life as pincushion

2013 has not really been my year.  It’s been one of the most challenging I’ve ever had, health-wise.  Which is hard for me to reconcile because–despite asthma and knee problems and thyroid conditions and etc–I’ve always been pretty healthy.  Kind of in spite of myself, sometimes.

But I’m absolutely terrible at the taking care of me thing–which landed me in the hospital earlier this year and resulted in emergency gall bladder surgery.  Since then, I’ve done better than expected, but within the last few weeks, my body has sort of freaked the Hell out.

I got this rather shitty cold a few weeks ago and went to the doctor for my scheduled new patient appointment.  While I was there, my heart rate went nuts, my oxygen levels plummeted, wheezing was major, and then there was super-high blood pressure.

It concerned my doctor enough that she sent me to get a CT to rule out any blood clots in my lungs.  The CT came back as clean as it could be.  I was given Prednisone and a new rescue inhaler.  The Prednisone was for five days and packed a wallop.  Despite the smoke hell we’ve been in, my asthma greatly improved.  The inhaler fixed any minor issues.

Then, my script ran out.  Which should have been fine since the congestion was a lot better and the infection that had been in my sinuses seemed a lot less severe.  My ears were still bitchy, though.  And I still had a pretty bad cough.

Welp, Prednisone kicks your body’s ass when you just stop taking it without weaning off.  Major withdrawal.  I was unable to sleep and then felt incredibly depressed.  The head stuffiness felt 20x worse, though the congestion was definitely going away.  It just felt worse.  And I got these terrible headaches.  Then, the I can’t stay awake thing began.  I literally slept all day for about three days straight.  Luckily, I got everything done while I couldn’t sleep at night.

I just had this overwhelming feeling of dis-ease.  Like I was dealing with some insidious allergic reaction.  Like my body was fighting this really crazy battle.  And despite being a little less wheezy, I really couldn’t go without my inhaler nearby and felt like I was gaspy most of the time I was awake.  I’d wake up with these terrible sore throats, too.

So, I decided to take some allergy meds–which helped a lot, but didn’t get rid of the cough or the ear things.  So, that told me I probably was suffering from some sort of allergic reaction with a bad cold.  But what was causing the allergy.  I have many that I’m aware of, and I usually avoid them pretty well.

I have a heart rate monitor/blood pressure reader at home that I’ve been using regularly to monitor stuff.  My heart rate is all over the place.  Usually under the warning level, but sometimes dangerously close.  My BP has been all over the place too–sometimes dead normal and other times on the borderline.  Considering a normal reading prior to all of this was 120/72, this is disturbing.

I don’t feel bad, really, just gaspy.  And the blood pressure seems to dance with the gaspy.

Given my family’s history of heart disease, such things freak me the Hell out.  Especially because I know how abnormal that is for me–how it wasn’t like that 3 weeks ago.  The fact that I can have a perfect pressure one minute and then have something stroke-worthy 20 minutes later is pretty scary.

I went to see my doctor today and felt fairly calm despite bumping my head in the bathroom just prior (don’t ask).  I was deliberately meditating because I just knew it was going to spike.  Doctor visits make me particularly stressed out, and it seems to be worse when I don’t trust my doctor’s office.  Last time was not the best visit, so I was very stressed about it.  Today was much different in terms of professionalism, so I had nothing to really fear–and I felt much more at ease.  Despite all of that, I had the highest BP reading of my life.  Like ever ever.  It wasn’t as bad as a lot of people’s–no–but it was that line you refuse to cross.  My heart rate was 93…high-normal and just south of the tachy border.

My doctor is kinda like a detective in the way she approaches medicine–which can be off-putting at first.  She goes through everything and then asks questions like an interrogator.  I told her about my morning reading.  I told her how my asthma was exercise induced, usually.  Maybe it was the long walk from the lobby?  I told her about the remaining symptoms and the massive fatigue.  And then I mentioned the stupid thyroid diagnosis from a while back.

So, she listened to my heart.  My pulse didn’t sound that fast through the scope.  It sounded more like what I recorded this morning.  My lungs sounded better, but still breathy.  She gave me some allergy meds that wouldn’t affect my BP/HR.  Then, she ordered bloodwork and etc to rule things out and to see if maybe my thyroid is doing something.  Given my gall bladder is gone, there’s a good chance something is up with it.  For the next week or so, I have to record my BP/HR.  Then my doc will review everything and decide what to do.  I’m glad she’s being thorough because I’m really getting sick of being stuck and not feeling well.

But the crapper?  If my stuff is still being retarded after a week of avoiding all caffeine and monitoring things, I get to wear a heart monitor for a couple of days.  I’m so not happy about that.  But I know it’ll be necessary, and this is not something to fuck around with.

Still, the whole thing really really really triggers one of my few remaining fears: dying like my mother.  I’ve had to get to know Mama’s world really intimately this year.  The whole being stuck four hundred times…looking like a drug addict…having to be dependent on people…feeling like crap…not being able to breathe.  Yea.  It’s pretty much my worst nightmare.

But good, maybe.  I no longer fear the IVs or the sticks.  I still want to die when they say I need one, but I don’t want to pass out anymore.  Hospitals don’t scare me, and the idea of medicine means I’m just going to get better.

I just really want to know what’s causing all of this so I can fix it.  I’m learning–slowly, but surely–through trial and error–how to be my own advocate.  It’s still terribly hard, but at least I have a vocabulary for it now.  And at least I’m not avoiding taking care of myself anymore.

But damn–can we stop with the poking already?


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