Monday, November 22, 2010

The Catch-all Diagnosis

I won't try to hide the reality I've had issues with my digestive system going back decades and more so since the early 1980's after a bout of the flu left it unable to really recover some sense of normal as before. The doctors said while the vast majority of people get the flu get diarrhea, a few get the opposite, a near-complete shutdown of their digestive system.

Part of this is due to having to take bicillin and amoxicillin among others for Rheumatic Fever at age 3 and afterward necessary for such things as dental visits to fight any possible strep bacteria in the body through the gums, one of the easiest places for germs and bacteria to enter the body. These are, however, universal antibiotics which destroys the flora in the digestive tract where they regrow until the body controls them.

Until of course, the bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics and the body's own controls. This creates the opportunity for them to grow out of control and play havoc with the body. And then it became Irritated Bowel Syndrome (IBS), first named by a few specialists for a general digestive system disorder so medical professionals would consider developing tests and treatment.

And while IBS was once the bane of Gastroentrologists, saying it was all in the patient's imagination, diet, health, fitness, etc. despite the obvious symptons and signs which tests were at worst non-existent or at best inconclusive, it is now the boon of them where they don't have to really spend a lot of time trying to really determine the cause and then a treatment.

They simply say, "You have IBS, live with it." And then they prescribe the standard generic treatment, lower your fats, lower your dairy intake, eat more fiber - even take a fibrer supplement, fruit and vegetables, and the most obvious one, excercise more. Something a health specialist or nutrutionalist could have told you that and saved you a lot of money.

And even when you can recite a litany of symtoms and signs pointing in a direction, it's easier not to believe the patient, at least until you have clear and obvious test results. But then they have to start with the obvious and work through their litany of tests to ever so slowly remove one diagnosis after another until they get tired, the insurance won't, and you can't, pay, or you give up. And then it's, "You have IBS, live with it."

But what bothers me more is when the test prove nothing but the symptoms and signs still show something maybe related or not fully known, they simply ignore you. Such is the case with the condition Pseudomembranous colitis. But the test can prove deceptive if the toxin isn't present in blood tests or signs in the stools as the test are only looking for a few types of toxins associated with the bacteria.

And so it's easy to dismiss a patient presenting the condition without clear and obvious proof and then tell them, "You have IBS, live with it." Until of course it worsens where it is clear and obvious, and the patient is totally frustrated and angry at the gastroentrologists. In the meantime the patient is trying a variety of diets and excercise programs with nothing to show for treating the condition.

And so it's down the medical rabbit hole I go, again, five years later and a little worse for the wear and time.

No comments:

Post a Comment