This collection of entries is from the Category "Health". Since I have decided to actually do something about my health, I've also started to post items about my endeavors, about how I feel, my doctor visits, my diagnoses, and things that have to be done just to keep me going!
Friday, February 08, 2008
I have to go to the doctor every three months for a slew of things... primarily, because of my Type 2 Diabetes I have to check my HbA1c (or glycosylated hemoglobin) along with cholesterol and liver functions, along with blood pressure (all of which I have meds to take).
So, a fasting blood draw every three months. Not a big deal, but I still have this needle phobia (you think it would get better over time, especially if i am actually injecting myself every night). Maybe it's this whole idea of having something shoved in a vein... I don't know...
But today was really odd...
I'm sitting there, the nurse has me all prepped to do "the stick". I always look away, because... well.. it's easier to cope, I suppose.
Next thing I know, she's changing sample tubes.. she had stuck me and I NEVER felt it AT ALL. I commented on it, congratulated her and I was just generally surprised, perhaps shocked. Don't get me wrong - I still hate blood draws, but this was a pleasant experience... today.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Well... I think I said earlier that I needed to write something here... and here it is one year later...
it's not like I haven't talked about it though... I did a podcast episode last year that talked about it. I have just never written about it.
So... here it is. One year later, I can look back and try to remember what that day was like. You never want to get a phone call at work from a health care professional. I had been getting all kinds of MRI's, spinal taps... just to figure out why I'm getting these leg twitches/spasms...
So, the doctor that I had gone to for a second opinion made a diagnosis based on interviews, symptoms, and something that showed-up on an MRI that I had of a totally different region...
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
I happened to be seeing my neurologist that day, so I called Carol and we both went... and we both listened to what she said...
I started a daily drug therapy... I had to get over an extreme phobia about needles. The drug is administered daily - via injection - into a fat layer under your skin. I guess the only way I could handle this was I was able to get an Autoject - a device that uses the pre-filled syringes and fires/injects at the pull of a trigger... that way i don't have to handle it all .. and deal with manually injecting myself...
So... the drug itself - Copaxone - is not a cure. There is no cure. It's just supposed to reduce the number and severity of exacerbations. It works by modifying my immune system... which you know, you gotta watch. And *NOT* cheap. Thank god for insurance - it's saving me over $2,250 a month. But, it's a drug that, since it doesn't cure, doesn't make you feel any different either. So what weighs on you mind is - "is this drug even working?"
So... there you have it. A disease without a cure. A drug that just reduces the lesions and their frequency...
Just to keep me going...
Here it is a year later, and I don't really know how I feel about this... don't know at all... I know it was "caught early" before things really went "south"...
So... you only do what you know you can do... don't let the disease "define you"... just keep on living each day... and see where the road takes you
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
My neurologist called me at work today. I hate doctors calling me at work - it usually means something bad.
Today though... that was not the case.
She called to say that the MRI I had done the day after Christmas, when compared to another I had done showed no changes... and that's good. However, when comparing the two images, it looks like there is a possibility that the original radiologist may have been able to diagnose my issue earlier (almost 2 years ago, a year before the diagnosis).
Umm... oh oh... you know... I never blogged about this... I talked about it in my podcast, but I've never wrote about it...
I'll do that next week..
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Soda does... what???
So... as I sit here with my bottle of Diet Pepsi, comes word that this bottle is really bad for me. It doesn't matter what's inside, exactly... since it's a carbonated soft drink... pop... soda.. whatever you call it...
It doesn't matter that I drink the diet version because the lack of carbs is good for my Type 2 Diabetes...
... but then there's this report of a study...
Apparently, if I drink one or more soft drinks a day (which I certainly do) I would have a more than 50 percent higher risk of developing the heart disease precursor metabolic syndrome than people who drink less than one soda a day - diet soda or not, it doesn't matter.
The study, in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, looked at more than 6,000 healthy people, who showed no signs of metabolic syndrome, and then followed up. After four years, 53 percent of people who drank an average of one or more soft drinks per day developed metabolic syndrome. Those who drank one or more diet soft drinks a day were at a 44 percent higher risk.
So... nobody knows the "why" behind this. Not the carbs, not the calories... so... what is it?
Friday, January 05, 2007
I do not like 2007
Every single day this young year has sucked for me... loads of bad luck... the bifold door on our pantry fell off, our nice new-ish gorgeous patio door was dripping water during a rain storm,.. I had a significant birthday (OK, that really shouldn't be a sucky thing), and then i went to my neurologist today as she was giddy that she actually found something in the cerebral spinal fluid they sampled a few weeks ago - now giddy, is not good, it just means that something was found ad so many possibilities exist, and most of them aren't good ,and most of those have some nasty treatments...
Is it too early to want the year to be over?
Friday, December 22, 2006
I had something happen today, that quite frankly... I'm not comfortable talking about.
Why? Because I can't believe I had this done...
A girl in the office came up to me this afternoon (after I was walking around trying to figure out what a loud noise was that we had heard... it was thunder!). We went into a larger, empty management-size cubicle and she asked me if I was having back problems. I explained my situation.. that for years my legs have been spasming... I had no pain, but the spasms can get severe... and it's not fun trying to drive if your right leg twitches, causing your foot to tromp on the accelerator...
She then told me that she is a practicing healer.. and that she can help me with a "treatment" as a Christmas Present...
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We spent the good part of the next half hour to a nhour with her rubbing her hands together in a circular motion, as if to gather heat and energy.. she would direct her hands at me, occasionally stationary, occasionally sweeping over me as I stood in the cube. She never physically touched me. Yet, I did have sensations of cold, heat, and occasionally a movement somewhere inside of me.
OK, look... she's a very attractive girl, probably the best looking woman in the office. Who wouldn't want to spend private time with her in a cube? But.. this was different... she proceeded to tell me about what she does... and the people that she has helped over the years. How she is trained in 6 of the 9 healing techniques that are used at Children's Memorial Hospital. How the power of prayer works, even long distance over the phone.
I sat down for the last half of the session, and she continued to work on me... standing in front of me, behind me... to the side... she touched me once, to put her hands on my left shoulder to apply downward pressure.
