Hi, TTFam. It's been a crazy month for me so far, so I figured why not go wild and post off my usual monthly schedule? This goes on for a bit, as usual, covering every thought that has crossed my mind for the past 3 weeks...
This month so far has been all about my back. Around Saturday last week, my upper back started hurting quite a lot. I put it down at first to increase in exercise - I'm trying to walk a bit faster as well as a bit farther these days. But it got worse through the day, and a lot worse on Sunday - Sunday night it was very hard to sleep through it. I landed in the ER in the middle of the night Monday, because I woke up from pain that increased sharply when I took a deep breath. On my surgeon's (long ago) advice when I first started the program, I went to the ER for his system - Brigham & Women's. That meant a 3am trip into Boston with me driving, since Leah is scared of driving in the city. Awesome!
For those of us in the healthcare professions, some quick details. They put me on an EKG right away - no sign of heart attack. Checked my O2 sat, which was fine. Vitals all normal. Blood tests normal. Actually, my blood pressure was pretty awesome. Listened to my breathing, and everything sounded great. They didn't check d-dimer because I have an autoimmune condition - my d-dimer results are always slightly elevated due to inflammation from that. They did a CT with contrast, and around noon Tuesday, the CT results finally came back - everything was normal, so I wasn't having a pulmonary embolism, either. The clotting issue was what I was worried about, given some of the recent troubles of @Ronny and @Ladybugzzz86! I was in the ER for a total of 8 hours, most of which was waiting. In the end, it was ruled as something musculoskeletal, and I was referred to my PCP.
Honestly, I was pretty sure it was something like a pinched nerve, but you just don't want to screw around with anything that causes you pain when you breathe. PE symptoms vary widely person to person, but that's a big one. Plus ,when you're a woman of a certain age, the list of heart attack symptoms is longer and weirder than an L. Ron Hubbard novel, so I just wanted to be on the safe side. Also, the pain was mid-to-upper back, with no arm pain, so I felt it was likely to be somewhere in the thoracic area - and thoracic spine issues are pretty rare. So I was a good do-bee and went in to make sure of my self-diagnosis.
They sent me home with oxy, which was a bit funny because just Monday morning I'd sent an NYT article to my team about the oxy addiction epidemic in New Hampshire. Because I've just stopped using my CPAP without getting re-evaluated yet for sleep apnea (bad me, but the CPAP was making it HARDER to sleep, not easier), I didn't take any oxy before I slept, which was most of Tuesday. I did take one when I woke up on Wednesday, and another when I woke up on Thursday. That was enough oxy for me - it is beyond me how people can use that stuff recreationally. Between feeling loopy and constipation issues, whyyyyy???? Haven't touched it since. I am, however, now out of liquid tylenol.
Thursday and Friday were my infusion days (autoimmune thing, every six weeks I do a two-day infusion, about 4 hours a day) and blissfully, my infusions come with steroids. So right now my back is feeling mostly fine again. I haven't really walked since Sunday, so today I'm going to start again, just at an easier pace and shorter distance.
Unrelated to my ER trip or my narcotic prescription, I've also been dealing with some serious constipation for about a week and a half now. I'm not very good at remembering miralax, and my water intake has not been the best. I'm going shopping for psyllium today that I can add to shakes and whatnot, and I've ordered some of the probiotic @cinwa often recommends (PB8)! I'm also going to pick up some milk of magnesia just to kick things off right while I wait for the probiotic to arrive.
One of my little mental tricks for handling stalls is that my current weight on my ticker or sidebar only ever go DOWN. When I'm stalled, bouncing around between numbers, I never revise it upwards. So for instance, right now my sidebar reads 234, but I weighed in this morning at 236. Yesterday it was 237. So 234 is 1) what I assume my actual weight is most likely to be, since it's common to play around with water weight in a few-pound range, and 2) my new temporary goal. At this point I also have to assume the gain is related to constipation - stuff is going in... nothing is coming out!! (I also tend to gain a pound or two with infusions that drains off pretty quickly, so there's that.)
At any rate, this bouncing has been going on for less than a week, so I'm not even really calling it a stall. Just ... an annoying occurrence.
Switching gears for some good stuff - the reason I tried to increase my walking speed and distance is that I signed up for the Boston Winter Walk for Homelessness with a team at work! It's February 11, and it's just 2 miles around the Copley area downtown, but this is the first time I've ever - like EVER in my life!! - signed up for anything like this. My normal dog-walking distance is 1.9 miles, which I do every day that the weather is nice enough, so it shouldn't be a stretch for me. But dog-walking speed with my dog is not good enough for public viewing. Sadie isn't happy with a walk unless she has sniffed all of creation on the way. I wanted to be sure I can keep up with the pack!
I also sat down on the floor last night and got up again without help. I probably could have done this two months ago too, but it's one of those things that it didn't occur to me to try. For so many years, the impossibility of that simple action just made it... not a thing I would even consider. But I'd like to be doing more exercise, and I don't want to pay for a gym, so in addition to walking, Leah and I are going to get some exercise mats and work out together to videos - weights, sit-ups, push-ups, planks, core stuff.
And... I'm practicing with stairs. Right now I can walk up a few short steps without holding onto anything, but it's uh... not pretty. After years of having to hold on for support, my balance is totally non-existent, and I don't have any strength in the muscles that keep you from wobbling all over the place when climbing. Every day I do a short "step routine" on the bottom step of our stairs - up and down as many times as I can without falling over. Just being able to do one is new. Now I can do like... fifteen or twenty. When I can do more, without effort, I'll try going all the way up without holding on. But I'm deathly afraid of falling, so that's still in the future. How great will it be, though, to be able to actually CARRY STUFF UP THE STAIRS. Some of my workarounds to get stuff from the first to the second floor of my house over the past few years have been extremely MacGyveresque.
Finally - and this is super exciting for me - I can now access the Brigham patient gateway again! Something went wrong with my account in mid-October, and after months of waiting, they finally were able to fix it this past Wednesday. I have a LOT of doctor's appointments in my life due to my autoimmune condition. I have to see my dermatologist every three months, and now every ONE month since I'm on accutane; also because of accutane, I have to get a pregnancy test at my PCPs office every month; I have to get my eyes checked by an ophthalmologist every six months because of one of my autoimmune meds; and now I have bariatric appointments all the time - nutrition, psych, PA, surgeon. So being unable to access the patient gateway has been a huge problem for me. I organized my life through that gateway, and I've felt blind without it. I'm SO EXCITED it's back and I can just look up when appointments are again, and print out schedules!
And what I have learned is that my next bariatric appointment is with my actual surgeon, and it's on March 29. I haven't seen him since the day after surgery - I see his PAs at my regular check-ins. As much as I would love being under 200 by the time I see him, that is an impossible dream. But if I lose even 10# between now and then, I'll have lost over 60% of my excess weight - so he should be pretty happy with me! (and if I lose 20# by then, I'll be around 215 - within spitting distance of Onederland!!! I won't make it there by my birthday (April 9, first day of Month 7) but May is not out of the question...)
I don't know if my weight loss is actually slowing down, or if my weight loss timing is just weird - most of my weight loss happens right after my period, and then I stay stalled for a bit, then lose again after the next one. Sometimes this bridges the end of my months in a weird way. But the first flush of BIG loss months seems to be over now. It looks like I'm in a 10-12/month range now, and I just hope that continues - I can take a slow down, as long as it doesn't stop!