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livelaughlove21's avatar

Should I keep seeing doctors after getting normal test results?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (14696 points ) February 15th, 2014 from iPhone

TMI alert. You’ve been warned.

Two years ago when I was planning my wedding, I noticed that my stool was a bit pale, so I went to Urgent Care. They did an x-ray and apparently found large gas pockets. They diagnosed me with a mild case of IBS worsened by stress and sent me on my way. My symptom went away shortly thereafter.

Two months ago, I was having one of my, “I’m dying of cancer” episodes, I had a feeling of swelling/fullness under my right ribcage. Not pain, just a strange feeling. It went away once I stopped stressing.

I’m not stressed or anxious now but over the last two weeks, I’ve noticed my stools getting progressively lighter. Yesterday, they were nearly white. I went to Urgent Care and they did blood work. Liver function normal, bilirubin normal. He felt nothing when palpating my abdomen. He’s scheduling me for an ultrasound next week to be safe, but he suspects it’s the IBS.

However, pale stool isn’t a symptom of IBS – not anywhere I’ve looked anyway. Pale stool usually indicates a liver or gallbladder issue. I have no fever, abdominal pain, jaundice, or any other symptoms whatsoever. Whitish stool isn’t normal, though. Today it was back to mostly normal with whitish sections.

My question is this: if the ultrasound comes back clean, should I get a second opinion or just leave it alone unless I develop other symptoms?

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35 Answers

newtscamander's avatar

I think that I would get a second opinion in your case.
If the IBS is worsened by stress, and the second opinion you get is a reassuring one, you will probably already feel better.
You seem genuinely worried, and in any case, when it comes to your health, it’s better not to take risks.
Hope you get better.

janbb's avatar

Yes, I think since you are concerned about this, I would get a second opinion too.

hearkat's avatar

What will the ultrasound be examining? If not the gallbladder, then I would consider going for further testing to rule that out, because of the fullness you had in that area as well as the light stools.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Compared to other health scares I’ve had, I’m surprisingly not all that freaked out this time. I don’t need a second opinion just to make me feel better. I’m just wondering if I should get a second opinion because the symptom calls for it, or if I should take the doctor’s word for it.

@hearkat It’s for the gallbladder. And liver, I’d assume.

hearkat's avatar

OK. Then I’d wait for the outcome of that before scheduling anything else.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@hearkat Of course. The question is if, in the event that the ultrasound is clear, I should keep seeing doctors until I get a concrete answer. I’m just not sure if this symptom is alarming enough to warrant further attention even if the tests are normal.

hearkat's avatar

I would ask the Physician who analyzes and reviews the ultrasound that question.

On the other hand, I seem to recall that you are considering starting a family in the relatively near future, so I suggest having this investigated more fully before trying to become pregnant. You’ll want to be sure that your body is properly absorbing all nutrients to support your own well-being as well as a baby’s, and to rule-out any other potential complications between whatever this is and a pregnancy.

SnoopyGirl's avatar

First of all, I’m sorry you are going through this. Nothing more scary then having something wrong and you don’t know why. I think you should go off of your gut feeling. Do you feel okay with that answer? If not, I would suggest demanding more tests.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

What have you been eating?

JLeslie's avatar

Is your urine dark? Dark like coca cola? Usually when the liver isn’t functioning your urine gets very dark.

Have you been eating more light colored foods? More fruits, less red meat, that sort of thing? Your stool reflects what you eat and a significant change in diet can really change stool color.

funkdaddy's avatar

Go see a general physician if you can, hopefully someone that will see you multiple times.

Urgent Care is for, well, urgent care. They are there to make sure you’re not dying, check the basics, and move you through to the window so you can pay. It’s a good service, but this isn’t what it’s for. Put another way, It’s like taking your car to the oil change place and asking why it seems a little sluggish lately up hills. It’s not what they do and you’re probably not going to get the best answer.

Drink lots of water, go to your ultrasound, find out what’s causing it, and then a find a doctor you can create a relationship with.

Good luck and I hope it’s an easy fix for you.

kritiper's avatar

Go to a “doc-in-the-box” before the emergency room.
I’ve heard of lots of doctors that want to see you on a regular basis. They have bills to pay and mortgages and kids in college. Don’t go if you don’t have to.
And drink lots of water, eat lots of fiber.

JLeslie's avatar

I just thought of something, does your stool float? Does there seem to be grease around it? Not digesting fats well can cause stool to be light in color.

I assume the ultrasound will be able to see if there is something blocking the bile ducts? I don’t know, I am just assuming. I would think you would have some pain if that was happening, but I don’t know much about the gallbladder and liver, except that pain on your right side near and/or below your breast that is so bad it is worse than labor is gallstones.

janbb's avatar

Floating shit? Oy vey, now I’ve heard everything!

livelaughlove21's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Nothing out of the ordinary.

@JLeslie No dark urine. No diet changes. No floating stool. Bilirubin levels are usually off if there’s an obstruction, but it was fine. I guess the ultrasound is to double check.

@funkdaddy I have a primary care doctor, but I knew what needed to be done initially (blood work and an ultrasound), so I decided not to take time off work for him to do exactly what urgent care would do. I’ll have personal days in April but, until then, I’m not missing work unless it’s absolutely necessary.

@kritiper Urgent Care is not the ER.

gailcalled's avatar

How close do you have to get to see whether there’s grease around your stool?