I sat in that chair, one that should have triggered my twitching. It didn't happen. I went back to my cube. My legs were still the rest of the day. As I write this, I haven't even felt the slightest sensation in my legs.
WHAT THE HELL DID SHE DO??? HOW DID SHE DO IT??? WHY AREN'T MY LEGS TWITCHING?
Look.. I'm a geek... I believe in science... what the hell happened? What's going on?
UPDATE: 31 hours. It took 31 hours before I felt the slightest bit of a twitch, and then it was muted, subtle, no where near what I've experienced for years. I have NEVER had a 24 hour period in years without twitching... what is this???
UPDATE: One week later, the twitching has returned, no where near as severe as it has been, no where near as frequent.
She did something to me... what she did, how she affected me, I have no idea. All I know is that she did something and for me there was a change.
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Wednesday, December 20, 2006
...huh?... what did I need to do???
The day after a myelogram, I was told could be hell, because of headaches. I had one last night, but I took Tylenol (not Advil, not aspirin) and it helped.
Today - no headache...
I really feel like I had a side effect. I was loopy - my short-term memory was shot. I couldn't remember things that I neded to do, that I thought about just minutes earlier. Let me give you the final example of the day...
I went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription and I bought 5 containers of Dibbs ice cream nuggets (mmm.. mint... love these things...) I came home, put the Walgreens bag on the counter. The first thing I do when I get home, is bunny-proof the family room and let the "kids" (bunnies) out o fthe cage so they can romp and exercise. I prepped the room, turned on the TV... and went upstairs to sit down at the computer and login to Second Life...
About an hour to hour and a hlaf passes when Carol finally came home, and I can hear her yelling at me downstairs. I cam edown to find 1) the "kids" ar still in the cage - I had prepped the room, but never opened their door to let them out, and more importantly 2) I never put the ice cream away in the freezer - it was still in the bag on the counter.
That's what my whole day was like.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
A needle into the spine...
My little medical journey to finding the reason why my legs twitch changed today from hands-off to my first "invasive" procedure.
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I was downtown at Northwestern's Intervention Radiology department. Radiology? Yep. I had two procedures done - a spinal fluid draw (for testing the fluid) and a myelogram.
It all starts with a lumbar puncture - inserting a needle into the spinal canal. Yep. Needle. Into the spine. So, do do it accurately and hopefully pain-free, not to mention avoiding having to re-stick you, the insertion is done under the guidance of using a fluoroscope. I was face down on a table, with a doctor, nurse, and tech (an all female crew!) working on me. The worse thing was the local anesthetic. THAT hurt. After that, though, I didn't feel a single thing. So, they drew a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. That takes some time, since, it's not really drawn, but the container fills by itself i gathered. When the fluid flow slowed down, the table I was on tilts, so I was tilted onto my feet to get the fluid to flow better! When that was done, they injected a contrast dye into the spinal canal. The sensation was of cold filling your spine - a VERY weird feeling. Obviously, the sensation was confined to the spine, unlike contrast dyes that are used for MRI/CT scans, where they are injected intravenously the sensation being heat and it radiates through your body as it follows the arterial blood system.
The doctor was quiet, professional, and quick. When she was done, the nurse and tech took over to produce about a dozen reference xrays of my spine using the fluoroscope system, which required a bunch or table tilts and contortionist positions for me to flip into. The only almost-accidents that almost happened were due to... umm... the oversized parts of my body - my shoulders (I have really broad shoulders, even for somebody not as short as I am, so when I lay on my side, I'm a bit "taller" than regular-sized people) and my nose (yes, it's a bit oversized) and they tech didn't look when she swung the emitter around.
Then I had to roll onto my hospital bed and they wheeled me back to Intervention Radiology. Not the only time I had to roll. When back in my curtained space, somebody came to draw some blood. That's when I realized that I was in for some bad time. I was starting my stay in a hospital bed - flat on my back (well, I don't have to be on my back, but have to be flat - head even with feet. For THREE HOURS. Then.. it started. My legs started to twitch. it started pretty suddenly, and the twitches were severe
I was wheeled in for a CT scan (hence the spinal contrast dye) and I had to roll off my bed onto the scanner table. Found out something i didn't know about the GE Lightspeed CT Scanner - the scanner can tilt! Very scary to see this massive thing tilt. the tech put a cushion under my legs and taped them down to try to dampen the twitches. It was TERRIBLE. But, somehow, she was able to get shots that weren't blurred.
When I was done, I was told I could crawl back onto the hospital bed. Wait.. I could crawl? Why did I have to roll before? It turns out that they have you roll - to mix the dye in the spinal column!!! I was taken back to another curtained area and that's where i stayed until I was released. Carol was able to be with me when I was back in the curtained areas, which I was thankful for, because i was a mess. The twitching was worse, and I was so uncomfortable having to have my head flat against the bed. I was able to get a nurse to get me a folded-up blanket to put under my head. That half-inc to inch of material was just enough to change the way my head felt, and still kept it flat.
We had arrived at the hospital at 10am for a 10:30 appointment. The lumbar puncture was over by noon, the CT scan done by 1pm. I am flat on my back... and realize it's been 19 hours since I had something to eat. And I can't eat on my back. The next two hours were hell, and passed slowly.
When I was sprung at 3pm, we went directly to the cafeteria.. and I chowed-down (Carol had eaten when I was having the procedure done)
Then, I drove us home. 4pm. Rush hour. Downtown Chicago to the NW suburbs) my twitching was terrible.. I had started to feel bad, all because of me not eating. I pulled-over at the Des Plaines Oasis and we changed duties, with Carol driving the rest of the way home. When we got there, I went to bed for about an hour. I felt bad. It wasn't until about 9pm that I started to felt slightly better.
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Thursday, November 09, 2006
You know... just like Jack on "Lost"...
I had to take off of work this afternoon. I had an appointment with a neurosurgeon downtown at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
What a gorgeous day, for November.. 68 degrees.. the drive downtown wasn't so bad, though not totally free and clear. It's maneuvering downtown that's a bitch. I had t go to the 675 N. St. Clair which is just east of Michigan Avanue... tight streets, lots of traffic, lots of peds. Thank Dog I had left early to compensate for the possibility of travel issues.
