Back? Hip? Pain! What is going on…. We may be closer to finding out..

Last Wednesday I saw the spine doctor, and good news, the herniated disc is doing great.  So, why am I in so much pain?  My physical therapist and spine doctor think it is my hip.  So do I.

(If you are ever in Charlotte, NC and need a recommendation for a spine doctor, give me a shout out.)

The spine doctor I see is a really good doctor.  He has a great bed side manner.  I never feel rushed when I’m in there, he makes sure to always look at me when he talks, he explains everything very well, and he is very thorough.  He examined me and decided I needed to see the hip doctor again.  I told him how I did not have any respect for the last hip doctor I saw, and why.  I’m not sure if I mentioned it here, and if I did, it probably bears repeating.  The last hip doctor breezed in, did not examine me, and told me that all my problems were from my back.  I asked him why then did I have hip problems before I hurt my back?  He simply ignored me, and said nothing showed on the CT scan, so good news, I had nothing wrong with my hip, good bye.  The spine doctor decided I should see a different hip doctor.  One he said he was sure would treat me with much more respect.  thank you very much.  I will not go to a doctor who does not respect me.

Today I had an appointment with the new hip doctor.  First I had an x-ray of my back.  After all the stuff going on with my back too, he wanted to get a view of it, and looked like no problems there.  Yay.  Then the doctor’s assistant came in and got a good history and did a good exam.  He told me what he suspected and that he wanted to go over everything with the doctor and he would come in soon.  I then had to have another hip x-ray to compare to the one I had in September.  They suspect I may have necrosis of the hip bone, caused by steroid use.  I have been given steroids a lot over the years of my life.  Doctors seem to hand them out like candy, they don’t think about the long term effects of what they can do to you.  Not once when I have been prescribed steroids have I ever been asked how often I have been prescibed then in the past.  Well, they can kill your bones.  The bones that have blood in them, it can kill the blood tissue, then the bone will collapse on itself.  Pretty gnarly huh?

Image taken from the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons  linked from http://osteonecrosis.me
Image taken from the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons linked from http://osteonecrosis.me

The x-ray that was taken in September had a very round ball socket, the one taken today looked a little bit flatter on the top.  It could have been just the angle of the x-ray, or it could be the beginning of Stage II.

If you are interested you can read more about the different stages here: Osteonecrosis.  Right now it looks like I’d be around Stage II, just starting to show outward signs….maybe.

My doctor wants me to send in my information about my cochlear implants to the MRI people there to make sure I can’t have an MRI under any circumstances.  They said sometimes they can do something and they can do them.  So I’m sending in my information.  I’m very wary about this, and think I might just refuse it even if they say it’s alright.  If they try this and (even if it doesn’t rip them out of my head) if it damages them, I don’t think it would be covered under my warranty, and I don’t want to have to have unnecessary surgery to replace them.  So unless they’ve done this many, many times before, I just don’t think the risks are worth the benefits.  I think he will understand that.

If I can’t/won’t get the MRI he said I will get another CT (Computerized tomography) scan.  CT scans are cross sectional.  Normally they are done at a certain width apart, I forgot how wide he said, he will order my new one to be done much closer together to try not to miss anything.

If you were reading my blog before when I went to the hip doctor and had the hip injection and it didn’t help at all  (another reason the original hip doctor said there was nothing wrong with my hip) this doctor said the hip injections often don’t help with this issue.

I was very impressed with this doctor and his assistant. He was very behind in his schedule, but I could understand why, and I didn’t mind.  He did not make me feel rushed when he was with me, he was very careful to make sure I understood everything.  He was great.  Also, before he came in to actually see me, I was seen by his assistant, and I had 2 sets of x-rays.  I wasn’t just sitting there twiddling my thumbs.  I was also impressed that when I got there he had already reviewed my chart and had questions waiting for me and orders for the back x-ray.  He walked in and knew all about me before he started talking to me.  I love it when a doctor does that!

This is a scary diagnosis.  However, if this is what it is, it is a diagnosis!  It can also be fixed pretty easily…I’ll have a hip replacement.  There are a lot of things that a lot of doctors do to work on this that don’t replace the hip, but there’s a lot of risk and most treatments don’t work very well. shhh, don’t tell anyone I said that.  I don’t want to worry people who are having those treatments done.  Just my opinion from what I have read…today…and from talking to my doctor.   Looks like most people have to have their hip replaced anyway, after many more years in pain.   I’m thinking I’d rather just get my hip replaced now.  I know I’m a bit young to have it done, but really not all that young, and with the new technology I hope the new hip will last as long as I do. That is…if I have to have it done.  I can’t predict the future.  Just preparing my mind for it in case that is a possibility.  Heck, my father has had both hips replaced, and I think one he has had done twice, or they are talking about redoing one of them?  He’s hard to keep up with.  All his artificial joints….shoulders, knees….ect….He’s bionic!  He has all the body parts, I have the ears.  Now if I get a new hip, I’ll be working on body parts too!  hahaha

I will be going back to PT, working out in the pool.  The doctor wants me as strong as I can be in case I have to have any kind of surgery.  Also he doesn’t want that leg to get too weak, and I can work it out in the pool because it is non-weight bearing.   Maybe I will hurry up and take this weight I gained from the steroids off and continue to lose more weight!  According to the scales at the doctor’s office I’ve lost about 8 of he steroid pounds.  (I gained almost 16 – that was depressing!  I’ve worked hard to take this weight off…and I want to keep taking it off! Go weight….get off my body!  Not that my body isn’t fantastic just like it is, but I want to make it easier on my hip…less weight to carry around….less pain!  I do not think beauty is determined by size!!)

 

drawing by w. holcombe copywrite - 2015 quote - unknown
drawing by w. holcombe copywrite – 2015
quote – unknown

Now for some awfully sweet news.

When I walked in this office I was met by 2 of the nurses there that just grabbed me and hugged me.  They we so happy to see me and to see me in less pain than I was in the last time I was there.  I also had a small vertigo attack last time I was there.  I’ve only been there 3 times, and I haven’t been there since October, but these girls remembered me and were so thrilled to see me.  I was amazed.  I told them I couldn’t believe they remembered me like that.  They said, they don’t remember everyone like that, nor do they treat everyone like that…only the nice people.  They kept saying how wonderful my spirit is.  How nice I was even though I was in so much pain.  I just cried.  My nurse couldn’t believe I was crying.  Just think, I am home alone most of the time, and on the rare occasion when I go out it is usually to the doctor’s office, I’m amazed I could touch a person’s life like that, in the little amount of time I see people.  We never know just how we may touch another person’s life.  So watch what you say, and always try to be the best person you can be.  On a day when you feel scared and a bit down, you just might run into a couple of people who grab you and hug you and tell you how special you are because you are who you are, and you just make them feel special because of that.  It was an amazing feeling!

 

Not the post I planned….

So I had this post all planned out.  I had been working on it in my head.  I even had a few little illustrations to go with it.  Neat huh?

I really wanted to talk about what has been happening to me over the past few months.  All the stuff that has been going on…Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually.

I thought I could get it out.   I haven’t been able to write much.  To read much.  To do much of anything because of the vertigo.  Finally, I thought I could do it.  I started getting it together.   but that’s not how things happened…..

I started getting ready for bed night before last.  I had had a strange day.  I hadn’t had vertigo, but my ears felt off.  (if you have Meniere’s you can know what that means….or it could means something different for me….what they were doing, well, they felt very full, and my hearing was weird – best word I have – I thought that would stop when I lost my hearing and now hear through cochlear implants, but no, my hearing still gets wonky, unless of course I turn them off, then I just hear the increased tinnitus….oh yeah, I didn’t mention that, I also had increased tinnitus.)  I also had this weird fainting type of spell.  I didn’t faint, but I felt like I was going to, like I was hit by a tranquilizer gun.  It was strange.  I had to fight hard not to just pass out.  I could have gone to sleep, I guess, but it was too scary of a feeling, like if I went to sleep I might now wake up.  This has happened a few times lately, I have blamed the steroids, they can make your blood sugar drop, so I eat something and feel better.  This time was a bit worse, as it came on very suddenly, and I was hard pressed to even move……so….Stuart checked my blood sugar.  I’d just eaten a banana, my blood sugar should not have been low.  My blood sugar was indeed not low.  It was on the higher side of normal…hmmm.  Not that strange since I just had that very ripe banana, but strange since I felt like I was fainting from low blood sugar???  what on earth?   Well I ate some protein anyway, and maybe it was the placebo effect, maybe the spell was just ending, whatever…I started to feel better.   But I still felt off…and I admit, I ate more, I ate too much probably.  But I felt better.

