Chonic Pain/Ilness Photography 2015 Project Week 2

The second week of the Chronic Pain/Illness Photography Project I have been participating in on Facebook has been amazing.  The people who are contributions and contributors are amazing.  This has become so much more than just sharing photographs, we are sharing our deepest fears, pains, joys, loves….our lives.  The support that has been given and felt is nothing like I expected from a Photography Project.  The project has been consuming.  When I’m not working on the theme for the day, I’m looking at contributions, reading stories, commenting, sharing….when I’m not actively working with the project I’m often thinking about the people, or a certain entry that has touched me.  This project will touch me forever.  I hope you enjoy my interpretation of this weeks prompts…..

Day 8 – Affirmations

affirmations

I try to live a mindful life. These quotes help me remember to live in the now, and remember that my body, just as it is right now, is just fine (I’m only human).

I also try to remember to be gentle with myself, I’m the only me I have. (I have a habit of beating myself up a bit, expecting more out of myself….my doctors, and my husband have often told me to give myself a break..I’m learning to.)

The photo on the left I took of my toes in the ocean, with a quote by James Baraz –
Mindfulness is simply
being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different.
Enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes. (which it will)
Being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way. (which it won’t) – James Baraz

On the right, a photo my husband took, with a quote by Pema Chodron –
Realize that this very body,
with its aches and its pleasures….
is exactly what we need to be fully human,
fully awake, fully alive.

Day 9 – Support.
stuart and wendy on steps
The greatest Support I have is my husband. This photo is from our wedding. When we got married, 10 1/2 years ago, I was sick, but not nearly as sick as I have been in the last 5+ years.
He had no idea what he was getting into, but he has always been my greatest support. He is always by my side, always holding me, understanding when I am a complete bitch to him, helping me with the most humiliating task, watching me go through numerous painful medical tests and treatments….he is the only one bringing home any finances, and he also cooks, cleans, takes care of our pets and me.
I feel he has sacrificed so much to give me the best life possible.

He says I am his support, that I am what gets him through the day, I am his inspiration….He tells me he was a selfish person before me, that he strives to be a better person because of me, he tells me that nothing he does is a sacrifice because he’d rather be with me, than do anything without me.  How can this be?  How can he give me so much, and still think that I am an equal in this relationship?

Our relationship gets better and better. (we did go to therapy to help deal with me losing my independence and understanding how to deal with a chronic illness. The therapist I went to, and soon asked my husband to join the sessions, works a lot with people with chronic illnesses.)

Our relationship is really my biggest support. Together, we can do this.

Day 10 – Comfort
comfort collage
Comfort comes in all shapes and sizes for me.
When I first thought what I reach for first when I need comforting, I thought of my Monkey. I got him right before I first started getting really sick. He has seen me through a lot. He not only cuddles with me, but he makes a great neck pillow, a lumbar support…ect. I take him just about every where. Yep, this grown woman takes her stuffed animal to the hospital with her!
My painting of Buddha meditating represents my mindfulness practice, and meditation. Mindfulness practice has been a great comfort to me. I think it has helped me more than most medical treatments. I have also begun to study the Buddha’s teachings in the past few years and this has also been a great comfort to me.

The photo I took of the wild flower with the little bee on it is comforting to me because it reminds me to appreciate the little beautiful things I see, and not get so caught up in all the pain and suffering. It reminds me that life is constantly changing, just as the seasons change, my life is changing….I take comfort in that.

Day 11 – Who I Was:
wendy before
This was the hardest prompt for me to date. It brought up so many emotions. When I first read “Who I Was”, I thought, I’m still the ME I’ve always been, yes, I’m sick, but I’m ME….then I started looking at pictures…thank goodness I don’t have a lot of photos of the “before” pictures on my computer.  This brought up a lot of emotions.  Emotions I thought I’d dealt with a long time ago.  But grief isn’t linear, and right now, I’m grieving a bit for some of the old Wendy…..this just touches on some of the old me…A little of Who I Was….
top left: a selfie with (my then boy friend) now hubby – a little sexy thing. I miss feeling sexy, or being able to have sex without pain, or being able to have a normal sex life….no, to be honest, I really miss having a wild sex life! I finally met the love of my life, and not long afterward my sex life was ruined. I’m not that me any more.top right: I’m in the front on the left. This is a birthday party for one of our old friends. This was a normal occurrence before I was sick. I was social, I entertained. I went to museums and art shows and parties…… I had a lot of friends. I’m not that person any more.

bottom left: Me on the left with a friend at the NC State Fair. I was spontaneous, I could run, and jump, and play….I loved playing with kids. I was FUN. (sometimes I still am, but it’s hard..it sure isn’t spontaneous, and I pay for it afterward) I used to do these things without fear. I can’t do that any more. The now Wendy is full of fear.

bottom right: Me cooking…well baking…well, enjoying the products from baking…haha. I love to cook. I love everything about it. I have fructose malabsorption, I’m allergic to wheat, I’m hypoglycemic…..ect… These things, well yeah, I’m sick with it, but it didn’t matter much except when eating out, because I loved to cook!  It was just a challenge. I loved to play with ingredients and learn to make new flavors with the foods I can eat. I had a gluten free food blog with close to 2,000 followers. Suddenly my balance issues got too bad. I was having too many accidents in the kitchen. I can’t cook now. I really, really miss this….this is one thing I hope I can get back. I can’t drive either, but I’d rather be able to cook than to drive. And I live in an area where I can’t really get anywhere without being able to drive.

Day 12 – Motivation

life

LIFE – My little flower represents life….even when it isn’t supposed to be there.

Much of what I’ve already posted are motivators to me, however, I think the thing that motivates me the most is life. I want to live my life. It may not be the life I expected, but it’s still my life. I’ve learned to change those expectations…and simply live day to day.

I read something recently that stuck with me.
Sometimes the best way to motivate yourself is to stop trying to motivate yourself. (That really hit the nail on the head with me. Sometimes I have a hard time getting motivated, especially when I’m depressed. Sometimes I just have to act.)
You do not need motivation to act.
You do have to make a conscious decision to act.
The action could be big or small.
It may not turn out the way you want.
How you feel about that is irrelevant.
(OK…that part is really hard. for me this part means, being ok with how things are, no matter what happens.)
Actions move you forward.
Waiting for motivation keeps you stuck.
What you do with this information, you do in this moment.
The decision is always up to you.
(this came from a website called mindfulness over matter)

I also have to remember to always be gentle with myself and forgive myself if things don’t turn out as I planned. If I can’t get motivated or even act on something sometimes, it’s ok, forgive myself and move on. Give myself a break.

Day 13 – Challenges

callenges collage
Whew – To sit down and think of all the challenges I face each day, I couldn’t sum it all up here. It was difficult to pick what to share with our group.

In the center of my collage you will find a lot of spoons on the floor. If you are acquainted with the spoon theory you will probably understand this immediately. If not, I recommend you read it, you can find it here: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/ I haven’t been the biggest fan of the spoon theory myself, because there are many days I have no “spoons” and I still do things, sometimes you just have to push through it or you don’t make it to that doctor’s appointment you made 3 months ago (yes, I’ve still had to cancel those way too many times). But for me this represents all the challenges I face on a day to day basis that take every bit of my energy, or that I have to get up all my courage to do (like take a bath or shower) that normal people have no problem with.

From there we will go from top left to right around to the bottom left.

Selfie of my incision after one of my ear surgeries. This represents the challenge that I’ve had many surgeries on my ears and they are still ruling my life. Between the vertigo and the lack of hearing, causing me to shy away from social interaction and have fear almost every moment of the day that I will be attacked by my own head and lose control of my body.

