Thursday, June 30, 2011

Interim

Where have I been? I've been burying myself in the illusion that things are more normal now that I do not have doctors appointments and an unknown diagnosis to deal with. Just work, chores, and training as usual. Yesterday was a bit hard because I called the clinic and found out that they needed my MRI images and the assistant to my neurologist stated that I should wait. So I could have delivered it right away, which was my initial thought, but was told to wait. So I left work like a bat out of hell to deliver the damned disc. The clock started all over again because of the three day weekend so in seven to ten days, I'll hear from the clinic about my appointment.

Work was overwhelming all week, due to regular work stuff. I was frustrated because I'd been working from home and staying on top of things but was still slammed all week, racking up three hours of overtime thus far. But that is really a bonus, as I'll need the money.

Last night, when going to bed, I got upset and shook J and told him, crying, that I needed him to deal with this, to be OK with it and face it. He'd been keeping his head in the sand and not wanting to talk about it. He evidently spent today reading from my MS for Dummies book and told me he plans on reading it to the end. I explained that I didn't necessarily need him to research but just be willing to deal with it. I apologized, again, for freaking out on him last night because I shouldn't have done that. But he said that was the right thing because he didn't realize how much I needed him to deal with it and face it head on. So now he is here with me, facing it, willing to talk about it, willing to let me bring it up whenever I need to.

But my life is not all about MS and I'm back on the treadmill. I ran my three miles today and plan on going to Dance! Dance! tomorrow, followed by, hopefully, four miles on Saturday. I'm getting back to where I was before this all started. I know it will never be 100% what it was but at least I can do small things, like run, go to work like a normal person, and bitch about the after work chores like cleaning up after the guinea pig, vacuuming, trying to get a brake light because your right brake light is out. Sure, it is frustrating to work all day and have to do chores after work but at least it is normal.

So that is where I've been. Today, I almost drew a comic to show what my "this can wait" in bin looked like because it had gotten out of control. But I didn't have time and I felt it would have been a bit abrupt to just jump to that without anything in between.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What a week. I lulled myself into the happy bliss of zero medical appointments and no longer having to wonder what my diagnosis might be only unleash a maelstrom at work. I work all day, through lunch, only to have to do chores after hours. And the EA goes on vacation tomorrow so I know that it will be a nine hour day, at least, before my prescribed three-mile run.

And today, unfortunately, I found out that I am an idiot (no, more so this time, really) for trusting the incompetency of the assistant to my neur

Monday, June 27, 2011

Here we are at a week since diagnosis. It seems less and less real as the days go by and I don't have a doctor's appointment. The referral form states that the patient will be contacted in seven to ten business days so I carry my cell phone everywhere so that I won't miss the call. I grow more and more impatient every day, especially as I continue to read a book I borrowed from the library, all about MS. Knowing that it is important to start treatment as soon as possible makes me feel a little crazy inside because I can't do anything until I receive a call. I don't even know if I should start the steroid therapy now or if I should wait until I have a clinic appointment because I don't know how it works and am afraid I'll take the steroids too early and have to take them all over again.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Delayed Shock

The full weight and shock of my diagnosis hit me at about midnight last night and I broke down into tears and sobbed. I don't think I'm actually sad about this - is that strange? Sadness just strikes me as an odd emotion to feel for myself about something like having a disease. But I'm scared and I'm confused and I don't know what to do. Nothing has been very easy during this process, easy or straight forward. I had to see multiple specialists and undergo all sorts of tests, all spread out over the course of this month. I was so relieved to have my diagnosis that I didn't take into consideration what that diagnosis really is.

And I still don't know. I don't know how I'll be treated other than the probable drugs and monitoring. I don't know how far advanced my particular disease is. I don't know what I should expect, be aware of, or be on the look out for. I just plain don't know.

All I've been doing is assuring others that I am fine, that I am OK with this, and making jokes or being silly. Yesterday I made stationary using the image of my MRI, which was given to me by my neuro ophthalmologist. I worked like a tyrant trying to play catch up and continued to speak with interested parties about my adventures towards the diagnosis and yes, yes, please calm down, no I'm fine.

Oh, and god damn it, I don't want to hear about your friend, your ex-girlfriend, your mother's friend's kid, or that kid who you grew up with whose father had MS and was just fine. I know you are telling me this because you want to reassure me that this doesn't mean I'm going to suddenly become infirm but right now I don't care about anyone's experience but my own. Perhaps that is selfish but I have a feeling that it is to be expected and normal. I don't care that everyone is fine because what if I don't get to be one of them? And why can't I just think about me and about the other possibilities?