My buddy Barry knows Northwestern Hospital pretty well, but this is my first time. It's a sprawling campus in the middle of town. I had to go to the 20th floor of one of the pavilions and I was SOOOoooo impressed with the facility.. the people... The doctor is a spinal surgeon, so this is right up his alley...
So... again, another doctor that doesn't understand what's going on (MRI's do not show what the symptoms would indicate), but I'm at the right place... a teaching/research hospital. We've got another test on the books that would help the diagnosis... so I'll need to coordinate it with my neurologist and the new "Team"/doctor.
Thank God I had stopped at the oasis on the way into the city to buy snacks and drinks for the drive home... I left at the beginning of Rush Hour and it took me about 90 minutes to get home. So i listed to some Podcasts on my iPod on the drive.. and the time passed pretty easily.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Taking a header - Part I
About 1 o'clock this morning, I woke up, having to go to the bathroom. No big deal, this is what my life has been for the past couple of years.
I rolled out of bed, placed my feet on the floor, and then...
I never had my balance when I rolled out of bed. I was never dizzy, no sense of vertigo. My legs seemed to support me, but I must have planted my feet waaaayyyy off balance...
..and collapsed into my nightstand, tipping it, sending things to the floor, including myself, and along the way scaring the hell out of Carol who was silently asleep (at least, I think she was silent).
I was awake, but I just remember realizing my body isn't in the position that I think it is just before I crashed. So, I wasn't dizzy, but maybe this is vertigo?
I've been unsteady on my feet for the last few years, and, come to think of it, I've had this sensation MANY times before,where I'm not where I think I am. When that happens, I'm not dizzy, it's almost like a type of disconnect when I finally realize "Hey! I'm not supposed to be here!" and then try to compensate.
Even though I am frequently off-kilter, I have never lost my balance and fallen.. up until this morning. But, take it with a grain of salt.. .I had been sleeping, and was barely awake when I rolled out of bed. (It's not like I rolled out of bed onto the floor either... I had swung my legs underneath me... I just never got vertical.
I think I'll partially blame that new 4-inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper... making the bed too tall to easily get in and out of for us Height Challenged individuals.
Gotta blame someone.. or something...
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Stand-up? Not really
I'm still having trouble with what we've been calling "leg spasms". They usually get worse as the day progresses. Sometimes they're bad from the morning on. My neurologist decided that I should have 2 more MRI's (it was only going to be one, but I'm starting to get tingling in my hands - both of them - so now it's two).
But... she decided to have a different look, and sent me for a Stand-Up MRI at a facility in Deerfield.
Well, it wasn't stand-up - it's actually recumbent.
That's not good - Problem #1: sitting aggravates the leg twitches.
The machine was huge, HUGE! it sits on a 3-foot thick concrete slab under the building. The magnets are to each side of the device, so you walk into it and sit down.
Problem #2? My shoulders are wider than the sitting area, so I have to roll them forward to fit.
I was so uncomfortable. This was so much worse than the others I had... It's hard to attempt to sit still when you don't have control of your body.
Problem #3? Because I twitched so much, some of the scans had to be re-done, and the two hour estimate suddenly became three.
Problem #4? Because of the several twitches, there *is* movement in the scans. Not good.
Any positive things? Well, the machine was significantly quieter than the other GE lay-down types. On the far wall that you face while sitting in the machine is a large plasma TV. You have the option of watching movies while being scanned! But, instead, the tech was watching The Simpsons on the local Fox affiliate, so that's what I watched (Simpsons, Malcom in the Middle, Simpsons, Seinfeld...House)
It is extremely weird sitting in an MRI and watching House on TV. VERY weird.
Problem #5 - I have an extremely sore shoulder/upper right arm. I can barely move my arm... something about being wedged in this thing for three hours... wasn't great.
Hope the scans are good and show something.
Friday, August 25, 2006
CPAP - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
I spent the night at a hospital's Sleep Disorder Clinic, sleeping (or trying to) while somebody watched my on TV, monitored my breathing, my snoring, my eye movements, my jaw movements, my brainwaves.
So I have sleep apnea. My guess - pretty bad. Solution? Wear a mask to sleep every night for the rest of my life. And in my case, a full face mask (nose and mouth), not just a nose one like everybody else could use. My nose just doesn't work the same. Hasn't for years. It's perpetually blocked, stuffed. I haven't breathed through my nose in years. The normal nose-only CPAP doesn't work for me.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
One Month Follow-Up
Got a phone call from my dietitian for a one-month follow-up (late). Had to answer a bunch of questions and I seem to be doing well (based on the answers to the questions). And I think I'm starting to feel better now, too.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
I know this isn't a big deal for anybody out there... but it's a big deal to me...
Carol shortened a band new pair of pants for me to wear today. (yeah, my legs ar just REALLY friggin' short...)
Big deal? Well, yes, when the waist is 6 inches less than my biggest pair that I used to wear...
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Maybe on the right path?
I finally had an appointment with a neurologist today. It has been months and months, and because I was a new patient, this was the first opening I could get.
So.. it's the same thing.. "I don't know"... because like all my problems and all my doctors, it's all the same.. "I don't know".. and whatever I have, it doesn't "fit" with test/scan results.
But, now with her, it's like.. OK, let's go down this path and start eliminating. I have another series of blood tests to take.. eliminating Vitamin deficiency, Lyme Disease.. stuff like that..
Oh, and she wants me to go in for a sleep study... my fatigue, coordination issues... it all fits sleep apnia... along with - believe it or not - high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.
I feel comfortable with her.. great attitude... I think maybe, SOMEDAY, we'll figure this out.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
MY DAY OF FIRSTS
OK, I'm thinking of posting this entry later, sometime after I can tell my family about what happened today before they read it here first.
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I don't want to spend a lot of time on this... since I'm tired and it's been a long day...
Around noon today, I ate a Cobb Salad from White Hen. Around 1:45, I had to go.. to the bathroom. Things were moving around inside, and I had to... ummmm... get rid of the salad... so I was off to the bathroom...
