OK

Most of what I write on DKos is personal. Tonight is no exception.

Last April, my husband and I were fortunate enough to get to see Rachel Maddow's book tour in support of Drift while she was in Milwaukee. She's a phenomenal person in person, just as she is on television.

As the evening ended, I began to have what I thought was a panic attack. My heart was racing and I felt the urge to run and hide. I was shaking and could hardly see. My darling husband Old Abe was able to get me into a cab and back to our hotel (and thanks to several unknown bystanders who kept me company while he flagged someone down), but it was a long time before I finally came down.

Fast forward to July, when I finally made it to a doctor. I was stupid...I had a wonderful primary physician in Seattle, and after we moved to Madison I kept putting off finding someone new. On July 13, I walked into the clinic where the PA took my vitals and realized something was seriously wrong.

You see, my blood pressure was 194/113.

I'd been having migraines for a few years (and now, in retrospect, I know they were my blood pressure just being out of control) and my blood pressure had been on the high side before we left Seattle. But this...this was just insane.

Long story short: my new primary care doctor thought I may have a pheochromocytoma, a growth that causes excessive production of adrenaline. But the test results for that were, thankfully, negative. I went through an ultrasound to check for narrowing of the renal artery, but again, all clear.

Then I was sent to an endocrinologist who specializes in a condition called Conn's Syndrome, which is a growth in the adrenal glands that causes an electrolyte imbalance. I had several rounds of blood tests that seemed to confirm this, but the MRI of my kidneys came up with minimal enlargement and no detectable growths. My endo was convinced, however, and ordered the "gold standard" test which involved an infusion of saline over a brief period of time. The salt would cause the key hormone, aldosterone, to skyrocket.

Guess what? No dice. It dropped. And that ended that.

I should note that my blood pressure isn't high like most people with hypertension. It's normal most of the time, but will suddenly skyrocket with systolics well over 180 (and in one case 220) and diastolics anywhere from 120 - 140. The most plausible explanations are no longer on the table.

Unfortunately, my blood pressure stabilized in early December when the endo put me on the drug that is used to treat Conn's....spironolactone. But in the last two weeks it started spiking again. I spent last Wednesday night in the ER after having stroke-like symptoms, only to be told after an EKG and MRI that I had hypertensive encephalopathy (basically, my BP was so high my brain stopped working right).

I'm not your traditional hypertensive also in the sense that I'm not overweight, I don't smoke, I don't drink to excess and I'm fairly active. My lipids are pretty good...none of this makes sense.

When I started writing this diary my blood pressure was 182/122. Now it's dropping back again and is now 149/109.

Thankfully I have good health insurance and the power of the University of Wisconsin doctors behind me.

But this sucks.

Much love to you all,
ANK

UPDATE: I never expected this to hit the Wreck List...commonmass and teacherken have much more serious stuff going on. ANK has to get up early to shovel the first half of the expected seven inches of white stuff coming tonight, so I'm off to night night land.

Thanks for everyone's love and insight. I love DKos!

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