Today marks day 100 of my weight loss journey. I was pleasantly surprised by hitting one of my goals today: 15 lbs gone, hopefully forever.
I started my journey on my 45th birthday. I had an ultimate weight goal in mind, which would take me back to my weight around the time of my first marriage. That meant I had at least 100 lbs to lose. This was not going to be easy.
In 1992, I was a fairly healthy young woman. That’s when my body turned against me. I developed a medical condition called Meniere’s Disease, which causes vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss. It took 14 years to finally get a definitive diagnosis. During those 14 years, I struggled with mobility, because it’s difficult to be active when your world is spinning more often than not. That lack of activity also brought about weight gain. By 1995, I’d gained about 20 lbs. Not a huge amount, but because of my body’s small frame, it made me look chubby.
In 1996, I became pregnant. Naturally, I gained weight. I ballooned another 30 lbs. I wasn’t terribly worried about it, because I knew that once I had the baby, I’d lose weight. Or so I thought. I struggled for over a year, just to lose 5 lbs. I was mortified. I’d been experiencing severe migraines at the rate of about 1 per week. In addition to the vertigo, I was laid up for 1-2 days at a time because of the migraines. The only thing I could do to control my weight was diet, because exercise was something I was rarely capable of doing.
Fast forward to 2004. I’d learned how to somewhat manage the vertigo, and was learning how to do life with migraines that were getting worse by the year. I got a part-time job at Walmart, as a cashier. I was on my feet 2-3 nights a week, walking around a lot. 3rd shift cashiers don’t just stand at the register all night. We were responsible for so much more, which meant walking for several hours, and countless miles. I never did buy a pedometer back then, but I estimate I walked at least 5 miles every night I worked. I ended up losing about 30 lbs in six months. I was ecstatic. I could do this! I could get myself healthy again. Maybe it would even help with the migraines.
Then I injured myself. I slammed a shopping cart into the back of my heel. I thought I’d just bruised it, and it would heal in a few days, and I’d be back to normal (or what passed as normal for my body) in a week. But that didn’t happen. The pain became worse every day. Each step I took was excruciating. I was missing more days than I was working. I went to the ER, where x-rays were taken of my foot. That’s when the bone spurs were discovered. The shopping cart had broken off a piece of a large bone spur, and the broken piece was “floating” around inside. The spur was under my Achilles tendon, and every time I stretched it with normal movement, the floating piece was cutting through the tendon, and rubbing against the bone. The pain was unimaginable. I was sent to a podiatrist, who said there was a surgery that could be done, but he wasn’t willing to do it at that time. I went on a Leave of Absence from work. I never returned.
By 2008, having been unemployable for at least 2 years, I had gained back all of the weight I lost, plus more. I went to another podiatrist when I started experiencing the same type of pain in my other foot. X-rays revealed another bone spur, nearly identical to the other one (minus the broken piece). He agreed that surgery was absolutely necessary. I had surgery on one foot. I was immobile for 2 months, then had to re-learn how to walk on that foot again. It took 4 years and another 25 lbs to get to the point where I could go through the same surgery on my other foot. I was ashamed by how much weight I’d gained. The 2nd surgery had to be done in the hospital instead of the outpatient unit, because I’d gained so much weight, it wasn’t safe for me to be put under anesthesia outside of the hospital.
A year after the 2nd surgery, I had to have another minor surgery on the same foot, to repair a problem. It’s been 3 years since that surgery, 8 years since the first surgery, and I’m still struggling to walk like a normal human being. There’s a good chance I will never walk normally again. I have accepted that. I have accepted that the Meniere’s Disease is permanent, and that the migraines probably are, too.
What I have never accepted was the amount of weight I’d gained over the years. All told, I gained 106 lbs between 1992 and 2015. I am determined to lose it, no matter what it takes! I can’t walk every day. I can’t ride a normal bike outside. I tried joining the YMCA in 2014 to swim, but it didn’t work out, for various reasons. I knew that diet alone wasn’t going to get the weight off. We don’t have the money for a gym membership or diet plan like Weight Watchers. I started researching ways to lose weight, with so many things stacked against me.
