Tag: health care

Tonsils

So you won’t believe what I am about to write.  I am sick again!  This year has seriously been the worst year.  I feel like I just can’t catch a break.  I hate to think what’s next because clearly things can always get worse!

It just seems like a cruel irony to me that in the year I’m attempting to be my healthiest and most fit my body decides to go to hell in a handbasket.

When I was 8 years old I had to go through the terrible experience of having my tonsils removed because I had endured 6 cases of strep that year alone.

IT WAS AWFUL.  I remember crying from the pain and my Dad paying me $20 to take my medicine- wonder if that would still work today? 🙂

Little did I know that they had only removed 2 of my 3 tonsils.  Did you know that every human being has 3 sets of tonsils? (I swear I should get an honorary degree with all I’ve learned about the human body this year!).

The first is the Pharyngeal Tonsil (your adenoids), Palatine tonsils (the lovely suckers we can see dangling in the mirror) and lastly the lingual tonsils (these are behind the tongue and impossible to see without a camera.

They typically don’t remove the lingual tonsils because the tongue is a highly vascular area making the surgery risky.  Well, my friends my lovely lingual tonsils are pussy, red, and highly infected.  No wonder I have had a sore throat for weeks.

Evidently the rigorous amoxicillin regiment I went on in September was only enough to pacify the bacteria not make it go away. Gives a whole new meaning to my accomplishments at Slam the Dam– my throat was still probably swollen and fighting infection and yet I finished!

Now the doctors have me on a new antibiotic and with any luck (with this year I’m not holding my breath) I should be feeling better in a couple of days.  At least hopefully I will be able to eat again without tremendous pain.  There’s a thought!

I am grateful that I found a great ear nose and throat doctor and I must admit it was pretty amazing when they stuck the scope through my nose down my throat (they had numbed my nose so it didn’t hurt).  It really looked ghastly but I am sure a regular lingual tonsil would look somewhat gross also! (Honestly, it could have been worse.  It could have been cancer or a tumor.  Thank goodness for some good news!).

It is such a comforting thing when you find a good doctor who you can trust.  I wish I could find an endocrinologist like that.  All I seem to get in that department is people who don’t care and treat me like an assembly line or like ‘another obese person looking for a quick fix’.  It’s very frustrating!

I finally stopped going to my endocrinolgist in Salt Lake.  He didn’t listen or explore alternatives but kept piling on medication after medication.  The final straw was when it took them over 2 and 1/2 months to get my A1c score back last July.  I kept calling and no response.  And this I am paying $50 a visit for!  I don’t think so.  Even if I have to drive to Bountiful or even Logan, I have got to find someone I can trust that will listen.

Anyway, back to my lovely tonsils.  I actually don’t feel that bad. I was feverish on Sunday and had a temperature of 101 but since then I have felt alert and normal.  The only problem is that my throat is on fire.   This has made eating difficult and I have been forced to eat some sugar but am trying to keep it down.  I want to eat cold things so bad.  For instance, nothing tastes better than a slurpee.  I know it is so bad for me so I’ve tried to keep it to a minimum.

Its a real bummer getting tonsillitis this week because I have so much to do with the start of Poler and my other end of month responsibilities.  Luckily my employer is wonderful and flexible.  I am so grateful for my job in moments like these!

Please say a prayer for me that the antibiotic will work and that all will go well.

Thanks for all your love, support and for putting up with all of my moaning and groaning.  It has been a hard time for me!

Something Funny on a Stressful Week!

Every once in a while I like to post a funny bit or joke that made me laugh. This seems especially appropriate this week as the world is still here and the rapture hasn’t started yet!  If wackos can teach us anything it is to soak up each moment and laugh as much as possible.

In addition on Wednesday I am having eye surgery for my strabismus problem.  If anyone is available Thursday or Friday come by and visit.  I would love visitors. I honestly don’t know how much pain I will experience or what it will feel like but I am sure it will not be pleasant. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I think any surgery should make someone nervous.  There are always risks but I’m confident in my doctor and everything should be fine.  Keep me in your prayers and seriously come over for a visit!

This joke I admit is a little sexist but I thought it was funny so enjoy! (By the way, I think these could all be reasons I should stay away from home or car repairs).  Part of the reason I rent is that every home repair I’ve attempted has been a royal disaster!At my Dad’s homes particularly water problems have been such a nightmare.  Everything from sprinklers, main drains and other flooding has occurred.

It honestly makes me want to never be a home owner. What a hassle!  At least with renting most damage I do is not my responsibility but the landlords!

