Help Me (potential pheochromocytoma?)

Patient

Q: For a year I have been experiencing episodes of pronounced tachycardia, sweating, migraine headache, and intense feeling of dread/doom.

I feel as though I will die any minute. It has been this way for almost the entire year. I am living minute to minute.

For some background I have NEVER been an anxious person, nor have I been one who believes he has this medical issue or that--if anything I have ignored medical issues in the past more than I likely should have, believing they'd resolve themselves.

I am currently taking 60mg ER propranolol (24hr) daily as a treatment for the diagnosis of Inappropriate Sinus Tach which was given to me by a cardiologist.

Recently some marked kidney pain has been presenting. It is localized near what I assume to be the top of my kidney, it feels like it's pushing out of my back.

I have come to believe that I could potentially have a pheochromocytoma. All of the symptoms match, and I do not have a single symptom that doesn't fall on this list.

When the kidney pain started my uncle, who is an opthamologist, suggested that I get in for an imaging study. I have recently had a CT scan performed, but was disappointed to hear that it hasn't even been read 4 days hence.

My doctors do NOT appear to be taking this seriously AT ALL. I am suffering greatly, but their approach has been lackadaisical. It took 5 GPs before I found one who would give me a referral to a cardiologist. The rest simply wrote me a script for lorazepam, told me it was in my head, and essentially told me to screw off--that I was too young to be sick (I'm nearly 28). When I arrived at the cardiologist/electrophysiologist he IMMEDIATELY knew something was amiss and prescribed the beta blocker.

This is the type of care I've been dealing with, I'm basically being told it's all in my head.

It's not. Something is wrong. I have long been well in tune with my body. Something has changed. Drastically.

At this point I'm pulled in two directions. It appears that I will be waiting up to a week from now for the results of the CT scan to even be READ. You and I both know this is ridiculous as a CT takes approximately 15 minutes to read and dictate.

I am avoiding the urge to go to the ER almost hourly at this point as the episodes come closer together and increase in severity. I cannot afford an ER visit financially, and I am fearful that my avoidance of the hospital for financial reasons could end up killing me.

I'm left with very little choice.

What am I to do?

I honestly feel as if no medical doctor I have seen over the course of a full year truly gives a crap about me. If I have any psychological issues they stem from this feeling of abandonment as I have placed myself at the mercy of these professionals who are supposed to help me.

I have begun self medicating with 0.5mg lorazepam that I was prescribed a year ago to deal with the anxiety. Being a chemist, I understand explicitly the risks of benzodiazepene dependency and withdrawal--but I am left with no choice here. I have been only taking the benzo at times when the anxiety is truly unbearable and have been sure not to take it more than once every 3 days (and less if I can manage). This medication does not in any way alleviate my physical issues, but it does help me to push through them.

I'm running out of road here. I need help. I need it NOW. Tomorrow at the latest.

I have a few questions:

Is there something I can do to speed this process along? Though I hate to consider it (having a great many medical professionals in my family)--do I have legal recourse for a lawsuit here? Would threatening one potentially speed things up?

I live in bloomington-normal, do you know of any physician I can see in short order who might be willing to take me seriously and investigate this issue with a sense of real purpose?

The way I am living is wholly unlivable. I feel as though I will strike a wall at high speed at any moment.

Please help in whatever way you can. I am lost and no one is endeavoring to throw me a rope here.

At times like this I wish I were stupid and couldn't understand the potential risks. Unfortunately, I'm not--and I do. Why does it feel like my physicians cannot say the same?

Again, please help me. I fear for my life.

Symptoms:  tachycardia
panic attack like symptoms
profuse sweating
flank pain
short lived migraine (feels like someone is stabbing me in the brain)
shortness of breath upon even the most light of excercise (climbing one flight of stairs).
Marked weight loss (15 pounds in the last 2 months)
Hypertension

I am 5'9", 135lbs
I was a smoker but have completed cessation months ago.
I do not drink
Doctor

A:   This question is currently in queue and will be answered shortly by one of our doctors. In the meantime you may browse our library of answered questions by clicking here.

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