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29 October 2011 @ 05:36 pm
Saw the eye surgeon yesterday for initial visit about removing cataracts. He was arrogant about his abilities but then, a lot of surgeons are. Maybe you have to be cocky to have the nerve to cut into the human body without sweating about it.

They are going to start on the right eye. The cataracts will be removed and a "toric lens" added. The lens is supposed to correct my vision so that I don't need glasses at all. That would be a miracle. I've needed glasses since I was twelve.

However, the insurance won't cover the lens, so that's $1000 per eye, plus our co-pay on the surgery. Ouch. On both eyes. Steve keeps reassuring me "It doesnt matter" then he goes on about how expensive it is. It makes me feel ill just to think about the money but I don't see a way around it. I'm nearly blind in my right eye as it is, by now.

The doc also wanted to refer me to a plastic surgeon to lift my eyelids, in theory because drooping eyelids affect your peripheral vision. It seems to me most likely it's because they have a plastic surgeon associated with their practice and there is money to be made. Surprisingly, it seems insurance covers it.

I'm not sure if I'll do that part or not. On the one hand, while I wouldn't mind having younger looking eyes, it's not like I worry about it much. Now, if there was a way that I could convince the insurance company a saggy chin affects my eyes, I'd be down at the surgeon the next day with a dotted line already drawn where I remember my jawline being. Alas, the doctor said there wasn't a chance. I thought not. Sigh.
21 July 2011 @ 05:07 pm
This is what I thought would happen at the urologist when I followed up on the kidney stone: he would make me pee in a cup, then probe my adomen for sore spots. He would tell me to stay hydrated, avoid salty foods and stop smoking. Then he'd send me on my merry way.

This is what actually happened: He said he was not at all sure the kidney stone is what caused the pain or the blood in the urine. The CT scan showed it was a very small stone and that it hadn't been in a position to get moving. He also mentioned there is no pain killer that is specifically for kidney stone pain, so when the nurse said they were giving me one, that wasn't true. He thought it would be a good idea to check that there was no tumor in my bladder and to check the urine sample for abnormal cells. So, back to him in August for a cystoscope.

I'd be freaked out but I am beyond it at this point. The last six weeks have been a steady stream of malfunctioning systems and I just can't bring myself to panic about it all, at the moment. True, my lack of anxiety is probably related to the xanex I took prior to going to the appointment but, if so, good for the xanex.

To be honest, I don't think I do have a tumor in my bladder. Partially because I have been ultra-sounded three times in the last two weeks, as well as having an abdominal CT scan and surely anything dire would have shown up. And partially because... I dunno. I just don't think I do. I am far more suspicious about my digestive tract being wonky.

And as for that, I thought it over and decided there were just too many things that bothered me about the gastroenterologist I saw, so I'm going to find another one. I've never done that before but he was just so hard to understand, seemed kind of spacey, and then his nurse wouldn't listen to me when I told her I had severe doubts about one of the preparations for the test. Steve confirmed he thought the doc seemed kind of out of it, and that clinches it. I hope I can find one that doesn't involve a drive to Sacramento. We'll see. I'm dreading making the call to cancel with the old one because I don't want to hurt his feelings, but I guess he'll live.
19 July 2011 @ 08:05 pm

Doctor appointments and doctor appointments and doctor appointments. I think I'm starting to suffer from a tiny degree of post-traumatic stress.

I think the kidney stone is gone. I still occasionally get a twinge in the kidney area but I believe that's just healing since it isn't persistant or too god-awful. Haven't needed a painkiller since last week, so that's good.

The OB-GYN gave me good news and after another ultra-sound, said the mass by my right ovary was just a benign fibrous mass. Fairly large but not uncommon for women of my age, and nothing to worry about unless it starts hurting for some reason. So that's a big relief.

The gastroenterologist scheduled me for a colonoscopy.  I tried to tell the nurse who gave me the prep instructions that the last time I tried to drink a gallon of "Golytely" for the test, I spent all night throwing up and couldn't do the test. She just didn't hear me. "Take it with CrystalLite added." I wasn't saying it wasn't tasty. I was saying it made me ill. Shrug. Guess I'll try again and hope for better results. I was bothered that when probing my abdomen, the doc found a tender spot on my right side I didn't know I had. So now there's another CT scan to schedule, and blood tests, then the colonoscopy.

Urologist Thursday to follow up on the kidney stone, then the rheumatologist Friday for my normal two-month check up.

I'm glad I typed this up. I've been having a bit of trouble with panic attacks at home in the evening which is rare for me. But now that I read back, no wonder I'm more anxious than usual. I feel like too many things are getting shaky too close to each other. I hope I wasn't born with an especially limited warranty.

07 July 2011 @ 03:21 am
The stupid, stupid kidney stone still hasn't gone on its merry way. I've been following instructions and drinking three quarts of water a day but it's taking its own sweet time to move on. Last two days were identical, so I guess I can anticipate the same today. Wake up in wee hours of the morning feeling queasy. Keep myself occupied till about five in the morning, when it's gotten bad enough I take the anti-nausea drug they gave me. Then, about 8 or 9, the pain starts and I take an Oxycodone. I took only a half a pill yesterday and that worked, so the pain must be slacking off a bit. And half a pill didn't make me feel like my head was going to explode, so that was good.

