When the Paranoia Subsides

How to read this week’s blog entry:


1. Read last week’s blog entry ("The Paranoid Moments") if you haven’t done so yet. (I’m asking nicely.)

2. Read the comments several people wrote in response to last week’s blog entry. (Please.)

3. Return to this page and read the rest of this week’s entry. (That right there is sugar-coated!)

On Tuesday afternoon, I got a phone call at work from my primary care physician. She wanted to talk to me about the ultrasound. (See! Right there: If you haven’t followed my instructions for reading this entry [tsk tsk], well, you won’t be completely out of the loop, but there’s not much context to go on.)

At no time in what follows will I directly quote what my doctor said. If anything is erroneous or sounds wrong to those of you with more knowledge on the subject than I have, it’s entirely my fault in the telling. I may get some of the details wrong. The overview, however, is correct; it’s just that I may venture witlessly into medical-speak and get somewhat lost. I’m trying, though.

In fact, I share so much on the blog, but I debated about whether or not to write this week’s blog entry about the ultrasound results. Several of you wanted a follow-up, and because I don’t know how many people read this blog (there are those of you who lurk and don’t comment), I figured I might as well answer the questions of those who give voice. You know, keep you reading!

When the doctor called, she first apologized for not having gotten back to me sooner. She’d been on vacation and had just gotten back into the office. The results regarding my liver and what they saw from the ultrasound were pretty much what had been expected. My liver was echogenic, which I’ve since learned refers to structures in the liver having strong reflectors of sound. When the liver’s echogenic, I gather that it means it’s consistent with the possibility of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease developing.

(Wow, that was a confusing way of saying there’s a chance because there’s a sign that something could happen.)

Yet because my liver enzymes are not dramatically off the mark, the doctor’s not concerned at this point. At least, she doesn’t believe I need see a hepatologist (liver specialist), nor should I go in for a liver biopsy. The treatment we’re doing is sufficient for now, and she just wants to keep an eye on liver function tests in the future. The recommended treatment, she said, would be about 150 minutes or so of cardiovascular exercise weekly. Thank goodness I’ve resumed my spinning classes after a few-month hiatus for other, more mild outdoor activity. With indoor cardio in full effect, I’ll easily surpass the recommended exercise time.

The liver out of the way, we moved on to the kidneys (which, again, if you did your blog homework, you’ll recall are what produced so much anxiety last week). There were two small things in the kidneys, she said, although she was quick to use the word benign, quick to say what she saw is more than likely nothing to be concerned about.

The first was a lesion that looked like a cyst—a very common occurrence. The second was a renal angiomyolipoma, a fatty deposit where it’s not supposed to be.

The angiomyolipoma is isolated, and without the ultrasound, I would probably never know I had it. It’s asymptomatic. The good doctor, though, talked to me about this in great detail, sensing that the news might be difficult to hear (in truth, it was more difficult for Kathryn to hear it when I told her about it later in the day).

The doctor explained that there are at least two options. If I wanted to ease my mind, I could have an MRI to get a more detailed picture of what was going on in the kidney. However, both she and the ultrasound doctors didn’t think this was necessary. My kidney function is normal—no blood in the urine, that sort of stuff. So, this will be another thing we simply (simply?) monitor. She’d like to re-ultrasound in about six months to see if there’s any change.

Monitor it? That’s a familiar phrase. It’s like most every other thing with my Type 1 diabetes. Monitor it. Keep an eye on it. Watch this, look at that in three months, or six months.

After the conversation with the doctor, about 30 minutes later, I received a phone call from her scheduler: They’d already put me on the books for a March 27, 2009 ultrasound. Would the time and date work for me?

Yes, I said, it would.

I added another doctor’s appointment to my calendar.


(Oh, and I’d suggest going back two blog entries and reading “A Week in the Life”; that is, if you want more context on that last sarcastic little bit.)

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  • Peter Mead

    Eric, I’m tracking with you. If you might remember, I was diagnosed with T1 about the same time you were and we are roughly in the same boat (given that everybody is different anyway). I’ve been on a pump for about 4 months.

    The whole subject of diabetes has a gravity to it when “you are it” and the game is to manage responsibly AND find the escape velocity you need to break free from an “orbiting life” devoted to your body. I know you know this. It’s good sometimes to tell each other this, because it is true.

    Here’s the part where I maybe leave science a bit: diabetes sits directly on the endocrine system and metabolism. So do our emotions. The systems are interlinked tighter than all that stuff you lift the hood on when you look at your new car’s engine. So it is important to balance responsibility with perspective. In fact, diabetes should be 5% of our life, really.

    Medical research and the scientific process has long recognize that the being him/her self can dramatically affect the body in ways beyond logical understanding. This is why we double-blind and use placebo in trials.

    If I can pontificate just a bit more, I’ve said on another site that, one of the liabilities of Diabetes, especially for the best of us who take managing the condition seriously, is that we can see it out of all proportion to the rest of our lives. It is what it is, but there is still 95% of our life to continuously create. You have to “get the joke” and not miss the punch line.

    And in doing so, we might just might cause the complication of better health. Oh la!


  • wifeofadiabetic

    Thanks for posting an update about your situation. I just started reading the blogs in the last week or two, and I’ve been enjoying them. When i read about your medical appointment, it took me back to a time in my life with the panic and anxiety that I had, waiting in that cold, dark room- wondering what was happening to my body. (I was fine after all.)
    so I could really relate to your situation and I’m glad to hear that the tests results were about as good as they could be.
    These situations are painful and produce a lot of soul-searching. Hope you were able to get some good benefit out of the experience anyway.

  • CalgaryDiabetic

    Dear Eric. Thank God it was nothing. You wonder if the stress of the tests and keep an eye on this and that is needed by a diabetic. We have enough real issues to constantly remind us of our mortality.

  • Nicky

    Wise, Peter…

    Eric – I’m very glad it’s nothing worse; and hopefully it’s nothing at all.

    Keep spinning ūüėÄ


  • Floradora

    Thanks for the info. Eric, I have type 2 developed after a mid life pregnancy and my son has married a lass with type 1. they are expecting their first baby shortly (end December) and you have made me realise just what the road could be for them both.
    Fortunately I don’t have gross complications except when they try to put me on beta-blockers then I have so many side issues it is unbelievable. Iam currently off them and going for a stress test soon. If I am going to have problems I feel they will arise in my feet so am very careful with them. Exercises with balls, stretching and manipulating them when sitting are part of an exercise plan I use.
    Going for check-ups is horrendous as you live ‘the night of the long knives’ till results and tests are in. so thanks for your insights and I wish you well.