Wednesday, September 26, 2007

my legs hate me and other non-news

I can't really remember where I left off in my whining. I know I blogged about The Geriatric Aquatics Class That Killed Me. Its deadliness has continued. I stayed home and licked my wounds all Monday afternoon. I returned to work on Tues. a.m. My knee was still buckling a little, but I thought it would be ok. Around 10:30, i.e., half an hour after opening, the knee completely went out from under me. I was standing at the circ desk, doing a new card registration when I took a swan dive. One of my colleagues ran over and took over the transaction. I thanked her and hobbled into the break room. I took a break (in the morning--how novel!), then hobbled back to the reference desk. The operations manager was very concerned about my safety. I agreed I would leave when the other librarian arrived. I ended up leaving at 1:00.

I had already scheduled myself off on Wed. to do the prep for the colonoscopy on Thursday. So I went in and worked 9:15-12:15, taking care not to push the knee at all. it was still unhappy, and buckled when I squatted down to get books off a botton shelf, but I got through it ok.

Then it was off to Target to pick up the prep. I'd been trying to get it since Sat. It was non-formulary (i.e., not on the plan's approved list), like every other prescription I've gotten in the last two years. When I'm really so freaking healthy that I have nothing else to whine about, I will carry on and on and on about my prescription plan some day. They really do take the cake. They claim to cover just about everything; in reality, they refuse to cover almost everything. (But they do cover Copaxone, street price $20,000/year. So mustn't grumble.) So the pharmacist kept faxing the GI-man to see if she could substitute a similar prep that was soooo formulary as to not have a co-pay. But GI man never responded to her messages or mine, so I shelled out $57 for something I knew would give me the runs.

The prep was as unpleasant as imaginable. Of course, I didn't follow the clock at all--took four hours instead of one to start, then went on for 8 hours instead of one. This did not surprise me in the least. The procedure was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. I had a little Gatorade and a little water in the morning because I was getting very dehydrated. This really concerned the nurse who admitted me at first, but then when she tried to set up my IV, she couldn't get a vein because I was too dehydrated. So everything got delayed while I got poked by multiple nurses. Fourth attempt was finally successful, though I'll be wearing long sleeves for at least a week.

The colonoscopy was blessedly uneventful. No signs of anything, though they still did some small biopsies. I get to go back in three weeks for a consult. Oh boy!

I have again run out of time to work on this post. More gory stories about my gut to come.

Monday, September 17, 2007

one unhappy H2O hour

I finally went to the aquatics class recommended by the MS Society at my local Y this a.m. The plan was to attend every Wednesday and alternate Mondays. It's held 11:00-12:00, so it almost fits my schedule. I decided to start on a Monday, my day off for working on Saturday. So off I went this morning in my swimsuit, with lots sunscreen on, as its an outdoor pool. Turns out sunburn was the least of my worries.

When I arrived, there were already 10-12 old people in the pool doing warm ups. I got in the pool using a ladder, and found a spot towards the back of the group. The instructor, a late middle-aged woman in a floppy hat, called out to start grapevining. I wasn't sure what she meant. I couldn't see her legs, or most of the classes'. Some people were sort of twisting back and forth going across the pool. One of them said to me "It's like Greek folk dance." So I started doing step in front step behind, like a Bulgarian folk dance I learned in college. I noticed that about half the class was just sort of jogging in place and socializing.

The various moves kept changing. After 20 minutes, I felt wiped out. But I thought I could tough it out to at least the half hour. Most of the people in the class looked 70, with a smattering of 60-year olds. I thought I had to be able to keep up with them. The water was making it easier for me to do some things.

We moved on to jumping jacks. And frog kicks. Karate kicks. I started really failing. Te instructor told me not to try to keep up with the instructor, but to jog in place. At that point, jogging in place was harder than jumping jacks. Finally, we did some stretching at the side of the pool. It was sort of thrilling that I could do something like a rond du jamb, sort of.

