Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Trip to the ER

I’ve been “under the weather” with a sinus infection that has plagued me since Thanksgiving.  I finally gave up Monday and went to the doctor and got a “Sinus Cocktail” shot in the backside.  Dang, did it hurt.  The medicine going in actually hurt about 500 times worse than the needle.  I could still feel the medicine under the skin at the shot location for a couple of hours.  It was a pretty strange feeling.  The shot kicked that infection to the curb quickly so it was worth the pain and strange feeling.

Since I’ve been sick through Thanksgiving and Christmas, our house was a mess.  I looked at Bill at one point and said how do hoarders stand it?  I took over the guest room for my sewing room since the kids rarely come and spend the night.  It’s just easier for us to go see them than for them to load up the kids and come here.  One of them did come see us at Thanksgiving and another right after Christmas.  That meant pulling a good bit of my sewing stuff out of the room and into our bedroom so we could open up the futon for them to sleep.  So for the last 6 weeks we’ve had a pathway from our bedroom door to each side of the bed and into the bathroom.  It’s made me almost claustrophobic. 

I had planned to get the house back in order this week, finish up some sewing, and do some meal planning.  That didn’t happen. 

In addition to the shot that knocked the sinus infection out, I got a prescription for a new medication, Metformin.  I had a horrible reaction to the new medication.  Instead of the classic rash and itching, I was dizzy, felt weak as a kitten, went from having chills to sweating like I had been digging a ditch, all the color left my face and I was short of breath.  I was nauseous.  I had severe pain from my breast bone down into my stomach.  My first thought was that if I just sat down for a little while it would go away.  That lasted about ten minutes (if that long).  Honestly, I was scared.  Really scared.  I gave in and called Bill to come take me to the ER.  I had begun to wonder if I was having a heart attack.  I prayed almost constantly that God wouldn't let me die.

Going to the ER was as bad of an experience as what I was experiencing physically.  When we got to the ER, I was in so much pain and was so weak that I couldn’t walk into the ER.  Bill got a wheel chair and rolled me in.  The attitude of the triage nurse should have been our first clue to go somewhere else but this was our ER of choice.  We’ve both always received excellent care there.

I’m not sure if he just didn’t want to be there or if he didn’t want to be taking care of me.  Sadly, so many in the medical profession still do not believe that Fibromyalgia is a real illness.  When we named off my diagnosis – Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Neuropathy and Severe Edema – the nurse looked at me like I had just said I was the Easter Bunny.  When he looked at my list of medications, all sixteen of them, I became the Tooth Fairy as well.  Both of us told him that two of the medications were new and I had only had one dose of each.

When I got into a room, the first thing my nurse said was that I had to stop breathing so fast.  Her theory that she maintained the six hours we were there, was I was having an anxiety attack and my dizziness was a result of how fast I was breathing.  We both assured her that I’ve never had an anxiety attack and that this wasn’t one.  I was in a tremendous amount of pain and short of breath from whatever was wrong.  Every time she came in the room, she told me to slow my breathing down because I was hyperventilating.  Every time she said that, I told her that my breathing was due to the pain.  We told her multiple times that two of my medications were new and I had only had one dose of each.  It was also pretty obvious she thought I was a drug seeker.  Why would I come to the ER for narcotics when I have prescriptions for two narcotics for my fibro pain?  If I was there for drugs, why did I not ask for something for the pain?  I was afraid to take anything because I didn’t want to mask the pain until I had a diagnosis.

The only shining star of my stay was the doctor who was thankfully Fibro friendly.  When I explained that the pain was nothing like my normal pain, he understood what I meant.  Bless his heart; I think that was the only thing he understood.  As I was describing my symptoms, including the feeling of my skin crawling, the look on his face said he was confused.  I looked at him and said “this is making no sense is it?”  He honestly said that it wasn’t but I was at a loss to know any other way to describe it.  We told him that two of my medications were new and I had only had one dose of each.

While we were there I had a CT of my head, a CT of my chest and stomach, a chest x-ray, two sets of heart enzymes and blood work to check my kidneys, liver, and pancreas function.  At no time did anyone address the possibility of a reaction to the two new medications that I had only had one dose of each.  I finally agreed to take pain medication and was given a second medication through my iv.  Later I asked the nurse what the second medicine was.  She sputtered and finally said it was something for the nausea.  We were very surprised to find out that it was actually an anti-anxiety drug.  Had they not given us a sheet of the tests they had run and the medicine they gave me to take to my doctor, I would have never known what I was given.