Again, I know these people are well intentioned and so I don't blame them and I just continue the conversation as normal when the subject of who they know with MS comes up. But inside I just seethe and rage because I'm tired of hearing about it.

I texted my boss last night and told him I wouldn't be in the office because I'd just felt the real shock and needed a day. He's perfectly fine with that, of course, fine and supportive. When J suggested that it would be better for me to go to work rather than sit at home and just be upset, I was angry and hurt. I explained that I couldn't go in and have to be jokey about it and I couldn't go in and act like the deadlines and work I had left over was important but I'm not. I think that's part of the reason it hit so hard last night. I've been so busy trying to get people to not worry about me that I haven't worried about myself. Not properly. And I haven't allowed myself to be important enough and worthy enough for the attention and the worry.

So I'm taking today to process it all and to cry when I need to and think about the worst when I need to. I'm taking today to shut myself off from the office and the distractions. Now I know why people were surprised that I went in on Tuesday after receiving the diagnosis. I ought to have been devastated and at home with Jeff being comforted. The shock was just delayed but I have felt it now and I'm not going to run from it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Verdict

So. I have multiple sclerosis, the big MS. Honestly, I was relieved by the diagnosis since it makes sense of so many things as previously mentioned and isn't as bad as inoperable cancer or embarrassing like syphilis. But I do feel as though I could make one of those overly dramatic pharmaceutical commercials.
"It all began when I was jogging and I suddenly felt a pain in my neck and head. Days later, the vision in one of my eyes began to blur. The pain went away but the vision got worse...could I have MS?"
Of course, they'd show me wearing  a sweater with sleeves long enough to stretch over my wrists, gazing out of a window on a rainy day, mug of tea in my hands. The voice over telling you to talk to your doctor if you've experienced these problems and to ask about whatever drug is being shilled would begin. I will be shown outside raking leaves or gardening, laughing with friends, and maybe cuddling on the couch with my husband, a book open in my hands.

Tomorrow I go back to the neuro-ophth and I hope to never have to see him again as his abrupt manner doesn't suit me. My neurologist referred me to the OSU MS Clinic so I'll hear from them and be set up with a visit. My mother is going to fly in so that she can go with me and I think I'll ask J if he can go as well. It isn't that I'm scared; I just think it would be very good for both of them to know about the clinic and my treatment, for them to be educated so that they can both feel better about this. My mother was, initially, angry. I think she found it incomprehensible that her baby girl should be diagnosed with something she finds to be odious. J, I believe, was scared, worried that I was more scared or upset than I was letting on. But I think he understands now that I'm truly OK with the diagnosis so he is getting over it as well. Right now he is on the phone giving his mother the news.

Frankly, I'm tired of relaying the news! I went into the office and made my rounds, going from office to office, cube to cube, thanking people for their support and filling them in. I work in the best office ever. So much compassion, love, support, and kindness, just flowing out and embracing me. And they are so genuine and sincere! If I have to have MS, I must say that I consider myself lucky to have found this out whilst surrounded by all of these wonderful people.

And now I can relax. I can exhale and lean back and just relax. Because I have my answer and no longer have to wonder and fret and consider worst case scenarios. The relief is amazing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Breaking the self-imposted rule

I'm not supposed to be doing this. Yesterday, after a failed run on the treadmill, I gave myself that night to wallow and fret with the understanding that I would take the next four days off from worrying, wondering, thinking, and talking about this mysterious ailment. Why? Well, because my run was a fail. I had run a scheduled 2 miles on Tuesday but on Thursday I only managed 2.25 before having to break for a walk. I walked .25 miles and then tried more but stopped after .1 because I felt tired and weak. My boss and others have said it was the Valium and I'll try again tomorrow but no matter what the cause, I was upset. I felt this was really intruding on my life. OK, so it intruded when I had to go to the ER and visit specialists I never thought I'd have to see, but I'd been given clearance and had all the tests and I, a non-clinician, had decided that it was OK to just go back to normal life. So I gave myself the evening and the next four days were to be silence.

Did you know that ignoring the elephant in the room didn't work? Wow, shocker. Because I'm an idiot. I did pretty well during the work day because I was super busy but now it won't leave my mind. I've found reason why MS would be a good cause because it would make sense based on thing I've dredged up from the past. I looked up the symptoms, yet again, and for the first time, I started thinking about whether or not I had anything to match them (previously I'd looked them up to make sure I didn't have them).
  1. When I first moved to Columbus and was going numb on one side. I always chalked this up to stress.
  2. The fact that I choke easily on saliva and beverages. 
  3. Those occasions when I look down and feel a tingling sensation in my spine.
Again, these could just be nothing, simple facts of life that creep up. But when there is a possible, life-long, chronic illness that may be to blame, it almost becomes a hope. It would be comforting to have MS as a diagnosis just to make sense of this. Also, MS is not what it was when I was little.