The next photo represents one time I had vertigo when in public and was stuck in a parking lot of over 4 hours, I was 1 mile from my home. I finally got my husband to get me home, I ended up having a violent attack for over 9 hours. I thew up most of this time and lost control of all bodily function. It is a huge challenge to get over my fear of having vertigo in public and just go out, and it is a huge challenge swallow my humility and allow my husband to take care of me and clean me up when I have soiled myself.

The last on the top row, another selfie, represents my challenge of living with Bipolar I disorder. I have been mostly stable for about 20 years, but it is still a challenge. I have to be very dilligent about taking my medication and taking care of myself. I have to really pay attention to my body and my mind. If I notice any symptoms returning I need to get in touch with my doctor immediately. There is always a chance the medication my stop working. Having Bipolar I is classic Manic Depression, and it is very challenging.

The middle row left is a do not disturb sign from a trip my husband and I took before we were married. This represents the challenges I have having sexual relations with my husband. If anyone wants to talk about this, I will be more than happy to. I know this is something that is very hard to talk about, but it is very important to break down that barrier. You are not alone.

On the middle left top is a self portrait of me painting. This is a big challenge now. I can paint, but I get confused. There are many days I simply can’t paint due to pain, but I also have a hard time with subject manner and style. I feel more empty inside about my art. I would like to put my illness on canvas to get it out, but I just can’t. I’ve done a couple of commission pieces, but I have to have no deadline. It’s simply a really big challenge. My doodles make me happy, at least I’m doing something.

Just below, you will see my arm with many hospital bracelets on me. This is actually from my last visit to the hospital. This represents the challenge of having to go to the hospital so much. To so many doctors. To owe so may hospital and doctor bills that only my husband can pay. To me it even represents fighting for disability.

On the lower left you will find my Headache Pain Scale. This represents the challenge I have always found in telling doctors how I feel. I don’t feel that doctors really understand patients a lot of the time. I’m lucky I have many good doctors. I’m also lucky that I have the kind of insurance that if I don’t have a good doctor I can fire them. (and I have) But finding a doctor who really understands is a challenge. (also not being able to hear makes it hard for a doctor to make himself understood to me….we definitely can have communication troubles.

The last photo on the bottom left represents the unknown. They have come to the point that they have told me that they don’t know what is wrong. We know I have a vestibular illness, probably more than one, but they don’t know what. I have been told for many years I have Meniere’s disease. I have been through more tests and treatments than you can believe, now I’ve been told, they can’t do any more. I’m stuck with the unknown. There are other conditions they don’t know about, the Avascular Necrosis in my hip, they don’t know if I will get it in other joints….good chance. Some doctors have said that other diseases I have may all go together, other doctors say no? I think my body may hate me. The photo is an x-ray of my hip on the left, and a photo of my ear on the right that I have manipulated beyond recognition.

These are some of the challenges I face. Sorry I couldn’t keep it shorter

Day 14 – My Body

my body

It’s cute….but very fragile.
(note, I could never get in this position, not now, but I used to love yoga, I could have…)

*this is a straw wrapper version of me, created one day when I was playing with the wrapper from my hubby’s drink.

As you can see the Chronic Pain/Illness Photography Project has become much more than sharing photographs.  Everyone in the project is sharing a part of their soul.  I feel so honored to be a part of this project.  One week to go…..

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Chronic Illnesses, one comes up, another is put on hold….

I know, I haven’t posted in a while.  I feel like all I do is the same old thing, talk about me, and how I’m falling apart….or how I’m dealing with my life and not falling apart. Hopefully the later more than the former.

Well, here I am again, writing about things going on in my life….I was writing a friend a letter and thought, I really should put this in a post.  This is part of the reason I started a blog.  It isn’t just for other people, it is for me.  To get things out, and to keep up with things.  Sorry folks, I hope you don’t mind sometimes just coming along for the ride.
image courtesy of pixgood.com
image courtesy of pixgood.com
Of course one of the main reasons I started this blog  is to let people know they aren’t alone on this Chronic Illness journey.  If you are anything like me, if you have one Chronic Illness, you have more….and things are always coming up…..so this is what’s going on right now……I’m a little overwhelmed…again.  I’m trying hard to take it one moment at a time, then some times I’ll sit down and think about everything that is going on and just feel drained.  Whew!  Am I really stressed and just don’t know it?
I seem to always have something new come up and have to deal with it, then I have to put something else on hold.  You will understand as I continue.  I’m going to try to make this as short as possible.
I’ve had some bladder/urinary tract troubles.  I’ve been to a few doctors for this, they run a urine test and it comes back clear, my blood work comes back clear.  But I’m in severe pain.  They will call it, bladder spasms, irritable bladder, non-infection cystitis….but they all say, they think I have Interstitial cystitis.  I need to go to a urologist to be properly diagnosed and to get better medications to help with it, but there is no cure, and some people don’t react to the treatments.  I’m lucky I don’t have severe flare-ups very often.  However, I do have little flare-ups often.  This has been a VERY SEVERE flare.  I went to the doctor on Monday, February 2nd.  Of course, everything was clear, but I felt I needed to go to make sure I didn’t have an infection.  She did give me an anti-spasmotic and they helped get me through the rest of the flare.
This sweet doctor was scratching her head with me, she said, “You have a lot going on for such a young lady.”  She kept saying, she couldn’t help but wonder if there wasn’t one thing that caused many of my issues.  Some umbrella condition.  You know I’ve never had a doctor say that to me before.  I’ve had Stuart say it, and friends say it, people on my blog say it, but doctors, not so much.  I couple of doctors have thought my migraines and Meniere’s may have a commonality but then they kind of ruled that out…maybe….kind of.  I think I might just talk to her again.  (she works with my new PCP)

On the way home from this doctor’s appointment I had a vertigo attack start.  Got home and it was BAD.  I’ll leave it at that.  You all know how what a BAD vertigo attack is like.  I didn’t keep up with how long it lasted.  I know my appointment was at 12:30pm and she was on time, and I was finally able to fall asleep WAY after dark.  I woke up sick again and it was about 11pm.  I was so nauseous for 2 days.  I’m not normally like that.  Usually after an attack the nausea leaves me after a few hours.  The anti-nausea meds work pretty well.  This time, I was really sick for days.  Ick.

On that Monday I was supposed to have my intake evaluation to start my physical therapy for my hip.  This had to be rescheduled.  They didn’t have anyone who could do this for TWO weeks.  1st thing that was put off because of something else going on with me.

The next day I had an appointment with a new neurologist at the Headache Clinic.  I had to reschedule because I was simply too exhausted to even move my head, and too nauseous.  I was afraid if I pushed it I would have vertigo again.  Now my appointment is in March. *sigh*  2st thing that was put off because of something else going on with me.