Then I sleep for awhile and wake up feeling pretty good. That lasts until about 5 or 6pm, at which time the nausea and pain start bugging me again. I take another anti-nauseant but am reluctant to take two oxycodone a day, so I skip the painkiller. I don't know if I'm abstaining for good reason or if I'm just feeling more discomfort than is necessary. I do know I don't want to take even the tiniest risk of becoming physically addicted to oxycodone, and I hear that's easy to have happen.

All this grief just because of a tiny, tiny bit of calcium moving through places grit was never meant to go. In many ways, the human body is very tough but sometimes it sure can let you know it has a certain way it's supposed to work. It doesn't like it when that goes awry.
05 July 2011 @ 05:04 am
Well, I was wrong. It turns out I can panic in my sleep. Normally, it is a refuge for me. I either don't dream or dream of pleasant adventures. But last night, I had horrific, complicated, long nightmares. Evil demons and dismemberments and hauntings and possessions. Even when I woke up, it took me awhile to shake the fear.

Today, I want nothing to go wrong with my body. Here's hoping that wish is granted.
04 July 2011 @ 07:19 am
Yesterday, I failed to fully comprehend the psychological effect of waiting to be in pain. I know when the stone travels some more, it's going to hurt like hell. I know it could do that any moment. It's like I'm sitting next to time bomb but I don't know when the timer is set to click.

I think my best bet is to sleep as much as possible 'cause I don't fret or panic in my sleep.
03 July 2011 @ 11:40 am
Yeah, it's a kidney stone. Felt pretty good yesterday, though whipped. Last night slept restlessly and felt like I might have a low-grade fever. Got up about 2am and played Warcraft.

At 5:30am, I felt that dull throbbing pain over my left hip bone start again. Spent about five minutes in denial, then woke Steve up. "It's happening again."

"OK, let me jump in the shower, feed the cats and we'll go back to ER."

I was a little surprised he wanted to take the time to shower but I was determined not to let hysteria get a hold of me and make things worse. When he came out and saw I was sitting on the edge of the bed, sheet-white and doing controlled breathing, he was horrified. "I thought you meant it was just starting. I'm so sorry."

"It is just starting. It just starts strong. At least this time we're not waiting to see what happens and I'm not afraid my insides are exploding. It'll be OK."

And off we went for the hospital. I didn't let myself pant or cry. I kept doing slow breathing. 1-2-3 in. 1-2-3 out. It helped a lot. Unfortunately, the pain kept getting worse so by the time we reached San Andreas, it was at the point the breathing wasn't doing all that much. As suspected, it was a long wait to get in -- about twenty minutes. I won't lie -- there was whimpering and moaning. I think the worst thing was knowing that one shot would stop the pain and that nothing but red tape stood between me and that injection.

Finally got in and got a bed, and was given a pain killer within half an hour. The nurse said it was to help with diagnosis -- this painkiller was specific for kidney stones, so if it worked, that was the problem. It worked. I sure liked this nurse better than those on Friday. She came back promptly when she said she would and she didn't act like we were putting her out by being there. That helped. A lot.

There was a bit of confusion when the doc  first came in and said it wasn't a kidney stone because that would have shown up on Monday's CT scan. He came back a bit later and apologized. It had shown up on the CT scan. I have a copy now. It says the stone wasn't in a position to cause symptoms. It sure is now.

He explained that it will now travel through the channels to the bladder, and that will hurt a lot. They shot me up with more painkiller, this time some opiate or another. Then he sent me home with antibiotics, an anti-nausea drug, and Percocet. I've never taken Percocet but since the pharmacist told Steve: "Schwew! This is a heavy drug. Expect her to be asleep a lot," I have hopes it will be sufficient. I'm to follow up with the local clinic on Tuesday, partly to check that I'm still breathing and also to schedule an appointment for a colonoscopy, and a visit to an OB-GYN because the ultrasound on Friday showed a mass by my right ovary. Normally, I would worry but I'm not because opiates prevent it.

This is really getting to be a bit much. On the one hand, I'm very relieved because though painful, a kidney stone isn't going to kill me or require surgery. It's even a very small kidney stone, so that's good. On the other hand, I was just getting used to dealing with the RA and was pleased it was pretty controlled, and having something new come up is a discouraging. Ah well. I can't worry while I'm asleep and that's the state I expect to be in till Tuesday.

One thing was odd. About five minutes before the pain started, our fluffy cat, Muffin Proudtail, started throwin a fit. Crying and stomping over my keyboard and head-butting me. I thought there was something wrong with her but now I'm wondering if she sensed there was something wrong with me before I did. I've read animals can do that with some conditions, as if your smell changes and they know something's off. I'm going to haul her onto the bed with me and give her lots of extra pets before I drift off.
02 July 2011 @ 03:32 pm
Interesting. The ER doc just called. She said that while urine tests didn't show any infection, when they put it under the microscope, there was quite a lot of blood. Not enough to visibly show but enough there was something odd going on. So now she wonders if I had a kidney stone and that caused the trouble. So when I see a regular doc Tuesday, I have two possibilities to present.

