Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Posts tagged 'my health'

An Update!

I feel bad, but I never blogged that I came home from the hospital. But here I am! At home, living my life.

Now, Crohn’s is a seriously weird disease. It doesn’t affect me constantly, and once you can get the pain of a flareup under control, life can be pretty normal. I honestly spent most of my hospital stay pain-free, watching television and sobbing over not being able to eat normal food. (You try eating nothing for a day, then only being able to have broth for another day)

Right now I’ve been cleared to eat normally, but advised to think carefully about what I eat because my small intestine is recovering from being as aggravated as it was. I’m taking steroids to treat it- no lucrative career in sports for me, I guess.

But things are normal. I’m not running yet, but that has more to do with trying to recover from being stuck in a hospital bed for four days with minimal food. My metabolism is insanely active, and ate through a fair bit of muscle in those four days- so I have my work cut out for me.

I’d like to say that it’s purely a fitness thing, and not a vanity deal. But I’m a little bloated right now, and I look wider than I want to be. I admit, I miss 25 year old Whitney’s figure. If I could get a little closer to that, I’d be thrilled.

Anyways, if you guys want, I’ll write more about life with Crohn’s. I’m working on a video about my go to ramen recipe, but if there’s anything else you think I should vlog, let me know!

Thanks again for all the concern.

Two years and a month ago…

Two years and a month ago, I was nearing the end of doing NaBloPoMo- which was doing a blog post a month, like Nanowrimo. That year I’d been getting cramps, spiking fevers, and occasionally vomiting. But towards the end of November, it was so bad I went to the hospital.

And after a lot of tests, and three days in the hospital, I was diagnosed with either Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis- they weren’t sure because the damage was so new.

Nearly two years ago, I had a colonoscopy, and they still weren’t sure which I had, just that I was suffering from one of them. The irony was that it was advanced enough to make my life miserable, but not enough damage had been done for them to figure out what it was.

But I was put on meds, and things have been fine.

Last Wednesday night, I felt a little out of sorts. I’d eaten a big dinner to carb load for my 5k on Friday and figured I’d just eaten a little too much. Shortly after midnight on Thursday, I woke up and began puking. I had stomach cramps and couldn’t get back to sleep. The process repeated itself all night until I’d officially emptied my stomach. So I went to the hospital.

Which is where I am right now. (Hi!)

I had a CAT scan, which verified that it’s Crohn’s, without a doubt. I didn’t get to eat anything on the first day, I’ve been on a liquid diet since then.

Obviously, I didn’t get to do my 5k race. We weren’t prepared enough, so I didn’t even get to fill out the waiver so that TheBoy could pick up my packet for me, so I didn’t even get my tshirt for this year. Oh well.

It’s been tough. I’m not going to lie. Two years ago, the hospital trip might have been marginally easier, even though I had no idea what was wrong with me. For one, TheBoy had been working nights, so I was used to sleeping alone. So being alone in a hospital bed wasn’t such a big deal. This time, I’m feeling the absence of the weight of someone in a bed next to me, the warmth of another person. Also, both of the Kidlets weren’t very attached to me. Oldest Kidlet’s always been pretty independent and not much of a cuddler. Little Kidlet was firmly attached to my mother-in-law, so both of them were fine with my stay. They just wanted me to get home, and to be better.

This time… Little Kidlet’s my Wolf Cub. He curls up with me for at least a half an hour a day, and I miss that. And I know he misses me. He isn’t much for talking on the phone, but for the last two days I’ve had 5 minute long conversations with him.

And this morning, I had to miss TheBoy’s race. It was his first race where I wasn’t at the finish line… and I’m not going to lie, I cried for a long while about that last night. (He did really well, btw! He did his 10k in 55:43- that’s with a pace of 8:58 – which is amazing. I’m so proud)

So it’s been hard. I’m doing better now- but it’s been tough at times, and I know that a big part of it has just been knowing what I’m missing out on.

I’ve had a lot of support from all of you guys (even though I haven’t been posting here, mostly using Tumblr to update since it’ll post to Twitter). And I’ve been really fortunate that my doctors are really great (my gastroenterologist swung by really late last night- it was almost 10pm, I think) and the nurses here have been so kind and fantastic. Apparently I’m an easy patient. Which honestly, I get. I can unplug my IV stand from the outlet and get myself to the bathroom, I just bug them when I’m hungry or my IV is beeping at me. So yeah, I’m easy.