I found an app for my phone. MyFitnessPal. I downloaded it, learned how to use it, and committed to doing what I could. I logged everything I ate. I downloaded a second app for my phone to record my exercise. MapMyWalk. I bought a new digital scale to replace the ancient, malfunctioning analog scale we had (and discovered I was 5 lbs fatter than I thought I was!). I bought a digital food scale, and I now weigh everything I possibly can, so my calorie intake can be as accurate as possible. We found an exercise bike through a local FreeCycle group. And lastly, I bought a used FitBit Flex from a local yard sale group.
I ride my exercise bike for at least 30 minutes a day. I distract myself by playing a game on my phone, or by watching tv (usually Biggest Loser). By the time I’m done on the bike, I’m in an excruciating amount of pain. Both of my feet hurt, my back hurts, my knees and hips hurt, my butt hurts, my crotch feels like it’s on fire. But I haven’t gone one day in the past 100 days without riding that bike. And it’s paying off. I’m losing, on average, about a pound a week.
The best part is that I’m doing this on my own. I don’t have a trainer*. I don’t have a dietitian. I don’t have a gym. I don’t have much physical ability. I have many physical disabilities. But I’m doing it. BY MYSELF. And it’s hard. I won’t lie, this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s also slow. I know it will be close to 2 years before I reach my goal weight. I still have a lot to learn. I know I will have to change many things in my diet. But I’m determined to be healthy and beautiful again.
* If Jillian Michaels wants to come train me, I’m more than willing to have my ass kicked by her! 😉
So, I figured since my first “updates” blog was getting a bit congested, and since it’s a new year with new goals, I may as well start a fresh new blog. Let’s hope it’s the start of good things to come for me and my health issues.
1/7/09 – Last week, I had the root canal started. Then I spent the better part of the week in pain: either a pounding, gotta-take-Vicodin-and-forget-about-life pain, or just a throbbing letting-me-know-it’s-there pain. And if that weren’t bad enough, the meds that were stuffed into the root were leaking out, causing a bad taste in my mouth, similar to what you’d find if you were chewing on a Band-Aid. Yuck! Ruined the taste of food for me for the week. So, today I went back to have the root canal finished. Once again I was numbed, only this time I requested my Husband be there so I could render his hand unusable for about an hour. LOL The doc was very caring and very gentle, and I’ve decided I’m keeping him as my dentist for good. (If anyone local wants a referral, let me know!) So, the root was cleaned out and a silver filling put in. Now we play the waiting game with my insurance again, for pre-approval for a crown. And since my insurance only allows one full mouth x-ray every 5 years, I have to get my former dentist (the one I was fighting with) to forward the x-ray they took. Should be fun! (not) And last but not least, while I was there – and numb – I had another tooth fixed. So now there’s nothing left to fix on the bottom left side of my mouth! Woohoo! A couple more fillings here and there on other teeth, and I can finally move on to getting my ankles operated on. I can hardly wait!
2/11/09 – Went to the family doc’s, for a regular check up. Good thing, too, ’cause I’ve been sick as a dog for a couple of days. I was told that my cholesterol was a bit high, but nothing terrible. She just wants me to change my diet and get more exercise. Easier said than done. She also wants me to see a neurologist for both the Meniere’s and the migraines, since the last time was a few years ago. I suspect they’ll want another MRI done. In addition, she wants me to see an ophthalmologist to rule out any problems behind my eyes, and because my vision has been getting worse. Old age, I say! I also got a referral for the podiatrist again, so I can get this surgery scheduled on my ankles. She gave me a prescription for an anti-depressant, due to the stress I’ve been under lately and because of the severe insomnia and some mood shifts. No problem, I’ve been down this road before. I just hope it works, without the side effects of the others I’ve tried. And last but not least, because my sinuses are backed up, and my ears are clogged (sounds like a bowl of Rice Crispies in there), she put me on daily prescription of Claritin, and wants me to take it through the spring. I took my first dose today, and lemme tell ya, I’m draining like a faucet! I feel like a regular snot factory. Gross, I know … sorry!
