Doctors, tests and surgery, oh my!

This has been quite a week. I don’t usually do this kind of thing to myself, but it was just unavoidable. 4 doctor appointments in 3 days. Yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment sometimes. heh

First appointment of the week was the medication shrink. I pretty much fall apart in her office, and we have the longest session I think we’ve ever had. I really like this woman, she’s been good for me. Gets my sense of humor (well, as much as I show her anyway), has similar “beliefs” as I do, doesn’t pull any punches. I admit, I’m not usually a fan of female doctors, but she’s been great. So happy I made the change.

A bit of an aside, and a word of advice for everyone, don’t be afraid to “fire” your doctor. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not a good doctor, they might just not be a good fit for you. Health care professionals are a VERY personal choice. Of course, you want someone that’s competent, doesn’t make mistakes, keeps up to date on new technologies, new treatments, the latest research, etc. That’s a given. But someone can be technically/medically “perfect” and still not be a good fit for you. You need to be able to trust your doctor/nurse/dentist/shrink, etc, and you need to feel comfortable telling them what problems you’re having, and even challenging them if you’re not sure something is working. If you’re going along just because you don’t want to rock the boat or hurt their feelings or whatever, you’re not doing EITHER of you any good. I believe on the whole, most doctors, etc, want to help their patients get better. If they’re not doing that for you, for whatever reason, making them believe they are or ignoring the issues isn’t going to make them happy. And I think generally they can tell things aren’t going the way they should… but are they going to “fire” you? Likely not. They’re going to keep trying, and likely as not, failing because it’s not a good match. Think of the relationship as exactly that… a relationship. If you’re keeping a friend around because you don’t want to hurt their feelings, how is it really helping either of you? You’re miserable, and they’re still around when they could be “with” someone else. Open up that space for them and find a better match for you.

Anyway, back to the first appointment of the week. We discussed how things were going (the MS treatment change, the house, the back pain, the nervousness about seeing the surgeon, etc) and she said that while medication isn’t going to fix any of that, not having a medication that’s working for me isn’t going to help me deal with it either (ah, the joys of mental illness. When the chemicals are out of whack, it takes 20 times more to deal with some stress that others might just take in stride.). So, we’re trying a new anti-depressant. Just like any other medication, sometimes things just stop working. I’ve been on Celexa on and off for the past… Oh… 100 years or so? heh Amusingly, as we were discussing other pills, there was a lot of “Have you tried this?” “Yeah, it worked ok.” “Ok, how about this?” “Oh no, that one didn’t work for me at all.” “Let’s see. I have that you’ve tried this and this and this, and they didn’t work so great.” “Geez, I think I really need to start keeping a list of all of these.” “Might not be a bad idea.” So, we’re trying one that I don’t think I’ve tried before, and so, we start the “medication dance” again. Tango, anyone?

Second appointment of the week was the talking shrink. Haven’t seen her in a while due to craziness on my end, and then a cancellation on her end. We haven’t met since before Christmas so there was a bit to go over. And I think we finally made a little bit of a “breakthrough”. Yay! Took a little back and forth, but I think she finally got through my thick head a little bit and helped me see things a little differently. Just needed to find the right analogy, really. Again, we come back to that “right fit” idea.

Third appointment was this morning with the orthopaedic surgeon. Boy, was that one making me anxious. We went over all the details of my back, what I’ve tried, what issues I’ve had, what the MRI said, etc… but, of course, he had to send me down for yet more x-rays before all of this, and, of course, they had to bend me every which way to get the images he wanted. :/ I didn’t really hurt a ton before that but boy was I feeling it afterwards! (and I understand why it was that way, mind you, but it still didn’t make it hurt any less). And he was definitely a surgeon. Buy, are they a different breed entirely. Thankfully I’ve dealt with a few of them so I kind of knew what to expect, but they’re a tough one to deal with. The only “personable” surgeon I’ve ever had was the one that fixed my nose. He was great. The rest have all been very matter-of-fact, dry, etc. He wasn’t too bad though.

