Tag Archives: Health

Gaining Some Headway

I can physically feel my stress levels plummet since Thursday.  I loved the Internal Medicine doctor!  Wow, talk about thorough!  I spent quite a bit of time with him and then another twenty minutes with his nurse.  She even took the time to recommend some doctors for me, you know, since my Gyne up and died the end of October.  He ordered a lot more blood work to be done.  He’s having my DHEA levels check again and they’re checking my liver and kidney functions, total blood count, urinalysis and quite a few others — they’re even testing me for pregnancy. I could’ve told them that one!  They needn’t have bothered wasting their time doing that!

I really have to say though, I was impressed by how in-depth he got with my medical history.  I casually mentioned I had had a colonoscopy and endoscopy about six-and-a-half/seven years ago and he filled out the paperwork to request those records too.  He was impressed with my list and we spoke about each symptom individually.  He checked my hairline, noted the hair loss, reassured me it was scattered and imagines my hair will be regrown in 6 months.  I really hope so.

But, I’m no longer worrying about as much.  I will admit, I don’t like washing and styling my hair like I used to, but when he told me he doesn’t think I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), I breathed a sigh of relief.  He concluded my fertility had been kick started in September of 2003 and how I hadn’t struggled getting pregnant with Cameron.  It’s also clear it’s not PCOS because my glucose and insulin levels are normal.  He wants to hold off sending me to the Endocrinologist to see what kind of outcome we get with the further blood tests.  This much we know for sure from the last series of tests:  It’s definitely not my thyroid.

From what I told him with my history of depression with Ian, he said everything I am experiencing could be a mild form of depression, owing to the fact that I can still function, whereas before, functioning with even an option.  It was then he talked about referring me to a Psychiatrist for a consultation.  That’s a first.  Then again, it almost seems the quintessential American thing to do, and you really haven’t lived until you’ve sat in ‘the comfy chair’, have you?

One thing he did tell me about that does concern me though is when someone is first put on anti-depressants they’re on for a short period of time and weaned off.  The second time, his recommendation is 12-15 months and the third time?  They’re on for life.  That is depressing in and of itself!  I don’t feel at this point like I would depend on the medication to function, I do fine all by myself.  I do have those niggling (or nagging) feelings that float past every-so-often, but for the most part, I can deal with it and I move on.  It makes sense that that is what it is, I should have realised before now.  If that’s what it is, of course.
So what now?  I just sit and wait for the results and move on from there.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

On a side note, I invited friends over for an impromptu visit last night.  They have three girls, one of which is just a few months older than Cameron.  I knew it would be great company for the boys and to be quite honest, we don’t invite friends over quite as much as we’d like (or should).

So anyway, I was checking the bathroom for toilet paper (as you do), and as I was coming out, Ian ran at me full blast gasping to get his words out:

“Mummy, the paper got on the fire and it floated off and got on the carpet and it’s STILL ON FIRE!”

After the nanosecond it took for what he’d just squawk at me sunk in, I ran to the kitchen/dining area where the floor changes from laminate tile to carpet and saw burning embers smoldering my carpet.  At least it wasn’t engulfed like my imagination thought!  I grabbed some paper and wafted off the offending charred paper and viewed the damage.  Not AS bad as it could have been, but enough to raise my stress level.  t.  There’s nothing like the smell of burning carpet to say “welcome, come put your feet up and relax.”

A friend had bought me a vanilla and caramel Yankee Candle for my birthday and I took the liberty of lighting it.  It could have been worse, a lot worse and I suppose I should be grateful for that, but good grief, you teach your boys not to touch a gas stove and you assume that same thinking would be applied to an open flame.  If I am the poster child mother for these types of shenanigans and tomfoolery, so be it.

A Thursday Thirteen in My Absence

Today, at precisely 10 o’clock (if no-one in front of me is late, banjaxing the whole thing up), I will be sitting in a waiting room, ready to see an Internal Medicine doctor.

Almost 2 weeks ago, I sat on the phone in my bedroom, staring into a blackened monitor and hoping for a positive answer.

“…I just wanted to check and see if you’ve received my partial medical records from the Utah by fax.”