3/17 & 3/25/09 – After about 6 weeks of dealing with bronchitis (and still have a latent cough), I was finally healthy enough to make my appointments. I saw the dentist on the 17th, and had a tooth readied for another crown. Nothing too bad: a small needle just to numb the gums and some filing down of the tooth. Now I have a temporary crown, and am waiting for the permanent to be made and sent (10 days, they said). Today, the 25th, I saw the Ophthalmologist. That was an eye-opener, pardon the pun. First, they checked my vision. I was right, it’s gotten worse since the last time I was checked. I used to be far-sighted with astigmatism. Now, apparently I’m still far-sighted, still have astigmatism, but when I try to read small print, I can’t. So, I now have to wear bi-focals. Ugh, that totally sucks! But at least I’ll be able to read my computer screen without it being 12 inches from my face! LOL Unfortunately, that’s not the worst of the news. I was informed that I have cataracts in both of my eyes, with the left eye being worse than the right. The doc said it will probably be about 10 years or so before I have to worry about having them removed, it’s not that bad … but it’s not good either, for someone who isn’t even 40 yet! The good news is: there’s nothing about my eyes that’s causing the Migraines. I go to get my new glasses tomorrow, after the trip to the Neurologist. I’ll post pics when I have them.
3/26/09 – My new glasses are going to have to wait. I was at the Neurologist today, and was there about an hour longer than expected, and missed my appointment for the glasses. Oh well, next week. (update: on 3/30 I picked out my new frames, found out that I couldn’t afford the “no-line” for the bifocals, nor could I afford the transition lenses. I did, however, get the “anti-glare.) But the big news is my appointment today with the Neurologist! It’s so big and important, I’ve put it in a separate blog.
4/1/09 – Saw my Podiatrist today. Nothing “new” with my feet, at least no additional pain. But he prescribed me a new medication: an anti-inflammatory cream that I’m to rub on my ankles 3 times a day. I’ll continue that until my surgery on my right foot, which we’ve scheduled for May 8th (then I’ll just use it on my other foot). Now I have to get my Neurologist to speed up the process for my sleep study and MRI. I just can’t wait another couple of months for the surgery, I’m in too much pain. After that appointment, I went to get blood drawn for labs. Not fun. I hate needles. I did end up with a very experienced “stick” today, so that was good; I barely felt the needle! Last but not least, now that I’ve had the bloodwork done, I can start taking yet another new medicine. The Neurologist prescribed magnesium, so I’ll be taking 2 more pills a day (500mg each). Happy happy joy joy. I’m now up to 8 pills a day (5 different prescriptions), including a multivitamin, plus the occasional Advil for the frequent headaches, plus 1/2 a Vicodin about 3x a month for the foot pain, and a 3x daily cream for my feet. This is getting to the point of ridiculous. I spend my day making sure I space my meds out so nothing conflicts, and my daily pill case can’t hold much more. *sigh*
4/16/09 – The past 2 weeks have been a blur of appointments. I saw my Podiatrist again, to fill out all the necessary paperwork for my surgery. I also found out that the anti-inflammatory gel he prescribed isn’t covered by my insurance, and I can’t afford the $40 it will cost outright. So, I just have to deal with the pain until surgery. Unfortunately, my left foot will bear the brunt of the pain after that. The doc said he doesn’t want to give me a cortisone injection in the left, because he’s afraid that if I don’t feel the pain, I might do alot more damage to it while I heal from surgery on the right. I understand that. I had my MRI done, and am waiting to hear the results of it. They sent me a CD with the images on it, but I don’t know what I’m looking at. There are a couple that are pretty funny looking, which I’ll be adding to my photo collection soon. I received my new eyeglasses, and WOW, what a difference! I didn’t realize how much I hadn’t been seeing all this time. It’s difficult getting used to the bi-focals, but I’m sure I’ll master that soon enough. Pics coming soon. I had my crown finished for my tooth, and with a tiny little bit of adjustment, it’s perfect! Now I’ll be able to chew on that side again, for the first time in a year. I had the dentist take a look at one of my front teeth, which I chipped a couple of weeks ago. He filed it down, and although it’s a bit rough, it’s not sharp anymore. I’ve been on the phone with my eye doctor’s today, about the double vision, and I’m supposed to keep a journal of when it happens. I’ve also been pestering docs to find out the results of my blood-work and MRI. Last but not least, I go to see the Pulminologist in June, as a preliminary to the sleep study. Like I said, busy busy busy! I need a break from all this medical stuff for a while.