A little while later I went to get ready for bed.  I was brushing my teeth and looking in the mirror and thought…why am I moving?  Then I feel it and think…”oh shit.”  Yep, vertigo.  No warning, no strange feeling, nothing….I was just moving….what the?

It was slow so I rushed to go to pee real fast but had to have Stuart help me to bed.  (I always try to pee really fast before it gets bad because I always have to go when it happens.  It is horrible lying there about to bust to pee and can’t move because of vertigo, but it happens every time!  And if I vomit, I will pee too, complete loss of control.  So rush to pee, if I can…..so strange how things have changed for me with this…I never would have considered trying to run to the bathroom when this started a just a year ago, now, well….things have changed….)

I got my meds in me and it looked like this wold be a short trip.  WRONG!  It was a long and bad.   Over 4 hours….slow, fast, start to sleep – wake spinning fast, terrified – have to go to the bathroom again!  can’t get up….bedpan, humiliation, back – pain! – ….FAST SPINNING – help….slow…..fast…..sick…sick….help….tired….guilt….sorry…..sleep….AHHH!…..slow….sleep…AHHH!……….

Now what?

I was supposed to be going down to 1 steroid a day the next day.  Yesterday.  I did.  I felt bad all day yesterday.  I hoped it was just that hangover feel from the night before.  Then..Last night.  vertigo.  just a little, all night, I just kept waking with the bed moving.  I handled it.

This morning I woke….AHHH! FULL FAST SPIN!   Stuart’s at work, and I have to GO TO THE BATHROOM!  and I do not mean just for my morning pee.   Oh hell.   Whoosh!  Whoosh!  Whoosh!  I can’t move.  Which world do I try to step in to?  They are moving so fast.  Whoosh!  Whoosh!  Whoosh!  Oh I am so sick.  More meds.  sick.  I have to GO!

I grab my phone….text….I can’t see the key board, it’s all a blur…WHOOSH!   I type, “Spinning”  I think…and hit send to Stuart.   I don’t want to bother him, I want to be able to do this alone.  But how?  I know other people do.  How do they do it?  How do they go to the bathroom?  How do they survive without killing themselves (accidentally or on purpose?)   Since this has gotten so bad, I have always had Stuart to help me.  I’ve only had to deal with an attack a very few times alone.  That was so long ago.  It was so hard.  I don’t know how to not ask for that help from him.  How do I do this alone?

Soon I got a text back.   I don’t know what it said…..I texted….”help”  hit send.

Then I called on voice.  I only have to hit one button.  I did not have my cochlear implant’s on, so I could not hear anything.  I saw the little numbers start counting, I don’t know if he picked up, I just started talking.   “I’m not hurt, I have to go to the bathroom.  I need help for that.  I’m not hurt.  please just come help me to the bathroom.  I’m not hurt.  can’t get to the bathroom, really have to go…..”  then said I hoped he heard me and hung up.  I really wanted him to know I wasn’t lying there hurt, but I needed a little help….then I waited….

and waited.   and held on as hard as I could.  I knew I would soon have to try to crawl to the bathroom…..but then what?  I wouldn’t be able to get up on the toilet…..what was I going to do?   I kept trying to think.  the bedpan was in the bathroom.  Ugh! The trashcan?  maybe.   I’m going to kill my back even more.  “I have to GO!  I’m going to soil myself soon.”   (I really think I may have ended up soiling myself before I would have made the decision what to do.  My body wasn’t going to wait much longer.)  Then Kiki jumped up and ran out of the room…..”Yes, Stuart is here.  Whew….”

So I was saved the humiliation of soiling myself, or the possibility of injuring my back more from trying to get to the bathroom by myself…..or injuring myself any number of other ways.  *sigh*

The vertigo won’t go away.   It slows way down….right now I feel like I’m on a boat with the constant rocking, and if I move, it gets MUCH worse.  I will have full blown spins on and off.

I had an appointment scheduled at Duke tomorrow with my ear doc to get his opinion about all of this, now I can’t ride in the car for that long.  We rescheduled it for…I think Stuart said a week or so out.  I have increased the steroids and am hoping I can get this under control enough by then so I can ride in the car to get there.    What can he do?   I have no idea.   What is causing this?  I have no idea.  I thought I had an idea, but now, nope.   Where do I go from here?   if my trip to Duke comes up with nothing….I don’t know.   One step at a time.

I can’t control what happens in the future, but that doesn’t mean I can just sit around and not do anything.  I have to consider Stuart’s job.  His boss has been so very understanding, but this is above and beyond what we ever thought he would have to be doing.  First I injure my back and now this?   I’m afraid he is being understanding on the outside and not so much on the inside?  Stuart is getting his work done.  He works the hours, just often not normal hours.  Today he is now working at home.   He is going to talk to his boss again about this to ease my mind.  He likes this job, I do not want to jeopardize it because of me.  But I do not know how to take care of me during the attacks by myself.  If they are short, fine.  But when I can’t walk all day long because of it?  How do I go to the bathroom?  Get water?  food?  We can’t afford to get me a helper, and who would know when I’d need one?  (I’m spouting off out loud here, I’m not looking for answers…..just where my mind is right now.)

The guilt about this eats me up.  It is crazy to feel so guilty about being sick.  I didn’t do it.  I have no control over it.  Yet, this is the one thing I find the hardest to deal with….guilt.   I am so very sorry to be such a burden.  At times I will feel like I am past this, but then things like this happen and how can I not feel like a burden.  How can I not feel guilty?  How can I not feel that I am causing so much trouble for my husband?   Believe me I could give a list here of a lot of things that need to be done, that he needs for himself…..ect…..that are neglected because of me….because I’m sick.   Guilt much??   I’m working on being much more gentle with myself, non judgmental….I’m better than I used to be, but really, I don’t know if I’ll ever get rid of all of the guilt.  It’s a work in progress.  I can say it is much better than it used to be.  I don’t hate myself, and I don’t think of myself as a complete failure.  Those used to be huge thoughts that ran through my mind.  Those are thoughts that I hear from many people who are chronically ill and have lost so much of their independence.  That’s a sad thing isn’t it?   Ah…things I’ve been thinking about…..I’m doing really well with much of this stuff.  I really do like me.  I try my best to be a good person and I think that’s pretty darn important.  It’s just that my body often needs help, and I feel guilty about that.  Perhaps, if my husband had help it would be easier.  …..eh…..going in circles there aren’t I?

No…this isn’t the post I planned to write.   It isn’t well thought out.  It isn’t illustrated.  It doesn’t give a good account of what has happened.  It’s just me.  Telling you a little bit how it is now.  In this world of mine.   would I change things in my world today.   yeah, can’t say I wouldn’t.   Do I still love my life….most of it yeah.  This vertigo stuff can hit the highway though…..but I will accept it.  I have to.

This is just how things are right now.  Just right now.  they were different a moment ago…they will be different in a moment.

I’m actually much calmer about things and I’m dealing mentally with things better….yeah I know it doesn’t sound like it….but really I am (probably won’t be when the steroids start kicking in full force again, but hey, at least I’ll know it is the steroids, right?  this last round made me a bit crazy….I do not know what if feels like for a “normal” person to be on a high dose of steroids, but it makes me feel like my bipolar medications aren’t working, however, you sit there and think….is it the steroids or do I really feel like this?  ugh!)

It has taken me all day to write this.

I hope it makes some sense.

I’m going to try to write more often.  I need to keep up with what is happening to me.  So these posts coming up may be up and down or start to sound the same or something….but I really need to just write about what I am going through….

hope you don’t mind….

I might just need someone to listen.

 

A time to think of my…Gratitudes.

 

gratitude quote

There are days when you have a hard time.  Days when you can’t think of anything but what is going wrong.  It’s on those days that I find it most important to step back and look around me at the things I’m grateful for.

