Tag: health

Better late than never

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I’ve written here.

2010 has been a very difficult year, and I’m fairly glad to see it on its way out. It’s mostly been health issues – one on top of the next – that have made it so tough.

The good news is that Dad is still with us. He beat Pancreatic Cancer.

Wait. Let me say that bigger and louder. MY DAD SURVIVED PANCREATIC CANCER. He has NO evidence of the disease, and is in the “1% Club.” Someday it will come back, but at this time, he is cancer free. That’s the best you can ever hope for with PanCan.

The treatment was horrendous, and he ended up in the hospital a couple of times, but he fought and he won. He officially got a clean bill of health in about September after a 6-week intensive course of 24/7 chemo via a pump, plus daily radiation, plus weekly “big” chemo. This was after an entire year of weekly chemo. He was beaten down, they took him to within inches of death, and brought him back.

What was equally amazing were the number of people who helped. I put out a message on a local news site and asked for volunteer drivers to help him to get to/from treatment daily (30 minutes from home for a 5 minute radiation appt!) and we had dozens of volunteers. Had to weed out a few weirdos, but not too many.

And now, he’s just gotten his first haircut. He’s almost good as new – still has to limit certain types of foods, as his stomach can no longer digest them. He’s got a bit of digestive damage from all the treatment, but it’s better than the alternative. So we’re very thankful.

I’m just now getting over the worst stomach bug of my life. 7 days of nonstop vomiting and diarrhea that only stopped for a few hours at a time when I went in to the ER or to see my doctor and got injections and IV fluids. It began much like a foodborne illness: Severe GI pain up high in my stomach (under the ribs) and then nonstop vomiting with diarrhea. The number of times I couldn’t deal with both ends at the same time were absolutely humiliating. By the end I simply wanted to die. I finally started to pray as I was throwing up one of the last times “Please make this go away – I can’t live through another day or more of it.” Something worked, because it finally stopped on Thursday afternoon. I had to wait 48 hours to eat, meaning it had been well over 2 weeks of nothing but pedialyte and jello when I began to try solids again. Holy COW I was hungry. I lost 20+ pounds in that week, and I’m just lucky I had it to lose.

Anyway, that’s all the health stuff. Tomorrow is my first day back to work after being so sick, and I’m hoping I have the strength to make it through the day. I’m still physically very weak and can’t walk super far. But I’ll manage. 🙂

More updates on everything else later.If I still have any readers left. Sorry I abandoned you all. I didn’t mean to — life just went sideways for a bit. I’m back now, though, and will get to writing again shortly.





When an abscess is a good thing…

It’s a liver abscess causing the trouble. They’ll keep him in the hospital til probably Wednesday. But he’s doing MUCH better, and this is something they can treat. He’s at Virginia Mason now, so getting good care from a team who knows what they’re doing — including his oncologist, who visited him today.

I spoke to him on the phone this afternoon, and he sounds fairly chipper. They moved him out of ICU and into the Oncology ward, which is great news. He asked me to smuggle in a cookie for him as soon as I’m well enough to visit. 🙂

So, the abscess. They’ve got him under anesthesia right now in order to put yet another port in his body – this one with a vacuum seal on it so that it is constantly draining the abscess in an attempt to collapse it. IV antibiotics are hitting it hard from another angle. He may beat the cancer yet. We’re taking it day by day at this point, and today’s a good day.

Thank you all for the prayers. Please keep them coming, as an abscess is nothing to sneeze at, and he’s still a very sick man. But he’s not in imminent danger of death.

Love and Merry Christmas to you all


My Absence Explained

Sorry for my long absence. There’s a lot going on.
First, L’s surgery went beautifully. I documented it all in Word, and will eventually post it here, back-dated, so you can read it “as it happened” so to speak.

The current stuff is not good news.
My Dad is sick. He has a tumor in his pancreas. Chances are VERY high that it’s malignant. It’s blocking the duct, and there’s a second spot in the body of the pancreas as well. Surgical consult is Wednesday and my understanding is they’ll go in pretty much immediately if it’s operable. He’ll be treated at Virginia Mason, where there is a Pancreatic Cancer specialty program that has a 55% 5 year survival rate. Anywhere else it’s 5%. He’s “under” right this moment, undergoing an endoscopic ultrasound in order to stage it. It looks like Stage 1 from the CT scans, but we’ll know more in about an hour.

The good news is that each tumor is only 1.5cm in size, and they’re not usually found until they’re about five times that. He had cut out soda and cookies and started walking, and had lost 60 pounds. About 2 weeks ago he started craving fruit juice, and was drinking over a gallon a day. Since the duct is blocked he isn’t getting any insulin, so his blood sugar was well over 500 and it made him really sick right away. His cholesterol was also off the charts and potassium was really high as well. He was terribly jaundiced, and generally felt awful.

Thank God he gave in to those juice cravings and made himself so very sick so fast. It means he has a higher chance that he’ll survive this.

