After the dermatologist told me he believed I had DM, he said I had a CPK (muscle enzyme) result of 1400. The normal range is 22 to 198. This indicated that my muscles were inflamed and being damaged and, combined with my symptoms and other blood work, led the doctor to his conclusion of DM.
After we finished our discussion, he told me DM is pretty rare and for this reason would like to know if I would allow a couple of med students in to ask questions. I agreed and a few minutes later, there were two young med students in the exam room with us.
The doctor showed them my chart and test results. After they discussed it briefly he asked them if they had any questions for me. The doctor had not given either of them my diagnosis at this point and was trying to get them to form their own opinions of what was wrong.
One of the students paused very thoughtfully, looked at the chart again and asked, "Did you experience any crushing chest pain on or about (I don't remember the date but it was the date the blood work was done 1 month prior)?"
I responded, "No, I did not have any chest pain."
Student: "At least not that you recall?"
Me: "I think I would recall 'crushing' chest pain. I would most likely have gone to the ER."
I could see the doctor trying not to chuckle at the exchange, but I wondered where on earth that question came from.
The doctor told the students that I have DM and explained to them why my CPK level was elevated and then it dawned on me why the student asked the question. The CPK test is also used when there is a suspected heart attack. The heart muscle releases the same enzyme when damaged during a heart attack.
I actually almost laughed a little myself thinking that the med student was diagnosing me with a heart attack a month after the fact. Oh well, I think they both learned something that day.
I had many more med students in my future, but right now I needed to take in the diagnosis and find out what came next.