She told me they had and the doctor was reviewing them, but since it had been a few days since they had received them, she probably needed more information before we can progress and set up an appointment.

I tried to stifle my emotions surging up my throat.  A month of undiagnosis has left me feeling anxious and determined for an outcome — some sort of closure.  Anything to help me move on and finally get better.  I have plans, plans for my future, and I don’t want hair loss and unexplained anxiety to wave their large shadow over them.

“Is it the same for all new patients–?”

That was it, I couldn’t finish my sentence.  Before I had a chance to, she was answering and I got a response to a question I never really meant to ask.  I broke down and cried, and as I tried to regain some sort of composure by slow breathing and concentrating on the remainder of my question, she sat in silence patiently waiting for me.

I really was much more diplomatic, but I wanted to know, did I have to wait till the end of the line, while other “not new” patients got first dibs on scheduling?

She apologised and empathised with me, and told me honestly that the schedule was jam-packed and there was absolutely no wiggle room at all.  In the end, she knew I wanted immediate help and recommended a very good doctor for me, told me to let them worry about “that stuff, and let us deal with the endocrinology.”  So that is where I am with my list of symptoms and wrought memorisation of different aspects of how I am feeling.

For this list, I would like to thank ExpatMum and JoBeaufoix.  A lot of my complaints are the same as JoBeaufoix’s.  To show to myself that I have nothing else to hide, here is my list:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Fuzzy head feeling
  • Hair loss
  • Exhaustion
  • Lack of appetite
  • Insatiable appetite
  • Late menstrual cycles (D34-46, instead of D29)
  • Loss of libido
  • Hyperventilation
  • Mood swings
  • Unexplained anxiety
  • Surges of anger
  • Broken sleep patterns
  • Crying easily
  • Tension
  • Irritability

When I sit and think about it, I am grateful for this cluster of the Blogosphere that I have grown to love, and who so obviously loves me back for who I am.  I really couldn’t thank you all enough.  These past few weeks have been hard for me.  I feel like I have been absent from every aspect of my life.  I do what I can to get through the day and leave the rest till tomorrow.  I hope by taking steps forward, that I can get back to doing what I love best: Enjoying life.  Thank you all for being patient with me, I haven’t written or read much, and I really miss all of you.

So without further ado, here is my Thursday Thirteen:

Forget hate, envy, deceitfulness and jealousy, here are Thirteen of the Worst Feelings in the World:

1.  Chopping jalapenos wearing latex gloves and later, removing contacts only to find you nicked the gloves with your knife
2.  Discovering there’s no TP when it’s too late
3.  Breaking out some sweet dance moves on a newly-buffered stage in front of a large-ish crowd, slipping and landing on your behind, and listening to them all laugh
4.  Having your slip fall down during a wedding reception
5.  Slamming the car door shut just as you realise your keys are inside
6.  Making a sounds-like self-depreciating joke with your boss’s boss in the room, and realising his son has the condition you just mentioned and inadvertently made fun of
7.  Watching your spouse cry over hurt someone else caused him
8.  Writing out a long, well-thought-out, heartfelt, nay — INSPIRED comment only to have it not publish and you’re left having to paraphrase mangled and spewed out random words in a small attempt to salvage anything you once wrote.  You now feel Server malice and resentment that technology has left you feeling stolen of your epiphany.
9.  Waking up an hour earlier than your alarm, looking at it thinking you’re late for high school, rush getting dressed and out the door and down to the bus stop.  Wondering where all the buses are.  Getting on the not-crowed-bus for 15 minutes and walking to school the further 15 minutes and only realising you’re (still, at this point) AN HOUR EARLY for school when an old dear at the corner shop across the street asks you why you’re there “at this time of the morning”.  Then, she takes you to her place in a high flat right across from the school gates, and you sit at the window holding a biscuit and a book of the Queen she randomly handed you, and you don’t have the guts to tell her you’re not really Protestant.  And then you watch all your school mates filter up the stairs outside the gates and you feel guilty for leaving her cos all she wanted was a bit of company
10.  Making a passing comment about how funny the granny on the dance floor wearing all white and dancing emblazoned by the black light is to the yummy boy whose lap you’re sitting on who’s sitting the self-determined requisite arm’s length away, only to have him tell you that’s HIS granny
11.  Running after a bus in the pouring rain at full speed with an art portfolio under your arm and having the bus driver shrug his shoulders at you when you KNOW he could easily stop and the rest of the bus is staring at you
12.  Straddling the bathtub and the toilet seat at age 9 about to step in, when your BROTHER’S 16-year-old FRIEND opens the bathroom door and stops and stares and you stand there in all your glory feeling helpless and stuck in an unforgiving time warp
13.  Having a friend’s sister’s friend ask her who that “boy she’s with is” and it’s you, and you’re fifteen