Keep him in your prayers please. The surgery will have some tough consequences either way.

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When Gallbladders Attack

I’ve been a terrible blogger of late. Life’s been getting in the way, and I’ve had a lot of days where I have so much to say that I can’t find a beginning and so I say nothing.

Today is different. I still can’t find the beginning of the story, so I’ll start in the middle.

Five days ago I had the first gallbladder attack of my life. Tricky gallbladders run in my family, on my mom’s side, so when I had the symptoms and did some Googling, I knew pretty quickly what it was. But let’s back up a few more days, shall we?

I’d been using Sparkpeople religiously, logging my food and exercise and watching what I was eating. Then suddenly I had an “off” week, where I simply didn’t log my food, and I ate like crap – intentionally. Not because I was trying to sabotage my health, but because those fish n chips (or banana split or french fries or, or, or…) just sounded GOOD. You have to understand that I’m normally a fairly healthy eater. I don’t have much, if any, trouble eating 5-8 servings of fresh fruits and veggies a day, I eat low in saturated fat, and very low in simple carbs. Generally, I eat like I’m “supposed to.” I’ve had a nutritionist before simply shake her head and say there really wasn’t much she could do for me, except maybe add a bit of healthy fats, because I ate so well.

However, beginning about 10 days ago I just ate junk for about a week. Burgers, fries, cheesecake, croissants, ice cream, you name it I ate it. And “it” also included a ton of red meat and bacon, neither of which I eat much of, normally. Suddenly, halfway through the workday on Tuesday, I developed pain in the upper right quadrant of my belly area. It radiated through to the back, and up into my shoulder blades. It was rounded out by a healthy dose of nausea and complete aversion to food. My Google skills told me that this combination of symptoms could have been any one of a number of things, including gallbladder dysfunction or gallstones. When I read that, I simply knew that was it. It was a perfect match with the symptoms I was having, and it’s exacerbated by eating lots of animal-based fats. All the ice cream, butter, bacon and burgers had caught up with me. Clearly my body was NOT amused at my unhealthy eating that week. The pain was so severe that despite my newly-prescribed 3-times-a-day dose of Ultracet, I was feeling a pretty extreme level of discomfort.

I came home from work and immediately juiced a handful of blackberries, a handful of strawberries, a cup of red grapes, an apple, a large chunk of jicama and a bit of daikon radish. I drank it. Psychosomatic or not, it made me feel quite a bit better almost immediately. I also went on a fruit and veggies “fast” for the next 2 days, eating only fresh fruit, vegetables and protein powder for one day, and adding in a little bit of PB2 the second day, and then brown rice on the third day.

Friday evening I was feeling quite a bit better and tried a sandwich from the deli, without mayo or anything of that sort. No ill effects, so Saturday (today) we went out for lunch and I tried a soup/salad/sandwich combo. Unfortunately, that was too much. I have spent the rest of the day in pain and nauseated again. So I picked up some herbal teas purported to help with liver and gallbladder function, and am back on the juices. I’ve also switched from soy milk to rice milk, as it’s less fatty and a bit easier to digest.

I’ll have to watch what I’m eating for awhile yet, I suspect. Possibly forever. I’m off the animal products again, at least until this settles down, and will have to stick to the so-called “Mediterranean Diet” of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean fish and good healthy fats on an ongoing basis.

We’ll see how it turns out.

Any of my readers have experience with gallbladder issues? Did you try to control it with diet, or did you simply have the thing removed? I’m kindof partial to keeping my body parts, at least for now, so at this point I’m likely to just continue to restrict my diet. It means I’ll just have to plan ahead.

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First Dentist Visit in 12 Years

It’s been awhile since I posted. I apologize. Can’t discuss it publicly, but work has been a bit crazy. Suffice it to say I’ve been doing some very high-profile projects.

It’s snowing today. In March. In Seattle. We’ve had a long, cold winter here. This morning it started off as teeny tiny flakes that typically mean it will last awhile, and now we’ve got the big, fluffy flakes that generally mean a short, intense shower. So, we’ll see.

In other news, I saw the dentist this week for the first time in 12 years. Why wait so long? Well, I’d seen two dentists in a row who wanted to do massive work in my mouth — root canals, the works. One of them talked me into getting “preventive fillings” because my grooves in the tops of my molars were so deep that he was “sure” I’d get cavities. So I have 4 fillings, but have never had a cavity in my life. I have no idea what one feels like.

When I started having pain in one of my back teeth, with sensitivity to sweet things, cold, etc, and what felt like a rough spot, I figured it was my first cavity. I got some recommendations and went to a new dentist this week. Turns out it was just a spot where my enamel had worn slightly thin, and he was able to put a thin layer of composite over it to protect it. It felt better instantly!! He also mentioned that teeth can get inflamed just like joints can, so with my autoimmune diseases, I am likely to have the occasional inflamed tooth that will be sore for a bit and eventually settle down. 12 years of no dentist, and I had no decay at all. In fact, he told me I have “beautiful” teeth. I essentially got off scot-free. I attribute this to my being a bit anal about brushing and flossing twice a day with real old-fashioned floss (Glide Floss and the like do not do a good enough job), and using the “pick” style floss at work after I eat. I also brush once a week with a very soft toothbrush and a paste made from baking soda and peroxide to remove coffee stains, etc.

