Sunday, October 28, 2007

Heart full of rubber bands

Actually, most of me feels full of rubber bands. I think it is the MS reaction to the antibiotics. My legs started getting really squiffy yesterday. Today, it's International Walk-Like-A-Drunken-Sailor Day, right? That's how I look, lurching around. We went out briefly, a food coop, library, drug store run. I had to stay in the car or rest on benches most of the time. I hate when the Camille routine crops up when I have things I want to do. Grrr.

I know that both my primary care and my neuro would say that I was crazy to do anything this week, let alone to work four eight-hour days. I think I'm supposed to write myself off as on disability on a semi-part time, semi-permanent basis. Meanwhile, I am scheduled to work tomorrow. My current plan is to go in, play the itty-bitty violin a bit, and spend most of the day in the office. Of course, I try that plan regularly and end up spending most of the day standing and walking around helping people. It's a mug's game.

So I am back to feeling sorry for myself. I can barely stand it myself, besides being barely able to stand. I still have the low-level headache that I have been blaming on the Doxycycline. Only two more doses left--yeah. So I am hoping the headache and some of the neuro misfires will ride off into the sunset together. Then I am going to try Paxil, which my neuro prescribed in April, but which I did not try then. First I have to get off all the cold meds. Then I need to start on a weekend I am not working, to see if there is more drowsiness or if motor function is affected.

I am going to try Paxil, in hopes that it will lessen the hot flashes. They have been much more frequent lately, and really interrupt sleep. Though Paxil is mainly an anti-depressant, it seems to have some effect on hot flashes and muscle spasms. I am pretty nervous about taking it. I tried it many years ago and had a panic attack the first time I took it. Then, years later, my brother had a manic attack after stopping Paxil too quickly. I know that going into it with that knowledge makes me forewarned/forearmed. I'm still nervous about it. But I can't keep complaining and then refuse to try treatments. So I may try it next weekend, or I may not. Will discuss with shrink tomorrow night.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The catarrh

I started this post last week, then everything sort of went out the window due to the wildfires. We are fine. MPOW was closed Tuesday, but otherwise its been pretty normal. The air quality still sucks, though much improved over earlier in the week.

I know my naval-gazing on my health problems may seem pretty cavalier when there has been such bad happenings here. But so far, no one I know has been directly affected. A friend of the sister of one of my co-workers had their home burned down, but that's the closest connection I've had so far. We had evacuees from all over using our PCs at work, and apparently all the hotels near here are full, but otherwise, it's pretty normal.

Of course, my lungs have been unhappy. I went to my primary last Friday. She diagnosed bronchitis--I'd made that diagnosis 2 days earlier, and went in to get a script for an antibiotic.

From last week:

I am trying to figure out roughly how many times I've had bronchitis. I know the first time I was prescribed antibiotics for it was in college, i.e., more than 25 years ago. The doctor there kept talking about removing my tonsils, whether or not it was tonsilitis, which I must have had ten times at least. I know I'd never had antibiotics before, or had anyone talk to me about asthma before.

I remember a bad bout of bronchitis when Emily was a baby. We lived on a hill. It was before we had a car, and I couldn't push her stroller up the hill without coughing fits.

The word "catarrh" comes from the Greek "katarrhein": kata- meaning "down" and rhein meaning "to flow."

Two weeks ago, the Santa Ana began to blow. Our sunsets were gorgeous from the dust in the air. But my respitory allergies began to send mucus flowing through my head and chest. Shortly thereafter my bronchia started seizing up. I upped the Flovent for the asthma, and it got a bit better, just the dry little asthmatic cough.

Then I lost my voice entirely--a viral laryngitis. I pushed fluids and took ibuprofen like mad. The cough deepened. Matt said I had a cold. I said ok, and kept working. On Thursday, the cough was the type that people don't want to be near. It wasn't very productive, as my mother would say, but the tiny bit of mucus I coughed up was pea green. I said bronchitis, and called for an appointment. I actually got in to see my primary care MD in 24 hours.