I Can See Better, But Not With My Eyes

I’ve decided. My optician is one of two things: he either has the personality diversity of a sogging wet piece of cardboard or he’s a donkey. I might even go as far to say a jerk. I don’t get it, and I don’t get him.

Having to cut ties with people you’ve become used to and move to another town is hard enough. No-one likes looking for a new stylist, a new family doctor, a new dentist and – ask any woman – certainly not a new gynecologist or obstetrician. I think it’s even harder when you move state.

An eye doctor in the neighbouring town had come highly recommended, the types of recommendations that come with fanfares and bells and whistles. They accepted our insurance, so we all went to them. They were nice enough at first, but I noticed he was very matter-of-fact and didn’t have much of a bedside manner, much less a people personality. I continued to make appointments with them each week, hoping they would finally get my prescription right. If you remember back a few weeks ago, I mentioned my prescription had improved dramatically and I was ecstatic.

It seems like every time I go back and get new lenses, it still isn’t right – but just on the one eye. I don’t get it, I’ve never had this issue in the past, I usually go in, get set up with lenses and I’m done. Today was my fourth visit, and after just two hours, I can already tell it’s not my last.

Last time I was there he said, “let’s try you on the Night & Day lenses, they breathe 6x better than the lenses you’d been wearing and you don’t have to change them so often.”

In a moment of clarity, I asked, “how much do these cost, just so I can get an idea of the cost difference?” “I’m not sure you’ll have to check with the front desk, but I have a rebate coupon for $70 off–” “Is that for a year supply?” I wondered, thinking the worst. “Yes, that’s for a year.”

I should have known better, I really should have. He wanted to fit me in lenses that were $74 a box. Obviously, my prescription is different for each eye, so I am essentially looking at $150. Compare this with the $18 a box I was paying. I might be wearing a sixty-dollar pair of jeans, but I wasn’t willing to spend that kind of cash on something so expendable as disposable contacts. I was flabbergasted they would cost so much, but the woman behind the desk seemed to think (by the look on her face) that I was making a bigger deal of this than it needed to be. She responded to my questions very abruptly with pursed, fake smiling lips that curled up at the edges. I left feeling cheated and taken advantage of. I am just grateful I had the foresight to ask the cost before returning today.

It wasn’t too far into the week that I noticed the lenses I had weren’t going to work out. My brain has been constantly fighting against itself to get my eyes to focus properly.

Today as I sat there at his mercy, I’d ask questions or make comments about lenses or my prescription and he’d answer them, but almost with no feeling behind it and very to the point. For someone who works with people constantly, he has no people skills, no smiles, no empathetic nods, no funny quips and no subtlety. At one point he left and came back with new lenses for me to wear, opened the cases and basically threw them at me across the counter. To say I left there with no warm fuzzies or feeling like I had faith in him or his company is a blatant understatement. I want to go somewhere else, but I am limited in choice in the area and would have to seek help in Missoula, plus pay for the eye exam (1 exam a year free with insurance) and lens fitting ($120) again all out-of-pocket.

I wish I could just nip it all in the bud and be done with it, but I’m not even a candidate for Lasik.

A Time for Sorrow, A Time for Joy

After 2.5 days of wallowing, neglecting the wash (should I mention there were wet clothes in there? Nah. But, I will say how much I love the wonders of baking soda and vinegar), ignoring the kitchen sink (and the treadmill), not showering for 3 days and walking around in the clothes I wore to bed for as many days; I feel better. All I wanted was to be left alone with my thoughts do a lot of serious contemplation. It has sunk in and now I can think clearly. Surprisingly, I still made room to laugh, giggle and chortle. Guffaws were off limits.

