Thursday, September 26, 2013
The military healthcare system annoys me. I hope that people who encourage government medical care realize what it's actually like. Because military healthcare is the worst healthcare I have ever received. I know it's free for me, but I guess you get what you pay for. I constantly have problems with military healthcare - like in 2011 when my knee was injured and it took 9 months to recover because the first 5 months I had a doctor who couldnt figure out what was wrong with me, and decided he would rather do surgery than try non-invasive procedures (luckily, I didnt actually have the surgery, but waited until I finally did get a competent doctor). Or like how for the past 1.5 years I've been complaining about stomach problems and everytime I go in they tell me its a stomach virus, when really, I cant possibly have a stomach virus every week for 1.5 years.. Ugh.
So my latest. 2 weeks ago I went in for an appointment to discuss my stomach problems and constant fatigue. I was also sick with a headcold. They thought it was more important to discuss my head cold then what I had actually made the appointment for, and I had to keep redirecting the PA to what my actual concerns were. So he finally puts in a GI referral for me (I go in 2 weeks, thankfully), and ordered some blood tests. Well this week I got my blood test results back. Low vitamin D. Not surprising. I track my vitamin D and I know that it is low. My test results also demonstrated some iron problems - my ferritin levels were normal but my iron binding capacity levels were higher than normal, and my iron saturation levels were lower than normal. Also my bilirubin levels were lower than normal and my reticulocytes were higher than normal. Despite the normal ferritin levels, the other tests indicate that I do have an iron deficiency - in the sense that my body isnt absorbing the iron. Now this is concerning to me because 1) I track my iron that I consume and I know that I consume the daily recommended value for iron every day; 2) low iron saturation levels and high iron binding capacity seems to indicate malabsorption problems related to GI issues. Considering I am having GI issues, you think this would likely raise a red flag.
So all week I've been waiting to hear from the family health clinic about my test results - I knew they would want to put me on a vitamin D supplement. So I get a call yesterday at 4:30pm. Now mind you, in the Air Force the duty day ends at 4:30pm. I dont answer it because it was on my cell phone and came up as an uknown number. But I immediately check the voice mail and call back. Of course no one answers. I was probably the last call this woman made before going home for the day. So I get into my office this morning around 8am, check my emails and then call the clinic again. The same female who left me a message yesterday answers, and after putting me on hold for a few minutes, comes back and tells me that the PA I saw prescribed me a vitamin D supplement for the next 12 weeks and then I have to come in and have blood tests done again. And then she tells me that the rest of my blood tests were normal. Really?! Because I know they arent. So I quickly tell her that I viewed my blood test results online and I am aware that there is something fishy going on with my iron. So she pulls my test results up and tells me my ferritin levels are normal so I must be fine. Really? You want to ignore the other 4 results that indicate that I am not absorbing the iron? So I tell her that I know the ferritin levels are normal, but the saturation and binding capacity levels are not normal and that is concerning for me because it may indicate I'm not actually absorbing the iron. So she questions me - do you want an iron supplement, then? Well, no, not if I dont need one. But I would appreciate maybe someone looking at my blood test results and actually explaining them to me instead of just blowing me off and telling me they are normal, when I know they arent.
So, now, she is going to talk to the PA and give me a call back.
I am so glad no one seems to care or put two and two together. If I have iron in my body, but I'm not actually absorbing it, and you know I am having stomach troubles, you might want to look into that. I am so tired of feeling like no one actually wants to help me with my health troubles. I shouldnt have had to wait 1.5 years to get a GI referral in the first place.
I'm not saying I want someone to diagnosis me as anemic. I would prefer not having anemia, really. But I know that I am always tired, I get dizzy easily, my hands and feet tingle on occassion, I am short of breath often when I am not doing anything. All of these things indicate an iron-related problem. But we'll just ignore your abnormal results because your ferritin is normal. When in reality, I can read online that even if your ferritin is normal, you can still have an iron deficiency based on low iron saturation and high binding capacity because your body will produce synthetic iron if you arent absorning it. Why do I have to do all of this research and advocate for my health, when you would think the military would care if I am perfectly healthy - after all, they can ask me to go to war at anytime and possibly die. They dont even do regular physicals where they actually check to see if you are ok, draw blood etc. We get a "web-based physical health assessment" where we answer questions (and no one will know if you answer untruthfully) and then tell you based on your answers you are fine. :/
Ok, done ranting for now.