Friday, October 22, 2010

Medical Update

I know I've been slacking, but I have my list of excuses...

Excuse list:
1-tons of doctor appointments
2-school and homework, for both myself and Mikeal
3-Mikeal being on Fall Break when my classes started back up
4-I've started posts only to get distracted mid-way
5-house rearrangements
6-eh, think of an excuse I've used or can use, be creative, share the excuse with me...I really do need some new ones...

Anyways, onto the update.

This is the last update I made, back in mid-September...since then everything was twisted upside down. I didn't blog about the canoe being flipped because I was fairly depressed, pissed off, and no, not just pissed off.... REALLY pissed the fuck off!

So now I must play catch up with you...

In July I had the blasted Mirena removed. Brian and I both decided that we're okay with it if I wind up pregnant again, the effects of pregnancy on my body are nothing compared to the continuing to get worse effects of the Mirena, or so we thought. You'll soon understand the importance of this Mirena removal mention...

Then of course I had, yes, HAD, been seeing the Nurse Practitioner down the road here about the arthritis and other issues I've had for ages.

At my last update that I linked above I mentioned him putting me on some new medications...I went later that day to pick up the medications. Upon getting home with my new month's supply of new medications, complete with multiple refills this time, I read the inserts. I've picked up this life saving habit ever since I found out the death of my oldest child was most likely a result of prescription medications that I blindly took at the advice of my physician. So I read the first insert...used for arthritis inflammation, blah blah blah, this is an NSAID, do not take if you have ulcers, etc blah blah blah... Ok, fine and dandy. I only have ulcers, but whatever, nurse practitioner gave me a medication to offset the effects of the NSAID on my stomach. A heavy duty ulcer medication to go with my new heavy duty NSAID. I go to read the insert for the ulcer medication. There's a black box label warning from the FDA. This lovely medication for my ulcers is not only used for controlling stomach acid, but is also used for early abortions and starting labor. Only 800mcg of this medication is needed to induce labor, used alone in the first 8 weeks of pregnancy for abortions, used in the last week of pregnancy to induce labor. Here I was only 9 days past ovulation. Meaning I was far enough in my cycle to have gotten pregnant, seeing as Brian and I do have a healthy sex life for a married couple, but not quite far enough along in my cycle to check for pregnancy and the test results be completely reliable.

Add in the fact that the black label warning put in BIG BOLD LETTERS to NOT take this medication if you are not using a contraceptive and to not stop using the contraceptive for AT LEAST a month after stopping the medication. Brian and I of course were not using any contraceptives....kinda defeats the purpose of 'leaving the option open'... The nurse practitioner was well aware of this, seeing as just MINUTES prior to him giving me these prescriptions we had discussed where I was in my cycle and if I was pregnant or not. My answer of course being that I was at the point that I'm too far to rule it out and its still too soon to know for sure without a blood test.

I immediately get on the phone with the NP's office and question the reasoning. I also let him know that I flat out refuse to take this medication until after my uterus is completely removed. There is NO WAY in any sort of imagination to think that I will take an abortion medication while the possibility of me getting pregnant is there. It will not matter if I am 80 years old, so long as I have a uterus it is completely possible, albeit slim possibility, for me to become pregnant. Me knowingly taking an abortion medication is absolutely out of the question!!! Especially a medication that it only takes 800mcg in one day to cause an abortion and I was to take 200mcg, 4 times a day, everyday, with either 3 or 6 refills on the label. His answer was just simply: "I think this is the best medication for your condition, I will not be changing it." Disregarding the fact that not maybe 2 months before he had me on a medication cocktail that I felt really GREAT on. Not that the medications weren't without their own risks to pregnancy, seeing as most of them were class B & C medications...I'll take class B & C medications over a class X medication any day of the month.

I promptly changed doctors.

I took some time to write out all of my 'issues'. The numbness of my hands, the frequent dizziness, the pain, the migraines, etc. I also wrote her out a list of all the medication combinations I have been given for my issues, the benefits I felt with each one, my refusal to take others, etc. I also had a page of all the specialists I had seen and the results of the tests. Neurologist ruled out carpel tunnel and pinched nerves in my neck. Allergist ruled out any and all allergies. I listed what medications I knew caused bad adverse reactions with me. I listed everything I could think of that I knew she was bound to ask me. Then I brought my lists with me. Four pages of information.

The new actual doctor this time...made a copy of my list, talked with me for a bit, then ordered a series of tests. Blood tests were first on the list. She also ordered a sleep study.

I went and had about 5 viles of blood drawn for about 15 different tests. I know the tests included checks for everything from my blood sugars to hormone levels to cholesterol, as well as tests for some bacterias and general blood cell counts.

Everything came back within perfect range, except for one of the bacterium tests. It came back to say that I have an abundance of h. pylori bacteria. A bacteria that causes ulcers. OH MY GOSH! There was actually a reason behind me having ulcers! I was given two antibiotics and Prilosec to treat this bacterium that lives in the lining of your stomach. The side effects of the antibiotics were anything but fun, but I endured. I've since been able to actually ENJOY things like a chocolate chip cookie or a cup of coffee...even Tabasco sauce on my beans and cornbread, with regret or having to take a pill before or after the fact.

