Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gluten-free, Here I Come

Consider yourselves warned -- I'm probably going to be grumpy over the next few weeks.

A few days ago, after I whined to my husband about how much my gut hurt and how freaky I find the whole bloody diarrhea experience, he suggested, "Hey, maybe you should just try the whole gluten-free thing for a month and see what happens."

It's one of those things I've been skeptical and resistant to trying without some testing suggesting it would be helpful. Allergy testing and celiac testing (both blood and biopsy of the duodenum) have been negative for wheat/gluten sensitivity.

But things clearly aren't getting any better for me, so besides the inconvenience, what's the harm in trying it? Even a placebo effect would be more than welcome at this point. And my GI doc says that they're finding more and more people with rare forms of celiac that normal testing doesn't identify. So maybe I'm one of them.

The big stumbling block for me going gluten-free is breakfast. I am all about the various forms of bread and toast. For the past few years, I've been obsessed with toasted bagels in the morning. I've previously gone through periods where I only ate freezer waffles for breakfast, or certain types of breads for toast. I ate cereal (dry/no milk) as a kid, but only until I outgrew cereals with marshmallows. :-)

And I've just always loved bread, for any meal! Back before we had to set a good example for a munchkin, Scott and I would occasionally devour a loaf of garlic bread for dinner. Just garlic bread. Yummmm!

Anyway, I haven't found a solution for this problem yet. But my friend/neighbor Joan, who has a son with celiac disease and also is a registered dietitian, sent over some gluten-free things for me to try, including some freezer waffles. So we'll see how those work tomorrow morning. We also made a stop tonight at New Seasons Market and picked up some additional food replacements for me, including gluten-free crackers and pretzels. Since I'm currently not allowed fresh fruit and veggies, I'm pretty much at a loss as to what to snack on if I can't have wheat. I'm hoping these will help give me some options.

So, time will tell if this is the solution for me. I'm sure I'll keep y'all posted. Meanwhile, I'd be grateful for any suggestions about how to make this transition to gluten-free. And if you're local to Portland, OR, I'd love suggestions on where to shop for gluten-free foods.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Just What I Wanted For My Birthday!

I've been off sulking for a few days since it seems like I only get a diagnosis to lose it when I fail to follow the proper pattern.

So the GI docs no longer think I have diverticulitis. Because, the theory goes, if it were diverticulitis, I'd have responded to the antibiotics by now. (I finished the Cipro today, and have a few more days of the Alinia.)

Meanwhile, my blood count came back Thursday within normal ranges. (I'm still waiting to get a copy of it so I can compare it to my normals.) So my GI doc decided a colonoscopy wasn't as urgently required as the one I saw on Tuesday thought. Since there's danger of perforating the colon in doing one when inflammation is present, the 'scope got pushed back until March 3. Which, for those who don't know, is my birthday. Happy birthday to me, right? (Could be worse -- if I were doing it on March 4, I'd have to be on a liquid diet on my birthday. At least this way I can eat birthday cake that night!)

I understand that things that are scary and urgent to a patient like me are not always (not usually!) true emergencies from a medical professional's viewpoint. But it just seems like ongoing bleeding from an area that's not supposed to bleed should be considered urgent even by doctors. Shouldn't it?

And I hate that it will be two months from onset until they do the test that may be able to tell me what caused all this. Of course, with my luck, even a colonoscopy won't be able to definitively diagnose the pain in my gut and the cause of my bloody diarrhea.

I think what I find most scary, though, is that if it's not diverticulitis, the odds increase that whatever it is will be yet another chronic condition. If I'm lucky, it will help my doctors figure out what my overall mystery illness is. (What I liked about the idea of diverticulitis was that it's fairly easily treated and rarely recurs.) If not, then whatever this is will go on my long, long list if secondary diagnoses. :-(

Can you tell I'm a bit depressed about all this?

My guess (and remember, I'm not a doctor or medical professional) is that based on my symptoms, I'm going to end up with some kind of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) diagnosis, most likely ulcerative colitis.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Go Vote!

The 2009 Medical Weblog Awards polls are open!

While Sick Momma wasn't nominated (much less a finalist!), there are some awesome blogs well worth voting for!

