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Mammogram scare

Because I had endometrial cancer, I have to be extra vigilant with my mammograms. Apparently there is an increased incidence of breast cancer and colon cancer in people who have had endometrial (estrogen based?) cancers. So I try to be vigilant since I started getting mammograms.

I normally get my mammogram a day or two after I’m eligible. I had this year’s appointment set, but the morning of I woke up feeling really bad, and I ended up with vertigo episodes. So Hub called and cancelled and I rescheduled two weeks later. I went to the same place I always go to, only now I was pushing a rollator for balance in case I got a spin while there.

The technician was very nice and the tests went as expected. You spend more time waiting for your appointment than the actual (2d and 3d) tests take. I went home feeling I had done my duty and all was well. Only I got a call several days later from my gyn-oncologist’s office (his nurse) saying they found a new mass that they wanted to do more testing on. I had to set up a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound.

AFTER I freaked out for several days, I started looking at the reports and realized that I have (what I had been told five years ago was) a cyst where they thought they saw a mass. Because I’ve lost so much weight, I think the tech was a little overzealous grabbing my looser skin, and she got the cyst all squished up onto the plate for the mammogram. But I wasn’t taking any chances, so back I went for the follow-up testing. The new tech put a little thingy on my cyst when I pointed it out and took their diagnostic pictures. Then they sent me to the ultrasound room and the tech did her thing in there. The radiologist came in to see “live” testing and pronounced it “probably benign.” WTF? He 97% sure it was a benign fibroadenoma, and was nothing to worry about. But now he had ME freaked out again, so I set up an appointment to see my breast surgeon (from the last time they “found something” which thankfully ended up being nothing). When I got in to see her, she looked at the films and reports and then at me (it’s next to my boob in the area they call the axilla) and said “that’s a cyst.” I said “why did the radiologist call it a fibroadenoma?” She said, “they are trained to look for breast issues, so that’s all they think about.” She told me if I wanted to have it removed and tested, she would do it, to have 100% certainty that it was a cyst and nothing major. I said “YES PLEASE” so I didn’t have to think about that 3% is it or isn’t it? Or that something was hiding behind the cyst that they couldn’t see on the mammogram because the cyst was in the way…

I schedule the out-patient surgery (local anesthetic), but then ended up with all that shit about the Reynauds and artery issues and so we postponed. I’ll need to reschedule that soon.

So hopefully this is another year gone of mammograms with nothing coming of it. Except more stress and anxiety. I’m having a lot of that these days.

That’s it for now.

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Where am I

Well, mostly house-bound due to the migraines and related symptoms and episodes. I go to see my therapist and to doctor’s appointments (too many), but otherwise I go nowhere right now. I missed all the winter holidays with my family (who are almost next door) because noise and light and visual stimulation would just make the migraines worse. I also did not go to mother’s day at Hub’s mom’s house, but for more reasons than the migraine shit.

I completely changed my diet for 5 months, eating no grains, no sugar, no dairy, no gluten (well, I’ve been that way), no nightshades. I’ve lost 45 pounds (that I could afford to lose, but I lost it over 3 months which is too fast) and my food anxiety is still here. I eat the same basic foods over and over again, and I don’t eat any snacks or drink anything other than water. At the moment, I continue on this very restricted diet because I’m afraid to add anything back in because it might trigger an episode of vertigo or nystagmus.

I thought I was doing better (see my last post) but then I had multiple episodes of vertigo and nystagmus again, even when I didn’t change a thing I was doing or eating. Horribly depressed, we squeezed onto the specialist’s schedule again and made the trip to see him. One of the things he had given me initially was a prescription for klonopin and zofran. He told me to take both for the drive to his office about 40 minutes away in the city. I did, and had a very disassociated conversation with myself while we were driving and waiting for the doctor. Needless to say, if I have to use the klonopin again (it’s a vestibular suppressant), I will only take half a pill.

