Dr. Rossi raised my puffy leg, which was three times its normal size, and closely examined it.
“I think the inflammation is a secondary condition called erythema nodosum,” she said confidently. “Based on the cough, I would say you have sarcoidosis,” she added.
My brain was having difficulty processing this new information. It felt like a chalkboard, first full of information, then suddenly wiped clean.
“Am I going to die?” I asked, without really thinking. It was the first and only thing that came to mind. It was all that mattered at the moment.
“Many people with sarcoidosis lead full lives,” she replied.
I noticed she did not actually answer my question.
Earlier, my husband had the idea of making an appointment with an infectious disease doctor. Since my other doctors had been unable to reach a diagnosis, I agreed.
I immediately liked Dr. Rossi. As I perched on the exam table in her office, wearing a light-blue gown and my white socks, I took stock of her credentials. In addition, I read each of the informational posters that hung on the walls. She was very thorough in her examination; her demeanor was both matter-of-fact and professional. While she wasn’t particularly warm, I immediately felt she was kind. I can’t tell you how much I greatly appreciated that trait.
I had never heard of sarcoidosis — or erythema nodosum, for that matter — before this. There was something about the word, though, that just didn’t sit right with me as soon as I heard it.
During the visit, Dr. Rossi continued to speak about sarcoidosis: the procedures required to make a formal diagnosis, treatment options, and more. But her words quickly became background noise for me, a buzzing blur of nonsense. I secretly hoped my husband was listening attentively.
Normally, I’m an attentive note taker, known for doing my own follow-up research after appointments. But suddenly, I couldn’t even think straight. Perhaps a psychologist would say it’s not unusual for individuals to block out negative news, but this was something I had never experienced before.
Here we were finally making long-awaited progress in terms of a diagnosis. Yet, what kept filling my head were images of snakes. That’s right, snakes! In fact, every time sarcoidosis was mentioned, I imagined the reptile’s sneaky movement, its silent slithering underfoot. I could hear the hissing sound it produced, the exaggerated sibilant.
But mostly, as Dr. Rossi spoke and my husband listened, I thought of the fear snakes evoke in so many people. These creatures have an uncanny ability to blend into their surroundings, lying still and quiet, undetected by those around them. They often strike without warning, when a victim is least expecting it.
In that way, they’re not unlike sarcoidosis, I suppose.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.