My particular favorites are The Queen of Optimism in the patient blog category (although there's some other very good ones there too ...) and Musings of a Distractible Mind in the medical blog category. (I'm so happy Dr. Rob is back to posting after a bit of a break!)

So go vote (for my favorites if you don't have favorites of your own :-), and check out the list of finalists to see if there are any new-to-you blogs you should be following!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

At Least I Had a Choice

I got into the GI doc's office today. Unfortunately, if I wanted to see one of the actual MDs, I would have had to wait 10 days. So I reluctantly agreed to see a nurse practitioner.

Now, I don't mean any offense to nurses or nurse practitioners. But I know my situation is complicated between my latest intestinal problems and my ongoing chronic problems. And I felt I would be best served by seeing an MD. And, well, there's the minor issue that I have to pay a more expensive co-pay to see a specialist, and I don't get any discount for seeing an NP (although I know my insurer will pay less).

Erica was very nice, but sure enough, she needed to call in an MD to figure out what to do with me.

Apparently, I'm a borderline case, in that they couldn't decide whether I needed to be admitted to the hospital, or whether I could wait and have more testing. They also think it's not a clear case of diverticulitis, mostly because I "should" be feeling better by now after a week of the double doses of antibiotics.

And that's one of the problems with seeing new doctors -- they don't know my history, and really, they often aren't all that interested in hearing it. My GI doc might have decided to tweak my antibiotics or something. Instead, I'm scheduled for a colonoscopy on Monday. Which seemed like a better choice than being admitted into the hospital this afternoon and undergoing a bunch of tests while they tried to diagnose me. (Been There, Done That in August 2007.)


So I'm under orders to go to the ER if my pain is severe and/or I spike a fever of 101.5 or higher. Meanwhile, I have a prescription for something that's supposed to help with stomach pain that I haven't picked up yet from the pharmacy. And of course I get to look forward to the "prep" for the colonoscopy.

However, when they get my blood test results -- hopefully tomorrow -- depending on what my counts look like, they may order another CT scan prior to the colonoscopy. The doctor also said depending on what they find once they get inside me, it might be a brief version of a colonoscopy, because if they find inflammation, they won't go any farther due to risk of perforation. And I definitely would prefer not to have a perforated colon!


Apologies to those who are kind enough to comment publicly on my blog, but I've had to turn on moderation because I've been getting some weird posts in my comments and I couldn't figure out how to delete them without turning on moderation.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

An Undesirable Development

Ellie's birthday party yesterday was a definite success for everyone except, possibly, me.

The kids had fun; I found a hit with some decorate-your-self sticker pages for the kids as an activity while they waited for cake/food/ice cream. Ellie got way too many gifts -- I've sworn that next year we either have a way smaller party -- I'm thinking like six kids for a six-year-old's birthday party -- or we'll ask for some kind of donation in lieu of a gift, like maybe bringing children's books that we can donate to a school library or maybe coats for kids in a shelter. I tried to suggest that to Ellie before this year's party, but it didn't go over well. ;-) I figure I've got an entire year to talk her into it for next year!

But honestly? The party was too much for me, even though we threw the party at a gymnastics place and didn't have to deal with the whole clean-up-before-the-party and then clean-up-a-worse-mess-after-the-party.

It was just too much activity for me, even though I wasn't doing the gymnastics. You know I'm sick when I barely manage to take a bite of my piece of cake. And Scott had sent a perfect corner piece (lots of frosting!!) over to me!

At the end of the party, I had an urgent need to visit the bathroom. Turned out, about all I did was pass out in the stall, and then lie for awhile on the floor wishing someone would come looking for me. Yep, I was pretty much just as pathetic as it sounds. I eventually was able to get up and find my way to the car, where Scott and Ellie were waiting for me.

We came home, where we started parceling out Ellie's gifts so it wasn't entirely overwhelming. (Twenty-five kids at a party = a LOT of presents.)

Meanwhile, I was having greatly increased pain from my diverticulitis. (Warning: TMI about potty issues and bodily fluids ahead.)

Around the time Ellie was going to sleep, I went to the bathroom and when I looked in the toilet while flushing, I noticed that it looked like there was red blood in the bowl. It didn't seem to have an external source, and I did not have my period.

