Thursday, July 29, 2010

You’re Forgetting “Zebra Fever”

I am having a rough few months. The kind of rough that would make Munchausen Syndrome patients jealous. It started with my botched infusion in April that led to the lumbar puncture experience from Hell (and the resulting migraine) and continued with bronchitis at the end of May that is hanging on despite five rounds of antibiotics and two inhalers.

Last week I experienced my second official migraine. I have gotten increasingly severe headaches over the last couple years, but with the immune deficiency diagnosis those headaches were put on a backburner. Well, until April, when my head exploded, and the emergency room doctor warned me that I might start getting migraines more regularly.

He wasn’t wrong. I was hoping that last week was a fluke, but yesterday I noticed nausea in the morning, neck pain in the early afternoon, and a monster headache right after lunch. I went home after work, crawled into bed, and waited for the sweet release of sleep.

This morning my headache was present but somewhat better. However, the neck pain continues. I can barely look left or right. So I decided to follow up on the advice my immunologist gave me back in April – find a neurologist.

After speaking to several people, I was given the names of a few doctors that I was interested in approaching. I went to the website for one doctor, and was pleased to see they had an online form to schedule a preliminary visit. Among the information they requested was the following: “Primary Disease/Condition.” I scrolled through the dropdown menu, which was surprisingly inclusive and appeared to contain at least 300 conditions. These conditions included:
  1. Cat Scratch Fever
  2. Dandruff
  3. Deer-fly Fever
  4. Fox-Den Disease
  5. Human Mad Cow Disease
  6. Little League Elbow
  7. Montezuma’s Revenge
  8. Parrot Fever
  9. Psychopathy
  10. Sociopathy
  11. Washerwoman’s Sprain
First of all, I think we can now empirically prove that animals are making us sick.

Second of all, I’m pretty sure that Washerwoman’s Sprain is a 19th-century Dickensian invention, similar to Consumption.

Third of all, would a true psychopath or sociopath really go to a neurologist (or any specialist), look at a list like this, and think, “You know what, I should probably let them know I’m a danger to society.” I watch “CSI: Law & Order,” and I can tell you that they would not.

Fourth of all, I have always liked the word “Micronesia.” (No, this is not related, but I don’t have another list in which to insert this fact.)

And finally, I was dismayed that among the 300 conditions, there was not one mention of the following:
  1. Primary Immune Deficiency Disease (PIDD)
  2. Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID)
Not that they are exceedingly widespread, but you’re telling me that more people have PARROT FEVER than an immune system disorder? Considering how many children (and adults) go undiagnosed, I find that unlikely. This is why PIDD patients are considered the "zebras" of the medical world - they appear to be an average, run-of-the-mill horse until you take the time to look closely. Something that most doctors do not do.

However, I have a proposal, one that should make everybody happy…

If we call it Zebra Fever, can it be put on that list?

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