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled Is that a riddle?

hearkat's avatar

@livelaughlove21 – Back to my point, you may want to put a call in or send an email to your Ob/Gyn and ask if there are concerns relative to your symptoms that they would recommend you address prior to considering becoming pregnant.

creative1's avatar

Question do you drink a lot of milk or eat a lot of dairy products, I know mine lightens or darkens depending on what I have eaten. If I am having more dairy products it goes the color of what you are describing.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@creative1 Nope, no more dairy than usual.

gondwanalon's avatar

Of course you should keep seeing doctors regardless of the test results.

Keep in mind that all test results (normal, abnormal and everywhere in between) are valuable information that helps the doctor determine exactly your condition. A normal test result is excellent information as tells the doctor to look other directions.

Good health to you.

kritiper's avatar

@livelaughlove21 – Some people think it is.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@kritiper Well it’s not. Urgent Care is for things that can’t wait for a scheduled doctor’s visit but aren’t emergencies. Or, in my case, for after-hours medical care. If something is an actual emergency (heart attack, broken arm), Urgent Care will send/transfer you to the ER.

kritiper's avatar

@livelaughlove21 – Great. Now if someone reads this and then needs to go there…
I’ve seen so many messages and comments/advice about people getting sick and being directed to the ER willy-nilly. The ER is expensive and should be avoided if not needed.
I haven’t ever heard of UC. Maybe not all states have it.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@kritiper Maybe not. Yeah, my ER copay is $100 and my Urgent Care copay is $35. I’m not going to the ER unless I’m dying.

Gabby101's avatar

Piggybacking on what others have said about urgent care and the emergency room. You should only go to the ER if you feel that you have a life threatening emergency, otherwise they will try to get you out as soon as possible. Same with urgent care, those doctors are meant to see you quickly assess and treat your problem and then move on. I’m not trying to put you down for going to these places for help, because maybe you did think it was an emergency, but I’m just trying to point out that after two trips with no successful diagnosis, you should see a physician that can get to know you and your symptoms.

My husband had a medical condition that sent him to the ER several times because of the excruciating pain and he was never diagnosed with anything other than generic conditions. It wasn’t until we went to a specialist that he was properly diagnosed. The doctor was taking a shower and remembered something he had learned in med school about a rare genetic condition and viola! a proper diagnosis. Urgent care and ER doctors don’t expect to see you again, so they are not spending that kind of thinking time on you.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Here’s an update for anyone that’s interested.

I had my ultrasound early this morning. It was a right upper quadrant abdominal ultrasound to check my gallbladder, liver, pancreas, and right kidney. The tech told me I could call the doctor at Urgent Care after 3PM today and get the results. I wasn’t too worried about it before today (stool is back to normal), but she seemed awfully focused on my gallbladder (in this area) moreso than anywhere else. It was as if she saw something and wanted to get a lot of pictures of it, but she didn’t say anything. If she did see something, hopefully it’s just gallstones. Nothing I can do for the next two hours but try to stay busy at work.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks for the update. Since you are back to normal I am going to guess it is nothing serious. If there is anything on the ultrasound hopefully it is something like a gallstone that might not bother you for years or never. Thinking positive thoughts.

janbb's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Thanks for the update. Let us know what the diagnosis is.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

They focus on that area because there is alot to focus on there. Gallbladder problems are common. I had the same kind of ultrasound before and the tech did the same thing. Good to hear you are back to business as usual

livelaughlove21's avatar

Another update:

I just called and the doctor there read me the report. They found a small hemangioma (nothing to worry about) on my liver and a polyp in my gallbladder. She suggested I follow up with my primary care doctor, who may want to do another ultrasound in a few months to see if there are any changes. Stupid me, I decided to google “gallbladder polyp” and found that, in rare cases, they could be cancerous or eventually turn into cancer. Yeah, not good for my anxiety. I’ll have to call later this week and set up a follow-up appointment with my regular doctor and just skip lunch to make up my hours at work.

I’m not sure how worried I should be about it. The doctor did say that I could “sit on it” if my symptoms weren’t significant (which they’re not), but she also said there’s no way to know 100% if it’s actually a polyp or something else – all she knows is that the radiologist called it a polyp.

You know, this is the first abnormal medical test result I’ve ever gotten. Not fun…

janbb's avatar

Good luck and keep us updated!

funkdaddy's avatar

I think polyp in this case is in reference to the shape only and essentially saying there’s a section of your gallbladder that isn’t following the normal form. Using “polyp” doesn’t hint at the specific tissue or cause, as I understand it, probably because they just don’t know by looking at it. Of course unless they’ve given you more information, but I think basically they’re saying it could be anything at this point, but they’re comfortable letting it go for a while.

They’d jump right on it if you needed to, or if they were worried about your health, so hopefully that’s comforting. They aren’t worried, just want more information.

In your shoes, I’d make the appointment for a few months away (April is only 6 weeks away, whooo personal days!) and try to forget about it until then. If you feel the fullness you mentioned previously, I would call the doctor and try to schedule your follow-up as soon as possible. Not because something bad might happen, but because if there is an “ebb and flow” of the polyp or the hemangioma, that fullness would indicate it was at the larger end of that cycle. That may give them more information and indicate what is causing your symptoms, especially if it coincides with anything else in your life. (diet, the pale stool you mentioned, stress, menstrual cycle, etc)...

Until then, probably just time for living, laughing, and loving, instead of stressing. I hope everything goes well.

I understand and appreciate you know most of this, I just say it to talk it through

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Anxiety causes gi problems just like you are describing. It did for me anyway. This could be your problem also. I was exactly the same scenario and found myself getting an ultrasound. In the end there was nothing to worry about. I would not worry especially If you have been stressed out for a while. Follow up with your doctors though.

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