What he did tell me was that it’s not a herniated disc, but a bone spur. So, yeah, there’s that. Not sure how the two can be mistaken, but I’m not a doctor. But it’s still a problem, it’s still causing issues, and needs to be fixed. And that, in his opinion, means surgery. A “laminectomy” to be technical. For ease, here’s a link to a little information about it from the Mayo Clinic, but for quickness, it’s basically him taking away a little of the vertebra off to make more room for things. Like I need to be missing any more parts! (I am missing one of my ribs, never born with it apparently. Found out when I was about 12 and they were checking out my scoliosis, and elicited the comment “I always knew you weren’t all there” from my Granny. Love and miss that woman). But first, I get to have something called a nerve conduction study, or EMG for short (yeah, I don’t know, look it up. 😀 ). Last one I had was… unpleasant, to put it mildly. That’s scheduled for the beginning of February. Thankfully, through this process, I had a dear friend there to help with listening, asking questions that I forgot/didn’t think of, and generally making me calmer and more able to focus on what he was saying rather than just shutting down. <3 Love you, lady! And finally... I ended today with an appointment with a doctor I respect and trust, and frankly missed a lot when he left Chattanooga. Man, am I glad I decided to see him about all this. This is a doctor that is a good fit for me, can explain things in a way to make them comprehensible, is patient enough to re-explain things when I'm lost, goes to the computer to look up references to show me, and is generally one of the most compassionate doctors I've ever met. I got very lucky to find out he ended up in the same area as I did. He helped explain EMGs to me and why they're a good diagnostic tool (they test the nerves in sections so they can rule out what part is and isn't working. For those that understand the reference, it's kind of like using a multimeter for the nervous system. They try to find out where the problem with the nerve actually is, and thus can pinpoint where the actual problem is), showed me a diagram that helped explain why damage/issues with different parts of the spine make different parts of the body react the way they do (This picture isn't really graphic, but it might not be safe for work or kids. It's good, though. Incidentally, my spine damage is at L5-S1, which shows why I'm having pain down my leg, and have occasionally had pain on the side and front of my leg: Dermatome picture ), pointed out that I have done all the steps I could do, and in order, and that the next logical step would be surgery, as well as some information about spinal/nerve damage that I didn’t know… And generally reassured me that while it’s a big choice, it really seems to be the right one. I’m not happy about it, but I feel better informed and calmer. (this is also the same doctor that finally got me into a medication shrink and put forth the idea that I might need more than just an anti-depressant… and while it took a while to find the right medication, it’s the best thing that’s happened for me mental health wise). If you read this, thank you Doc.

So, now that y’all have read me ramble on, I hope you can take something away from this, some little bit that might help you either now or in the future. For me, it’s just good to get it out, get it “logged”, and be able to move onto the next step, whatever that might be.

Oh, and I ended the day with a little shooting practice and dinner from Jason’s Deli. I won’t bother you with pictures of my dinner, but I’m going to brag a little about my shooting. Didn’t do as good as I would have liked at 10 yards, but I started strong and finished weak… I was having problems keeping a good stance due to pushing myself a little too much today and making my back/leg hurt. But not bad for not having shot in, oh, maybe 2 years?

Target at 5 yards

Target at 10 yards

And now, I go to watch some Netflix with my wonderful hubby via XBox Live/internet.

Aaaaah, the internet…

Facebook somewhat reminds me of the old BBSes we used to be on, back before access to the “internet” was public for all to spew, er…. see. When I first started on Facebook, it was all pictures of friends and pets and selfies and the like. There were hundreds of invites for silly games and stupid quizzes and cute pictures.

Wow, has that changed. Nowadays, it’s all snipping at each other for different beliefs that we ALL knew at one time.

Here’s my thing,… it’s time to get over it. We are doing NO good sniveling at each other when there’s no chance of changing other people’s minds. What will actually happen is that we’ll alienate those around us, both friends and family alike. We will also alienate those friends of friends, making us look a fool and making that friend wonder why they would be friends with people that would “bully” us, and use terms like “I’m just surprised you feel that way”, which, at least to some, comes across as “Wow, I didn’t know I was smarter than you!”. Or how about “your so-in-so supporting friends are idiots.” Bravo. At least you’ve gotten some people to agree with you, but your friend now has a bunch of people rolling their eyes… and possibly unfriending them so they don’t have to see your crap.

And it never stops. I re-followed someone on Facebook because I was told they weren’t sharing political stuff anymore, and 2 days after I started seeing their posts on my feed, there was a ridiculous political meme. If it was an article from a “reliable” news source (and, honestly, I don’t think there are really any of those anymore, but at least if it was from one of the big ones, ok), I’d have just scrolled on past. I’m getting rather good at that. But no, it was useless rubbish. So, back on the unfollow list they went. Maybe in another 6 months I’ll revisit the list.

But more just keep getting added. I’m over it. I don’t care what side it’s from, I’m over it. It’s all a load of bullshit. ALL of it, both sides. And I’m just not going to be subjected to it anymore.

