The Religion of Science

I know, it’s been a long time again. I think the longest break I’ve ever taken from my blog. I’m not certain about that, but I don’t have the energy to verify it. I’m having a pretty good ME relapse – I’ve been mostly confined to my sofa, save for short bursts of activity, for most of a week.

I realized just how sick I was when I noticed someone being wrong on the internet and I didn’t have the will to do anything about. I know this is a shortcoming of mine – I can’t just watch someone be wrong and let it go. I feel compelled to offer facts that I can prove. I don’t try to force the other person to my perspective, but I do try to offer facts that might help them change their mind, should they be willing and open minded. I am willing to change my beliefs when presented with evidence that contradicts them, so I hope that others are willing to do so as well. I mean, that seems to be the ideal way to be, right?

So, science. I want to establish up front that I like science. A lot. I liked it so much that I went to college and got a degree in biology. I believe in the scientific method. It freaking rocks. I like that we can get results from scientific experiments and that we can replicate them. Using those results, we can solve problems, or create new ones if we are so inclined. Yay, science!

On the other hand, I feel that some people have allowed what they believe to be science to become their religion. They defend what they think is true, insinuating and sometimes outright saying that anyone who dares question the validity of their beliefs is an idiot. That’s not ok.

For the sake of my point, let’s just say that religion and God and all that are real. I’m not asking you to actually believe in them if you don’t want to, I’m just asking you to see the analogy I’m going to present. In fact, let’s limit it to the Christian God for the sake of this argument.

There are a lot of Christian religions – do you know why? Because each group believes that the other groups got something wrong. The Christian religions mostly follow the bible, and they mostly get the same information. The difference is interpretation. In this argument, the real God handed down some information about who he is and what he expects of you. The problem is, he handed it down through human beings. From the first recipients of the word of God on down, it’s been a giant game of telephone.

When you go to church, you go to hear someone’s interpretation of the word of God. More to the point, you go to hear someone’s interpretation of someone else’s interpretation of the word. Along the way, through all these translations, some facts might get distorted or misunderstood. That allows members of a church to have legitimate disagreements, and sometimes the disagreements are so big that the church breaks into smaller sub-religions. It has happened throughout history, and will likely happen again.

Science is a lot like religion in this very important respect – you are hearing someone’s interpretation of what they observed after an experiment. Science is real, but sometimes one’s perception of it is… inaccurate. This can come from an experimental mistake, a bias (the experimenter wants a certain result or is being paid to get a certain result), or simple misinterpretation. What’s important is that the “scientific” information most of us receive is translated through an imperfect human being.

I read a book called, “How We Do Harm” by Dr. Otis Brawley. He quoted someone he learned from when he was younger as saying (and I’m quoting from memory, so read the book if you want the exact quote), “Figure out what you know, what you don’t know, and what you believe, and label them accordingly”. That quote really stuck with me.

A lot of what we call scientific fact isn’t fact at all. The scientific community doesn’t “know” many things, it just believes them. Just drawing from my own life experience and study, I’ll talk about medicine, specifically health and nutrition. For most of my life doctors “knew” that cholesterol in your diet was the reason we get heart disease. They “knew” that diabetes is a genetic disease, and you couldn’t do anything to prevent it. Except, they were wrong.

Turns out, dietary cholesterol doesn’t have much of an effect at all on blood cholesterol levels. Also, type II diabetes can be reversed with a low glycemic index/load diet. A lot of physicians say exercise is also imperative to reverse the progression of type II diabetes, but I managed it through diet alone. So, based on my experience, that’s likely just a belief, or at least not applicable to all people with a glucose regulation issue.

I recently saw a video in which a Mayo Clinic doctor pointed out that only 38% of current medical practices have been proven to be helpful – the other 62% have either not been studied or have been proven to at best not help and at worst harm patients.

But this was all science when it was implemented, right? Irrefutable fact? No, not fact, just belief. So yes, science is real. But the problem is that human beings create the studies and interpret the results. Mistakes are made and perpetuated.

I have personally been guilty of not differentiating what I know from what I believed. Read my blog from the time I got sick until I figured out what was wrong with me. I said a lot of “this is it…” and “now I know what’s wrong”. I know now that my illness is more complex than I thought at first. I know some of the things that are going wrong. I do not know what else may be hiding in here. I believe that it is manageable, but not curable.