My belly pain continued to be very intense, and about 90 minutes later, I went to the bathroom again and had what felt like diarrhea. This time, I knew to look before I flushed.

So, I know this is way too much detail about what ends up in a toilet bowl, but it wasn't like any other case of diarrhea I'd ever had. There was definitely more blood, but it's hard to tell how much since the water dilutes it. It was the poop that seemed weirdest to me. It reminded me of a pile of poop-colored flour at the bottom of the bowl.

Wanna know how much my husband loves me? When I asked, he came into the bathroom and looked in the toilet, and then we spent five to ten minutes discussing it and trying to decide if it meant I should go to the ER again. Blood is never a good sign, and I was a little panicky about it.

Scott's judgment was that since it was "just" blood and intense intestinal pain, it was probably OK to wait. It's not like I was bleeding between bowel movements, nor did I have more than a low-grade temperature.

I wasn't convinced, and went downstairs to my laptop to google blood and diverticulitis. What I found, was not encouraging. But luckily, I'd posted to Facebook that I thought I might need to go to the ER again, and one of my friends, who's a physician's assistant, was still awake and called me at home to discuss what was going on. He pretty much confirmed Scott's judgment, with the caveat that since he wasn't here in person to examine me, he couldn't be absolutely sure.

But E went through the things to be on the look-out for, and then explained that it wasn't uncommon for diverticula to bleed on and off during diverticulitis. (Which was pretty much the opposite of what I'd found on the Web, which suggested it was a rare complication.) E said that since I was already on the correct medications to treat diverticulitis, the bleeding was unlikely to be an ER type of emergency.

So, my plan is to wait and call my GI doc first thing in the morning, and see what, if anything, he wants to do.

My intestines have pretty much gone back to holding onto everything that they can, or they simply were completely emptied after Saturday night's experience. So although I had a bit more blood this evening, I haven't had much.

I'm not sure what happens next, and I'm really not looking forward to finding out. But I'm hoping this experience will be over soon, and I can go back to my "normal" health issues.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hmmm ... Another Good News/Bad News Kind of Day

I recently took advantage of a sales promotion and purchased a iPod Touch, which I've lusted after for just about forever. I think I'd strenuously disagree with anyone insisting that Apple products are completely intuitive. I've quickly found myself wishing for Microsoft's habit of supplying clues when you mouse over a symbol on the toolbars. I've actually had to Read The Manual (which of course I had to access online until I figured out how to download it to my Touch) to figure out stuff that should have been much simpler to figure out on my own.

After asking my friend/neighbor Joan what her favorite apps were, I installed LoseIt on my iPod. I'd been contemplating joining Weight Watchers Online so I could track my weight and my food intake conveniently, but this app was free and handles what I think I need to do. Cool, eh? I'm already saving $$$ thanks to my iPod. ;-)

Anyway, to start the app, it needed my starting weight. So I headed for the scale this morning, and was happy to discover one good result of this diverticulitis: I had lost at least five pounds!

The downside is I'm so bloated that pants that fit just fine a few weeks ago are feeling tight on my sore belly. :-( Sigh.

Meanwhile, I think I made a bad choice today by not calling my GI doctor. I was supposed to call him today (Friday) if I wasn't "noticeably better."

After spending Thursday from late afternoon until past bedtime with a higher-than-normal-for-me fever and major pain, I felt better when I woke up today. I've discovered in the past couple weeks, however, that really, if I sit still and don't move around much and don't eat much, I approach something close to comfortable.

But Ellie's birthday party is tomorrow, and while thankfully we're not having it in our house, there's still stuff to do to get ready for it.

Since I sleep so late, by the time I've been awake for awhile, it's getting into mid- to late afternoon (unless I have a doctor's appointment scheduled, for which I have to set an alarm if it's before 2 p.m.) and I have to make a relatively quick judgment on whether I want to put a call into any doctors.

And today, I guess I made the wrong decision, because right around 4 p.m., which is the cut-off for reaching the GI doc's assistant, and all calls go through her, I started to think well, maybe I wasn't actually improved from yesterday.

And by dinner time, I definitely had a fever despite Tylenol. Sigh. Should have called the doctor. At this point, the only choice is whether to go to the ER or wait until Monday. And I'm definitely not inclined to go to the ER the night before Ellie's birthday party.