4/23/09 – Went to my family doc to get medical clearance for my surgery. I even managed to lose 3.5 pounds since my last visit! (not sure how, but I’m grateful for any weight loss) They drew blood to run one last test before surgery. I also found out the results of my previous lab-work: everything was fine and normal, except the one that tested for any inflammation in my body, which was high. Of course it was, both of my ankles are inflamed! The results of the MRI aren’t great, but I’ll be seeing the Neurologist again after my surgery, and we’ll talk about it more extensively. Apparently, there’s a spot on the left side of my brain that they’re concerned about. I was told it could have come from a brain injury, which I didn’t understand, because I’ve never hit my head hard enough for that. She explained that a brain injury doesn’t necessarily mean it comes from an external source, but that it could have come from a ruptured blood vessel, which may be caused by a stroke (recent or not), and that they’ll have to compare it to my previous MRI to get a better idea of what it is and when it happened. It may have happened way back in 1996 when I had a TIA (mini-stroke). I’m not jumping to any conclusions just yet, I’ll just wait and see.
5/8/09 – Surgery day. I was in for surgery prep at 6:30a, out cold by 7:30a, and waking up around 10a. The surgery took twice as long as expected, and they had some trouble waking me up, but other than that, it went well. They took part of the Achilles tendon off the bone, found the broken piece (which was the size of a dime), filed down the remaining spur and reattached the tendon to the bone with pins which are supposed to dissolve on their own after some time. A “half cast” was molded to my foot and leg, to keep my toes in a downward position and the tendon in a relaxed position. That’s been a little hard on the muscle on the top of my foot, because it’s stretched. I’m sure that’ll hurt like hell once I’m allowed to move it again! I’m wrapped in ace bandages, over the cast, all the way to just under my knee. I have both a walker and a wheelchair here for my use. The first day, I thought it would be easier to use the walker … wrong! My arm muscles just aren’t strong enough for that yet. So, I’ve been puttering around the house in the wheelchair, using my left leg to move along and grabbing anything I can get ahold of with my hands to help. My left leg is getting pretty strong, but my arms, wrists and hands are feeling bruised and sprained. Getting a shower is an adventure! LOL
5/12/09 – Went for my first post-op appointment today. I was unwrapped and the cast was taken off. The doc said there was very little swelling, which is a good sign! He checked the incision through the steri-strips, said everything looked good, and sent me for another x-ray. I was told that I had to keep the cast on unless I was sitting and relaxing, but if I was to be up and around I absolutely have to keep it on. I’m trying to give my foot about an hour a day without the cast on, just to let it breath, scratch the multitude of itches (he thinks I may be slightly allergic to the iodine) and let the muscle on top of my foot relax a bit from it’s usual stretched position. I go back in a week, and we’ll see if I’m able to start moving my foot around. I won’t be allowed to bear weight for 3-4 weeks, but it’ll be nice to just move it and exercise the muscles.
5/19/09 – My 2nd post-op check up today. Everything looks good, and I’m allowed to start moving it around a bit. I’m supposed to spell out the ABC’s with my foot, to get my range of motion back. It’s working, too! I can keep it out of the cast for longer periods now, and can get my foot wet. Yay! No more trash bags to cover it in the shower! I go back in 2 weeks, and then we can discuss walking, provided I can get the range of motion back before then.
5/20/09 – I woke up today, and my back and neck were in so much pain, I just wanted to cry. Also, my left arm was numb/tingling (like it was asleep) all the way down to the tips of my fingers. It’s something that’s bothered me for about a week, but I figured it would just “go away on it’s own”. No such luck, it’s been getting worse. I broke down and got some medical attention … I saw a chiropractor. After an exam and some x-rays, he started adjusting my back. Even though my Husband cracks my back about once a week, the doc was able to get quite a lot of cracks and pops. Then, for the first time ever, I had my neck adjusted. I was a bit nervous, but after it was done, I felt great! He explained that the top of my spine was actually bent in the opposite direction than it’s supposed to … yikes! I go back next week for another adjustment.