Anyway, enjoy something that made me chuckle. Hope to hear from you this week! (Phone calls will also be great!)

Signs that Your Guy Should Not Be Wielding a Set of Tools

Post-it notes stay up longer than the tiles he installed.

Your baby’s first word is “Fire!”

Everyone in the emergency room yells, “Norm,” when he walks in!

He gets frustrated assembling the toys that come in the kids’ cereal boxes.

The first thing every guest says upon entering your house is, “You smell smoke?”

He threw out three new drill bits before he realized the drill was set on reverse.

He tried to convince you that the unsteady rocking motion of the ceiling fan he installed is an oscillation feature.

The fire department made a special trip to your house to confiscate his wire strippers.

He wallpapers the room without removing the pictures first.

After tuning up your car, he insists that running on three cylinders saves gas.

Your neighbors stopped loaning him tools for fear of being named “accessories.”

Home depot employees all chipped in to hire him a handy man

What a Week!

Do you ever have those weeks where you think- “How did I survive it all and stay sane (or relatively so)?”

This has been such a week for me.  I feel like I’ve been collecting medical diagnosis’- like a stamp collector but with doctors! It reminds me of a carnival barker yelling “come one, come all- get your diagnosis while they are still hot!’

The thing is I don’t feel like anyone has given me much of anything.  I am the health detective on the case of ‘Rachel’s Body 2011’ and while I’m deeply grateful for my doctors, none of them would have gotten to this weeks conclusions without my copious notes, my obnoxious questions and my stubborn insistence on finding a result.

You see, the problem is many of my symptoms for both the diabetes and the eyes can and have been explained in a variety of other ways. Over the years I’ve heard everything from chronic fatigue to fibermyalgia, to dyslexia and the common cold.

My favorite diagnosis is when the doctor says ‘Just the lose the weight and you will feel better!’  As if I can waive a magic wand and ‘oh the weight is gone!’.  If reading this blog over the last 14 months has taught you anything, you should be well aware weight loss is not an easy thing for me.

The most frustrating aspect to such a flimsy diagnosis is it made me feel like my lack of health was my fault, that somehow I was misusing, neglecting or hurting my body.  For years I subtly bought into this idea but felt there was nothing I could do to solve the problem.  For some reason 14 months ago I decided I was tired of the low energy and the fatigue and that I was going to do all in my power to fix things.

Naturally I started on the obvious route- watch what I eat and exercise.  While this had some marginal results for weight loss it was not what everyone had told me would happen.  In 14 months of exercising I never once felt energized, excited or good about working out.  My body was constantly tired and worn out- even more so then when I had started.  I expected such results for a few weeks but after nearly a year it didn’t make sense.  The weight loss was also slow, slow, slow.

Let’s just say it certainly wasn’t the simple solution to a new me that everyone promised.  Knowing I had done the traditional route and it still wasn’t working I began seeing my endocrinologist in January.  He has been amazing and his entire office has been great at listening to how I actually feel.

In January things started to move with my PCOS diagnosis and treatment.  I still believe in this diagnosis and feel strongly it is something I was born with.  If you look at the symptoms they match up perfectly with the story of my life. Early maturation, unexplained weight gain, inability to lose weight,  energy problems, hormone problems etc.

While this was a significant piece of the puzzle I still felt like something was missing.  I still didn’t feel good. A side of me said ‘well, maybe that’s just how my body is- tired, haggard, weak?’ .  However, I was not willing to give up just yet.  I continued to keep track of my blood sugars and be super strict on my diet.  After 3 more visits with my endocrinologist we finally had the revelation of diabetes on Monday.  Like I said, the doctor may look at it as his diagnosis but I look at it as mine- my victory for my body.

The same story can be told with the eye problems.  I always wondered if there was something wrong with the way I saw things but when you see a certain way since you were born its hard to doubt it.  For some reason this year I asked the questions and have figured out the answers.

If you can learn anything from me don’t accept the lame answers like ‘just lose weight and you will feel better’.  How lame can doctors be!  Be your own health detective and don’t give up!

I can’t tell you what a comfort it is to know that this behemoth of a trial in my life was not solely my fault.  I’m not saying I was perfect in my food and lifestyle but NOTHING I could have done would have solved the problem without this week of diagnosis.  It really is a 20 year burden removed from my shoulders.

A burden I have felt since the first time my parents sat me down at around the age of 9 and told me I needed to lose weight and that I ‘weighed as much as some grown men’.  I will never forget that moment as long as I live- immediately I went from a floating little girl to someone who was unwillingly inflicting an evil on her body.