One of the things I remember from church when I was a kid was the leadership telling me that I was not to question what I was taught. That questions marked me as a non-believer, a doubting Thomas, and that I might go to hell for trying to make sure what I heard was the truth. I feel like I am hearing that about science now – don’t question the almighty science, or you will be branded an idiot.

As a scientist, I am telling you, the scientific community and knowledge base is imperfect. The people who are telling you what science knows are imperfect. It’s ok to question. It’s ok to come down on a different conclusion than I have. You’re not an idiot, you’re just thinking for yourself.

I had this conversation with my husband very recently. I commented that some people have started treating science like it’s religion, with unquestioning belief in everything labeled “science”. Then I saw this video today, and I knew it was time to talk about it with more people. I hope that what I have to say makes an impact.

All the Rest

This week, I’m resting. It’s not something I like to do, but it’s something I understand I must do. In just about two weeks, my brother and his family are coming out for Christmas. I am utterly thrilled about this, but I have to prepare. Preparing for me is not like it is for most people. For most, it’s about cleaning the house and decorating to make the guests feel like it’s really Christmas! For me, it’s about storing as much energy as I can so that I can actually enjoy visiting people who I don’t get to see often enough. The house will be clean(ish). There will be some decoration (Michael put Christmas lights on the outside of our house for the first time ever!). It just won’t be up to the standards I would like. But my guests will understand.

Resting this week means that I am not going to any appointment outside of my house. It doesn’t mean that I won’t leave the house at all, it just means that I have the luxury of doing it if and when I feel up to it. The problem with my appointments is that I have to go at the time scheduled, but sometimes I feel sick and really wish I could stay home instead (and this includes fun things like knit night). The stress of the whole thing makes it so I use more energy than I might otherwise. I will have none of that this week. I am still going to work, but that’s easy enough because again, I can do it on my own time. I build in 3 days to my expected ship date to account for such things as “I don’t feel well enough to make the 2-minute drive the the post office and Michael is out of town and can’t drop it off for me.” The people who ask me for custom jobs give me a long enough lead time that I can easily meet their expectations. I have no worries about this.

This time, I’m a little more at peace with the idea that I have to rest. I still don’t like it, mind you, but I have found something that makes this need acceptable in my world. I got the testing back from Dr M, and finally, I look sick on paper. I’m sick enough that a pure medical doctor could see it. I’m in late stage adrenal failure. My acupuncturist doesn’t like the word “failure” to describe the condition, but I call it like I see it. My adrenal glands cannot keep up with the stress on my body, and they are now failing to do their job. I don’t judge them for it, I just know they can’t keep up.

Don’t get too excited that I finally have a diagnosis. I don’t. This is just like the ME/CFS diagnosis – adrenal failure is a symptom, not the disease. This also isn’t to be confused with Addison’s disease. As I understand it, Addison’s is usually autoimmune, with a few cases being about traumatic or congenital damage to the adrenal glands, and this is the primary disease. My adrenal glands are not damaged, they’re just overworked. The catch is, we need to find out why my adrenal glands are working too hard. There is some stressor hiding and completely overtaking my body. I have no evidence of infection or parasites. I am not emotionally stressed. I don’t seem to be having any more food reactions. It’s important to figure this out because adrenal insufficiency is life threatening.

Dr M was surprised when none of his testing showed a cause for the adrenal insufficiency. He was sure I had a parasite or infection that was just overlooked by my previous doctors. On the bright side, when the testing came back, he acknowledged that I am not an easy case, that I don’t fit into one of his boxes, and that I am really, really sick.

I have a theory about the biggest contributing factor to the adrenal problem. I think it’s my heart. I think that when I have low blood pressure and my heart tries to race to keep up with my cardiac output needs (a function powered by adrenaline), it puts demands on my adrenal glands that I can’t keep up with. I think that the dizzy spells I have been experiencing in the last few weeks are due to the fact that my body just can’t keep up, and it can’t get blood to my brain. I am going to mention this to Dr M the next time I see him. My next appointment is going to be after Christmas. He wants to retest and see if he can find parasites or infections that he can treat. We’re doing a protocol right now that should coax out anything hiding. If he doesn’t find something, I think that my theory should be explored. I am feeling more and more that my primary problem is cardiac output. If you don’t have enough blood circulation, it suppresses the immune system, makes you tired, and causes stress. Cardiomyopathy (or more particularly, whatever caused it) is very likely the root cause of my condition.

So, now that we’ve covered the technical stuff, let’s move on to the fun things!

