Friday, January 10, 2014

Suck It, Sjogren's! No really....

About 10 years ago I woke up one morning and I knew something wasn't quite right. My neck and cheek were bigger than they normally were. I stumbled into the bathroom to find I looked like a chipmunk on the right side of my face. We've all at one time or another had swollen glands in our neck, but in our faces? This was definitely a new experience for me.

I called my rheumy like a good little patient and told him that I could star in my own hit series of Alvin and the Chipmunks and he said he wanted to check me for Sjogren's Syndrome. I had heard of that before but I was just kind of figuring I had a cold and he would give me some antibiotics.

Of course the next day when I had my appointment the swelling was down, as we all know autoimmune diseases cooperate so well when it comes to appointment time. I went in to the appointment and my rheumy told me that the part that had swollen was my parotid gland, who knew there were glands in your cheeks. My rheumy was pretty old school and decided to send me for a Salivary Gland Scan.

Now apparently this type of scan was so old that the hospital had to research exactly what the procedure was again just to be able to schedule it. The next day I get a call back and they ask, "are you allergic to citrus?" Color me stumped, am I getting a meal with this test? Nope, just 3/4 of a lemon. Yup, you read that right...I had to suck on a lemon to complete this test.

I went in and they gave me the radiation and did the scan to see how it moved through my parotid glands. And then they walked in with a bowl of lemon wedges and told me I had a few minutes to suck the juice out of all the lemons in the bowl. Now I don't mind a little lemon in my tea or on my fish, but on its own, lemon is not my favorite. The poor technician must have had to work really hard not to burst out laughing at the sour puss faces I made while slurping these chunks of lemon. By the time I was done my gums, tongue and lips were raw and they had me lay down and finish the scan.

Thankfully, at the end they did see that the extra saliva that the lemon juice should have brought about didn't happen and indeed my salivary glands were not working as they should have been, so the lemon sucking was well worth it. I could have probably just told them my eyes, mouth and skin were extremely dry and saved myself the lemon licking but you know testing is God when you're a doctor.

Is it totally bad that I wondered who had to swing by the Jewel that morning and pick up my lemon for my radioactive scan? Is it also bad that I searched my EOB for a line item for how much that lemon cost? I never did find it, it could have been worse, they could have made me bring my own.

Kind of makes how you were diagnosed with Sjogren's seem pretty boring, huh?

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