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How are you today? Health history…

« Please read this, before reading any of my updates »

I’ve decided to post this blog to answer the inevitable question: “How are you today?”.    I get asked this question so often, and frequently have to explain alot, and quite honestly, I’m tired of typing a novel each time, so I’ve decided to put it all in one place, and direct people to it when needed. Maybe this will also help some people understand what I go through on a daily basis, so I can stop hearing the criticism like “she’s just lazy”, or “she’s using abc as an excuse so she doesn’t have to do xyz”, or “you look just fine to me”. The absolute worst is when someone says I’m just “fishing for sympathy”. I don’t ask anyone for anything, except understanding and compasion…not only towards me, but anyone else going through the same things I’m going through. I detest pity…I don’t give it, and I don’t want it.

Most of the people that know me personally, know that I am not the healthiest person around. In fact, on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being pretty damn healthy, I’d probably fall somewhere around a 2 or 3…not even close to healthy. Growing up, I’d have to say that I was a fairly healthy human specimen. I had my share of accidents and illnesses, but overall, I was healthy. Since my late teens, though, my body has decided to rebel against me, and to sum it up: it ain’t pretty.

By the age of 16, my major health snafus consisted of: falling off stairs and breaking my arm, getting my arm caught in an escalator, having a tooth pulled from the roof of my mouth, having my appendix removed, chicken pox, dental surgery, braces, getting my first period right after turning 10, getting stung dozens of times on my chest by a swarm of bees, and chicken pox (yes, twice)…in addition to the usual bumps, bruises and sprains. Some normal stuff, some incredibly strange stuff.

After 16, things started going downhill, but not too badly until the age of 20. As a teen, I had terrible monthly cramps, and was told by an old male doctor that, “women don’t really get cramps, it’s all in your head”, and prescribed the equivalent of 4 Advil tablets. That pain was continual, but manageable, and only happened 1 week a month, so I didn’t complain too much. I also, apparently, had too much “boob growth” in my DNA, and was so large that I was having back, neck and shoulder pain. Again, manageable, but I dreamt of a reduction daily, to the point where I was cutting out news articles about other women having life changing surgery to correct this problem.

At 20, I finally had a doctor diagnose me with Endometriosis, which was a “new” diagnoses at the time, even though it wasn’t a new disease. I went in for surgery, and found out that it was pretty much worst case scenario, but that there is no cure for the disease, and only a couple of ways to manage it. Some lesions were cauterized (burned off) during surgery, but because it was so extensive, they decided to put me on a new drug called Danocrine. That changed my life, and NOT for the better! It’s basically a male hormone, that stops a woman from having her period, so the body can try to heal itself while it’s being fooled into thinking that she’s pregnant. The voice deepens, the facial whiskers start growing, and, oh yeah, the weight gain…as if I were preparing to become a man! Needless to say, they don’t use that drug anymore! And it caused more problems than it helped. I was also told I’d never be able to get pregnant.

At 22, I developed a case of dizziness. At first, the docs thought it was an ear infection gone awry. Then it was diagnosed as Vestibular Neuritis. Medicine to combat it worked for all of a couple months, then stopped working. I was tested frequently, with no definitive results, and certainly no cure. I was told I could have surgery to cut the nerve responsible for transmitting the balance signal to the brain, but there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll end up deaf in the process. Hmmm, I think I’ll keep my hearing, thank you, even if it means keeping the dizziness. Of course, it also meant that driving became dangerous (doc threatened to take my license!), and even standing and walking were a struggle most of the time. Since then, I’ve applied for SSDI 3 times, only to be turned down because it’s not a “visible problem” (yeah, I’m bitter about that!).

I stopped working – not because I wanted to, but because I couldn’t find an employer willing to allow me to call off several times a week (gee, go figure!). Then I ended up with a cyst the size of an egg in my neck, which was finally surgically removed, and benign! It’s left me with a scar that I joke around about when people ask me about it. (I tell them that my ex tried to slit my throat…the looks I get are funny…then I tell them the truth. Evil, I know. )

In 1996, at the age of 25, the impossible happened…I got pregnant! I was scared silly, but happier than a pig in shit, too!   Two months into my pregnancy, I had a TIA (a mini-stroke). Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was put on bed rest because of Pre-eclampsia. Childbirth was no picnic for me, either…the kid just didn’t want to come out! I was minutes away from a C-section, when he finally decided to grace me with his presence. Afterward, I was put on bed-rest again, because of Toxemia of Pregnancy. Ugh! I decided then and there, that I was never going to have another child, and took every precaution to prevent it! LOL

After that, I was busy raising my Son and 2 step-Daughters, dealing with dizziness, and another 2 problems…High Blood Pressure and Migraines. In 1998, I finally realized my dream of having a breast reduction! Best decision I ever made, even if the scarring isn’t what I had hoped for. I was able to walk upright and proud after that, and what a difference in the amount of pain I was in! WOW!