When I was discharged, the doctor told us that he didn’t know what was wrong but that he could assure us that it wasn’t life threatening.  He never paid any attention to us telling him that that two of my medications were new and I had only had one dose of each.  I was given prescriptions for pain medication and an anti-anxiety drug.

When we got home, I called our daughter and told her what had happened.  Her first comment was that it was a reaction to the Metformin.  Our son-in-law had had problems with it.

The next morning Bill took me to see my nurse practitioner to follow up.  I was in as bad of shape then as I had been the day before.  She looked over the lab results from the day before and said “it’s a reaction to the Metformin”.  By this time, I was dehydrated because it had been over 24 hours since I could eat or drink. I could barely walk and was still in severe pain.

The staff quickly went to work and got me on oxygen to make it easier to breathe.  Labs were drawn.  They hooked me up to a bag a fluids that not only hydrated me but helped to flush the Metformin from my system.  We left there about two hours later and I felt like a new person compared to what I did going in. 

This all started Tuesday morning and it’s taken until today for me to get back to normal.  I’m angry at the treatment I received at the ER.  The administration of the hospital knows that I’m angry and I look forward to the response to my letter.  How hard would it have been for the doctor or the nurse to look up reactions to my new medications?  How much time and money would it have saved? 

I think that it’s so sad that these “health care professionals” paid no attention to what I was saying.  One of us would be telling the nurse something or asking her a question and it was obvious that she wasn’t paying any attention to us.  She had labeled me and diagnosed me within the first five minutes I was there.

I worked in a large ER for five years.  I've seen first hand that this labeling happens for good reason many times.  I know that it’s not just those of us with chronic pain that it happens to.  I know that it’s wrong but there’s not much we can do to change the minds of people that do this labeling.  What I pray never happens as a result of this labeling is irreparable damage to a patient’s body.  Or worse yet, a death.

I’m thankful that my nurse practitioner was alert and immediately recognized the problem.  I’m afraid that she and the doctors she works with are part of the last of the health care professionals that care for their patients.  I’m afraid of the results of the health care reform that will result in socialized medicine in our country.  My day at the ER will become the norm instead of the exception.  How many people will not get the care they need because they are wrongly labeled? How many people will die needlessly?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Sarah Grace!

Sarah Grace January 2007
My youngest granddaughter turned five today. (Oops, make that yesterday.) Sarah Grace was in a hurry to get here and didn't wait for the doctor to make it over from her office. So why should I be surprised that it's already been five years?   She does everything in a hurry!  LOL

Monica had the sweetest nurse setting everything up for delivery.  This sweet nurse had only been on the OB floor for a couple of months and she'd never had a baby come before the doctor got there.  The look on the nurse's face when she realized that she was going to deliver Sarah Grace was priceless.  I wish we had gotten a picture of it. We did get a picture of  the nurse holding Sarah Grace and took her a print of it so that she'd always remember the first baby she delivered (and of course I don't have a copy).

Here's me and our birthday girl when she was 10 months old. 


Sarah Grace showing off her smile at her first dentist visit

Big sister Anna Katherine and Sarah Grace playing tea party/hairdresser.

It's amazing how much my granddaughters look alike. Of course, I can't put my finger on the pictures where they look almost like twins now that I want them. 
It's even more amazing how much they look like their mom.

Here I am with their mom when she was about 7 years old.   Don't you just love those big plastic frame glasses and the bandana?  What were we thinking back then?  LOL

I feel kinda of bad about leaving out the guys in the family.  Here's a picture made on their annual outing to pick out pumpkins for their jack-o-lanterns.  

I'm really proud of my daughter and son-in-law.  They are great parents and do so much with the kids.They go camping with Jonathan's Cub Scout troop as a family and both of them take time on a regular basis to have lunch with each of the kids at school. To me it those little things that make for a wonderful, special childhood.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Where are my shoes????