6/1/09 – Saw my chiropractor again today (missed last week’s appt), and we discussed my x-rays and the “plan of attack” for fixing my spinal problems. Since I was only able to have my neck and upper back x-rayed (wouldn’t get accurate results for lower back, since I can’t stand on both feet yet), that’s where the focus was today. My upper back is actually in pretty good shape … only one vertebra is slightly out of place. My neck, however, is another story altogether. The angle of my neck is actually 125% from normal. To try to explain this: if you’re looking at my neck from the side (left side), the spine should be angled like the right side of the letter V; mine is angled like the LEFT side of the letter V. He said that this is an uncommon type of subluxation; something he sees in people who are bent over all day long (like teachers who are always looking down at kids, or office people who are doing desk-work most of the day). He gave me a chart that shows which parts of the spine/nerves correspond with which parts of the body. Almost all of the problems that I have had, most of my adult life, are covered on that chart. He said it may take 2 months to fix, or it may take a year to fix, or it may even not be fixable. He also pointed out the beginning of a couple of very tiny bone spurs on my spine, which we can prevent from growing by having many adjustments. Unfortunately, my insurance only covers a few adjustments a year, and nothing else. So, now I’m on a hefty payment plan to pay for the x-rays, exams and some contraption he wants me to purchase for at home traction therapy. But, it’s so important to both me and my Husband, for me to get myself healthy again, that we’re willing to do just about anything to accomplish that goal. My Dad deserves a huge thank you, for recommending that I see a chiropractor (he swears by his), so … THANKS DAD!
6/2 – 6/15/09 – It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, with something scheduled almost every day. On the 2nd, I saw my foot doc again. He gave me the ok to start putting weight on my foot! YAY! Well, it took me a couple of days to trust myself (and I guess the doc’s handy-work), but after 2 days or so, I was walking around in my Frankenstein boot, albeit with a “lift” under my heel that has 3 heights to it. It took about a week for the pins-and-needles feeling to go away. Other than that, it feels great! There’s very little pain in my right foot at all, barely a discomfort. My left foot, on the other hand, started hurting really badly once I started walking. On the 11th, I was given the ok to remove one of the layers of the “lift”, and I barely noticed a difference. On the 15th, I got a cortisone shot in my left ankle, because the pain was starting to become debilitating. The doc told me that I’m progressing A LOT faster than he expected; I’m walking around comfortably for short periods of time. I’m allowed to remove a layer of the “lift” each week until it’s gone and I’m walking completely flat again. He expects me to be out of the boot by the beginning of July. I’ve seen my chiropractor a few times for more adjustments, nothing out of the ordinary there. Even my Husband started seeing the chiropractor! And last but not least, I saw a Pulminologist on the 10th, as a preliminary to having a sleep study done. They explained what will happen during the study, and it sounds like I may not be able to sleep comfortably, if at all. Ugh! Depending on what they find, I’ll be brought back for a second study. Oh joy. My goal for the next 2 weeks is to really exercise my foot and leg muscles, so I’m capable of walking somewhat normally.
6/16 – 6/23/09 – Even with several appointments this week, it’s been pretty mundane. Primarily, visits with the chiropractor, for myself and my Son. Turns out, my Son’s broken collarbone at birth may have caused his shoulder to sit funny; we’ll know more next week, when the doc has had a chance to review his x-rays. For me, just adjustments. Today, however, I saw my family doc. It was supposed to be just a regular check-up, but turned into somewhat more than that. I had felt a lump in my breast last week, and she confirmed that it’s definitely something that needs to be looked into. I’m being sent for a diagnostic mammogram (as soon as the insurance approves it), where they’ll look at just the area where the lump is. I’ve been nervous about it, since all of my Dad’s family has had cancer of one type or another, even breast cancer (all deceased, except my father), but I was assured that if it’s in the genes, it’s rarely paternal. So far as I know, nobody on my mother’s side has had cancer. Makes me feel better, but I’m a worrier, and I know it doesn’t always have to be hereditary. Other than that, my foot is healing very nicely; I’ve even taken short walks around the house without the boot.
6/24 – 7/8/09 – Mostly chiropractor visits; he says my back and neck are really starting to loosen up, finally. I feel so much better, and don’t look like a hunchback grandma anymore. I also saw my Neurologist for a follow-up visit. Waited for close to an hour, then the visit took all of 5 minutes! Grrrrr, that really irritates me! He asked me how I was feeling (only 2 migraines in the past couple of months) and told me that there was nothing that he saw that concerned him on my MRI. I reminded him that I was told there were 2 spots that were abnormal, and he assured me there was nothing to be worried about. He’d better be right! And last, but certainly not least: I went back to the foot doc, and he said everything is healing remarkably fast. He’s amazed that I’ve been walking around the house without the boot, and that I’m not having any pain at all when I walk (well, not where the surgery was, anyway). I have full range of motion back; he’s very impressed. Normally this takes 3 – 4 months, and I’ve done it in 2. Wooohooo! Yay me! So, I’m completely done with the boot now, and I’m allowed to walk in either bare feet or sneakers. No flip-flops or sandals or backless shoes for a while. *pout* I asked if I might be able to water-ski at the end of the summer, since my Dad “downsized” his boat, and he’s not sure about that yet. I see him again in a month, and we’ll discuss it then. It’s a goal to work towards, anyway.
