Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? In December of 2003, I had a gallstone attack. Worst pain in my life. So bad, I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy (winks at Scoot). At the time of this gallstone attack, and subsequent ER visit, I was informed that my bilirubin count was elevated. The doctors were a bit freaked out... I recall them saying, “you should be as yellow as a banana right now.” Oddly enough, I wasn’t.
An elevated bilirubin count can mean several things – bad things. Hepatitis, pancreatic cancer, cirrhosis, etc... Like I said, bad things.
Right, I know... what does bilirubin do? Ever get a bruise and it turns yellow? That’s what billirubin does (basically). For me, it gives my skin a yellowish tint pretty much all the time. When I become fatigued (due to lack of rest), or I’m near being sick, my eyes take on the same yellow tint as well. It freaks people out. To me, it’s normal, I’ve always been this way.
Some people (and doctors) tell me that I just still have jaundice. Which isn’t true, because that would mean my liver is damaged.
[Continuing the flashback...] When I returned to KC from my horrible gallstone attack incident in Arkansas, I had to schedule a surgery to have my gallbladder removed. So I went to the doctor to have all of my labs taken care of before the surgery. Gasp! Surprise, my bilirubin count was elevated. What to do?
The surgeon, of course, was concerned. So we waited a few days and tried the test again. Gasp! Still elevated! What gives? Is my liver damaged? Am I jaundiced?
The surgeon sent me to a specialist on an un-planned visit. After talking to the specialist for about 20 minutes, it was determined that I have Gilbert’s Syndrome – a condition that affects 5% of the population... the condition - an elevated bilirubin count that doesn’t effect the body whatsoever.
Last week I went in to the doctor to make sure I wasn’t getting another sinus infection (they seem to happen more often as I age, for whatever reason). Sure enough, I was. After writing down a prescription of what I needed to take, my doctor, of five years - mind you, asks me why I’m so yellow. So I explain to her that I was diagnosed with Gilbert’s Syndrome, blah blah blah and it’s all in my medical history – which she was reading while I told her.
Apparently, that wasn’t good enough. She sent me to get some labs done and the next day I was to come in and get a ultrasound on my liver.
WHAT!?! Here I was, feeling all justified for the past 2.5 years that I was just a part of the 5% affected by Gilbert’s Syndrome. Now she has me all worried about my liver and cancer.
I called today to check on the results of my tests. $5 if anyone can guess what I was told... that’s right, everything looks good, even the ultrasound... but my bilirubin count was......... wait for it...... waaaait..... elevated. NO!!!
Now I get to go see a specialist, again. Are you kidding me? Being thorough is good, but when is it too much?