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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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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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I need a minute

I had my hair colored yesterday (more in another blog), which took about two hours. This morning I had to get up early to go to PT (her first appointment of the day) so that I could get to my neurology appointment on time.

This was my second PT appointment, the first with full treatment since initial appointments include lots of time for evaluation and pre-treatment measurements. I’d been doing the stretching exercises she assigned me since Friday, so I have been doing some work. Today, though, she did some more stretching…and it hurt. The physical therapist is a very nice, very low-key woman, who spends most of the appointments so far reassuring me that I will make progress and I will feel better. I’ve told her that I am VERY familiar with PT, as I’ve been multiple times over the years. Even so, she seems intent on keeping up with the reassurances…I guess she thinks she is being encouraging, I’m not sure. Anyway, the appointment was painful and I left feeling sore and tired.

When I got home, Hub told me he couldn’t go with me to the neurologist because he had a big meeting come up at work. My father offered to go, but I really didn’t want to have to deal with my dad’s pushiness, especially with a new-to-me doctor. So I said I’d be okay, and when the time came I headed off to the doctor’s office.

The doctor was on time, which was shocking to me, and his space in the suite was a combo office and exam room. It was a little odd, I’ve never seen anything like that. Normally you are in an exam room or you meet with the doctor in a separate office space. We sat down and he asked me what was happening. I gave him my history as best I could–including the recent bloodwork done that had all come back normal–and told him the issues I was having recently. He asked me a ton of questions, most of which I gave negatory answers to…it almost looked like he was reading from a list on his laptop! He then went through the litany of physical neuro tests–most of which I’ve been through before. When that was done, we sat back down at his desk and he stared at his laptop for a minute. Then he started saying that I didn’t fit in this category (ALS) or that category (Myasthenia gravis) or even that category (Guillain-Barré)…and each time he described WHY I didn’t fit. Having been alone, I tried to remember every reason why I didn’t match those categories, but I was busy thinking “oh, but I do have trouble swallowing!” (but I don’t REALLY) and “oh, my upper body IS weak” (but not REALLY) and “oh, I do have tingling!” (but probably that’s when I overdo or my limb falls asleep). It’s like he was giving symptoms (more than I just described) and I was latching onto them, worrying that maybe I really did have those symptoms and they were just on the mild side and what if I had missed the symptoms??

It was hard. I don’t remember which disease was ruled out by which missing symptom(s). I know he didn’t specifically rule out MS (multiple sclerosis) and I don’t know why.  I was afraid to ask. The final result was the he wanted to start with bloodwork for some muscle thing, and that he wanted to do an EMG (electromyogram). He said he had time to do it later that afternoon or tomorrow because of cancellations, but I didn’t want to do something unknown when I had the wedding this weekend. I said I wasn’t available and at that point the best they could do was schedule for the end of August. So I put it on my calendar and left the office.

I drove home, feeling weak and tired…and so disappointed, even though I really had no hopes for the appointment. I guess some part of me thought something would come of it, but it had to be pretty far buried in my subconscious. When I got home, Hub was still on the phone for his meeting, so he slipped over to greet me briefly. I said I was going upstairs to change my clothes, then decided I wanted to lie down for a while. I called my father to update him, had to listen to him talk about the time HE had some sort of muscle electricity test thingy twenty-plus years ago for a possible pinched nerve, then I stripped and got into bed. I barely settled in when Hub came in to check on me…he wanted to know if something happened that I hadn’t told him.

I cried. I don’t want to be sick again…or more than I already am. I’m tired of being sick. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of not knowing. I’m tired of having to change my life because I’m sick again, or more. I’m tired of having to grieve for the life I had, or the one I’ll never have, because I’m sick again, or more.

Hub hugged me, and even though I knew he wanted to hover and smother because that’s his M.O., he left me to rest. I just wanted a minute to mourn, you know? I needed a minute to come to terms with the disappointment, with the fatigue of it all. No one ever knows what is wrong with me. I’m always a syndrome…a catch-all that I’m dumped in because I don’t match any known disease or medical terminology.  I’m tired. So fucking tired.

I laid in bed for several hours–though I got up briefly to eat some soup because I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything prior to that–and just did nothing. I just couldn’t get up the energy to participate in life. My body and my soul didn’t want to body or soul.

I got up and had dinner later, and I talked with Hub like I was “normal”, but inside I’m hurting and I’m disappointed and I’m lost. Again. And writing these things has me crying again…

 

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Viral return (not)

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.

 

 

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Physical therapy update

News on the PT front. For the last several weeks, E has been working on trigger points that affect my back. She’s been able to progressively go deeper on the trigger points, which is a good thing. It means the tp’s are getting worked out…it also means OW OW OW OW OW. Jeezus, that woman has tough hands.

But something has been working, because the bad knee that never wants to straighten has gotten one degree away from being straight. The other knee is almost back to being hyper-extended (which they both used to be waaaaay back before I first started abruptly having problems with them). We both kind of surmise that after all the work strengthening my muscles and then loosening up all my trigger points (varied and vast), I finally made progress. So after my appointment, E pronounced that she would see me in TWO WEEKS. It has only been about a month or six weeks since I’ve started seeing her only once a week instead of two…now I’m being moved to every two weeks. I suspicion I’ll be having withdrawal symptoms this week, since I won’t see E at all.  I can’t tell you how long I’ve been seeing her…I can’t remember anymore. It’s been probably close to 18 months altogether, considering how many different body parts I had to work on.