Floss Pick-Click Image to Buy

I go in next week for a cleaning.

So far, I HIGHLY recommend Dr William Raleigh in West Seattle for a dentist. He was quick, painless, and his staff did everything they could to make the whole ordeal much easier on me.

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Health: Massage Therapy

Just recently, I found out that my health insurance covers massage therapy. No limit to the number of sessions, and no copay. Just covered 100% with a doctor’s referral.

Fortunately, a friend is an LMP who just happens to take my insurance. So, Friday night I had my first massage. It was, overall, wonderful. I hadn’t been sleeping well for quite some time. I actually fell asleep immediately after the massage, while waiting for The Husband to get his. When we got home, I crawled right into bed and slept 16 hours. This wasn’t the drowsy “I’m too lazy to get out of bed” type of sleep, nor the fevered and delirious “too sick to get up” sleep. No, this was a deep, hard sleep that wasn’t done until it was done. And once it was done, I awoke refreshed and ready to get up. Those who know me, know I NEVER wake up “ready to get up.” It just doesn’t work that way for me. I love sleep and I love my bed, and I don’t spend enough quality time with either of them, so generally mornings are a battle.

Sixteen hours of sleep. That wasn’t a typo. I was THAT tired. Having the health issues I do, I am often battling tremendous fatigue. Lupus doesn’t play around; it wipes you out, and it takes everything I have to make it through most days. I am generally running on a sleep deficit most days, as my body truly needs 10 hours a night on a regular basis. Sadly, 10 hours doesn’t always fit in with my plans. At some point I will get better at balancing this. I’m better than I once was, to be sure, but not as good as I strive to be.

All that said, sleeping in until nearly 2pm on Saturday made for a VERY short weekend.

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Health: How I’m Doing

Some have asked for an update. I am doing ok. Still pretty sick, but hanging in there.

I managed to leave the house for 3 hours today to order our wedding cake and pick up the rings. Three measly hours of very low-key activity, and I came home so exhausted that my brain was short-circuiting. I couldn’t process things Luis was telling me, and couldn’t formulate sentences in a way that made sense. It was like my brain and body just shut down.

Clearly I still have a long way to go in my recovery, but I am better than I was three weeks ago. I can leave the house once every few days for a few hours. I’m still measuring my progress in very small steps, but there has been progress.

I’m still on breathing treatments twice a day for the heavy-duty stuff, and every 4 hours for the albuterol. I’m down to 30mg/day of Prednisone, and still taking the narcotic cough suppressant.

So, nothing dramatic. But that’s ok – I’m still going in the right direction. Baby steps.

Health: Fasting?

I’m thinking of going on a fruit & vegetable fast for the week before the wedding. The one I do a couple of times a year is fresh and frozen fruits and veggies, protein powder, oatmeal, brown rice and lean protein like fish or chicken. No extra salt, no processed foods (other than the whey protein) and no refined sugar.

It’s not intended as a weight-loss thing, but it always gives me an energy boost, and the high levels of nutrients give me a glow, I’m told.

Health: How I’m doing

Did WAY too much Saturday and my lungs are on fire. I was exhausted and went to bed at about 6:30pm, then promptly woke up at 1am and couldn’t sleep any more. Stayed in bed and rested til 4, but my lungs are really sore so I got up and am doing a breathing treatment. I feel like someone is sitting on my chest, and like i can’t get a full breath in OR out.

I didn’t do all that much, but clearly it was way too much. We hit the best barbershop in town and got Luis’ hair cut, got some lunch with our friend Amy and then went to Rite Aid and Sally’s to pick up two items. It was way too much. I realized I am like a cat and tend to hide how badly I’m feeling. Amy asked me if I wanted to walk with her to PCC while L was getting his hair cut. It was a bit under 2 blocks. I had to remind myself I cannot physically walk that far and that my doctor was ->this<- close to putting me in the hospital on Tuesday, even though I look like I’m fine and hide it well. I also realized that I have to be REALLY careful being out in the world. If I were to catch a cold right now I’d be hospitalized immediately.

After running around for a couple of hours, I’m toast for the weekend and suspect I may spend most of Sunday in bed. I’m tired of being cooped up, but am not well enough to really do anything out and about. It means I’m getting better, because I’m now better enough to give a shit that I can’t do anything. Heh. I guess that’s something?

In good news, my FMLA paperwork is officially filed and approved, as is short term disability. It’s good to know that I can just concentrate on getting better rather than having to worry about my job or income. I’m very thankful that I have a good job with great insurance and that the Federal Family Medical Leave Act is in place.