Meanwhile, I will keep taking my two types of antibiotics. (You know things are messed up intestinally when you're on two strong antibiotics and you still don't have diarrhea.) And now that I've officially crossed the line and given TMI, I think I'll stop. :-)

I'm guessing that after Ellie's party, I'll be so exhausted I won't be online for at least a few days. But I'll try to post Monday and let y'all know how the weekend went.

Hope y'all have a good weekend!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's Official: GI Doc Says It's Diverticulitis

Well, it's officially a new diagnosis, most likely completely unrelated to the rest of my health issues, the GI doc says.

He took a quick look at the images from my CT scan and commented on the things my internist had said were very suggestive of diverticulitis. He said he definitely agreed with that diagnosis, especially after palpating my abdomen.

He's changed my medicine to more typical antibiotics for diverticulitis: Cipro, 500 mg twice a day for ten days. And instead of the typical Flagyl, he has put me on a different anaerobic antibiotic called Alinia (nitazoxanide), 500 mg twice per day for 14 days. With my history of gastric ulcers and an overly sensitive stomach, he didn't want to put me on Flagyl, which he said is notoriously hard on stomachs.

What's nice is the Cipro was very cheap: $6.90 without insurance at Costco, and my insurance lowered it to $5.88. I won't turn down saving a buck! And the Alinia, which as a newish drug would most likely have been quite expensive, the GI doc gave me the 14 days worth of pills I needed from his sample closet. Considering how much we've spent on this infection in the past two weeks, I'm thrilled to not find out exactly how expensive this drug is.

(I'm very grateful that we have health insurance and prescription coverage at all, but I'm dreading the first non-generic I have to buy with this year's plan that now charges us the greater of $25 or 10 percent of the negotiated rate. It used to just be a flat $25, which was bad enough because I have way too many prescribed medicines that I take on a daily basis!)

The doctor also explained some of my weird but related diverticulitis symptoms to me.

(Warning: Poop talk ahead! Proceed at your own risk!)

I'd already figured out that my body was doing it's best to, er, hold onto everything because it's so painful to have a bowel movement since the diverticulitis started. The GI doc says that's pretty normal with diverticulitis, and then the whole system kind of backs up. That's why my pain, which started out in a very specific location in my lower left pelvic area, has spread to encompass my entire abdomen.

He says that as the intestines try to stop moving, the stomach slows its emptying and generates more acid to try to break down the food. The increase in acid production despite 40 mg of omeproazale twice a day has meant that I have raging, uncontrolled acid reflux. My entire esophagus burns from the back of my throat all the way to my stomach, which feels like it's got a fire lit inside it too. I'm supplementing with Tums and Mylanta, but I'm still spending a lot of nights sleeping mostly upright.

So he has recommended a bland, soft diet with no fresh fruit or fresh vegetables until I start feeling better in two to four days. Then I'm allowed to slowly start adding foods back in. (And, sigh, if I'd followed the advice of my dietitian neighbor, I'd have started doing that Sunday evening.) It's ironic because I had actually been increasing my fruit and raw veggie intake in hopes of, er, getting things moving again. I don't have a blockage, but the days in between BMs has left me feeling very bloated and uncomfortable.

So I started the bland, soft/liquid diet Tuesday evening with dinner. Instead of the leftover yummy stir fry that Scott had made last night, I had a can of Chunky's savory vegetable soup. (The doctor said veggies cooked until they're soft would be fine for me to eat.) I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to be eating for the next few days, but I'm definitely making some sugar-free, low fat instant pudding!

Meanwhile, I'm supposed to call him on Friday if I'm not feeling noticeably better by then. Otherwise, I'm supposed to call him when I finish the antibiotics and let him know how I'm doing.

He still thinks he wants to look at my small intestine with a pill-cam to see if I have damage farther down than my duodenum that would point to celiac disease. But he says (and I very much agree) that the first priority is to get this diverticulitis under control and calmed down. He says he'll want to talk about doing the additional testing in two to three months. Right now, he says, I have too much inflammation in the area.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping no one else needs to press on my belly until this thing is gone. Man, does it hurt!

