Health Care Management?

Maybe this is the “getting older sucks” part of my life. How does one rank their health symptoms? Unless one is a doctor, how do you know where to start, what symptoms are related or what kind of doctor you need?

My symptoms are random and growing in numbers. Let me give you a little background here. My tummy has always been sensitive. About 5 years ago I had some sort of weird episode while on vacation and later was told by my doctor that I have a hiatal hernia. For more info on that, here is a link. Then a few months ago my gyn prescribed me a high dose birth control pill. Long story short, I ended up in the ER with a “toxic reaction”, severe dehydration and a UTI. I was so sick for days! Vomiting, diarrhea, chills, panic and this burning sensation that started in my tummy and quickly spread throughout my body. I was pissed! What the hec is wrong with me? I can’t even take bcp’s? Anyhow, fast forward to a few weeks ago when I visited my GI. After an exam and several questions, he asked if I have ever had my gallbladder examined. I said no. He was shocked! He then scheduled me for a blood test, and ultrasound and another test I can’t pronounce. Naturally, as soon as we got home I did my gallbladder research. I am going to share what I have learned because if my symptoms sound familiar to any of you, this info might save you some pain and time. I am not a doctor! Please do not view my findings as anything other than amateur research. The info I am sharing is a combination of many websites I ran across, including one called Gallbladderattack.com.

The liver makes the body’s supply of bile. Bile helps break down fats during food digestion. Not all bile is needed at one time so excess is stored within the gallbladder. In gallbladder disease, bile in the gallbladder becomes concentrated and thickens. Gallstones are born out of this sludge from cholesterol and bile salts. (Apparently, bile is no match for cholesterol) The end result of the disease process is inflammation (cholecystitis) or stones (cholelithiasis). A gallbladder attack occurs when the gallstone blocks the flow of bile from the gallbladder and is manifested as a pain in the right side (sometimes perceived in the right shoulder because of referred pain) as severe as the excruciating pain of a heart attack). Some of the symptoms of a gallbladder attack are:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • fever
  • yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • severe abdominal pain
  • feeling of fullness
  • belching
  • headaches
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • fatty stools
  • burping with regurgitation of bitter fluid
  • sweating
  • lightheadedness
  • weakness
  • shortness of breath

I have every single one of those symptoms. The shortness of breath only occurs due to the panic I experience. One symptom I have that is not listed anywhere I can see is the burning sensation I mentioned earlier. It is just as random as the other symptoms. It starts just under my ribs in the center and quickly spreads to the rest of my tummy, my neck and my arms. I am fairly certain it is related to my tummy problems because once I “void my tummy” the burning stops. Actually, it stops shortly before I begin vomiting, It takes all of my will and prayer to keep this burning sensation from turning into a full panic attack at this point, especially once it spreads! This is where the priority and management comes in. Is my panic causing me to vomit? Or the other way around? I haven’t had panic in years! It only returned (at least in full force like this) the night I took that damn high dose birth control pill. I haven’t been well since that night and have been fighting a panic attack every day since. Now allow me to share what I read about the causes of gallbladder disease!

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease
  • Low stomach acid
  • Food Sensitivities or Allergies
  • Gluten Intolerance
  • Brain degeneration
  • Overweight
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Lack of exercise
  • Pregnancy (due to excess hormones)
  • Estrogen intake and birth control pills(estrogen increases the concentration of cholesterol in the bile)
  • Chronic Heartburn
  • Frequent use of Antacids and PPIs
  • Atkin’s Diet
  • Over age 40 and increase in risk as one ages
  • Female especially those who have had children
  • Ethnicity (Pima Indians and Mexican-Americans)
  • High triglycerides, high LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol,
  • Alcohol intake
  • Family history of gallbladder disease (Heredity)
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs, immunosuppressive drugs
  • Antidepressants which slow down gallbladder contractions
  • Very Low Calorie Diets
  • Diet high in saturated fats
  • Diet high in refined foods and sugars
  • Diet low in fiber (which is what the refined diets are) and not enough vegetables
  • Non-fat diets
  • Low-fat diets
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Diseases such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease, Chron’s disease (ulcerative colitis is controversial) Hemolytic anemias, PCOS

I fall into at least 10 of those categories! And that’s not counting rapid weight loss because that isn’t my symptom, that is what has resulted from my symptoms. (can’t complain about that one though, 20lbs and counting.) And did you notice the bold and italic cause? Why didn’t anyone tell me that????? I am printing that page out to take to my next gyn appointment. She was just as shocked as I was about my “toxic reaction” to the pills. What about the HORRIBLE reaction I had to the Metformin when they thought I had PCOS? Was it my gallbladder that made that med so hard for me to take?