I’m still doing well with my shop. I am growing quickly, and I’ve inquired with a wholesaler about forming a relationship so I can carry a larger variety of things in my shop! One thing I want in particular is commercially dyed wool so I can better fill these sampler packs I developed:

Wool Paint Sampler for Felting or Spinning - Hand dyed Merino Wool Roving in Flower Colors

I got the idea from these really cool felted paintings I’ve seen on Etsy. I realized that the people who make this art view wool like paint. I actually picked up needle felting supplies so I could try to make things like this – not that I have that level of skill,  but I can create simple things. I’m working on Christmas themed felt coasters right now. They look a little primitive, but skill takes time to develop.

I’ve also been making new cat toys. It helps that I have kittens to demo the products – I feel like this is a win for everyone involved. I get to test the toys on the kittens to make sure they are something cats actually want to play with, I get pictures of kitties actually using my toys so people can see that real cats like the toys, and the kittens get a little exposure (I mention in my listings that the kittens will be up for adoption, and if someone wants to pursue the adoption I can send them to the shelter to see if they are a good match).

I just developed “Kitty Fusilli”…

Cat Toy - Set of 3 Kitty Fusilli - Wool/ Cotton/ Silk/ NylonCat Toy - Set of 3 Kitty Fusilli - Wool/ Cotton/ Silk/ Nylon

and August helped me demo them! He was such a good sport with my toys.

I also got a few shots of the crocheted ring toys, again with August demonstrating how fun they are!

Cat Toy - Set of 3 Crochet Ring Toys for Cats - Wool/Cotton/synthetic Fibers - 2-inch Plastic RingKitty Toy Bliss

I love that last shot of August! He doesn’t always have his eyes crossed, I just think the toy was so close up that he had trouble focusing! He just looks so silly-happy about his toy!

August came to me about a week ago with his mother and three brothers. We have Snow, Mr Gold, Cricket, Charming, and August.

Snow Unnamed boy1 Unnamed boy2 Unnamed boy3 Unnamed boy4

With a little help from my friends on Facebook, we chose a “Once Upon a Time” theme for this little family.

I am working on getting adoption portraits for the kittens. The above picture of Snow is my choice for her at this moment. I have a series of pictures of Mr Gold, and I think that the last one might be his adoption portrait:

Mr Gold's toy 1 Mr Gold's toy 2 Mr Gold's toy 3 Mr Gold's toy 4 Mr Gold's toy 5

 

I have one more great picture from our play sessions, but this one isn’t useful for adoption.

Duck's Kitten

Duck strikes again, absolutely loving the foster kittens as if he were their mother – see his smile? I can’t say enough about how great Duck is with the kittens. He plays with them and grooms them as if they were his.

So, for having to deal with less than ideal circumstances, I’m doing all right. And for now I’m going to rest, knowing that I’m doing the best I can.

Week in Review

The past week has been very eventful for me. I got more expensive plastic bracelets, made a lot of sales, dyed a ton of roving, invested in and started dying commercial yarn, met a new doctor, worked a little bit on some knitting projects… I’m sure I’m leaving things out.

I’ll start from the beginning. On Monday, I was watching tv with Michael when I got the sudden, stabbing chest pain I’ve become so familiar with. I’m not surprised, really, because since I’ve been having more problems with POTS, it ups the chance for me having restrictive cardiomyopathy and reduced blood flow to my heart. No big deal, now that I know what it is. I just lie flat on my back and put my feet all the way up, restoring blood flow and allowing my heart to slow down. The pain was stronger than usual this time, so I had to have Michael move me into position (good thing he wasn’t on yet another business trip) while I waited it out. A half hour passed, but the pain had not, so Michael told me he was taking me to the hospital.

I was still in pain when I got to the hospital, so they hooked me up to the EKG machine and took some blood. I began to improve while I was hooked up to the machines. “You’re fine,” they told me, and sent me home. I got the blood labs back on my way out the door, and I noticed that there actually was something wrong – I had low potassium. It was just below the reference range, but I am sensitive to very small amounts of chemicals (1/8th of an infant’s dose of Metoprolol scrambled my brain, after all). Low potassium can be dangerous, as it causes arrhythmias and muscle cramps. That was my problem. For once I fit inside the box for someone with this problem, and they still didn’t catch it. I believe in my heart that it’s because I’m “too young for heart disease,” so they dismiss that right off the top. It didn’t matter that I told them I had a history of POTS, or that I could usually fix the problem by getting into a position that returned blood flow to my heart. Honestly, I didn’t really need a doctor to interpret the tests for me, I just needed one to run them. Bottom line is, I’m ok now. Adding a potassium supplement has helped, except for today. I am not sure if I took the supplement yesterday, and I didn’t want to over do it (too much potassium can have bad effects, too). I think I must not have, given that I woke up feeling awful. Of course, it could have been the work I did yesterday that I’m paying for.