Oh, and he told me that it's very rare for this to become a chronic problem with flareups of diverticulitis. He says that the vast majority of people don't have this more than once in their entire lives. Of course, after seeing me through a series of ulcers between 2000 and 2005 that didn't heal particularly well, he makes no promises for me. I'm mentally crossing my fingers that this is true for me, too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Getting Really Tired of This ...

So if my internist diagnosed me correctly and I have diverticulitis ... let me just say it sucks.

I've done four days of antibiotics, and while I realized I probably wouldn't be all better, I really expected to be feeling much better by now. And I'm really not.

The Internet can be a dangerous thing for those of us with medical problems, I've decided. This has now been going on for almost two weeks, but most of the websites I've looked diverticulitis up on say the acute phase usually only lasts two to four days.

The only reason I haven't had a complete meltdown over having yet another mystery symptom is that I convinced myself that this was a temporary, acute illness and not something that was going to drag on and on like the rest of my mysterious illness.

So of course on Monday, when I'm looking up diverticulitis yet again (and why, or why, can I not spell that word without having to go back and fix it?), I read on WebMD that it's possible to have chronic diverticulitis with intermittent attacks.

So, let me just say that I am drawing a line in the sand here and refusing to let this turn into yet another chronic health problem I have to face. I'm just not going to put up with that.

Think the Powers That Be will hear me and cooperate? I'm a little leery of offering an ultimatum when I don't really have the control/power to force an alternative.

Meanwhile, I see the GI doc today. Let's hope he can make a quick diagnosis (or confirm the internist's) and figure out a way to make it all better asap.

Photo used under licence via Creative Commons:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Maybe Things Don't Always Have To Be So Complicated?

It has been a killer week. But I survived! :-)

And I might even have a(nother) diagnosis for my latest problem ...

I had a CT scan on Wednesday morning, which was rather non-eventful other than the three pokes it took to get an IV into me. (Hey, I needed a little color from the bruises, didn't I?)

On Thursday, I saw my OB (finally!), who did the most painful pelvic exam I've ever had. She didn't see or feel anything out of the ordinary, and said the next step was to see my gastroenterologist to rule out something intestinal, and if Dr. GI can't figure it out, to come back and she'd take a look inside with a laproscope to see what she could find. 

Ellie was scheduled for her annual checkup on Thursday afternoon, but Scott got a call from Ellie's teacher about ten minutes before he was going to leave to pick her up to say Ellie's right ear hurt bad enough that she couldn't lay on that side. It was good timing at least! Sure enough, she had a raging ear infection on the right side, so we got prescriptions for antibiotics and numbing ear drops.

By the time that was all finished up, I was in no condition to go to the kindergarten readiness program I'd intended to go to that evening. Sigh.

Today, I called my internist to see if she'd gotten my CT results. She hadn't seen them yet but she was able to find the preliminary results in the computer system. The most notable thing in the report was that I have "stranding" in my intestine right in the area that I have pain. She says that's a sign of inflammation, and said the CT report said there was probable diverticulitis in that area. 

So it's antibiotics for me! Meanwhile, my respiratory infection seems like it rebounded again, and my wheeze and junky lungs are worse, so I'm on Avelox, an antibiotic that's designed for respiratory infections but is also a second choice line of treatment for diverticulitis. Gotta love it when you can kill two birds with one stone!

Meanwhile, after scheduling an appointment yesterday to see my GI doc in a few weeks, I got a call from his assistant that they had a cancellation and can fit me in on Tuesday. Which is quite good timing!

An interesting note is that my internist says that a colonoscopy is contraindicated with a diagnosis of diverticulitis because there's a higher likelihood of perforating the bowel if it's all swollen. So I apparently have that to look forward to eventually, but not for the next few months.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Just Another Day In Limboland

So, I bet (at least some of) you are wondering what's happened since last week's trip to the emergency room. 

Truthfully, not much.

If I followed the ER doc's advice, I would have gone back to the ER over the weekend because my pelvic area pain has not resolved itself. 

But I really hate going to the ER. I'm paranoid that they're going to think I'm just another drug addict looking for narcotics. I compensate by repeatedly turning down pain meds and prescriptions. And yes, I know that's ridiculous, but I also know from reading blogs by ER doctors and nurses that a shocking number of people who show up in the ER are what they call "frequent flyers" and mostly looking for pain meds. 