Do I dare be a little excited about this? I pray it is a gallbladder problem. That is not a life threatening organ. I can live without it. Could it really be that simple though? Well, after what I have been through, simple doesn’t sound like the right word. Either way, it would explain a lot! I am excited to possibly have an answer, finally!

How do others cope with multiple health issues? I haven’t updated anyone on my endometriosis because I have been focusing on this tummy crap. So, again I ask, how do you juggle multiple symptoms? Is that what a primary care doctor is for? I mean, do you go to one doctor first and then let him/her send you in the right direction? I didn’t grow up with the resources I have now, so I have never had a PCP in the past. I have one now but I’m starting to think I do not use her properly. So far she is great! Wonderful beside manner, polite, and I always leave feeling like I was heard. I guess that may be what a pcp is for. A ring leader of sorts. Our insurance doesn’t require referrals but maybe there is a good reason for getting your pcp to give you one. They are the educated ones, they can steer you in the right direction. They can hear your symptoms, help you categorize them and make an educated guess as far as your next move.

Anyhow, I hope this information is helpful to someone. I can’t believe no one warned me about the risks. Every one of my doctors is aware of my tummy problems. Why didn’t anyone put 2 and 2 together? I guess this situation is a great example of being your own advocate! Always educate yourself! Even if your doctors are as amazing as mine. They do not live in our bodies and we (as patients) aren’t usually able to connect the necessary dots for them.  Between my own research and my health journal, I will get answers!

Much Love To All!

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Music Monday!

I must warn you all…I love P!NK very much! Ok, that is an understatement. She is talented, raw and honest. This is one of my favorites of hers. I guarantee I will post more of her in the future. This particular video was taken in 2010 at the Grammy’s. The song is called “Glitter in the Air”.

This is very similar to the performance she gives in concert. I saw an interview of her once where she was asked what she would have been if not an artist. Her answer was: A Gymnast! She said that’s what she loved more than anything, even more than singing. I am glad she went for music because she has helped me through some pretty tough times. Although, based on what I have seen of her in concert, she is a very talented gymnast as well!

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas. Mine was good. My daddy is getting a little better each day. My grandma’s viewing was last Saturday. It was very difficult. Not just because of the obvious but also because of the normal family drama that surrounds my family at all times. Some were mad because so-and-so didn’t stay very long, others were not happy with the time of her funeral and others just sat alone saying nothing at all. That’s what I should have done. But I couldn’t. I just had to sit by my baby sister. She is taking this loss very hard. I do not like seeing her cry. I think I may have been too “polite” to my crappy sis though because she had the nerve to call me later that evening with a question. Goodness I hope she doesn’t make that a habit. My emotions can’t take that right now. Then my uncle popped the oh so comfy “When are you having a baby?” question on me. Really? I’m already having an emotional day, do I have to feel those emotions too? I just shook my head no and said something like “Nah, not my cup of tea”. He knows better than that but maybe the dishonesty of my response was just enough of a hint for him to drop it because luckily, that’s what he did

I hadn’t seen most of the family in a while so they all commented on the weight I have lost. I certainly didn’t want to get into that so I did NOT share with them the freaking misery I am going through causing this weight loss. I am not getting healthy people I am sick! But whatever. I can’t lie, I am not upset about losing weight. I really needed to. It just falls into the “Everything in my life has to happen the HARD way” category. It wouldn’t bother me as much if my loved ones weren’t doing the same thing I am, at the same time but with NO obstacles. Show offs! Maybe Christmas has me in a funk right now. I mean, what can be more difficult for an infertile woman than a national holiday celebrating a VIRGIN giving birth??? Lol. Alright, that is all I am going to say about Christmas. I will not give my IF the power to ruin any more of my days and I have a lot to be thankful for.