Today is a day I want to really look around and pay attention to what is in front of me, I know I have so much to be grateful for!

  • I’m grateful I woke up today.   What?  You think I’m joking?  I thought I’d start at the beginning of my day, and I thought what is the first think I’m grateful for today?  I’m grateful I’m here.  I’m grateful that I’m alive.  I’m grateful I can breathe.  Oh there is a good one!  Last night I had a very difficult time breathing, I coughed and coughed, and had a hard time taking a deep breath.  I had used my inhaler and it didn’t seem to do anything.  I did a nebulizer treatment, and I could breathe better, but of course I had the shakes for a long time afterward (I really hate that thing, a necessary evil).  Then I started coughing again, and well, it was a not so great breathing night.  Just one of those nights for me.  I did sleep without much coughing, so that is great!  We’re working on getting the chronic bronchitis under control, but haven’t gotten there yet.  I’m not complaining.  Last night was a rougher night than usual, the weather changed….rainy, damp…that makes it worse.  Again, not complaining, just stating the facts.  I accept it as it is, and I am fine with it.  I will be going to a new pulmonologist soon and we will work at getting this more under control.  I am very grateful that I can breathe better today.
  • I’m grateful my husband can walk our new dog every morning, and she is so good about it!  When we first talked about getting another dog Stuart said he didn’t want to have to walk it.  Then we met Kiki, and knew she was the right dog.  I was having hip problems, but thought it was going to be over very soon.  The doctors thought it was just a little inflammation, I was scheduled to get a hip injection and they thought that would be the end of it.  So when we decided to start fostering Kiki, I had planned to be the major caregiver.  Little did we know I would fall the night after my injection causing me to have a herniated disc in my back, and now a month later, I’m still not walking Kiki.  I’m still not walking much at all.  However, Kiki is the best dog about taking walks.  If you are in a hurry, she will go very fast.  She isn’t the kind of dog who will just go out and sniff and sniff just for the sake of it.  If you go out and walk out to the tree and then walk back toward the house, she will go.  No problem.  Often, in the mornings she will run Stuart outside, go real fast, and run back in and go back to bed!  She says….”Bye Dad!  I’m ready to go back to sleep!”  He has even said that he likes taking her for walks!  I’m a little envious.  I’m very grateful they have bonded and the walking issue, never became an issue!
  • I’m very grateful my doctor thinks my herniated disc will heal with just a little physical therapy.  Yep, right now I’m bored out of my mind.  I’m so tired of not being able to do anything. I can’t walk far without pain, I keep waking up because of pain, I can’t sit long without pain, well it just hurts.  I’m so relieved that the spine specialist thinks that I will heal with very conservative treatment!  Yay!!   I’ll happy dance when I can!!
  • I’m grateful I didn’t gain weight while taking steroids.  Oh boy, oh boy can we get happy about this one?!  The steroids made me go out of my mind, I was climbing the walls and wanted to destroy people, but I didn’t gain weight!  I didn’t weigh myself for the past month, it was too hard to try to step on the scales, I finally weighed this past week.  I lost 4 pounds!   For inquiring minds….that is a total of 44 pounds lost so far!! 
  • I’m grateful I understand I can’t trust my emotions right now because of the steroids.  I was actually very proud of myself for my self control and for understanding that it was the steroids that were making me feel so horrible.  They are still nagging at me a bit, I have one more dose, but you know it will take a little while before they are out of my system….so I can’t trust my emotions.  That is a good thing to keep in mind.  It is very difficult for someone who is bipolar to feel this way.  I am always very on top of my emotions, very in tuned to how I’m feeling.  I have to be.  If I start noticing that my feelings are our of sync with how they should be, I need to talk to my doctor.  By this I mean, I need to watch out if  react to something in an inappropriate way.  For instance, the other day, I said to Stuart, “Why don’t you use your damn common sense once in a while?!?”  in reaction to him just asking me a simple question.  This was VERY inappropiate!  I do not talk to him that way, and I couldn’t calm down.  I was sitting there suddenly saying….”I don’t act like this any more!  I don’t feel like this anymore!”   I took some deep breaths, centered myself, and calmed down.  Apologized over and over to my dear husband and explained I couldn’t help it and it would probably happen again.  I was full of anger I couldn’t control and he was probably going to get the brunt of it.  He was a dear sweet love and hugged me and understood.  Yes, he did get it a couple of other times, nothing like that time, and we dealt with it very well because we talked about it and how the medication was affecting me.  I’m so grateful I have a husband that communicates with me and understands about uncontrollable emotions due to steroids.
  • I’m grateful for a small place to live.  I’m grateful for a place to live that is safe.  I’m grateful for a place to live that is peaceful.  I’m grateful for our place.  I have been a little ungrateful for out little place lately, and just now I realized just how very grateful I am for this place.  I really do love this little place in many ways.  I love that it is small.  I am very grateful I do not have to climb stairs right now.  I couldn’t.  It is so much easier for me to get around this little place.  I have been feeling a bit claustrophobic in here lately, and way too isolated.  I know it’s because I just can’t do anything.  My mind wants to do something and my body says NO.  (yeah I’m working on that)  I’m very grateful that of all the places we looked at to rent we found this peaceful little place.  It is quiet here, (yes that is so important to a deaf person…haha).  There is little traffic on the street.  There are more people out walking their dogs in my neighborhood than there their are cars that pass by!  I just think that is so cool!  Yes, as I write this little piece I’m much more grateful about the place I live.
  • I’m grateful Kiki loves her new toy so much!  Yes it is the little things that bring joy into our lives!  Kiki loves her little toy so much!  She has forsaken all of her other toys for the one she picked out at the pet store.  It is a little beaver…I think.  It has a recycled bottle inside so it crunches, and it has a squeaky toy in the tail.  She loves this thing so much!   She carries it around, and gets so excited.  She will chase it, she will play hide and seek with it, she will run and get it and bring it to you just to show it to you…..”Look!  LOOK!  SEE! my toy!!!!”   She takes it to bed with her.  She doesn’t play with it in bed, no she just has to have it with her.   If I’m in a different room she will go check on me then she will go and get her toy and bring it to the door and show it to me….like she is showing the toy where I am??  Then she will leave.   She has so much fun with her toy, and it brings me much joy playing with her with it, and just watching her with this toy!  I will never get tired of watching her play!
  • I’m grateful my husband took me out yesterday for a short trip to the mall and I found a bra that fit – First Try On!!!  don’t really need to follow up on that one….but I will!  I must say, this is the very first time this has happened, and it is amazing to me.  After losing so much weight I went in and completely guessed my size!  I was not up to trying on a lot, this bra was on mega sale and I thought, OK, I’ll try it.  I had on an old bra that was too small, so I adjusted the size from it….and Wow!  I’m still amazed that it fit, and it just looks and feels so great.  No gaps, no pinching, no pulling…..I’m a happy woman!  It was also on such a mega sale I won’t feel bad if  when I lose more weight and soon need a different size!  One thing that is a little different about me losing weight….I have bigger boobs.  I’ve always liked my breast.  I have felt they were just the right size, not too big, not too small…just right.  When I gain weight, they have always stayed pretty much the same.  They didn’t get really big with me.  (a lot of women gain a lot there, I didn’t.)  Yes I’m silly, but just thinking about it, if things keep going as they are I’m going to be a bit bigger.  Right now I’m a cup size bigger than I normally am at this band size.  Stuart likes it.  hahaha  However, I can’t imagine him not liking anything about my body….he is a bit biased.   and I’m very grateful for that!
  • oh there is so much to be grateful for!!   I’m feeling so much better than I was when I started this post!  I’m grateful I have so much to be grateful for...here’s a few more….
  • I’m grateful I got to tell my sister how I was feeling about some things.  It doesn’t matter if things don’t change,  I’m just so grateful that we talked and I know she knows some things now that were stuck in my head and I needed to let it out.  It’s hard to put some things in the past if you don’t know if other people have put it there, or heck, if they even know about it.  Yeah, try to wrap your head around that one.  I just feel better about things.  I’m grateful for that.
  • I’m grateful that I’m emotional.  (no one needs to understand that one.  It just really used to bother me, now, I’m glad.  I like having deep feelings.  It may hurt a lot sometimes, but it is also pretty darn great other times.  Being “emotional” is not a bad thing.)
  • I’m grateful I found this meditation on forgiveness….I needed it…. Forgiveness Meditation    (this is just a written page, not a link to a guided meditation, read if you want.  I liked it a lot.)
  • I’m grateful I have some friends I can reach out to, even if I don’t have any I can see in person.
  • I’m grateful I have clean water.  (I really don’t like the water from our tap here, we have started using bottled water, and I’m so grateful for it.  It really makes me think a lot about people who can’t get clean water at all.  I’m so very grateful that not only do I have running water in my home, but I am able to get wonderfully clean water whenever I want it.
  • I’m grateful I have access to fresh food.  Something else I have thought about a lot lately.  I have talked a lot about the change in my diet, how I’ve lost so much weight and how much healthier I am because of my new eating habits.  I haven’t mentioned some of the other things I’ve noticed that I can only attribute to my diet change.  My hair is thicker.  My fingernails smoother and less brittle.  My skin is clearer.  I can tell you I haven’t changed my hair products, nor have I done anything different to my nails, so I can only attribute those changes to my diet.  I did change my facial wash, but I will admit I don’t use it every day.  I am a self proclaimed foodie.  I love good food.  I love fresh food.  I’m grateful that even though we have had very lean times over the past couple of years, we have always managed to eat as fresh as possible.  We have cut corners every where we could so we could spend a little more on our groceries.   We do still spend wisely in the grocery store, but let’s face it, fresh fruits, veggies, and high quality meats are expensive.   For some people it is a matter of choice, but sometimes it is a matter of not being able to afford food…period.  Can you imagine if you simply could not afford to buy groceries at all?   There are so many people who go to bed hungry every night.  So many people who are malnourished.     My gratefulness about food is huge.  I’m so grateful that I now have the knowledge to be able to nourish my body in a healthy way, and am able to provide it with all the food that it needs.
  • I’m grateful I have this blog to write about things….and I’m very grateful that there are some people out there that read it.   Yep….this is what I needed today.