« Continued in my “Health Updates no. 3” blog. »
« Please read my “Health History” blog before reading these updates! »
This blog will be a work in progress, updated as frequently as needed. There are quite a few health problems that I have, and am trying to get resolved. In order of their appearance in my life, they are:
- Endometriosis/female problems
- Meniere’s Disease
- Bone spur/foot pain
- Dental issues
- Numbness in fingers
3/1/08 – I am finally covered by insurance! The new family doc is the first to see me. Having problems getting my records forwarded to my new doctors, not sure why (maybe because my file is the size of an encyclopedia? LOL). But, first things first; I have to go through my complete medical history, so they can determine the first course of action. After 2 long visits and a 2 week wait for my old records (still not forwarded, btw), referrals are finally made to specialists.
4/4,16/08 – I was supposed to have an EMG done on the 4th, but woke up that morning with another blinding migraine. Finally had the appointment on the 16th. I was nervous, because I’d heard horror stories, but it turned out to not be that bad. Electrodes placed on my fingers and hand, and I was “shocked” with a taser-looking device on many places on my arm. The intensity of the shocks were gradually increased, and it was unpleasant, but not painful. Then very thin needles put in to touch the nerves…I didn’t even feel them, and I hate needles!
4/14/08 – The week before, I was having some pretty intense pain around my remaining baby tooth (first molar on left side). That tooth had been worked on in July 2007, and I again had problems with it during the fall (2 abscesses), but nothing more until recently. Had to find a new dentist…again. Did the whole history thing with them, too. Ugh! I was told it needed to be surgically removed, because it had 30 years for the root to fuse with the bone, and needed an oral surgeon. Ok, no problem, I’ll have my one last wisdom tooth pulled at the same time, since it’s only 2 teeth away and also causing pain…may as well get all the pain over with at once!
4/21/08 – Saw the oral surgeon, who confirmed what my dentist said, and we went over the possible complications. The biggest possible problem will be that my wisdom tooth is touching the nerve, and I may end up with a numb face for a while. Whoo-hoo!! That should be fun. Oh, that and a possible broken jaw, which would mean my jaw being wired closed until it heals. Apparently my Husband thought that was funny. Scheduling the surgery was a complication in itself. LOL Every day they had open, I had a prior commitment. Finally got to schedule it for after my step-sister’s wedding, which means a month of taking Vicodin for the pain, BEFORE the surgery. ::sigh::
4/30/08 – Saw the Podiatrist today, about the bone spur in my heel/ankle. Thought it was just going to be a consultation, but turned out to be much more. After physically examining my feet, he sent me in for x-rays of both feet. It was confirmed that I have a spur on the right, with the tip broken off. I was surprised, though, to find that the pain on the left foot was also caused by a bone spur. They’re almost identical in the way they look! He explained my options, which are eventual surgery to have them removed. But he wanted to try a couple of things first, to see if we could get rid of the pain, and avoid surgery. First, I was fit for an “air cast”, which he wants me to wear any time I’m on my feet for more than a couple of minutes. Then he told me that he was going to give me a Cortisone injection, directly into the Achilles tendon. Normally, he said that’s the last course of action, but since I’ve been in this pain since Dec 2004, he wanted to try it to see if it would help. All I can say is … OUCH!! Damn that hurt! (not to mention, I think my Husband might not have use of his hand for a couple of days! ) I go back in 3 weeks, and we’ll see what happens then….