Now I have two choices: Go it alone or whack out $3500 for all four of us.

I’m thinking I need to phone my Mum.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Life suddenly stoppedHaiku Friday
I hear it whirling around
Seems like slow motion

In quiet moments
It’s all I can think about
Painful heart, wet face

Although this is intensely personal for me, I feel the need to get it out, to write it down and give a voice to my broken thoughts.

My Gran’s been quite ill, and more so recently. Her health has really declined just in these past five months. It’s unbelievable to think that in such a short time she has went from leaving her home at 6:30 a.m. to go out for her daily walk and having lunch at restaurants with my Mum a few times a week, to how she is now. It’s such a shock to the system for me. She’s always been walking. Always. It’s what she does every day. She’d take me on walks to the harbour close to our house and we’d throw bread to the seagulls, wrens and pigeons. It was a highlight growing up.

Then one day in early November last year, my Mum mentioned to me that she hadn’t been out for four weeks because she was weak and falling down a lot because of her pacemaker. She was later hospitalised with a pneumonal chest infection. She wasn’t able to swallow fluids properly and they were diverting into her lungs. As I contemplated my Mum’s statement over the next few days, I realised the ramifications of it. She hadn’t been out for her walk in four weeks! It’s a cold day in Hell before my Gran lets anything stop her for getting outdoors. She’d go out in a blizzard if you’d let her.

She overcame colon cancer in the late 90’s while she was living in Australia. After the death of her husband (Burge[ss]) in 2000, she moved back to Scotland and found a place quite close to my Mum’s home. Last year they found she had cancer in her throat and connecting to her stomach. She went through another series of Chemotherapy and was given the all clear recently. They decided to feed her by a tube through her nose and down her throat. But still her food wasn’t travelling down her esophagus properly. She was still throwing up and couldn’t digest much. They tried to connect the feeding tube plug on the outside but were having difficulties with it. It was then they did another scan.

I phoned my Mum yesterday to thank her for Cameron’s card, but really I wanted to talk to her. She’d told me early December that they were keeping Gran in hospital over Christmas and New Year because of staffing issues in case the tube came out while she was asleep and needed to be re-admitted. Since then I thought about my Gran off and on and have felt something was wrong for the past two weeks.

The tone in Mum’s voice changed when I asked about Gran. She said she didn’t want to spoil my Christmas and Cameron’s first birthday by having me worry about her. She then told me that after they did another scan they found my Gran had cancer in her stomach. She didn’t ask, so she doesn’t know (but I’m sure she does–she saw Burge go through it), but her life expectancy is anywhere from 2-3 months to 2 years.

It has been a huge shock to the system. My Gran is a fighter; as tough as they get. She has been the one grandparent that I have gotten the closest to, and the last one I have. I can’t tell you how far away I suddenly feel; how feelings of helplessness and solitude have rushed over me. I just feel consumed by it all. I cry and I don’t even realise I’m doing it. It comes and goes, but especially when it’s quiet. I sat and watched Cameron in his bath last night, but my mind was elsewhere.

Mum gave me the number to the ward she is in. I was surprisingly nervous as I dialled the numbers. It took a while, but I managed to get through and talked with her three hours ago. There was so much I wanted to say, so much I wanted to tell her and wasn’t able to. I knew she was tired and it was a little difficult for her to speak too. So I’m planning on writing her a letter and sending it through to my family to print off and read to her. It’s faster than posting it and waiting a week for them to receive it.

I want to go see her but I don’t know if I could make the trip alone. I’ve done it seven times total (five alone), but this is different. I want her to see my boys, to meet them. I want my Mum to see Cameron too. I really need Bryan by my side but I doubt if any of that is feasible. It’s just too expensive.

Time feels like it did again when I was a kid–it’s ticking by slowly. But it affords me the ability to make some decisions that I know I need to think about.

Crunch Time

Today has been somewhat difficult for me. I’ve decided to make changes and I know it’s not going to be easy. But so far so good.

Yesterday, Bryan and I decided to make some long-term investments and bought some weights, a resistance cord kit and a nifty scale that measures more than I care to know quite frankly.

