Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Marginally better.

I had to over-hydrate myself this morning for a blood draw (6 tubes - whoa), and found my eyes didn't burn so much. Of course, it's cloudy and cool today, and the pollen count has fallen from its insane peak, so that's probably helping, too. It's not as if my eyes aren't dry, they're just not completely parched and painful.

My RA was only bad in waves today, or maybe because I was busy I was just able to ignore it better. I do hate it when my hands throb.

My hip: meh. My left piriformis is killing me, in spite of fairly scrupulous efforts to never, ever twist my hips. I catch myself crossing my legs occasionally, and immediately uncross them. The muscle (and it's only the one) hurts worse than the joint, most of the time. I still have very limited range of motion. This is the first time I've had something happen where it really is affecting my quality of life other than just overlaying everything with a haze of pain. I really miss being able to sit cross-legged! There's no way I could do that now with the hip the way it is. Still haven't found a good way to stretch the piriformis with my limited mobility. BioFreeze.

Sinus pain/pressure: much better today -- yesterday I thought it would about kill me, it was a throbbing 7 most of the day, but that's because I didn't get nearly enough sleep the night before. I got a good 7 hours last night and I'm sure that helped a lot. Today, only mild pressure and short-lived pain reaching only a 3 or a 4. I'm tired now, and I can feel it more. I discussed it with DH, and we've both decided it's not brain metastases (heh), but it could be cluster headaches. Hope it's not, but I do have a history of migraines.

Energy level was OK today, I didn't have to work so hard to push through the fatigue. Mentally I feel quite sharp even though I feel physically exhausted, which is OK -- I hate it when the brain fog sets in, at least now I can still think.

I have to look at the calendar and figure out when everything started so I know what to say when I see Dr. C, the TMJ/headache specialist on Wednesday. This has certainly been going on long enough.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

even the tiny green ones are fuzzy

Hope springs eternal.

barely an inch long

No, not olives!

If they survive the heat of the summer and we get enough of a cold snap in the fall, we might just have a little peach crop this year.

quite a spell

I've been taking Arthrotec since Saturday, and haven't really noticed much improvement. Sometimes my hands are better, but they still bother me throughout the day. Although they don't appear as swollen, they still hurt. Some days (yesterday, for example), my eyes are fine; this morning, I could barely open them, they were so dry. That's what I get for neglecting to put drops in before I went to sleep. As far as I can tell, that problem is unrelated to how well hydrated I am, the pollen count, or cosmetics.

The hip is a problem. Tuesday's modified workout (no bike, no running) seemed to help everything else and not aggravate the hip. I worked out somewhat less carefully yesterday, hoping for more improvement, only to be rewarded with an excruciatingly painful hip. Tylenol, ice, and Lidocaine patches are barely taking the edge off. Sitting, standing, and lying down are equally painful. At the same time, the muscle problems that usually accompany my bad hip are not bad at all -- I think the Arthrotec is helping there.

In other news, the hip x-ray was normal. I don't think bursitis shows up on x-rays. I'm relieved that there's no bone damage or bone metastases, although it would be weird if there were, considering how suddenly this all came on.

My theory is that I just overdid it in my preparations for Easter, when I was very active and on my feet for two very long days. My symptoms didn't kick in right away -- Easter was a great day, it was really not until Tuesday that I started feeling miserable -- but that's the only "event" I can point to that might have triggered the flare. OTOH, I have vacuumed the entire house before without these horrible effects, so maybe that's not it.

The Arthrotec is definitely helping my neck, although I've a muscle in my left shoulder that feels rock-like most of the time, no matter how much I stretch and massage it. It also seems to be helping my stomach, at least on the gastroparesis front, although it does make me feel pukey for a couple of hours after I take it, even taking it with food. That side effect is supposed to diminish after a week -- here's hoping.

The blocked/congested left sinus situation persists; the Arthrotec is taking the edge off that, too. I'm wearing my speaking splint on the theory that it's TMJ-related, but so far it hasn't made any difference at all.

The purpose of this is not to whine, the purpose is to keep track of my various symptoms during this active treatment phase so I can see what, if anything, is working. Here's the whining part: I'm not sleeping well (no surprise), and I still haven't heard about either my practicum placement or my job application.

On the positive side, RE classes are swiftly drawing to a close, and DS2 will receive his sacraments April 24. I made the most awesome "donut muffins", cinnamon butter puffs from my beloved The Breakfast Book. And I've backed up my entire website in preparation for porting this blog to another platform. I've been taking naps in the morning to make up my sleep deficit, and I feel very lucky that I'm able to do that. I have only 2 lessons left in one of my courses, and 4 in the other (of course there's also that practicum to get out of the way.) School will be out before we know it. I'm really looking forward to summer.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

staying on top of things

The shooting pains in my hip this morning convinced me to call my rheumatologist. I had perfect timing in calling, because they just had a cancellation so I'm getting to see her tomorrow afternoon. That's practically a miracle. It has been quite a while since I've been in (12/08), so they've sent me a new patient information packet to fill out -- I'm not looking forward to doing the pain inventory right now, mostly because it's pretty bad. I was trying to scale the hip pain and decided on a 6 (1-10 pain scale), which for me, means that it was so bad that I couldn't sit still, I kept moving trying to find a position that would relieve it. Nothing worked, although it did calm down a bit (the ibuprofen takes the edge off), so now it's about a 4, constantly calling attention to itself.