While there, this WAVE of nausea came over me, and a pretty good pain - belt high on my left side. I was getting sweaty... but I had a teleconference at 2pm, so I... ummmm... finished up as much as I could and got back to my desk...
I was feeling worse... tingly.. sweaty... lightheaded... the pain, like a cramp, was barely subsiding... The telecon was over and I put my head down on my desk...
The next thing I knew, Pam in the next cube was calling my name.. I was OFF off my chair, kneeling at my desk.. feeling TERRIBLE... she looked at me.. I guess I was pale white and my arms were glistening in sweat... Pam got on the phone and started calling 911.
Yep - it was 2:30 and a Schaumburg Engine showed-up (they were close by) and started assessing my situation... which was getting better... the nausea was subsiding... the disconnected-ness was gone... my hands slightly tingled.. and - most importantly - the pain was subsiding.
The paramedics showed in in my cube with a gurney... so at 2:45, i was being hauled out of my cube on a gurney, being taken to a local hospital. At this point I didn't know why, because all of my symptoms eased and vanished - no pain, no nausea...
It was a REAL TRIP getting wheeled-out through your office area. It's hard to say "hi" to people as you're being wheeled-out. I mean, I was waving to people, joking about the White Sox... I mean, I felt fine... Security people holding doors... cafeteria people in the lobby saying "good luck".. WEIRD
the got me outside... in the rain. Strapped to a gurney in the rain. Had to joke about that with the guys..
So.. it was time for MY FIRST AMBULANCE RIDE. Somewhere along the way, I remembered my digital camera in my pocket (I DON'T GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT IT).. So I took a few P.O.V. pictures from the gurney for the blog... and then one of the paramedics offered to take my picture!!! (that's also included in this post)
You see? I felt fine! I have the picture to prove it!
We got to the hospital a little too quickly.. they were still on the radio with the hospital when they where backing into the bay... they wheeled me into the E.R... and since I was feeling SOooo good, i had to get off the gurney and walk into the Waiting Room and get triaged just like anybody else off the street.
Carol showed up about a half hour later.. ( I had called her earlier from my office to let her know what was going on). I was finally in an E.R. bed after about an hour.
And then... the long wait began...
Things done in the meantime: Got int a hospital gown (HATE THESE FRIGGIN' THINGS)... had an EKG... had blood drawn... had an IV port put in (Woo Hooo! FIRST I.V.)... And then... wheeled-in for a CT Scan (Woo Hooo! FIRST CT SCAN) (It's weird when a machine talks to you "Breathe in" "Hold your breath" "Breathe") The IV Port was used here.. to get hooked-up to some kind of contrast dye solution... so that a few scans were taken.. and then the dye was automatically injected into the port by the machine... and then another series of scans are taken.. had this WEIRD sensation of HEAT in my groin and a metallic taste in my mouth...
And then got wheeled back to my bed.. IN ENOUGH TIME TO WATCH THE BEGINNING OF THE ALL-STAR GAME.
OK, this is taking TOO FRIGGIN' LONG. I feel FINE.
So after FIVE AND A HALF HOURS in the ER, I FINALLY get released with prescriptions for two antibiotics.. and a diagnosis of the POSSIBLE start of diverticulitis. The E.R. doctor contacted my doctor, and I have to see him in a few days.
We just wanted to go home... and FINALLY get food.. and eat takeout at 9pm....
AND I FEEL FINE.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I just stopped at home after an appointment with a neurosurgeon. He was recommended by my primary physician. I don't have an appointment to see a neurologist until the end of July. I am so confused why I had to go see this guy ASAP before seeing the neurologist. In fact, I'm not really sure how to proceed.
So, I'm doing all of this because of these weird leg "twitches" which are more like "spasms". they started almost 5 years ago, very slowly and very steadily have become more and more problematic as they get more and more intense. To start the process, I went for an EMG & NCV, and a series of MRI's. Now, we have to see what they say.
So, I got my own copies of the MRI's and went to this neurosurgeon.
Have you ever have an experience where the experience of just walking into the office "colors" your view of how the doctor may perform? this was one of those.
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Tiny, TINY reception room. Crowded. Chairs full. Young kid running, stomping, flailing around the tight space, not listening to his dad, who is half-heartedly trying to get him to stop. Magazines are old - I had to read Chicago Magazine from October 2005. No magazine was newer than February 2006. The climate is like a sweatbox. The woman behind the desk says they have a thermostat that seems to not do anything. There are signs everywhere about insurance companies that have changed diagnostic benefits or are no longer being accepted (you immediately start wondering why? Are the insurance companies continue to tighten their belts, or is this doctor being dropped from networks?) The size of the complete office can easily fit inside a construction trailer.
My huge envelope of MRI films feels like it weighs 20 pounds. I waited in one of the two exam rooms. The doctor came in, we talked briefly, and he started to go through the films.
But he's literally throwing the film sheets into the catches on the x-ray viewer on the wall. To me, the patient and uninformed viewer of the films, I don't see where he's actually checking each image. Maybe he's an expert and he doesn't need to pause because he's seen this all before and even the most microscopic pattern will jump out on him and he'll stop to pay attention. Nope, this doesn't happen, he just throws film. He abruptly stops and decides he better write something down, but instead goes across across the hall to his office to get a microcasette dictation recorder, and comes back and briefly dictates things that he does notice. He makes a comment that there's a lot of duplicate films... I try to remind him that there is without contrast and with contrast, but he doesn't hear me. In fact, during the course of the exam, I feel like he's not listening to me. He hears me, but his brain is just working the issues and I can't seem to penetrate his thoughts. "Fwapp! Fwapp!" he throws the sheets. He does see a few things that re probably already in the reports that are still in a folder on the table.
We go through a physical exam checking reflexes and Babinski's.
He sits down at the table and goes through the report, every once in a while dictating the findings of the report as his findings, as if he noticed these items in the films.
Then we talk.
Basically, he's stumped and has no clue. What he sees in the films and what I have don't make sense. He even mentions he may need a second opinion, maybe even from a university!
