"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver."

"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver."

~Mohandas K Gandhi

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Back in school

I am almost at the end of my second week of school, and have not been absent yet. 

I wonder how long that'll last.  Last year I really wanted to make at least the first month without an absence, and that didn't work out very well.  Last year was one of the worst years I have had in a very long time, which sucked.

My son is in a new school this year.  I wonder how many new germs, and what kinds of germs, he'll bring home.

My husband has a new job that requires a lot of travel. I wonder how my body will handle the stress of being a single parent (and working full-time) at regular intervals this year.

It's almost depressing, the way I see a new school year.  I am glad to be back, doing something productive, and talking to other grownups. However, while everyone else in the world looks at a new school year as a fresh start, a new beginning, I can't help but think of how it will affect my health.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I am the sick one. But at least I have this.

On Monday morning, I went to the Gynecologist for my yearly checkup.  Everything is fine.  I walked away with a scrip for a mammogram for the first time.  (The fun of turning forty, I guess!)

That evening, my husband commented, "You're in a remarkably good mood today, considering what doctor you had to go see today."  He was right- I was downright chipper for the rest of the day.  I thought it over, and I think I figured out why.

You see, for the average person, going to the doctor really isn't a big thing.  They go, get a scrip for whatever, and then they don't go again for months.  or, they go for a yearly checkup, and leave with the words, "Okay, everything looks fine; see you in a year" ringing in their ears.

This never happens to me.  I seldom go for a yearly checkup, because I am at the doctor all the damn time, anyway, so if some kind of test is needed, the doctor tells me while I am there for a sinus infection or bronchitis or whatever.  I certainly never leave the doctor feeling footloose and fancy free, knowing that I am healthy and do not need to darken the doorstep of that doctor for quite a long time again.

However, the one system in my body that has always worked like it's supposed to is my reproductive system.  I've never had any major problems with it, and never even had problems conceiving precisely when I wanted to and then carrying my son.  (I think I've written before how lousy I felt during the pregnancy, but that had nothing to do with how my reproductive system was working.)

I've always felt a bit odd about that.  I know plenty of women who couldn't conceive for various reasons, or who miscarried repeatedly, or who came thisclose to death during their pregnancies (See my friend Molly's excellent blog Knocked Up Knocked Over at  http://knockedupknockedover.wordpress.com/ for a description of the effects of  Hyperemesis Gravidarum.).

I'm used to being the sick one.  I hate it, but I'm used to it.  As I discovered this spring, when my five-year-old son suddenly came down with a raging case of pneumonia that neccessitated a trip via ambulance to the ER at 1am, I am FAR more comfortable with ME being the patient. 

I feel badly for these women I know.  I'm the sick one.  I should be the one who has problems.  I'm used to it.  For the most part, these are otherwise healthy women who were completely shocked by reproductive issues they had.  I, however, assumed from the get-go that I would have problems, because I am used to being the sick one.  I'm sure my husband thought I was a tiny bit crazed when, at the time, I explained to him precisely how many months we'd go with nothing happening before I would demand to see an infertility specialist, because, "...I don't want to waste time just waiting to see if anything happens, when, since it's me, nothing will happen on its own." 

Thankfully, my son surprised me by becoming a presence easily and quickly, and each month of pregnancy passed in textbook fashion. Once he was born, aside from him having Sensory Processing Disorder and a couple of allergies (and the aforementioned pneumonia), his health has been almost boringly normal, for which I am also thankful.  He seems to have inherited my husband's freakishly strong immune system, rather than mine.

But, looking at him, I am still surprised by all this.  I mean, I am the sick one.  I always have problems.

Except for this one area, and I will be forever grateful for that.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Allergy season

So, it's allergy season.  My environmental allergies used to be a lot worse than they are now.  However, I had a baby five and a half years ago.  According to my (and my son's) allergist, in some women, when they get pregnant, their allergy status (aka, what they are allergic to and how badly they react) changes, and sometimes the change is permanent.  Some women get worse, but some women actually get better!  Thanks, Frank! ;) 

Basically, there are a lot of trees that I was badly allergic to before, but am not so bad anymore.  There were about fifteen on the list, most of which I had no clue what they looked like, so I looked them up.  It turns out, I am allergic to pretty, flowery trees.  Some of them ahve dropped off my list entirely.

