Yesterday’s MRI was not my first (or even my first with contrast dye) by any means. However, it was the first MRI I’ve had where I found delightful pictures of beaches and coastlines taped inside the big, boring, clanking machine for patients to look at. I pictured a healthy and wealthy version of myself on vacation in Greece when I wasn’t following breathing instructions. Afterwards, the techs asked me how I liked my newest doctor (the one who ordered the tests) and the three of us agreed that she is the best.
My follow-up was a couple of hours later which was an amazing blessing. I like to fit as many tests and appointments into the same day as I can since I live irrationally far away from all of my doctors. Also, quick pro tip: whenever you have imaging done, always request a DVD copy that day! I almost forgot to do it this time, but it was a good thing I doubled back to the hospital because the images hadn’t made it to my doctor by the scheduled appointment time. They ended up referring to the copy I brought with me.
After reviewing my MRI, the doctor came in ready to draw me a picture – literally. She explained that I showed signs of possibly having Nutcracker syndrome. My left renal vein might be slightly squished between my superior mesenteric artery and my aorta. This is her chair paper (you know, doctor’s chair paper? the loud, easily crinkled stuff?) depiction of the condition:
The circular thing is my problem kidney. I think it’s actually a very straightforward drawing. Anyway.
I have to go back for a venogram in mid-March, which is a long time to wait to see if A) it really is Nutcracker syndrome bringing me down and B) if it is, is the vein narrow enough to warrant surgery. She started talking about surgical options and stents and how stents aren’t great because they can move out of place, and I gave her a look that she understood right away – “let’s just get this venogram done and then we’ll think beyond that.”
The thing that I find very intriguing is that this diagnosis would actually explain my most puzzling symptoms.
Chronic fatigue is a sign/symptom of Nutcracker syndrome (among many other conditions). My excessive and sometimes intense fatigue has led my primary doctor down the autoimmune disease road many times, but those tests never came back positive. This would explain how I’ve fallen asleep in some impressive places. Like dance class. Multiple times.
Orthostatic intolerance is also a sign of Nutcracker syndrome. I’ve known for a year or so that I have orthostatic hypotension (I might’ve never mentioned that here), but what I did not know is that alcohol can make it worse. The night of the hockey game I was sitting for a long period of time, sipping away on my beverages, after my kidney symptoms had already been acting up. When I stood up to leave (key words: stood up), that’s when all hell broke loose. Hypotension can cause confusion and nausea, not just lightheadedness and fainting. Think back to the stroke incident as well, as an alcohol-free example: I had been sitting at my desk all morning and then stood up to go on break. A short while later, I struggled to remember how to spell my last name.
These are just some of many connections I’ve made, but I can’t emphasize enough the fact that I am not officially diagnosed. Yes, Nutcracker syndrome makes sense, but so have one hundred other suggestions. I enjoy the research because I like to see how my puzzle pieces might fit together, and I do see a picture this time. Still, let’s stay calm. I have bigger fish to fry in the meantime (a proper job! still trying to move! my other writing projects!) so it should be easy enough not to think about this.
In other news, after texting my dad my findings, I told him that I think I could go to town with drinking now, I just need to move around and eat a lot of salt throughout. He wasn’t sure if I was kidding, which is slightly concerning…but then again, I’m only sort of kidding. It’s an experiment I’m in no hurry to try, but in a serious and less aggressive sense – those two adjustments might genuinely help me handle average human amounts of alcohol.
In conclusion, I’ve developed the perfect excuse to always order mozzarella sticks on a night out.
**Please do not actually attempt my “experiment” if you have orthostatic hypotension and/or alcohol tolerance issues. I do not condone excessive drinking. I’m just trying to be honest about my thought process, & promote using humor to keep things light & avoid too much stress or worry. That is all. Thanks friends!