It seemed out of my control, yet somehow the world told me it should be in my control? I will also never forget the jabs, mockery and frustrations that came in each year that followed.  Eventually I worked out a self-confidence I wish all big girls had but I still deep down thought the weight and the fatigue was my fault.

Ahhh! It wasn’t.  I can’t explain how much that means.  I feel like shouting for joy and wish I could tell the whole world.  (thank you blog for allowing me to do that!).

I still have a long road ahead of me but today I am focusing on having the most calming relaxing day I can have.  After the chaos and emotions of this week I could use it!  I am listening to my Enya cd and enjoying the beautiful spring day (while working of course!). I feel like I’m in the ‘vacant and pensive mood’ described by Wordsworth in his poem Daffodils.  I did it! As crazy as this week has been I know it is monumental in my life and I did it! Wow!   Thank you to everyone who believed in and loved me regardless of my size, energy level or other problems.  You will always be my treasures.

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: —
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.

Strabismus Surgery

So the long strange story of my health continued today with a visit to a ophthalmologist (eye specialist).  As most of my friends know for years I have struggled with a lazy eye (the doctor said I’ve had it since I was born).   It’s a little hard to explain but it has always taken effort for me to focus on things clearly.  Once I have the focus I see very well but it goes in and out.  I also have terrible depth perception making driving, tennis, baseball other activities difficult.

In addition, sometimes I see double.  Since this is the way I have always seen for years I didn’t recognize it as a problem.  The only reason I became aware was about 5 years ago I went to the DMV.  As part of the eye exam they ask you to look in the box and tell them which side lights appear.  You can imagine my surprise when I didn’t see any lights!  Naturally in order to get my license I had to go to an eye doctor and get the problem looked at.  Unfortunately I went to a run of the mill eye doctor (that’s one thing I’ve learned specialists make all the difference in the world) and the idiot said ‘you have a lazy eye but glasses won’t help so there’ s nothing we can really do).

Zoom ahead to this year.  As you can imagine over the last few months I have become very aware of my body.  I have always felt there was something wrong inside me but could brush it aside as stress, fatigue, an illness ect.  However, this year was different.  I was doing everything right and still not feeling well, still feeling haggard.

About 6 months ago started noticing when singing music the words would get blurry and be difficult to read.  (the doctor says if I was a veracious reader before I should be through the roof after treatment.  He said my family may not see me for a week I will be reading so much!).  Obviously this was a concern so I went to an eye doctor near my gym.  I honestly figured they would be a high-class doctor because of the designer frames sold in the store.  With my insurance the copayment is the same so I decided to go for the exclusive looking doctor.  Unlike the lame doctor of 5 years ago this man did a number of tests including taking images of my eyes.  He agreed that I had a lazy eye and that glasses would not help. However, he did not agree nothing else could be done.

So this brings us to today.  On the advice of my doctor I went to the specialist, Dr. Petersen at the Rocky Mountain Eye Care Associates in Salt Lake.  After a number of tests he said I have intermittent exotropia or in other words, my eyes are not aligned correctly.  This causes problems with double vision, head aches, fatigue, and other problems.

To solve the problem he is recommending I have a strabismus surgery where they actually loosen and reposition the muscles in my eyes to make them align correctly.   While we have not scheduled the surgery yet it looks like it will be sometime in May.  The doctor said the recovery can take up to a week and he recommends I work from home, which is no problem for me!  (Can I say too many times how grateful I am for my job?)

The doctor said post-surgery I should experience a noticeable difference in my depth perception, head aches, fatigue and energy level in general.  Between the new energy from this and the diabetes shots I should have super powers!  I’m excited! (A little scared but excited too!).

the muscles in my eye(s) will be changed so the eyes align and see correctly

Well, I still have a lot to learn but hopefully I’ve explained this in a way that makes some sense.  This has been such a crazy, difficult journey but I am so grateful to be finally figuring these problems out.  I feel like a detective who has found the key clues to the big case- a case of why can’t Rachel lose weight and why is she always so tired?

Who knew the road to health was fraught with such peril!  Thanks for all of your current and continuing support.  Please keep the prayers coming. Love you!

Be Your Own Doctor

Today I received a reminder of a lesson I have learned many times- to always know my body and demand the treatment it deserves.

Obviously I have never been to medical school; however, my hunch is the training most doctors receive is to help them treat the widest swath of patients they might come into contact with.  In other words, they learn what symptoms to expect and what treatments to give for the majority of people.

Unfortunately my body does not behave like the majority.  If there is something weird, unusual or bizarre you can bet I will wind up with it.  I can’t just have a normal condition it is always some strange variation.

