Monday, September 6, 2010

I think I have decided...

that I have too many blogs. Clearly I do not keep up with this one. I am going to leave it here, because maybe there is something in it that will be useful for someone who is having similar experiences. But it's just too much to keep up with. If you enjoy my nonsense, you can keep up with me over at my everything blog, OK, all together now! You can seek out posts of interest through my tags.

hearts,
me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I have measured out my life in fluid ounces...

You may be wondering why you haven't heard any more about my kidney stone troubles. As it turns out, it's actually pretty hard to write anything clever, entertaining, and insightful about an extremely uncomfortable and often painful medical condition that refuses to go the hell away. So while I do still fully intend to write down every word of my experiences, it may be a little while before it all comes out. Until then, plain old blogs for you. But look! Fancy new background! Oooh, shiny.

So, yes, I am still quite, uh, stoned. I started out with seven, and to my knowledge - well let's say this. If my stones were a week, it would be Tuesday morning. About three weeks ago I underwent a fascinating procedure called lithotripsy - literally rock crushing - for the one large stone on the left side that caused all the ruckus. It's not as bad as it sounds. They crush the rock using sound waves (ultrasound, in fact) from the outside.

It was pretty bizarre. I laid on a table that was a lot like an x-ray table, and with good reason: it is an x-ray table. But with a sort of plastic hammock for a bed, and the ultrasound wave generator underneath. The last thing I remember before succumbing to the IV anesthesia (which is way, way better than being gassed, by the way) is having water poured into the plastic hammock I was laying on. That really did happen. The older machines required the patient to actually be submersed in a tank of water, and all of the newer ones require water in one way or another. Something about focusing the sound waves. Don't ask me; I'm not a physicist.

When I woke up my gown was damp around the edges, and I felt a bit like I'd been kicked in the back by a horse. That feeling persisted and got quite a bit worse throughout the evening, and I expected to feel terrible the following day. I didn't. I was tired, for sure, and it did hurt a bit, but it really wasn't bad at all. Beginning a few days after that I went through three days of terrible pain... and then passed a fragment of stone that was 2mm x 4mm. Eureka! Something to send to the lab, and at least it was a clear answer to all that pain.

Since then, not much has happened. My stent hurts like a mother from time to time. I saw some x-rays that revealed why - that thing is over a foot long! I had no idea. Not to mention that the rest of the pieces of the stone can't get past it, so they're just wedged in my ureter, pressing all up in there waiting to get out. They'll have their chance after Friday, when the stent itself makes its grand exit.

I have quite a mixed batch of feelings about that particular event. On the one hand, I'm pretty sure it's going to be a wildly unpleasant experience and that I'll be in a good deal of pain and discomfort for several days afterward. On the other, I have high hopes that once I'm over that hump I will actually be relieved of the pain and discomfort I've been in for over a month now. I've gotten to the point where I feel like I'm going to break. And I'm talking senseless sobbing in the shower kind of I'M GOING TO BREAK. Something's gotta give, and I keep trying to find a new body but the market is just so weak these days. So I suppose stent removal it will be. Happy Fourth to me!

So, to the Gods of Urology, I send out a little prayer for a smooth procedure with no complications... and as for me, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Is it ever that simple?

Well, OK. I have seven kidney stones. And instead of just having them blowed up and getting on with my life, I had to go get all scary ill and spend a bunch of time in the hospital. Come on, this is me we're talking about here. Like I could just do something normal and easy? So of course I'm going to tell you all about it, but because I like to pretend I'm a writer and/or because I like to try to pull something productive out of the ridiculous situations that get created in my life, I'm going to do so in a series of installments entitled: Dear The Hospital, This Is Not a Love Song. You'll love it, I promise.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Kidney Stones!

Spent all day yesterday in the most gutwrenching, agonizing pain I have ever experienced. And kids, I have been in some pain. When the nurses at the ER finally heard about the 6mm stone obstructing my left ureter, they actually couldn't believe how well I was taking it.

Yes, it's true: I've found a new and different way to be completely and utterly miserable. It seems that my organs have been quietly making pointy little rocks behind my back! And now the little rocks want to move around, which is not so quiet. Pure, pure evil, but not at all quiet.

I'm supposed to go do some crazy thing next week to blow up the little stone with the big pain, and then hopefully this will all be over...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Doctor 3.0: Prednisone experiment abandoned.

Well I saw the doc once again today. He... forgot that he put me on prednisone. I think he's having some kind of problem getting his nurses to transcribe his notes or something? On the one hand, I can't expect him to remember every detail of our appointments for four weeks at a time, so if the info doesn't get properly entered into my chart I can't blame him. On the other, wow, it's a little unnerving, no? If I was not the patient that I am, I could be royally screwed by that kind of dickup.

Anyway.

Once I reminded him that he'd started me on the prednisone, he asked me how it was going. Ha. And the truth is that it hasn't done much, if anything. (For the last couple of days maybe I've had a tiny more pep in my step, but who's to say why? It always goes up and down. I've certainly still had pain.) To which he promptly responded OK, then we'll cut it out. This surprised me, since I've only been taking it for about ten days.