The specialist told me I had done all I could with diet, so he wanted to put me on a preventative medication. Unfortunately, there’s no targeted migraine medication (yet), so everything is off-label for other issues. After talking about my sleep issues, he offered me a tricyclic anti-depressant at very low doses. I have medication anxiety due to my incredible sensitivity to medications of all kinds. The first two weeks I had to wait until Hub was upstairs with me and he had to literally hand me the pills. After that (and talking to my therapist a lot in therapy), I tried to just consider the pills with indifference rather than with fear or hope. I take them okay now, but…they have side effects of course (including incredibly vivid horror nightmares that I’ve woken Hub up in the middle of the night because I’m screaming in my sleep). Even at low doses, I am sensitive. And in fact, I had started making the rounds of testing and other doctors because my hands and feet started feeling incredibly cold and both fingers, toes, and feet started turning blue-purple. Talk about anxiety! I tried to reduce my dosage of the medication, but my migraine symptoms started coming back the very next morning. So after five days of that I went back up to the higher dose I’d been on for 3 weeks and I went for ultrasounds of my legs and the arteries in my legs (two different tests). I also saw a rheumatologist and then a vascular surgeon because one of the ultrasounds came back showing that I might have an issue with an artery in my ankle or something? In the end (and this is from Monday of this week) both the rheumatologist and the vascular surgeon said this is Raynauds due to the medication. It’s been suggested I wean off the meds and try something else, although Raynauds is generally not dangerous just inconvenient and annoying. At the moment, though, the meds are helping me to some extent so I need to decide which is better, stay on with side effects or go off and feel like absolute shit while trying another med that may or may not work.

So for the moment, I’m holding on the current medication at the current dosage (MAV specialist wanted me at a slightly higher dose than I am now) until after I see the cardiologist tomorrow because the meds I’m taking could have (or be having) heart implications for me. Another reason I might need to consider switching to a different preventative.

I’m tired all the time, more from anxiety and stress than anything else. Hub is still taking care of so much, and I worry about him. We have someone coming in once a month to do a heavy cleaning of the house, but Hub tries to keep up with everything in between. I barely see my family, I don’t go to any gatherings because the noise and visual stimulation is too much. I don’t see or talk to any of the few friends that I have. I don’t crochet, I don’t read, I don’t use the computer. This is the first time I’ve been on the laptop since my last post in January. I mostly use my iPad and phone, and even then not that much and it does bother my eyes and head.

Meanwhile, I need to find a new neurologist because the MAV specialist said if I’m going to change medications he doesn’t want to deal with it. Which was disappointing and frustrating. He said if his first line of medications doesn’t work with a patient, he then suggests they have their primary doctor manage other medication trials…but I don’t want migraines managed by a primary. And plus, I have to find a new primary because during this round of *shit* hitting the fan (blue fingers, blue toes, was it a blood clot or peripheral artery disease or…) she ordered two tests but MIS-ordered one of them. So I had to go to two different testing locations when I could have gone to one, and I had to pay for two tests when it should have been done in one. AND THEN when one of the tests came back she sent me a note in my portal saying everything looked fine, only I pointed out that the radiologist’s note said one of the results noted “diffuse disease.” And she wrote back, “Oh, I must have been looking at the wrong test results, thanks for pointing that out” and then she sent me referrals for the rheumy and vascular doctor. WTF. How do I trust anything she’s done or said over the 12 years I’ve been going to her? She isn’t reading the reports or paying attention to the results or whose test is whose? W.T.F. So yeah now I gotta find a new primary and start all over again with my complicated medical history. Sigh.

I hope the meds continue to make me feel less awful and that I can keep taking them. Meanwhile, I muddle along. Maybe next week I’ll be able to crochet more, or do more with the dogs, or read a few pages in a book. Or maybe I’ll feel better for a day or two. I seriously don’t even know what to hope for at this point.

 

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Sick and fragile

I’ve been MIA, but not because I wanted a blogging break. Not because I wanted to stop reading social media, or reading books, or crocheting, or using my laptop or iPad or phone.

I’ve been sick. Sick to the point that I was initially bed-ridden, mostly house-bound, and unable to function. It has been close to hell-on-earth. It’s an experience I had hoped to never have again, but the universe doesn’t seem to give a shit about my hopes.