Happy New Year everyone. I pray you all have dreams coming true in the very near future!

Much Love To All.

Music Monday!

I have always loved this song! The original version is Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. I walked down the aisle to it when PC and I got married in 2003!

This is my favorite Christmas song ever!

PC and I bought the tickets to TSO back in September. Pre-sale in fact. We were so excited!

Fast forward to this weekend. I woke up Saturday (concert day) feeling horrible. My tummy was upset and I was fighting a panic attack with all my might. Plus, PC and I were arguing. Then my dad called to tell me my grandma passed away, my step mom’s mom. Well shit…

I had no idea what to do.

I wasn’t very surprised that something came up though. This is the story of my life. No good stuff without bad stuff at the same damn time, creating all sorts of struggle, anxiety and moral decisions to be made. It felt like a challenge. The universe was giving me every reason NOT to go to this concert. Where the hell was the universe when we bought the tickets??? No where! But the day of the concert…..BAM! Ugh.

I am not extremely close with my step mom’s family. Most of them don’t like me much. I’m too honest for their liking. Being around most of them would not have helped me grieve and I wouldn’t have brought much comfort to them either.

So we went to the concert as planned.

The show must go on.

It was incredible! I was miserable through most of it, unfortunately. My panic wasn’t going away and I made sure I knew where the nearest restroom was. I wanted to leave several times but I wanted to hear Carol of the bells even more. You know they save that one for last, of course. In the end I am so glad we went. Screw you panic! You were not going to stop me from FINALLY seeing this concert! I heard my 2 favorite songs live! I could feel the beat in my bones. It was beautiful. I cried several times. I think we found our new holiday tradition!!

Dear Gamma B: “HOW ‘BOUT THEM COWBOYS??” You were always their number one fan and today you had the best seats in the house. Mele Kalikimaka!! We love you and will miss you greatly!

Much Love To All!

Why does it bother me?

Five months ago-ish PC and I shared with our family that we are buying a house. This is a huge step for us. Just as TTC was. Well this plan is going to turn out better than that one did and we are excited! We need this positive move in our lives. A step forward for a change since our IF journey started.

Our families know where we are in our process and they know the frustration we feel so far. We found many houses we just loved while we were getting approved and saving the down payment. Now we have everything we need but don’t love any of the available houses. So how does our family react? Just as I expected………

PC’s sister and her hubby just bought a house!

WTF??????

When…

Why…

She told me about a month ago that our (me and PC) talking about buying a home lit a fire under her hubby’s butt. They decided to figure out what they had to do to sell the one they were in and buy a new one.  And now BAM! They have a house! A beautiful 2 story home right around the corner from where they already live. They swore they would never get a 2 story due to the extra utility bills, maintenance and more. Plus, now they live in the same neighborhood as my ex- bestie. This ought to be fun!  I had no idea they were this serious and this close. They went from NO house payment to a mortgage. Not that that is a problem for them because they owned their house so they had a pretty nice down payment resulting in a fairly low mortgage payment I’m sure. Meanwhile PC and I chose to cash in a couple of stocks to get our down payment quicker, so we didn’t miss out on another fantastic house! UGH!

Why does this piss me off??? It makes my skin crawl! This is exactly how I felt after my IF diagnosis! Everyone knew we were TTC, then they knew I was diagnosed and conceiving would be difficult…then BAM!! Everyone and their dog suddenly got pregnant! No exaggeration…my friend’s dog got pregnant! One by one, all (okay I’m sure not all) the women (girls!) around me started getting pregnant! One of them has already had TWO children since my diagnosis.

