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The doctor I’d been seeing for five years unexpectedly died in August. Since it was time for me to get my annual blood tests done I found another doctor. I lucked out that the guy was really nice and his staff was just great. He ordered a bunch of lab tests.

One of the great things about his practice, affiliated with the Baptist hospital system here in San Antonio, was that they had a Patient Portal where they posted all the tests. I had a bird’s eye view of all the surprising abnormal readings for some of the tests. Of course I had to research the hell out of everything, just as he was ordering more tests.

I’ve been to the doctor about eight times in a two week period. (Thank heavens for Doggy Day Care.) He ordered tests. I had them done, then we both read the results.

About this time I started freaking out. An imagination is a terrible thing to waste and mine was on overdrive. Plus, the research I was doing was scary. A healthy person should NOT have the results I was having.

I couldn’t confide in anyone because when I’m going through bad stuff I tend to withdraw like a hermit crab. Nor could I tell my son because I didn’t want to worry him.

The result that scared me the most was my calcium level. It was way past the high normal. Hypercalcemia is linked to cancer. My doctor ordered a Vitamin D test plus a PTH, which is parathyroid hormone. Both were abnormal.

All of a sudden my research pivoted. I had an idea in the back of my mind and the more I studied it, the more it made sense. I diagnosed myself with hyperparathyroidism, caused by a parathyroid tumor.

The symptoms I’d been having for the past few years made sense. I wasn’t just getting older, I was getting sicker.

From Parathyroid.com:

“Parathyroid disease, called hyperparathyroidism, is a serious disease that becomes very destructive with time. The longer a person has parathyroid problems the more problems and destruction of body tissues it causes, including osteoporosis, high blood pressure, kidney stones, kidney failure, stroke and heart rhythm problems. Because it is a serious and progressive disease, hyperparathyroidism should not be watched or monitored since the destruction will continue as long as the disease is present. Importantly, this disease makes most people feel bad by causing many symptoms while it slowly causes problems throughout the body.”

The only cure for hyperparathyroidism is surgery. You can’t take a pill. You have to have the tumor removed. (It’s almost always benign.)

I requested my lab tests for the past five years, tests I’d never seen and there it was, big as the sun, abnormal calcium levels.

Fast forward a week or two: bottom line, I have a parathyroid tumor and will undergo surgery on September 25th. Plus it looks like I’ve had a tumor for at least five years and probably longer.

I’m not a fan of surgery, but I’m absolutely thrilled to know that there’s an answer to why I’ve felt like hell for the past two years. Excess calcium can cause most of the problems I’ve been having, including dry eyes, vision changes, low grade headaches, back pain, insomnia, inability to lose weight, depression, memory issues, and blood pressure elevations.

I will be skipping to the operating room.

Wait just a minute while I crawl up on my soapbox.

I’m urging you to know what your calcium level is. No person over the age of 40 should have a calcium level more than 9. (Mine is 12.) If your calcium level is over 9 the chance of you having a parathyroid tumor is pretty high.

I wish my doctor had shared my tests with me. I wish my current doctor had figured out that it’s dangerous to “monitor” high calcium. I diagnosed myself, then I went to a specialist who agreed with my diagnosis. The surgeon who will be operating on me is an expert at removing parathyroid tumors. One of the things he told me (and for which I want to hug him) was that I was going to feel better after the surgery.

Yay!

Here’s a great video explaining parathyroid tumors and the disease.

The surgery itself, if it’s performed by an expert, is short. Normally about 20 minutes, with light sedation. You aren’t intubated and the chances of vocal cord disruption is very slight. Years ago this operation took six hours and people sometimes lost their voices permanently. Plus, the scar was wide and disfiguring. Nowadays, it’s only about an inch wide.

For more information, I recommend parathyroid.com.

Stay tuned for progress reports.

(And check your calcium!)