Can technology help me diagnose a health problem?

I visited the doctor a couple of weeks ago because I have been feeling extremely tired and have also struggled to do mundane tasks without feeling completely wiped out. Add to this some sensitivity around my right nipple, possibly a lump, and so I became worried.

The doctor in question was a physician’s assistant, which in this case seemed to stand for ‘I have no f*cking idea what I am doing’, but anyway she sent me for a wide-ranging blood test, did an examination of my right chest area and also arranged an x-ray. No listening to my chest, no basic observations and that was it. 

The bloods came back with better results than the year before. My cholesterol is very low and other readings had actually improved, but with borderline scores showing for my thyroid. 

So that was it as far as the doctor was concerned, but the symptoms have continued to get worse over the past fortnight and so I visited the doctor again. She gave me some Naproxen just in case the tenderness in my chest is simple inflammation and suggested that it could be a viral problem. 

Now, I don’t like visiting doctors or hospitals, but this is the first time in my life where I have felt that something is wrong. It is hard to explain the feeling, but I know my body and as things progress, so my concerned feelings increase. Sharp pain in the right-hand side of my chest approximately 2 inches above the nipple followed by soreness the next day has not helped and so I started to get slightly annoyed at the end of the second visit. She said she would speak to a senior doctor and would let me know what they said. I left, annoyed.

Two hours later, after her chat, she called to say that she would be arranging a 24 hour blood pressure monitor test, a new chest x-ray, an ECG and another appointment with a different doctor. She also asked me to keep a diary of my symptoms. It would appear that she had realised a few things, but her words of ‘If you feel much worse over Christmas, just call 999’ did not reassure me much.

So I am left wondering what is wrong which has not been helped by my wife. She is a midwife and brushes off most problems because she has seen so many with her patients, but this has her worried to the point that I have not had to do any ironing or housework for the past two weeks. Every cloud…

Not being someone to just sit back, she suggested that I start doing my own tests and to make use of some of the technology that I own. Sleeping could be a potential issue for my general tiredness and so I have been using a Jawbone UP2 to track it. As you can see above, looking at the trend at the bottom, my sleep tends to vary between good and bad on alternate nights, but historically I tend to get about 6-7 hours sleep. Interestingly, the Jawbone shows that as the bad night get worse, the good nights get better. 

I then used a heart monitoring app on my iPhone to do the occasional check. In the screenshot below you can see that my heart rate jumped above 100, but worryingly when out for a gentle walk with the dog. I kept testing it and now my wife believes that my heart is having to work too hard for whatever reason. Despite multiple tests for a balance problem over the past two years which show that my heart is fine, it is interesting how something so simple can offer a glimpse into a possible problem. We are aware that an app like this cannot possibly be completely accurate and so we tested it on my wife at the same time, her results were as expected, and I will likely be investing in a Jawbone UP3 so that I can check my heart rate throughout the day. 

There is no way to know what is going on at the moment, but while I await all of the tests, which will be done the week after next, at least I can do some simple tests of my own which my wife can use to double-check potential reasons. It could well be that there is nothing wrong at all, but this is the first time where I have felt that technology can have a part in giving me some control and offering some reassurance.

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