When I got to the office, the nurse went through twenty questions. 11 days, no fever, the usual meds. There was some mix-up about the room I was in, but my primary care finally came and apologized. She did a good listen to my lungs and agreed with my diagnosis. She ordered doxycycline, then told me to use albuterol with Flovent and Sudafed along with Robitussin DM every four hours, plus Benadryl at night. I said that albuterol gives me insomnia. She said to use it anyway. I have been politely ignoring that instruction, because I felt I needed sleep more than anything. So I'm taking the antibiotic with Flovent every four hours, and a half dose of Sudafed twice a day; Robitussin and Benadryl at bedtime. I am definitely rattling with all the meds. The cough is much improved, however, so I will keep up the regimen a bit longer.

I seem to have a headache, nothing dreadful, just sort of boring, with difficulty focusing. I'm going to sleep, and hope to feel better

There are wild fires burning in the County, including one not too far from where I work. That helps with perspective.


I kept going with the meds. I think the bronchitis has mostly cleared up. The asthma was pretty bad Monday. I caved and used albuterol once that morning, and got an acute case of the jitters, which did not help me deal with the general sense of calamity. Tuesday, the whole library system was closed, so I mostly stayed in bed. So, I've been ok. I think the Benadryl and the Flovent kept the worst allergies/asthma at bay.

I finally got my schedule switched! No more six days in a row. I will now be off alternate Fridays, work alternate Saturdays, and in every Monday. I think that will work better for me and for work, as there are more meetings on Mondays than on Fridays. So that's my big new and good.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

still have a toehold

Great news--my toe shows no sign of infection! This may not seem incredible, but in February I had a hideous infection on the right foot. I started to think of it as the wrong foot. There is still some very minor wigginess at the sight of that infection--which I am happy to ignore. If Monday night's stupid injury can heal up nicely with no doctors or nurses involved, I will be one happy camper.

I say that, and immediately you should become suspicious. Her, happy? Really and truly, the toe thing, minor as it was, could represent a victory. I am still happy when my blood pressure scores normal. That took a bit of work last fall. I am also happy to have low cholesterol, no sign of diabetes, and a really healthy-looking liver according to an imaging tech. Hell, I'm still happy to have an explanation for my squiffy knee and the fatigue. Good things.

Here comes today's "but". I had an interview today for a position I am not sure I want. But I dusted off the resume and a suit, and worked on a very positive attitude. I thought I was pretty ok. Then they handed me a sheet on the qualifications that I had not received with the description. It said "must be able to lift 50 lbs. and push a book truck weighing over 200 lbs."

It shouldn't have hit me hard. I'd already considered that getting a new position would require another physical and medical clearance (it's outsourced, of course). But seeing those numbers in print was somehow a sucker punch. I know the whole schtick with getting a letter from my neurologist and requesting accommodation. But I went through all that grief with that other library system last fall. Even though they eventually offered me the job, it was grudgingly. So grudgingly that I said no. Let's face it, even though ADA says no one can discriminate on the basis of disability, no one wants an employee with MS. It's too big a wild card.

Part of me can still say, well, that's their stupidity. Part of me wants to prove them wrong desperately. I'm going to try to listen to the part that says I am going to keep doing my best. I really like my job and the people I work with. It's no hardship. My co-workers do not mind at all if I ask them to lift a box or push a book truck. Really, I am not paid a professional salary for my brawn, thank goodness. I'm going to concentrate on wisely using the resources I have to offer--and still celebrate my victories, even by a toe.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


I stubbed my toe last night. Actually, I sliced a bit of flesh off. Much blood and stinging that way only toes sting when they are hurt. No big deal, just kind of the capper on a day I was severely overtired.

I slept through the night on Saturday. That is an unusual enough occurrence, that I actually celebrated. It was wonderful. A full night's sleep without hot flashes or muscle spasms. I have no idea what I did right, but I would love to do it again. I'm thinking one solid night a week and I could be a happy human.