How I spent my Friday. Playing Pokemon X.

How I spent my Friday. Playing Pokemon X.

And I know that for now, I have more of this in my future (and probably surgery somewhere down the line). For the most part, people have been surprised that I’ve only been here once since my initial diagnosis. I guess giant flare ups are pretty common. So I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing right- other than trying to eat fewer prepared foods, fewer fast foods, and avoiding the foods that trigger me (which is dairy, for me) and trying to get a moderate amount of exercise in.

But I also know that I’m lucky. This flare up happened the day before a weekend I’d planned to be gone. My mother-in-law already had Friday off from work, so the kids had someone to take care of them, and had already been expecting me to be gone for one reason. So it isn’t like I had the stress of scrambling to figure out who was going to do what lumped on top of it. And I’m in a room by myself, with wifi, so I’m not completely alone. I know that in addition to my family, I have you guys keeping me company, too.

Sorry for rambling. But thanks for all your good thoughts… here’s to hoping I get to graduate to something beyond clear liquids.

Playing telephone.

Remember Telephone? That ridiculous game where one end of a line would say something like ‘pretty nice day’, and by the time it would get to the other end it would turn into ‘purple monkey dishwasher.’

For the last month of so, I’ve been playing this game with our insurance company. It started when I was getting bills from the company that handled my blood tests, sending statements that said that they were waiting to hear back from my insurance company.

So I called. Read in my identification number, said my birthdate (only for it to ask if I was born in 1918), and in desperation started shouting “Representative.” Aren’t voice systems fun?

And that’s when I found out a month ago, that somehow the insurance through my husband’s work had gotten the idea that we had dual insurance. You know, with the insurance from his previous employer. I talked to a very nice lady, and she corrected all of the claims. All 16 of them.

I got a phone call from my hematologist’s office asking about the issue, and called the insurance company back. The woman put a note in my file that I did NOT have dual coverage.

Yesterday I got a phone call from my gastroenterologist’s office informing me that they were running into the same problem. So I called back. Turns out that second woman? Put a note in my file saying that I DID have dual insurance and would send them the information.

I’m not sure how my I don’t have dual insurance turned into all that.

Hopefully this is all taken care of. I don’t mind calling to straighten it out. The woman at my GI’s office was more than surprised that I called the insurance as soon as I got off the phone with her to help straighten it out (she called me today to see if I’d called, to avoid calling them before I’d straightened it out). Which makes me a little sad. Are people really so lazy that they’d avoid taking care of these things?

Strangely, phone calls to my insurance company doesn’t fall under the category of things that trigger my anxiety. But I’m going to attribute that to calling to verify benefits back when I worked for the Oral Surgeon that was a Scientologist.

But I’m getting away from the point of all of this. How, if you work for a company that records calls for quality whatever, how can you possible manage to enter a note that goes completely against what was discussed?

I’m tired of playing telephone.

Note: Yes, I did work for a Scientologist. Yes, it was as weird as you would think.

[Vlog] Epiphanies.

Can you believe it’s Thursday already?

In this week’s Vlog, I’m talking headaches, epiphanies about writing process and I might be a little delirious.

Blood and Iron.

I’ve been working on a much longer blog post, one that I want to get just right.

And I’ve been writing. Lots of fiction, which tends to mean I don’t get as many ideas for this blog.

So instead, you get this, an update on my health.

My iron is up, though not in normal range yet. I’m still on liquid iron for the foreseeable future, but I’ve become much better at getting the straw further down in my mouth so that I don’t wind up tasting it. Liquid iron tastes like sucking on rusty nails with some dirt taste thrown in for good measure. I can’t explain why it tastes like that to me. It just does. (I’m sure that dirt would taste better, now that I think about it)

I’ve been cleared to run again, which is good. I’ve actually been itching to get out there again. And I’ve actually put on a little weight that’s fluff, not muscle. So I’m definitely looking forward to getting out there and resuming operation “get back in shape.”

Whitney of a year ago would never have said that.

Let it Bleed. On Second Thought, Don’t.

There’s nothing quite as depressing as filling out 25 pages of medical history for a new doctor.