So, I managed to get appointments for Monday with both my internist and my OB.

I saw the internist in the morning (yes, I actually left my home at 9:30 a.m. for a 10 a.m. appointment and survived!). She said the fluid seen in my pelvic area on ultrasound might just have been from normal ovulation and not from a cyst at all. She agreed with the ER doc and ordered a CT scan of my abdomen and pelvis. (Props to my brand new insurance company for approving the CT scan within two hours of getting the request. Unfortunately, it's not that quick to get scheduled with the machine.) I'm getting the scan on Wednesday morning (twice in one week with the early appointments! Ack!).

Meanwhile, I kept my appointment with my OB. Unfortunately, she didn't. They told me on Friday when they scheduled me that it was her on-call day so I was aware there was a risk that she'd be across the street at the hospital delivering a baby or doing surgery. I followed the triage nurse's directions and called 30 minutes before my appointment, when I was assured that she was not only in the clinic but running on time. I was skeptical, but the receptionist was adamant. (I love this OB, but she never, ever runs on time. She's always late.) So I showed up promptly at 3 p.m., about 20 minutes after I called, and was told she was running about 45 minutes late. No surprise. 

I was surprised when I was called back to an exam room within just a few minutes. But once there, I just waited. And waited. After an hour, I asked if there was a bathroom I could use, and the OB's medical assistant assured me that the OB was in an exam room and I would be next. It should only be a few more minutes ...

Yeah, well, I wasn't too surprised when the MA came into the exam room at 4:45 p.m. to tell me that the OB had been called to catch a baby at the hospital. "But she assured me she'd be back in 20 to 30 minutes!" the MA said earnestly.

I wasn't falling for that one, though. The MA promised I could be the OB's first patient the following day at 8:45 a.m. (Ack! Is there a conspiracy to try to kill me by forcing me to medical appointments that are way too early for someone who needs about 14 hours sleep a night?)

OK, well, I end up not checking the Caller ID log until very late at night although I'd glanced when I got home to see if the red light was blinking to signify a message. There was no red light, but apparently the MA called right after I walked out the door because she'd misspoken and of course the OB wouldn't be in the office today after 24 hours on call. So the appointment was for 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday.

Well, now I had two appointments I needed to reschedule because not only was my CT scan scheduled for Wednesday a.m. but Scott told me I'd written the wrong day on my calendar for when Ellie is giving her first-ever class presentation. I had it down for Jan. 14, but no, it was really happening at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 13. And no parent would miss seeing that! (They're studying space, and Ellie was assigned the topic of the sun.)


So, after reshuffling everything, tomorrow I'll stop at the clinic to pick the barium or whatever else they're going to make me gag down on my way to Ellie's preschool. The contrast stuff has to be drunk 2 hours before the CT scan, which is at 10:45 a.m. Then I'll go see Ellie in the spotlight, before heading back to the clinic for my CT scan, which I'm told will take about an hour. (Doesn't that seem long for a CT scan?!) And then I'll go home to collapse until I see the OB on Thursday at 11 a.m. 

Ellie has a 3 p.m. pediatrician appointment for her 5-year checkup on Thursday that I'm guessing I might be in no shape to attend. :-( And then there's the kindergarten readiness thing at her preschool's sister elementary school that evening. (Which is pretty much our fallback school if Ellie isn't accepted at the other schools we're applying to for next year. But it's important we try to attend these things because they really don't want to be people's fallback school.)

Y'know, actually, I think maybe I'm going to go with the conspiracy theory. Because this all seems like an awful lot even if I were healthy (although if I were healthy, I wouldn't have all these medical appointments and it would be a much easier week. And life.)

But I hope all the Powers That Be hear this part: I absolutely know things could get/be worse, and I don't need a personal experience as proof!!

Yes, I AM a Lemming ...

In other words, I've become an "Amazon Associate." 

That means that if you use the Amazon link on the blog's sidebar (if you read this via email or RSS feed, you'll have to visit the actual blog to see the sidebar), I receive about 4 percent of whatever you buy. 

It doesn't cost you anything extra on top of your purchase. You still get Amazon's great prices on just about anything you might want, and the free shipping on many items if you spend at least $25. 