5/14/08 – Had my dental surgery on Monday. The procedure apprently went just fine. The I.V. knocked me out really fast, and I don’t remember much of anything until after I was home and had slept for a couple of hours. I was told I did some funny things, though. As of this typing, it’s been about 60 hours since the surgery, and I’m still hurting pretty bad. I’m taking the highest dose of Vicodin possible, and taking it every 3 hours instead of every 4. I’m hoping the pain goes away soon! I look like a chipmunk, but that’s to be expected. And, the entire left side of my face is still numb. Again, I’m hoping that’s just until the swelling goes down, but it’s possible it could take weeks for the numbness to go away. Then there’s the problem of eating. Since I’m numb, drinking anything has become amusing. And the pain makes chewing almost impossible. I actually considered buying baby food! My Husband has been wonderful to me, making soft foods for me to eat, while I sit with a cold pack attached to my face. I never thought I’d miss eating like a human being, but boy could I go for a big fat juicy bacon cheeseburger right now! :::drool::: LOL
5/18/08 – Sunday night, a full week after surgery. Still having some pain where the baby tooth was, but around the wisdom tooth seems to be ok. Still swollen, and still hurts when I touch my face towards the back of my jaw. Half my face is still numb, too, but I think it’s trying to come to life again … I keep feeling the strangest sensation, almost like jolts of electricity hitting my bottom lip occasionally. I’ve spent the week pretty loopy in the brain because of the meds, but I’m slowly decreasing them, and regaining clarity of the mind. Eating is still somewhat of a problem. I’ve existed on pudding, yogurt, ice cream, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, and a slop made from cooked hamburger meat chopped very small with country gravy mixed in (I could become addicted to that concoction! ). Today, I had a “meal” at McDonalds. Took me 10 minutes to finish a burger, but I managed to get it down, and only bit my lip once. LOL My stitches are starting to dissolve and fall out, too, which is a relief.
5/22/08 – Today’s a 2-fer. Saw the podiatrist on Wednesday. Since the cortisone injection has decreased the pain in my right ankle by at least 50%, he wants me to try adding 600mg of ibuprofin 3x a day, but not until the meds for my mouth are finished. If that works, great. If not, then we talk surgery, at which point I’ll get an injection in my left foot, since I’ll be non-weight bearing on my right for a long time. Today, I had the follow-up with the dental surgeon. Found out that the wisdom tooth came out much easier than he expected, but the baby tooth was a bit of a pain. It came out in pieces, and since the root had fused with the bone, there’s still a bit of “root” left. I’m still taking Vicodin for the pain, but not as much as before. And I’m still numb. But things are healing just fine, and the doc is hoping that the pain and numbness will go away by next week. We’ll see.
6/19/08 – I ended up back at the oral surgeon’s today. Everything was fine for a month, then all of the sudden, I felt like I’d been punched in the jaw. I had an appointment less than 24 hrs after I made the call…guess they knew it was something worrisome. Saw a different doc this time, but it made no difference. All the docs there seem to be very nice and funny with an excellent bedside manner. X-ray was done, nothing could be seen. The doc was poking around in my mouth (ouch!) and finally told me that there might be a small infection, which is normal for about a month after surgery. So, I’ve added pill 6 to my daily routine for a while. :::sigh::: As for my feet, I’m still in alot of pain, even with the mega doses of Ibuprofen. I’ve been taking about 1/2 a dose of Vicodin every 3 days or so, and that seems to help alot. I need to get back to the foot doc and schedule surgery for early September.
7/7/08 – It just never seems to end. On Friday, the 4th, I broke a tooth. It was one right next to where I had surgery in May. I don’t know how it broke. I haven’t chewed anything on that side since the surgery, and I didn’t have anything harder than a hamburger and potato salad. Hmmmm. Anyway, I tried calling my dentist, to see if they had an emergency doc on call. Nope. Then I tried calling my insurance company to see if I could go somewhere else. They don’t even have an answering service; it rings, picks up, and goes immediately to a busy signal. So, I’ve learned my lesson: here in Lancaster County, you may NOT have a medical emergency outside of nomal business hours. Lemme file that away somewhere for the next time I feel like having an emergency. So, I go to the dentist today. The doc says he can save the tooth, but it will require a cap. Ok, fine, I was planning on getting that tooth capped anyway. Then he tells me that my insurance company requires pre-authorization, and that will take 2-3 weeks! WHAT?!? By then, it will start to decay, and I’ll end up having to get that one pulled as well. I finally called the insurance company, explained the situation, and asked if they could expidite the process. They told me that IS the expidited time, normally it’s 4-6 weeks. So I told them, in my Bitch tone of voice, that if they didn’t get it faster than that, they’d end up paying ALOT more for a bridge or dental implant. I’ve come to the conclusion that my insurance company doesn’t really care about their patients.