I was on meds daily for the HBP, which eventually caused GERD, so added another medicine to my daily routine. In 2002, during a vacation to Disney World, I noticed a lump in my belly, so large that I couldn’t sleep on my stomach without difficulty. By this time, my doctor was probably sick of seeing me. I was sent for many tests, and eventually surgery. I had a cyst on my right ovary the size of a grapefruit and the shape of a football. There was an oncologist there during surgery, just in case, but it turned out to be benign. While they were in there, I received a hysterectomy because of the Endometriosis. The only things left are a tiny portion of my left ovary (for hormone production) and my cervix. Finally, the monthly pain had all but stopped! I still have some occasionally, because I still ovulate, but it’s never more than a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10!

Things were finally starting to look up for me, so in 2004 I got a job at the only place I could think of that would treat someone like me fairly…Wal-Mart.   Since I was protected under the ADA, I didn’t get fired for calling off due to the dizziness and migraines…they weren’t happy about it, but I had a job for the first time in 12 years! Four months later, while walking into work, I stepped down and felt a terrible pain in my foot. I lived with that pain for the next several months, until one night I practically had to be carried out of work, I was in so much pain. Straight off to the hospital, where x-rays showed a bone spur under the Achilles tendon, and the tip of it had broken off and was “floating” around inside. Walking has been a nightmare since, and has continually gotten worse. The orthopedic surgeon basically told me that there’s nothing that can be done, except to take the tendon off the bone to remove the spur, and that’s at least 4 months recovery time, and that he wasn’t willing to do that surgery. So, I’ve lived with it since then.

2007 was a pretty bad year for me, physically. I had to stop working because of the problems. I gained about 50 pounds due to not being able to walk, and obesity presents it’s own set of problems. I finally got a diagnoses for the dizziness, and found out I have Meniere’s Disease … incurable, and will eventually cause me to be deaf. I started having a radical change in my Migraines, to the tune of one every couple of days, and they were causing a blindness that’s hard to explain. It starts out as a small pin-prick of bright light, that grows and swallows my vision, while leaving me feeling like I’m looking through a kaleidoscope for about 1/2 hour, at which point the bright light grows so large that I can see something directly in front of me, but have no peripheral vision. Then my face goes numb, my hands start to tingle, and my speech is slurred for about another 1/2 hour. Eventually, the excruciating pain takes over, and I’m incapacitated for several hours. And this they call an “Aura”. I have another term for it, but I’ll refrain for now. LOL

During July of 2007, my doc tried a new medicine for it, called Topomax. I can honestly say that the med worked! I had 3 Migraines in the space of a month, and was ecstatic that something finally worked! Unfortunately, I had an “adverse reaction” to it, and ended up on death’s doorstep because of it. I was too weak to stand for more than a minute (couldn’t keep food inside), I was having severe chest pains, and my blood pressure dropped so low, I scared the ambulance personnel on my way to the hospital. Needless to say, I stopped that med, and another was tried. It’s great, but I’m still having, on average, 5 Migraines a month.

Shortly afterward, we moved to another county, and I had to change health insurance. Being on Medicaid, it’s not a fun process, and I was without insurance for a couple of months. Of course, that is when my one remaining baby tooth decided to give me major problems. And a couple of months ago, I woke up to find 2 fingers on my left hand were numb, and have been since!

So, the whole point of this blog was to answer the question: “How are you today?”. Since I get asked this quite frequently, I decided to post this “history” and I’ll be making updates to it as frequently as I need, to keep everyone up to date on exactly how I’m doing lately. Now that I have insurance, I’m able to go to the doctors that I need to see, to get these problems fixed (or at least managed). My updates will be on a separate blog, for anyone interested. Thanks for taking the time to read…maybe you’ve learned something you didn’t know about me before, why I am the way I am.

  1. June 23, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Wow. Thank you for sharing your story. I was just diagnosed with a vestibular problem, and meniere’s hasn’t been ruled out yet. I’ve been looking for blogs about people who struggle with this seemingly invisible pain, as every doctor I go to has something different to say.

    • June 23, 2012 at 6:50 am

      You’re welcome. That’s exactly why I shared it, in the hopes that I could help someone else. I don’t know that I’ll have the answers you need, but if you have questions, I’ll be happy to try to answer them for you! 🙂

  1. November 22, 2010 at 7:54 am
  2. November 27, 2010 at 11:50 pm
  3. December 1, 2010 at 3:34 am

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