Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stocking Full of Coal

Many of you know, I suffer from a rare pituitary disease, for which there are less than 500 people with the disease. This is why I call myself a Medical Unicorn. When I got the diagnosis, I figured that my disease was so rare, there was no possibility that there would be a cure. There just aren't enough of us for it to make a difference to even try to find a cure. There's certainly no money in it. But then, it happened! They stumbled upon a cure, in the process of trying to fix something else in a patient. I've been trying for the last year and a half to get that cure.

My chase for the cure started with me moving to the Denver area. Doctors who study the pituitary gland are called neuroendocrinologists, and there aren't many of them in the country. There was one when I lived in Seattle, and they were the ones who originally confirmed my diagnosis. But Seattle is way too expensive a town to live in, and after my ex-husband suddenly cut off my court-ordered spousal support, I had to move back home to St. Louis. However, I quickly discovered there wasn't a neuroendocrinologist for a 5-state area. I was shocked. I was sure there would be one at Washington University, but no. So after exhausting everything I could do in St. Louis, and with the help of mt father, I moved.

It was a struggle getting an appointment with the neuroendocrinologist in Denver. At first they told me they wouldn't let me in because the University Hospital, with which she was affiliated, wasn't taking any more Medicare patients. I had my old neuroendocrinologist in Seattle fax over my MRI that showed the inflammation of my pituitary gland. That got me in.

But then, the neuroendocrinologist here took one look at me and decided that all my doctors of the past 10 years were quacks, that they had misdiagnosed me, and that all I needed to do was to come off my medication and I would be fine. She said that my thyroid problem was caused by another autoimmune disease, and it would show up on her tests. Well, it didn't. All my test came back proving her wrong. But did she change her stance? No. She still insisted I could come off all my meds and would be fine. She never said what was causing my thyroid to not work, since I came back negative on all other autoimmune disorders.

I tried switching to another neuroendocrinologist, a resident in training. However, since their scores are dependent on the exact person who dismissed me... Yeah, I didn't get any further except to keep having them spin their lies at me. At one point, I got the resident to break down and admit that they weren't going to do anything for me. I was devastated. I had the disease, I had the cure, but I couldn't get access to it.

Then, a miracle occurred. I couldn't have wished for better. My endocrinologist, the woman who had diagnosed me, and had send me to the neuroendocrinologists, was herself promoted to that very same position!! Gods be praised, I was overjoyed. I wouldn't have to prove anything to her, she was there! She was there when my disease went into remission, and I was able to come off all my meds, and she was there when it came back. It was a homecoming.

I couldn't afford the trip on my own. So I held a fundraiser, and my friends and family came out in support. I was able to make the trip to Seattle and reconnect with my old doctor. She hadn't heard of the cure, but she was able to look up who was involved in the study, to try and get the correct dosage and protocol I would need to go through to cure me. We waited for an answer.

And waited.

And waited.

I called her office today to see if we'd had any luck. Only when I get the pre-recorded greeting, it tells me that my doctor is no longer in practice!! I got no letter, no warning. Nothing. Like a stocking full of coal on Christmas morning, I'm beyond grief. I have no idea where to turn now. I can't afford another trip to Seattle. Her replacement will be a stranger who also may not believe me. Doctors don't believe in medical unicorns.

There's a cure, and I* can't get it.

She left her practice, and didn't tell me.

Who do I turn to now? Where do I go? What do I do?

How do I get what I need?


[Edited to add:]
* I should actually say WE can't get to the cure. I know of two others (Hi Jana & Cathrine!) who share my disease and who's doctors are looking to me and my results before trying it on their patients. I'm leading a charge here, and I feel like the wind has been knocked out of our sails.

Please, if you have any insights... share them. Pass the word along. THIS CANNOT END HERE!!

[Edited to update:]
Never mind!! I found A Diamond in the Coal!!!

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