If you are struggling today (or any day)…reach out for help.
And also, this article is helpful:
I’ve completed recent tests and received all the results.
Neurology tells me my blood work is completely normal, which tested for myasthenia gravis and muscular distrophy. My EMG was “long and thorough” and normal. My first and follow-up physical exams were normal. In our follow-up appointment last night, the doctor finally admitted that he was looking for signs of MS–which he says he didn’t mention prior because he doesn’t like to frighten patients–but found none. After he said that, he said he could suggest a brain MRI, but found no symptoms to support getting one. I told him I’d had a brain MRI five years ago at an ER visit and that they found no signs of any issues (other than a schwannoma that was then “not found” at a follow-up appointment). He said if it was five years ago, and I was 40, that if I had MS, they would have seen signs of it already in the MRI. So that was even more reason to skip the MRI. His final words? Wait it out, see if any other symptoms come up, and go out about my life. He said I could try seeing a rheumatologist, but it seemed like a half-hearted suggestion.
I saw the allergist on Tuesday. He was very nice, listened to everything I had to say and asked questions. He told me up front he didn’t think the fatigue/exhaustion was related to allergies, but said it was worth finding out what kind of allergies I had going on. He didn’t seem to understand my wheat “allergy” and asked a lot of questions…including when I told him that I’d been gluten free for at least twelve years, he said “and you’ve never eaten just a bite of anything? not even cake or cookies?”
Would he say that to someone who had a reaction to peanuts in the past and thought they might have peanut allergies? “Not even a peanut butter cup? Not even half of one?” It was a little frustrating. I’m not sure if it was because I’m fat, or because he didn’t think the “allergy” I had was important enough? Either way, I just said, “No, it makes me feel incredibly horrible and I saw no reason to do that to myself on purpose when I knew what the cause was and it could be avoided.” He accepted that and moved on, but I suspect he didn’t really believe me. He tested me with the skin test, both a needle and a “scratch” test (not at the same time or in the same spot), including tests for wheat, rye, and barley. I had no reaction to any of the needle test–including zippo response on the wheat–but the scratch test (which is more “invasive”) popped “mildly” on dust mites. He did not test me for wheat on the scratch test… However, I will note, that when they did the scratch test version, within five minutes of them doing it, their “histamine” scratch area gave me the same response as what I get to eating wheat. My face started to get red and hot, as did my ear. When we went back so the nurse could read my results on my arm, we told the doctor, and all he said was “interesting.” But for me, it shows me that THAT response IS my histamine response, and points back to the wheat giving me a histamine reaction. In the end, he noted it as an “adverse reaction” to wheat reported by the patient. WhatEVER. I read that both skin and blood tests for allergies are only 60% accurate anyway.
I had my CT scan last Thursday. For the first time, I had terrible stomach issues after drinking the barium, which sucked. I made it to the radiology office, had more stomach issues, then had to stand and talk to the check-in person while she figured out what needed to be done. Then I had to go wait because they wanted to call my doctor’s office to confirm they didn’t REALLY need without contrast as that causes unneeded radiation in my particular case. When they finally got through to the doctor and recalled me to the check-in station, I was then informed that I had to pay for the CT Scan because I hadn’t met my deductible and that I had been notified ahead of time that I would put down a couple of hundred dollars in advance and follow-up the remainder payment later. I had been told no such thing…and I was PISSED and tired and felt like shit and I paid the advance because I needed the test and so what was I supposed to do? The woman doing the CT was SO NICE y’all. She really took care of me, was kind, and helped me work with my impinged shoulder. When we were done, I went back out to where my father was waiting for me in the car because I haven’t been driving myself due to my leg weakness and my imbalance and fatigue. The radiologist said my doctor would have my results by the next afternoon, but I heard nothing. I spent the weekend feeling mild terror, because when I was diagnosed with the cancer, my oncologist actually called me on a Sunday night during dinner. It was like a little bit of PTSD to get through dinner Sunday night, but no phone call came. I finally found the results online at my oncologist’s portal on Tuesday, which said the scan was clean. Oddly, I never got any notification or update directly from the doctor, which was unusual for him.