In mid-October on a Saturday, I went to the local Renaissance Faire with Hub, Brother#2 (B2), my MIL, and Hub’s aunt. We were there for most of the day…it was overcast and mostly mild, though I went prepared with a mini-fan hanging around my neck. I haven’t been to the RenFaire in years, mostly because it’s the same acts and shops year after year. Hub likes to go and it’s one of the few times he gets to spend time alone with his mother, so I encourage him/them to go on their own. This year, though, B2 was in town and he expressed interest in going. I didn’t want him to have to go “alone” and I didn’t want him to feel obligated to follow Hub and his mom & aunt around, so I went.

By the time we were ready to leave, I was exhausted from walking around. I’d eaten very little, drunk nothing, and once in the car realized that not only was my body painful and weary, but I had a huge headache. On the car home, the headache turned to migraine (which I seldom get actual migraine headaches), with the fun of light and sound sensitivity. When we finally got home, I took two Tylenol (I never takes meds), drank almost an entire bottle of water, then went to bed. The next day I felt okay, but Monday I started feeling worse. The headache was back, the light and sound sensitivity were back, and I was nauseated. Again I took two Tylenol and went to bed…for most of the day. Then Tuesday I had a vertigo attack that included nystagmus. If you are not familiar…nystagmus definition. This is a factual definition. Emotionally, nystagmus is hellatious, makes you feel sick, keeps you from being able to stand, move, or even see properly. It’s terrifying. TERRIFYING. Add that to the spinning of vertigo and…I can’t even.

For the next six weeks, I had periods of vertigo and nystagmus added in with the nausea, light and sound sensitivity, headaches, increased tinnitus, and major imbalance. Imbalance to the point that I wasn’t walking on my own…if Hub wasn’t around I had to use a walker or cane. The vertigo and nystagmus came and went without provocation, and there was nothing I could do to stop them, either. I had to wait it out. Sometimes it was just a few minutes worth, sometimes with the nystagmus it went on for hours…once it stayed over 18 hours, through my sleep. I was extremely fatigued, so I basically went to sleep at 8pm and woke at 7am most days. Even when I was awake I was exhausted. I was barely eating anything (and not very balanced foods), and in 3 weeks I lost 20 pounds.

Hub made doctors appointments for me because I couldn’t do anything for myself, including talking on the phone. I went to my primary doctor who said it was a sinus infection and tried to put me on antibiotics. I didn’t believe her so I went to an ENT who said it was migraine and tried to give me a migraine medication. I took half of a pill and within half an hour got nystagmus that lasted for ninety minutes, so I didn’t take it again. Then Hub called the doctor that I had seen in 2004 for what was then diagnosed as Migraine Associated Vertigo (MAV), later the term was changed to Migraine Associated Dizziness. The doctor is one of the few who specializes in neuro-vestibular disorders in the country…his office was scheduling appointments into 2019. Hub pleaded and cajoled with the scheduling office, who contacted the doctor’s staff to indicate that I was a previous patient who was having a bad relapse. Bless Hub, he was one squeaky-ass wheel and he got me in for testing the following week, and then in to see the doctor the week after the tests. Meanwhile, I found a physical therapist who specializes in migraine associated vertigo and we set up appointments for balance retraining therapy.

After the testing (some of which I refused to do because I’d had it before, it was HORRIBLE to go through, and it had been inconclusive in the past — specifically the caloric testing) was completed, I started on the migraine diet (in other words, I stopped eating pretty much anything other than plain homemade protein, plain broccoli and cauliflower, and sweet or white potatoes plain) and began seeing some relief from the vertigo and nystagmus. It was slow, but progressively moving in the right direction. My balance remained bad, but that I could deal with…the nystagmus and vertigo were almost too much to bear. I was horribly depressed, crying a lot, unable to get out of the house, and living in darkness because of the light sensitivity. And every sound made me cringe in pain.

I saw the physical therapist for evaluation. She did a lot more testing than I expected, provoked nystagmus and vertigo, and asked me so many questions. The appointment was almost 90 minutes long…it was crazy. She said it was clear I had a history of motion sickness and balance issues, that my vestibular system was highly sensitive, and that combining that with the potential migraine issues, she couldn’t really pinpoint one reason for my issues. But she thought she could help me with balance retraining for my brain and vestibular system. We set up appointments for the following few weeks and went home. I was beyond exhausted.

