On Monday, April 7, 2008, I summoned up my courage, picked up the phone, and made an appointment to see a physician’s assistant later that morning at my regular doctor’s office. I told the receptionist I wanted to discuss both the dry mouth issue I’d been having for several days, as well as the vertigo that preceded it.
I had hoped to see my regular physician, but as you probably know, last-minute appointments tend to get handed off to PAs and nurse practitioners. Since I had heard this particular PA was very good at her job and friendly too, I felt pretty good about the care I would be receiving.
During the appointment later that morning, the PA, who was as bubbly and easy to talk to as rumored, was extremely interested in the vertigo, but didn’t seem too concerned about my dry mouth.
She explained, diagnosing a vertigo cause usually involves ruling out all but one of the variety of possible reasons, and then going with the one explanation left. She agreed my history of migraines and/or TMJ-related issues could be to blame. She gave me a prescription for an anti-vertigo medication and told me to monitor my symptoms. Eleven months later, the prescription is still sitting on my desk.
Almost as an afterthought, the PA said it was probably time for me to get some blood work done that would check all the typical things like cholesterol and thyroid readings, as well as my fasting blood sugar level. She also recommended a 2-hour glucose tolerance test, so she could see how my body handles a good dose of sugar.
For anyone out there who has been pregnant or who has been tested for diabetes, you know exactly what test she is talking about. And you also know the phrase, “A good dose of sugar,” is an understatement. For those of you who have not experienced the glucose tolerance test, this is how it goes:
You show up to the lab having fasted for 10 hours. A technician takes a blood sample, and then hands you a bottle of orange soda that tastes like Orange Crush with about an extra cup of sugar mixed in for good measure. The tech instructs you to chug the drink (which I think is about 10 ounces or so), in five minutes, at which point you have to hand over your empty bottle as proof you could get the stuff down. Then you wait at the lab for two hours, and your blood is taken again before you get to take your shaky self home for a well-deserved lunch.
As I mentioned in Part 3 of my story, I’ve been pregnant twice, so I’ve gotten to drink this charming stuff two times during the routine checks for gestational diabetes, so I knew what to expect. I also knew from the Googling I had been doing that this was a good way to measure if I had diabetes.
I decided to bite the bullet and get the testing done the following day. The next morning, with only some water and strong black coffee in my system for fortification, I headed over to Sonora Quest lab. I felt nervous, but also determined to find out what was wrong.