I went to see a new Pulmonologist on January 30th.  My breathing test came out good.  I do not have COPD.  That’s good to know.  So why am I coughing up phlegm every day?  EVERY DAY since October of 2012?  Yes my breathing is better, but this coughing up stuff is gross.  I get awful looks.  People seem to think I have some horrible disease.  I’m on 3 medications for Asthma that I take every day, and I have an inhaler, that I use often, and nebulizer.  And my new doctor said, “I don’t know if you have Asthma.”  What?  He said he needs to see my old records.  He also said that you can be clinically diagnosed as having asthma but they actually have to do a test to really diagnose you, and they often don’t do this test.  A lot of people don’t want to do this test, they’d rather just be treated for the symptoms.  Usually the symptoms present themselves so clearly that they are sure enough that they clinically diagnose it.  That is what the doctors did with me.  However, I was not presenting with the symptoms when he saw me.  So he needs to see my records.
There is a possibility that my acid reflux may have something to do with this cough.  So I need to have a barium swallow on Friday, February 6th .  Oh wait….I was still too wiped out from the vertigo attack and in too much pain from the flare-up to be able to do this, so I had to reschedule to February 20th.  3rd thing that had to be put off because of something else that is going on with me.
I did finally get an appointment set up for the CT scan for my hip.  It is set up for this Friday, February 13th.  I will know soon if my hip does in fact have avascular necrosis.  If it doesn’t I do hope this CT scan shows what the problem is, with all the pain I am in, I will be very disheartened if the doctor tells me he can’t find anything.   (not that I’m looking forward to, or wanting, a hip replacement)
Trying hard not to think about what may be, just living in the now, and waiting for what will come.  After all, none of my worrying about it will change anything.

Want to hear something really funny.  After all of the things I’ve been through.  All the crazy tests, all the things I’ve been told to give up….different foods and such (for example, I eat mostly whole foods, no refined sugar or gluten. I only drink water.  I can’t eat onions, garlic, apples, pears….all kinds of foods…it’s challenging sometimes.  But I have to use these food restriction of I get sick.)   I have been told in the past to restrict my intake of chocolate because of migraines.  Well, I found I could still have a square of dark chocolate now and then and it didn’t bother me.  I just didn’t over do it and I was fine.  Really, I could eat more and I didn’t have problems with my head, my tummy or bladder might not like it because of the caffeine, but my head was OK.  But if I limited it to my little square I was good, all the way around.  And I was a happy girl.  I could still have chocolate.

Dark Chocolate image from medicalnewstoday.com
Dark Chocolate
image from medicalnewstoday.com
Then it happened.  I had my square and immediately I got the worst migraine.  Oh no!  and my bladder started to scream!  What?  No!!!!
I waited a week.  I tried it again.  It happened again!  NOOOOOO!  Not chocolate!!!!
I literally cried!
I’ve given up so much.
my beloved apples.
dried fruit.
asparagus
onions and garlic
NOT CHOCOLATE!!!!
The moral of the story is….you can take away everything else from this woman, but chocolate is her breaking point!

 

Feeling Better – Part 2 (Diet)

"The Perfect Diet" by Fatal Potato deviantARt.com
“The Perfect Diet” by Fatal Potato deviantARt.com

I’ve started this post at least 4 times….how to explain my diet and why it has changed without telling you my whole history with food and health.

Let’s try to put it in a as few words as possible.  Years ago I had a lot of pain and health issues including Gastrointestinal (GI) issues that no one could really explain.  They gave me lots of labels and none really fit.  Eventually I found out I was “slightly” allergic to wheat, so I quit eating it.  I felt better.  I decided to stop eating gluten all together.  For many reasons.  That’s not what this post is about though…so to make this shorter I’ll leave that there.

I also have migraines, gastritis and irritable bladder…all of these require me to be picky about certain things I eat.  For instance, I can’t have caffeine, red wine, I have to be careful about chemicals in foods, acidic and spicy foods….all kinds of things.  Even my beloved dark chocolate can cause me trouble.  (I am allowed small amounts.  So I savor it.)

What else do you ask?  I have Meniere’s disease as you all know.  With that comes a low salt diet.  I also have Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  And last but certainly not least, I have Fructose Malabsorption. I was going to try to explain this here, but again….trying to make it as short as possible, so I found that Wikipedia really did a good job explaining this, so just click on the word and it will take you there and you can read all about it.  After being diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption I had to really change my diet, it was hard.  I was put on a diet called low FODMAPs.

blog.katescarlata.com
blog.katescarlata.com

I love the description of FODMAPs Kate Scarlata gives on her blog.  Check it out.  FODMAPs Basics.

Here is the list of foods I was given, what I could eat, what I couldn’t eat, how much of this and that…..I never got this right and found out some of it I still couldn’t eat.

FODMAPs Checklist

So why did I still need to change?  As I said…I couldn’t get it right!  I’ve been following Kate Scarlata’s blog for a long time.  She is a Registered Dietitian and a huge advocate and authority on the low FODMAP diet.  She knows her stuff.  So when she worked on a book, a diet book no less, that was based on low FODMAPs I was intrigued.  I wondered, why a diet book.  But I looked at it and found, this will help me.  This book could help a lot of people.

www.21daytummy.com
http://www.21daytummy.com

Kate says, “21 Day Tummy is a plan designed for the person with digestive symptoms that also needs to lose weight BUT if you want to just enjoy the amazing recipes and learn more about gut bacteria, inflammation, belly fat and how that all connects to your health…I think it’s a great read with excellent science for just about everyone!and I agree.

This book starts off with a very scaled down version of the low FODMAP diet.  It has now grains in the first 5 days.  It does have potatoes.  You have a Belly Blaster Smoothie for Breakfast every day for a while.  I thought this would be torture for me, I have always been a big breakfast person, but even after I was able to start eating other things for breakfast I have stuck with my smoothies.  If I eat a “real” breakfast, I normally have a smoothie for lunch.  I really like them.  They are good, and like a meal in a glass.  I have one and I’m not hungry for hours!  I do mean HOURS!  It’s funny, I turned to Stuart the other night and said, “How come I can have a smoothie for breakfast and not be hungry for hours and have a full dinner and be hungry in less than 2 hours?”  He said, “Me too!”  Funny huh?

So I have used this diet as an elimination diet.  It has fewer foods than the low FODMAPs main list to start.  It has great recipes!  Everyone knows how tight we have been on money, so I checked this book out of the library 3 times!  Then I got a $50 Amazon gift card for my birthday and finally bought it.  I also bought the cookbook.  We’ve been cooking exclusively out of these books since the beginning of June.  However, we have eaten out a few times.  Try moving like we have and not eat out a few times.  But I have stayed pretty true to the diet.

How has it worked?  Wow!  I have more energy than I have in so very, very long.  My tummy is flatter than I’ve seen it in years.  I lost 5 inches in my stomach the first week.  When I eat something that doesn’t agree with me I can bloat so much that I will suddenly gain 6-10 inches in my waist, I have measured it.  It is so painful!  This has stopped.  I accidentally got something the other night and was shocked.

I’ve lost 26 lbs since the beginning of June, most of that in June.  When I started the diet it started coming off very fast, I’m glad it slowed down, I was getting saggy skin.  My body couldn’t keep up with the rapid weight loss.  It is still coming off, slow and steady.  However, I have lost my “food baby”.  Yes that’s what we used to call my tummy.  Almost every time I ate, I would suddenly look pregnant.  I don’t look that way any more.  I still have weight to lose, but my digestion is so much better, and I just feel better.

I had a physical in June, just a few weeks after starting this diet.  My triglycerides where in range!  They were lower than they have been in 20 years!  Yes 20 years!  I have weighed much less and been much more physically fit in those years.  My doctor was thrilled.  My bad cholesterol was a tiny bit high, but just a very tiny bit.  Every thing looked really, really good.

Is my diet the catalyst to making me feel sooooo much better.  Where my gut is concerned, YES.  Has it helped my fatigue, I would say Yes!  Does it make me feel good, Yes.  When your stomach doesn’t hurt and you aren’t worried about passing gas or running to the bathroom, or if your pants are going to fit after you eat…you feel better.  Plus, I’m in smaller clothes.  How cool is that?  But really, that’s just the icing on the cake.  My tummy doesn’t hurt any more.  I am having regular poos.  I know that what I’m going to eat isn’t going to hurt me.  And I love my smoothies. haha  Getting some of my figure back is nice, and yes, it is giving me some sexy confidence back.  So that is pretty darn special.