Then I went to see the specialist who went through a few more tests, took recent history, and did his exam. He felt confidant that I was experiencing a relapse of the MAV, now called Vestibular Migraine (VM). He gave me printed information, recommended a book (that I’d heard of but never owned) on the migraine and headache diet, then recommended several OTC vitamins. He said if I didn’t see positive progress in 6-8 weeks, we could discuss prescription medications. But he said that since I’d been majorly symptom free for many years, he felt I could get there again with the diet and the vitamins.

I was depressed and exhausted. I was struggling to eat anything because I was afraid it would provoke the vertigo and nystagmus. I began (and am still) over-analyzing every food and food additive…so I basically only eat whole food that we make at home. And I’ve hardly varied yet outside my standard “safe” foods. I had stopped eating salt (in case I had Meniere’s which is salt-induced), and only added that back into my food in the last two weeks. I had stopped eating mayonnaise (which I love) because of all the additives, so we tried to make our own at home with limited ingredients, but it was kind of a disappointment. And I found I didn’t want to put it on much of what I’m eating at the moment, so we haven’t made it again. I tried the magnesium that the doctor recommended, but instead of helping to relax my muscles it actually gave me muscle aches and cramps…so I stopped taking it.

I started using my iPad to check email a few times a day in December. Around the same time I tried crocheting a little at a time. Both provoked my imbalance and rocking/swaying feelings, and made me tired. Only in the last week have I been able to turn on my laptop and use it briefly. Hub has been doing everything, including taking care of the dogs, hiring a dog-walker to handle the dogs when he isn’t home (at work) because I couldn’t, paying all the bills, doing all the shopping…everything. He finally caught a cold and slowed down…so I started trying to do more. Then I caught his cold and I’m still sick now. My brothers have tried to help out here and there. I stayed home for Thanksgiving (Hub made us a turkey breast) and I stayed home while Hub went to his Mom’s for Christmas. I only started wearing my glasses again yesterday, as I was afraid they would make my imbalance worse. Fortunately, my glasses don’t seem to bother me…important because I gotta go get my driver’s license renewed in the next two weeks and I need my glasses for that.

So, here I am, trying to get my life back. And I’ve added in this new fear of food. There have been some issues I won’t talk about, and then on Friday a health incident with my father, which I WILL blog about in a day or two. As for now, I need to get off the laptop because I’m starting to feel rocking/swaying from the screen.

 

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Calgon take me away

Preface: This blog is about me and my experience/feelings with regards to medications. It is not a judgement on or valuation of what anyone else does/feels with regards to their anxiety, depression, pain, insomnia, allergies…etc.


Monday morning I went to physical therapy for my shoulder. I’ve been going for close on to six weeks I think, but only once a week because they are so booked they can’t usually fit me in twice a week. This past Monday, I actually cried during the appointment because the pain was a) so bad and b) so frustrating. For the first three weeks or so, I was doing my exercises religiously at home. Then the therapist started adding in more and more exercises–without giving them to me in written or picture form–and I got overwhelmed and lost. I still try to do stuff daily, but it’s not everything I should be doing. Even so, I’m continuing to progress with my flexibility, but the pain continues. And I guess because the therapist is trying to push my range, the pain is…bad.

I am extremely sensitive to medications, and have been for most of my adult life. I don’t even take OTC pain killers like ibuprofin or acetaminophen or tylenol because they either screw up my stomach or they don’t work. I will take anti-biotics when prescribed, but I hate the experience and it’s mentally very challenging for me.

So last night I was in the shower and thinking about how much my shoulder still hurt, how sore it was, and I was under the hot spray of water and thinking…if I only took pain killers this would be a lot easier. And I knew…I KNEW part of the reason I don’t take pain killers or cold medication or antihistamines or sleeping pills or any other medication is that I would cause a bigger issue for myself. It’s NO LIE that I have medication sensitivities…I very much do have them. But maybe if I searched hard enough I could find things that work for me. I don’t do this…and here’s why.