So I made it through the hour. But I could barely get out of the pool. Fortunately, there was a ramp for wheelchairs to go into the pool, so I could hold on to that railing on my way out. My left leg just crumpled. I had to sit in a chair next to the pool for 15 minutes before I could walk as far as my bag and cane. The instructor came over and asked if I was ok. I didn't know what to say. I told her I had MS. She said I did really well, but that I should come to the deep water class on Tues. and Thurs. That would be better for balance. I told her that I worked, and that wouldn't fit my schedule. Then she said there is an evening class at 6:00. I said that wouldn't fit my schedule either. (As always, I want to growl about people assuming middle class folk work 9-5. But I digress.)

I managed to haul myself into the dressing room. One of the other "students" went off on a long rant about tree-huggers and wild fire and development. She seemed angry with me, but I didn't know why. (Much later, I realized it was my NRDC tote bag that set her off. So what?)) I was trying to change my clothes without falling. My plan was to stop at Target on the way home and pick up an Rx along with some cleaning products.

When I got up from the bench to navigate my way out of the Y, I realized that plan might be a bad idea. My knee was buckling every other step. So I teetered to the car, leaning heavily on the cane. There I sat. I decided to come home, eat something, rest a bit and regroup. Then I'd feel better. Another good plan.

I dissolved in tears when I got home. I was weak and battered and everything seemed too much. I called my EAP, which I had been considering for ages. They are working on a referral for me, but they haven't called back.

Twelve hours later, and I can stand briefly. Most of me aches. Maybe more Ibuprofen before bed? I don't think I'll be able to work tomorrow. Maybe just the morning? I should have quit class after half an hour. All of that jumping and jogging, though extremely low impact, were more physical activity that I've had in eons. I think my mother is fitter than I am. I'm not sure I can go back, or if I should.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

lather rinse repeat

I went for the GI consult. Office was very busy--staff seemed overwhelmed, and rather argumentative. Waited 45 minutes before a nurse took me back to do weight and vitals. Weight came in as 7 pounds lighter than primary care visit less than a month ago. I believe scale at primary care's office is roughly 4 lbs. heavy. So let's call it 3 lbs. It would be a nice trend. Anyway, the nurse said she was going to get the blood pressure meter. Minutes pass, a knock comes on the door, and it's the doctor. He's older than I am--yeah! Not to be ageist, but I think every doctor I've seen since moving to California as been at least 10 years younger than me. I take it back; Neuro-celeb is definitely older than I am.

Gastro-man's first name is Eugenio, but he has Robert, his middle name, embroidered on his lab coat. I haven't seen an embroidered lab coat in years--it seems very old school. Gastro-man actually read through my notes in their entirety, earning my undying gratitude. He felt my diagnosis of a virus in June was correct, and said it could have lasted 8 weeks. I didn't know a virus could last that long. He talked about how Copaxone opens a hole in your immune system.

He feels that the tenderness in my lower left abdomen is due to an injury to the muscle in the abdominal wall. That was a huge relief, though the healing process maybe very long. I was worrying that it was something much worse. However it is still a problem. He recommended I lay off the physical therapy exercises that stress the area. I am kind of loathe to leave off on the abs entirely, as I am trying to really strengthen the core muscles. Keeping problems in check with the lower back and the legs relies to a great deal on the abs and thighs.

I hate letting any area of my exercise regime go for any reason. Getting it back is so difficult. Maybe I can experiment with some other things? I hope to go to th water stretching class next Monday.

Of course, next Thursday, I am scheduled for a colonoscopy. I wasn't surprised when Gastro-man said he wanted to do one. I last had one in 2001, and in light of my recent troubles, he wants to make sure there aren't any surprises. I was ok with the concept, but did not expect to have it scheduled that soon. I was not asked if it fit in with my schedule--just ad to wait another 20 minutes, then handed paperwork with the date and instructions on it.

Then the nurse came back to finish my vitals. BP 127/95 after I was told I'd be missing 1.5 days of work next week. Then I was sent to the lab, where it took 30 minutes to give me a kit for a specimen. I'll have to stop back by the hospital on my way to work to drop it to figure out how to handle the parking!

All told 2.5 hours at the hospital; 3 hours sick leave used. Next week, it'll be back on unpaid Family Medical Leave.

As always, I feel like I should never tell doctors anything. It doesn't pay.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

not really relevant

OK, crunching along here. Doing ok, in the walking and talking categories, but not great. We went to a plumeria show yesterday. Much walking around in circles, before deciding to purchase a plant. The plant doesn't look like much right now, but I have high hopes for fragrant frangipani.