Is it helping my headaches?  Maybe.  Is it helping my dizziness?  Maybe.  There are too many other factors going on at the same time to be able to tell, if the diet has helped  This is not a diet for Meniere’s or Migraines, but I think everything is interconnected, so I’m sure everything I do affects all of me.

I know you are all wondering….what exactly are you eating?

are you really wondering that?   I could give you a list of the foods, but without the book to explain things to you, and tell you why certain foods are good for your tummy and why other foods are bad for your tummy….I don’t think it would help that much.  I know having the list of foods given to me didn’t help me much at all.  But the book really helped.  Remember, I just checked it out of the library….3 times….before I bought it.  If you, or someone you love, have any tummy troubles, I think it’s worth checking out.

The low FODMAP diet is the diet for people with Fructose Malabsorption, no doubt about it.  However, it is also becoming the main diet to treat those with IBS.  They are finding that it is also helping those with many other intestinal disorders: IBD…Crohn’s, Colitis….ect.  Oh…many people were also raving about having their acid reflux go away.  Unfortunately mine didn’t, but as I said, I have gastritis.  I need to have another endoscope, that part of my tummy issues didn’t go away.  Drat.

The low FODMAP diet is ideally supposed to be followed for 2-6 weeks under the guidance of a registered dietitian or nutitionist, and at that time they will advise you how to introduce foods back into your diet to recognize your personal triggers.  This is often hard because there are so few dietitians or nutritionist who are well versed in the low FODMAP diet.  Luckily, this is changing as the diet is becoming more understood and well known in this country.  The 21-Day Tummy book does have guidelines in the back to help you reintroduce foods to see what may be your personal triggers.

I haven’t been willing to try to add new foods into my diet yet due to all the stress of moving, I will start adding in new foods soon and will hopefully finalize my diet in the near future.

So now you know a little bit more about my diet.  If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Next part 3 in the Feeling Better series….Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.

Let’s Talk About Me Feeling Better…..Part 1

 

Freedom by w.holcombe
Freedom
by w.holcombe

First, I want to say, I’m not cured of anything.  Nothing is gone completely.  I still have all my Meniere’s, and it’s symptoms.  I’m still deaf, with cochlear implants.  I still have Migraines.  I still have Cluster Headaches.  I’m still Bipolar. I still have Fructose Malabsorption.  I still have all of my chronic illnesses.  I am still disabled  I just don’t have some of the symptoms as severe as I did 3 months ago.  Truthfully, I am living a life that I didn’t think was imaginable 3 months ago, and in this series I’ll talk about some of the reasons I now think it is possible.

There have been a number of things that have contributed to me feeling better and I think it’s time that I laid them all out there for you.  I haven’t revealed everything before for a couple of reasons.  One, I was afraid it was temporary and I still am, 3 months is still a relatively short amount of time to tell if these things are going to continue to work, and two, one of the things is something that could be dangerous (and really may stop working at any time)….let me explain.

I will explain the dangerous one first.  This I wasn’t even sure I was going to talk about…but I think I should.

Remember how bad my headaches had gotten?  The migraines wouldn’t go away, after the Botox had been working so well and suddenly it stopped working?  I went for about 3 months of non-stop migraines.  It was horrible!!  I was put on steroids and had that severe vertigo attack and then was put on a different steroid to try to stop it….remember all that mess?  Then I started getting cluster headaches.  Remember?  If you are a new reader you won’t remember that, but it happened…and then…

by w. holcombe
by w. holcombe

One night I had a bad set of cluster headaches and didn’t wake up the next day until 2:30pm.  I woke up and my first thought was “OH NO! I haven’t taken my Diamox!”   Diamox is the medication I take to control the Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (high cerebral spinal fluid pressure ).  Without this medication I normally have an excruciating headache!  However, I suddenly realized, I didn’t have a headache.  For the first time in months, I didn’t have a headache.  Note: NORMALLY, when I don’t take this medication, I would be screaming from the pain in my head.  This day I did not have a headache.

I decided not to take it and see what happened.  No headache.  The next day.  No headache.  Days later, No headache.

Please forgive me for not telling you, but the reason I didn’t mention this before is because going off your medication without your doctor’s supervision can be very dangerous.  I should have called my doctor when I decided to stop taking the medication.  This could have been a medication that I needed to be go off slowly.  I could have harmed myself.  If you feel you are taking a medication you feel you need to come off of, please discuss this with your doctor before you stop taking it.  Do this under your doctor’s supervision.  I did not do this like I did. I was irresponsible.

I soon had an appointment with my neurologist, otherwise known as on here as my headache pain specialist, and I discussed this with her.  Luckily, I didn’t cause harm to myself, but she did say I should have called her and told her what I was doing, just in case.  The drug I was on is not one to play around with.  We aren’t exactly sure what happened.  It was evident that I needed the drug when I was put on it, I had a lumbar puncture to prove it and when I went on it I felt much better.  As I said earlier, normally if I didn’t take it I would have had a very bad headache.  We thought it would be silly to put me through another lumbar puncture just to prove I no longer needed it, as that was pretty evident.  The hypothesis is that somehow my pressure spiked, (perhaps I was lax in taking my medication…I’ve been known to do that before, especially if I have a vertigo attack, I can’t keep medication down, or I fall asleep from exhaustion and don’t take it….) and I had may have had a “blowout” causing my spinal fluid to drop.  I used to have that happen before, but the leaks would heal, the pressure would build back up and the whole thing would happen over again.  That’s why I was put on the medication, to try to stop that cycle.  This time the blowout may have cause a leak that didn’t heal, essentially causing my own “shunt” but without the surgery.  So now I don’t have to be on the medication.  Crazy, but that’s all we can think of???  Or maybe my body just regulated its self?  It doesn’t really matter, I now feel better without the medication.

This is probably the main reason my headaches are so much better.  Again, I still have headaches, both migraines and clusters.  The migraines are just much better than they were.  I can’t say that about the clusters because they didn’t start until right before this happened.  I don’t have a lot of these so far.  I’ve had more than I’d like, and I hope they don’t increase.

This could also have helped some of the vertigo, but I don’t know.  The only time my pressure changes really cause vertigo problems I have very severe vertigo attacks.  I have not been having the horrible vertigo attacks, the kind that where I spin for hours and lose all bodily functions, but I haven’t had those in a while.  I have been working hard to control those attacks.  That’s part of another thing I’ve changed…something I started changing before the whole medication things happened…but I wanted to tell you about this first.   So, to tell the truth, I really don’t know if this has helped the Meniere’s symptoms or not.  Mainly, I think it helped the horrible headaches.

Now there is a chance that eventually this leak may heal and my CSF pressure will once again build back up and I will have to go back on this medication.  I sincerely hope this is not the case.  The medication that is used for this, is not a friendly drug.  I hated it.  Side effects…ugh.  Again, another reason why I didn’t mention this, I knew there was a very real possibility that it would be a short lasting “fix”.  Now after 3 months, I’m a little more optimistic.

There are TWO other major things I changed that I believe have caused major life/health transformations.

One of is my Diet.   (This will be Part 2 of the Feeling Better Series)

One of is studying Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction…this is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself!  (This will be Part 3 of the Feeling Better Series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitudes 3 – A Pretty Darn Good Week!

by w. holcombe
by w. holcombe

Things haven’t been perfect this week.  I did have a night filled with cluster headaches.  But I got through it, and since then I’ve been feeling, well, pretty darn good.  Until I got this little virus, but I already wrote about that, and I’m grateful that it will run it’s course and I’ll be done with it!  Plus I’m very Grateful that it really hasn’t been that bad, a couple of icky days, but that’s about it.