I have always had an irrational fear of getting multiple sclerosis. I have no idea why. I know nobody who suffers from it and the only thing I know about it is probably false. I think I saw something at least 8 years ago about bee venom being used to treat it. Yet I've always been really scared of it. Nobody in my family has it that I know of. Granted, my family history extends to my mother's side, my father, and his parents. But still, I cannot name a single relative who has it. My initial thought to the idea that I might have it is "well, it has to start somewhere in the family tree, right?" But, given the history I am aware of, you'd think I'd be terrified of cancer. Nope. I just always assumed I'd die of cancer and was scared of MS instead.

If it is MS? Well, by this point, I think I have myself set to accept it. Like I said, it would answer a number of mystery ailments I've suffered and it isn't what it used to be. According to the scary neuro-ophth that I saw, if I have it and am diagnosed now, my chances are good.

But that isn't really the point is it? The point is that I should be hoping and researching lesser causes like virus infections and sarcoidosis. So why aren't I? Why am I so stuck on this worst of the worst? Is it because, as I suspect, that I'd rather prepare myself for the worst known cause rather than fear some complicated and terrifying untreatable cause? Or am I one of those weird people who masochistically wish for problems for the attention? Considering how tired I am of talking about the issue with people at work, I do hope it is not the latter.

I told J that I will probably cry harder at the diagnosis of a virus than at a diagnosis of MS out of sheer relief. I have been and probably will continue to prep myself for the worse so as not to have a total break down that the idea of a get out of jail free card will most likely make me break down into a puddle of tears. Here's hoping that is the case.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Least Favorite of the Bunch

The MRI/MRA went way better than I'd feared. Lots of people told me about their own experiences and what to expect and so the impression I had was of being in a tiny, confined space, having to be totally still for 40 minutes straight, being cold, and hearing loud noises. Fortunately, that wasn't the case at all. Instead, I was placed on a bed, my head was closed in a wide cage-like thing, and my ears were cushioned by headphones. I was then pushed into a rather open tube with plenty of air (which wasn't all that cold), and the test began. Yes, the noises were very loud. It truly sounded like I was on a construction site. But I was allowed to fidget with my hands and feet and I kept my eyes closed so it wasn't that bad. What's more, it wasn't 40 minutes straight or even 40 minutes at all. There were several scans and I counted during most of them, never making it past 250. All in all, it wasn't bad. Oh, and the Valium was delightful! I didn't feel high or woozy or anything like that. I simply felt like a much calmer version of myself. I have since told many people that I think Valium Cat would be preferable to those I work with over up-tight, tightly-wound, type A, hyper, spastic Cat. But too bad because this is what you get.

Now, as for something I did not talk about earlier: my appointment with the neuro-ophthalmologist. This last four hours and the nurse I was with was lovely. The tests, on the other hand, were not. I had completed a god-awful visual field test the day before but I had to undergo a longer one. This was why I'd requested a sedative for the MRI. When you undergo the visual field test, you wear an eye patch and put your head and chin into appropriate braces. You focus your one free eye on an orange light and click a mouse whenever you see a flash of light anywhere (do not follow the light, just click when you see it). Now, that flash of light may be very obvious or may appear as just a shadow. Click when you see anything. The first time I did this, they began with my right eye, the one with all the problems. Half the time when I clicked, I didn't know if I saw something, had the memory of seeing something, or was making it up. It took forever and I got super antsy because I wanted - neigh, needed - to move my head. Obviously, finding out that I had to do it all over again the next day, and for a greater length of time, did not make me happy. Before we did that, however, I had to do another test, one that took a scan of my eye. I had to place my chin on a rest and focus on a blue light off towards my nose and not blink. This turned out to be even worse than the other test, especially when I had to have a redo of one scan three times.

But, so what, it was needed and I got through it. I'd sent J home before these tests because he'd already spent 90 minutes just sitting whilst I answered questions and I wanted him to go home and get things done or eat or whatever. I regretted that as soon as the doctor himself came in. He threw me a "hullo" and then sat down at  the computer, typed, barked questions at me, typed, made me feel bad or dumb about my answers, and typed some more. Then he abruptly came to examine me, not seeming to care or even register the pain I felt, before returning to type without speaking for at least 10 minutes. At one point, I shit you not, he came back, pressed my temples, various places on my face, and then told me to close my eyes and pressed on my eyelids, making me wince and yelp. He said "that answers my question" to which I replied "yes!" He could have just fucking asked "does it hurt your right eye if you put pressure against your lid?"