This allergy season started early, because of our mild winter, and it is going to be long.  This means my allergies instead of waiting until late April or early May like normal, started in late March to early April this year.  So I've had symptoms for almost four weeks now.  My son has, too, and was suffering badly for several days, until we got aggressive with the medications we have him on, and he seems to be okay for now. 

With me, there is a whole other dimension to worry about.  because I am susceptible to respiratory infections, I can go right from being not sick to being quite sick.  Yes, allergies can actually cause a raging bronchitis, withhout another underlying infection.  Awesome.

I first felt it coming on Friday last week, but went to work and muddled through the weekend, feeling like hell.  (I had an event at school I was interpreting Friday night, and a job Saturday morning and another Sunday morning.  I did not have time to go to the doctor.)  Monday afternoon, I went to the doctor after school.  Dr H walked in and greeted me, and didn't bat an eyelash when I informed him I had bronchitis brought on by allergies.  He's quite used to my medical specialness by now.  One antibiotic and Prednisone scrip later, as well as a scrip for codeine cough syrup, I was out the door.

Codeine and I have a love-hate relationship.  Like most people, codeine is awesome for stopping the cough for me.  A doctor explained to me somewhere along the way it's actually a chemical reaction in the brain: codeine literally stops the coughing mechanism.  However, codeine does not put me to sleep like it does for most people.  Codeine actually revs me up.  Sure, I am no longer coughing, but I am practically twitching as I lie in bed staring up at the ceiling, with the strangest, most disjointed thoughts running through my head.  I have no way of knowing for sure, but I imagine it's kind of how a manic episode feels for someone who is bipolar.

So, my nebulizer wasn't stopping the cough, nothing was, and I was just so damn tired, so the last few nights, I have taken the codeine cough syrup, with the result being I have been awake most of the last few nights.  It completely sucks, and on top of my insomnia that I battle regularly, anyway, it is enough to make one crave death, just to be able to sleep.  I probably should have called in sick to work today, I was so tired.  I really should not have been out driving.  Once I picked up my son and came home, and got his homework on its way, I laid down on the couch and actually dozed off for a bit.  I am still exhausted, but got enough of a second wind to make it through the evening.  I am going to bed very soon.  I really hope I sleep tonight.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'm back!

This winter was...well, different, and yet the same, for me.  Here in the Northeast, aside from the October freak snowstorm, the winter was very mild.  It was so mild, in fact, we barely got anymore snow, and as such, the school district I work in did not use one snow day, so we got one day added onto our spring break!  It was nice not feeling oppressed by tons of snow all winter long.

I was sick just as often, though, and, at times, it seemed like more often than usual.  IT was only after practically crying in Dr D's office in late February, though, that he commented that there had been some studies about IVIG recently, and, "Perhaps we, as doctors, have been too conservative with teh amount we've been prescribing.  Let's try upping the amount of IVIG you're getting, and see if that helps."  Two months later, and I do feel like it's helping- I went almost six solid weeks without an infection!

I have an URI now, though, that's become bronchitis.  Yay.  This one came on from, believe it or not, allergies.  Yup, springtime, things are blooming, pollen's in the air...and all the world is miserable.  My son, who is pretty healthy, is miserable, too.  Anyway, it was the allergies, combined with a supply shortage that caused my latest treatment to be delayed a week, that brought this infection on.  (Supply shortage?  Really?  You know I get this stuff every month.  Why can you people not think to count and order enough in advance, to be delivered when it needs to be?  I'm afraid I took my anger at my situation out on my pharmacist at the infusion company, who really is a sweet woman, but really, I am just a name and number to her, she has no clue how a week's delay affects my health.) 

It angers me and frustrates me that, at the end of the day, I am so wiped out sometimes just from breathing all day that I haven't enough energy to deal with or play with my son, or enjoy a conversation with my husband.  I let him do most of the talking when I am sick, simply because if I talk too much, I cough, and then the conversation is over.  I'd love it if he learned to sign, so this would not be an issue! ;) I had a really bad day last week, and I emailed my husband from work: "Today is really a day I am getting through just by sheer will. I can barely breathe, even with all the drugs I have in my system, and it's wiping me out."  I'm not sure those who have not experienced it can really understand how difficult breathing and doing other things at the same time can be.