About fifteen years ago I had a bad cold…a sore throat that was horrendously painful. I started using these OTC throat drops that had some kind of liquid medication in the middle. It was probably Haul’s brand, probably cherry flavored. I used them constantly in the beginning and they seemed to help. Then my throat started getting better but I literally got addicted to them and was continuing to suck on them like they were candy. I had to use them. I was addicted and I had to have one in my mouth almost all the time. It was vaguely terrifying when I finally realized what was happening (maybe like 3-4 weeks later). I quit them cold turkey and made Hub take the bag to work with him to throw away. I knew if they were in the trash in my house, I would dig them out and eat them. I don’t buy those kind of lozenges anymore, though in the last two or three years I have started buying honey-drops for sore throats.

I don’t do drugs and I don’t drink any alcohol and I don’t smoke. I never did any of those things. I feel like if I did or if I started using something like pain killers or anti-anxiety medication or sleeping pills, I would be using them constantly and for the wrong reason. I’d be in less pain, I’d probably have less anxiety, I might sleep more, but I’d also be zoned out and not living. I would just figure out the best way to shut myself off from everything and everyone in life by doping myself up on OTC or prescription medication. I would be gone, in every sense of the word. I’m not sure I’ve ever admitted this fear to anyone out loud, but in my heart I know that I’d use the medications to hide away. I’m not sure I’d be doing anything illegal or overdosing on the meds–or even overusing in any significant way–but I’d be using them in a way that would excuse me from life.

I feel like my anxiety over medications keeps me safe from all of this. Yes, I DID use some pain medication after my first surgery, but it was only a day or so (and so regimented!) and then I used tylenol. And then after a day or so I used nothing. The second surgery I didn’t use pain meds because I didn’t like the way they made me feel the first time, so I used tylenol as needed and I suffered through. I suffer through pain on a daily basis because I’m afraid of who I would become if I muted all the pain in my life…physical and mental.

Before I first got sick in 2001 (at 29yo), I’m not sure I ever really needed medications. Sure, I probably took cold meds on and off over the years, and never gave it another thought. Yes I did use Advil every month for cramps (which is how I ended up with stomach issues!) and probably occasionally for headaches. But after I got sick, everything changed, including who I really was. Who I really am.

The physical therapist said that I could go back to my Ortho doctor and ask to get a steroid injection to help with the pain as we continue with rehab, but I declined. I hate the pain I live with daily, and I hate the pain that reduces me to tears during PT, but the pain reminds me that I’m alive. I’m alive and I’m experiencing life.

This all sounds very fucked up. I guess I’m not surprised at that revelation.

 

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Whole30 end of days, or…?

So yesterday was our official 30th day of Whole30. Hub and I had several conversations over the weekend about what we are going to do, one of which was kind of an argument. During which Hub told me he never wanted to do this, that I made him do it.

WHUT.

I originally started discussing this with him weeks before we started, and he said if I was going to do it, he was going to do it with me. He said he had hoped it would break some of his bad habits and help him get on track to eating in a more healthy fashion. Now he says this was all my doing and he never wanted to be involved…and he was angry that I seemed to be “bait and switching” him in the last week of the program. In that, I started asking him if he was thinking of how he was going to maintain any of the new habits he had created or if he was going to go back to his old habits. He said, “You said this was only thirty days and now you’re acting like we’re going to eat this way forever!”

*sigh*

I said I wasn’t saying that at all, only that after all the hard work he went through to make all these changes, why would he let that all go and fall back into all the old habits he had. As addicted to sugar and carbs as he was, I was SHOCKED at how well he did getting off all gluten grains and sugar. If that was so successful, why would he go back to eating and drinking all that sugar? Yes, if you want something, eat it consciously, knowing what you are doing. Not mindlessly because that’s what you’ve always done and without any enjoyment of the actual thing you’re eating. I told him, if I want ice cream, I’m gonna eat it. But I’m gonna do it when I want it, not every time we pass an ice cream shop because it’s RIGHT THERE.