At first I felt like a little kid who was in trouble or who had disappointed a grown up. Then I remembered that I was a grown up and began going through what I knew about this guy (I'd looked him up, finding his license and reading biographical information that I could find) and repeated things to myself. "Remember, he is from the east coast. He is either from New York or spent a lot of time there. He is not one of these nice mid-western folks that you've grown accustomed to." I also reminded myself that I didn't have to put up with anything and if he went to far all I had to do was open my mouth and say something. Fortunately, just before I got to the point of telling him that I'd looked him up and knew exactly what his credentials were, we were finished with the examination.

He as a very nice guy at the end, when he was speaking with me about my condition and next steps. He explained that yes, it was just neuritis, that steroids were not necessarily a must, and that we would have to wait for the MRI. Unfortunately, even after I squeaked out something like "I don't think I need to know about this", he insisted on showing me a graph and saying things like "if there are two spots on your MRI showing MS, then... and if there are three spots then...". My man seems to be really into MS. He also seems to hope that I have it. When I asked after other causes, he basically said that was something I would have to discuss with my neurologist when we looked at the MRI results. It was weird how he was. On one hand, he didn't seem to listen to me but on the other, he did ask me, before discussing anything with me, what the ophthalmologist had told me and what I'd learned about neuritis, asking if I'd gone on line and that sort of thing. He was pleased that I'd gone on line and told me to continue researching it. I asked if I could put off looking at the MS foundation website until after the MRI results and he seemed to think I should look anyone (which is why I think he was all MS all the time).

So in the end, I really did not like him as a doctor. I bet he would be great in the research lab but to say that his bedside manner was wanting is like saying a dead person doesn't exhibit much emotion. Who leaves a patient sitting silently for ten minutes? I mean, it wasn't like I couldn't see him typing and moving from screen to screen. He couldn't throw me a few words? And who starts and exam without saying something like "I'm Dr. So and So. I understand you are here for x. What I'm going to do is just look over these notes and then do a few preliminary exams, OK?" This dude just said "hello" and that was all I got from him in the way of introduction. And mother fucker is married to a psychiatrist! I mean, come on! He was also the most unsympathetic person I've ever met. I openly cried at least three times and he didn't even say something like "can I get you a glass of water" or "it's OK, take your time". I had to ask the mother fucker if I could have more tissues after he'd hurt me with the pressing on my closed eye bit!

So yeah, not my favorite medical experience and essentially the opposite of when I was treated by Mrs. Fletcher in the urgent care center. I dread the follow up visit but am buoyed by the fact that I'll see the neurologist the day before and will probably not have to be examined by him again.

And finally, am I the only one who finds it really just, well, wrong when the physician is morbidly obese?

Diagnosis Proper (from a doctor an all)

Thus far in my attempts to uncover the source of my medical misery, I have seen by the following specialties:
  • Emergency Medicine (twice), 
  • Family Practice (possibly twice because I don't know what the Urgent Care doc was)
  • Neurology, 
  • Ophthalmology, and 
  • Neuro-ophthalmology. 
After this afternoon, I will have undergone the following tests:
  • Blood tests, 
  • CT, 
  • Spinal tap, 
  • Cervical x-ray, 
  • Visual field tests (twice, two different sizes, both eyes), and 
  • MRI with MRA (after popping a Valium to keep from freaking out)
Thus far, I know that I am suffering from optic neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve, on the right side. Hence the blurred vision and eye pain. I also know that this can be treated with high dosages of steroids, but that it will also go away by itself. Whether or not I treat with steroids, the average time it takes for vision to return to normal is half a year. I seem to be the only one at all concerned by this time frame but, at least it isn't permanent. I've also learned that there is nothing I can do on my own to make this worse, which means I am allowed to exercise again. I went for a 2 mile jog on the treadmill on Tuesday and it was the best thing for me, really. Other than the fact that my vision got worse (which I'd been warned about), it was fantastic. My head pain was temporarily suspended and my overall attitude and mood were vastly improved. I hope to attempt my scheduled 3 miles today but must wait to see how I react to the Valium (claustrophobic).

Here is what I still do not know and will not know until I learn the results of the MRI/MRA: what caused this in me? It could be something doctors still haven't discovered. It could be a simple viral infection that is easily cleared up. It could be sarcoidosis, which J has and which I will call J Aids if I get it because I will have gotten it from him (is it catching? I don't know but it would be an odd coincidence). It could be a rheumatoid disease that I don't know the name of (one of many), and it could be multiple sclerosis. Obviously, MS is one of the bigger fears but at this point, I don't think I'd cry too hard at it. I am actually more frightened of it being some scary rheumatoid chronic illness.

