Saturday, February 26, 2011

When Tests Fail

I was thinking, as it seems a lot of late considering the situation and circumstances, about why the Gastroenterologist couldn't find and didn't report any "abnormal" with my recent test (colonoscopy and lab tests). In her words, "Everything is normal", and despite the obvious symptoms of something being wrong, she decided the problems were IBS, age and food sensitivities.

As the old saying goes, "Yeah, right." But in defense of her, from her perspective, and while there was reason to investigate the problems more and didn't, she went with the obvious. Except that at the same time, she dismissed the obvious of why the results failed. There are two reasons.

First, with a colonoscopy you have to do the preparation preceedure which is 2 quarts of a liquid which flushes and cleanes the intestinal tract. I mean really flush and cleanse, no pun intended. It's terrible stuff and causes terrible reactions. The problem is that, while food and all the normal stuff in the testinal tract is flushed and the tract wall cleansed, any signs of problems is also flushed away.

The colonoscopy is designed to look for obvious physical problems, such as infections, perferations, etc of the wall, protrubing polyps, and other problems. Lacking those, the diagnosis is that everything is normal. Except, what was lost in the flushing and cleansing which would have indiciated problems, no one will know because that's all down the toliet.

Second, the lab test looks for the obvious. When everything is normal, then obviously to them, everything is normal. But that only accounts for the signs of the normal biochemical processes. It misses one obvious issue and raises the question.

What if normal is abnormal? This is what Pseudomembranous colitis is, an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of the normal bacteria in the intestinal tract. In some cases the infection, of which only a few have been recognized, leave signs in the wall of the tract. But what of the other bacteria which don't leave signs but create the same symptoms?

What if the preparation proceedure removes all the obvious signs of any abnormal and uncontrolled growth of bacteria? And wouldn't the abnormal growth of any normal bacteria in the intestinal tract produce similar symptoms but won't necessarily be obvious?

This is something they can't answer, partly because they don't know and partly because they don't test for them since it's harder and not obvious. So they call it your imagination, but in medical terms like IBS, age and food sensititives. It's the line from the Dire Straits song, "You have industrial disease. Next patient please."

So that's where I'm at. The symptoms haven't changed for the last 3 years now and more so since last October. But the test show everything is normal and thus it's my imagination. Tell my intestinal tract that. It's not listening.

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