He was really mad, but I’m not entirely sure he was mad at me. When we went to the store the next day, we were looking for sausages for him and the ones we saw had sugar in them. I asked him which flavor he wanted and he said no, he didn’t want any of them because they had added sugar. So after all that argument and him blaming me for everything, he’s decided to pay attention to what he’s eating still? I really had hoped this would allow him to modify his eating patterns, not that he give everything up altogether, you know? It’s where I wanted to be, so I thought he would feel the same way.

He said he doesn’t want to have to think about food choices like this. That it’s too hard. I told him I live like this every day because of what I have to eliminate from my diet. That it’s hard, but sometimes we have to do that kind of thing. He’s never had to. Even with cheese, he can eat it to a point, but in excess it gives him stomach issues. So he just eats it and gets sick sometimes and doesn’t get sick other times and oh well! He has diabetes, but he told me it “wasn’t that bad” on a scale of diabetes. Ignoring the fact that he’s on three different diabetes medications to keep him below an 8 A1C…which he’s only a sneeze below. And even the medications are barely working, as his A1C has been rising until this last blood test, where it fell 3/10ths of a percent, to like 7.6. Maybe if he were able to change his eating habits, he’d be able to get off one or two of the meds and find a better way to handle the diabetes. But he doesn’t care and isn’t interested. Or is he? I don’t fucking know anymore.

I told him I’m not going to tell him what to eat. I didn’t do it before this program and I’m not going to afterwards. I thought he wanted to make a change since he was willing to join me in the program, but now I’m not sure. And all I can do is pay attention to what I’m doing and hope things work for me.

Let’s NOT EVEN discuss that he lost 10 pounds in the 30 days and I lost NOTHING. Jerk.

We’re supposed to be considering re-introduction to the food groups we eliminated. I’ve been having some stomach issues the last two days–despite not changing any of my freaking foods–so I’m waiting at least a day or two before making any re-introductions. I don’t want to go into the “test” phase already f’d up.

So I lost no weight, no mood differences, I don’t have any increased energy, my stomach and digestion was no different, I didn’t sleep any better, and my overall pain did not change. Pre- re-introduction. Yay.

 

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Whole30 Week One done

I’m not going to do a big thing on the Whole30 unless something major pops up. As of right now, I feel pretty shitty. Some of that I can attribute to the Whole30, some of it is from what has been going on with me in general prior to the Whole30.

Relating to the Whole30, everything I’ve read says you feel worse before you feel better. Well, yay. Seems to be spot-on for me. What wasn’t spot-on was some odd urge to “kill everything” at one point in the last week…Whole30 “timelines” say that is supposed to happen. WTH?

I haven’t had heartburn issues in a while, but I’m definitely having them now. It’s not the classic burning, but it’s the tight throat, sore throat, the cough, the heavy chest, the burping. Along with that, my chest muscles hurt from the cough and silent heartburn, and I hate it when I get this. Chest muscle pain drives my anxiety right up to the roof. I’m only hanging on to my sanity over it because I just had all the cardiology tests recently, and I’m reminding myself that I know these symptoms from prior heartburn episodes.

I’m also having lots of joint pain and muscle issues, which I assume are related to this early portion of the Whole30. Headaches, more at the end of the day than at the beginning. I can’t tell if I’m fatigued, because…well, yeah.

And I’m having stomach pain. It’s not a new pain, but for the last day and half it’s been pretty bad. I’m thinking it might be from either the almond butter or the apple (or maybe the cherries??) I ate during one of the last two days, as those are the only “weird” things I’ve eaten.

It’s frustrating that we’re doing all these changes, making so much effort, and I feel worse. I understand that there’s a “detox” stage, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.

