It is 9 years since my diagnosis. I am luckily living a pretty normal life now. I was reviewing the course of my case over the years, and the thing that stood out was how physicians don't think of amyloidosis when trying to find the cause of patient symptoms.
Granted, it is a relatively rare disease, but I think that is partially due to its not being diagnosed enough. I think physician awareness is the goal of the Amyloidosis Foundation, and I am grateful that they are working on that.
My diagnosis story is unusual. My job was cardiac testing, and I just routinely ran an EKG on myself every year. When I was 50 I saw it change a tiny bit. I thought, oh well, I'm aging. The next year it changed a little bit more, and I shared my concern with a cardiologist I worked with, and he said it was nonspecific. But it bugged me, and I asked for a cardiac stress test. He said ok, and a stress/echo test was done. It came out really abnormal and he immediately said I had cardiomyopathy. Right then and there he re-asked me about my and my family's medical histories. What I remember in my mind most is the image of him pacing back and forth, trying to figure why a 51 year old woman would suddenly have cardiomyopathy. Amyloidosis was not a thought.
In my opinion this man was not a bad cardiologist, but amyloidosis did not enter his mind, and of course I had never heard of it. Two years later when I began having kidney symptoms, a kidney biopsy was done and the amyloidosis diagnosis was made. So I could have started therapy two years earlier if amyloidosis had been linked to the cardiomyopathy.
I never went to one of the big medical centers that specialize in amyloidosis, but I did go to a hematologist who was active at one of them. Luckily my 6 years of taking Thalomid and Decadron has finally halted the progression for now. But the restrictive cardiomyopathy and nephrotic syndrome remain, though stable for now.
I guess I am just lamenting how amyloidosis remains in the back of the minds of many physicians, causing a delay in initiation of therapy, that could mean the difference of life and death.