Hand Over That Voodoo Doll!

I woke up this morning with my 6 day old migraine wanting to come out and play. So, I took 2 Midrin before it could get a good hold on me and settled down in the recliner with my wiener dog to catch up on a few TV shows.

I heard a loud noise in the hallway that sounded like it came from the AC unit, but I didn’t think too much of it. My mistake!

A few hours later, I realize the house was too warm. I put my foot over a vent. Nothing was coming out and I could hear the unit running. Not good. Our weather forecast predicted a heat index of over 100 degrees today, and I have severe heat intolerance.

I opened the AC unit to see if it’s frozen up because that happens on really humid days sometimes. Yes, it was frozen. I turned off the thermostat BUT the unit didn’t go off. Oh crap. So, I threw the breaker and called the repairman.

I spent ALL day without air conditioning. It got repaired at 5:30. I’m thankful it’s fixed, but I was contemplating getting in a tub of cold water to stay alive. If not for the fainting risk while being alone, that’s what I would’ve done. (Because of course this drama had to happen while my husband was working!)

Also, in the middle of the day while I was trying to survive the heat and humidity, I was stung by a blue wasp on the upper left arm. I’ve never been stung by a blue wasp before! The red ones? Yes. Blue? Nope. Apparently, they eat Japanese beetles and only the females sting. I got a huge whelp, and my arm went numb for awhile, so I took two Benedryls. Thanks a lot, you jerk. I was just minding my business in my own bedroom.

The final episode of “What Else Could Possibly Go Wrong Today” happened when I was nibbling on a few Fritos Honey BBQ Twists. My blood pressure was low. I needed some salt. I was downing Liquid IV and snacking on a few chips.

A Frito went down my windpipe!

I’ve taken CPR. I know it’s a good sign when the person can cough. I couldn’t cough. I couldn’t breathe. The Frito was choking me.

I was choking on a Frito. I bent over onto my hands and knees. My wiener dog was in my face licking my cheek.

Instead of begging God for help, all I could think in those few seconds while struggling to breathe was, “Are you REALLY gonna take me out this way Lord?!”

I mean come on! I’ve got how many diseases?! And I’m gonna die by Frito?!

I managed to dislodge the chip and other than having a raw spot back in my throat, I’m fine.

After the Frito incident, I texted my daughter and told her I was just waiting for a rattlesnake to slither up onto the bed and bite me next.

May tomorrow be better! The bar is pretty dang low.

Memory Lane

I had a neurologist appointment yesterday in Conway, Arkansas, “the city of Roundabouts.” The summer I turned 14, my mom moved us to Conway to be near her mother. My stepfather at the time also wanted to find work in that city. When I started school in the fall, it was a culture shock. I went from a tiny rural school with only 16 in my entire grade to a whole campus for two grade levels. My mom only kept us in that district for 9 weeks before they moved us to Greenbrier. During that time, I did not make one single friend. I wasn’t bullied. No one spoke to me though, and I was quiet. There were cliques. I did NOT fit in. I was poor, from the Ozark foothills, had a country accent, was overwhelmed surrounded by so many students, and this was 1990 in the era before welcoming committees and “make the new kid feel part of the crowd” movements.

After my doctor appointment yesterday, I asked my husband if he’d drive me the fifteen miles outside of Conway into Greenbrier because I’ve not been back since I was 14. He agreed as long as I was feeling up to it.

Greenbrier was my saving grace. While that school system was still a LOT larger than the small schools I’d come from, the kids there were welcoming. I made friends the first day. I wasn’t swallowed up in the crowd. Yes, the cliques existed like they do at all schools, but someone spoke to me. That’s all I actually needed at the larger school…just someone to speak to the silent girl keeping her head down going to classes while shaking and quaking on the inside.

By February of 1991, I was back in the Ozark foothills. The tiny rural school with 16 in my class had been annexed into another rural school district 19 miles from my home. I was back with my friends. Thankfully, I stayed in that district until I graduated high school. I attended 5 schools total during my childhood and teen years.

Even though I’m worn out from the extra time in the vehicle yesterday, I enjoyed getting to see Greenbrier. We went into a few flea markets and antique shops. My husband works a lot of hours, and I’m often alone. We were able to spend some much needed time together. I got a migraine about five miles from our house on the way home, but at least it didn’t hit DURING the trip.

Also, I am being scheduled to get a port placed because my veins are no good. I backed out of the surgery earlier in the summer until I could see my neurologist. I’m honestly not looking forward to this next step in my life but know I have no choice. It’s time to go forward with the process.

Maybe, it’s why I wanted to take that trip to Greenbrier…down memory lane. It was a time right before my body started fainting.

I lived there the winter before I first fainted.

We were the poorest I’ve ever been in my life BUT I’d never fainted.

Mom had $5 to spend on each of us that Christmas.

BUT…I’d never fainted.

I did enjoy going back there yesterday.

Pulling My Hair Out in the Grocery Store

“Your potassium is extremely low. Eat bananas.” states my PCP

“Bananas give me migraines.” I reply.

“Okay. Google potassium rich foods.” replies my PCP.

*I go home and Google potassium rich foods.* Most foods rich in potassium , except POTATOES, are bad for Gastroparesis.

So, I go to Walmart with my husband Sunday. Yes, I grocery shop at Walmart. I live in rural Arkansas. I live thirty-five minutes driving distance in the middle of three average sized towns. We shop in the smallest of those three because of traffic and the ability to get me out of the house and back home quickly. That town has two grocery stores: Walmart and Cash Saver.  Walmart is also my pharmacy, and I know the people well who work there.  Once again, it’s Arkansas. But I digress…

Back to me in the grocery store trying to find potassium rich foods that I can digest with this jacked up stomach!