 

I really do appreciate life so much!

I love my life!

Do I have challenging days?  Yes!

Will I feel bad on days again?  Yes!

Do I accept my life the way it is?  Yes!

Do I wish it were different?  Sometimes….I’m working on a NO for that answer, but I think “Sometimes”  is pretty good.   I still love my life, just as it is, even if nothing changes, even if it gets worse, I still love my life!!

That’s pretty important I think.  I love my life, all the good parts, all the bad parts, all the fun parts, all the hard parts….I love my life!

 

Sick and Confuddled

mushroom with quote
photo by S. Holcombe.

I recently wrote a post that could easily have taken up 3 posts worth of writing.  You know if I wrote that much in one sitting I have a lot on my mind.  You also know if I’m making up words to say how I feel, I’m in a one heck of a state!

Some of the things I have written you will still see, I’m breaking it up into a couple of post, some of it you won’t….I have decided I just can’t talk about it here.  Maybe some day, but not now.  I want to, I think it will help some people, but it’s just something that I can’t talk about yet, at least not here.  And that’s hard on me, for a number of reasons.

So…on to what I will talk about…   (and it turns out this post is MUCH longer than anticipated….yep it’s one of those days.  as you get to the end you will understand, but forgive any errors please, I couldn’t go through and edit this, I am in too much pain.  But I wanted to get it posted.  at least part of it needs a voice…..)

Saturday my father and sister came for a little visit.  It was nice.  Even though we only live one state away we don’t get to see each other much.  They don’t get to come often, and I can’t travel very often.  Unfortunately, since our trip to Tucson, 2 years ago, I haven’t been able to travel at all.  I thought it was going to be better the last few months, but then I hurt my hip.  Now I can’t ride in the car across town without being in severe pain.  So who knows when I can go to South Carolina.  Thankfully, my sister brought my dad to see me.  We had a nice lunch and visit, then they were on their way.  Before they came I decided to get a shot of Toradol, an anti-inflamatory to help me not be in intense pain while they were here.  I wish I could have them more often, but you can’t take them on a regular basis.  I was very pleased that I could visit with them without worrying too much about the pain.  I was also happy I could hear them fairly well.  I couldn’t hear my father at first, but after a little while I realized if I sat closer to him I could hear him better.  What a relief.  I felt bad that I could understand everyone else, but was having such difficulty understanding him.  All in all, a good visit.

After they left I decided my hip was still feeling well enough we could go and meet the dear lady from the agency who had Kiki and make her adoption final.  So off the Pet Supermarket we went.  Luckily, they are very nice there and let me have a chair to sit in while we shopped a bit and adopted our newest family member.  Since the vet thinks Kiki is between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 we decided that her adoption date is her 2nd birthday!  So September 27th is her birthday!  She was lavished with gifts.  She got a new sweater, because she has been cold on some of these early fall mornings when she goes out.  It is red, and looks quite fetching on her sleek black and white body.  She also got a new toy that she loves!  She has abandoned all of her other toys for this toy, it is so funny!  She also got a new tag, a little purple heart with her name and phone number on it….we need to get her microchip reprogrammed.  She is officially ours now!   I was so very happy when we were in the store and one of the people who work there told me that he had seen Kiki so often when she was there waiting to be adopted and she looks like a different dog.  She is so happy and well mannered.  He said it is amazing how much she has changed in just the short time we have had her.  That couldn’t have made me happier.  I knew then, that yes, Kiki really was meant to be our little girl.

Saturday night I was getting ready for bed.  I was sitting on the side of the bed taking my night meds and suddenly I felt the Meniere’s signals.  Okay, this has not been unusual lately.  I’ve been very acute for the past month or more.  Having mini attacks many times a day, so I wasn’t worried.  I took a deep breath and calmly tried to focus.  Then FLUSH..heat through my body.  Ugh. OK.  Calm. Focus.  You got this.  Whoosh.  better lie down.   Focus.  feel the hand on the table it is steady.  you are not moving.  HEAT.  HOT. I’M ON FIRE.  Stuart walks in.  “Attack?”  “yep. ice.”  Focus.  breathe deep. calm. calm.  Spinning faster.  wow.  deep breath. focus calm. you got this. it’s ok.  spin. stop. spin. stop.  breath…..Ice..Good!  Still hot.  chest hurts.  can’t breath deep.  calm. spinning fast still.  calm. calm.   it’s ok.  it’s part of you.  you can do it.   “Stuart…shot please”   focus calm.  calm. so tired.  (took meds earlier.  Stuart got shot ready,(I’m lucky I have Phenergan shots available to me, it is an anti-nausea/vomiting drug) he was about to give it to me and dropped it. Couldn’t find it.  suddenly spinning stopped.  yes.  OK. rest.

BAM. started going the other way!  What the?   OK…calm down. but this is weird.  you can do it.  focus. feel your hand. –  what the heck is happening? this is not right. –  it’s  all OK.  focus. calm calm.  focus.  it’s just different. – no, this is very different.  now it’s jumping all around.  what is going on? –  calm down. calm down.  calm calm.  focus. it’s kind of freaking me out he can’t find that shot – focus on your focal point.  it will be alright.  – I need the damn shot!  I’m getting scared. –  shhhh. calm down. focus. focus.  breathe.  calm..calm.  this is not real.  the room is not moving.  You are not moving.  calm breathe.  – Ah…shot.  It will be better soon. –  Calm…calm…shhh.  AH! oh my gosh….”Stuart”.  “I’m right here babe. I’m not leaving you.”  “I can’t stay awake.  I’m all dopey.  If I fall asleep it gets worse!  I’m so sick.  I’m scared.  It hurts.  My stomach hurts.”  “I’m right here, you are safe.  I’ll try and keep you awake if you want”

This went on for a long while.  I kept dozing off no matter what.  It was horrible.  I would wake up spinning even more!  Then I got VERY sick.  I was going to throw up.  But nothing came up.  I just gagged, and coughed, and mucus from my lungs came up.  I couldn’t take a breath in!  I had this huge gag that felt like vomit was coming up but it was like a HUGE burp came up then I couldn’t breathe.  My lungs hurt. I was having an asthma attack and trying to throw up at the same time! I was so afraid I was going to have to go to the ER because I could not breathe.  Stuart was holding me putting my inhaler in my mouth for me.  I got enough in to breathe again.  (afterward he told he kept watching to make sure I was getting in some air and not having any signs of needing oxygen….but he is also thinking we may need to see about getting oxygen for me at home.)