But there is no way of knowing until Tuesday when I see the neurologist. Because this world is shit and god forbid I be given an answer to an ailment that began on June 2 any earlier than June 21. Bring on socialist medicine; I'm used to the wait.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Never Ending


Yesterday saw me back in the ER due to ongoing blurry vision in my right eye. Diagnosis? We don't know. Of course we don't. Well, I found out that my test results from Saturday were all clear so that is a good thing. After performing a fundoscopic exam and doing some blood tests, I was referred to an ophthalmologist who I will see at 2:15 this afternoon. I'm glad I can see him today because, for some reason, I'd prefer to shell out more money and not get answers immediately rather than having to wait. I don't see the neurologist again until next Tuesday, when we will discuss the results of my MRI with MRA that is scheduled for Thursday. And if I still don't have answers I think I'll just stop caring because it is getting harder and harder to remain upbeat. There are only so many tests that can be done and after the MRI/MRA, I think I may have exhausted them. And while my head/neck pain have improved dramatically (just flashes of intense pain when I turn my head to the left or right), I must admit that it is scary as all fuck to have my right eye blurry. I can still read, obviously, and it isn't painful, but I've always been terrified of losing my vision because of how important reading has always been to me. Before I was diagnosed with wicked kerititis some years ago, I made J promise he would read aloud to me if I went blind. Sounds funny, I know, but when you read as much as I do and have such poor vision (20/400), the idea of not being able to see at all is terrifying (well, I suppose that idea would be terrifying for anyone who thought about it; if you have shitty vision as do I, you might just think about it more).

Moments like these make me grateful that my mother never calls me, just e-mails me. I'm tired of talking about whatever this is and just e-mailing a few people at work this morning has been enough to set me off. I don't think I'm sad or even that scared, but I am frustrated beyond belief and my reaction to any intense feeling is to cry (which is super embarrassing). But with my mother it is worse because she assumes things are worse than they are and is naggy about it. I called her this weekend to tell her that I wasn't in excruciating pain because she seemed to think otherwise. I then suggested that maybe she should text my eldest brother one last time to let him know she cares and wants to know what is going on with SIL but that she isn't going to keep calling him every day. Because god damn, the poor guy is dealing with his wife being part of a grueling clinical trial and that has got to be hard enough without having your mother call and say "how is she? is she miserable" every fucking minute. But I just get the e-mails so don't have to deal with it immediately and can put it off.

And now, back to stupid work that I have to do from stupid home. Today I get to tackle a back log of voice mails that I've put off returning all because I hate being on the phone and I still get nervous when I have to talk to physicians. But I suppose it will be good to take my mind off of the mystery that is currently me.

*Updated*
So much for a same day appointment. Who was I kidding anyway? But I have the ophthalmology appointment at 9:30 tomorrow morning and it will evidently take 90 minutes. Weird. On top of that, the MRI people called because they were concerned about the fact that they had me coming in at 12:45 and the prescription had my appointment down as 2:30. So after scaring me and making me think "oh shit! please don't make me reschedule this for another day! the only definitive thing I've been told is to definitely keep this appointment", it was determined that I would just come in at 12:45 and forget about a later in the day appointment. Nothing like crying a little at your desk to make you feel like a professional!

Never Ending

Yesterday saw me back in the ER due to ongoing blurry vision in my right eye. My boss convinced me to go

Saturday, June 11, 2011

No News, Is Good News

After the CT scan and lumbar puncture came back clear, and after my appointment with my PCP, I finally called my mother to let her know what is going on. Since then, she's been under the impression that I've been in incredible pain and has stated in her e-mails that I am not to downplay my pain, to make sure I take care of myself. When she e-mailed yesterday, again stating that she felt terrible that I was in such pain, I called and left a message, just to let her know that the pain has subsided and that she isn't to worry. I followed up that call today, to give her the good news, and I think she was relieved a bit. And then she told me her news.

I did know that my sister in law was in the midst of her clinical trial, but I was not aware that this is the portion that might kill her. Evidently, they've infused the re-engineered cells and are now infusing a kind of poison to kill the cancer. She is on her fourth infusion; she threw up after the first and third. The ideal is 15 but the NIH have never made it that far. Another patient undergoing the treatment now did not make it past the first. This doesn't mean patients die before the 15th, just that their bodies, their systems, cannot handle it. I didn't think we were there yet. I knew the trial was to be grueling and that it might kill her, but I thought we had time.

