Relaxation

 

Boiler bay 2

Photo taken by me at Boiler Bay in May 2017

I’m making this brief since I can barely think right now. I’m calling my doctor’s office and seeing if I can move my appointment from the 30th up to (hopefully) today. If not today to ASAP. The pain in my legs has increased to the point where it woke me up at 2:30 AM. I’ll update this post later with what I learn from the doctor.

Wish me luck!

Update – Well, I was told to go to the urgent care clinic because the computer systems were down. That was a waste of time. They told me I needed to see my primary care doctor. So I staggered to the reception desk (Tims had to support me because of how much pain I’m in) and got the first available appointment – which is tomorrow morning at 8:45 AM with a check in at 8:30 AM. At least it’s better than 8/30/17 at 9 AM, which is when I was originally scheduled. I’ll do another post as soon as I know what my doctor suggests. Continue watching this space for further updates.

Update 2 – The doctor increased my Gabapentin. I’ve been taking it for a couple days now. The pain is lessening but I’m not happy with the side effects. I’m lightheaded and disoriented all day. I take them every 8 hours and I take them three times a day 4:30 AM, 12:30 PM, and 8:30 PM. Since I was already taking my usual meds at 4:30 and 8:30, that wasn’t too hard. But the 12:30 one was. I ended up having to set an alarm on my phone to keep myself from forgetting. I’m hoping to be well enough by Monday 8/28/17 (this is actually Sunday…I haven’t updated because I wasn’t feeling too good on Friday and Saturday) to take over my usual cooking duties. Which would be great, since we need more bread.

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Adapting to life

Random Ramblings #2 – The Health Episode

Hi everyone. You may have noticed I missed yesterday’s post. That was mostly because of the eclipse here in the US. I was excited for that and really wasn’t paying attention to anything else. I was also dealing with another issue, one mentioned in the YouTube video I linked above. It’s my second vlog episode, and one where I actually break down. I don’t do that often in anything public, least of all something that’s on the internet. But I felt it was important to get out my message, and that’s part of it.

What’s so important that I had to say it when I was so emotional? I went to the ER for a screaming headache and the fact that my legs felt like someone poured gasoline (petrol for those of you not in the US) on them and lit them on fire. They were so much on fire I wanted to scream. They still are. The Nurse Practitioner treated the migraine but really didn’t say much about my legs other than that the pain was most likely a “form of neuropathy.” When I talked to my primary care doctor, she agreed with the assessment. When I talked to my vascular surgeon he agreed with the assessment, even though neuropathy typically sticks to the feet and hands and is more common to someone with diabetes.

No, I don’t have diabetes. I don’t even have pre-diabetes. My A1C number (that’s what they look at to assess your likelihood for diabetes) is at the low end of what’s considered normal. It’s not too low though, so there’s nothing to be worried about. But now I have a problem – what exactly is wrong with my legs, and is it permanent? I hope it’s not, but if it is, I’ll have mobility issues for the rest of my life. This is something that I don’t look forward to, since I have more than enough health issues that are going to last me for the rest of my life. I don’t need one more.

I’ve set another appointment with my primary care doctor to see what she says, what tests I need to take to find out what this is, and how I can treat it – if there is a treatment. I’ve had to make some adjustments to my life, though at first I thought I’d lost the ability to do one of the things that makes me really happy.

I thought I’d lost the ability to cook and bake. Both of those require me to stand on my feet, and my legs just couldn’t take it. It was suggested I could sit in the kitchen and direct people, but that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to have my hands in everything. I wanted to chop, stir, knead bread, mix pancakes. I wanted to do everything when it came to the cooking.

So, thanks to my wonderful friend Deborah urging me not to give up on something I love so much, I came up with the idea to turn the table that serves as the “island” in our kitchen into my work space. With some help, I cleared it off and got rid of most of the stuff under it. I tucked a stool underneath for me to sit on and voila, instant work area. It got its first test yesterday morning, and it worked fairly well. I still had to do a lot of standing and walking, but that was mostly because my original breakfast plan got scrapped due to not finding a couple ingredients. But if I plan carefully, I shouldn’t have to worry about standing at all, except to pull things out of the oven and to drain things in the sink, like pasta. This makes me very happy.

What I’ve learned through all of this is humans are very adaptable creatures. We constantly adapt our surroundings to suit us. And if that doesn’t work, we adapt to that as well. We know we can do things that will make our lives easier, or at the very least more livable. We are remarkably resilient and can do a lot of stuff.

