Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An Update

I’m writing to update my readers on the weird health situations. As someone who pored over blogs regarding Holter Monitors, Costochondritis and leg pain, I was always very happy to read updates and learn how things turned out for the bloggers. When there was no update I wondered if their health got worse or what happened!?

I went for the results of the 24 hour Holter Monitor this week and it turns out that it was completely normal (thank G*D). I have little skips here and there (like I did 8 years ago) but nothing above average. I teared up a bit (yes, I felt really silly but I couldn't help it) when my doctor told me this and he looked at me like I was completely nuts. I apologized and said I was relieved to hear that my heart was good because I felt rather stressed during the actual 24 hour monitoring period and for the last two weeks waiting on results. Again, the doctor looked at me like I was crazy and asked why I was stressed out about it. Um, gee, I don’t know...a few weeks ago, the mini ecg at the doctor’s office showed my heart had irregularities and was fibrillating (convulsing in English)??? Yeah, I don’t know why I felt stressed about this! Is it me or are doctors completely unsympathetic somedays? Anyways...he went on to say that my heart rate was 150 when the monitor was put on me at 9:30 a.m. and there was a little skip at that point. He also laughed a bit and said that the tape showed that I actually didn’t settle down till 5:46 a.m. that night morning when my heart rate came to a resting rate of 50 beats (which he noted was a little low but I was completely exhausted from stressing out all night and having 5 minute dozes instead of sleeping so perhaps I finally fell unconscious --- I’m kidding). No real explanation of why the mini ecg showed what it did except that it was a fluke (or the machine was broken??).

In other health news, I have completely cleared up my bizarre leg/calf pains. After what I went through last year with the pill, I instinctively stopped taking the birth control pill and the pain was gone within a few days. After two months of agonizing leg pain, it was gone. I reported this to my doctor and he shrugged saying that perhaps it was related. Oh, how I miss my regular doctor (she’s on mat leave). Somehow, I think female doctors are much more tuned into female issues.

Lastly, my costochondritis is continuing. Not as bad as a few weeks ago but still needing daily ice and anti-inflammatories. Some good news is that my regular chiropractor is back from mat leave (mat leave seems to be a trend among my doctors lately!). I went to see her immediately after the regular doctor this week (i.e. after I found out my heart wasn’t going to explode). Luckily, my chiropractor has experienced costochondritis herself so she knew exactly what I was going through. She concurred that costochondritis does feel like your entire chest and ribs are broken and that you are having a heart attack. She ended up going to the emergency department with her costochondritis even though she logically knew that it wasn’t her heart. It was great to hear that even medically-knowledgeable people freak out sometimes! My DH is a bit skeptical about the whole costochondritis thing…he doesn’t realize how painful it is and almost seems to think it’s a “made up” thing or that I’m being wimpy...ha ha, says the kettle to the pot. DH has been nursing a sore elbow for months now and I’ve been the utmost sympathetic to him!

So, overall, things have worked out, thankfully. It’s really quite scary when you have health issues going on and I am very lucky that things are working out. I hope this entry helps others who are going through any of these issues; I know that I appreciated other bloggers who wrote about their experiences!

Update on costochondritis as of July 1/09: much, much better. I am amazed how long this took to clear up. It started around April 1 and I am only now feeling "normal". THREE MONTHS?!!? Yes, it's true. I am only now able to do proper, full workouts at the gym. I read other places that costochondritis can last anywhere from days to 6 months.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bread & Onions

Ok, I think it’s time for a fluff post so I’m going to write about this funny thing happening in my backyard – yes, literally in my backyard!

Earlier this spring, I kept finding bread in my backyard. I’m pretty sure it was from raccoons dropping it as they were passing through but I would think they’d pick it back up. We’re not talking a little piece of Wonder bread either. We’re talking huge, honking crusty loaves of bread! So large that I saw a squirrel try to pick one up and he almost fell over. I found bread about 4 times and then it stopped.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed our lawn was starting to grow back from our miserable winter. Sprinkled throughout the lawn, there were larger blades of grass that looked different so I pulled on one. It wasn’t grass. It was green onions! WTH?!?! How do we have green onions randomly growing in our lawn? We don’t have any green onions growing in our backyard and neither do our neighbours. Is this some kind of divine sign? Are we receiving some sort of coded message from God? Heh heh heh.