I guess seeing his sister and bro-in-law buy a house just brings back all of the horrible feelings that I felt while everyone was getting pregnant around me. I felt like a failure. A huge failure! And was expected to be happy for them all. Pretending like it wasn’t killing me inside. Wishing it was US they were excited for! I know this stupid house thing is not the same as our IF journey but it feels horrible too. It’s like they stole our thunder, so to speak. We are so excited about this step in our lives. We are so proud of what we have sacrificed to get to this point.  It is taking us time to do it right and pick the perfect home and in a month his sister does it with no problem at all. No sacrifice, no struggling, no frustration…. I guess everything PC and I do in life is doomed to be a huge ball of stress and struggle while every other human in the world can do the same, easy peasy. Do they have to do it while we are struggling to do it too?????? Seriously?!? None of these people (the pregnancies, house buying) could have waited a bit?? I’m tired of feeling like my loved ones enjoy beating me to the punch!

I am well aware of how petty this all sounds. I can’t pretend this doesn’t bother me though. I am sure our family members aren’t doing these things to hurt us but it sure is starting to feel like that is the case, more and more with each incident.

Well, I am not going to focus on these feelings tonight. I have some cleaning to do before I turn in for the night. I think I will turn on some Trans-Siberian Orchestra in preparation for this weekend’s concert! That is what I will focus on for now.

Much Love To All!

Music Monday

This is another artist I found during my many hours of you tube entertainment. He started out by doing a number of grand covers and now he has his own album of original songs. His youtube name is only1noah.  If you enjoy hearing covers I encourage you to look him up.

I find comfort in his tone. Just raspy enough to make a significant impact on the emotion of each song.

For the rest of the month I plan on picking Christmas music on Music Monday’s but eventually, I am confident you will see this guy on my blog again! He makes me want to get back into singing again. Maybe in our new house PC will let me “build” a studio.

I hope you enjoy today’s Music Monday pick. I also hope you all have a fantabulous week!

Much Love To All!

How WE need to prepare for the holidays

The holidays are here. Faster than any of us expected them to be. I can’t believe it is almost 2015. Where does the time go? I have put together a plan. A plan that will hopefully make the holidays a little easier to handle.

I know it is hard for people in my real life to understand why I feel the way I do about the holidays. I’m sure they think “Why does it upset you that you can’t have kids if you have decided you don’t want children anymore?”. I wish it were that simple. My decision to remain childfree is based on my infertility. For personal reasons as well as financial, PC and I have decided not to pursue fertility treatments. That doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking for us. In the end it was still a very difficult decision. I still feel confident it is the right one for us but the anger/depression/resentment (etc) remains. I’m dealing with all of those feelings and probably will be for quite some time. The “why her and not me” question is likely a permanent part of my thought process now. I have a plan! I will survive this holiday season. I will enjoy my time with PC. I will not be the party pooper. Here are some holiday tips for us to follow. This list is a combination of info I read in an article from The Huffington Post, random internet reads and my own concerns.

  1. Prepare answers to questions ahead of time.   We know the usual questions. Think about your current situations and possible new questions that might arise at the family gatherings. Sit down with your partner and decide how to answer them together. What are you comfortable sharing with others if anything. It is important and much more comfortable if you and your partner are on the same page here.
  2. Take time for yourself.  People say this is important but what does it mean exactly? Well for those of us on the IF journey it can mean meditation, acupuncture, warm bubble bath or maybe a massage. But more specifically, we should remember the importance of time management. If you use one of those relaxing techniques today and then you wait until February to do it again, you might be defeating the purpose. If you look at your December calendar and see 2 holiday parties in one week, maybe you should schedule a relaxation day for yourself in between them. Why wait until you are all holidayed out to get that message? After all is said and done, that message may not help as much as it would have in the middle of the holiday shuffle. 
  3. Don’t be afraid to say no.  This one sounds like a no brainer but it’s easier said than done. Stand up for yourself. There is no reason to go to every single party or gathering you are invited to. Maybe you have that one friend who is known for her drama. That could be the one you skip. Or maybe you decide to only go to the “adult” parties. You and your partner might be the ones that usually host the holiday party. In that case, you can schedule the party for late in the evening or at an adult location. Separate your options from your obligations. 
  4. Avoid your triggers.   I have a pretty good idea of my own triggers. I have a list of them actually. Lists are very helpful for me. I chose to do a lot of online shopping this year. Doing that kept me out of the children/infant’s department. I had a lot of kids to buy for this year so online shopping was my pretty much only option. What about holding that new baby in the family? For some it might be comforting, for others..excruciating. Know your triggers, know your limits. What are your emotional triggers and how can you avoid them? 
  5. Start a project.  I find that I can keep myself composed and focused when I am busy. It is when I have down time that my brain automatically goes down that road of “infertility” thoughts. That’s when my feelings have time to become overwhelming. Here is where a new project might help. maybe project isn’t even the right word. Start a new book series, or pick up where you left off on that hobby you started. For me, I am practicing my piano. I try to practice as often as possible, especially when I start feeling a little down.
  6. Rely on your support system.  If you have a good support system at home or in real life, use them! And I am not just talking about your partner. Reach out whenever you feel like you need to. Whether that means calling a friend or family member or posting on your blog. I consider most of you family at this point. I don’t have anyone in my life who knows what I am going through, I mean who really understands. So you guys are more important to my IF journey than you know. I hope you all know I am here for you! Anytime! If you just need to vent, do it! We are in this together. Do not hesitate to reach out!