Of course, Sunday night was a disaster. I doubt I got four hours. When I got up, it was obvious that my legs hadn't gotten the memo. But I soldiered on and went to work. I bumbled around there a bit. At one point, when I was weeding a high shelf, I decided I had to take a bathroom break. So I went into the bathroom and contemplated going home early. But, I had a shrink appointment scheduled for after work, and I didn't want to go home and then have to go back out to go to the shrink. So I did my best energizer bunny routine, but I doubt anyone thought I was 1) happy to be there 2) doing very good work.

I had to take a different route than usual route from work, as I needed to drop off materials at a neighboring branch. Then I did the classic California freeway thing of being in the wrong lane, and nearly got killed by an unchivalrous pick-up truck that did not want to let me in his lane. I was also driving into the setting sun, so that whole trip was fraught...My vision isn't that great to start. I am getting very nervous about it. Then on the way home from the shrink, I took the wrong exit. Oh, I forgot to mention that I missed my exit for work this morning. Only the second time I've done that. Tomorrow, I have to go to a meeting at Solana Beach in the morning--another great opportunity to get lost!

It may not seem that related to anything, but when I am fatigued (the MS kind--here comes a big fat quote):

Fatigue is a sensation that is both universal to all and very specific to people who have multiple sclerosis. The fatigue that all people experience is due to tiredness and weakness affecting muscles after exercises or exertion. In multiple sclerosis, that fatigue that many people have is rather different since the nervous system as well as the muscles are involved.

The cause of MS fatigue is not fully understood. What may happen is that great difficulty is experienced in the transmission of nerve impulses along demyelinated nerves. The strength of the impulses is much reduced, resulting in feelings of weakness and tiredness. Sensory nerves as well as motor nerves are involved in this kind of fatigue.

Fatigue of motor nerves can cause weakness, a tired heavy feeling of muscles, incoordination and shakiness. Fatigue of sensory nerves, which help us to see, to hear, to taste, to smell and enable us to distinguish how objects feel, can cause problems in one or more of these senses. When we are fatigued, we don't just experience a heaviness, but we may also have blurred vision, numbness, or other difficulties in the sensory system.

So that's the kind of fatigue I was having yesterday--motor and sensory. Actually, I still haven't recovered from aquatics. I know that sounds crazy, but there have been so many times it's taken 6-8 weeks to heal up after an episode. I don't think I had a full-fledged MS attack from the aquatics, but I don't just recover from stuff. That was actually my primary symptom long before I was dianosed with MS.

Then I got home last night, did the breakfast dishes, and started dinner. When Matt got home, he was very grumbly about the bad day he'd had at work due to a co-worker's inconsideration. I grumbled back. We ate dinner, then I did the dishes to cut Matt some slack, even though I was having difficulty standing at the sink. I'm getting so used to fighting through the fatigue, that I don't listen to my body's signals. So, at bedtime, after emailing Em because I didn't hear from her at all this weekend, I stumbled in the kitchen and somehow sliced a piece off the middle toe of the right foot.

Much blood, as only a flesh wound can bleed. But it did stop. I took a hydrocodone, and slept ok, if drugged sleeping counts. I was scheduled to work 11:30-8 today. Before I took the hydrocodone, I had already decided that I would call in and just go in for the late night--4-8. So now I'm going to go back to bed for a bit. I'll pick up around the house, then shower and get a hair cut will be ok.

Matt disapproved of me going in late, because I have a promotional interview tomorrow. I think it's important that I get more rest...I don't think he realizes how hard I've been pushing myself. It's that whole "but you look fine" thing. Oh, well. I am tired.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Calcium blood tests results


My level was 10.5, which is just over the borderline to high. It had tested that way twice, according to Dr. Grunwald, the Argentinian GI guy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

yes, I know what a parathyroid is

Back to the GI doc. The biopsies were all negative. However, he was very concerned about my calcium levels. I old him I'd had a letter from my internist telling me to drink lots of water, and the I had cut down on the amount of calcium supplements I take.

He told me that those would not effect the amount of calcium in my blood. That is mediated by the parathyroids. I said ah, my parathyroids were damaged when my thyroid was removed in 1997, but they had regenerated. He said that they might be overcompensating, but it could cause kidney damage. He sent me for more blood tests. If the level is within normal range, I won't hear from him...