As it turns out, apparently the radiology center was correct and I had to pay my entire deductible for the scan because I have SHITTY-ASS INSURANCE (this is new insurance for us since May b/c Hub changed jobs). I’ve never had to pay anything for CT’s or x-rays or blood work when I go to a lab/radiology center. And I also see now having inspected the insurance more deeply that they don’t even cover 3D mammograms. And not only do I pay deductibles for all this shit, but I also have to pay 10% co-insurance. Let’s not forget that I have a huge deductible for out-of-network which means they aren’t even close to covering any of my sessions with T. I seriously thought that we had the most obnoxioiusly horrendous insurance until Hub got a job offer from someplace new and we found that they were offering something called an EPO, which would cost us $50 more a month than we’re paying now and offer us waaaaaay less coverage. Apparently EPOs are the “new” thing that are essentially HMOs without needing referrals to see specialists, plus they have higher deductibles and cover fewer things. And insurance companies are suckering people in because they think the EPO is more like a PPO (higher level of coverage and out-of-network coverage) when in fact they are more like HMOs. So insurance companies are yet again screwing customers with lies and deceptions. Woo-hoo. Hub, in fact, turned down the job because of the health insurance and was then told the next day that he was the second “high profile” candidate in recent weeks to turn down positions because of the health insurance.
Primary care doctor
My last appointment with my PCP left me with the suggestion to go see a sleep doctor and/or the infectious disease doctor for chronic fatigue syndrome. She also told me she won’t write a note to the insurance company that indicates I have myofascial pain syndrome without me coming back in for yet another appointment–which will cost me even more money–so that insurance might consider covering some small portion of my trigger point therapy. (Neither would the neurologist, despite the fact that MPS is supposedly a neurology classified syndrome AND I was IN HIS OFFICE when I asked him.)
And so, here I am, in the same place with no plan forward. I am pushing myself to do more to see if I can just IGNORE the symptoms away. My imbalance is bad and I’m struggling to keep myself upright. I DID drive myself to PT on Monday, but it is literally five minutes from my house, on two roads that see minimal traffic. When I talked to my PT person, she said she had a client who was diagnosed with a virus who had horrible fatigue for over a year…but that after that she was fine.
I am burned out on doctors. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. Wake up, step forward, keep going. Try not to let my anxiety get the better of me as much as it has. Accomplish things when I can and celebrate when I do. Rest as needed.
Friday of Father’s day weekend, I was back in bed shortly after lunch. It was reminiscent of that time period starting in February and lasting through to May, when I was then diagnosed with a sinus infection. At the time I was diagnosed with the sinus infection, I began to wonder if the “down” period I’d been having–which was being blamed on a virus by my doctor, and grief by my therapist (and me)–was actually the result of the sinus infection. Shortly after the anti-biotics started kicking in, the fatigue started going away. I was not splayed out on the couch all the hours I was “awake”, and I wasn’t falling asleep in my food. So I came to the conclusion that it was the sinus infection knocking me out, and I went about my life.
But the 16th, it hit me just after lunch and I ended up going back to bed shortly after eating some soup. I had plans to go out with my brother and his new girlfriend (our first meeting with her) Saturday night, but the way I’d been feeling on Friday, I wasn’t sure I could make it. I spent most of Saturday in bed again, feeling exhausted but not sleeping. It was so frustrating. I was nauseated almost all the time, felt off-balance, weak, and just plain worn-out. I hauled myself out of bed to go out to dinner with Hub and my brother and his girlfriend, but basically felt like crap all evening. Sunday was Father’s day and we were supposed to go over to my father’s for a cookout. I stayed in bed most of the day with the hope that I would have enough energy to make it through the evening at Dad’s. I didn’t do much of anything once we were there, I ate very little (which was how I’d been eating since I started feeling shitty, because the nausea is so bad that everything looks and smells gross…), and we stayed only long enough to eat, chat a bit, and that was it.
Monday morning I made an appointment to see the doctor again, but instead of staying in bed, I tried to go back to my normal routine. All the times I’d been in bed, I wasn’t sleeping…I was just lying there thinking of how tired I was. It felt stupid, so I decided to just stay awake in my recliner and try to act as normal as possible. As the day went by, I decided that I needed to get back to my cardiologist. The extreme fatigue and nausea and weakness was enough to spur me to make an appointment with him, even though I doubted it was a heart issue. I didn’t want to wonder, and it’d been a year since I’d last seen him. I decided that there was no reason for me NOT to go see the cardio, so I made the appointment.
As it turned out, I had both appointments on the same day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I saw the cardio first, and even though there was a scheduling snaffu, they saw me anyway. The doctor did his regular exam, talked to me for a bit, reviewed my tests from my primary earlier in the year, and did an EKG. He said he saw nothing to suggest there was a heart issue, that my test and exam were both normal. But, he said, since I’d had the stress test last year, he suggested I go ahead and get an echo-cardiogram to round out the cardiac testing. So they set me up with an appointment for this week (tomorrow) at their other office, which had an opening sooner than the local office.