So, I'm supposed to go to the neurologist as scheduled and see what she says, and have her report sent to him... and then we'll meet a few weeks after that...
I think not.
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Friday, June 09, 2006
Let's back this off a smidge...
Quick health issue update:
I've been taking some Blood Pressure medication to help control my BP, which has been too high for too long. A prior drug wasn't working, so my doctor put me on LISINOPRIL-HCTZ 10/12.5mg tablets, and the last time I saw him, I was finally getting close: my BP was 135/88.
Now that I've been diagnosed as a diabetic, my BP has to be even lower, so my doctor tweaked the drug a bit and put me on LISINOPRIL-HCTZ 20/12.5mg tablets.
I noticed that I was feeling a little... weird. I wasn't light-headed, but the other night when I was hauling the hose around in the yard, I was short of breath, panting like a race horse.
I pulled out my wrist BP cuff and tested my BP: 83/56 ! OK, not good.
So I called the Dr's office and left a detailed message. They called in a new presecription for me to replace what I was on... It's the same dosage as the one prior to this, so I'm back with the medication that was working, without being "overmedicated".
I had taken my BP a few times with the heavier dosage drug, just to see what was going on. There were times were it was 113/66, 109/67, 123/80, 103/66, so this seemed good to me... I guess it was 87/49, 97/62 and that 83/56 that were probably problems.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
We went to my second Diabetes Education class tonight at the hospital. Tonight - it was all about me. I was the only one there (well, not the only one... Carol came with to learn and support).
So, since I was the only one, it was one-on-one education all night, so it was a bit intense. And long. And draining.
Did I learn more? Oh, yes.
Like the realization that once you diagnosed with diabetes, that's it - you are a diabetic. You may have everything under control, thus forcing your blood sugars within "normal range", but all that it means is that it's "under control". Once you've been diagnosed, you don't "get rid" of diabetes. You have it for life. There is no cure.
What's scary is that no one know why it happens.
No one knows how you as an individual will progress with the disease, how many complications you may get, how many will impact your life significantly.
So, education is a good thing.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Just got back from my first Diabetes Education class at St. Alexius Medical Center. Tonight was about exercise and how it benefits a diabetic. We had a podiatrist and an elderly gentleman ("civilian"-type) that teaches "walking" and stretching continuing education classes. Learned a few things, but not too much. I mean, how much do you have to learn about walking, other than how - medically - it benefits a diabetic. Of course, there's issues of foot care for a diabetic that I sort of knew, but didn't. I guess it's a denial thing, because the two things that happen to diabetics (can happen, at all kinds of severity) is poor circulation and neuropathy, which could lead - unchecked - to significant pain, sores, and - because of lack of circulation - even amputation of body parts... which SCARE THE HELL OUT OF ME... Is that my future? Can I avoid that???
There was only 2 people in class (including myself) and this class is only held quarterly. The rest of the education sessions for the month of May - it's only me, so we're customizing a few sessions into one final session for me. Feels odd being in a certified education class and being the only "student".
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Time to share with you a side effect of diabetes that I have been plagued with.
Dry mouth and extreme thirst.
I've had this for a while, actually, most severely at night or when I awake. I wrote it off ats1) being a mouth-breather because my sinuses are usually always clogged, and 2) no humidifier in the house during the winter.
Turns out it was diabetes.
But lately, it's took a new turn. I have been taking Zyrtec for my allergies (and it's not that all effective, in my mind), and I think it's done something to my throat.
Now, on top of my extremely dry mouth and throat (because of diabetes plus a side effect of Zertec is - dry mouth), now I'm coughing because it feels like my uvula has dried up and sticking to the back of throat.
Then again, I remember Barry telling me something about ACE inhibitors and coughing (turns out that my blood pressure medication changed and now has an ACE inhibitor in it, and a side effect is cough (3.9%)).
Monday, April 24, 2006
Is it the drugs?
I didn't mention that I went to the doctor on Saturday morning, just for a regular stop-in and catch-up.
My blood pressure - though I think it's been OK, doesn't seem to be under control. The medication doesn't seem to working as efficiently, based on my in-office BP checks. I'm thoroughly convinced its 1) the manner in which the BP is taken, which is different than the when I had it taken regularly by the P.A. Kristi., and 2) I'm pretty sure I have a case of "White Coat BP" meaning that my BP goes up any time I see a white lab coat, like the doctor wears.
Anyway, we changed my drug to a two-drug combo, Lisinopril and Hydrochlorothiazide.
I was really "lucky" in that when I saw him, my sinuses were full, my nose clogged, and just in a full-fledged spring allergy attack. I was able to get a prescription for Zyrtec.
Problem? Side effect: fatigue & drowsiness. Effectiveness? For me, questionable. It's barely, and I mean barely, attempting to keep my sinuses clear. I know that this is a hell of an allergy season right now and a lot of people - me included - are suffering terribly, but I'm questioning if this drug is right for me. Right now, what's more evident than it "sort of" working is that I'm really tired. I mean really tired. I've fallen asleep at my desk once this morning already. I finally had a night of sleep that didn't include my very regular interruptions or going to the bathroom every hour and a half (side effect of the diabetes - every hour and a half all night long every night... my current hell).
So, I think I'm going to keep taking the Zyrtec and see if it gets more effective over time, or I'll give up on it when I go to the doctor next time.
I hate this time of year and fall - the two big allergy seasons, and this particular season is bad.
Update: Fell asleep three times today, once this morning, twice this afternoon, the last for at least 20 minutes at the very end of the day, after I would have gone home. God I hope I didn't snore...
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Carol and I met with a diabetic dietitian today. My doctor seems to be trying to get me into a program at the hospital to support newly diagnosed diabetes patients. She worked with us for well over an hour, trying to get a feel for our lifestyle and then figuring out what I should eat, based on both my diabetes and cholesterol (yes, that's bad, too).
So, she came up with a 1600-calorie per day plan that gives me about 60g of carbs for lunch and dinner. The great news (as far as I was concerned) is that it really seamed that no food was off the table - it's just a matter of portion control and realizing that I may have to sacrifice one food for another to make my 60 carbs. I can't go over, and I can't "save" like you could do in Weight Watchers. you use or lose it.
