September 14, 2012

The Battle with Graves' Disease II: The Adventure of being poked and probbed at Changi General Hospital

I am banned from running for 2 weeks, this time, not due to flu, work or plain laziness. My grave disease is back to haunt me. You may want to refer to this article on my illness to get some background in relation to this post.

I was going for my usual quarterly thyroid check up at Changi General Hospital. Prior to the checkup, my thyroid condition has improved, thanks to a combination of western medicine, tradition Chinese medicine,a good running routine, a positive mindset, concerned family and friends, and plenty of vacation.

However, a few months before, I was going for my usual foot reflexology session when my therapist (that's the proper name for people doing foot reflexology right??) noted that there is a slight lump above the ankle of my feet. There was also a scaly feel to the skin around the lump. I attributed it to too tights socks and socks allergy, since I noticed that my condition improved over the weekends when I was going about sockless. The swelling seems to have gotten more obvious recently and it was noticed by my friends and family. I was advises to look for a dermatologist for advice. Since I was traveling quite a bit recently and my work piled up quote a bit, getting an appointment to see a specialist became the least of my priorities. Since I will be seeing my endocrine specialist for my regular check, I was thinking to highlight this issue to him and see if he has any input on this condition.

He was shocked and excited by my condition.

He was shocked because my condition was so rare in Singapore that it only exist in medical text! He was excited because after so many years as a specialist, this was his first time seeing such a condition and he will have a first hand experience examining it! The diagnosis is pretibial myxedema, which primarily causes swelling and scaling of the lower legs. Here are some statistic how rare this Illness is. Only 0.5% of the male population will get graves disease and only at most 3% of those with graves disease will show symptoms of this condition. That is like only 0.02% of the male population that will contract this condition.

The good news is that, the condition will go away if my thyroid condition gets cures (highly unlikely) or I can just bear with it, attracting strange looks from anybody who comes into contact with my feet!

Long story short: my specialist asked for my permission to share my case with his trainees which I granted. 6 docs trooped in and they poked and took pictures while I posed obligately with a smile. I was ushered immediately to the dermatologist dept without needing to stand in the legendary public hospital queues. The dermatologist was as equally excited to see me, and promptly summoned the rest of the doctors in the dept to come and take a look.

"Doc, you look so excited. Is this condition that rare?!?"

"Yes, it is very rare!"

"Sounds like it is really interesting for you."

The doc gave me a look and answered cheerfully," Yes, it is good news for us, but it is bad news for you!"

Well. That's pretty sobering news...

Doc sent me for two biopsy, gorge two piece of meat from my leg, stitch it up (5 Stitches) and advised me to refrain doing any activities that will rip it, including running....

Grounded for two weeks!!!!

Here is a picture of the stitch. Do not scroll down if bloody flesh repels you!


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