I wish I had a regular doc. For two years we saw the same gentleman and it was great I didn't have to start my medical history from scratch with each visit. But the rotter retired a few months ago and went to live in San Diego near his daughter. Some people are soooo selfish.

Since then, it's a different doc each time and each of them is just 'filling in" and so doesn't want to tackle anything that can't be solved with a bandaid or an antibiotic. Guess I'll spin the wheel and see who's there Tuesday. I hope it's not a doc with a short attention span.
02 July 2011 @ 06:46 am
Had an interesting day yesterday. Got shot up with morphine. Twice.

Was sitting at the computer minding my own business when I felt an odd pain on my left side, just above my hip bone. I thought it was indigestion. Half an hour later, I realized it wasn't feeling at all like that. It was a solid, steady pain with a hit of throbbing, not the contractions that come with digestive woes.

I had had a CT scan on Monday because of some problems the previous week. Still hadn't got the results. Called the doc's office who said "Yes, there was an abnomality. Go to ER."

So then I was really afraid *and* in pain. Threw on some shoes, got in the car and off we went on the 45 minute trip to the hospital.

The pain was bad and, naturally, every time we hit a single-lane stretch of road we were stuck behind a boat or motorhome going at the minimum speed limit. When we'd get on a better stretch of road, Steve would floor it. As I told him, "If the cops pull you over, tell them you're taking me to ER and make them escort us." They didn't pull us over, and he just flew on the straight stretches.

ER was the usual nightmare. I was panting and moaning by arrival, and felt sure I was bleeding internally. Fifteen minutes in the waiting room and I was getting angry/hysterical. It didn't help there was only one other person in the waiting room and he was also panting and moaning because of a pain in his gut, and he also was getting the brush off. "Yes, we'll get you in as soon as we can" then back to the nurses gossiping about what they'd do this weekend.

I still have an image from TV wherein screaming pain gets you to see a doctor right away. Hahahahahaha. That is, unfortunately,  a fantasy.

I got a bed within twenty minutes. Within half an hour they had finally got a needle seated so when the doctor ordered meds, they could give them right away. Then I was left alone. And alone and alone and alone. They finally let Steve in to sit with me. And still the doctor didn't come and still the pain kept getting worse. I finally sank to crying out "Help! Please help! Help!" What I meant was... "Help!" In my world, when a person yells that, they mean it and you help them. Not so much in ER. In ER it means the patient in bed 6 is being annoying.

After a long, long forty-five minutes, the computer relayed a doctor's OK to give morphine. Naturally, it helped calm me down immediately but I was unnerved by the fact it did not stop the pain. It just stopped me yelling about it. A doctor eventually rolled by and took the info. She didn't think it was a bowel impaction and the CT scan showed it wasn't diverticulitus. The "abnormality" turned out to be "a fatty deposit we think is benign." (Personally, I feel that when a doctor uses the word "benign" they shouldn't just think so, they should know so.)

She scheduled an ultrasound to see if that and blood tests might reveal what was going on. More time went by, though the drugs made the wait fairly easy to tolerate. Ultrasound showed my female parts had a lot of fibroid cysts but, otherwise, nothing notable. Which was good, from my point of view.

Even better was that by the time I was back in bed, the pain was subsiding, nearly as fast as it happened. No digestive activity, so it wasn't a gas pain. I would have blushed had that been it but would have been happy for something so mundane.

Since it still twinged every now and then, they gave me another shot of morphine. It surprises me people take it for fun. The initial drug rush is awful and made my head feel like it was going to explode. But ten minutes of measured breathing and it slacked off and just did its job.

In the end, the doctor felt it was most likely a ruptured cyst. That certainly matched the location and symptoms and she said the ultrasound did show extra fluid around my left ovary, which would fit. The only baffling thing is that normally only happens to women who are still in their child-bearing phase and I am well into menopause, by years. Still, I looked it up this morning and if that wasn't it, I'd be surprised.

Over twelve hours in ER. Whee! Fun for all. I feel fine this morning, if a little shell-shocked and mistrustful of my body. Guess I'll relax when it's been a few days and all goes well. And I will drop the illusion that ER recognises screaming as a reason to hurry the treatment process, and I'll know when the nurse pats my hand and says "I'll be back with a warm blanket and a doctor," she means "within an hour or two."
27 May 2011 @ 12:46 pm
Another pet gone. Spooky Emma was found to have a tumor on her jawbone last week and today we heard from the oncologist. Had she had yet another surgery to remove even more of her mandible, she might possibly have had as long as another ten months before it regrew to terminal. We couldn't do that to her -- especially since she's never been the same since her boyfriend, Winston the Cat, died of old age this last year. No more surgeries. No more vet stays to terrify her. Now she's gone.

Rest in peace, Little Miss Gogo Boots. If there is any kind of merciful God, you and Winnie are playing and flirting together in the happy paradise where the innocent go. In any case, I know she hurts no more.