Then we went to a local Jewel and spent another hour and a half, doing a lot of reading to figure out what had what. We bought some good things and figured out quite a few things, not to mention finding the error of our ways on a few items now that we read the packaging in relationship to the diet.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
A Kick in the Pancreas
I was fearing this.
Official diagnosis: Type 2 Diabetes.
Yeah, the tests are in from last Saturday. A normal fasting glucose level is between 65-99 mg/dL. I was 137. The kicker was the two-hour test. The glucose level should be 65-139.
I was at 327.
Time for regular glucose testing during the day. Have an appointment to see a dietitian. the doctor wants me to go through some education (classes) as well.
I'm scared to death. I feel helpless because I just don't know what to do with myself. I guess it's the fear of the unknown, but, damn, this feels scarier than that.
Life changing. Great.
What kind of life will I have? Maybe that's the unknown that I'm not looking forward to. I don't understand the mechanics of the disease and the treatments and how things all work. When I think hyperglycemia I think "no sugar" at all, but I know there's much more to it than that.
And then I start thinking about all those foods I will never eat again, probably.
And I think about eating out with friends and family and how I'm not going to be able to eat what is prepared. I don't know, it's a bit of paranoia as well I guess.
Monday, April 10, 2006
A Kick in the Wallet
I came home after work today to find the bill for all of those MRI's from 2 weeks ago.
Patient Services Provided
MRI / Brain - Quantity 1 - $4,146.00
MRI / Spine - Quantity 3 - $12,679.00
Drugs Requiring Det Code - Quantity 1 - $561.00
Total Charges - $17,586.00
I hope insurance will cover this!
On top of this, I'm having an uncomfortable situation with my doctor. When I first went in for the EMG/NCV, he wanted my to see a neurologist. Now that he's seen the MRI's he wants me to see a neurosurgeon.
I feel like we've jumped a step along the way. I feel that we're thinking of surgery and that might not be the only thing wrong to fix my "twitching" legs (Oh, the diagnosis was Cervical Spinal Stenosis and moderately advanced degenerative spuring in my thoracic spine).
I said I still wanted to go to the neouraologist first, so I maid an appointment - for first-time ("new") patients, the earliest I can get was July 26th at 2pm.
Apparently this is too long and now the doctor wants me to see the neurosurgeon.
I've got to get this cleared up.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Just got back from the Glucose Test.
Had my blood drawn, then had to drink this flavored drink that had 100 grams of dextrose (i think it was dextrose) in it. Then I sat around for two hours. The office was empty (it was 8:10 on a Saturday morning) but there was a young woman that came in about 5 minutes after me - for the same test. I got the last Lemon-Lime drink, she had an Orange.
The magazine selections in the office sucked (I mean, they actually had a magazine I've never seen before -"Cheerleader"). So I watched the fish in the fish tank for a while. I brought my bag from work, so I had my laptop with me, and I used it like a big black iPod and listened to some podcasts. I actually read Green Eggs and Ham cover to cover (actually, I liked it, Sam I am).
Then the two hours were finally over and I got out of there. A few people came and went in the meantime, but overall it was quiet.
Friday, April 07, 2006
I'm fasting again.
No, it has nothing to do with it being a Friday during Lent.
I have another blood test tomorrow. This is a glucose tolerance test, so I have to stay at the office for two hours with nothing to do. Not looking forward to it.
These fasting things really aren't so bad. I don't have a big snacking "drive" in the evenings - I just have to drink water when I get thirsty and nothing else.
So, yeah, that's my big "secret" from the blood test from before. I guess the normal fasting glucose level is about 100 and I was at 149. And this is the one thing that's scaring me.
I immediately dropped any sugared soda I was drinking and started drinking diet soda. I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate the taste, but what can you do? Hopefully, i can correct this all with diet... I'm hoping...
Thursday, March 30, 2006
MRI's #3 & #4
OK, today's experience was totally different, and not in a good way.
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Gowns. I hate gowns. The metal in my zipper was too near the scanning sites, so I had to take my pants off and put on two gowns, one reversed of the other. Over my long-sleeve shirt. And, of course, no pants but my socks & shoes! I look like a dork, and this is going to be warm as hell...
In a nutshell - No Truck. I was in the MRI unit inside the hospital itself. That implies: older machine, older machine = "more used" = maybe not as well maintained or has more "miles" on it = LOUDER.
Holy crap, the machine was loud. I had ear plugs. Didn't help. Better sound quality headphones, less sound absorption from outside noise. Not that I could hear the music while the machine was running. I could only hear pieces of songs in the gaps between scans. And what am I hearing? "King of the Road"? WTF?
OK, so on top of loud, let's add heat. It was 69 degrees outside today, so you know that mechanical plants just can't keep up with a 30 degree swing in outside temperature, so the room was warm. Now, when you're inside a tube in a warm room, and the only means of air circulation is an internal flan blower that's just blowing room air, you know it's not as comfortable.
So lets talk comfort. I learned something about MRI's, and that they use a "coil" in their process to help... with something, I don't know, focusing the impulses... probably something like that. Anyway, the MRI's tonight were for my Thoracic and Lumbar spine sections (last night - Brain and Cervical spine). Last night, I had a whole cage that surrounded my head and sort of "locked" me into the table, It had this nice mirror arrangement so that if I looked straight ahead, instead of seeing the inside of the tube that was just inches from my face, it acted like a "periscope" and I was able to view down the length of my body, toward the door to the room. It made me comfortable and not claustrophobic. Well, tonight, no head "thingy". I had to go into the tube without my little "periscope". Great. So, they gave a bulb device to squeeze to alert them to get me out of the tube if I start to panic. Fortunately, they guy tonight (who was the tech last night that gave me the contrast dye, so we're like buddies now) did the lumbar scans first. That put me the furthest into the tube, which was good because I was almost poking out the back-end, so I could actually see parts of the ceiling behind the machine. That calmed me down, and scan proceeded without a hitch.
Except for the noise.