Finally, it calmed down enough that when I dozed I stayed asleep.  And I slept!   The pain from my hip did not wake me up at all that night.  I was so exhausted.

The next day, was hangover hell.

I felt so bad.  I was trying so hard not to feel like I handled thing badly.  I really freaked out.  I panicked bad.  I couldn’t stay mindful.  I couldn’t accept what was happening to me.  I hated my body, I hated my life, I was afraid I was dying and hoping I’d just hurry up and die at the same time.

This is not what I have been working so hard on.  This is not mindfulness.  But it is.  Mindfulness is a practice.  You can’t beat yourself up if you don’t live up to your expectations all the time.

Mindfulness is not just about making it better. It is about feeling how you are, how things are now, and not being judgmental about it.  It is about being gentle with yourself.  On Saturday night, I could not accept my condition.  I could not handle my situation without panicking.   That was the way it was.  I could feel every nerve in my body screaming that it wanted this to end.  I couldn’t accept that this was just the was it was…I fought it.   But I was there with it.   I had a hard time looking back at it non-judgmentally.   But now I can.  I can look back and say, I had a damn hard night.  I handled it the best I could.  Things happened that have never happened before, and it really scared me.  Who knows, I may have handled it better than I would have in the past, because of my mindfulness practice?  I’m okay with how I handled it.  At first I was sad about it.  I felt like I failed myself.  I didn’t.   Mindfulness is hard.   Living mindfully is not easy.  But it does making living your life easier.  Or at least it has mine.

So I’m off to being more accepting of how my life is, even when it’s that bad.  It’s my life.  It’s much easier on me when I accept that.  If I try to fight it, it makes it worse.  It really is better when I accept that I have my illnesses, and I have the symptoms, and all the things that they cause.   I have found that I can deal with those symptoms better when I stop fighting them so hard.  I feel better.  I cope better.  Heck, the symptoms have been easier.

I’m just saying how I feel about all of this, I’m feel I’m just testifying..haha.  I’ll write a more coherent post about this sometime.  With references.  Or maybe I’ll find a guest writer.  Who knows.  For now, we’ll just see how it goes with me….hope that’s alright with all of you.

On Sunday, I decided I couldn’t stand the pain and the constant Meniere’s attacks any longer.  They use steroids to break both cycles.  However, too high of a dose of steroids can really mess you up with Meniere’s and make you have worse attacks.  So I started on the dose that the urgent care doctor gave me and put a call in to my otologist at Duke on Monday.  Unfortunately, it was phone tag for a few days, and then he wasn’t comfortable messing with this prescription.  I do not think he understood the situation!!  I am so beside myself right now!  I mean right now, I just found out about this.  I am looking at these pills trying my best to figure out the best way to ramp down off of them without it being too drastic.  Going from 4 on one day to 2 on the next is not a good idea.  So I take out the prescription bottle and count how many I have left.  10.  Wait, I should have more than that to meet the original prescription.  I count again.  10.  STRESS!  I filled this prescription weeks ago.  Will the pharmacy really believe they shorted me?

Thankfully, yes they did.  I got 6 more pills.  I can do this.  Breathe.  Take the day as it comes, and accept it.  That’s all I can do.  So….I sit down and think.  I will figure out how to ramp down the steroids that is between the prescription the urgent care doctor gave me and the prescription my ear doctor gave me before.  I’m sure I’ll be fine.  It’s not quite such a severe drop between going down.  Should I be messing with my prescription?  Heck I don’t know!  But I feel better, with this regimen.  I’m too afraid to ramp down so fast.

For those of you who have been reading for a while….remember the Walmart incident?  That happened because a doctor put me on a high dose of steroids that ramped down too fast.
Now you once again have a VERY LONG POST.

and I’m too tired to read over it to fix any errors.   I’m being a very bad blogger.  I hope you will forgive me.   I just fell again today….I’m not going to write about that now!  I’ll tell all about my back/hip/leg pain after my doctor’s visit on the 6th!  I’m sorry, but I’m not up to being an editor today.  🙂   My back/hip/leg thing…just isn’t going to get better if I keep falling is it?  Of course, that’s why I’m falling!!   I can handle it…..one moment at a time.  I can handle anything for a moment, after all, isn’t that really all we know we have, this moment?

***rest in peace to my cousin Curtis Winslow.  My childhood memories are full of you.  1958 – October 1, 2014

things change….

Everything Changes - photography by w. holcombe
Everything Changes –
photography by w. holcombe

Trying to hold on to the good days, thinking life will stay that way forever is fruitless.  It will change.  And it has.

My hip flare up, that was just this little thing, that was supposed to calm down after the cortisone injection….has become a complicated mess.

I had my hip injection on September 11th.  We got Kiki that evening.  It was an exciting day.  I expected to be sore that night.  I expected to possibly be sore the next day, but would probably feel better….and continue to get better.  That didn’t happen.

I’m not sure if the shot did anything.  I don’t think so.  However. on the night of September the 12th, I got up and went to the bathroom.  I started to sit on the toilet and lost my footing and fell, hard, onto the seat.  My elbow hit the back of the toilet where I keep a box with things in it and I got a nice little scrape on it.  The big hurt was my hip.  OW!  The pain shot through me, from the top of my buttock, along my side down through my knee….I was in PAIN!   I have been in constant pain in this areas since that night.  The pain ebbs and flows, but never gets better than a 6, and if often hovering around an 8.   I had Stuart give me a  Toradol injection.  This really helped.  Toradol is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.  (I can’t take NSAIDs by mouth because they tear up my stomach, but I can have these injections occasionally.)  Since this worked to take most of the pain away I was sure I hadn’t broken anything.  I was also hoping the cortisone shot would kick in and help.  So I waited….

The cortisone didn’t help.  I went back to the doctor on the 18th.  She was disheartened.  She suspects that my pain may be coming from my spine, and maybe also from my hip.  She set up a CT scan with contrast dye, and she wants me to see a spine specialist, and a more specialized hip doctor.  (she is actually a PA in the office, she wants me to see a specific doctor in the practice).  I will have the CT scan on Friday.  (I was originally supposed to have the CT scan today, but I didn’t sleep at all last night and I can’t control the Meniere’s vertigo today, and since I could get in closer to my doctor’s appointment I decided to change the appointment.)  I see the hip specialist on October 1st, and I’m not sure when I see the spine doctor yet, I haven’t heard from their office yet.

How am I handling all of this?  Some days very well.  Some days not well at all.

I have had a hard time not getting really stressed out about this.  I’ve been creating “what if” stories in my head.  My mother started having back problems in her 50’s and it really changed her life.  She died of lung cancer when she was 64, but I’ve never been convinced it really didn’t start in her back.  There are many reasons I believe this, I won’t get into them here.   What if I have to live with this pain forever?…….See the stories I have been spinning in my mind….this is not a good thing.  This is not a mindful thing to do.  It does NOT make things better.  It makes it worse.  The stress builds, and everything spirals out of control.   When I think like this I can feel the depression creeping up over me.  It is oppressive.

Then I try to be more mindful.  Being mindful is hard.  It isn’t something you can just click on with a switch and suddenly you think mindfully all the time…I wish I could, I think I would handle things better.  I’m trying.  First, I am trying hard to stay present.  I cannot change what we are going to find out, but I sure don’t have to make up all these horrible scenarios.  I could have something easily fixable.  If I have something that is more difficult to deal with, I’ll deal with it.  Either way, I don’t have any idea, so stop speculating.  Keep my mind in the present, right here, right now.  That is the least stressful thing I can do.

I also got so stressed because we got this precious little dog, Kiki, to take care of and suddenly I can’t take care of her.  I can’t even feed her.  I can’t take her out.  I can’t care for her at all.  Stuart would not have signed up for this had he known he would have been the sole caregiver for me, Max, and now Kiki.  We would not have adopted Kiki at this time.  Does he regret it?  No.  But would he have done it?  No.   So I have been having that emotion that simply doesn’t help…..guilt.  I have put more work on him, and I feel guilty because I can’t take Kiki on long walks and to the dog park and do things I feel she needs.  I can’t focus time on training her.  I feel guilt.  Ugh!  useless!