Case in point- my recent chest pain.  For over a month my chest has been achy and sore.  I haven’t felt great but not obviously sick (no cough or fever ect).  Obviously I knew something was wrong but I went to my endocrinologist and he said it was costocondritis which is a fancy way for saying a virus in the chest muscles.  He said ‘take ib profin and it should go away in two weeks.  A month later the pain is still there making breathing, exercising, sneezing, and most other things difficult.

Finally on Monday I had a meltdown (as I am sure some of you could tell from my last post) and went to my regular doctor to see if he could do anything.  He felt the painful area, examined me and then said, ‘Well, I’m stumped’.  I must admit I was very frustrated and upset (and even had an ill advised calorie binge- one slip up in 3 months- oh well! )

In desperation I turned to the internet and looked up ‘chest pain’ and found an article on web MD about how kidney problems can cause chest pain.  This alarmed me because some of the medicine I take can give a side effect of kidney problems.  I immediately called my doctor and told him I would like to test for kidney problems.  He said it was ‘a long shot’ but if I wanted it done, he would do it.

On Tuesday I went in and got the blood work done and today I got the results.  Fortunately my kidney looks fine although my serem creatinine is a bit low, which I am looking into.

However, the interesting result is that my white blood count was high and that means- da du da- I have an infection.  This diagnosis makes me  a little crazy because I asked my endocrinologist at least three times if I should have an antibiotic and he refused.   I know over-prescription of antibiotics is a problem but clearly in this case I could have saved a lot of pain for over a month if my doctor had listened to me, done this test earlier, and gotten me on an antibiotic much sooner. Not too mention I’ve had an infection growing inside my chest for over a month- that can’t be good!  I’m just glad I will start on them today so the pain will be lessened and I can get back to my regular routine.

Anyway, it was a reminder to me that nobody knows my body better than me.  I need to be confident in my symptoms and demand the tests/treatments I feel I need- even if the doctor thinks it is a ‘long shot’.  It also reminds me that I am the one responsible for my health and even with all their education, doctors today will not be enough for my freakish body to get healthy.

I have also re-learned to ignore what a doctor may describe as ‘normal’.  What matters to me is how I feel.  For instance, I don’t care if 79-90 is considered a normal blood sugar reading.  I know when I have such a low number I feel terrible.  I also never get fevers (even when I had my appendix out didn’t get above 100), and yet I know I have had fevers because I feel the fever even if the thermometer shows a ‘normal’ reading.

All that matters is how I feel and so I will continue to be a stubborn patient insisting upon ‘long shot’ tests and treatments.  The doctor’s should just be glad I don’t have kids because I can tell you I will be much more stubborn when it comes to their health! You can count on that!

Crazy Doctor

I think I would have been better off with Dr. Nick!

Anyone who is my facebook friend knows about the crazy experience I had last week.  On Monday I went to Provo for an appointment with an endocrinologist. My regular doctor had recommended  I see her because of my history of hormonal problems.  I don’t want to over-share but I have the following unusual symptoms:

1. Gained at least 50 lbs the year I went through puberty (the photos are striking from year to year)

2. Have been over 200 since I was 12.

3. I was an active child/teenager and yet the weight never went.  I was on the swim team in high school and a life guard but never went below 200.

4. Have been diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 17 which can effect hormone levels.

5.  Have other signs I won’t go into and recently had a bunch of blood work done and it showed some imbalances.

Given these conditions I thought perhaps hormone levels could be a piece in the weight loss puzzle.  I was not looking for an easy answer or something to blame. I know my habits are the majority of the problem but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other contributing factors.

With this positive attitude I went to the doctor expecting to be listened to and treated with respect.  Boy was I wrong.  The minute I got in with the doctor everything was rushed.  Even when they weighed me they rushed through it and didn’t wait for the scale to settle.  (it was one of those old scales where you move the weights over).  She said I was 287 but I know I am less then that!

Once I was seated she proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions that got progressively more strange.  Without taking a second to LISTEN to the points I have listed above she asked me about my upbringing, what kinds of food my mother made for me, how social I was as a child, how active I was growing up.  Then she gave me a huge lecture on the epidemic of  childhood obesity and told me my mother must have fed me bad foods and that I was an unhappy child, leading me to binge eat.  I tried to tell her this wasn’t true and that in general I was a very happy child and that my mother fed us good food.  We hardly ever went to fast food and most meals were made from scratch.  I also asked “if it is all my mother’s fault then why are my siblings twigs?”.  This received no response but more lecturing.

