Wednesday, November 6, 2013

PatientC Manifest

Welcome to me: the me before I even get up, the base physical me, the challenges in my day, and what I conquer, compromise, and coddle to get to you, Dear Reader.

There is the whole lupus/SLE thing. Because of two disagreeing rheumatologists, I am not currently on Plaquenil, which did help somewhat. This mess brought to you by a gutless GP (now out of the country, I think) that refused to override one of the two rheumys. This has been a cluster fuck since it started and I am just not surprised by crap like this anymore. We are treating some of the pain brought on by lupus, and I go take steroids during flares. Note: this should get taken more seriously now that my brother has been affirmatively diagnosed with lupus/SLE as well.

The fibromyalgia thing came along later, and I take an anti-seizure med to calm down the fibro spots and the electric pain that runs up and down my back (I envision my spine & back as being a big Tesla coil type thing when this pain is uncontrolled.)

These two alone can cause brain fog/cognitive dysfunction, fatigue, loss of memory, boatloads of pain, et al. They, and some of the following, are exclusionary diagnosis, which is a hell no on should ever suffer.

Even later came the irritable bowel syndrome/IBS thing. This is even more of a social life killer than the other two. While all three can have flares (and sometimes set each other off, what fun!), IBS flares usually keep me within ten feet of an accessible bathroom. So it is also horribly life changing but one of the more difficult things to talk about. USians are so weird about bathroom habits, we do not even have the language to discuss this well. I take an anti-spasmodic for this, to keep my guts from churning too fast.

In between the last two we found carpal tunnel syndrome. I had open carpal tunnel surgery last year, and while recovery was difficult (the family made it much easier than it could have been for me), the recovery from it was complete. Since then it has gotten worse in my left hand, and we found ulnar entrapment in both my hands. As this stuff progresses, I will need to get opened up again.

About five years ago we found bulging/herniated disks in my back. These have now gotten worse and I just found out that there is now spinal stenosis and arthritis happening in my spine. I have started using a TENS unit to manage that pain. It works, but since it does not do anything for the problem causing the pain, it comes back after use: a day or two if I am taking it easy, later that day if I am trying to get stuff done. Next week I will have steroids injected into my spine to try to manage this more effectively and help with the hyper-mobility and hypo-mobility that seem to be associated with the diagnosed problems (hopefully they are not new ones!).

All of that mess means that I take both pain meds and a muscle relaxer. They help, they do. No day is pain free - no day will likely ever be pain free. That is not even the goal anymore. This past year I have put on some weight. Moving hurt, I started moving less. When I moved less, I burned less calories. This situation has actually caused better pain management, so... umm... silver lining? Not really, but I am glad to do something about it.

Some genius decided I was depressed. While depression is often a valid diagnosis, I still argue that I am angry, grieving, in constant physical pain, downright sad... I still view depression as unreasonable sadness, morose without source. I am taking an mild anti-depressant anyhow, because if you do not, then they see you as "non compliant" and that greatly changes how every doctor sees you and treats you. Until they have little time capsules you can swallow and go back and make good diagnosis early, this will probably remain a problem of various intensity.

I am also avoidant, which combined with the lupus/fibro/IBS means that stupid social bullshit literally makes me sick. Stress can throw me into Flaresville if managed badly or unmanageable. I resent the hell out of that, but my resentment does not, can not make it any less true. I internally debate if it is ableist to get shitty with me for protecting my own mental health in cases of social stupidity. Take that definition with a grain of salt, though - it is not as rare as you might think to be a avoidant public personality. **cough** I could explain that, but I feel like I already screwed up telling some folks that I am avoidant in the first place. I have a med to take when I am getting too stressed, although it has a sedating quality, so I try to avoid it.

I think I am almost done.

I have been hypoglycemic for two decades, controlled through diet. 

I have a handful of allergies that make medical life difficult. One of them causes anaphylactic shock and can cause death all by itself. 

I take vitamins, but have to take Vitamin D3 for a deficiency and I take a separate calcium supplement to help guard against the years of steroids I will have taken should I be lucky enough to grow old. 

I have an unexplained spot on cranial MRIs that we stopped monitoring after four or so years of watching it.

I had a full (minus one ovary) hysterectomy due to ovarian cysts and unmanageable chronic primary dysmenorrhea (super awful menstrual syndrome). We did not know I likely had an illness that, when treated, could have made this more manageable. 

I had my tonsils removed as an adult, because we did not understand why I was getting step/not strep six times a year. We did not know I likely had an illness that, when treated, could have made this more manageable. Again.

I used to have a handful of kidney/UTI trouble. I almost lost a kidney in grade
school because I did not run the fever they expected and so no one treated me. My low body temp/fevers plagues me even still. 

Oh, and there is the TMJ thing, which I only notice when it is really bad. Couple that with really soft teeth, a really dry, small mouth, and you have a recipie for disaster. Anyone that tells you that dental insurance is not as necessary as health coverage is lying through their... whatever. On the up side, my dentist is all kinds of awesome. He makes sure that everyone in the office clinic treats all of us patients like we have cadillac plans. They are amazing. Which is good, because whenever I can use a dentist, I go to the dentist. Senator Bernie Sanders is the only person with visibility talking about the dental catastrophe that is happening in the US and working to help it.

And the migraines. Wow, the migraines sometimes...

Welcome to my body. This is all before I get out of bed every day. Make no mistake: this is not a litany of woes. Well, maybe it is, but you do not see a single "poor me" or anything like that. This post is not a complaint, it is just what I deal with every damn day.

(Wow, that was longer than I thought it would be. One day, maybe, I will go ahead and tell you how I got here, to you, Dear Reader.)