So when life throws a curve ball in your direction, don’t let it stop you. Roll with it and adapt to the situation. Figure out how to deal with it and move forward. Go ahead and have a good cry if you need to. An emotional breakdown is okay. I’ve had a few since this all started. But the next step is to keep moving beyond them. Keep moving forward. That’s the only way to survive.

The heroes of the medical profession

nurse-syringe-doctor-medical-hospital-health

Photo via Visual Hunt

I know a lot of you hang around because of my little fiction drabbles – which aren’t always as short as I intend – but I’m going to talk about something else serious today. Then perhaps tomorrow the drabbles will resume. I want to talk to you today about the heroes of the ER – the nurses.

The first people on the scene when you get into the ER aren’t the doctors. They’re the nurses. They take your vital signs, listen to you as you explain your situation, clean up the blood and/or vomit and/or urine/feces as they listen, and note a general assessment in your chart. Then they go off to tell the doctor what’s going on.

They check on you regularly and if they think the doctor is being too slow in doing something for you, they’ll ride their ass until they come in and talk to you. Once that happens, treatment begins. But it isn’t the doctor who does the actual treatment. Once again, it’s the nurses. They’re the ones who stick the IVs into you, who put catheters in places you’re rather not have one, who console you when you hear about all the tests you’re going to have to go through, and administer any medications the doctor thinks you need right at that moment. They’re also the ones who try to make you feel better with a good bedside manner – which many ER doctors don’t have.

The nurses are the ones who check on you after you’ve returned from being wheeled out for getting x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or whatever tests you’re being given that will take you out of your spot in the ER. They’re the ones who keep you updated on what’s going on. And again, they’re the ones who push the doctor if they think they’re taking too long.

Of course, if the ER is really busy, you might not see your nurse as often as you’d like. But they will make sure you’re checked on, even if they have to beg one of their coworkers to check in on you. They want to be sure you’re safe, cared for, and as pain free as possible.

When the doctor gives their final diagnosis and comes up with a treatment plan, they’ll come in and give you the bare details and then leave. It’s the nurse who brings up the discharge plan and explains everything to you in detail, answers any questions you may have, gives you whatever warnings are needed, and wishes you well. The nurses are the ones who tell you if you have questions to call and if it gets worse to come back. The nurses are the ones who follow you to the door to make sure you’re well enough to leave, and if you can’t walk, they’ll get a wheelchair for you and take you out to your car.

Even outside the ER, nurses are the ones who do the bulk of the work. In a hospital setting, the nurses outside the ER do a lot of what the ER nurses do. In a doctor’s office, they’re the ones who take your vitals, ask you what’s going on, get notes for the doctor, and then they’e also the ones who administer any shots the doctor wants you to have and explains what the doctor wants you to have done if you have questions.

My brother is a trauma nurse. My ex-sister-in-law is a regular hospital nurse. I was a CNA for a few years, who are the right hands of nurses outside of the ER. Be nice to your nurses. For the most part, they genuinely care about you and want to make sure you’re healthy and happy by the end of your visit. And if that’s not going to be the case, they’re the ones who are there to grieve with you, to comfort you, and to show they care and want to ease your burden as much as possible as you go through this terrible time.

I’m not saying doctors don’t do anything. They do a lot. General practice doctors are a lot more hands on, and work hand in hand with their nurses. A lot of them keep their nurses in the room with them to be an extra pair of hands and to explain things when the doctor can’t. But in a hospital setting, doctors have very little time to deal with patients as they often have twenty other patients to attend to – oftentimes more. So they are stretched very thin. That’s why they rely on their nurses to get things done.

Nurses are heroes. Remember that. Nurses are heroes.

My recent adventures

close-up-of-doctor-with-stethoscope-and-ballpens

Photo via VisualHunt.com

So, yes I’ve been posting little random bits of stories and yes, I’ll get back to that. But I wanted to tell you what I’ve been dealing with lately. Namely…my heart.

Back in August I started having chest pains. At first I figured it was nothing. I didn’t have the signs of a heart attack that they tell you to watch for in women. I just had a lot of pain radiating from the left side of my chest into my arm and down my side. When the pain continued to the point where I was almost sobbing, I went to the ER. They did an EKG, told me I was okay, gave me some pain meds and a muscle relaxer, and sent me home.

This was the second week in August. We’re in the 4th week (or 3rd if you don’t count the first few days as a week) of September and I’m still having pain. It’s not as bad and it seems to have relocated to mostly my shoulder, but the concern for heart issues is there as there is a huge history of early onset heart issues in my family. So there’s the chance, given my age (not 40 yet but close) and my family history (don’t get me started on that), that there’s something wrong.