I am so very GRATEFUL that I found something that is helping me with my tummy issues!  I found a book that addresses the food issues that I have, but I plan to write a whole post about this, it’s so exciting! And I think it could help others with dietary issues.

I am GRATEFUL:

  • that I have a new psychiatrist!  She is so professional.  I’ve only seen her once, but she took a very detailed patient history, discussed all my medications in detail, discussed my concerns, and our future plans.  I was very impressed.  After the last fiasco with my previous doctor, it is such a relief to find a doctor who is not only professional but enjoys her job.
  • that I have been on more regular sleep schedule.  This is something I haven’t had for a very long time.
  • I am waking up with more energy.  Of course, this is probably because I am on a more regular sleep schedule, but it sure is nice.
  • I’ve been able to go down stairs every day this week. Most people probably don’t know just how disabled I have been, but tackling the stairs have been a huge task for a long time.  Most weeks I’ve been lucky if I’ve made it downstairs one or two days.  So making it down stairs every day for a week, that is a great accomplishment!
  • I have gotten out of the house many times this week!  Not only have I made it downstairs every day, but many days I’ve gone out.  I went to the grocery store….a HUGE accomplishment!  I went for a ride with the top off of the car!  I went to the Thrift store and got a new pair of pants.  I went and looked at glasses.  (I have an eye doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and will need new glasses.)  I even went out to eat, this is hard because of all the noise.  I’m also proud I went out to eat and stayed true to my diet, I didn’t eat anything that would make my tummy unhappy.
  • yoga pose 1yoga pose 2I exercised a little this week….a very, very little…but I did something!  Not only did I do a lot more in general, and you can call that a lot more exercise…I know my body is!  I did a few yoga poses almost every morning.  Just a few.  I’m trying to learn to balance more with my eyes instead of relying on my ears so much.  So I’m doing some of the standing yoga poses while focusing on a focal point.  Maybe it will help.   By going out an doing more I’m also working on increasing my stamina.
  • I didn’t let a virus ruin my week.  I was having a really great week, then I caught a virus and suddenly I felt crappy.  I thought, am I going to start feeling really bad again?  Then I caught myself….Stop thinking like that.  I can’t predict the future.  And what has been happening has been great, but it doesn’t mean it will continue.  I  will live in this moment.  and I’ll enjoy it.  If it’s a bad moment, I know it’s a moment.  It’s my moment.  And it’s OK.  (A note to Laurie at HibernationNow….Yes, I did over do it…You were right!  so I’m very tired today…but it was worth it, yesterday I had a a very fun day!)
  • I realized that even having a virus I still don’t feel as bad as I have felt.  No I don’t want to live in the past, but it was a bit of an eye opener when I realized I was lying here sick and I didn’t feel as bad as I have for a lot of the time this past year….heck the past couple of years.
  • My head hasn’t hurt much at all!  As I mentioned above, I had a night of cluster headaches, but since then….my head has been so good to me.  There’s a couple of reasons I think this may be, but I’m just grateful that it has happened!  I’m sure I’ll have headaches in the future, but to have the relief I feel now….so GRATEFUL.
  • I made my lunch today all by myself.  I cut up my own chicken today, and warmed up my own lunch.  Because of my balance issues and sudden vertigo I haven’t trusted myself to use a knife in a long time, at least without supervision.  Today I made my lunch with Stuart upstairs.
  • To hear my husband say, “It’s so nice to be able to do things with you.”   Remembering to be in this moment…..

When the Chronically Ill get Sick

feeling sick, by w. holcombe
feeling sick, by w. holcombe

At the end of a GREAT week I’m sick.

Ugh, I have a virus.  Hubby’s had it all week.  He’s been very tired all week, running to the bathroom often, and just not feeling well.  It hasn’t been enough to stop him from doing what he’s needed to do, but I think he would have rather napped a lot.

Last night, it started to hit me.  I thought I’d just had a banana that wasn’t ripe enough.  Umm, Let me explain, I have fructose malabsorption, bananas that aren’t ripe have more fructose than those that are ripe.  By ripe, I mean with a LOT of spots, most Americans do not eat bananas that are really ripe.  So I need to eat really ripe bananas, the banana I ate last night only had a couple of spots, when I had the first bite I thought, ummm, not quite ripe enough, but I ate it any way.  My tummy bloated, more than it normally would just from a little banana, and it stayed bloated all night.  In a couple of hours I started getting really hot, REALLY HOT.  I got up and ran cold water over my hands and splashed it on my face. Suddenly I felt like I was going to pass out, Stuart had to help me back to bed.  I quickly went to sleep.

This morning I woke to the feeling of having to go to the bathroom.  Not a normal thing, but didn’t think much of it.  I was happy I didn’t have a headache…again!  That’s 4 days in a row now!!  However, I noticed that I was still bloated.  Not a good thing….wasn’t happy about that, but didn’t think much of it.  Was just sad  because I’ve been on an elimination diet and I’ve lost 3 1/2 inches from my tummy in the past 5 days, but I thought, this was just temporary.  Perhaps I was reacting more to the banana because I had been avoiding all foods that I had been reacting to?  I got dressed, even did a tiny bit of exercise…..just a few yoga poses, I’m trying to work on my balance a little since I’ve been feeling better.  But I got a little light-headed, and laid down for a bit.  Got my head together and went downstairs.  Had my morning smoothie and played with the cat.

Suddenly I had to RUN to the bathroom.  My stomach HURTS.  I feel weak, tired, and overall just yucky.  Now I have a headache too.  I won’t be able to do things.  I will be on the couch for the day.  Hubby didn’t feel good for about a week, I hope I don’t feel like this for a week.

So Hubby’s little virus is hitting me hard.

I have found that this is often what happens when someone who is already chronically ill gets a little virus.  We don’t have the little symptoms of a normally well person, our symptoms are much more profound.  At least I’ve found that to be my personal case, and I’ve heard it from others….how about you?  Do you find that a little virus, even a “little” cold hits you harder than the average person?

Now I think I’ll take a nap.

“Ow! Ow! Ow!”

I was awakened, after being asleep less than 2 hours, by hearing the words: “Ow!, Ow!. Ow!”.  Imagine my surprise when I realized the words were coming out of my own mouth.  Suddenly I realized just how much pain I was in.  My head was at an odd angle and my neck was screaming with pain, my head was throbbing, and my stomach and bladder were causing extreme discomfort.  As I hobbled to the bathroom I found the words, “Ow!….” continuing to come from my mouth.   (Funny thing, I can’t really hear me say it, but when I woke up it really did sound as if the words were coming from outside my body….strange how deafness works sometimes.)

I stretched my neck and put ice on it and it felt much better, my head was also starting to ease some.  The pain in my bladder and stomach were a different story.  My stomach literally felt like it was being eaten from the inside out.  Over production of acid is not a pleasant feeling.  I tried to eat a little something to calm the pain down, I took extra medication for my acid reflux, but it takes time to work.  I’ve never had it so bad before, I could not touch my stomach without it causing more pain.  I would love to have been able to take Maalox, it was always my go-to fix when my stomach was acting like this, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to find Maalox or any medication like it that I can take, they all have something that will cause my fructose malabsorption to attack.  I’m happy to report after a couple of days of a pretty bland diet, and extra acid reflux medication, my stomach is once again pain free…..for now.  I do try hard to not eat anything that will cause excess acid production, and I don’t think I did eat anything offending before this, however, stress can also cause excess acid production, and the pain from my bladder was causing me much stress.

