Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Art of Three's

Could it be possible that the "Art of Three" is a real occurrence?  Troubling events occurring in sets of three seems magical, doesn't it?  I mean, really, why would it happen in three?  Why not four or just two; or at all?

Our home is still standing.... just wanted to get that out first.  My magical three events, in increasing importance are:

Washing Machine
Compared to the other two issues below, who cares about a leaking washer?  I care because I'm the one dishing out over $800 for a replacement.


While in college 8 years ago, my then girlfriend (now wife, just to be clear) discovered a rash on her hip.  Being itchy, we jokingly called it her "itchies".  She went to her doctor who took a biopsy.  The results were inconclusive at that time. The doctor said that she was probably allergic to our clothing detergent.

This past January (2013), while getting a physical for our life insurance policy, a blood test was taken.  The results of the blood test saw elevated levels of protein and other abnormalities.  Being concerned, my wife visited our doctor who re-ran the tests.  The results were the same.  The doctor wasn't too concerned but ordered a second round of tests for confirmation.  With our lives busy and the doctor not concerned, we passed on the suggested round of confirmation blood tests.  

Six months later, (a week before our son's first birthday) my wife started to have swelling in her legs.  The swelling increased in time making it difficult to walk, not to mention uncomfortable.  A visit to the doctor was made yet again.  This time, because of the swelling, the on call doctor ordered a massive amount of blood tests.  They tested her blood for everything...  a couple days later, we received a call from the nurse, who, with direction from the doctor, sent her medical records to Hartford Hospital and instructed us to head to the emergency room.

There we sat, the three of us:  a nervous mother, anxious father and impatient baby/toddler; surrounded by hacking sickly persons, dangling arms, limping idiots and a scary looking ghetto person saying to the triage nurse, "The voices in my head are telling me to hurt people".

It must have been a full moon as we waited in the ER for 18 hours, seeing the above carnage yet no doctor. The city of Hartford spewed forth it's needy, all while the three of us waited for information.  The hospital, in their bureaucratic logic, would not allow us to see a specialist doctor until my wife was admitted.  Since the hospital had no vacancy, our 5-star resort stay was delayed, as was our meeting with the specialist.  

At the 24 hour mark, the three of us saw the specialist, in my wife's palatial room (it even came with the sticky floors!).  The specialist is a kidney doctor with a Donald Trump attire (yes, he had a pink tie) and he asked my wife a couple of questions.  Upon hearing the answers, he said that he's 95% sure she has Lupus.

Lupus, an autoimmune disease, affects mainly young women (teens through twenties).  Some outside environmental event, stress or virus or who knows, infects the body.  The immune system attacks this virus, naturally.  The virus mutates to appear as an organ.  The immune system eventually kills the virus but keeps going.  It attacks organs and other tissues of the body.  People with Lupus do not look "sick".  And every patient has different symptoms; for my wife, her immune system started attacking her kidneys and joints; which to a non-specialist would resemble two separate medical diagnosis:  kidney disease and arthritis.  My wife is 29, doesn't smoke or take drugs; she eats healthy and exercises.  Lupus can also become more evident after pregnancy, since we're a year past our son's birth, I can only assume his birth began her slow degeneration.  Despite what "Dr. House" may think, sometimes, it is just Lupus.

A kidney biopsy was completed to confirm the diagnosis as well as classify the level of Lupus she had.  Two days later, she was officially diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis, Class 4.  Class 5 equates to permanent scaring of the affected organ.  Luckily (I suppose), we went to the ER when we did.  According to the results of the biopsy, if we had blown this off as well, within six weeks, she would've needed a kidney transplant.

Despite the threat of needing a transplant, my wife is doing much better now but her diagnosis is for life.  More about my wife's struggles with Lupus can be read on her blog:  Bit-By-Bit.  I encourage my readers to become aware of this disease since it seemingly affects those who are the healthiest.

Lead Poisoning

Just after the diagnosis of my wife, our son's first birthday came.  Per state law, a lead screening is required.  I suppose we shouldn't be shocked (yet we were) that he came back positive for lead.  Despite our prior testing. the screening showed that his level was 5.4 mg/dL.

Per the EPA, normal is 0.0 to 2.0 and above a 5.0 requires attention.  Above a 9.0 means the doctor is required by law to inform the state.  Above 20.0, the state acts.  Above 45.0, toxic drugs that damage the kidneys and liver are administered.  Above 70.0, neurological damage occurs.

The screening is only a ball park estimate.  A blood sample was taken from our son to conduct a full blood lead test. The results came back at 11.0 mg/dL.

We are working with doctors, contractors, government programs and the bank to find and remove the lead... wherever it is.  A future post will document our struggles in greater detail (updates are here:  Lead Poisoning).

I hope that's it...