Posted 11/12/2008 1:21 AM (GMT -7)
My girlfriend has hypothyroidism and went in for a routine blood test which she has every 6 weeks, except she had mentioned to them that she felt tired a lot so they decided to do an ANA test for the first time in her life. A month later (Two days ago) she a call from them about it, they said the ANA was positive and the results may indiciate she has lupus and directed her to make an appointment with a rheumatologist.. now, I panicked after hearing that and started researching everything lupus related on the internet and then panicked more. Here are the important test results:
ANA Postive, titer count >= 1:1280, SSA/Ro type
Rheumatoid factor 4
White blood cell count 1.9 (this is supposed to be low, right?)
Red blood cell count is normal
hemoglobin is normal
hemocrit is normal
platelets are normal
RDW is slightly high (and she was slightly anemic, had a low iron result of a previous blood test, but since eating more spinach and red meat her iron went up and she's feeling better)
The thing is, she's never shown any of the most common symptoms of lupus: no rashes, no hair loss, no real joint or muscle pain except a little hand stiffness when waking up (but that can be attributed to other things, like hypothyroid & the fact that she works hard with her hands at her job), no mouth ulcers, her heart is fine as of her last EKG, no Raynaud's, etc. She is getting a full lupus panel done a week from this Friday but the suspense and anxiety is killing me. I guess that will be the real moment of truth and anything I can think before then is still just a guess..but I can't help but speculate almost 24/7 about this to try and make sense of it and diagnose it as best I can..
The main test result that scares me is the ANA titer count.. the rest can be attributed to other things, but that ANA result is pretty darning evidence in favor of her having some autoimmune disease. Now, after thinking about it for a while, i've come to this conclusion: the blood test was done a month ago and, I figure this sort of thing doesn't happen overnight, right? So that logically means her blood must have been like this for at least a few months at the minimum.. having those ANA results but the fact that she still doesn't show any symptoms of lupus would indicate it might be more likely to be a different auto-immune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, hashimoto's, or sjogrens syndrome, right? If I had to pick one i'd much rather it be one of those three than Lupus, since lupus seems to cause the most harm to people..
She only takes three prescription drugs right now: Synthroid for her thyroid, nexium for acid reflux, and she started taking Zoloft less than a year ago.. as I think about it, she only really started getting tired a lot after starting the Zoloft, is it possible that that drug could've caused drug-induced lupus over time? Her symptoms (irregular blood lab results, tiredness, joint stiffness, but none of the others) are more common to Drug induced auto immune disease than the diseases themselves.. After I came to that conclusion she cut her zoloft's in half and said she already feels less tired cause of that, and we're looking at getting her on something else just in case, so hopefully that helps a little.
Just analyzing the numbers, her symptoms though, i'm thinking she might have a mild form of hashimoto's thyroiditis, or sjogren's, or rheumatoid arthritis, or possibly Drug-indued lupus at worst? One thing that stuck out in my mind though, is she had a bout of Shingles about 3 months ago and they put her on Valtrex briefly to clear it up, she got a rash on her back and on one breast, possibly on her arms too, but it turned out it was just an allergic reaction to Valtrex and went away as soon as she stopped that drug. I'm scared that getting shingles might have somehow induced the onset of an autoimmune disease, possibly lupus itself and the symptoms just haven't really shown yet. Thats really my big worry, what if this is the worst case scenario but its just onsetting, and one day she will wake up with a butterfly rash on her face?
This whole episode has me scared to death. I find myself subconsciously checking her face and arms every night and morning to make sure she hasn't started getting a rash or anything.. this is really impacting my life negatively and making me feel terrible, stressed, and worried all the time. We're both only around 30 years old, I feel like this is too soon in life for her to be facing things like this.. makes me scared that we'll never be able to have kids or anything, and that she may die prematurely in the next 10-20 because of autoimmune related things and i'll have to be alone.. for those of you that have this or are with someone who has it, how do you cope with those feelings? For the first time in my life i've turned to drinking hard liquor specifically for the purpose of removing my bad feelings.. the last few days getting drunk has been the only way to make myself keep a positive outlook on things.. otherwise I literally get so anxious and nearly start hyperventilating and come close to vomiting..