But he explained that if it's not "a revelation" - and surely it is not - then it's just not worth all the nasty side effects. He also explained that this indicates that my ailments are in no way autoimmune. That makes sense: prednisone is an immunosupressent, stopping the body from attacking itself. Whatever's happening with me, it's apparently not that. Which is good - all the autoimmune stuff is super scary and degenerative, so while it would be an answer of a sort, it certainly wouldn't be a good one.

Frankly I'm happy to be off the stuff. It made me very nervous. The idea of my adrenal glands shutting down and shrinking, of my missing a pill having the effect of making me quite ill really wasn't sitting well at all. Of couse I'm also frustrated. Here's this drug that works "miracles" on the pain of so, so many people, and on me it does jack. Naturally. Well, so it goes I guess.

Next he wants to try the Cymbalta. I'm of course skeptical of this; it's in the same class as the Savella (SNIRs) which was already a try-n-fail. But he swears that they're significantly different. So hey, what the hell. I'm giving myself some time though, a couple of weeks to be off of the prednisone and then just not be on any new drug for a minute. I just need to rest, damnit. Especially before I start effing with my serotonin levels, which always makes me kinda sick.

Anyway, here's hoping.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An interesting article: fibro and diet.

This is an article that lists 7 "foods" to avoid - though many of them are more like food groups or additives/inclusions. None of it is news to me, but it's all good to think about.

They're never going to get me to believe that nightshade stuff though. Give up tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers? Why bother to eat?

http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-the-diet-connection

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cholecalciferol - doesn't that just sound delish.

Now about this Vitamin D deficiency. Foolish doctors aside, it's something I need to address. This requires knowledge; I'm not really into the "take a pill and hope it gets better" methodology.

We make Vitamin D3 in our skin, so long as we see the sun every now and then. It's this crazy complex process, of course; nothing in nutrition (or human chemistry, for that matter) is ever simple. When UVB radiation from the sun hits our skin, it's sort of a catalyst for a reaction that uses a derivative of cholesterol (yup) to make cholecalciferol, the first stage of D3. (Interesting: this takes about 12 days from the time of sun exposure.) The cholecalciferol is then converted (hydroxylated, if you must know) in the liver to become calcidiol, which is the "circulating" form of D3. The calcidiol is then again hydroxylated in the kidneys to form calcitriol - the final, "biologically active" form of D3 (a.k.a. what the body actually uses).

Apparently about 2/3 of the U.S. population doesn't get enough Vitamin D. This is totally hearsay (my doc said it, and my chiropractor called it an epidemic; I haven't substantiated that number in any way). But after I got my deficient news of course I did some research, and I came across many papers stating that most people don't get enough, and that the RDAs are probably way too low. Sure, there are foods that are fortified, but most of them have minimal amounts, and some contain D2 which is far less useful to the body. Seems that "Scientists" are counting on us getting out into the sun.

Which makes sense. The D3 that we make ourselves is far more abundant, and more potent, than anything we can swallow in food or pills. But of course we can only produce it when we get sunny - which we're all terrified to do thanks to tireless efforts of skin care companies and overblown news reports. Sun "protection" isn't just for the beach anymore: these days we have SPFs in our lip balms and our hand and facial creams. We've been told we must put on sunscreen before setting foot outside - thus giving ourselves no chance whatsoever to create any Vitamin D. (Frighteningly, failing to reapply often enough may create free radicals that could actually increase risk of cancer. Not to mention that some sunscreens don't block UVA radiation, which also contributes to skin cancer. When considering information about these products, be sure to separate fact from marketing.)

Skin cancer is of course a valid concern. But I don't accept the reasoning that because extremely high doses of an agent can be carcinogenic, the answer is therefore to remove that something completely. Clearly, our bodies are meant to absorb and use sunlight. We are simply not meant to bake in it all day long. This isn't so hard to figure out. Those of us who are the most fair do the poorest when exposed to the sun - and, interestingly, need the least exposure to sunlight to produce adequate amounts of Vitamin D. People with higher concentrations of melanin can spend longer times in sunlight without ill effects, and also need longer exposures to produce Vitamin D. Coincidence? Unlikely.

So my conclusions are pretty much the same as when I come upon any controversy. The answer is in moderation. Spend some time in the sun, but not so much that you'd end up with a sunburn without protection. That's my plan anyway. My hope is to spend between ten and 30 minutes getting some sunlight, at least on my hands and face, every day that it's sunny. (They say hands and face is enough. You know, "the they.") Because I'm so far down, I'm also supplementing. I won't go out in the hottest part of the day, which tends to be around 3-4pm - I'm usually at work then anyway.

As long as it's not raining, I'll go out on cloudy days too. Apparently cloud cover cuts UVB to about 60% of its normal strength - so it's still possible to benefit from the sun when it's not sunny. (This also means that if you're planning to be out and exposed all day, maybe a little protection would be a good idea for the very fair skinned even if it is cloudy.) Clouds also tend to cut down on the heat pretty efficiently, so if the day is nice otherwise and I feel alright, maybe I can stay out for longer. :)

As with so many things, it's about using some common sense and doing what is most appropriate for my body. At the end of the day, what else is left?