8/5/08 – So, I was on the phone last night, feeling perfectly normal, when all of the sudden I was experiencing the most excruciating chest pain. Now, I’m not the type of person who goes running to the hospital for every little ache and pain. But this was different than any other pain I’d ever had. It was so bad, I couldn’t catch my breath, and could barely support myself on my own legs. When my Husband asked me if I wanted to get checked out, I could barely answer him, which prompted a call for an ambulance. On the way to the hospital, with my Son in the front and my Husband following in our truck behind, the Medic tried to start an IV … twice. He missed the vein on the first try, then blew out the vein on his second attempt. He didn’t dare try again! LOL I was given a Nitro-glycerin tablet (tastes like crap and burns), and an Albuterol treatment, because I was having trouble breathing. Once at the hospital, the nurse tried to get an IV started in my arm, and my vein collapsed, so she ended up putting it in the back of my hand. Those are the worst! They took 5 vials of blood, then gave me a shot of some type of “pain reliever” (can’t remember the name of it, though, was something I’d never heard of before). Well, I can tell you that it did nothing to help the pain! All it accomplished was that I ceased to care that I was in pain. LOL They ran an EKG, twice; bloodwork, twice. After 9 hours in the ER, hooked up to all kinds of stuff, they were no closer to figuring out what had happened, and I was STILL in pain, and very pissy. The best they could come up with, was that I’d pulled a muscle in my chest. When I pointed out that I’d done NOTHING that could cause a pulled muscle, they told me, “well, you can pull a muscle by just breathing.”. Do what?!? Are they kidding? Apparently not, as this was confirmed by every other one of the medical staff that I spoke to. The only bright spot in my night, besides having my Son and Husband by my side, was that my Sister-in-law was on duty that night, and stopped in to check on me every hour or so. It also helped that she informed the rest of that staff that we were family. After we got home, and got some food in our systems, we all crashed. When I woke up, I was still in pain, though it wasn’t as bad, and I felt like I’d been run over by a fleet of trucks. I’m still very sore, and have sharp pains when I move certain ways, but there’s a definate improvement. Now, if I could just stop this breathing thing, I won’t have to worry about pulled muscles anymore. .:::sarcastic grin:::.
9/9/08 – I finally got my tooth (the one I broke on July 4th) permanently fixed today! 2 weeks ago, my dentist finally called me, and told me that the insurance company approved the cap. Of course, I spent every other day on the phone with the insurance company AND the dentist office. Turns out, my dentist’s office never sent in for the pre-approval! Anyway, I went in for the mold and a temporary cap, and was told 2 more weeks for the permanent to be made. Got it today, and it’s wonderful! Fit perfectly on the first try, and feels natural. I also had a cleaning done, where they found a few small cavities. I go back on Thursday to have the left side’s cavities filled. They’re also going to see if my other molar (the one that’s been slightly painful for a couple of months) needs pulled or if they can do a root canal and another cap. Oh boy, what fun! Then I get the right side filled. Once that’s all finally done, barring any more dental problems, I can go back to the foot doctor to see about the surgery. At this rate, it’ll be my Xmas present for the year! LOL And they say you start to fall apart at age 40?? Ha! Try 20, for me.
12/30/08 – After 3 months of fighting with my dentist over financial issues, I finally gave up and went back to my old dentist last week (she just started taking my new insurance!). She checked my tooth, told me it was most likely infected and would need a root canal done by an endodontist, and put me on antibiotics and pain meds. Today, I saw yet another new dentist, and for the first time in nearly 20 years, I can say that I think I finally found the perfect dentist for me! Both he and his staff were wonderful. After being numbed up (I’m a big baby when it comes to needles, yet he made me comfortable), I had a root canal done on my back lower molar. 4 nerves had to be removed, and the holes were packed with tiny cotton swabs dipped in medication to finish clearing up the infection. I have a temporary filling to keep the swabs in for a week, when I’ll go back to have the root canal finished. I had absolutely no pain during the procedure. Unfortunately, once the numbness wore off, I was in terrible pain, but he told me that should subside by tomorrow. Let’s hope so!
« Continued on my “Health Updates #2” blog. »
« 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.