On Wednesday, I go see a hematologist. This is probably 2 years overdue, since it was around 2 years ago that I first had a test that showed I was low on iron. But here I am, with my lowest hemoglobin count since I was hospitalized in 2011.

To be honest, it’s a little frightening. I thought we’d had control of all of this- and frankly, I feel pretty darn good. In 2011, I was exhausted, constantly. While I haven’t run in awhile, I have been doing yoga, eating right… and I feel like I have energy to spare. (With the exception of last week, and I blame that on Daylight Savings)

I’ll be honest, I’m hoping that I can blame my period for this. I’m sure I usually have a dip in my iron level when it comes to that time of the month, and I happened to have a shorter than usual cycle this month- one that coincided with the blood draw that started all of this. Is it irrational to hope that that’s the problem?

No matter what, my iron levels are low, and my blood cells are smaller than they should be- it’s been explained that my body is trying to make blood as fast as it can, so it doesn’t wait until the cells are fully cooked. It’s like Lucy and Ethel at the Chocolate Factory. My body is going as fast as it can to sort of get the job done.

If you’re wondering why I write these posts about my health, it’s because I believe we shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about when our bodies go awry. This is a problem I have, and it’s frightening to me, yes. But I know that there are plenty of people out there who are struggling with health issues, that feel like they’re the only ones struggling under the weight of it. And there are people who stop seeing doctors because the ones they have are dicks.

I’m lucky. I have a really great gastroenterologist. He listens to me, he doesn’t try to apply me to any mold. He’s one of the rare doctors who believed me when I said I didn’t have an eating disorder, and he’s referred me to open minded professionals. Ones who would evaluate me with an open mind.

So if you think there’s something out of the ordinary- like you’re too tired, you get out of breath. Go to the doctor, and be honest. Make a list of all your symptoms, and if it’s something uncomfortable to talk about (I’ve had to share way too much about my bathroom habits), write it out. But take that leap and talk about it. It might be really important.

A little over a year ago, I was dealing with cramps that came from nowhere and racing to find bathrooms. While my blood thing isn’t sorted out- my life has become so much more normal. And we all deserve that.

It’s been a year?

This week it’s the Santa Shop at the Oldest Kidlet’s school- where the kids can bring in money and pick out gifts for their loved ones, and bring them home wrapped. When the Oldest Kidlet started begging me for money, I was reminded of what happened during last year’s Santa Shop.

It’s been one year since I was hospitalized for extremely low iron and kept in the hospital because I had mysterious fevers and pains that needed to be diagnosed!

And it’s been a year without many health scares. I’ve had a few flareups. But before I went to the hospital, it was once or twice a month. So it’s been a really great year. (Even if I did have to have a colonoscopy and drink that HORRIBLE prep liquid beforehand)

I’d been so focused on the other anniversary coming up that I hadn’t even thought about this one. (Fair warning, things might just be a little more down here than usual)

Mistakes I’ve Made: The Wee Hours of the Morning

We had a lovely Thanksgiving here. The food was ready on time, everything was warm… and a lovely time was had by all!

Only I made the mistake of eating all the side dishes, two of which had dairy in them. Usually I (TMI territory here) wind up with cramps and other urgent type digestive issues. Back before I had the diagnosis, it would occasionally get worse, and I’d vomit for hours until my stomach was completely empty.

Around 1:30am, I woke up from a dream where I was in a world of LEGOs that kept vomiting little LEGO pieces. Every little minifig was puking. It was surreal. And woke with the feeling that I was going to throw up. And I did. Again and again. I went back to sleep, and woke up a half an hour later with the same feeling. And so it went up until about 4:30am. (Weirdly, the worst part wasn’t the actual vomiting, it was the panic when I’d wake back up with the feeling I was going to puke.) Somewhere in there, I was laying on the floor of the bathroom with a plastic container to puke into. Pretty pathetic, I know.

It was an excellent reminder that food reactions aren’t always the same, and that cheating on restrictions just isn’t worth it.

So please, while this was my own damn fault- this is proof positive that if a friend or family members says they don’t eat something… believe them. Cajoling them into trying just a little (and trust me, I didn’t eat a lot) could wind up putting your loved ones in a lot of pain. Just not worth it, no matter how good you think the food is.

