OK, here we go... I have been having pain in my right armpit off-and-on for a over a year. I originally had the pain concurrent with swollen lymph nodes, dizziness, nausea which led to being treated for a suspected inner ear infection. Took antibiotics, it cleared up.
A few weeks later, the pain returned- so intense I couldn't put my arm down to my side. Another visit to my PCP, there was no lumpiness, redness or anything like that. They did nothing, told me to follow up if it didn't improve. It subsided to tolerable- but not gone- pain
A few weeks after that, excruciating pain, another visit to PCP. This time, I did have a pustule and was treated for staph cellulitis. The doc didn't lance it, but I took the full course of antibiotics. It cleared up for a few weeks, then came back. My PCP ordered some labs to check my white blood cell count and sent me out w/ a (preemptive) script for stronger antibiotics, suspecting MRSA. Labs came back clean, but I took the antibiotics just in case.
(Worth noting: In between the 2 courses of antibiotics, I'd discovered my roomate had been drip drying the toilet brush in the shower caddy, on top of my razor. Gross. So I moved. And quit shaving. Double gross.)
Since bloodwork came back OK, I was then sent for an ultrasound- while I wasn't experiencing any symptoms- and that came back clear, too.
After months of this back and forth, I got a new PCP for some fresh eyes on the problem. She suspected hydradenitis suppurativa and referred me to a surgeon for gland stripping and/or exploratory surgery.
I saw the surgeon 2 weeks ago, he didn't see any redness, swelling, signs of infection, anything, and by the time I got in there the pain had subsided to uncomfortable-but-tolerable again. He refused any surgical procedure and told me if the pain or swelling came back to call and he'd see me immediately. A big part of the problem is that when I have symptoms I call the doc, but by the time they get me in, it's gotten better. He also recommended I get a mammogram next year, (I'm only 39 now, so screening will be hard to get covered by insurance, I guess?)
Yesterday, the pain came back- the worst it's been yet- so I called the surgeon. He wasn't in, so I was referred to the ER. I went to the ER and was seen by 3 different docs. Pain, but no redness, no lumpiness, not hot to the touch- but to my eyes, my entire armpit area is swollen. The left one is concave- a "pit" and the right is not rounded, exactly, but certainly not a "pit." One of the ER docs did say that due to no cysts or redness (since the staph infection) that hydradenitis should be ruled out, and didn't feel glands or nodes were the issue, either- as there are no lumps.
So, I know this is getting epic, but I'm trying to put together over a year's worth of symptoms and flare-ups.
-I was definitely exposed to the nastiest of germs with the toilet brush thing, but staph infection was cleared up, and no evidence of MRSA. But since this started, any time I've had any other infection, (common cold, abscessed tooth, bronchitis) my armpit flares up, too. But it also sometimes flares when everything else seems OK.
-I've been suffering from anxiety since all this started, so I'm sweating quite a lot more than normal- not just underarms but palms, feet, etc. I see a therapist and take clonazepam PRN, for what it's worth.
-I quit shaving my armpits, and I've switched deodorants every time this has flared. I would stop using it altogether, but between the profuse sweating and not shaving- no.
-I threw out all of my underwire bras because they are an agony, and I have only been wearing cotton sports bras and loose, breathable clothing.
-I try not to do heavy lifting with my right arm, but am limited to using it more than I'd like because I injured my left wrist/elbow (lateral epichondylitis) 2 months ago while trying to not use the right side. (what a nightmare!)
-I did break my ankle a year and a half ago and was on crutches for a few weeks, but I think they ruled out crutch palsy as it was months between discontinuation of crutches and onset of underarm pain.
-I do occasionally get numbness/tingling radiating down my arm, into my shoulder and/or in my right ribcage area, but I feel like that's from having to keep my hand on my hip, not being able to put my arm down to my side.
-I have no family history of breast cancer or lymphoma, but at 31 I did have malignant melanoma on my shoulder- inches away from lymph nodes, but on the opposing side. It was in situ and completely excised, so lymph nodes were never biopsied. (I've since had 12 pre-cancerous and 2 benign moles removed).
I think I've covered everything/written my first novel. Any ideas? Can somebody please help me? At the very least, I need to be pointed in the right direction. I don't even know what kind of doc to ask for the next referral to.
Thanks for your time!