When I first saw the doctor here I was having pain in my bladder and she tested my urine and found nothing, I have an irritable bladder and we decided it was just spasming.  So when this pain started I thought it may be the same.  Unfortunately, this pain kept getting worse and worse.  Every time I moved it hurt.  Sitting was very painful, so was walking.  I’m sure everyone who’s ever had a UTI will also know that I was having to go more than usual, but couldn’t urinate once I got in the bathroom…and it was very painful.  All of this started on Sunday, the 3rd, I had just finished my antibiotics and steroids for the bronchitis 2 days before.  I couldn’t believe I had an infection again. I upped my already large amount of water I drink, trying hard to flush things out.  By Thursday, the 7th, I was convinced it wasn’t irritable bladder talking, something was wrong.  So off to see the doctor again.  Unfortunately, the doctor I’ve seen before is out on medical leave. (I hope she is alright, I mentioned before that she had pneumonia last month, so I’m a bit concerned.)  I saw another doctor in the office.  Not someone I really want to see again  I felt like he talked down to me, as if I was not able to understand things.  Stuart thinks I’m a bit too sensitive, and maybe I am, but this visit started off wrong (and Stuart later told me that he didn’t have a good feeling about this doctor either).  I told the doctor I have profound hearing loss and could not hear him.  He raised his voice a little, but didn’t look at me when he was talking, it didn’t help when I did see his mouth as he had a lot of facial hair and I couldn’t see his lips well enough.  I had to rely on Stuart to tell me what was going on.  He asked if I’d been running a fever, I explained that my normal temperature is 97.4F, and it has been around 99F recently.  He said, that’s not a fever, everyone fluctuates. (Then why ask me??)  I told him about just finishing antibiotics and just couldn’t believe I had an infection so fast….he says that antibiotics don’t stop you from getting something else….but it was the way he said it, as if what I said was stupid.  I never said they did, I am just overwhelmed that I’ve been sick so much recently.  I asked him about a medication I have for irritable bladder that is expired and wanted to know if I should get a new prescription….he went into this long tirade about how medicines don’t explode after the expiration date, and how there have been studies that medication that hasn’t been opened is good for years after the expiration date. I was so confused at how he was talking to me….and yes I heard most of that.   I told him that I know different chemicals have different half-lives, and I didn’t know the half-life of this medication.  Well he just went on and on about how drugs are not food and they don’t just lose it because of the expiration date.

He did examine me, but I didn’t feel that he listened to me very much.  That’s ok, I talk too much when I’m nervous anyway.  He told me my urinalysis was negative, but that could be because I was drinking so much water it caused it to dilute the urine too much.  He said I had all the classic symptoms of a Urinary Tract and Bladder infection so he was going to treat me for it.  He gave me an antibiotic specifically used to treat this type of infection, and told me if I wasn’t better in 48 hours to call the doctor on call or I could wait until Monday and call him.  Yeah, that’s not going to happen if I can help it.  I’m feeling better.  Not well, but better.

On another note….I’m so very proud of myself today!!  I took a bath by myself!  I even washed my hair!  I haven’t taken a bath or washed my hair without Stuart’s help in a very, very long time.  I’m thinking over a year.  Don’t worry I wasn’t being irresponsible.  Stuart was in the house and on alert for my call.  He also just couldn’t stay away the whole time and came in to check on me.  But I did fine.  A little wobbly, but that often happens with temperature  changes (cool room, hot water).  Or it just happens any time….heck most of the time…so I’m getting pretty used to it and how to handle it.  Being extra cautious, have hand holds, non-slip surface under my feet…..

(at this point I got too hot while writing this and started to feel funny, so I had to put it down.   Today, Tuesday February 12th, is the first day I’ve felt like coming back to the computer.  I think I’ll end this post here  If I start where I left off I’ll be writing another VERY long post….so I’ll have to write more soon)

Being Sick when you are Chronically Ill

sickduckI’m sure it’s not the same for everyone who has a chronic illness, but for me, being sick on top of it is very hard to deal with.

First when you get sick, you often have to distinguish if your symptoms might be from part of your chronic illness or illnesses.  That can be very difficult sometimes.  I often feel like I’m catching a cold but it goes away in a few days, so for those few days I don’t know if I’m really “sick” on top of things or not.  I also have a lot of gastrointestinal issues due to food allergies and intolerances, it’s really hard to know if I have caught a bug or if I simply got a hold of something I shouldn’t have eaten.  This can be very disturbing sometimes, and it can make me less likely to seek medical attention for things until it has been going on for a while.

(a lot of this post is a recap of what has been happening with me the past few months.  Please feel free to skip this narration, I felt I needed a place to put it all in one place.  The major points I want to make are in bold at the bottom.  thanks for understanding…and if you read everything, you are an amazing person.  *smiles*   It took me three days to write this, between feeling icky and having a vertigo spell….so please forgive any errors…grammar, punctuation, spelling, even train of thought…yes brain fog is heavy these days.  thank you my dear friends.)

 

I’ve written about how sick I’ve been over the last few months….I mean really sick, on top of my chronic conditions…what a mess.  But I’d like to give you a run down of what happened and how I think I really goofed up and made this hang on longer than it had to.

The third week of October both Stuart and I caught colds, it delayed our leaving for Tucson by a week.  At the end of the cold I had this nagging cough hanging on, I’d heard from many people who live near us that they too had been suffering from colds that seemed to hang on for weeks with a cough, so I wasn’t so worried.  We started our trek across country, my breathing got worse, especially when we’d stop for the night.  I assumed I was having a lot of allergies erupting on top of everything.  Often our hotel rooms had a perfume smell, air fresheners, and one smelled like someone broke a bottle of cologne in the bathroom (we did ask to move from that room, but there was a convention in town and no more rooms were available).  We would have researched and found more allergy free accommodations for me, but those places would not allow cats, and Max needed a place too.  We do however always make sure we have a no-smoking room.

By the time we got to Tucson I was having a very hard time with the cough and breathing issues, but again, thought it was more allergies.  I felt that most of the stuff was coming from my nose…but I was wrong, that was only part of it.  Soon after we got here I started having severe vertigo attacks…Meniere’s was not kind to me.  I know the trip took a lot out of me,and I hadn’t been watching my salt intake as much as I should have..so I just thought my one of my chronic illnesses was in acute mode.  I still didn’t think I was really sick, sick.  (big mistake)  In the back of my head I knew I should go to the doctor for the cough, but I was so busy going to the doctor about my ears….and the holidays were upon us, it’s pretty hard to get in to a doctor as a new patient that time of year…so I thought I’d wait.  (again, not a good idea)  I continued to get sicker, no energy, coughing more, not being able to take a deep breath…..ect.  I did not get to enjoy one bit of the holidays (oh how I wanted a family holiday gathering, but I spent all of it in bed).  Finally, I told Stuart to, “Yes, please call and see if you can get me in to see a doctor.”  (he’d asked many times before and I said no, really I thought it was allergies, ragweed was in full bloom here when we got here, and the house we are staying in had been empty for a long time so lot’s of dust…I didn’t think the doctor would be able to do much more than I was.  Yes, I know…silly girl treating herself, but every spring I have severe allergies at home and I’m put on Flonaze, and 2 antihistamines.  So I did that, I was also taking an expectorant to break up the mucus and get it out….really all good things, and the doctor agreed, but I needed more.  And the Flonaze was causing me to have miserable nose bleeds. so that stopped.)