I have a bunch of small Le Creuset baking dishes, and I think that for these shared holidays, I’ll just make my own smaller versions of side dishes and do what I do with LK- make them the night before, and reheat in the microwave. Because frankly- I love cooking, so a few extra dishes to ensure my own sanity won’t be much of a problem.

Thanks For Not Being Rachel McAdams

I’d been so good about posting daily, and then this week I dropped the ball. Only, it wasn’t quite my fault. Well, it sort of was. My body hates me.

For those new here: In January I was diagnosed with either Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis – it was too early to tell which one. So every so often I have flare-ups that send me to bed with ridiculously bad cramps. This was one of those days.

Wednesday started off well. I went for a run (more on that another time), go the kids to school and then in the afternoon- BAM! Enough pain that I was crying. Granted, I cry at a lot of things, but it takes some serious pain to produce tears.

On the plus side, I finally had the time to watch Midnight in Paris- the Woody Allen movie. It was a solid movie, and one that hit home a little- especially with my being someone who felt she was born too late. My family joked that had I been of age in the 30s, I would have had quite the singing career.

The movie itself has Owen Wilson as a writer who is trying to finish his first novel, already having a successful career in screenwriting. He’s in Paris with his fiancee and her family, who all look down on the notion of him being a novelist- since he’s already successful. His fiancee is played by Rachel McAdams, who isn’t so much the villainess. She simply doesn’t understand him, and wants a secure life with nice things. She just doesn’t want to support anything that weakens that.

But to me, it’s the most unlikeable character she’s played- because she’s the sort of person I’d hate to be in a relationship with. In fact, when the movie was finished I called TheBoy at work to thank him for not being Rachel McAdams.

Because he isn’t Inez at all. We’d been dating for years before we were married, and at the time I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. In college, I’d tried out majors in theater, anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology and computer science. None fit. While I was working full time, I started writing in my spare time (which at the time, I did have). And that felt right. When I finally told TheBoy that’s what I wanted to do, we were married with one child and another on the way. And he supported me fully. He’s always supported me in it, even when I feel like I’m going nowhere.

So thanks, TheBoy. Thanks for not being Rachel McAdams. (And for those who read this blog- thank YOU for not being Inez either. Your support means so much!)

Don’t be that person.

I went to my gastroenterologist yesterday. Things are good. No flare ups. I’m still anemic, but so far as health issues go- I’d rather hear that my anemia is my only problem, as opposed to needing more tests. (this is the initial post about my health issues for those who are newish here)

Today, however, I’m here to share you the story of the woman (I believe she was at or about her mid 50′s) who had the appointment ahead of me. As a cautionary tale for anyone seeing a specialist for the first time.

Now, the walls in this office are painfully thin and this woman was loud. While I was busy trying to read Mansfield Park, I was having a hard time focusing on Mr. Crawford’s shenanigans (and Fanny’s polite outrage) because I could hear every detail of this woman’s health history.

I won’t go into the details, but this should give you a rough idea of how it went.

“Here’s the file from my general practitioner, and here are the test results from the tests that he ordered.” That’s how it started. Promising, right? Then she veered off on a long tangent about how she was so worried that her medically necessary tests were going to give her cancer, and that they hadn’t done the right kind of ultrasound- since her girlfriend had another kind. So he looked over the results and started to talk about what seemed to be the likeliest cuplrit and how they could test to rule it out. All while she suggested diseases. Because she’d done research on Web MD.

“Oh. I forgot. Just last week, I fainted at the store and the paramedics said it was vertigo.”

So he went back to the beginning to discuss her symptoms. That’s when she mentioned symptoms that worsened in the last month. So he asked if there had been any changes in her diet or lifestyle. “Oh no.”

So he started to re-evaluate where to start. “Oh. I just remembered.” That’s when she mentioned that for the last month she’d been on one of those fad diets where you drink shakes for two meals and only have one solid meal. “But that shouldn’t change anything.” (This is the point where I had a hard time keeping quiet, because it’s a gastroenterologist! Diets can change everything!)

At which point he told her to go back to regular meals, and that losing weight was less important than ruling out her diet as the cause of the symptoms.

THIRTY MINUTES of this. Don’t be this woman. If you’re seeing a specialist for the first time, give them the tests and then tell them ALL your health problems. All at once. Not one at a time.

And stay off Web MD.

Please tell me I’m not the only one with weird stories like this…

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