My hands are bothering me, too, to the point I haven't even been putting my rings on at all, although I have them on now -- but I can feel them, they feel heavy around my finger, and the hands themselves are at least a 4, too. Sheesh.

At least today my neck is not too bad... it occurred to me that the pain in my sinus might be TMJ-related, although I have absolutely no TMJ-related symptoms, my jaw feels fine, no clicking or anything like that. Plus I am religious about posture these days, especially the set of my shoulders, because my neck injury has been flaring up a bit.

Anyway: Day 4 of the Z-pack and while the sinus pain is somewhat reduced, at times it hurts just as much as ever, regardless of the ibuprofen status. I'm not holding out much hope for that Z-pack, but I am considering calling Dr. C and getting an opinion from him. I need to go dig out my speaking splint and start wearing it, and see if it makes any difference, and I'll continue with my neck/shoulder exercises too -- not that they are helping, but they're certainly not hurting.

My stomach is 'eh' these days. Easter was ridiculous, how much I ate -- and drank (mimosas!) -- but I didn't feel sick at all. I've been good since then, although not totally low carb (6 jellybeans last night, a couple of tiny lemon squares in the afternoon) -- but not crazy eating, either. I'm not paying any attention to my weight since my hands are so swollen, I have no way to evaluate how accurate it is, but it is nearly as high as it was when I started my "diet". Some days I feel normal, like I can eat anything I want and be fine, other days I feel as if nothing's working properly and I should stick with a liquid diet. (On that note, the Gold Standard vanilla ice cream flavor whey + cocoa + DaVinci sf dark cherry syrup = insane deliciousness.) I actually bought gum today, in the hope that chewing some would help my stomach wake up while I was out doing errands today.

I applied for my dream job on 3/31, still haven't heard anything. Still haven't heard about my practicum placement, either. I don't like waiting.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

latest ows

A couple of things I need to keep track of...

I have an eye/sinus thing that's well into its third week. I let it go for a while but then it became painful -- I thought it was just a temporarily blocked tear duct, but then it moved into my face and is not fun. I broke down and went to the doctor last week, he started me on anti-biotic eye drops on the theory that whatever it is started in the eye. Instructions were to give a good 5 days, and if it wasn't better, to start the Z-pack. I started the Z-pack yesterday. No appreciable relief yet. My eyes are very dry and gritty -- I'm using the Refresh tears more often than I ever have before, but the eyes still burn all the time.

Coincidentally I had a follow-up with my ENT today, who anesthetized my nose and then scoped it (very cool gadget, that) and didn't see a thing indicating any kind of infection. No swelling, inflammation, discharge, nothing. He did say there could be a sub-clinical infection in the sinus which he wouldn't be able to see with the scope, so we should give the Z-pack a good 10 days to work -- and if it's not better by than, he'll send me for a CT scan.

I don't want a CT scan, for many reasons. First of all, whenever I hear the word "scan" my brain automatically goes directly to "metastases", which is absurd, but I've been living with cancer for five and a half years now, and that's just the way my brain works. Second, CTs are expensive, and third, it probably won't show anything. The ENT mentioned the possibility that it could be a nerve problem. On a certain level I'm pretty happy that everything looks OK up inside my head (at least the parts the doctor could see - nasal passages, ears, throat, heck even my eyes look fine), while at the same time I'm wishing this was just a simple, treatable sinus infection. It's not, and I know it's not, because I've had plenty of sinus infections in my day, and I can't recall a single one feeling like this and not responding at all to Sudafed, mucinex, sinus rinses and ibuprofen. All that OTC stuff gets a handle on congestion, drainage, and inflammation, and helps clear out the sinuses so they can heal -- and none of it has helped a bit this time.

So I'll just wait and see. Perhaps whatever this is related to this:

I'm in a wicked flare the past couple of days. It may have started before Easter but I was too busy to pay it much attention, but I'm hurting everywhere now, even on a steady diet of ibuprofen. I'm just keeping my rings off because my hands are swollen and I don't want them to get stuck. My left hip is particularly bad -- it has been bothering me for a few weeks now with limited range of motion, but nothing too horrible. I figured I'd pulled it working out and it would get better, but it hasn't. Pain in the joint has been increasing, which sucks, and now all the muscles in my butt/hip on the left side are all seized up. Which came first, the muscles seizing up or the joint pain? They are definitely related. I'm doing my best not to torque my hips around, which means sleeping with a pillow between my knees, never crossing my legs, and not curling up in a chair or on the couch or anywhere -- I can't tuck my feet under me or sit cross-legged and man, is that annoying and tiring and worst of all, it's not helping.

Stretching: the ones I can do aren't helping, and the ones I want to do I can't do because of that range-of-motion problem I mentioned. Copious amounts of Biofreeze gel help. I spoke to the 24-hour on call nurse at Blue Cross and she recommended I see the rheumatologist, but I kind of want to see the sinus thing through first. (Now I sound like my mother, who doesn't want to multi-task health issues.) Perhaps I'll call tomorrow.

Sleeping OK. Feeling a bit pukey from the antibiotics (I think, it feels different from the gastroparesis pukiness. No actual puking, though, as has been true for the last ~20 years.) Ate way too many sweets (too much in general) over Easter -- which may have contributed to the flare -- and am now back to eating sensibly. Was hoping that would have a more immediate impact on my general condition, but so far, no such luck.