Meanwhile, I’m SO BORED with the veggies we’ve been eating, which has basically consisted of broccoli and cauliflower. Now, on a normal basis, that’s what we eat because that’s what Hub eats in the way of veggies. I’m generally okay with that because that’s a dinnertime thing. But on the Whole30, you are told to eat veggies at every meal, including “Meal 1” (which is breakfast-time)…which means I’m freaking eating broccoli and cauliflower all the damn time. I’ve tried to intersperse some salad, too, and when there was a beef-veggie soup available, I ate that for breakfast (but Hub takes that to work so I need to make sure he has that available for him). We’ve got turkey soup, now, so maybe that’ll be what I eat for breakfast tomorrow… Tonight, it’s fresh baby spinach…thank goodness! Also, without any kind of “normal” condiments (everything has added sugar), I’ve been eating Whole30 approved dressings and mayonnaise. The one mayo I’ve tried so far (I LOVE MAYO…hellman’s…) is kinda gross. It’s an avocado mayo and it has some sort of taste that is bugging me. Unfortunately, it was on sale when Hub found it, so he bought 3. Fortunately, a) they are small-ish jars and b) if I put yellow mustard with it, then it’s tolerable. I didn’t think I’d miss sauces as much as I do (which isn’t a ton, it’s just one of those things…) but I’m managing.

I’ll have an update on my health / doctor’s tests hopefully in the next post. I see the allergist tomorrow morning, and then the neuro Wednesday evening.

 

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Shock and OW!

I know that I said previously that I wouldn’t be seeing the neurologist for my EMG until September, but that changed.

I had such a terrible weekend. Saturday I basically did nothing because I felt so weak and tired. We went to bed at our regular time that evening, but at 12:30am Sunday morning, Hub and I were awakened by SCREAMING smoke alarms. In our house, all our smoke alarms are interconnected, so if one of them detects something every single alarm goes off. Not only does it make that horrendous alarm noise, but it also yells “FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!” I literally sat straight up in bed and hit Hub in the chest to wake him, then I turned the overhead light on. The dogs were freaking out, I was trying to get dressed, and Hub was trying to unhook himself from his CPAP machine, all while the alarms are screaming and yelling, and the dogs are running around the bedroom (we keep them closed in with us at night). We finally are semi-dressed and have shoes on and we open the door to the hallway and the screaming gets louder because there are more alarms in the hallway and in each of the bedrooms. I tried to get the dogs downstairs to give them treats (they always get treats when there are loud noises) while Hub tried to silence the smoke alarms (the dogs are still freaking out and Butthead races into her crate and won’t come out even though there’s an alarm nearly over her head still screaming). We don’t see or smell fire anyway, but Hub goes to investigate the whole house while I retrieve Butthead and rush the dogs outside and away from the noise. When Hub comes outside he tells me he has ripped down several of the detectors and the noise has stopped. I’m not happy, I’m afraid that there’s a fire in the attic or in the walls or there’s CO2 somewhere and that’s why the alarms went off. So at about 12:45, I find and call the non-emergency number for the fire department, and I explain what is going on. They take my address and say they’ll be out to the house shortly…and while we’re waiting the alarms go off again, so Hub rips MORE detectors off the ceiling and when the silence reigns again he takes the dogs into the basement so they can’t get out of the house and I go outside to wait for the fire department. To try to shorten this story–which really has nothing to do with this post–the firefighters come out to the house in the middle of the night, and after inspecting the entire house, they figure out that ONE of the smoke detectors has malfunctioned. And because it was wired into the “system”, it sets off all the other detectors in the house. Bless them, the firefighters were pretty awesome, and by 1:30am, they were walking back down our driveway in the darkness to load back up onto the firetruck they had left in the street. We were awake, trying to re-settle the dogs and ourselves, until about 2am.

Okay, so Sunday night I pretty much had a bad breakdown. I was just sobbing over how bad I was feeling and how tired I was and how afraid I was. I felt like I was getting worse, that my weakness was worse, my fatigue was worse, my imbalance was worse, and that now I was having trouble with my hands/arms and not just my legs.

For only the second time in the four and a half years I’ve been seeing T, I actually contacted her to seek guidance and help after-hours (or out of a normal session). The only other time I’ve done that is when my mother died. I am so grateful and so lucky that she took the time to talk to me in email (which is how I contacted her). I can’t say anything got resolved or that I even felt “better” in that moment, but knowing someone was out there to reach for–and who would reach back–was enormously helpful. Yes, Hub was here and he was being supportive, but this time it took a more confident and experienced communication.

