Posted in Health, Me

The Change

Those two words deserve to be in capitals. Really. Perimenopause sounds so…unassuming. So not a big deal. The Change, though, sounds much more descriptive, though both are true. I’ve been in perimenopause for maybe two years? Ish? Not sure when it started, although it’s been more than a year. My cycle is still very regular (for me, which equals roughly every 6 weeks). I don’t typically get much in the way of hot flashes, thank goodness. But moodiness? Oh my yes. It’s like I have PMS all the time. And when I actually DO get PMS I’m biting everyone’s head off. And weepiness? It literally just occurred to me yesterday that the weepiness I’ve been dealing with for the past few months might not actually only be about being sad because the kids are getting older and doing so many milestones.

I was reading a book–a novel!–and read a paragraph that was sad.  And found real tears in my eyes. And though to google “perimenopause and weepiness” and BOOM. Hello other people going through it! I haven’t been like this since I was pregnant, which was a long, long time ago. I’m not a cryer by nature, except for videos of soldiers coming home and adult children telling their families they are pregnant. But lately commercials, TV shows, watching my kids…you name it and I’m in tears. Which believe me, makes me feel stupid. Which yeah, I know I need to get over.

I’m just grateful I can put a name to this moodiness and that at some point it will actually be done once I’m in menopause. Right? Or does this actually continue? Readers who have gone through it please comment!

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Posted in Health

In Which I Didn’t Have a Heart Attack

 

Saturday morning started very normally. Catie had to be to work at 9, so we were going to head out the door at 8:45. At 8:15 it crossed my mind that I could get a quick shower, but I decided nah, I’ll do it after I drop her off. And brush my hair. And brush my teeth. And get more protein to add to my “only had an English muffin and coffee” breakfast. Except, no.

8:45 I’m walking through my laundry room on my way out the side entrance of our house. I’m passing by the dryer and OW OW OW OW OW. My chest suddenly feels like there is a really tight elastic band around it and it HURTS. I can’t breathe, even, because it hurts so much.

What is RULE #1 of chest pain as an adult? PAY ATTENTION TO IT.

I paused a few moments, thinking it would pass quickly. It didn’t. Catie came up behind me, so I started to walk forward again. I took a step or two outside the house and stopped again because, really, I shouldn’t ignore this. Catie is looking at me at this point. I get my phone and start to google “women heart attack symptoms” because I know they are different from men’s. The first one is chest pressure.  Well, yeah. But I don’t seem to have the other ones, so I get in the car and keep scrolling, holding onto part of my chest because it still really hurts. Catie gets Dad, and I start to think–you know, I probably should get this looked at. I drive to urgent care and let Jim take her to work.

Urgent care scolds me, saying I should have gone to the ER. She calls 911. At this point I’m starting to get a little scared and cry a bit. Which I hate. Because I am woman, hear me roar, not cry in public! Jim calls and finds out what’s going on and agrees to meet at the hospital. The ambulance pulls up, gets me on a gurney and out the door (humiliations galore–I DO NOT like attention!) and into the back of the ambulance. The start hooking me up to stuff and asking 100 questions. The comes a moment when the band tightens around my chest and I literally couldn’t breathe at all. It passes and I can breathe, but am kind of getting really frightened at this point. If it isn’t a heart attack, what the heck is it?

We arrive at the ER, I’m wheeled in, hooked up to their EKG and asked more questions. They do bloodwork and a chest x-ray quickly. Jim and his mom come in. I get another squeeze-can’t-breathe thing. My bp (normally 110/72) is 145/82, which kind of freaks me out. I NEVER have high blood pressure. Even pregnant with quadruplets I never had it.

EKG is normal. Chest xray is good. Blood work is good except for the D-Dimer, which is positive or elevated or something and might indicate that I have a blood clot. It’s going to be a few more hours. I feel ok, so Jim’s mom leaves to go home to the kids. Jim leaves to get me McDonalds and then head home to take Ethan and Laura to a field trip with Overbrook at a local park. My sister comes to the ER to keep me company. The CT is ok, although the contrast part hitting my system is WEIRD.

While waiting for CT results, what the doctor tells me is that I did not and am not having a heart attack. Which, HALLELUJAH. Thankyouverymuch.

CT shows I have slight pneumonia. And the horrible band of pain and pressure is Costochondritis. “Costochondritis (kos-toe-kon-DRY-tis) is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone (sternum). Pain caused by costochondritis might mimic that of a heart attack or other heart conditions.” (mayoclinic.org) Yeah, that.

They sent me home on a Z-pack and an anti-inflammatory. I took it easy the rest of Saturday, but Sunday I was up and doing regular stuff. Today I was grocery shopping and feeling fine. If I had to go to the ER and have a dramatic adventure, at least it’s with an “all’s well that ends well” ending!

