes. That is perfectly fine, but explains why they might just have higher test scores than our school. I told him that at our home school, children from many cultures, and all socioeconomic classes are represented. My kids’ friends look like a contingent from the United Nations. Also, our school has a great visual and performing arts program. I told him that to me there is more to a school than it’s test scores. As we parted ways, he said “Thank you. I really never thought of that at all. You have definitely given me something to think about.”
I was a teacher for 14 years, but I have been a mother for 15. Schools matter, but not nearly as much as parents.