During the two weeks of taking this antibiotic regimen I had my sleep studies. My first study showed that I never really entered REM sleep and that I had sleep apnea, albeit a mild case of apnea, but anything that causes you to stop breathing is enough to cause concern. I was fitted for a CPAP machine during my second sleep study. Sleeping with a whole plethora of wires attached to me the first time was enough of a hassle in itself, this second time I not only got all the lovely wires but I also was given a very sexy mask that blows air into my face, constantly. When I was awakened at 5am after 'sleeping' with the mask on my face I actually didn't feel like I was caught in the Twilight zone of I should be awake, but I'm really not and you expect me to drive 10 miles home groggy like this?! I actually felt like I had slept or at least had rested my body and mind. It actually took me about an hour to go back to sleep after I got home, where as after my first study I was nearly asleep before I even pulled in the driveway. I'm actually looking forward to using the machine on a regular basis... I'm currently awaiting approval from the insurance company, which could take another week, before I can go pick up my very own CPAP machine.

Earlier this week I had my follow-up appointment with the doctor. I told her about weaning myself off of the neurontin and stopping taking the ibuprofen and any other medication I had been on. I did express to her that I have had no issue with heartburn or ulcer flare-ups since about a week into my two weeks of antibiotics, but I also was completely off the NSAIDs by then, so I didn't know if I was to start NSAIDs again if the ulcers would return. I've been dealing, marginally, with the pain and inflammation as best I can without pain medications because I don't want the medications to interfere with test results...and if you were to step in my house you can see how that's going...

She further questioned me about what medications I was still using. I told her I was still using the nasal sprays I was given from the allergist when he determined my sinus & nasal allergy type issues weren't allergies but just an overly-sensitive nose, but that I was quickly running out. I do notice a HUGE difference between using it and not using it. Anyone that has ever had the displeasure of seeing me first thing of a morning, or really any time during the day, can tell you that I'm always sneezing, my face is always swollen and stuffy, etc. With the nasal spray I'm right as gold! 'Allergies' is no longer my catch-phrase when someone looks at me like I've lost my mind for going out in public while having to blow my nose. There for a few years I would have never left the house if I let a runny nose or sneezing stop me.

I also told her that I had a few migraine pills left, but I restrict myself on taking them for only the migraines that really knock me down. This lead into more detailed questioning from her. What triggers the migraines? (
Nothing I can pinpoint, it can be anything from watching TV to driving down the road, to having a fight, to just sleeping even) When was the last time I had my eyes checked? (Last February, same script that I've worn since I was 14 years old, no worse, no better) Where do they start? (aligned with my ears, towards the center of my head, radiating from there) This answer stopped her in her tracks of questioning...She double checked my answers, asked if I was sure that they didn't start closer to the base of my skull or closer to the front of my skull. Then she started mumbling as she looked back over my was almost as if a light bulb turned on in her head. She then asked about dizziness...I answered her just as she saw that note in my chart...yes, I did have dizziness. Then she read more of my chart...walked out of the room for a minute, came back and told me she was going to order me to have a CT scan done of my head. Asked if I had ever had one. I have...about 6 years ago, at a military base hospital. The CT scan they did was rudimentary at best, just a small machine set up in a truck trailer...a mobile CT scan machine. Best I could remember they found nothing noteworthy. I'd had the CT scan because earlier that evening I was complaining about extreme dizziness and a migraine, told my roommate at the time that I felt that it was significant to go to the ER about...started getting Mikeal ready to head out and the next thing I knew my bedroom was flooded with EMTs. I had lingering dizziness and disorientation for a few days, one point bad enough that I guess I passed out in the bathroom at work and they sent me home, but only if Brian came and picked me up. But nothing was found out to be a cause...but of course I only had the one rudimentary scan done.

I had the CT scan today. The technician told me that she had to send the film off to the radiologist in Nashville and he should have the results on Monday. My doctor's office should call me when they get the results back. I have an appointment set up for the 9th of November as a follow-up. The tech also mentioned that it's likely that the next step will be an MRI. Then the poor gal nearly had to catch me as I sat up and nearly toppled over from sitting up too quickly and the room swam around me. I know better than to stand or sit up too quickly. I just wasn't thinking, again.

To say I have a bit of anxiety over all of this is an understatement. I am so used to hearing that nothing is wrong with me or I'm just looking for attention or that my tests all come back within normal. Now I have a doctor who sends me for tests and every time I've gone for a series of tests or even just one test I've come back with 'something'. First the h. pylori in my stomach. Then the sleep apnea. I'm worried about what they may find with the CT scan all while I'm worried that they won't find anything. Ten plus years of dealing with these symptoms and having different doctors treat the different symptoms takes a toll on a girl...especially a mom who has access to Dr. Google.

I have done well with staying away from Dr. Google while the testing is going on. I've been waiting until I hear a diagnosis before I consult Dr. Google...that's the great thing about Dr. Google. It doesn't get annoyed with multiple questions and it doesn't downplay anything. If there's a worst case scenario you can bet Dr. Google will give it to you and you'll walk away convinced you're ailing to the worst.

So that's the (long) nutshell. I'm stuck waiting on yet another test result to come back....

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