So to update since my last post:
Rheumatology thinks the problem in my shoulders, ankles and feet is all just tendinitis, just like my elbows. She thinks my low weight/high reps workout routine, combined with too-much-weight-bearing exercises like push ups and planks, has pushed my biceps tendons from their usual state of chronic irritation to extreme inflammation and debilitating pain.
She did a few more blood tests and the results are pending. She said the ANA results that brought me there would seem to indicate lupus but it's an unreliable test, she feels that was a false positive and is re-testing.
She prescribed physical therapy and a change in my anti-inflammatory medication.
So I went back to the miracle workers who helped me with my elbows. After two years I was happy to learn that the same PT's are still there. The one I saw remembered me, and her comment was "Ok so the shoulder pain had already started when you were here for your elbows...so that's been going on for two years. The shoulders and elbows are both bilateral issues. As are the knees and ankles. Your RH factor came back negative. And why do they think it's not Fibromyalgia?"
My answer: "Uhhhh...I dunno?"
Before that nobody (well nobody with a degree on their wall) had brought up the F word. Has it occurred to me? Sure. Have well-meaning friends said "It sure sounds like Fibromyalgia to me"? Yup. And even though I know this would be a rough diagnosis...it would be A DIAGNOSIS, which would be a relief, and would offer a path toward resolution, or at least management.
I mean yeah, tendinitis is a diagnosis. And nobody is discounting or refuting it. But why the hell does this keep happening? Why are all of the tendons in my body flaring up? And why the hell is tendon spelled with an O but tendinitis is spelled with an I? It's all a mystery to me.
But of course my PT stresses that she's not a doctor and not qualified to make any diagnosis. But she loaned me her personal copy of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Fibromyalgia and urged me to do my own research.
So far I'm a couple of chapters in. I'm not convinced either way. I do have a good many of the symptoms. But these are symptoms that I've always chalked up to being 47 and overweight. Or to typing too much. Or to poor form lifting weights. Or to 'my shoulders have always been my weak spot'. I mean what 47 year old woman doesn't have fatigue, nervousness, depression, apathy, listlessness, anxiety, insomnia, frequent waking, nonrestorative sleep, pain and generalized morning stiffness (the first 20 steps or so are agony), TMJ (this one surprised me...since my early teens), muscle twitches, feelings resembling electrical pulses in the muscles, leg and foot cramps (I haven't had 24 hours without a foot cramp in probably 20 years), undue sweating (I blame this one on being fat), eczema (since my early 30's), prickling of the skin, hypersensitivity to touch, gas, pain, bloating, constipation alternating with diarrhea (IBS, which I was pretty sure I had years ago but has subsided, is also called "fibro gut"), acid reflux (diagnosed 3 years ago), frequent urination (I'm up at least twice every night), poor balance (since childhood), dry eyes, blurred vision, post nasal drip and nasal congestion, late in life onset asthma (very mild, since last year) & hay fever (for the past 10 years), weight gain (duh), morning eyelid and hand swelling.
These are just the fibro-related symptoms I have. There are half as many that I don't. My point is that this is very general, so I'm not entirely convinced. I'm still reading the book.
Meanwhile, I have been told I can not plank, up dog, down dog, do any exercise that strains or excessively stretches my shoulders for the next four months. And for the foreseeable future I will meet with Israel the massage therapist for massage that I'm told will be closer to torture than relaxation on Mondays and I will have ultrasound therapy (which feels wonderful) and yet more painful massage from the PT on Thursdays.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Back when I thought I had IBS I did a lot of research on the subject. Some doctors said IBS stood not for Irritable Bowel Syndrome but for I'm Basically Stumped. When they can't figure out why you always either have diarrhea or constipation, they call it IBS. It's a diagnosis of exclusion. Right now, so is Fibromyalgia. And while I recognize that it is a real thing, I also think it is sometimes over-diagnosed. Some doctors think they're getting closer to a test that will detect it, but we're not there yet. So I can continue to push doctors to tell me why I have tendinitis but they will come back by telling me it's because I lift weights, because I type too much, because I sit too much, because I'm overweight, because I wear the wrong shoes. But the bottom line is that it's because my body is not cooperating with what I expect it to do...and I want to know why. I'm 47, not 87. So I'm also on the hunt for a doctor who knows about fibromyalgia but who doesn't consider himself a fibro expert, for fear of ending up with a doc who puts everyone who has pain in the same box.
In happier news, this has been a nice weekend. I spent the day yesterday with The Girl. Remember her? I love her lots. Today I got a massage, the relaxing kind, and I'm spending the rest of the day paying bills, blogging, wasting time on Facebook, washing my slipcovers (it's like having new furniture!) and dabbling in a little payroll stuff. I like this kind of day. I like project surfing. I don't even mind that it's rainy and gloomy.
Today's lunch...comfort food. Nuf said.