Not sure how that is handled in mindfulness, but I know for me, I need to channel that into something constructive I can do.  Haven’t figured all of that out exactly, but I will.  Yes, this is not how I planned for things to go, so I need to change my plans.   I have been playing with Kiki more indoors as much as possible.  She will bring me a toy and I will throw it.  She brings it back and drops it in my hand. (how cute it that?)  I have taught her to sit before I’ll throw it again.  (really, she was already doing that most of the time.)  I will hide it and have her find it. (I think this is a newer thing for her!)  So we are working on some training.  It’s just different from I planned.

Then I go back again to how I feel about my body, and what is happening.  My Meniere’s is acting up big time!  I always tell myself to stop trying to figure out why, it used to drive me crazy, and I would end up blaming myself for my attacks, but this is pretty obvious.  The pain will not allow me to sleep or rest enough.  I can’t relax.  Also, it is Rag Weed season.  I think I’m handling the rag weed pretty good, but I can’t keep up with the exhaustion.  My hearing is going up and down; yesterday if I was blind folded I would have sworn a jet engine was in my living room.  When the noise started I kept asking Stuart, “what is that noise?”  He looked at me funny.  I said, “You don’t hear it do you?”  I realized it was just me…dang.  Then it got louder and louder and louder….and it lasted for over 2 hours at the loudest point.  I’ve never had that happen before.  I’ve had very loud tinnitus, but I’ve never had that it that loud for that long.  It continued to be loud for the whole night but it did dial down a bit.

I hate to say it but, I’m just one big vertigo attack.  I try to control them but that is exhausting too.  Most of the time I’m spinning at least a little bit.  I have been able to control it enough that I haven’t had full-blown… spinning so out of control that I can’t see what is in front of me… vertigo, but this constant boat feeling and everything waving is driving me crazy!   I keep focusing on my breath…grateful I am still breathing.  Then I laugh…they say breathe, take a deep breath..ect.  It’s not like we are going to stop breathing.  It is something we do.  Do you ever really focus on your breath?  Really think about it?  If you have ever gotten choked and couldn’t breathe I’m sure you did then, but normally we just take it for granted, like we do our heartbeat, and how our brain works, or the fact that we blink…ect.   So,right now suddenly I’m thinking about my breath, not just the in and out, but the actual breath.  How it works.  I have pulmonary problems so I don’t take my breathing for granted all the time, and I know a lot about how my lungs work….so I think about it, and really I’m thinking about how the oxygen goes through my body, how it nourishes my whole body, how my breath goes through all of me, down through my toes even.  and suddenly I just realized….just now as I am writing this that I have calmed down and feel more in tuned to this body and it is just fine.  It is working pretty darn good.  It’s my body.  I like it.  I love me.  I’m at peace with it.  I accept it the way it is.

Now that is mindfulness.  That is what paying attention to your breath is supposed to be…..wow.  I feel better, right now.   I know this isn’t easy.  I’ll be working on being mindful forever.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Family Grows

On Sunday, September 7th we walked into Pet Supermarket to get Max some cat food and met this little girl:

10635901_10203173624444748_2641088124266372651_nShe was very scared and shy.  She wanted me to pet her, but wasn’t sure.  Then she looked at me and I think she suddenly she realized, I was a good one.  I bent down to her and she came up to my face and gave me the tiniest lick on my nose.  Tears welled in my eyes.  I knew this dog needed me.

Her name is Kiki.  She is about 2 1/2 years old.  She is a Terrier mix.  Looks like she is probably a Rat Terrier, with maybe some Chihuahua in there?  She is a little thing, she weighs about 13 lbs.  One of the first things you will notice about her is that she has a crooked front left leg.  This is part of her sad history.

Kiki has had a rough life so far.  We know she was in an abusive situation, that is where the broken leg came from.  It healed without being tended to.  I can’t imagine the pain she had to have been in.  She then ended up in a shelter where she was adopted by a lady who had 11 dogs.  She was a hoarder.  The dogs were not house trained.  They were not socialized or exercised.  Her neighbor had adopted a cat from the agency that ended up with Kiki, the Tasha, the founder of the agency, tried to talk the lady into letting her find homes for some of the animals but she wouldn’t let her.  The lady was subsequently evicted and that is when the Tasha got Kiki.  She had her for a month trying to get her socialized, at least partially house trained, and just calm before trying to find her a forever home.  Kiki has been with her for about 3 months and has really shown what a wonderful dog she is.

When we first met Kiki she would growl at Stuart sometimes.  Actually, she growled here and there at anyone.  Stuart said she growled at me a couple of times, but I never heard it. (the wonders of being deaf, huh?)  We talked to her Tasha and asked about fostering her for a little while before deciding about adoption, explaining that we weren’t sure if our big old cat would accept a dog in the family.  We did foster a dog for a little while once before and Max did not accept him at all.  However, he was a big dog, and a puppy.  We were hopeful that this situation would be different.  Kiki is smaller than Max, and she has lived with cats before so she is used to them.  Tasha understood and said she was willing to let us foster her for a few weeks before we adopted her.  We took an application with us to talk it over and get things started.

On Thursday of that week, right after I got my hip injection, Kiki arrived at our home.

Kiki’s arrives.

She was not too sure she really wanted to be here at first.   I felt so bad.  She was very attached to Tasha.  Kiki cried and cried when she left her with us.

IMG_20140911_200349

After a few hours she got a bit more settled.  She did play some with me that night, and slept curled up beside me.  It became apparent she was going to bond with me, but it was going to be a little bit harder with Stuart.   So I had him give her treats, and spend more time with her and suddenly I came out to find….

Stuart getting kisses from Kiki!
Stuart getting kisses from Kiki!

They are best buddies now!  She is still wary of him when he has on his work clothes, but she warms up fast as soon as he puts on his every day clothes.  I guess she just doesn’t like a man dressed up!  She used to get very upset when she got crowed.  We live in a small place now, if two people pass in the hall, it is crowded.  Kiki would often growl and cower if we were suddenly over her, she has gotten used to it now.  She is adapting so fast, I’m so very proud of her.

IMG_20140914_185351IMG_20140914_185320In these two pictures you can see how her leg healed when it was broken.  We still have to take her to see a vet to see if she is in pain, or if this will affect her in her later in life, or if there is anything we should do about it?  We know we can’t afford to pay for her to have major reconstructive surgery at this time, but if she needs to have surgery, we can start to save for it now.  She does not act as if it hurts.  She runs and jumps without favoring it.  In the photo it looks as if she is favoring it, but when she walks she puts her weight on it.  It breaks my heart to know someone hurt her like that.  I can only promise her that I will try my best to make sure no one ever hurts her again.

We were asked if we would keep her name.  We thought about it….should we change it?  Truthfully, we wouldn’t have named her Kiki, but she likes it.  She listens to it.  We thought about changing it to Mini, it sounds close so I’m sure she would get used to it.  We thought it would be cute because we have a Max.  But she’s Kiki.  Stuart often calls her Kikster!  He has also called her Yoda because of her ears.  She does have Yoda ears.   A friend said she could have multiple names, Kiki Mini Yoda…now we keep playing around and singing her songs every night adding names on to her.  hahaha  However, she is Kiki.

We knew it was a good sign between Kiki and Max when they didn’t chase each other.  They were a little curious, but mainly stayed out of each others way.   Then on day 3 I was lying in bed reading and Kiki fell asleep on one side of me, and Max came up and went to sleep on the other side.  I was in a pet sandwich!  Wow!  I was amazed! Then yesterday I walked in the living room and saw this:

CIMG3448
Max and Kiki

They had both taken my seat!  Most importantly though, I think they are pretty comfortable with each other!  Every once in a while they will chase each other.  I’m not sure if they are really chasing each other, or playing.  I think they are playing.   When they catch each other, they just stop.  It’s kind of funny.

We haven’t officially adopted Kiki yet.  However, we do plan to.  We just want to have her checked out by the vet first.  I can’t imagine what they could possibly say that would make us not adopt her.  We just feel it would be irresponsible for us to go into this adoption without knowing everything.