My doctor said strawberries are rich in potassium, but they didn’t show up on a list.  I love strawberries, and they don’t bother me if I eat a cup at a time. They went into the buggy.  Also, while I don’t exactly LIKE raisins, I can tolerate them.  I bought some raisins.  I guess I will be munching on some raisins and pretending they are tasty M&M’s. A girl can dream, right?

I live on soft Lean Cuisine meals mainly because I can’t stand long enough to cook anymore, and my husband works 10-12 hour days.  If I DO feel like eating a meal, I eat a Lean Cuisine meal.  I can use my rollator to get to the microwave and hit the buttons.  They’re not as bad as some of the other microwave meals.  With Gastroparesis, I can’t eat wonderful leafy green vegetables like I love anymore.  So processed foods aren’t off the list for me.  I’m on a Step 2 Gastroparesis diet by the way.  I move to a Step 1 when I am flaring.

Other than potatoes, raisins, and strawberries, I didn’t really find any super potassium foods I could eat with Gastroparesis.  My PCP mentioned that she would prescribe Liquid Potassium if my levels came back extremely low.  I’m still waiting to find out the verdict.pulling_hair_out copy

 

I Was a Teacher

Dust gathers on college degrees hard earned

for a career I honestly enjoyed.

Mementos and presents from students now grown

are packed away in boxes labeled “keepsakes.”

Each Christmas, my tree is weighed down with

ornaments students gave me over the years.

It’s all that is left to show I was a teacher.

School starts back tomorrow, and I miss the excitement of meeting new students. However, this is the first year I have been able to stay on any type of social media during the month of August since my body crashed in November 2013.  Usually, I get too depressed seeing the classrooms getting ready for a new year, the open houses, and I just can’t handle it.  As you can imagine, a lot of my Facebook friends are teachers.  I taught at two different school districts during my career.

I am proud to say that while I still wish I could get up and go in tomorrow to my classroom and teach a fresh batch of 6th graders, I am able to view pictures online of former coworkers getting ready for their school year without the usual overwhelming sadness and depression.  That is major progress for me.  I have finally accepted my life will never be the same.

This is a picture of my 6th grade classroom when I was a teacher. I worked with ADA accommodations.

Teacher Days (35)

 

 

Leave My Meds Alone

I am a patient at a Pain Management Clinic. I am stigmatized. I am made to feel like a drug abuser for needing relief from my chronic pain. I pay out of pocket for random drug screening, and I am fine with it. It is part of the process. My medication can be counted at any time. The medication has a DEA number with my street address. My prescriptions can only be picked up by me in person or by one representative since I can’t drive. My representative’s information is on file with the pain clinic which can be accessed by the DEA. We live in Arkansas. The laws are very strict about prescribing pain medications to the point general practitioners usually will not prescribe them at all. Urgent Care centers have signs up stating people will not receive pain medication. Our state STILL has a huge opioid abuse problem.

National and Local Media headlines scream, “Opioid Crisis!”

Senators and the President demand action!

Mourning parents of overdosed children cry out to the government, “Just do something!”

Here’s some reality for everyone: By making it even harder for me, a law abiding pain patient, to get my prescriptions, no one is making a difference.

The children who overdosed didn’t take a legal prescription. If one looks at the actual statistics, fentanyl-laced opioids are often involved in drug overdoses.

How is any of this my fault? Why should I suffer? Why should ANY pain patient suffer?

I sat in the waiting room today at the pain clinic and looked around at the other patients. I am 42-years old. There wasn’t anyone in that waiting room who looked younger than 50. It’s usually a rather quiet place. We’re all in pain. If it’s shots/procedure day, we sometimes discuss our screwed up discs, joints, hips, etc. I’ve met people from all walks of life who come there because of wrecks, diseases like me, or accidents.

My pain doctor is NOT a pill pusher. He is only prescribing me the least amount of pain medication I need. He has taught me bed physical therapy exercises to help me manage my pain in other ways. My pain doctor also prescribed a rollator with the hopes of getting me more mobile because that will help with pain. He goes above and beyond what a pain doctor has to do.

Pain management clinics and pain doctors are taking a beating in the media. We patients are as well. I’ve even heard a few QUACK doctors say “just deal with your pain with medication” on TV. Those doctors have obviously never dealt with a TWO MONTH long migraine or Degenerative Disk Disease or bursitis or fibromyalgia or arthritis.

On Instagram, I’ve been offered snake oils more times than I can count. I’m not interested. If something works for a person, more power to them. Been there. Done that. Wasted my money. Won’t do it again.

So, I will continue to go see my well educated, compassionate doctor while the media keeps bemoaning how the world is coming to an end because of opioids. They seem to forget something very important in all of this: it’s opioid ABUSE that is the problem.

I can name several other legal products that are abused every single day of the week.

Unexpected Loss

My aunt passed away four days ago after being in the hospital three weeks fighting for her life. What was supposed to be a simple hernia surgery turned into a nightmare.

After the surgeon closed up my aunt, she became sick. Developed pneumonia. Then became septic.

They opened her up to find a perforated bowel.

My aunt fought to live through many painful procedures over the last few weeks.

Then she seemed to improve. She was taken off the vent and given a little liquid by mouth. The family thought there was hope!

Our hearts shattered when the very next day her body started a downward spiral and never recovered. God called His angel home.

She wanted to be cremated. Her Celebration of Life Memorial Service is tomorrow. It all still seems surreal to me. Her hugs were so warm. Her smile was infectious. She lit up a room when she walked into it. She was the aunt that didn’t turn kids away in the neighborhood.

The world isn’t quite the same knowing she’s not in it. I can’t wrap my mind around the fact she’s gone.

Maybe it’ll hit me tomorrow at the service.