So on Monday I made the trip in to have a heart stress test. Because I’m having trouble with my left knee – another reason I’ve been having issues most of August and September – they didn’t put me on the treadmill. Monday I went in after fasting and was injected with something that sped up my heart. It also made it hard to breathe, made me sick to my stomach, made me feel like a heavy weight was sitting on my whole body, and made me feel hot (and not in a good way.) That feeling lasted 5 minutes, and then I was a little disoriented after for maybe a minute, but beyond that I was fine. They did another EKG while my heart was sped up and nothing came up on it. They’d also shot me up with a radioactive isotope to make my heart stand out better in pictures. They took some pictures of my heart and told me to come in the next day for the second half of the test. Total time in the doctor’s office? 4 hours.

Tuesday I went back in and they injected me with that isotope again. Twenty minutes after the injection I went in and she took pictures of my heart during my “resting” phase. After that, we were done. Sort of.

See now that the test is over, I still have to meet with my regular doctor to find out what all those tests mean. So the first week of October, I’m making two trips in that I’m not looking forward to. One is for an EEG (sleep deprivation…yay!) and the other is to talk to my doctor about the heart tests. Now, I’m pretty sure if something was wrong I’d be in there a whole hell of a lot sooner than the first week of October, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something. Just not something life shatteringly dangerous for me. We’ll have to see.

So yeah. I’ve been dealing with that lately. We’ll see what else happens going forward.

Okay, and now we’re going back to our irregularly scheduled flash fiction and random weird story bits.

There’s a broken circuit somewhere

stethoscope

Photo credit: a.drian via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

So, as you’re all aware (if you’ve been reading my blog for a while at least) I’m bipolar I. What you may not know is I also have an unnamed seizure disorder. It literally says in all my charts “Seizure disorder, generalized convulsive, intractable”. What that means is they have no idea what causes it, it doesn’t have a fancy name, and they don’t quite know what to do to stop it.

I had my first seizure in January 2012. That was scary. I woke up after convulsing – something I was told after the fact by my husband – with a dislocated jaw. The doctors got all the information from my husband and put together I had just had a seizure.

This was very unusual since epilepsy is rare in my family, and is usually child onset and not adult  onset. My younger sister has grand mal seizures from time to time and one of my cousins had a seizure and drowned in her bathtub several years ago when I was still fairly young. So I have no idea what started them or what keeps them going.

I was put on Lamictal, a rather common anti-seizure medication, and it seemed to be working. The seizures stopped. Except they didn’t. They kept happening. So my dose was increased. And then the seizures finally stopped and I was able to live my life without fear of convulsing and having issues.

In the past year though, my seizures have come back. I’ve been taking my medication as prescribed faithfully but I’m now averaging 2-3 seizures a month. That may not seem like many, but when I go from two years with only maybe two seizures in that entire time to 2-3 seizures a month, something is really wrong.

So I talked to my primary care doctor about it back in July. He gave me a referral to the neurologist. The neurologist called me and set me up an appointment for September, as they’re very busy and that was the first available slot. I took it and saw him yesterday.

He’s an interesting man, with an accent I find fascinating. He did a bunch of tests and asked me questions, one of which was “what is today’s date?” I cracked up laughing because I honestly couldn’t remember. Not because my memory is overly faulty, but because I rarely pay attention to the date or even the day of the week. Every day blends into the next. I finally remembered my appointment was set for the 6th and was able to tell him that. He also asked me the capital of Wyoming. Um…yeah, I needed all the hints he gave me for that one.

He ordered blood tests to check my Vitamin D level, my cholesterol level, and to screen me for lupus since no one’s ever looked at me for that. He also sent a referral for an EEG, which I now have scheduled as well. That’s in October. I did the blood tests yesterday. My follow up appointment with him is in December, though I imagine he’d find a way to squeeze me in if something came back looking bad. I now just have to wait and see.

I find doctors to be an interesting breed of professionals. Some you like. Some you dislike. And some you wonder where the hell they got their degree because it couldn’t have come from a real institute of higher education. Yes, I’ve had a couple of the latter and I was ever so happy to stop seeing them as soon as I could. Like the moron who kept upping my lithium until it was to the highest adult level by the time I was eighteen.

I’m looking forward to hopefully learning what’s causing this particular short circuit. One of these days I’ll have all the answers. At least that’s what I hope.