in Checking In, Follow-Up, Health, Science

Instead of answers, more questions

Yesterday, I crafted a long blog post detailing my time as a participant in this Gulf War Illness (GWI) research study but never had a chance to post it. I was about to say it seems I have some answers to my health issues. Sadly, after talking with lead researcher Dr. Baraniuk for several hours last night (yes, several hours. Does your doctor do that?) I’ve realized that there are actually more questions than answers now.

I took a week off of work and away from home and traveled to DC at partially my own expense to be tested by an expert in GWI. Dr. Baraniuk is a brilliant man – an expert in GWI – and I was tested, but I never expected that my medical issues would stump him of all people. My joy of yesterday is well-founded: Dr. Baraniuk has detected a legitimate, abnormal response in my nervous system which makes my body work extra hard and seems to occur in GWI-affected veterans (about 30% of those who served in the Persian Gulf War). This confirmation is a wonderful validation of the way I’ve been feeling for the past 25 years.

But there’s more, and it’s the “more” part that has both of us scratching our heads. For at least as long as I’ve been dealing with GWI (and it’s confirmed that I do meet GWI criteria) I’ve also had a significant, unexplained drop in my blood platelets. Dr. Baraniuk has not been as quick to shrug this off as my primary care physicians and I have. He suspects something else is affecting my low platelet count which might also be draining me of energy.

In order to be diagnosed with GWI, all other diagnoses must be ruled out. So I have to get a solid answer on the platelets before anything else can be decided. And it appears to my disappointment that it will take brighter minds than Dr. Baraniuk to figure it out. After meeting Dr. Baraniuk, I can say that’s gonna be a really tall order.

I came here to get answers. Looks like I got one at least – there is truly something physically wrong with me – but more questions have been raised. I hope I have the stamina and perseverance to get these answered as well.