Then, as the scan progressed, I realized my left leg was spasming (twitching). I tried my best to stop it, but I just couldn't. I'm lucky that it started during the thoracic part, so that any movement isn't being translated to my spine. The scans are good. The tech knows it's happening, so he's checking the scans as we go. I stopped counting after 20 twitches... and it's close to double that. Then the scan were over and it was time for the contrast dye. He used the same vein in my hand and did a great job. I mentioned that I thought the pads under my knees were higher when I was out in the truck, so he built a series of cushions to get my knees higher, and we start the final scans, starting with the thoracic this time. As he's moving me, slightly, further into the tube for the scan, I realize that my knees are hitting the front of the machine!. As the scan completes and he gets on the little intercom to tell me that lumbar scan is next, I frantically try to tell him not to move the bed because all I can envision is getting jammed into the tube. He came out, pulled a few cushions out, and we finished the scans.
Did the additional pads help the twitching? No. Well, barely. It turns out that there was some movement on the scans, but it was "within limits", so the scans weren't garbage. I was soaking wet when I got out of that machine.
I made it. My head was still buzzing from the sound, something I couldn't shake for an hour.
I had to wait in the Men's Gowned area for someone to take me XRay to get the supplemental XRays, which was no issue at all. I went and changed and met Carol out in the Radiology Reception room. The room was empty - except for Carol - and basically dark. They'd shut down! Carol's watching TV alone, waiting for me! Nobody manning the desk - it was dark.
So, that's it. Done with all 4 MRI's. Glad it's over, but all of my nervousness about the process was just not knowing what it was like. That, and the fear that my legs would twitch, ruining a scan and we would have to do it all over again.
Hope I don't need to do this again soon.
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Wednesday, March 29, 2006
MRI's #1 & #2
I have four MRI's scheduled over two days.
Today is my first day of two scans. And I've never had an MRI. And I'm... nervous.
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I've heard multiple stories from people who have gone through this experience, all seem to focus on the sound and claustrophobia. I don't know if I'm claustrophobic - I mean, how tight could this thing be? And, as for the sound, how loud could it be?
My worries, in general, all center around the unknown, and my fear that I'll be in a laying in a bad position and my legs will start twitching, ruining the scan and having to rescan or worse, reschedule for another time to do it again and insurance not cover the cost.
I decided to "self-medicate" myself. I've got a cold and my nose is running, so I took some Sudafed and then, since I was a little "anxious" about the whole "tube" experience, I thought if I could relax (and maybe even nap), it would make things easier, so I took a couple of Tylenol PM's. So, Carol came with me just in case I was a little sleepy when it was all over.
We drove to St. Alexius and went to registration. The guy was sharp to realize I was here for the same tests over two days so he basically pre-registered me for tomorrow as well, giving me all the paperwork we needed and then he walked us back to Radiology. They have their own waiting room, behind these dark wood-trimmed windows with fabric hanging from them. Like a small library in the middle of a sterile hospital. Filled out a questionnaire and just waited... all of about 5 minutes.
The elderly lady was the MRI Tech and started walking me to the testing. We kept going down corridors and turning. It was a labyrinth or corridors and doors. Next thing I know, we're going out an external door through a temporary covered walkway (sidewalk, actually). We were going to a leased trailer, parked behind the hospital. There, inside, was a brand new GE MRI unit in the middle of this air conditioned trailer, which had a small "office" in the front that the Tech worked out of - with soundproof door and glass between the two rooms.
I was lucky - because of where the scans covered tonight - Brain and Cervical Spine - I didn't have to change clothes - I just had to make sure I got rid of any excess metal - so I dumped my change, and my belt on a counter and went into the scanning room.
She lowered the scanning table and I hopped on, and then we maneuvered my head into the what felt like a brace of some sort. She put on some headphones that sounded all mid-range and lousy and loud. She was trying to talk to me, but even though she was right next to me I couldn't hear her for the radio in the headphones and this constant "washka-washka-washka-washka" sound that the machine made at all times, even when idle. I hoped that she wasn't telling me anything important.
Then she put this cage-like thing over my head. The cool thing is, that as I lay on my back, I was actually looking into a series of mirrors that worked like a "periscope" and I could look down the length of my body, toward the door to the room. Hey, this wasn't bad! I didn't have to worry how "tight" the tube was, I could actually just look out and everything was great.
I was flat on my back, but had some kind of pad/cushion under my knees that was really comfortable. I could feel right away that I could hold this position for quite a while.
It came time to be "inserted into the tube" and that's when I realized just how tight it really was. I've always had very broad shoulders (some think it was from swimming at the YMCA when I was a kid, but maybe I was just built this way), so I had to pull my arms in and slightly lift them up to get into the tube. Still, not all THAT uncomfortable.
The Tech came on the headphones and let me know that the first scan will take about 4 minutes and don't be alarmed by the noise.
Then came the noise. Yes it was loud, but I could tell that the headphones where blocking a lot because the sounds were slightly muffled. It was still damn loud. I really can't describe the sound. I can't at all. The closest sound is a klaxon, a fire alarm. Not a bell, a horn. Going off. Next to my ears. Either every second, or continuously. For four minutes. The radio cannot be heard at all, just the sound of the machine.
And that was just one part of the scan. The scans were anywhere from 30 seconds to four minutes, and there had to be at least 5-6 of them. That would be for the brain, and then the bed would slide in, reposition, and then next series of scans would commence for the Cervical Spine. I could barely hear the radio in between scans, as I think my head is buzzing from all of the noise.
It was tedious. It was also hard to try and relax and "drift off" because of the machine that's inches from my head. And I was in good spirits because my legs were calm!
Next, the lady comes into the room and slides me out. The radio is turned off. That's when I realized that what she did was pull the plug on the cable to the headphones. But, the cable isn't a cable at all, it's just tubing. The headphones where like what are used on airliners, with the old entertainment systems that just use hollow tubes to get the sound to the earphones from speakers buried someplace else. A cleaver way to not use metal around and inside the machine!
It's now time to be injected with some kind of "contrast" dye. So, she begins the effort on trying to find a vein. In vain, unfortunately as she sticks me twice in the left arm and can't come up with a good vein. She tries my right arm, but at least doesn't stick me, She tries my right hand and fails, so she gives up and goes to find another tech.
