An astounding 1 in 6 people have been medically misdiagnosed
A poll commissioned by the National Patient Safety Foundation found that one in six people have personally experienced a medical diagnosis error.
My intention for this message is to share my personal experience and to remind you to be your own personal advocate for your health and well being.
I considered myself to be a very healthy person up until the last 2 years. It took everything in me to get through my day of being a single mom, starting a business, and working full time. I wasn’t sleeping well, I felt dizzy and nauseous, I was thirsty all the time, and had absolutely NO energy. My mind was still me… energetic, positive, and ready to conquer the world but my body felt like someone had hijacked it and took me on a slow, bumpy, dark ride.
Life was definitely not what I had expected it to be at age 34. I have always believed in holistic health but I had such amazing health insurance as a state employee, I thought I should use it. I sought out a renowned endocrinologist as I was quite certain from all my googling that my hormones, thyroid, and adrenals were the cause of it all. After six months of urine testing, blood work and lots of driving to my “renowned” doctor what finally came about was a misdiagnosis of diabetes insipidus and a 911 call.
I will never forget it. It was Monday August 13th, my 35th birthday. I couldn’t sleep the night before but was excited to go to work and celebrate my birthday with friends. I figured it was just my body getting used to the new prescription that I would be on for the rest of my life for the diabetes insipidus. The only problem was when I got up I felt like I was having a heart attack. My body was so swollen I thought my limbs were going to pop like a balloon filled with too much air. I have never been so nauseous, dizzy, and shaky. Was I having a horrible anxiety attack? I couldn’t breath and my heart was fluttering outside my chest. I managed to take a shower and tell myself soothing thoughts. It was only 5 am but I thought the shower would help. I was scared and not sure what to do. I thought I better call 911. Then there were thoughts of what if there was nothing wrong with me. Finally I was just too sick and scared. I called 911. They came and started checking my vitals. My hair was a mess, looking like Medusa from not having done anything after my shower. Amazingly, as sick as I was, I was still vaguely able to check out the cute paramedics.
My son Skyler, rubbing his eyes as he slowly was trying to wake up, walked into my room to chaos and started crying, “Mommy, are you dying?” I was so sick and weak but managed to tell him that I was going to be ok. I called his dad and he came to get Skyler to take him to school. I left in the ambulance.
It was 115 degrees that day. I was in my pajamas, no socks or shoes, bumping around in the back of the incredibly hot ambulance with men I didn’t know. It was horrible. I was scared, alone, and very sick. I have never thrown up so much in my whole life! It seemed like eternity to ride a short 7 miles.
I was weak when they got me to the emergency room. All I remember was being wheeled and dropped off in the waiting room, barely coherent, and very alone. Finally Isaiah, Skyler’s dad, came into the lobby where I was hunched over in the wheelchair with glazed eyes and an overwhelming feeling of terror. I asked him to check to see when I would be looked at. It turns out the paramedics dropped me off and never signed me in. Wow, I had been sitting there for about 45 minutes and I wasn’t signed in yet!!!! With all my might I begged Isaiah to get them to take me back.
As I was being wheeled to the exam room so many scary thoughts were racing my mind. What was wrong with me? Was diabetes insipidus deadly? Why was this happening on my birthday? Was Skyler scarred for life after seeing all of that?
I got into a tiny curtained area with Isaiah sitting about 2 feet away from me. I was instantly hooked up to IV’s but not before continuing to throw up. Talk about vulnerable. I was practically sitting in Isaiah’s lap while puking my brains out. What a sight. I remember in between puking, quietly, and weakly apologizing to Isaiah for the lovely view. Thank God he didn’t care.
Eventually the IV’s kicked in and I became relaxed and the nausea went away. The ER doctor, whom was actually very nice, took a plethora of tests and found that my blood sodium levels where extremely low. I had water intoxification from the medication that was given to me.
The good news was that I didn’t have diabetes insipidus. The bad news was it was my birthday, I was checked into the hospital and no one knew what was wrong with me. I remember feeling relieved. I started to feel human again about 12 hours later at 6pm and told my mom, who was worried and in Michigan, that I was glad I was in the hospital and I would finally get some answers.
I didn’t get much rest that night as I was continuously being monitored, poked, and prodded. I wasn’t allowed to drink anything except to suck on some ice chips. The hospital completely ignored my request for food. Yes, I was actually hungry after all that throwing up. Finally I got food… I think that was what it was but it looked so gross to me I ate saltines instead. The nurse, out of convenience for her grouchy old self, put a catheter in me. She said it would be better so I didn’t have to keep ringing for her when I needed to go to the bathroom. I was nice at first and agreed until I couldn’t stand the catheter anymore. I wised up and realized this is her job! I didn’t need to be nice to appease her. I requested the catheter to be removed. I did manage to get some sleep the rest of the night.
The next morning I had a series of doctors come in to check on me. The final doctor came in and said, “Well, here are your release papers and you do not have diabetes insipidous.” “What do you mean?” I exclaimed!!! The doctor suggested that I had adrenal and thyroid issues and to follow up with a doctor when I leave.
I was shocked and confused but quickly caught on that this is the world we live in. Once they had stabilized me there was no reason to keep me there. I wasn’t their responsibility anymore.
Amazing how fast the panic and feeling alone kicked back in. How did I know it wasn’t going to happen again? That horrible sick feeling could easily come back.
I went to work 2 days later weak and exhausted but needing the pay. I did manage to find a naturopathic doctor who helped me in many ways. Over the next year and a half I continued to feel better but still not myself. My life was about to take me on another journey of challenges. The path of discovering I had Lupus.
Our health is a sacred and special part of us. Although doctors are trained and schooled for years, they are not gods and do make mistakes. It is imperative that you do as much research about your health as you can. Ask the doctors several questions and make sure that you feel comfortable with the direction they are taking you. This is your life and your body and for no reason should you feel like you need to be nice or that they know best. Misdiagnosis happens often and the only person you can truly trust is yourself. I encourage you to seek your inner wisdom, do your research, and express your concerns if you have any. There are certainly wonderful doctors out there but the best advocate is you!!!