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!

Learning to set boundaries…

tree Usually my whole apartment is decorated Thanksgiving night. I have been sick lately, might need to make an appointment to rule out pneumonia, so I only got the tree done and I didn’t get to it until tonight. I have some adjustments to make, including adding some color to his arms that can hardly be seen in this pic, but I’m leaving it as is for now.

Quick update on my health: These new chewable bc pills don’t seem to be alleviating my pms symptoms. In fact, my pms lasted longer than usual this time as well as the period. I’m willing to be patient though. Maybe my body needs time to get used to them. I think I would be much more disappointed right now if I weren’t so damn grateful about having ZERO side effects. The taste isn’t fabulous but compared to the toxic reaction I had to the last ones, I’m not going to complain about that at all. After some more extensive research, I am going to ask for a few specific blood tests. I still have a feeling some of my random problems are connected or caused by one another. Maybe not all of them but some of them at least. There is a big picture here and I won’t be satisfied until I can see it. I have a few theories worth looking into.

My stress level has been pretty high lately. Taking care of my mother is taking a toll on me more than ever. I have been her primary care giver since I was a child. I love spending time with her but I worry about her when I’m not there. She lives about 40 minutes away from me so I can’t be there quickly if she needs me. One of my challenges is my sister. She lives just as far away from ma but she hardly ever visits. As I have explained before, my sister is a compulsive liar. These days she has ma convinced she has skin cancer. She has been “diagnosed” with liver failure, fibromyalgia, severely high cholesterol, lupus and more. No proof of course. Ma still believes her every time she come up with something new. So do I let ma worry for nothing or do I say something? I have always said something but it’s exhausting. I took my therapist’s advice and tried to set more boundaries. The other day I told Ma that I need my sister to pitch in and at least start helping her with grocery shopping. My sister can’t take Ma to the doctor because 1) Ma’s doctor banned my sister from the office because last time she went she caused a scene and 2) I wouldn’t trust the info she shared with me about Ma’s appts. Anyhow, Ma said the conversation didn’t go well. My sister spent the whole time talking about some cancer research place she has to go to and when Ma brought up the topic of helping, suddenly my sister had to get off the phone. I kindly reminded Ma about when my sister was about 18 yrs old and mysteriously disappeared. We found letters she had written to us explaining how she was going to LIARS REHAB! She claimed there was a place in the city that helped people with her problem and she was going to be staying there. I asked Ma today if this cancer research center was near that liar’s rehab….Hehe! The whole situation is frustrating! And the heartbreaking part is she is keeping my niece from me. I have no clue what she has told my niece about me and PC but she (my niece) hasn’t called or texted me in months nor has she returned any of mine. I miss my sweetheart!! These are the kinds of situations that make my HSP almost impossible to live with! Ok, that’s enough of that.

PC has been extremely sweet lately. We didn’t get to spend Thanksgiving with his family like we usually do because of his work hours and I didn’t go because I didn’t want to get anyone sick (especially our very new great-niece) but we had a quiet evening together. Sometimes that can be a nice change. I’m afraid Christmas might be the same. PC doesn’t get holidays off unless they fall on his normal days off. I don’t like going without him but I may have to. I feel guilty for missing so many get togethers. I don’t think they really understand just how much I have take life a day at a time. Today I might feel fine and tomorrow I may be stuck in bed with excruciating cramps, or panic, or vomiting… I can’t wait to feel better! Lol!

House hunting is still fun so obviously we haven’t chosen one yet. We got a little side tracked because we were offered a pretty good investment opportunity. I think we are going to pass on it though because it will throw our house buying plans off some. I guess we’ll see.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Much Love To All!