Then we got on to my adult life.  I told her I had lost 31 lbs and you know what she said- “I’d have to see a picture of you before?”  Can you believe that?  I was shocked that she didn’t believe me! Next she asked about my current social life- “Do your friends eat a lot of junk food?  Are they all overweight?”  I told her my friends are supportive and amazing, which produced a scoff of disbelief.  “Do you eat junk food, fast food? I bet your candy eater?  Are you a soda drinker?”  “NOOO”  I responded as adamantly as I could.  I even told her about my no fast food pledge, but she clearly thought I was just telling her what she wanted to hear.   Then she asked me about all of the diets I’d tried.  I told her weight watchers, american heart association, slim fast etc.  Her response was

“Weight watchers is the best.How long did you try it?”

“Around 6 months.  I didn’t really like it” I replied

“Oh that ‘s not long enough.  It has to be at least a year.  You should do it again.” she said

Merits of weight watchers aside, I couldn’t believe a medical professional was specifically endorsing a company.  Bizarre.  Then she became more bizarre by telling me I should watch The Biggest Loser because it would inspire me to lose weight!  I felt like saying “I have a blog talking about that show…” but she didn’t listen to a word I said.  From the moment I set in that office she had me pinned as “another fattie trying to get an easy answer”.  I’m sure she must get that a lot but in my case I was the exception to the rule.  There are valid signs that perhaps a problem exists.  And even if it doesn’t exist, I think my hormone imbalances are at least worth looking into.  No doctor should assume the worst out of his or her patients and everyone fattie or not deserves to be treated with respect.

Believe it or not the appointment got even stranger.  I have a birthmark on my head that guess what I’ve had since BIRTH!  I’ve had tons of doctors look at my head over the years and never has anyone mentioned a problem.  This doctor did about a 1 minute exam on me and then looked at my birthmark and said “Oh you should have someone look at that right away.  I would definitely have that taken care of?”  In shock I tried to ask why, what was the problem, etc and I got no response.  I’m telling you she didn’t listen to a word I said!

Finally at the end she gave me a prescription for a diabetes drug which she said “would help me lose weight.”  Of course, she also said “it has side effects like nausea and vomiting (maybe that helps with the weight loss!).   I am tested quite often for my blood sugar and insulin and have never been high or on the edge of high.  Never.  I felt she gave me this prescription because I was fat and it would be the magic pill she thought I was there for.  Of course, I have not filled this prescription!

When the appointment was mercifully over I left and noticed the doctor left with another doctor talking about “the surgery they  had”.  Clearly she was rushed and maybe that is part of her bad behavior, but I don’t think it explains all.  This woman took one look at me and made her medical judgments right then and there.  She refused to listen, she lectured, and she treated me with disdain.  Thank goodness I am at a strong point because in previous years an experience like that would have sent me into tears.  I felt so judged by her.  I’ve never felt so uncomfortable in a doctors office, or so marginalized by anyone in my life.

The entire experience had one positive effect.  Earlier in the day I had been with my trainer and my swim coach.  They were both so encouraging. My swim coach thinks if I keep up my current physical activity I could participate in a triathlon in May!  I told him “I feel like I have just as good a chance of having a baby in May as running a triathlon!  I can’t even run a lap”.  Nevertheless, he believes I can do it.

My swim coach, trainer, family, friends blogging community, acquaintances, everyone, has been nothing but super encouraging as I’ve been working to change my life.  They have all been the opposite of this mean old witch of a doctor.  I immediately told my referring doctor to not use her anymore and explained what had happened.  I also told my insurance company and got a different doctor to try.

Finally I called the office to get my records sent and complain.  I still can’t believe the receptionists response to my complaint:

“We get that a lot” and then she added “She’s from the East Coast.

I told her that I’m from Maryland and folks there still expect to be treated with respect and be listened to.  I can handle blunt, even rude but to be treated with disdain is not appropriate ANYWHERE!  I don’t care where you live a doctor should never pre-diagnose a person based on his or her appearance.   That is wrong and as an East Coaster I am offended  by such a lame excuse! East Coast my foot!

Anyway, it was a challenging experience that made me feel uncomfortable, angry, sad and judged but it also reminded me of all the support and love I have every day.  Thank you to all of you for everything.  I couldn’t do it alone.  (I’ve tried and it doesn’t work!).

Ps.  Enter my recipe contest.  I hope my list of comfort foods hasn’t dissuaded anyone.  You can send me any recipe you think is tasty.  It can be gluten free, vegetarian, vegan.  Whatever.  As long as it is good I will give it a try!  Send to smilingldsgirl@yahoo.com.