Before I got pregnant with Ian, I was the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I was always a svelte 123-128 pounds (about 8 stone 12 pounds and a US size 6) in Scotland, and generally just fluctuated those five pounds every-so-often. I walked to public transport hubs: train stations, bus stops and the occasional tube station. When I lived in a flat in Paisley, Scotland, the train station was a good 25-minute walk from home. I also went Clubbing once a week and burned off a few hundred calories there too I’m sure.

Food was never a deterrent to my lifestyle. In other words, I ate what I wanted and never suffered the consequences.

After a few months of being in California, I started to wonder if my clothes were shrinking. Were they thrown in the dryer by mistake? Hems were mysteriously getting shorter and I had to mend a zipper that came unattached. It wasn’t long before I realised I was putting on weight–and fast. Portion sizes in restaurants were bigger, fat content in foods were higher and I certainly wasn’t given much opportunity to walk anywhere.

Before I married in 2001, I was back down to a size 8. I worked hard and tried my best to get off that extra poundage that just crept up on me. By 2003, my weight had shot up to a whopping 153 pounds. I was miserable but suddenly had a newfound appreciation for the stigma of being overweight. I was uncomfortably wearing a size 14. It sucked and I didn’t like it one bit.

After I had Ian, the weight came off steadily and before long, I was back to a very healthy 135, all without exercise. I know, you can throw something if you like. I was ecstatic. I was suddenly lighter than I was before I’d gotten pregnant! We had a multi-level home back in Utah and I’m sure that helped as some sort of calorie deterrent.

The weight gain carrying Cameron was very stagnated. It took until 16 week gestation to put anything on. Believe me, I wasn’t complaining! Here I am at 21 weeks along. Things were a lot different carrying Ian, believe me.

With Cameron, the pregnancy weight has come off pretty rapidly, and for that I am glad. I got down to a size 10 in no time. I thought it was safe to assume I was 135-140. In fact, I remember being weighed somewhere and having 135 indelibly tattooed on the inside on my forehead. That’s how certain I am.

Imagine my shock when I stepped on our new fangled scale last night and saw this:

weight: 151.4 lbs
fat: 31.1 %
bone density: 4.4 lbs
water: 50 % (normal)
muscle mass: 35.9 %

And as a side note: BMI = 25.2

All that ran through my mind was: How could I possibly be that heavy and fit into a size 10 comfortably? I was shocked, humiliated, sad and disappointed all in one go.

So, I made a huge decision. I have decided to track my weight loss in a public forum to motivate and inspire me. I will be updating every Tuesday, without fail.

Plus, I need the support!

Health and Well-being

I think I’m starting to fall into the birthdays-are-just-another-day downtrodden mindset. As much as I tried to convince him yesterday, Bryan was far too persuasive for me and I ashamedly backed down. His birthday was yesterday and mine is in 5 weeks. I’m sensing I’ll be full-blown indifferent by then.

On a brighter note, my Gran is doing well. She doesn’t have pneumonia, but a pneumonal chest infection. Due to her asthma, they admitted her to get the right medication to her and give her some rest. My mum tells me she hasn’t been outdoors in 4 weeks and, I’m slowly realising, life is catching up to her.

For as far back as I can recall, my Gran has been out walking every day, rain (but when has that stopped a Scot from going outside) or snow, she’s been out there. Even on Christmas Day when I was 14, she tried to convince me that going out in the freezing rain for a 30-minute jaunt around the streets was the best idea I had heard in a very long time.

She has always looked younger than her years, and I think getting her daily exercise in and being exposed to the fresh air every day has been a huge catalyst for that “plight”. You’d think I’d learn something. Sadly not. Although, by my own admission, I do go out walking twice a week with the boys. Rather than cave in and buy a double stroller, Ian has opted to ride in the basket under Cameron’s bum. He quite likes it, and it makes for a much shorter, but definitely less interrupted walk.

Ask me if I’m still doing it when the two weeks of Arctic temperatures roll in.

So Near, So Far

My 85-year-old Gran back in Scotland, was hospitalised with a pneumonal chest infection.  I don’t know anything of her condition right now, and not being able to get a hold of my family isn’t helping my imagination much.