Tuesday I go to for the GI consult. Oh goodie, another MD to break in. I was thinking about my mystery stomach complaint last week. I realized that the major problem began the first week in June. And I fell and fractured a rib the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, i.e., May 27th. The bruising in my mid-section was pretty severe. There was pain, but it didn't bother me that much except for when I breathed.

The daily really severe diarrhea started around June 1. It was godawful. I lived on Gatorade, bananas, and rice. Just before we left for ALA and DC, on June 20, I caught a nasty stomach virus. It was dreadful, lasted around 4 days. I know it was a virus, because some of my staff had it first, then I gave it to The Boyfriend and my 83-year old mother. But everyone else had it about 24 hours, and then was fine. I apparently had it twice? Because 4 days after I recovered, I had to go on Immodium again. Did my body just start thinking daily diarrhea was normal?

It finally started to resolve August first. Solid bowel movements, yeah! I know it isn't healthy or "nice" to think or talk about such. But I need to document. I worry that all of this sounds like a mad woman, and that I don't really need a GI consult. But then, last Wednesday, September 5, I got to spend another morning of quality time in the bathroom. And another hour of sick leave due to the inability to leave the toilet. Ick. I think I will never again complain of constipation (my old faithful). But I don't want to start any gods laughing.

The post title is referring to the two internal medicine M.D.s I saw in June. I am still peeved that they did nothing to help me. I still can't decide which one was worse. I'd say #1 because she didn't even examine my ribs, but #2 wasn't even concerned when the Xray she ordered showed a fracture. Didn't say anything about the trauma causing other problems. It was only because the pulmonologist said that it may have caused pleurisy, that it even ocurred to me to wonder if it damaged anything else.

Meanwhile, the tender spot (not Spot) on my abdomen that has hurt since December still hurts. It's another thing that doesn't bother me that much, but I've had the "don't ignore pain" lecture sooo many times. So I am not ignoring it.

I figure a GI consult has to mean more tests that my poor upset stomach will not enjoy! I read and hear about "Overtreated". The Boyfriend makes noises about medicalizing everything. But I feel like MS kind of sentences me to being hypervigilant. I have to keep watching every single thing, because I don't know where the next attack will come from. And my health history is just filled with weird things turning into disasters. Unlikely or not.

Some day I will do a crabby post on all the ways I test myself daily. I literally ask my body every morning, "How's it going?" BTW, I was able to stand on one foot for a count of 20 yesterday. That's very good. Maybe I'll again be able to put on underwear standing up. That would be a huge victory. Though it couldn't touch typing with four or more fingers. That's a dream.

Monday, September 3, 2007

out to sea

I went swimming in the ocean yesterday--woo hoo! It was great. Three-four foot waves; moderate undertow. Matt stayed with me the whole time, so it wasn't scary. I did tire out after a little while, but I did get to enjoy floating over the waves feet first. So now I've been in the Pacific twice in the last two years--the first time was two weeks ago, though that was really just a dip. The water has been around 70 degrees, i.e., very warm.

We also saw beautiful sunsets the last two nights. This summer has been kind of lousy for sunsets--too much marine layer--June gloom, but only in the morning and evening. But the last two nights have been the spectacular kind of California light shows.

Even though my left leg is still tangled up or spastic or whatever the right term is, I did better this weekend. I worked Saturday, so it was only a two-day weekend. It was ok, because we are having a heat wave, and our apartment does not have air conditioning. We actually had a thunderstorm at work on Sat.--very unusual for San Diego. The temperatures have been high 80s/low 90s, with high humidity. It is unbearable in California terms. Thank goodness we have ceiling fans.

I did ok up until today. This morning, we chihuahua-proofed the balcony. Between the heat and squatting to nail up some mesh plant netting, neuropathy set up shop in my feet. So I was kind of useless. I did fix a pasta salade nicoise for dinner, between two naps. It was deemed acceptable. Mondays are my night to fix dinner. We'd gone out two nights in a row to avoid heating the kitchen, but two nights was enough of that. Let's hope the heat wave breaks--maybe Hurricane Felix will blow the heat away? It will be good to get back to the AC at work, even if I do have lots to do...more than I can think of now. I will just be happy if my feet and hands stop with the neuropathy.