OK, yesterday I went to see my GP as a follow-up to all that fasting blood work. My psychiatrist actually called him at lunch before my 1615 appt to discuss his concerns about my apparent declining health. My psychiatrist told him that I flunked the Romberg test, so my GP performed some additional neurological tests on me. He confirmed that I have Ataxia, a neurological sign and symptom consisting of gross lack of coordination of muscle movements. There are many culprits, so I am choosing to ignore the more dreaded causes. There does appear to be an association with B-12 and B-1 (Thiamine) deficiencies, however.
On my lab results, my B-12 was within normal limits; however, not suspecting anything along these lines three weeks ago when my GP ordered the fasting blood work, he did not test for B-1. He decided to order more lab tests: Magnesium (serum), Phosphorous (serum), Basic Metabolic Profile (a repeat from the last one), Zinc, B-1, and Selenium. They are suspecting that the Ataxia may stem from a vitamin/mineral deficiency. The only problem is that my body does not absorb vitamins and minerals properly (I had gastric bypass surgery in 2003 which bypassed the ileum and a good portion of my jejunum, the two sections of the small intestine into which the stomach dumps). Most vitamins and minerals are absorbed in the jejunum, which may explain why I may have a serious deficiency. I can’t take vitamin pills; I’ve tried with no success with iron when I was severely anemic before resulting in an IV infusion of iron. Couple this with the fact that I am not eating anything (I lost 17 pounds since 21 October), thereby not gaining any nutrients from food; this can make for a nasty combination. It took three years for my ferritin (a protein that stores iron and releases it in a controlled fashion) levels to tumble down to 2 (normal is 20-200ng/mL for females) (and now it is down to 5), so maybe it has just taken longer for these vitamins and minerals to reach abnormally low levels. Sure beats the hell out of the idea that I may have some morphological problem in my cerebellum, a region of the brain that plays an important role in the integration of sensory perception, coordination and motor control. [gosh, I bet you didn’t think you’d be getting anatomy and physiology lessons on this blog :)].
I didn’t leave the GP’s office until 1800. He spent two hours with me. Now we wait for the results and these are specialized tests, which may take a couple of weeks on one or two, especially the Selenium (I hope that doesn’t translate into big $$$—I’ve enough medical bills as it is). These are so rarely ordered that the lab manager had to get out two huge reference books to look up what color top the test tubes had to have in order to collect the blood in the right test tube. And here she though she was wrapping it up for the evening when I was walked back to the lab! (I never seem to do anything half-assed). Meanwhile, I bought a cane this afternoon so I can walk without falling over. Yeah, that does a lot for my butch image…lol.©2009