I went in to see my primary that afternoon. We talked about how I was feeling, then she did HER exam. She asked if I was getting the same *smell* as when the sinus infection was diagnosed last time and I said no. I don’t think I am, though sometimes I get the phantom idea of the smell… But since it’s not consistent like it was last time, I think I’m imagining it as the memory of what it was. Without any other options, my primary suggested it might be allergies. Her thought was to try allergy medications to see if it made me feel better, and then to consider seeing an allergist. Last time when she didn’t know what was going on, it was as virus. This time, allergies.
So I said THANKS, gathered myself and left the offices. I did make an appointment with an allergist recommended by my cousin, who is a pediatric allergist and whose husband is allergic to everything and loves his allergist. Sadly, they can’t see me until mid-August. So I have to decide what to do between now and then.
Although I am still tired, it’s not as all-consuming as it was that Fri-Sat-Sun, and I’m using a homeopathic nasal spray (with capsacin and eucalyptis) to try to keep my nasal passages open and draining. So if there is a potential for a sinus infection brewing, I’m at least keeping the sinuses draining instead of stagnant. It’s an interesting spray, with not as much burn as I’d expected. It does seem to keep my sinuses open, so that’s good.
Prior to all of this, I also saw my orthopedic doctor about my left shoulder. I can’t raise my arm above shoulder height, and moving it in certain directions is incredibly painful. He took an xray, did a physical, and pronounced me with an impingement. I gotta get in to see the physical therapist to start working on it. He said if PT doesn’t work, it’ll be a steroid shot. Ech. I haven’t made an appointment yet because I’ve been run-down with everything else.
July is going to be mobbed. I have my 2 year cancer check, which will include a CT scan after my visit with the gyn onc. I also have a trigger point appointment, I need to get my hair “fixed” for my cousin’s wedding, and…well, I’m going to see a psychic-medium about my Mom. And then my cousin’s wedding. Plus we need to find a dog-sitter for when we’re at the wedding. I’m not sure when I’m going to fit in PT. Ugh. Of course this arm-thing has been going on for several months, so it’s not like I don’t know how to deal with it…
Did I mention the wedding at the end of the month is a FORMAL wedding? At a local Four Seasons fancy-shmancy hotel. I had to find a formal gown (A GOWN), I had to find shoes (I hate shoes), and just tonight we went out so I could get the dress altered because it’s too long and I hate the sleeves. But I liked the rest of the dress and it was on sale so I bought it and just told the seamstress to hack off the sleeves.
AND I’ve been helping my father clean some stuff out of his house for donation. Which means I was also cleaning some stuff out of MY house for donation. Hub and I stopped tonight and dropped off a ton of sheets and blankets (and 2 twenty pound boxes of dog treats) at our local animal control/shelter.
I need a nap.
I was watching television and a character said he became a doctor because it was always his way to try to control things. Being a doctor made him feel he was in control of his life and his patients’ lives.
I was sitting there watching and it was like one of those AHA! moments. I started wondering if my fiction writing (which I’d been doing since I was a pre-teen) was my way of controlling things in my life. Or finding a way to have control in a world where I really had no control, especially when I first became sick…which is when I started intensely on my writing career and when I was first published.
When I talked about this with T, it also made sense as to why I haven’t been able to write very much in the last few years. I’ve worked so hard to release my idea of controlling everything, and so my default way of writing–and seeing my writing–is no longer the same. T said she could see exactly what I was dealing with, and she felt the discovery was a very interesting and insightful one. I’m not sure how I will be able to write again, but T thinks I’ll find a way. I certainly don’t want to go backward in order to find my ability to write again, but as I am now, I feel like my solace in writing is gone. I used to be able to disappear into my books and create lives and worlds where everything was the way I wanted it to be. But now, where I see that control really is an illusion–even though I’m still working on that in my own life–I’m not sure how to create stories the way I used to.
At the moment, I even feel like I’m struggling to get my ideas across in this post. I feel jumbled and like the words I want are not here. It’s sad and disappointing right now. The thing that I always went to feels like it’s well and truly gone. I mean, I know I haven’t worked on any of my books in recent years, nor have I really started anything new of note, but I guess I thought it would still be there to save me.
It sounds dramatic, but really my writing did save me when I got sick. There were days I never made it out of bed except to go to the bathroom, and yet those were the days where I wrote my books. Those were the most productive days of my writing career. Through pain and vertigo and fatigue…I wrote my books. I wrote deep into the night, hours and hours at a time, and slept through until noon. I would eat lunch and then go back to my writing. It kept me sane, it gave me a life to live when I couldn’t live my own life. My hands would cramp, my arms would ache (I wrote my books in longhand), my neck would hurt…but I kept writing. That was the first time I ever wrote a full-length book, and it was the first time I persisted in finding a publisher for that book.
