Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Migraines’

One Hundred Minus Fifteen

January 28, 2016 1 comment

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.

15 Pound Badge

Earned January 27, 2016

 

* If Jillian Michaels wants to come train me, I’m more than willing to have my ass kicked by her! ūüėČ

 

10 Pound Badge

Earned January 6, 2016

5 Pound Badge

Earned November 18, 2015

Health Updates #2

July 8, 2009 2 comments

¬ę Please read my “Health History” blog and my “Health Updates #1” blog before reading these updates! ¬Ľ

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.

¬ę Continued in my “Health Updates no. 3” blog. ¬Ľ

Hope

March 26, 2009 4 comments

That’s what I received today when I went to see my Neurologist – HOPE! For the first time in my life, I heard something that gave me hope about my medical problems. I’m used to receiving the bad news, being topped off with the worst news – that my medical problem can’t be cured, only managed.

I was sent to a Neurologist by my family doctor. It’s not the first time I’ve ever seen a neurologist. In fact, I’ve seen several since 1992. At first, it was because of the Meniere’s Disease. They wanted to make sure there weren’t any neurological issues (tumors, etc.) causing the vertigo. Then, after my Son was born, and the migraines intensified (I’d had some prior to then, but nothing life-altering), I was again sent to see a Neurologist. Each time, nothing was found, and we were no closer to an answer.

Today, however, was different. The doctor asked me¬†the usual barrage of questions. How often do the migraines occur? 1 – 2 times a week on average (sometimes I’ll go 2 weeks without one, then get hit with 2 in a row). The medication I’m currently taking, how did that¬†change the frequency? I went from 4+ a week, so the meds cut the frequency in half or better. What are the symptoms of my migraines? Sensitivity to light and sound,¬†excruciating pain, nausea, and most recently a blindness that I refer to as “kalaidescopes” but is technically called an “aura”, numbness in my face and arms, and impaired speech. Had I ever had a stroke? Yes, I had a TIA in 1996 when I was 2 months pregnant.

After the usual questions, he asked me questions that no doctor has ever asked me. Was I tired or lethargic alot of the time? YES! All the time! Was I depressed? Yeah, living life like this is depressing. Did I ever wake up with a migraine? Yes, frequently! Do I have trouble concentrating or focusing on a task at hand? Absolutely! That’s one of my biggest problems over the past few years (I thought it was just old age or that maybe I had adult ADD). Did I snore? Yes (odd question, I thought). Did I ever wake up gasping for breath? Not that I’m aware of. Did I wake myself up by snoring? I’m fairly sure of it. How loudly do I snore? My Husband had to answer that one (apparently, I snore loudly).

Then he dropped a bomb on me. He said, “I believe your migraines may be caused by Sleep Apnea.”. Huh? Seriously? Nobody had ever made that connection before! Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to believe. After discussing my symptoms in more detail, I started to see the connection, too. He explained that the Sleep Apnea is robbing me of oxygen while I sleep, which is causing the migraines that I experience upon waking. Furthermore, since I’m not getting a deep sleep and am waking up too often, it’s causing the fatigue, which is in turn causing undue stress to my body and¬†ability to¬†concentrate, making my body and brain work too hard, which is causing the migraines while I’m awake. Also, he believes that the headaches I get almost daily (which I considered to be “normal” headaches) are actually a lesser degree of a migraine, because I’m sensitive to light and sound during these “headaches”.

He said that my quality of life has disappeared because of the migraines, and he wants to help me get it back. He’s confident that he can at least find the cause of them, and do whatever is necessary to cure them. I hope he’s right! After he left the office, I started sobbing. The nurse came back in and was shocked, concerned that something was wrong. I had to explain that they were tears of joy.

Over the next few weeks, I have alot of tests to be done. I need to have several lab tests done (bloodwork); I’ll be tested for lactic acid, pyruvic acid, C-reactive protein, sedimentation rate, magnesium levels, and carnitine levels. (honestly, I only understand what one of them is – magnesium, which has alot to do with migraines) I’ll have to have another MRI of the brain done; I’m hoping I get lucky enough that my insurance covers the “open MRI” since I’m claustrophobic. I’ll also be sent for a sleep study. Since I’ve never had one before, I don’t really know what to expect, but they told me that¬†it will be done¬†at a hotel room and I’ll be hooked up to alot of machines.¬†Also, the one medicine that I’ve been taking for¬†my migraines will¬†have the dosage increased, to see if I can reduce the frequency by half¬†or better again. I’d give anything to have¬†only 2 migraines a month!

The only thing I wished would have been different today was that I wished those who have put me down, or accused me of “faking” to get out of doing something, would have been there to hear what the doctor had to say. Maybe that way, they’d get a reality check. Quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing things like “I go to work with a headache, and if I can do it, so can you” or “you’re just using it as an excuse to get out of doing this or that” or “I can’t see it, so it must not be real” or, the worst yet was when a Social Security Judge said to me, “If you’re not taking medications or seeing a psychiatrist, it must not be that bad – you’ve been denied.”.

Unfortunately, this means that I’ll once again have to put off surgery on my ankles … but it’s worth it if I can cure the migraines and start living a halfway normal life again! ¬†I’ve forgotten what normal feels like. At least now I have hope!

How are you today? Health history…

April 28, 2008 5 comments

¬ę Please read this, before reading any of my updates ¬Ľ

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.