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while know how much the loss of my dog Sandy left a huge open hole in my heart.  It has been about 2 1/2 years since she died.  We feel it is a good time for us to add a new member into our pack.  We think Kiki is a good fit.  I also feel Sandy has had a little paw in selecting her.  There have been a few little things that she does that are just so “Sandy”.  Suddenly I can talk about Sandy without crying.  I feel this sadness lifted.  She has not been replaced in any way, I feel she wanted me to help another dog the way I helped her.  I feel like I’m fulfilling a promise, and her memory is living on in this new little furry baby.

Sandy
Sandy

This has been a very joyful time and a very hard time for me.  People who are going to adopt a pet have many things to consider.  Chronically ill people have many more things to consider.   This is a huge responsibility.   I have been doing so much better recently I thought I could take care of Kiki mostly on my own.   I was writing stories of the future.  Just as worrying does no good because we can’t do anything about the future, expecting the future to be as the same as it is today is also fruitless.  Everything changes.  We have to remember, we can’t predict the future.  When things hit us from out of the blue, we have to make room for it and adjust.

I’ll explain in my next post.    …..teaser……my hip condition is complicated so, I suddenly have a dog and can’t walk her, at least not right now………

I’m a Spinning Hipster

It is a challenge to always be aware of what is happening right now, without wishing it were different.  However, that is the basis of mindfulness, and it does help when you live a life full of chronic illness and pain.  Sometimes I just can’t do it, sometimes I wish things were different.  It’s not that bad right now.  Yes, I’ve wished it were different at times, but I haven’t been too worried about it.  I know things will change, and I one very big thing I have learned, even when I can’t be mindful enough to be aware of what is happening in my life right now, without wishing it were different, I can be non-judgmental of myself.  That’s a big thing for me.

Traveling back and forth between Charlotte and Durham over and over again during this move has worn my body a little bit.  My hip left started to protest a little over a month ago.  We came back from Durham and I wasn’t walking very well.  I rested it and after about a week and a half I it was acting more normal.  Then we went back to Durham.  When we got back, I was much worse.  This time it didn’t settle down.

hip x-ray courtesy of http://www.orthop.washington.edu
hip x-ray
courtesy of http://www.orthop.washington.edu

I ended up going to the orthopedic urgent care on the evening of August 29th, yes they have a special urgent care here just for hip and knee orthopedic, isn’t that amazing?  I was shocked at how wonderful this place was.  I didn’t have to wait long.  They didn’t rush me in and out, the doctor took his time with me, they all worked hard to make sure I understood what was being said after they learned I was hearing challenged.  (nice way of saying, one of my Cochlear Implants was broken so I was really not hearing much of anything!)   The x-rays showed that everything looks good.  He thinks the labrum is catching, but really we aren’t exactly sure.  I’ve had trouble with the other hip too.  Could just be in my genes.  My father has trouble with his hips (well he had trouble, now he has new hips) and my aunt has trouble with her hips.  It could be arthritis starting, just not to the point of showing up on an x-ray yet, or I’m just wearing out.   The doctor wanted to give me steroids to get the inflammation to go down.  He said when inflammation starts it is very hard to get it to stop, it just kind of get out of control.  I explained to him that I am very afraid to take steroids because they often cause me to have severe vertigo attacks.  He respected that and said he didn’t blame me.  He suggested getting a shot in the joint.  I agreed.  Then we realized the holiday was coming up.  I was in a lot of pain and told him to write the prescription for a very low dose of steroids and I would take them.  We filled them on the way home and then I chickened out.  I couldn’t do it.  I’d rather hurt, a lot.

I had a follow-up appointment scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.  I was awakened on Tuesday morning by a Meniere’s attack.  Full blown vertigo!  There is no way for me to prepare for that, couldn’t center myself and get calm, all I could do was grab the trash can!  I was totally unprepared!  Stuart had just left for work.  My phone was across the room being charged, this is strange, I normally charge it on my night stand, for some reason I plugged up across the room.  My emergency kit was in the living room.  I was really unprepared.  I started to panic.  Then I stopped.  I took a deep breath and said, “NO”. “Calm Down”  “Feel the Night Stand under my hand, it is not moving.  I’m not moving.  Look at the bottle on the night stand.  It is not moving.  Focus.  Calm Down. You are safe.”  It was very hard because I was SO HOT!  I had no way to cool down.  That was making me very sick.  I did get in a Valium and Phenergan. I was calming down but the heat was still making me sick.  I started to control the spinning but was still throwing up because of the heat.  I was able to lunge for the phone and text Stuart…”vertigo help”  all of this had happened so fast.  He had just parked at work and gotten out of the car, he turned around and got back in the car and came home.  (I found out it did take him longer to get to work that day because he stopped to get gas, so it didn’t happen as fast as I thought.)  He came home and got me an ice pack and cooled me down.  Then I could really make peace with everything.   I did a good job handling things.   I will say, I did want things to be different.  I’m not that great at that part of mindfulness all the time yet.  In that instance, if nothing else, I wanted me to be more prepared.  I haven’t had anything like that happen in so long, I got lazy.   I can accept the fact it happened.  It is the nature of the beast.  It happens.  I was very upset that I was not prepared.

stop worrying
image at http://sharifahnorhamidah.blogspot.com

Then I started to worry.  What if I am on my way to feeling bad again.  I had a reprieve of a little over 4 months before, and it all feel apart.  What if…..   What if….   My mind grabbed a hold of that and it kept going back to it.  I would think I needed to stop thinking about the future I can’t control it, but I wasn’t really able to stop my mind from going there.  Finally I was able to let it go.  No I don’t want to end up getting that sick again, but if I do, it’s not the end of the world.  I will make the most of it.  I learned a lot, heck, if it happens again, I think I could handle it a lot better this time.  I can’t control what happens.  I’m not going to worry about it.  I’m not going to think about it.  I’m staying right here in the now.  I’m living in this day, and I like it.

My appointment with the hip orthopedist was rescheduled for September 4th.  I still felt a bit hung over from my attack on Tuesday and my hearing sounded a bit off, but I was able to make the appointment, no problem.  I saw a different doctor.  She was also very nice.  The entire office is very understanding about my hearing, and try very hard to remember to look at me when they speak.  (I did have both my Cochlear Implants in working order at this time, but it is still always a challenge.)  My doctor forgot a couple of times and I gently reminded her that I need for her to look at me, she was so apologetic, you could tell she was trying so very hard.  She is just so used to speaking to both people in the room, and also speaking when she takes notes.  She was a lovely woman who explained things very well, and gave a thorough exam, that HURT! haha  She agreed with everything the doctor said in Urgent Care.  I will be getting a shot on the 11th. I will go back to see her about 4 weeks after that.  She told me to take notice how I felt when I got the shot, if I felt better immediately, when it started to hurt again, if I felt better later….ect..  This is a good diagnostic tool telling them more about what might be wrong, and we will discuss it more when I see her again.

Right now, my hip hurts, but I’ll be getting a shot soon.  I’m feeling happy I’m alive to feel it all, and just be.  I’m grateful I handled the attack as well as I did even though I wasn’t prepared.  I’m grateful my hubby has a flexible job and was able to come home and work from home that day and watch over me….and take the time needed to take me to the doctor.  I’m grateful there is a special urgent care for hip and knee orthopedic needs.   I’m grateful I had such great doctors at both of my visits, the urgent care doctor and the doctor at my follow-up visit.

I have much to be grateful for during all of this.  I will admit there are a lot of challenges.  I am not able to do much without pain, so I can’t do things around the house.  Stuart is once again having to do most everything.  This is taking its toll on my poor husband.  I can see it wearing on him.  There is still so much to take care of with the house in Durham.  So many things to just do.  It doesn’t help to worry about it.  We can’t change things by worrying.  What has happened, happened.  We can make plans for the future, but we can’t get too wrapped up in them.

Something we’ve had to learn because of my illness, don’t fret if something happens to mess your plans all up.  Change your plans as the day changes.  Go with the flow, it’s much easier to float with the current than to fight up-stream.  So when things happen to completely go against your plans, change your plans.  I sound like a broken record, but this is one of the hardest things for people to understand.  Not just chronically ill people, everyone can learn from this.  People get really stressed out when things don’t go as planned.  This goes for what we expect of others too.  Perhaps we should talk more about this at another time….this post is getting a bit long.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow.

Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.    ~Lao-Tzu

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s up and on my mind…a Free Write…

Please note…I’m just going to write and not pay too much attention to grammar or spelling or anything like that, I’m not going to re-read because I don’t want to filter what comes out.  This is an experiment, something I sometimes do in my journal….let’s see what comes to the surface….

Acceptance is not the same as giving up, but if I’m not careful it can slip into that.  I’ve accepted my illnesses, especially Meniere’s with hearing loss, for a long while now, and I’m really ok with it.  I realize things aren’t going to get much better, and my not get any better….now is that giving up?  not saying I’m OK with it, but saying it won’t get better?  When my husband was worried because I had been feeling worse for a while he wanted me to think about going to the doctor and he said, “I just want you to get better.”  I got so mad and upset.  What?  Get better?  What delusional state are you living in?  Do you really think I’m going to get better???  I felt like he didn’t understand….then I realized…after a long discussion that he meant he wanted me to feel better than I had been for the past month, he felt something new was wrong and wanted me to check it out.  Then I thought….could I get better?  Have I given up?  and decided, yes, to a certain extent I had given up.  I was so determined to accept my life as it was, I had given up that it could be better.  Maybe the hearing can’t get better….well, the doctor has told me that much.  And possible the vertigo will never get better….but who knows for sure, I accepted my fate.  I’ve also accepted living in pain.  Hip pain, pelvic pain, Vaginismus, neck pain, arthritis pain….and my other illnesses….I accepted my fate, I’d live with these forever, but really, do I have to?  Yes, I’ve put these issues on the back burner because the Meniere’s, Hearing loss, and Migraines have taken over my life, but as I’ve found that my Migraines can get  better, I can hear better (thanks to the computers in my head) maybe not the same or as well as i once heard, but I can hear….why should I not believe some of my other issues can be helped.  No, I’d given up.  I’d given up on having a normal sex life, given up on being able to walk for any distance without being in horrible pain, given up on so much….  I feel better that I’ve accepted the things I cannot change, but I’m ticked off at myself for giving up on the things I could.  This has changed!!  I’m not giving up on getting better…the things that can get better….I’m not giving up on me.

I had a realization the other night.  I’ve been having full blown panic attacks lately…yes, feeling like I can’t breathe, my chest tightening….everything.  I realize most of these have been triggered by the loss of income in the family, then me being denied my disability claim, and I’m still mourning the loss of Sandy.  (yes, it’s been over a year and an half)  Losing a friend who was so close to me for 19 years has taken it’s toll on me.  I can honestly say I have not grieved for anyone more than Sandy except for my mother.  Maybe it’s because of everything else that has happened in the past couple of years, everything just building up on it…but I don’t think so…my Sandy girl was just so special.

I HEARD MUSIC!!  Yes, that’s right!  I actually heard music for the first time in at least 3 years!  Stuart was out of town for a job interview, and I was watching a movie, they started playing Credence Clearwater Revival’s Have You Ever Seen The Rain?  And I actually heard it!  I understood the words, I heard the music!!!  This new CI likes music.  I still can’t understand many spoken words on TV, but I heard music!  I didn’t realize I missed it so much.

Well, I think that’s all for now.  I’ve been having a hard time keeping my CSF pressure stable, and today is a bad day.  My doctor raised my dosage, and I need to take my meds.  I also have to see a neuro-opthomologist.  (Yes another thing I had accepted, and felt like it wouldn’t get better, I know it won’t go away, but hopefully, it will get better)

My asthma symptoms were much better but not great, my doctor added another medication, and now I’m much worse.  Bah!  Hoping this will get better.

Oh, Stuart’s interview in Las Vegas went well.  We are going to go look around soon and then he will make a decision.  Lot’s to do…well, not as much as I thought, they said they will pay for the move.  : )  But selling the house when we aren’t here, that is a scary thing….at least to me.

Keep meaning to take pictures of my new Cochlear Implants…I want to take a photo of the new beside the old, so you can see the difference.  It’s amazing how much it changed in just one year….but I don’t think it will change that drastically again for a while.

More soon….thanks for putting up with my babbling.  AT least this has some coherent thoughts some of my journal free writing doesn’t.

Cochlear Implant #2…a short update

I haven’t been on the computer much since my surgery.  I simply do not feel well shortly after I get on, I get all hot and dizzy…so no computer for me.  (please note, I didn’t read this after I wrote it, I am just too tired, please forgive any strangeness, grammatical errors, or anything that is just wrong.)

However, I did want to update all as to my recovery.

Incision  the Day after surgery,
Day after surgery,  Sorry it’s not cleaned up more, but I hubby just took this picture to show me, and then we forgot to take another one.

Had the Cochlear Implant surgery on the 25th.  The incision looks great.  It still hurts a bit, not terribly bad, but annoying (mostly it’s just itching now!).  The tinnitus has been going Crazy!!  As I mentioned in an earlier post prescription pain relievers have been making me itch, so I’ve had to try different things.

I tried Arnica Montana (most just call it Arnica) in the oral form.  I’ve used the topical gel many times with much success, but I’ve never tried the tablets.  Before surgery we checked to make sure it wouldn’t be adverse to my medications, but didn’t see where it said not to take it if you are allergic to ragweed.  (guess what my number one allergen is?  Ragweed!) So I took it for a day and my muscles seized up.  I couldn’t even sit up without help.  So no more Arnica for me.  It took about 2 days for me to not hurt all over.  Kind of ironic, I used it to help with the pain and ended up in more pain.  But, hey, it took my mind off of my ear!

I am able to take an NSAID by injection.  I can’t take them orally because they have caused me a lot of stomach troubles.  So I have Toradol injections.  Unfortunately, I can only have 2 a week.  But they do help, a lot!  I use this for my most intense migraines too.  We decided to try 1/2 a shot to see if it helped, and it did!  Yay!  So I was able to have more shots just at a lower dose.  This helped a lot, especially when I couldn’t sleep.  But really, over all, I haven’t been in much pain, just uncomfortable with my glasses.

The vertigo started about 3 days ago.  I don’t know what’s going on really, I’m sure it has to do with the fluid from swelling and it going down…or something.  It’s not the normal Meniere’s vertigo.  It’s often positional, so if I lie very still I don’t spin.  I’ve also been having this strange sensation as if I’m having vertigo, but I’m visually spinning.  I feel my body/head moving, but I’m not moving, nor do I see anything moving.  It makes me just as sick as vertigo does.  Strange huh?  I’m still so grateful I was able to get Phenergan injections that hubby can give me.  I think it has saved me many times.

I was supposed to be activated and get my processors on the 8th, but the vertigo would not let me.  I thought I probably could have made it through the doctor’s visit, he is just checking the incision site, but going through the audiologist appointment would have had me on the floor!  That is a LONG visit.  Not only does she actually turn things on, she has to adjust things as I tell her how the beeps sound.(called MAPping for those with CI’s, or those who are just interested).  Then I have to have a hearing test, not just a regular hearing test, but a very long and detailed test.  I get so tired and worn out every time we do this I often have an attack that evening, so going there with me already feeling wonky in the head, would not have been wise.

Unfortunately, that means that I may have to wait until the first week of November.  We/They are trying to work it out so I can get in sooner, but the way I’ve been feeling I wouldn’t say it will be too soon anyway.  The office is looking to set up the appointment with my doctor on one day and then the audiologist on a different day instead of trying to do both in one day.  This should be easier to schedule.  Plus, it should also be easier on me.  At Duke they normally try to schedule as much on the same day as possible because so many people come from far away to be seen.  We often have to remind them we just live about 10 minutes from there.

So that’s my news for now.  I’m tired a lot, sleeping a lot…..guess I’m healing.  (oh who am I kidding, I was sleeping a lot before the surgery!)  Catching up on some reading, and watching TV.  The new season of Rupaul’s Drag Race just started!  (actually, they are showing season 1 again, it’s a hoot!)  If you asked me last year if I watched any reality shows I would have said no, but I love Rupaul’s show! after all……

“If you can’t love yourself how the hell are you going to love anyone else?…..can I get an Amen?” – Rupaul signs off each show with this quote!