Mom said that SIL is still in high spirits and, for once, that made me feel worse. Until today, I've been pleased that she's had a good attitude and been so upbeat. But now all I can think is, what if she is smiling in the face of certain doom? Mom told me that if that is the case, at least she went down fighting. That, I believe, is meant to comfort, but really, can anything? A 31 year old woman, who was not feeling sick, who bounced back beautifully from amputation and chemo, is in good spirits as she is infused with a poison that is making her ill beyond belief. Good spirits followed by death is no better than a pessimistic attitude followed by the same, in my humble opinion. But I suppose it is better for her.

If that wasn't enough, Mom went on to tell me that my cousin's husband died last night, out of the blue. He was only 64 and they don't know what happened, just that it appears he got up in the night to use the bathroom as he was found half in and half out of the bed this morning. Found by his wife. I do not know them but they were kind enough to send me a card and a check when J and I eloped. I remember asking my mother "who are Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and being touched that a cousin that I do not know thought to send us such a generous gift to a family member they do not know. I can't imagine what my cousin is going through. She is part of my extended Greek family, from my mother's father's side. Another cousin, or second cousin, lost her husband to a heart attack when he was in his 40's. The Greek side marries and the men appear to go down unexpectedly.

A condolence card will be sent. I will offer my sympathies and my shoulder should it be needed. But I feel ridiculous now, with my call to tell my mother not to worry. As though my issue is anything more than a sneeze.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Shall We Retire to the Terrace?

The neurologist visit was disappointing, as I feared. The exam was normal, yet another confirmation that this is not immediately life threatening. An MRI with MRA has been scheduled for next Thursday and I'll get to know about the results the following Tuesday. Keep taking the steroid, which is easy enough as I only have two more doses after today's. Don't worry. Yes, that is odd. No, we won't know until we see the MRI with MRA of the brain. My niece went to that college!

There was some talk that it might be neuralgia of the occipital nerve. I'm always taken aback to hear neuralgia spoken of as a modern day ailment. It sounds so very old-fashioned and Victorian. Oh dear, my neuralgia has flared again. It is my cross to bear..." If it turns out to be neuralgia, I do hope the doctor suggests that I retire to a sea-side resort for a few months to take the waters and rest my frail body. He won't, of course. Instead, he'll probably throw drugs at me:


That isn't desirable at all to me. Sure, Percocet and Oxycontin are fun, but I've formatted reviews of workman's comp claims and man can they go wrong. I'd hate to end up one of those zombies on disability, dependent upon narcotics and developing drug-seeking behavior. That is one of the downfalls of the work I do, forgetting that the reviews you've seen are from the worst providers out there, not the norm.

The other interesting term thrown around at the appointment today was "nerve block." If it turns out I have neuralgia that does not respond to drugs, I might need a nerve block. What the fuck? Doesn't that sound awful? Block my nerve? Can't we just fix it instead? It sounds like putting traffic cones around a pothole instead of just filling the damned pothole and I don't like it.

So yeah, I'm still kind of hoping for the tumor.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Self-Diagnosis

  
That is the pirate me on my pirate ship with my barrel of rum. I know it isn't the best drawing but I never claimed to be an artist. I put a lot of work into it though. Ever google image searched the term 'pirate'? Lots of scantily-clad girls, a veritable smorgasbord of flesh and ponytails.

For some reason, I've decided that the source of my pain (we are on day 8 now) is a tumor behind my right eye. It makes sense, doesn't it? Muscle relaxants and usual muscle treatment things are not working, the pain is all right sided, my right eye area is tender if I rub the lid (I'm an eye rubber, what can I say) and if I blink too hard. So the obvious answer is a tumor. They'll probably have to shave my head for the surgery, which makes the hair color touch up from a couple of weeks ago a waste of money, and they will probably have to remove my eye. On Facebook I've asked friends for suggestions for a pirate name because if I lose an eye, I totally get a pirate name.

If any of my heretofore silent readers wish to offer a suggestion, I invite them to do so in the comments section. And if it doesn't turn out to be a tumor necessitating the removal of my right eye? Well, I'll adopt the pirate name anyway... if it is good enough.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ouch: Buckle up folks, this is a long one

I am filled with non-mood-altering muscle relaxants as I lay prone on the bed, typing this post. If it worked at all, I would also have a pain patch slapped on the back of my neck, peeling from sweat and pulling at my hair. Yes, ladies and gentleman, I am an invalid.

There I was on Thursday evening, no more than half-way through my scheduled three-mile run when I suddenly felt a pain in the right side of my neck and head. "No big deal", I cavalierly thought to myself, "probably just didn't drink enough water." Naturally, I continued running.