And I won't know who used the link or what you bought. (Actually, I guess I'm not 100 percent sure of that last part. I know I definitely won't know who used the link.)

I feel a little awkward even mentioning this and asking y'all to use my link (or the link of another blogger you want to support). But heck, so many friends and family have asked if there's anything they can do from afar to help us out, I figured I'd go ahead and mention this.

And if you don't use my Amazon link, please do consider using a link to Amazon from another blog you enjoy. Nobody's going to get rich from this, except maybe Amazon stockholders, but even a tiny commission helps a lot. 


Friday, January 8, 2010

Good Reminder: Things Can Always Get Worse

Sigh. Consider yourself warned: This will probably be a whiny post. If whiny posts irritate you, move onto another blog and don't read this.

I'm fully aware of the maxim that things can always get worse so I don't know why I'm surprised when it comes true. (And truthfully, I know they could be much worse than they are right now, so hopefully the universe won't decide it needs to show me exactly how much.)

So, yesterday, my OB tells me the ER doc was overly optimistic and that it's normal for a ruptured ovarian cyst to cause intense pain for four to five days. So now I have an appointment with her for Monday. 

I spent last night sleeping sitting up, because apparently a ruptured cyst can cause killer heartburn. 

And when I woke up this morning (well, barely morning, since it was 11:30 a.m), my hands were swollen and I found that I cannot make a fist. Who knew that was as problematic as I'm discovering it can be? Can't slice my bagel. Actually, not very good with a butter knife either. I told Scott that if this lasts, it may turn out to be a good diet system ...


Thursday, January 7, 2010

In Search of Patience

Sorry I've been MIA again lately, but I have had too much on my plate (like everyone else this time of year)!

First it was a likely case of bronchitis that laid me low for most of December and is only now fading. Then yesterday, I woke up with a new, weird pain in the lower left quadrant of my abdomen.

I told myself at first that it would go away quickly. But it was severe enough that I could barely stand upright. I dragged myself to my acupuncture appointment hoping that since this was an acute pain, it would help. My acupuncturist did her best but although I had a weird sensation when she did Reiki, it didn't help the pain at all.

Then I put in calls to my PCP and my OB to see what they thought it might be and whether I needed to be seen. And then, of course, I waited and waited and waited for someone to call me back. 

Eventually, my OB's nurse said I needed to head to the ER to be checked. Of course, by then it was 6 p.m. so no one could see me in the office. So off to the ER we went.

I sent Scott and Ellie home around 7:15 p.m. because it was clear that I wasn't going to be done anytime soon. No reason to have them both sleep deprived and going to work/school today in bad shape. 

It was a good choice, because I didn't even get into a room until 9 p.m. (although I peed in a cup for them earlier, so at least they had my urinalysis back by the time I saw a doctor). 

I apparently had concentrated on getting a bag of stuff to keep Ellie busy in the ER waiting room and managed to forget to bring anything for me, like a book or my laptop. 

I didn't make it into an ultrasound room until midnight. 

The good news is they think they might know what caused me so much pain with such a sudden onset. The ultrasound tech found uncontained fluid in my pelvic region, so they are assuming it was most likely an ovarian cyst that ruptured. 

But it also could be diverticulitis, according to the ER doc. 

If the pain goes away within 48 hours of onset, it's most likely an ovarian cyst. If not, I'm supposed to return to the ER and get a CT scan done.

Of course, since I like to be a challenging patient, they told me I don't really fit the profile for either of those problems. 

I guess painful ovarian cyst ruptures most often happen to young women in their teens or early 20s. Since I've never had one happen before, it's unusual to have a first occurrence in my 40s, or so I was told by both the ultrasound tech and the ER doc. It can happen, but it's unusual.

On the other hand, I'm quite young for diverticulitis, which is most common in the over-60 set. It can happen to younger people of any age, but it's unusual, they said.

So now I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping it was a cyst because it's the easiest, simplest diagnosis, and best of all requires no additional treatment.  I can take my pain meds if I need them (but I turned down an injection of pain medicine in the ER and also offers of a prescription for meds), but otherwise it should go away within a pretty quick time period.

Meanwhile, I found it funny in an ironic kind of way that I think I've set a new personal record for speed in meeting my annual health insurance deductible. 


Happy new year, everyone!