First trip to the doctor, (don’t you love a first trip to a new doctor, explaining all the reasons for your medications, all the things you have going on….ugh!  She actually said I was a very happy person for having so much going on with me.  I thought, well I could show the sad, depressed side of chronic illness all the time, but who would that help?  I may be ill, but I’m still a good person.)  I found out my minor Asthma (I haven’t had but a few attacks in the past 20 years or more, and only when I’ve been around strong allergens or perfumes.) has turned out to be pretty serious.  And I have Bronchitis…the Asthma probably got so bad because of the Bronchitis….and allergens.  So antibiotics, and a steroid….call in 10 days if not all better.  Stuart called after about 7 days because I was worse.  Ironic thing…my doctor had just gotten out of the hospital with pneumonia.  Actually scared me a bit, what if I had pneumonia…many of the symptoms were there, even the cold chills.  But then I laughed at myself…I had the pneumonia vaccine in May, I had to have it before I could get my Cochlear Implant. (that’s what I get for trying to diagnose myself with just the internet.  We can get some clues from there, but I’ve learned never to think it’s absolutely true for me.  Always consult a professional, or two.)  So I saw my doctor again on the 21st, 2 weeks from the first appointment.  Still not breathing well…ect, and my sinuses really hurt.  Diagnosis?  Still Asthma is going crazy, now bronchitis is considered chronic, and I have a sinus infection.   I was given a stronger antibiotic, prednisone (oh joy, more steroids), and I had a breathing treatment in the office with a nebulizer, for the first time in months I could breath, it lasted for hours, I was thrilled.  I was told if the cough was not much, much better in 3 days to call back and I would get a nebulizer for home.  But that night I started coughing so hard I pulled a muscle in my back.  I couldn’t walk without being in severe pain, putting weight on my left leg was almost intolerable.  Thank goodness for my walker, but darn the fact that I haven’t found a bathroom door that my walker will fit through!  So, I could get from the bed to the bathroom, then hobble inside.  What a mess.  I didn’t sleep that night, stayed on heat and ice, and luckily the next day it was much better.  I still rested with ice and heat to insure it got even better, but I could walk with minor discomfort.

So…yesterday Stuart called the doctor’s office…after 3 days, to tell them I need a nebulizer.  (really, I can get a nebulizer, I need the medicine that goes in it)  Unfortunately, they close early on Friday, and didn’t get the prescription called in before the end of the day…so I have to wait until Monday.

Another thing that I’m having trouble with.  Migraines!  Did you guess?   I had very good results from the Botox injections, but they have worn off…I am looking forward to March 7th, when I can see my neurologist at home and have the injections again.  (deep sigh)  I’m having a hard time with pain medication.  I was taking Hydrocodone, but it started making me itch, I’m allergic to Codeine (at least I’m told I am, I had the allergic reaction when I was pretty young, I don’t remember, but why would it be wrong?), Oxycodone makes me stop urinating, I’m allergic to Celebrex (I know this one is right, I have the ER trips to prove it.), and all NSAIDS hurt my stomach (thanks to an old doctor who had me taking Ibuprofen by the handfuls).  Before I left N.C. my neurologist put me on Tramadol (Ultram), well it makes me itch too!  So I’m stuck without a pain reliever stronger than Tylenol.  It’s been rough.  (I do still have other migraine meds, but sometimes you need a pain reliever…when I pulled that muscle it would have come in very handy!)

This post has become MUCH longer than I’d planned. I needed to put all of this in one place, and I wanted to make a point…but I think my point may have gotten lost.  Here’s the summary of what I’d like for you to take from this post:

  • When you are Chronically Ill, you need to pay close attention when you get sick.  Do not assume it’s your “normal” ill feelings.
  • Do not put off going to the doctor, if you don’t have anything worse than a cold, what did it hurt? (Yeah, our doctors may think we come in too often, but really if our doctor thinks that we should probably find a new doctor.)  I’m sure we often feel we go to the doctor too much, but don’t play around with your health.  Don’t be scared because if you are out of town and not close to your doctor.  Who knows a fresh pair of eyes may be helpful in many ways.
  • Often when you have a Chronic Illness you have less resistance to fight off sicknesses, like the “common” cold, than healthy people.  I know my body works over time just to take care of me with my chronic illnesses, throw in getting sick and there just isn’t enough resistance in me to put up a good fight.  I should have known better, and gone to the doctor sooner.

So the biggest point I want to make.  Know your body.  Know how you feel on a day-to-day basis, if you get sick, pay very close attention and take care of you.  You are the only one who can say if you need to see a doctor.  But don’t be like me, please see a doctor before things escalate into a more serious sickness.

I know I will always listen closer to my body than I have the past few months.  Just because there are other things going on in my life doesn’t mean my symptoms aren’t something I should pay attention to!!

 

Being sick when you are Chronically ill.

image by Fukari on deviantArt.com

People who are chronically ill have to deal with symptoms every day…some days are better, some are worse…but what about when you get sick from something else.

Even a cold can knock me for a loop.  There have been many times this year that I’ve felt I’ve had a cold, but it’s only lasted a couple of days.  What was that?  At least it didn’t last long.  I keep thinking it’s probably allergies.  Now, I feel like I have a cold…Day 3…perhaps I really do.  But ragweed is really blooming here and it’s EVERYWHERE!  So maybe??

It doesn’t matter, it’s causing the same symptoms: scratchy throat, more mucus, stuffy ears, a bit of a headache, (but much less than usual when I’m sick).  Being sick, when you are already sick can cause all sorts of trouble.  My ears are stuffy…not a good thing.  I walked in the bathroom night before last and just before I got to the toilet the world moved and my world started to go dark.  This is the closest I’ve ever come to taking a complete nose dive straight on the bathroom floor.  I held onto the sink for dear life, and started squatting down…thinking if I fall it won’t be as far to fall.  I called Stuart and he saved me.  It didn’t last long, and I felt a bit guilty for waking Stuart up, but if he hadn’t come I would have been on the floor soon and preventing that is much better than trying to get me up after I fall.  He was a dear and stayed right with me.

I’m not sleeping well because of this cold thing…and that’s not good for most chronic illnesses, mine is no exception.

I can say my head has been feeling much better.  The day before I started feeling sick, the day was overcast and just yucky.  The type of day that normally sends me to bed with a category 8 migraine.  I actually went out that day!  I did not have a migraine!  Unbelievable.  So maybe the Botox is working..(crossing fingers and toes).  What ever is causing me to have less headaches I’m happy.  This week has been nice….as far as the head pain goes.  : )

All of this brings me to another question.  Sometimes when I have symptoms of getting sick, it mimics symptoms that I get from my chronic illnesses.  If you have this problem, how do you tell the difference?

For example, I have a lot of gastrointestinal issues because of the gluten and fructose intolerance.  When I have any tummy issues, running to the bathroom sick, I automatically think I must have eaten something I shouldn’t have.  or was hit with cross contamination.  But, what if it’s really a stomach bug, or worse…food poisoning?  I keep thinking it’s my fault, I ate something I shouldn’t have, when I possibly should be heading to the doctor.

Or with my ears.  I get off balance, feel like my ears are full…all symptoms of Meniere’s that I have often…but what if I’m getting an ear infection?  This has happened numerous times.  I end up getting a very bad ear infection because I think the first signs are just my normal stuff.

I don’t really expect any answers.  I try my best to be as in tuned with my body as I can, to notice if something isn’t exactly like the usual symptoms, but it’s hard.  The thought of going to the doctor and being told it’s nothing just makes me cringe.  (but we’ve all had that haven’t we) I think all we can do is try hard to keep ourselves as healthy as we can in spite of our chronic illnesses, and really pay attention when you start to have more symptoms than normal.  (doesn’t that sound strange, that we have symptoms that are just every day normal things.)