This is a pretty fair depiction of me on the treadmill, other than the thinness. I'm pretty much always in either gray shirt and black pants or full on gym ninja with black pants and black shirt. And I'm certain I look uncomfortable, as well as super sweaty.

Run finished, the pain had intensified so I skipped stretching and headed for the showers. By the time I'd gotten home, it felt as though a hook had been slammed into the base of my skull on the right side and curved around my right eye. A happy camper I was not. 

As you can see, I took my hair down after my shower. That was my one concession to the pain, the idea that a pony tail might be too much for my fragile head. 

By the next day, Friday, I decided I had a pinched nerve and that it would feel better throughout the afternoon. When I was still in blinding pain at 10:00 a.m., however, I packed it in and left the office, stopping for a heating pad on my way home. The rest of the day was spent taking copious amounts of Advil and resting in the recliner with the heating pad draped around my neck, as I tried to get some work done. 

 Who do I think I am? I don't have a lamp on a side table!

I put up a valiant fight. I took Advil at various intervals and continued with the heat on my neck, regardless of the fact that they weren't helping. I did call my GP to see if I could get an appointment but it was too late in the day. So I texted my boss to see if he could call something in for me but he chided me for not giving the heat and anti-inflammatory drugs enough time and pointed out that I wouldn't be able to run the next day if he gave me something. "OK," I said, sadly, upset that I was going to have to power through the (excruciating) pain. Still, I felt confident that I'd be better by the next morning. 

And I was, for the first ten minutes of wakefulness. You know how when you have a cold you often feel utterly shitty when you first wake up and then feel better throughout the day? Yeah, this is the opposite. Upon waking and getting out of bed on Saturday, I felt like this: 


Look at me, all filled with sunshine and happiness. Ready to take on a new day with my non-hurty head and neck. The world was my oyster and I was ready to shuck the fuck out of it (that's what you do with oysters, right? Shuck them?) it was absolutely beautiful. And then, because it is a cruel and spiteful world in which I live, ten minutes went by and I became this:


The horrific pain in the right side of my neck and head were back. I spent a lot of time laying down and keeping my head still, texting my boss in hopes of convincing him that his advice was not working. He suggested I get a massage on my neck to loosen things up so I thought, "what the hell, why not give it a try." And so I scheduled a message for 10:30 and took a hot bath in hopes of relief. During the massage itself, I had the following thoughts:

1. We put a lot of trust into strangers because we believe them to be experts. This woman could    break my neck at any given point and I'd just be laying here with my head in her hands, asking for it. 




2.  No wonder athletes have masseuses on staff! I always thought it was a luxury but this shit hurts like a mother fucker. 

Mary, the very nice, caring, and empathetic masseur, provided me with a 30-minute neuromuscular massage and seemed genuinely concerned that I get relief. She was so sincere and kind that I actually lied and said I felt a little bit better just so as not to hurt her feelings. But the fact is, it didn't work. So eventually I caved in and had J take me to Urgent Care (not being able to turn my head to the left or right without pain makes it difficult to check my blind spots). 

And oh my god, the physician I saw reminded me SO much of Angela Lansbury that I automatically trusted her. 

Who wouldn't trust that?! If you've watched any Murder, She Wrote at all, you know that this is a woman whose word is to be trusted and heeded. She was super nice and rubbed my back when I burst into tears. Unfortunately, she couldn't do much because Urgent Care centers don't have the equipment needed for full diagnostics so she gave me an ice pack and a referral to the ER, which I'd really hoped to avoid, not just because of the $150 copay, but because ER physicians have a crap shoot approach to treating things. Once, when I was in a car accident, the doc was certain I had a meniscal tear in my knee all because I was using my old field hockey stick as a crutch. It didn't matter that I was 22 years old and hadn't played a game since the 8th grade (field hockey pick up games being hard to come by) or that the physical exam didn't show any signs of any meniscus problems. Turned out I had a bone bruise that went away on its own. That isn't to say that these aren't super qualified and expert physicians, it's just that they don't necessarily look for the same types of things that a specialist will because they just want to make sure you aren't in imminent risk of dying right there and then.