And here I am, in need of that solace, and unable to find it.
I’m not the same person I was, no question about it. I just don’t know how to be the person I am and still have the purpose I had then.
I wasn’t sure what to do this year about mother’s day. Last year I sent Hub off to his mother’s house without me, and I spent part of the day with my brother and his then wife (now ex-wife). I talked with T about this on Friday, because I feel some guilt about not going to my mother-in-law’s to be with her, but I just am not ready yet this year. I know she understands–as does Hub–but I am at heart a people-pleaser, and so the guilt sat heavy with me. In the end, though, I couldn’t make myself go.
My father had mentioned to me Friday evening that he was going to go to the cemetery to visit my mother’s grave and he asked if I wanted to go. I didn’t answer him at that point, but Sunday morning when I saw him, he brought it up again. He said he knew it made me feel “uncomfortable”, but he wanted to make the offer for me to join him. I tried to be gentle in responding when I said to him, “I don’t feel uncomfortable about going, but the truth is, I don’t feel a connection to Mom there. I don’t feel it to Nana and Papa, either…it doesn’t work that way for me.” (my grandparents are buried in the plots next to my mother). For real, I feel more of a connection to my mother in her “den” closet, where she had a bunch of books stashed on a bookshelf…gardening, trees, cookbooks…I stumbled on them at one point and ended up crying. Because that’s my mother. The cemetery is just a marker for her physical body’s last resting place, but it has no history for me with her. My father only said OK and that he was okay to go alone, which I had to trust was true.
Somewhere around ten a.m., I texted my brother (the one with the ex-wife) to see what he was doing that afternoon. He said “nothing”, so I asked if he wanted to do something. What I really wanted to do was go back to the nursery where Mom and I used to go all the time, and where he and I went after she died. I also offered up the opportunity for him to come to my house to help me bake peanut butter cookies, which he (and my other brother) scarf up as fast as I can make them. His response was a preference to go to the garden center, so in some corner of my mind I knew it was the right thing to do. Even Hub said as much when I told him my plans for the afternoon while he was with his mother…he said my mom would be happy to know I was spending time there with my brother.
So after lunch, my brother and I set out for the nursery, which is about 20 minutes away. We talked a lot in the car about how he’s been doing with his depression and his medication, as well as some other health issues he’s dealing with. But once at the nursery, we talked about plants. We walked around the big place for about two hours–which leaves me exhausted and in pain today unfortunately–just chattering and touching plants and gagging over the high prices. We bought absolutely nothing, but it was worth the time and energy and pain, because it felt right. This brother and I, we have always been the closest of the siblings–with the exception of his married life where he withdrew from the whole family…and even then I tried to stay in touch with him as much as it was possible–so this connection felt good to renew. I know he’s struggling with his depression and his newly single life and his desire for a partner and…well, lots of stuff. And part of today was to remind him that he’s not alone. Doing that for my mom and for him made the day work for me.
I miss my mother so terribly. Every day. I feel like my identity without her has been lost. I don’t know how to get it back…yet. I’m still searching, and maybe someday I’ll find my purpose again.
I described (to T and a friend) the run-up to mother’s day as “being poked with a cattle prod when you’re already on fire”…and it’s true. That’s so much how I felt with all the television commercials and the holiday displays in all the stores and the radio commercials and facebook and instagram and on and on. I worry that it will always feel this way, this painful, this sad, this lost. Living without my mom has changed my life and changed me at my core. I don’t know how to adjust to that, or that adjustment is even possible. Somehow, I have to find a way forward. Last night I watched Bad Moms on television while Hub was still at his mother’s. There’s a point in the movie where Mila Kunis is talking to her movie daughter and she basically says, “I know you can make it through this because I’m your mother and I know what you’re made of.” It was such a dumb, funny, stupid, crazy movie, but that scene and those words (which I can’t remember exactly) really hit me hard. I know my mother believed in me and believed in my strength and my ability to persist. I hope I can find a way to continue to make her proud in that aspect as I try to find my way.
As a minor update, I finished all my bactrim pills successfully. I don’t know how much I feel better, but so far it seems the smell is gone, so I take that as success. I wasn’t too much more itchy the last day and half, so that was good. My stomach isn’t entirely back to normal yet, but I know the bactrim stays in your system for several days following the last pill. So hopefully another couple of days and my stomach will be better.