For fun, I looked up what bread and onions symbolize:

Bread - The Lord's Prayer contains the line “Give us today our daily bread”; here, “bread” is commonly understood to mean necessities in general. In Egyptian the word for bread means literally “life”.

Onions - The Ancient Egyptians worshipped the onion, believing that its spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life.

So I can summarize that the mysterious appearance of bread and onions in my backyard means we are receiving is “life”???

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy 100th Birthday to Me

I’m becoming a hypochondriac.

I‘ve been debating with myself about writing on this topic because some people just wouldn’t believe the weird stuff that has been going on with me health-wise and I’m beginning to feel like a hypochondriac. However, I’ve found myself reading other people blogs about health in an effort to find real-life experiences. I know that blogs aren’t substitutes for real medical advice or facts but it is oddly comforting to hear other people’s experiences (one of my main reasons for starting this blog was to share my experience of having a parent with Alzheimers!). I also find that if I read the “real” medical sites too much, I end up freaking myself out way too much!

In late January, we got new workstations at work. This new desk threw my back out (I’ve had back issues in the past so it’s not hard to tick my back off!). In mid-March, I went to the chiropractor to get my back adjusted as it got that painful.

After a few chiropractor visits, I found my back was feeling better but I had an odd sensation in my chest. It felt exactly like I had a cool (as in temperature) medal or large coin resting on top of my left breast. It was freaky. I poked around at it and found a point near my collarbone that was painful if I pressed on it. It was also a bit hard to breathe but that could have been unrelated as I have allergies and it’s spring. I was also feeling weird aches and pains in my calves. I was taking Advil and using a hot or cold compress constantly.

After about a week of this, I went to see my family doctor (who’s on mat leave so it was a replacement). He listened to my heart, took my blood pressure and poked around. He advised that he thought it was costochondritis (or chest inflammation in English) most likely caused by my back issues creeping over my shoulder and around my ribs. He also ordered an ecg and chest x-ray just to be sure but those results would take a while. Of course, the doctor’s office has that “we’ll call you if we need to follow up” policy which drives me nuts. I’d like a call either way just because I worry about my file being misplaced or misfiled.

Another week went by with similar symptoms and no phone call from the doctor’s office so I thought I’d book a follow-up with my doctor. The first available appointment was in a month. YES, A MONTH – Canada apparently has a shortage of family doctors. I booked it but was feeling really frustrated. I imagined that I’d go to this appointment in a MONTH and get more testing ordered and end up dragging this out forever. I wanted answers now because I was in pain and worried but didn’t feel like I warranted a trip to the emergency room.

Totally frustrated with the health system, I decided to take matters into my own hands. My employer has a contract with a private medical office where you can go get checked out head-to-toe for a fee which you can get deducted off your paycheque in reasonable amounts. I booked an appointment and went to this place. By then, the sensation in my chest had moved down and centre a bit and my ribs were a bit sore. My calves were continuing to ache. They ran a bunch of tests on me and found absolutely nothing. They diagnosed my chest pain as costochondritis and shrugged at my leg pain. Other than that, NOTHING. I was the picture of health.

In the meantime, I had kept that follow-up appointment with my doctor booked. It was another 3 weeks away but I thought I’d keep it just in case. Thank goodness I did. My chest and calves were continuing to have pain and ache like crazy. I deducted that perhaps it was the birth control pill causing the leg pain because of the havoc it caused last year with my blood pressure and it’s the only medication that I’m on. I am on a different pill this time but maybe my body just isn’t agreeing with the pill in general anymore after so many years.