When I finally caught my breath, I was so exhausted from struggling during the day and crying for hours that I went to sleep at 9pm. When I woke up the next morning, I called to see if my primary doc could see me, even though I didn’t think it would be helpful. They were able to fit me in just before lunchtime, and Hub took time off of work to go with me. After that phone call, I called the neuro’s office to see if he had any cancellations where he could fit me in for my test. The receptionist said no right away, because she had just gotten off the phone with someone else asking the same thing. So I asked to leave a message for my doctor, and I told him I was feeling worse and that I was having trouble with my hand/arm. He called within thirty minutes and fit me in for the EMG for two days later (that’d be today).

I went to my primary, who said she didn’t know what else to do for me except to send me to see a sleep doctor to see if I was having some kind of sleep disorder, and also to an infectious disease doctor to talk about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. We were sitting in her office and I was so damn tired and frustrated that I literally put my head down on the edge of her desk and tried not to cry. She asked me what was going on and I told her, I was exhausted, frustrated, and scared. She immediately asked me if I was depressed. I was both annoyed and frustrated with this, because ANYONE in my shoes, with this length of exhaustion and weakness, and not knowing what was wrong, would be afraid and sad and upset. I thanked her for the offer but said I wasn’t ready to do that right now. She told me to try to stop focusing on my symptoms because I would surely make them worse by doing so, and to continue with my neuro appointment.

After that, we ran off to get my blood work done for the neuro and then we went home. Fast forward (cuz this is soooooo long), I spent most of today trying not to think about the test and/or what it might or might not say. I semi-obsessively check my laptop to see if my blood work has come in while trying not to spend time searching Dr. Google. We finally head off to the neuro office and within about ten minutes we are back in the testing room. I had read a little about the test(s) and heard both that it was no big deal and that it hurt like a mo’fo. I think I ended up somewhere in the middle.

The neuro doctor is very quiet in general, so there was almost no talking. The room had to be like 85 degrees, which I assume was on purpose because some of the testing is on muscles and maybe the heat keeps them relaxed? The first part of the test was where they put some thingys on you and then send an electric shock through certain nerves. The second part they use needles, stuck into your muscle, to record some kind of feedback. I asked what the needles were like and was told they are thinner and shorter than acupuncture needles. When he started zapping me with electricity, I asked if the needles hurt more or less, and he said “there’s no electricity with the needles” and went back to his zapping. So after another few minutes of silence and him randomly saying “zap here”, I ask him if his patients say the electricity is worse or the needles, and he says “it goes both ways.” *sigh*

The zaps range from a slight sting to a full-on-stick-your-fingers-in-an-outlet zap to OH SHIT THAT HURT LIKE A MO’FO. Fortunately, they are pretty quick zaps–up and down both legs in multiple places and along one arm and hand–and within about forty minutes we are moving on to the needle part of the test. He actually started with my arm and it really wasn’t all that bad, as long as I didn’t look at what he was doing. When he moved to my first leg, it was fine until he went into the inside of my calf and then it HURT. Especially he had trouble finding the right spot to be in and he had to sort of shift it around and push harder and that was pretty bad. The same issue happened with the other leg, but then we were pretty much done. After I got dressed, I asked him if he saw anything and he only said, “nothing jumped out at me” and said he’d have to go through all the data that had been collected during the test in the computer. I asked if there was anything I should or shouldn’t be doing, and he only said to stay hydrated and to rest. He scheduled us to come back for a follow-up for next Wednesday, so I have a week to sit and wait…

Tomorrow morning I go in for my CT Scan for my cancer follow-up. My father is driving me because Hub has to be in the office and I feel so weak and off-balance that I am afraid to drive myself. Friday I have a massage therapy appointment, which I hope I can get to, and I might have to have my father drive me again. I had cancelled my PT appointment for this past Monday because I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. I hope I can return to it this coming Monday, because I need to continue to try to make progress on my shoulder.

For now, I have a headache and I think I need to go to sleep. I have to get up early to start drinking the crap for my CT Scan, so off I go.

 

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