Starting tomorrow, it will be a week since I’ve had PT. That’s not entirely new, but we’ll see what happens in the days following. I haven’t gone without PT for more than about 7 or 8 days in all that time. Already my back and knee are tired today, but maybe by tomorrow they’ll be feeling better (I had to stand around for over an hour during training with Butthead, so….)

Anyway, the good news is, if I can keep things in good form, I can stop going to PT. While I will miss E a lot because I like her very much, I won’t miss having to go to PT once or twice a week every single week for …ever. However, I am thinking I will start going to get trigger point massage from a massage therapist (who used to share space with my PT office), maybe once a month to keep up with maintenance. Trigger points definitely come back, especially in someone like me who is not only prone to them, but has myofascial pain syndrome…kind of pre-disposing me to issues like this. On the down side, massage therapy isn’t covered by my insurance…but I’ve been paying co-pays for PT, so it will actually be less expensive for me to go to massage therapy once a month than what is cost in co-pays four times a month. And waaay less than it was costing me to go eight times a month!

So, one tentative step forward, and we shall see where it leads.

 

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Travel me this…

We went and done did the vacation. And now we’re back, to which my entire body says woohoo.

The drive to the lake was completely uneventful, save for the climb in elevation that made our ears pop over and over again. We made a quick stop at a farm on the way to the lake so we could take a tour that they offered. After that, it was onward to the lake area. I was nervous about the hotel we were going to be staying in, despite the fact that I did lots and lots of research. I knew it was going to look old on the outside, but that the rooms had been renovated recently on the inside. And that is exactly what we ended up seeing.

Unfortunately, the first room we were assigned to had some problems, so they moved us to an adjacent, identical room. Not a big deal considering it was off-season and we were one of three rooms rented in the whole place. And although the rooms were very clean and very nicely decorated, they also turned out to be pretty small. I thought I had remembered that there was a small couch in the room, but that was not to be. The room had a bed, a place to set your keys under the wall-mounted flat screen tv, and a very shallow/small desk with a straight chair. There was no closet to hang our winter coats, no place to put our suitcases except directly on the floor, and no mirror in the room. No place to put our clothes in drawers if we had wanted to. The bathroom was very very small, with no counter top space for our toiletries. Again, the bathroom was spotless and clearly updated, but almost claustrophic-small. There was a teeny tiny refrigerator and a microscopic microwave, both crammed into an alcove that probably could have been laid out better. If they had put the fridge on the floor (in the space that seemed provided for it) and the microwave above, they could have used the higher space for a small closet or just open hanging space.

We had a very small private deck off the back that led down to an open grassy area, that then led directly to a finger of the lake. It was lovely, though slightly marred by all the docks that were pulled up onto the grass, and the not-so-attractive facility across the lake. The people who were running the hotel were very nice. I have no qualms about any of what we had, with the exception of overall space (which is my fault for not paying better attention, I guess, when I was researching the rooms).

The major issue? The bed was horrible. Horrible in the manner of we both slept fitfully the two nights we were there, waking up in the morning sore and exhausted. There was not a stitch of padding on the bed…all you felt was hard surface and the springs below. I actually tried to put the comforter underneath me as padding and slept with just a sheet the first night, but the comforter did absolutely no good. We were both so body-sore in the mornings that it was a pretty big black mark on the weekend.

We found several restaurants that offered gluten-free options, so I was able to eat pretty comfortably all weekend. We did a little shopping, then did our sight-seeing thing. It was nice to spend time with Hub away from the dogs and away from everyday responsibilities. The drive home was fine, too. We both slept so poorly the night before that we were both awake by 7am and we were on the road home by 9am. Checkout was 11am, but we were tired and sore and only wanted to be done at that point. It was very unfortunate.

My parents seemed to do okay with our dogs. I’m told everything went fine, but I did hear a couple of times (from my mom) that Butthead barked a lot at night. I tried to warn them, but I guess they didn’t realize… But they survived the weekend with the dogs, and the dogs survived a weekend with my parents (and brother), so all is well.

I’m glad I go back to see E for physical therapy tomorrow. I’ve got a stinger going up my hip and to my back that is really hurting me. I’m guessing it was the crappy bed that did it. If we ever travel again, we’re going to have to bring our own bed.

(that’s a joke, because we’re never going to travel again) (hee hee)

Ooooh, I almost forgot to mention, one of the places we went sight-seeing included a hike in the woods. We weren’t particularly prepared for the length of the hike, but I did it! It was 30 degrees out and snowing, and there was a lot of ice on the path and the stairs along the path, but we did it. I didn’t panic when I got tired, and I didn’t panic when I thought about how deep into the woods we were and what might happen if one of us got hurt or one of us had a heart issue. On the way in we were enjoy the nature around us, and on the way back I was more thinking about how tired and cold I was, and wondering if I was going to make it out of the hike without just sagging to the ground. But hey, I did it, and I survived it without an attack. WOO!

Here are a couple of quick nature photos. Enjoy!

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