The doctor opens our visit with “so you got my message that I needed to see you?” Umm…no? Turns out reception was supposed to call me for a follow-up appointment but saw that I was already booked so left it. Nice. Anyways, he goes on to say that there were some irregularities in my ecg from the last time I was there and he’d like me to go on a 24 hour Holter monitor to look into this further. I said I did this years ago in 2001 when the Dr (who is on mat leave right now) thought she heard something odd during my yearly checkup. It turned out to be nothing heart skips or flutters now & then and it's ok. It’s also interesting that no irregularities showed up at the private clinic but that’s the way irregularities go…it’s sometimes hard to catch them on tape. This Dr said would like me to do it again as things change. UGH!!!!!

Regarding the achy legs: nothing conclusive. The Dr thinks the birth control pill may be the cause (you know how that thing might cause everything under the sun) but is not 100% sure. He said of course I could go off the pill again or change to something else but we'll discuss that again when I come in for results of 24 hour Holter monitor.

I felt quite frustrated about this appointment afterwards. Not only did they not call me (which is something I'm always thinking could happen) but I seem to be repeating a test from 8 yrs ago and even though it's probably the same thing again, it's still freaking me out.

This past weekend, I wore the 24 hour Holter monitor and I’m sure my anxiety level about the whole thing must have screwed up the readings. I barely slept overnight and could feel that I was all worked up to the point that I could feel myself pulsing. Now I have to wait 2 weeks for the results to be read by the hospital and for my doctor to see them (I booked the follow-up right away this time knowing that it’s impossible to get an appointment).

In the meantime, my back pain has subsided but my chest is still bugging me a bit. You wouldn’t believe how much pain this apparent costochondritis causes. I was convinced at some points that I was having a heart attack because the pain was so bad. Now I just seem to have really odd discomfort in my lower left ribs and abdomen which I ice every evening. Sometimes, it feels like things are out of place in that area (I know that sounds weird but it’s the only way I can describe it).

I’ve been considering stopping the birth control pill but this past week confirmed that idea. I started feeling pins and needles in the side of my face and could literally feel my pulse in my head (no, I was not hung over!)….and was overall just feeling SOOOO crappy with no apparent reason. So, I’ve stopped taking the birth control pill and the aching in my legs has definitely gotten a bit better. The pins and needles haven’t come back but I’m still feeling rather “pulsy” where I can almost feel myself pulsing. I know it’s only been 5 days but I also noticed last month that my calves stopped aching when I was on my period (when you don’t take pills). Weird eh?

So I hope this entry reaches someone who has gone through or is currently going through some weird health issues. Over the past while, I’ve felt like I’m 100 years old. I’ve had the most bizarre aches & pains and you can often find me in bed by 9 pm most nights with an ice or heat pack and Advil. I feel like such a hypochondriac and I often say I’m okay to friends or family because I don’t want them thinking I’m nuts. But here on my blog, I tell it like it is!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother’s Day

Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day without my mom. It was hard. Like any “first” that I’ve experienced in this past year, I mostly got through the day by just pretending it was an ordinary day. A few times it hit me and I got a bit teary-eyed but overall, I think I did well.

Until this year, I never really noticed just how much advertising goes on for Mother’s Day in the couple of weeks leading up to it. I think that bugged me more than the day itself.

I saw one of my siblings for lunch which was okay. The other one was too busy with his/her life which was a bit sad to me. In a perfect world, it would have been nice if the 3 kids could have acknowledged the day together somehow but hey, we’re talking about my dysfunctional group so what did I expect!? We didn’t function properly for Easter either so why be normal for Mother’s Day?

DH & I went to see his parents for dinner and it was okay. Truthfully, I didn’t really want to go. In ways, I felt like I was disrespecting my mom by “celebrating” the day with DH’s mom. I know that sounds a bit nutty but it’s true.

I considered visiting the cemetery on the weekend but decided to postpone it for another weekend. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day at the cemetery are insane. I’ve been there on Father’s Day before and it was just a zoo. You get no privacy for your visit and the place is just way overcrowded. They actually hire police to direct traffic in and out of the cemetery – that’s how bad it gets.

Today at work, many people were discussing how their Mother’s Days were and around noon, I wished I had taken the day off like I had thought about. I realize people lose track of who’s parents are alive so I didn’t take huge offense to people asking me what I did for Mother’s Day but ugh it felt horrible answering. Thank G*D this day is over.