I spent all day on Saturday dying wool. I definitely plan to list most of it for sale as is, but I may spin one or more of them into yarn. I dyed some commercial sock yarn, too. I saved one skein to knit up for myself and see how it looks and to check if it’s really enough to make most pairs of socks. I only got 360 yds in 100g of yarn, and usually I see around 400 yds in that weight (and most patterns call for a minimum of 400 yds). Of course, I measured the yarn on my niddy noddy, and I’ve always questioned the accuracy of that method of measurement.

  This is some of what I dyed. I had so much that I needed the space in two bathrooms to dry it!

I also met a new medical doctor this week. Well, he’s a DO (doctor of osteopathy), but still, he has access to some things the chiropractors don’t. He is also a chiropractor, which informs his approach to health care, and thus informed my decision to interview him and see if he’s good enough for my team. I’ll cut to the chase – I am going to use his services. I like the guy (Dr M) – he’s personable, he listens to what I have to say, he believes in ME/CFS (a tall order in a medical doctor), he prefers a nutrition and lifestyle approach before pharmaceuticals are introduced, he says I’m not telling him something he hasn’t heard before (never heard that before – seriously!) and most importantly, he has new ideas. I’ll admit, the idea he’s fondest of was something I’ve already explored with Dr B, but maybe different testing and a new approach might yield some results. He thinks I have a problem with mold, that it is living in my airways and maybe even my heart. I’ve seen that on Mystery Diagnosis, actually, so what the heck – let’s give it a shot. I really liked that he gave me a disclaimer that not a lot of doctors do – he said I’ve been sick for more than twenty years, and he doesn’t expect me to be better in less than two years (and that there will be ups and downs). I already knew this, but I appreciate that he isn’t claiming to have “the answer” and a quick fix. He also correctly guessed that a lot of doctors wanted to offer anti-depressants to treat me, because ME/CFS is, in their world, a psychiatric disorder. There’s only one thing I really don’t like – he failed a test that I give many of my new potential doctors. I gave him a copy of the ME/CFS Guidelines for Medical Practitioners, explaining that that document had a very accurate description of what I have been dealing with for the last two and a half years (and longer on a less intense scale) and what treatments have and have not worked for me. He took it, flipped through, then gave it back. It has been my experience that practitioners who keep the copy and read it on their own time have been a better fit for me – it shows that they are interested in what I have learned and what I believe is going on. The ones who don’t look at all or give it back tend to arrogantly think they know everything and ignore any input I may have, and they miss the fact that I am fine on paper but obviously sick in person (and subsequently declare me “just fine”). I think this may not be the case here, but I am alerted to the possibility that he is, in fact, just like the others.

In knitting news, I have had very little time to work on things that for myself or my friends – my time really has been devoted to my shop. However, I did manage a little knitting this week. I’m making socks for Dr B’s nephew:

and I’m making a Baby Surprise cardigan for Dr B and his wife’s expected baby. I have no pictures of that yet, but I hope to remember to get a few before I visit them next month. I’m not making promises – my memory has been pretty terrible lately.

So, that’s it this week. I need to get back to editing photos, and maybe even get a little sleep tonight. Wish me luck!

All the Little Pieces

I finally have some answers about what has been wrong with me. Really reasonable answers. Answers that give me something to aim for.

This all goes back to the fact that I started a program designed to get my immune system under control just under six months ago. The short version of the story is that the program worked. It worked well, and it worked fast. In maybe two months or so, my immune system was under control, no longer viciously attacking my thyroid gland all the time. On the surface, that’s great news! The thing is, I was still treating the underactive thyroid with the same dose of medication I had been on before the program. My primary problem is not hypothyroidism, but rather an immune dysfunction that is ultimately associated with the adrenal glands and cortisol. While I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I was really just somewhere in the oscillation between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Since I treated the cause of the problem instead of the disease that happened to be just a symptom, everything should have gotten better downstream.