I've never been one to own a lot of shoes.  It's probably because I've never been a girly girl.  Instead of doing my hair and nails, I always preferred to be outside.  All my life I've enjoyed fishing, camping and hunting. A pair of summer dress shoes and winter dress shoes for church, weddings and funerals have always been enough for me.

Now that I have severe edema, buying shoes and even wearing them has become problematic.  I have one - yes I said one - pair of shoes that always fits no matter how swollen my feet are.  And that one pair has disappeared.  They have to be somewhere in the house but I've no idea where. 

From People of
Today I went to Walmart in my house shoes.  I say awful things about people who go out in public in their house shoes.  But I couldn't go barefoot and it was a bit cold for flip flops assuming I could get them on. And at least I didn't wear my pajamas with my house shoes like this lady did. I had hoped to find a back up pair of shoes but no such luck. 

These will be mine!!

My wonderful husband will be home shortly and we're planning to go out with friends.  I refuse to go to dinner in my house shoes so I'm off to tear the bedroom apart.  In case I don't find them, please keep an eye out for my black Crocs.  They are the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned. They look much like this pair to the right. I just checked and the Crocs website has several pair on sale that will work.  But I don't think they'll be here in time even with expedited shipping.

Tune in tomorrow to find out what kind of shoes I wore tonight!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Well, I had good intentions...

I really did intend to follow my life change of blogging every day.  What I didn't count on was coming down with the worse cold/sinus infection I've had in a very long time.  Today is the first day I've felt like doing more that moving from the bed to the couch. 

My guess is that this stuffy head and all over achy feeling started as allergies December 26 when we had Christmas with my in-laws.  My sister-in-law still smokes after seeing her husband pass away from lung cancer.  My mother-in-law lost half a lung to cancer.  They don't believe that smoking causes cancer or that people are actually allergic to cigarette smoke or can get things like emphysema from second hand smoke. Since I'm both allergic and have fibromyalgia which causes a weak immune system, I always get sick when I'm around smokers.

My mom who never smoked a day in her life developed emphysema from sitting in a 30' x 30' office with 5 smokers.  My son who is asthmatic, could not go to his other grandmother's apartment where she and his two uncles would sit around almost chain smoking.  We kept an air cleaner going there and even with it, I've seen fresher air in bars.  Seriously.  There were windows that went all the way across the living room so there was great natural lighting.  When you walked in the door, you could literally see a fog of blueish gray smoke in the air even when no one was smoking.  Visiting her almost always necessitated a visit to the doctor with in a few days.  When he ended up in the hospital because of visiting her, that's when we started picking her up and going somewhere to visit.  If we brought her to our house, she'd spend all of the visit on the back porch smoking so that's where we'd visit with her in warm weather.  

So now if I seem a little irritated with people who believe that their cigarette smoke doesn't hurt anyone, you  why.   I respect their rights to smoke but smokers should show common courtesy and not smoke around those of us who have said many times that we were allergic and it made us sick everything.  I hope that I am getting better.  I've got to make a doctor's appointment to go in and talk about my lab results so I'm going to go ahead and schedule it.  That way I can get this checked out as well.

Yesterday I was talking to my best friend about how down I was on myself for not living up to my life changes more than one day.  She reminded me of one sentence in Monday's blog post - Most of all I will refuse to feel guilty for being ill.  I will not accept anything less than living life to the fullest!  She pointed out that I didn't specify that it was fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or chronic myofascial pain.  She had me on that one!  

Thanks for listening to my rant today.  If any of you are smokers, my intent was not to judge or be critical  you.  If I offended you, please accept my apologies.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year, A New Start

It’s hard to believe that it’s 2012.  Remember how far away that seemed when we were children?  It sounded more like a science fiction movie than reality.  But here we are.  

January 1 not only brings on a new year but it brings on a time of change.  Or at least we plan for it to.  Forty to forty-five percent of American adults make one or more resolutions each year.  Among the top New Year’s resolutions are resolutions about weight loss, exercise, and stopping to smoke.  Also popular are resolutions dealing with better money management / debt reduction.

I’ve always been good at making resolutions but not so good at continuing to follow them for the entire year.  I’m not alone.  Seventy-five percent of us make it past the first week.  We’re still going pretty strong after the second week with 71% of us keeping on.  After one month we begin to forget our resolutions.  Only 64% of us are still going strong.  At the half year point, over half have given up on their resolutions.  We’re down to 46% still making the changes we promised ourselves on January 1.