A young guy comes in, introduces himself, shakes my hand, and starts to work on my left hand, finds a good vein, does the old alcohol swab and sticks me and feeds whatever this stuff is into my vein. It actually feels cool as if travels up my arm. Other than that nasty pain of the initial stab, I'm good to go. The table is slid back in the tube, about 3 or 4 more scans are taken in total, and I'm sliding out the tube, all finished.
Sitting up was a little rough, but I eventually got my wits around me and I gathered my belongings and walked back into the hospital. I had one more stop to make - XRay. Apparently, they get an xray of the same area that's scanned so that a comparison and reference can be made. That was just as easy as walking into a room, standing sideways against a plate, firing the xray and walking out. Simple. Fast. Of course, not as high tech as my last hour was.
Yes, the scans lasted about an hour, total. They had scheduled 2 hours for me, one for each scan, just in case something happened or a scan had to be redone.
I met carol in the waiting room and we went home. I still felt a little "wired". Those Tylenol PM's had NO effect on me, as I was just too "up" and "alert" for all of this.
This wasn't a bad as I had feared. If it's the same tomorrow, I think I would even consider calling this a "cakewalk".
Let's see what tomorrow holds.
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Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Still fighting something...
Got home after work last night and was a mess. I felt drained and then i started getting the chills. Carol thought I had a fever, but we couldn't verify that because we couldn't find our thermometer. Carol made dinner and I got through that and I felt better, but then I was sweating my ass off, so who knows what's going on. I slept pretty well, so, other than an occasional cough this morning, I'm certainly better than I was last night.
Carol, in the meantime, isn't. She's been pretty uncomfortable since the surgery and the pain is just a little too disturbing her normal activity. She called the Day Surgery center and they're recommending for her to take a day off and keep her feet up. So, she's staying home today and following their recommendations.
We're a mess. We'll be fine some day, but right now - we're a mess.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Taking the next step(s)...
I mentioned sometime earlier that I'm starting a new adventure in my life - actually visiting a doctor and getting myself "fixed". No, I don't mean neutered, I mean fixing whatever is broken.
I had went for my EMG/NCV tests, now it's time for the next steps - MRI's.
I have never had an MRI before, so I'm not sure what to expect. I'm hearing everything from it's nothing, just noisy to people freaking out because of claustrophobia. I have absolutely no idea if I'm claustrophobic or not, so I'm not sure what to expect.
I called to schedule two MRI's - Brain and Spine (cervical, thoracic, & lumbar). That's what the Doctor's Orders say. What I found out is that it's actually 4 MRI's Brain, Cervical, Thoracic, and Lumbar! And they schedule an hour for each! 4 HOURS TOTAL!
We broke it into two pieces, and I'm going in Wednesday night for the first two and Thursday Night for the next two.
I don't know what to expect - anybody have any real-life experiences that want to share them with me? Enter a comment or send me an email.
I think what's worse is my blood workup that I had done last week. I have to go in for a follow-up blood test because, well, let's just say something is "askew" and I don't like it and neither does my doctor, but it's something I suspected. I just hope I can manage the whole thing with diet... here I am being fatalistic about something I don't even know what I have exactly... Crap... exercise and diet....I mean, c'mon, I haven't seen a doctor in a while and I don't exercise and I'm overweight... is it a shock that I have to exercise and diet? Well, no... I guess...
Still, I knew I would have to do something to get back "in line". It's just I'm so friggin' lazy it's hard to reconcile. I mean, potentially, changing my diet dramatically and forcing myself to carve-out some kind of time for exercise. It's life changing, I guess.
So, it's time to get my act together. Will I blog about it? Probably. Will it become a major focus of this blog? God, I hope not. It's supposed to be part of my life, not my whole life. There better be more to life than diet and exercise!
I don't need to be berated and/or hassled about this. I know I got myself here. I'm not happy about it. I don't need to be reminded of it. When I need it, Carol will take care of the motivation/admonishing/teasing, etc. All I ask is support. Actually, that goes for the entire readership out there (HA! All, what, 6 of you?) - all I ask is for your support.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Man, I'm not feeling right today... I feel a little light-headed, a little "disconnected". I even feel a little week. It feels like my blood pressure medication is screwed-up.
How the hell am I going to sweep 48 stones tonight? I'm never gonna make it. I'll fall over or passout. I need a sub.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Back on the meds...
So, I started re-taking my blood pressure medication after yesterday's doctor visit.
The problem is that it's a mild diuretic.
Great. All day at work, it's work-work-work, go to the bathroom, work-work-work, go to the bathroom, work-work-work, go to the bathroom, ... rinse and repeat...
Hope it doesn't last long. I don't remember how long it was when I was finally back to normal last time on these. Also, this is half the dose I used to be on.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
The next step to make things right
I visited another someone today that I haven't seen in a while - my doctor.
I haven't been there in 3 years. This is probably worse than my dentist, though. Why? I have high blood pressure and during this time I haven't been on medication for it.
I've been slowly and slowly feeling worse. I don't exercise. I've gained weight. I don't exactly eat well.
Blood pressure? 144/100 - 144 is better than I'd thought it would be, 100 is worse than I thought it would be
I need to try and fix the things I can before "something" happens from neglect.
So, I'm back on some medication - the same drugs, though in half of the dose I used to take. Things change, I guess.
I'm getting older. I want to... be around longer.
There are places to go, things to see, things to do, things to be.
I've got to turn this around. Back in a month for a physical.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
The start of making myself right
You know where I went today? Went to see someone that I haven't seen this millennium?
What's the big deal?
He's my dentist.
Yep, had x-rays, teeth cleaning and a discussion of what to do next. For the first time this decade.
Feels good getting the "sweaters" off my teeth. Yes, there was some discomfort during the cleaning since he had to work a bit to get everything done.
What's next? I have to get all four wisdom teeth pulled. I knew this before.No surprise. No new cavities. That was sort of a surprise. No gum problems. That was a surprise. I just need these teeth out. I'll do it - all at once, if possible.Don't know when... let's see how much my procrastination kicks in.