Since I had been hypothyroid for so many years (I’ve been treating it for maybe eleven years, now), no one really thought to look for hyperthyroidism. That’s really too bad, because so many bad things started to happen. The breathing and chest pain issue came back. I had heart palpitations (when your heart beats really hard, so much so that you become very aware of it – it seems like a heart attack the first time it happens, before you know what’s going on). Next I started to have trouble staying asleep, getting maybe four hours of sleep per night. At first I felt really good, maybe for three weeks. Eventually, though, being in a hypermetabolic state took its toll on me. I started to lose weight at an alarming rate. I developed a low-grade fever (usually around 99.6) that was accompanied by nervous breakdowns. In the last few weeks, I started experiencing numbness or constant pain in certain nerves. To top it all off, this whole time I’ve been dealing with burning muscle pain that is only partially and temporarily relieved by massage. Anti-inflammatory medications just didn’t work for me. I was such a mess. Still am, for the record. For the last two months, I’ve been sick to the point where it interferes with having a normal life.

I stopped taking the thyroid medication for a month. Normally, this isn’t a good idea, but I resorted to that option because I had trouble communicating with my endocrinologist. When I knew for certain that I was hyperthyroid (my chiropractor did regular blood tests to confirm this), I called my endocrinologist’s office. The thing is, they make you talk to a nurse rather than the doctor himself. She then takes the message to the doctor, who tells her what to tell you and she calls back. This process is ridiculous. First of all, it’s a literal game of telephone – things get lost and confused in the translations. Second, had I been able to speak to the doctor, he’d have been able to ask some very relevant, very important questions. As it stood, I told the nurse that my thyroid medication was at a much too high dose, and that I thought it needed to be dropped significantly. She went to the doctor, who told her that I was just having a normal fluctuation and should only drop the dose by a little bit. This process took two days. I informed her that I didn’t think that this was just a fluctuation, that I had been seeing a chiropractor who managed to control the underlying disease, and that I thought we really needed to reevaluate my dose as if I were a newly diagnosed thyroid patient. The nurse was really rude to me. She asked “so you think your chiropractor cured you and that you don’t need medication anymore?” I informed her that, no, he didn’t cure me, but he did manage the underlying disease, which really affects my needs for thyroid medication. She said she’d bring it to the doctor, but she never called back. She had such an attitude with me, and I knew she really didn’t get what I was trying to tell her. She seemed to think I was some kind of idiot. I chose to take matters into my own hands because I was being dismissed.

It gets worse. The levels of thyroid hormone in my system left me in a state of thyrotoxicosis. What this means is that the levels of thyroid hormone in my body had gotten to a toxic level. If left untreated, I was at risk for a thyroid storm, which is the release of a whole bunch of thyroid hormone all at once. Thyroid storm can be fatal. I don’t think that I ever quite experienced a thyroid storm, but I did get pretty close. The endocrinologist would have known that had he spoken to me personally.

The best thing I could have done in that circumstance was to discontinue the meds (given that I couldn’t get the doctor to prescribe a significantly smaller dose, which would have been the best option). After a few days, most of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, particularly the sleeplessness and the heart palpitations, began to subside. I decided that I would give the medication a month to clear my system, then I would go to my primary care physician (who is much more accessible) to get my medication needs reevaluated.

While I was off the thyroid medication, another complication appeared (which exemplifies why it’s generally not a good idea to quit taking the meds cold turkey). I began to have severe emotional crashes. I was suicidal much of the time, and just plain critically depressed the rest of time. I started to experience a lot of physical pain, from nerve pain to muscular pain. I would sleep twelve hours a night and not wake up rested. With naps, I was sleeping about sixteen hours a day. It was a complete disaster. The reason for this is complex. Because my metabolism was so high for so long, it overtaxed my adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are responsible for producing cortisol, which regulates inflammation and stress responses in the body (in addition to a few other things, but these are the relevant functions for my story). The high metabolism forced the adrenal glands to produce cortisol at a very high level to combat the stress of being generally overworked. The thing is, the adrenal glands can only do that so long before they, too, become tired. When my metabolism slowed down and stopped stimulating the adrenal gland so aggressively, the adrenal gland began to take breaks, effectively collapsing from exhaustion.

This left me in a very precarious state. Any stress, no matter how small, caused an extreme physical reaction in my body. Muscles cramped up, and inflammation plagued me. I had nervous breakdowns. I also had this feeling that I needed to be dead – it was like a call of nature. Often when someone is suicidal, it’s a reaction to a situation that makes them feel frustrated and powerless. The desire to kill oneself is fueled by anger and passion (I’ve been there, I know). This was a very different feeling. It was like my body knew it was malfunctioning on a critical level, and maybe it figured I was dying already, so might as well make it quick? The only way I could stop myself from doing something about it was to call someone.  This happened a lot.