So that is my list of tips for the holidays. Next week’s list will be more comical than this one. I am already working on it but I will take a few days off because I tested positive for strop throat today. Don’t even get me started on that though. I just went to an Ear, Nose, Throat doctor on Tuesday and she couldn’t find anything wrong with me. No swelling, no fluid on my ears…nothing. She scheduled me for further testing though. My primary care doc looked in my ears for half a second and found a lot of fluid in BOTH! Ah! I will be revisiting the ENT as soon as i feel better just to make a complaint.

Much Love To All!

We are the definition of “Un-traditional”.

I am proud of my tree this year. My nephew named him Olaf. Hopefully this will be our last Christmas in this apartment. I am determined to have the holidays at our new house next year. We have passed on a couple of houses we had our eye on because they were heated with gas instead of electric. I thought gas heating was pretty rare for Texas but it turns out I was wrong. I mean. I have seen several gas stoves but I thought that was just a preference for cooking. PC and I were just concerned about the unknown. Neither of us are familiar with how gas heating works. I have learned a lot about it in the past week or so. We have decided not to pass on them anymore, which has considerably widened our search.

treeI am willing to bet I am the only Jewish girl on the block with a Christmas tree. Ha! Yeah that usually confuses people. I was raised recognizing both religions. My mom was raised Jewish and my dad wasn’t.  As an adult I have had a hard time choosing just one. Why should I? I am very proud of my Jewish heritage. I feel like it would be disrespectful to my maternal family if I didn’t recognize that part of my “race” (for lack of better word). My mom and her siblings are the last generation still living. So I have my menorah up every year. But PC isn’t Jewish, so I also put a tree up every year. Our decor makes no sense to others. Our Christmakkah decor = Un-traditional.

I am still struggling with our family Christmas celebrations. At least the one for PC’s family. I don’t think they will ever understand how emotionally challenging the holidays are for me. I have to buy gifts for at least 13 kids! Hopefully I’m not leaving anyone out. And that’s just his side. Only two of those children belong to an adult that is older than PC and I. I am not saying all the children in the family were born to under age parents. I just mean, I am the oldest in my sibling group and PC is the middle child in his. Natural order would suggest we should already have children. At least before the younger adults in the family. Right?Again…Un-traditional.

Pc’s schedule is tough. He works nights. We are usually asleep while most people are awake and vise versa. He doesn’t get holidays off unless he can get them approved way in advance or if the holiday falls on his normal days off. Well let’s just say Wednesday and Thursday are not his normal days off. So that leaves me going to his family Christmas celebration all by my lonesome with a sac full of gifts for way too many children than I can handle being around all at once! And that is only IF I just happen to not be vomiting that day. Ugh…Un-traditional.

I guess it will just take time. That’s what people say anyways. For now, I will sit in my cozy little apartment and enjoy the company of Olaf. I will wrap these gifts with love in my heart. I will pray for GOD’s help along the way. Pray for the strength to smile when I feel so sick all the time. Pray for my family. For their health. Pray my dad makes a full recovery from this stroke. And pray PC and I can enjoy this holiday season no matter how untraditional it may be for us.

Much Love To All!