But I digress. Off to the neighborhood ER we went. I tried to convince J to just go home and let me call him because he was super busy but he only went home to eat something so that he could take his medicine (poor bastard has a throat infection and was studying for his PhD candidacy exam [which he is taking right this minute]). So, instead, he sat and waited whilst I had a CT scan with contrast (ever had one? the contrast makes you feel warm and, to quote the technician "like you've urinated on yourself", and she wasn't kidding). When that came back clear of any abnormalities, it was time for me to decide on whether or no to go through with the lumbar puncture, more commonly known as a spinal tap. WTF?!?!? you ask incredulously? So did I, but the hemophiliac-looking ER doc stated that he wanted to make certain that I didn't have any broken blood cells, evidence of a bleed/aneurysm missed on the CT scan. Having duly scared the shit out of me, I agreed. And so: 


Ever had a spinal tap? Very weird. I was fortunate in that it didn't really hurt, just felt super bizarre when the needle went in and when he removed it. But I didn't really notice anything whilst he pulled out four vials of spinal fluid (all clear, I'm pleased to say). I'd had J leave the room because I wasn't sure how he'd react but a very sweet nurse came in who patted my head and checked on me regularly. Then it was over and we got to wait for a long time. Eventually, overtaken by a moment of insanity, I decided to leave AMA. It worked out fine since I signed a form and the hospital would have to call me if I needed to come back (which they haven't done) so at least I know it isn't an aneurysm. 

Unfortunately, I still don't know what it actually is. I am on day six of pain and still have no idea what is going on. I saw my GP yesterday, and she called in some scripts for a muscle relaxer and pain patch (neither of which work) as well as a prescription for a cervical x-ray. She also wrote me a referral for a neurology consultation so I get to be an old lady all week! I had the x-ray today and they gave me a copy of the films on a disc so that I can bring it with me to the neurologist on Friday. I took a look and you know what? I could be perfectly fine or riddle with cancer; all I see are a bunch of bones and a goofy skull. 



Fortunately, I am able to work from home so I am laying in bed like some old dowager, head resting on pillows, coffee at my side, and my laptop on my lap so that I can be prone whilst creating templates for a new database at work. I feel useless and bed-ridden because I can't keep my head up for very long or my neck yells at me like "hey mother fucker! Why don't you try carrying around twice your weight when you are feeling weak and sore?" and then I have to lay still until the headache passes. All in all, I'm feeling like the vigorous, hearty, vital young woman I am. Only trapped in the body of someone who had her neck stepped on by a cow.


 

 
 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I think there have been three google keyword searches related to all things gynecological that have lead folks to this blog. That makes me feel vagtastic.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gyno and Paper and Butt

Who the hell googles that?!?!? That phrase was listed as one of the traffic sources driving someone to this site. Yes, yes I am honored. Thank you.

So Thursday. Yeah, what started out as a little me time turned into an all night drinking fest with two people I met at the bar and in front of whom I'm certain to have embarrassed myself. Oh alcohol, giver of joy and giggles, stealer of dignity and self-respect. Seriously, I met two really super nice people and we chatted and drank and ate pizza and talked about pot (?) and then some old guy was hitting on me and J came to take me home. Woke up filled with regret and shame as well as a few good feelings because hey, this isn't the first time I've made a fool of myself or drank too much and it was the most fun I'd had in a really long time. And besides, I can't remember doing anything in particular that would be more embarrassing than just being overly drunk in public, so ignorance is bliss.

Memorial Day Weekend ended up being boring and depressing at times. It gets bad some days, the whole not having a social life and being married to a guy who is always busy and can't hang out thing. Maybe if I hadn't taken a full four days off it wouldn't have been so bad. I did notice yesterday that I felt better and I think it was because I was in an office full of people who talk to me and had things to do other than read a book or reflect on my loneliness. J is especially preoccupied just now and it is really wearing on me. We talked last night about how frustrated I am that I don't feel I know what his plans really are, whether or not he is going to quit school and find a job. He told me that his plans hadn't changed, that when he finished one last thing at school he was going to quit because he hated it and that he planned on looking for work all summer. He asked if I felt better knowing that and I told him the truth, that I will believe it when I see it. I didn't mean it in at all a nasty way; that's how I am. Whenever I get a new position at work, I don't believe it until I get the e-mail from HR regardless of having been told from someone in the company and by someone from HR. I need that shit in writing. So I can't believe that things are going to change at home until I have proof of it. So wait and see is the name of the game.

When I'm not waiting to see I am running. I bought new shoes because my old kicks had no support left and I am now on week three of my half-marathon training. I'm as nervous and intimidated as ever but I've decided to not put myself down or doubt myself any more. Instead, I'm going to accept the fact that this is a daunting task and remember that I have given myself plenty of time to train for it. Hopefully this will help make up for the leg pain and exhaustion. Yesterday ended in more pain than usual because I ran my scheduled two miles at lunch and returned to the gym after work to take part in a Zumba class. I had a lot of fun and plan on doing this class weekly if I can, but my knees hurt today and if this keeps up, I may have to drop out or switch my running days around a bit. Again, we'll see.

And so now, tired and achy, I shall return to my exciting life of office work (not enough work, actually) and tedium. Thank goodness for the internet!