26 March 2009

It's that time of year.

Every spring for as long as I can remember has been Diagnostics Month, god knows why. Throughout childhood, I had cancer scares in March -- and doctors with really horrible bedside manner. "Well!" they'd exclaim, "Could be cancer!" They'd run tests, my parents and I would have anxiety attacks for a week, and the test results would come in negative. Through high school, they were Munchausen's episodes, apparently. "Are you still on your Prozac?" they'd ask, thinking withdrawal symptoms, or they'd tell me straight out to stop seeking attention in unhealthy ways. Last March was my RA diagnosis. As spring rolls around yet again, it's time to go through a differential again. New doctor, new tests (and old tests). I don't know why they can't believe the doctors who diagnosed me last March, but I'm being re-tested for everything under the sun. "Well!" they exclaim, gazing disinterestedly at my softball-sized knees and my twisted fingers. "Could be (lupus/gout/scleroderma/any other auto-immune or rheumatic issue ever)."

And yeah, it could be. I know my symptoms could indicate a lot of different diseases. I know I was diagnosed despite not having rheumatoid factor in my blood when they tested (and a certain percentage of people with RA just don't have it). I'm just sick of being poked and prodded and stripped and examined. I'm sick of waiting for tests, waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for words to put to my body. I'm especially sick of waiting on treatment that could help preserve my joints because the doctors are playing Guess the Disease.

I'm not a very good patient, I'm afraid, but I'm beginning to wonder whether I have good doctors.