Posted in Health

40 Hours Later

I went in on Thursday at 2:30 to get Betamethasone injected into my SI Joints. If I could have anything negative to say about going into it, it would be the lack of specific information I had. I didn’t know where I was getting the shots–was it two shots in the actually joints? Was it one shot into my spine and the meds would travel down? I didn’t know that I would experience several DAYS of bad discomfort/actual pain in the injection sites and hips, and that even though I was technically allowed to drive afterward because I hadn’t been sedated, the injection sites were so sore that I drove scootched up away from the seat back and that was really uncomfortable and probably a little dangerous. I didn’t know that I was going to be on restricted activity for five whole days afterwards. So, yeah, a little information going into would have set up much more realistic expectations.

I’m sitting at my desk right now, which I haven’t done much of since I had the procedure. Not sure if it’s going to be ok today, or will get worse and I’ll be laying on the couch again with ice packs on my hips like yesterday. Before this, I haven’t had a lick of trouble with my hips, so it was a little weird that that is how my body decided to get back at me. I couldn’t lay on them. I couldn’t sit up for long periods. Sleeping the first night was, well, an exercise in waking up and rolling over very carefully.

The procedure itself involved a shallow shot into my skin of lidocaine, followed by a deeper shot of lidocaine. Both BURNED and HURT a lot. Then, within a minute or two, the doctor did the actual injections of the betamethasone, which is a steroid, into both of my SI joints–sort of 2 1/2 inches down from the top of my pants and about an inch on each side away from the middle of my body. The goal, as far as I understand it, is to calm down the inflammation in my joints, get some good pain-control going on, and then have me start back to PT and regular life again.

40 hours ago I was not a happy camper. The shots, quite frankly, hurt A LOT. I wanted someone to hold my hand–yes, really–and a nurse rubbed my arm. Having my 49 year old bottom out in front of two male doctors, well, let’s just say I’m glad I’ve had kids because that made it easier. Svelte I’m not. I sat in a recovery seat for about 30 minutes, eating cheese and peanut butter crackers and diet ginger ale (hands down, my all time favorite thing to drink, so at least that helped). The nurses were great and explained all the after effects stuff. Leaving the surgery center, I never wanted to do it again.

40 hours later, and after a decent night of sleep, I woke up and was able to fairly comfortably put on a pair of socks. Coming down to the kitchen–with no pain in my hips as I walked down the stairs–I saw a bowl on the floor and picked it up. Without pain or stiffness. That was AMAZING. That hasn’t happened in over a year. So, at this point, I’m cautiously optimistic about what the day holds. They saw 24-36 hours of needing ice, which ended a few hours ago.  They said to expect pain relief to start between 3 and 5 days. I think I’m starting now.

Here’s hoping for good results!

Posted in Health

This Wasn’t The Plan

When I began this year, it was definitely with the idea of focusing on myself–especially my health. And yeah, I’ve been doing that, but not like I thought I would.

PT? Check, but then stopped because of pain.

Exercise? Haven’t started yet. Because of pain.

Breast Reduction? Haven’t started research. Because of pain.

Dietician? Check. Doing so-so with following what she’s told me, but better with eating more protein. Currently working on drinking more water.

Back? Did PT, stopped, saw a spine specialist, got an MRI and 6 x-rays. Saw them for a follow up and got an official diagnosis of Sacroiliac Sclerosis. Which, translated to the non-medical person, is arthritis in the joints shown below:

sacroiliac-joint-pain-exercises-diagram-copy

Which, honestly, stinks. Next Thursday I go back to the spine specialist and get two injections of Betamethasone, which is supposed to help the inflammation and pain. I’m utterly creeped out by the concept, although I’ve had two spinals with my c-sections. Everyone on Facebook has been encouraging about how not-big-a-deal the injections are, and how great my doctor is with them (he’s a very good doctor).

So that’s basically it. I’m waiting. No Ibuprofen allowed at this point because of the injections coming up, so sleeping is very challenging. I’m hopeful that this will help, but leery of the actual procedure. I’ll keep you informed. when it happens.

Posted in Health

When Pain Takes Over

And I’m not even talking about emotions!

Backstory: My husband gave me a gift certificate for a massage for Christmas 2016. He often does that. And around January to March I finally get one. March/April 2017 I went in for what I thought was a regular massage (I’ve had dozens by now, and it’s usually just working out knots in my back and neck). This time, though, I was in pain in my lower back. Like, producing tears kind of pain, which horrified the massage therapist. I went back again (on my own dime!) to see if only going a week in between would help. Still in tears. My back just really hurt. I figured it was just overdoing, but didn’t have much options because we were getting the house ready to sell. And packing a lot. I soldiered on because that’s what I do.

What with one thing or another (packing, moving, moving again, unpacking etc!), it took until January 2018 before I finally decided to see a doctor about my lower back pain. It had gotten so bad that on the 2nd day of moving into our home I didn’t do anything other than direct. Which was NOT FUN. I’ve always been proud of my strength, I may be little, but I am mighty!

The nurse practitioner immediately said I needed physical therapy and recommended a local practice that I have come to quickly love. Personal Touch is a wonderful place, woman owned and run, and they really, really care about their clients. I went for a few weeks, got sick, and took a week off and then and went back. For a bit I was getting better. I was even pain free on one side for a few days. But then….