A little update on other things.

I was supposed to get my hair cut today, but it has been postponed until next Friday.  Not that I don’t like my long hair, but it’s thinning, and the doctors haven’t been able to figure out why yet.  She put me on Biotin to hopefully help some, and I may have to see a dermatologist…but that will have to wait.  In the mean time, I’m getting my hair cut to make the thinning less obvious.  (right now I have to wear my hair in a pony tail, or tied back so it’s not visible.I’m not saying I have a huge bald spot or anything, It looks like I have a wide part trying to go down the back of my head, and I can’t cover it.)  So next week, I should have photos of before and after!  I plan to get about 10 inches cut off.  I’m donating it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

The progress with the CI (cochlear implant) is going well.  I’m hearing more, but things still sound a bit tinny.  I hear best with the CI and my hearing aid at the same time.  I’ll see the audiologist and Dr. K. again before I leave for Tucson.

We leave for Tucson, AZ on the 27th.  I can’t believe it’s almost here.  It’s been months away for so long, now it’s just around the corner!  So much to do…actually, my darling husband has done almost everything.  He’s a wonder!

One more note about the Botox….as Allison said on her blog about her experience, I’m having less expressions with my eyebrows.  I had an appointment with my therapist the other day and she actually noticed my expressions were not quite right.  I guess that’s why she gets paid the big bucks (haha) she needs to notice things like that.  It was strange to say, oh it’s just the Botox.  (she already knew about the treatment).

I’ve had another couple of breakdowns abut Sandy…I think it has actually helped some.  To get it out and not hide it, to let people know how very much I’m still grieving.  The last time I broke down (I really breakdown, can’t talk, sobbing, shaking all over….ect)  Stuart said the wrong thing.  He didn’t mean it and thought it was helpful but…he said, “This isn’t helping”.   No shit!  Well, him saying that actually did help, I got so mad it him it snapped me out of it.  He really felt bad…just awful really.  I couldn’t stay mad long, but it was a learning experience for both of us.
Sandy is still with me.  She always will be.  As someone told me, I have a Sandy shaped hole in my heart and nothing will be able to completely fill that shape.  I do hope I’m through with the complete breakdowns.  No fun, and Stuart is right, it doesn’t help.  It actually hurts me physically, then I’m hurting everywhere.  My therapist suggested some art about Sandy.  I had started some, but haven’t finished it….I have a lot of things I’ve started but haven’t finished  (I’ll take photos some time, and you can see the great unfinished works of W. H.)

I’m sure I’m leaving something out….but there is always next time.  : )

It’s been a very rough week.

It has been a very hard week.  I won’t go into details as it concerns people in my family, and I won’t talk about my family on my blog again.  I’ve been contemplating all week simply closing my blog and disappearing, or making it private.  But that’s stress talking, I’ve found so much support here and I want to think I’ve given a lot of support and information here too.  Plus I need a place to go and just get it out.  Even when I can’t talk about all of it.  Let’s just say, it’s settled for now….maybe.

Photo by Vincent Morrison – Manipulated by Wendy Holcombe
If photos could show feelings…

On the 15th, I got hit with a huge stessor!   I was under extreme stress and confusion for hours.  Finally, things were calming down.  I was relaxing in bed, tying to breathe in the ill feelings I felt towards me, and breathe out happiness and goodness to all.  I decided to have a little pineapple Greek yogurt, with a banana and nuts for desert.  It is delicious.  Well, what I got to eat of it.  Right when Stuart brought me my decadence, I had that Wonky feeling in my head…so I took my pills and hoped it was just a blip on the radar.  (Yes I know, how could I think of eating if I was feeling Wonky, but I’ve been having a lot of Wonky spells that just turn into nothing lately.) Unfortunately, before I was even finished with my treat the world was in full spin!  This was one of the longest attacks I’ve ever had….and one of the strangest.  It was Meniere’s, not vertigo caused by a migraine.  I went through all the stages…and all the grossness. (some how while throwing up I bashed my elbow on something, and it has had a knot on it since then.  It’s getting better, but I was afraid I had broken it the next day.)  Again, all the throwing up and losing all bodily functions.  Not being able to lift my head, except to put it in a bucket.  (I even threw up on our brand new carpet….not much, thank goodness, but Yuck!)

So the vertigo kept changing speeds, it would be wild, so fast I couldn’t recognize the things spinning by, then it would slow down to the point I thought it was going to stop any second….I even dozed off a few times, just to be jerked awake by vicious spinning again!  This went on for over 16 hours.  Luckily I didn’t throw up the whole time, I did keep heaving though.  Even before I threw up the first time, I would have the worst muscle spasms and just heave, like I had dry heaves, but nothing had started yet.  This often happens to me when I have an attack, at he beginning at least, I can’t figure out why.  Why does it have to hurt so bad??

Even after the spinning stopped for the next day I kept feeling like they would start back up, I couldn’t walk straight.  It was a very rough 2 days.

On Friday I had an appointment with my headache pain specialist (neurologist).  I was supposed to get Botox shots for my migraines.  Many people have had good results from this procedure.  I was a bit nervous, they do 31 shots in your head and neck/shoulder area.  Alas, I did not get it done.  Once again our insurance did not send a pre-approval, they didn’t deny it, but they didn’t approve it either.  Just like with the Cochlear Implant.  What a pain in the butt that was.  Luckily, they did pay for most of it.  They didn’t cover a procedure that cost about $500, testing the device after they hooked it up to me to make sure everything worked right.  Can you believe?  What if they hadn’t tested it, and later found out part of it wasn’t working?  I’d have to go through another surgery to replace it.  How bizarre.  Stuart called the insurance company on Monday, I have been approved for the procedure, it just seems no one knew it.  So now I have to get another appointment with this doctor…..hope it’s soon.

Sunday I had another scare. but not with vertigo.  Really I wasn’t scared, it’s happened before, and I’ve been checked out, still it’s uncomfortable and yeah, it’s a bit scary.  I had heart palpitations.  I figured out why, but it lasted a long time.  I wasn’t as careful Sunday about what I ate or drank.  I do not drink caffeine very often, and if I do, it’s just a little bit.  I also don’t eat much sugar.  Well…I wasn’t so bright on Sunday.  We were out and I had Mandarin Orange Green Tea, not thinking that Green Tea has caffeine.  That would have been fine, but later in the day we were at a store and I started feeling funny, and very thirsty, we couldn’t find anything that didn’t have either caffeine or sugar.  I decided to take the caffeine since I wasn’t sure if the sugared drinks had fructose.  I only drank about half of the soda.  After dinner I decided to have some ice cream we bought, it is Fat Free, and I was thinking Sugar Free too.  Not bright.  I only had about half a cup, but it was enough.  I started feeling strange.  I thought my blood sugar had dropped, so I ate some protein. But it didn’t work.  I was sitting on the couch watching TV with my hubby and I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest.  The doctor told me to massage one side of my neck, and it should help, she also said to put something cold on my wrist.  Well I did both, for a long time.  This lasted longer than I was comfortable with.  Finally, things slowed down….and all was alright.

I hate how much I have to watch everything I put in my mouth.  It would be difficult enough if that was all I had to deal with, but dealing with all my food issues and my other health issues is hard!  I’m dealing with it, and I’m lucky I can eat as much as I can…right?  I just need to be more diligent.

 

Well that’s all for this past week.

I promise my next post will be on a happier note.