I got some supporting supplements from my chiropractor, and things got a little more manageable. I never felt “good” (and I still don’t), but I was at least stable and not constantly in danger of offing myself. I reintroduced the thyroid hormone into my body at a much lower level, and it also helped a bit. It wasn’t long, though, before I became hyperthyroid again. This is where I’m at now. For about two days, I got normal levels of sleep and woke up comparatively (but not properly) refreshed. As the hormone level came back to toxic levels, I stopped sleeping for more than four hours at a stretch, and even that sleep wasn’t (isn’t) really solid – I wake up several times per night. The heart palpitations started again, and I had trouble breathing accompanied by chest pain. I gave it ten days to settle out (because it may have been my body just getting used to the hormone again), but it only got worse. I just had a blood draw today to confirm the hyperthyroidism, and tomorrow the doctor should have the lab results to justify dropping the dose again. I am nowhere near out of the woods.

The hyperthyroidism is also responsible for another mysterious, chronic condition I’ve had – the chest pain and shortness of breath. Because I just had to know what was wrong with me, I spent many, many hours researching my symptoms, conditions, etc. Here’s what I learned:

Excess thyroid hormone has the effect of dilating (relaxing) the blood vessels, and if you’re thyrotoxic, it can lead to low blood pressure. No doctor has ever believed me when I said I thought my blood pressure was too low – with the focus on high blood pressure in this country, it seems doctors can forget that low pressure is a problem, too. The doctors tell me that it’s great that I have such low blood pressure and immediately move on to other matters. Recently my resting blood pressure was measured at 98/56. Ideally, your systolic blood pressure (the top number) will be somewhere between 90 and 120. This indicates that your heart is contracting well and properly supplying blood to your body. The diastolic blood pressure should be between 60 and 80. This means that when the heart relaxes, the ventricles are properly refilling for the next contraction, pushing blood back into circulation. My diastolic pressure was too low – that means that my heart is unable to properly refill after a contraction. This condition, when it leads to pulmonary edema (fluid build-up in the lungs) is known as Diastolic Congestive Heart Failure (or left-sided heart failure). The link I included describes the condition pretty well, except that it leaves out another possible cause of the dysfunction – heart palpitations. Somewhere between the fact that my blood pressure is too low to force blood back into the heart and the fact that my heart beats too fast, giving the blood less time to go where it is supposed to, my left ventricle was not refilling. This leads to angina (chest pain). Think of it like vomiting when there is nothing in your stomach – it hurts more when that happens. The blood that didn’t make it into the ventricle then backs up into your lungs, creating pulmonary edema. It was upon reading the three articles I referenced in this paragraph that I figured out what was going on. One of the articles I linked to above notes that the kind of heart failure I have is often missed by doctors. But I caught it.

I even think I know the mechanism by which the whole thing is happening to me. There are two times that my blood pressure is inappropriately low: when I exercise and the blood pressure does not rise enough to meet the demands of my body, and when I rest for long periods of time. I believe that when something (the thyroid, the brain, the adrenal glands – who knows?) detects that my blood pressure is at dangerously low levels, my body produces adrenaline to increase my heart rate. I think that’s how it generally works, and that’s why your blood pressure naturally rises when you exercise. The complication occurs when my blood vessels are too relaxed to respond to the rapid heart rate. I think, but am not certain, that if my thyroid hormone levels are more carefully regulated, this problem can reverse itself.

I’ve presented my theory about the heart issue to four of my doctors so far. When they heard my thought process, they all said to me that it was incredibly impressive that I figured this out. They thought my idea was completely logical, and most likely the correct diagnosis. Two of them suggested that I should seriously consider going into medicine because I have a unique perspective (of experience, largely) combined with a really great puzzle solving ability and could contribute a lot to the field.

I’m taking all of this in right now. I’ve been looking into getting back into the work force when/if I get better. I thought I was going to take up a career in yarn craft, and maybe it might still be a serious hobby, but after the experience I just had and the repeated suggestion that I should go into medicine, I have to rethink my feelings on the matter. I don’t believe in predestination, but I do believe that sometimes things happen that really shape your life, that suggest where you should be heading. I do have a unique opportunity here to do something big. At the same time, the idea is really scary to me. It just seems too big, and I wonder if I can really do it. I just don’t know. What I do know is that I have to focus on getting better first. It might take a long time.

I have a lot to think about.