Something changed. Something…got worse. I’m at a place where I’m afraid to do my stretches, where I sit down and rise very carefully, where I take 3 Ibuprofen every night in the hopes that the back pain won’t wake me up. And this is not because of PT overworking me. They do ultrasound heat, some gentle massage–never anything remotely aggressive.

They’ve referred me to a orthopedist (Main Line Spine). Both the therapists I see think I have something wrong with a disk. Which, yeah, kind of scares me a bit. My mother wore a brace for YEARS when I was growing up because of disk problems. I know that medicine treatment has changed dramatically in 40 years, but still, our backs do a heck of a lot.

So, at this point I’m keeping my twice-a-week PT appointments and waiting for the 13th to see the orthopedist

Posted in Health, Me

In Which I Practice Self-Care

There’s a sort of movement going on right now about self-care–bubble baths, glasses of wine, “Me time” etc. f you want to practice it, you go right ahead. But I’m not talking about that.

I’m talking about the actual caring of myself–my body, my pain, my self-worth, even my darn teeth.

See, as all of you know, 2017 was, let’s just say a bit of a whirlwind. And there were certain things that HAD TO BE DEALT WITH. LIKE RIGHT NOW.

And I wasn’t one of them.

Oh yes, I absolutely blame myself. My husband is not going to nag me to go to the dentist. Or ask about my nutritional choices. He would view those things as my responsibility–rightly so–and leave them up to me.

But hey, it’s 2018! And I’m in pain. ALL THE TIME. And my teeth haven’t been looked at in…um….well over 18 months. And I stopped taking the medicine I need to take. And I’m eating crap and sugar way too much. And if you look up “sedentary” in the dictionary, well, there’s my picture!

So on the 31st I meet with my new dentist. Feb 1st I see a dietician. I started eating better (or at least paying attention to my choices!) yesterday and mostly recorded those choices in My Fitness Pal (app). I also, because of those good choices, took my meds (which HATE high fat choices and make me pay very quickly). I see my endocrinologist Feb 21st and a nurse practitioner in my new doctor’s office this Friday where I will talk about my back and my chest. My back is the everyday of my life pain thing. My chest….

Here’s the self-worth/happy with myself part. I’m 5′ 1.5″. I weight…well, a lot more than I should, but I’m not rotund. I’m also a 38G. Yes, a G. Such a great letter of the alphabet, but describes a part of my body that I’ve been very unhappy with for many, many, MANY years. I’d like to find out if insurance would cover a breast reduction surgery. If they would, then it’s going to become a conversation between Jim and me. If they won’t, well, I guess we’re stuck because that’s something like $12,000 and that’s not something we have just laying around. I guess I go to counseling to make myself happy with my body?

And oh, how difficult it is to preach “love your body” to my daughters while I’m so dissatisfied with mine!

So there you have it. Me. Aching, overweight, unhealthy me. We’ll see what 2018 holds!

Posted in Health, Jim

Rolling With the Punches

I don’t think we’ve had a year where Christmas with each side of the family happened when it was supposed to in years. This year is no different.

Jim complained early this week that something was in his eyeball, causing vision issues. He called the eye doctor, but only got the answering service and didn’t get a call back. He didn’t complain, so I didn’t give it much thought. Yesterday he complained again and I called the office. When I explained the problem–and that it wasn’t acting like a floater–they said “come in now”. He did.

Awhile later, he texted me that he had a torn retina.

WHAT??!?!?!?!

Retinas are terrifying around here. I have a blind teenager, a partially blind/partially visually impaired teenager, and a very near sighted teenager because of retinas. So yeah, retina damage utterly freaks me out. And this is a guy who’s job it is to stare at a computer all day. So yeah. Terrifying.

The ophthalmologist (it took me years to spell that word correctly every time!) called the office that Ethan goes to, which has two retina specialists. They said they would stay for him, because this is a Big Deal.

I met him there, they got him in, examined and took pictures and video and yuck. They INSERTED A NEEDLE INTO HIS EYEBALL with a gas bubble into it and injected it. The hope is the bubble will push the retina back down and then they will laser it today. In the meantime, he first had to spend an hour with his face facing down to the ground and then the next two days (aka today and tomorrow) with his head at a 45 degree angle so the gas bubble will be in the correct spot (cuz it wants to float to the top and the tear is at 1:00.)

We have a follow up appointment at 10am (aka 45 minutes from now) where the doctor will hopefully see that the gas bubble has done its job and he will then laser the retina as well. Then I think we go again on Sunday.

This has somewhat played havoc with weekend plans. The kids’ friends are still coming over tomorrow, but NYE over my sister’s? Nope. Continuing work on the house? On pause. Forced rest for my husband on the couch with a lot of “saved on the DVR and eventually I’ll watch it” stuff to watch? Yes!

He has already noticed an improvement in his sight–he could read “Deer Park” on the water bottle that he was unable to read earlier, so I’m hopeful about today’s appointment. We’ll see!