That’s where the statistics I found stop but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that at the nine month point very few are maintaining their resolutions.  I admit that I’m one of those doesn’t make it past the first month.  I can be very stubborn and hard headed and I don’t take well to change; even if it’s change that I decided to make.

I’m hoping that this year will be better.  I have to remember that even if my pain levels are so high that I can’t follow through on my resolutions for a few days, to get back to them as soon as I can.  That’s where I’ve dropped off in the past.  Sometimes because I forgot to start again but mostly because I felt like I had broken them so why keep going.

Instead of resolutions, I’m calling them life changes.  Isn’t that what resolutions are?  One definition of resolution is the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc. What I am resolving to do this year will change my life as I change my normal day to day actions and methods and procedures of doing things. Most of all I will refuse to feel guilty for being ill.  I will not accept anything less than living life to the fullest!

My first life change is to faithfully read my Bible every day; even if it’s just one verse.  When my pain is up, there’s no way I can read a long passage and understand it.  One verse, I can do with no problem.  I’m going to make it easier on myself by having a list of verses that will encourage me while I deal with the pain.

Life change two is to become more submissive to my husband and his Biblical role as head of the household.  This has been very hard for me.  Not because I think he’s not worthy of my submission because he is.  It’s because I grew up with my mother a single parent so I learned early that I was in charge of my life.  It’s because my first marriage was to a submarine sailor who was not home much so it fell on my shoulders to be in charge of our home.  When he got out of the Navy, he was not willing to take on his God given role in our home.  That meant it was up to me to continue to do his job.  I was the one in charge of our family for 25 years.  It’s hard to break a habit you’ve had for that long.  With God’s help, I will break it this year.

Life change three is to put together a healthy plan of eating and stick to it.  I know how helpful it is to meal plan.  When the children were little, I had three monthly plans that I rotated.  I always knew what we were going to eat and had the necessary ingredients on hand.  I got out of that habit when the kids grew up and then I was on my own so I figured I didn’t need a plan.  Now there are two of us who need to watch what we eat because of our health.  Having a meal plan will prevent us from calling for pizza or grabbing a fast food sandwich.

I’ll be cooking double recipes so that I have a meal size portion to freeze so we can still have a good meal when my pain is too bad to cook.  One thing I won’t be doing is using the word “diet”.  We are not going to diet.  We are making the change to healthy eating habits that will cause the same results.

Life change four is to develop a workable budget and stick to it.  We’ve been through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  We know what to do.  We know that it works.  Money is short around our house.  Between the 62% pay cut Bill took to have a job and my income being cut 50% when my health forced me to retire, we haven’t worried about a budget since we had no money.  We now know that’s not true and we will get back on the track to having financial peace.

Life change five is to work towards a successful way to supplement our income.  I plan to communicate better with my former bread customers and potential customers to offer them reasons to buy my bread.  I will sew at least three days a week to build an inventory items that can be sold or used for gifts.  I will use my God given talents to make us self sufficient once again.  Bill is already working to find ways to do this.

Life change six is to blog every day.  I use to be very self disciplined.  I’ve used my pain as an excuse not to push myself to do things.  I’ve sat around and felt sorry for myself because I hurt.  I may not write but a couple of sentences on the days my pain is high.  But I will write.  I will become the self disciplined person I was before chronic pain.

Life change seven is to plan a weekly “date night” for my wonderful husband and I.  This will be a time where we only focus on us and our love for each other.  No checking email, no talking on the phone.  It will be a time for us to focus on each other and forget about all the challenges in our life.

So there’s my plan for 2012.  Over the next seven days, I will share how I plan to accomplish each life change.  I challenge you to make your own list of life changes for the New Year.  Share them with us in the comments.  If you have questions about how to accomplish them, let me know and I’ll do my best to come up with answers for you.

"The new year, like a new born child, is placed in our hands as the old year passes away.
The days and weeks to come are God's gift; they carry God's blessing.
As a blessing we welcome them.
Our hope for the year ending is that all that was good in it remain with us
and all that was harmful be left behind."

- Fr Victor Hoagland, C.P.