Here’s a clue: No one except those that feel exactly the same as you care about your memes and political pictures and quotes and jokes, and even some of those people don’t care either. “Alternate facts” and Madonna and Mylie the crotch grinders complaining about Trumps lack of morals, and possibly being willing to unplug life support to charge a phone… And the more you complain about the “other side” while still posting this drivel because it’s “funny”. No, it stopped being funny a long time ago… As in, before the internet was even online.

At least if you have something to say, say it yourself. Don’t post someone else’s post with no comment of your own because you agree with “most” or “some” of it. Yeah, I share stuff… but you’ll notice that I have a comment to make about it, something I wrote myself.

And I have my blog. I’ve been using it more because it allows me to write what I want without completely covering everyone’s feed with what I think is important. It’s one little link that people can choose to click on or not click on.

As far as me only wanting to deal with people that think the way I do… My best friend and I are very opposed when it comes to political stuff. And I love her dearly. She will always be my best friend, I will always be there for her whenever she needs me. We have discussed politics on occasion, and then we move on to other things after we agree to disagree. We actually LISTEN to what the other person has to say, and sometimes we add our own views to it. But I don’t have to deal with “You’re obviously a racist because you feel that way” and she doesn’t have to deal with “You’re a special kind of stupid” (these are both paraphrased things I’ve seen written either in comments or in memes, nothing we have either said to each other).

So, think before you share that next meme or post or “news” story. Is that how you really want to be viewed by your family and friends? Do you agree with everything it says? How would you feel if someone made the opposite comment/joke about you?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Now, if y’all will excuse me, I’m going to spend some time away from the computer and on more important things… like my shrink appointment. I have two this week. My mental stability is a little off at the moment, and I’m thinking a “vacation” might be in order.

MS treatment update

As it’s just easier to get it all out there at once, here’s the scoop. If you haven’t read the previous MS update, it’s right here: Holiday stress and other fun things.

So, onto the update. We went to the neurologist today, after a second JC Virus test was higher than the first (.49 for the first, .57 for the second. These are “titers”, showing how many anti-bodies my system has created to fight the virus). She wants to take me off of the Tysabri, which has been given by infusion every 4 weeks, and change me to Tecfidera, which is a pill taken twice a day. She feels this is a safer option, and the fact that I’ve been on the Tysabri for a year and a half and just now gotten a positive is normal and should cause no problems. Also, the heavier treatment of the Tysabri should have gotten the MS more under control and going down to the Tecfidera should pose no problems for me. And the concern of the JC Virus is lessened, but they will be checking my white blood cell count (I forget the name she actually used for it, but am using the information she gave me for the white blood cell info).

This will mean I’ll have a lapse in treatment of about 4 weeks. I won’t start the new medication until about 8 weeks from now (and had my last infusion on Friday). There are some side effect to be aware of, but nothing that I haven’t dealt with before with other medications.

I, of course, worry that I’ll start having problems, but I trust this doctor. And I definitely DO NOT want to risk PML. There is some risk of that with this medication as well, but it seems like it’s less, and easier to keep an eye on. Which is good… I don’t need to turn what little brain matter I do have into mush! 😉 Unfortunately, it also means another pill to remember in the morning… which I’m not good at. I’ll have to just have some on me so when I remember after I’ve gotten to work, I can take it then.

On a side note, tomorrow (January 11) I will be having an epidural for my herniated disk that we had to wait for almost a year to find out about (mind, part of that was my fault, but the insurance company would have rather had me jump through hoops rather than do an MRI like my doctor wanted. It would have cost them less if they’d just done the MRI… now it costs them a bunch of PT visits and then the MRI. 😛 ) That has me a little concerned as well, as I just don’t know what to expect. But I’ll find out tomorrow! Hopefully it’ll just mean less pain and more ability to be on my feet without having my left leg hurting.

So, that’s the current state of things. I will update more when I have more to update. Until then, here’s an adorable (albeit slightly blurry) picture of Ruiny getting one of her many bathes from her big sister/mom, Guin. <3 Ruiny getting a bath from Guin. This is every day... multiple times a day. Ruiny getting a bath from Guin. This is every day… multiple times a day.

The perceived pussification of the human male (American male?)

I’ve noticed a long running trend about men… they’re pansies, they leave their clothes laying around and won’t put them in the hamper, they leave empty plates laying around, they can’t handle being sick, they get the “man cold” which is a death sentence compared to what women get, yada, yada, yada…

I don’t buy it. Are there men out there like that? Sure there are. But I’m amazed at what gets shared/spread around the interwebs about men.

First, they’re chauvinists, they make rude comments about women, they keep women under their heal, they’re dismissive, they’re nasty. Any woman that says they haven’t had this happen to them are, of course, lying or clueless. Well, guess what. I’ve had the cat calls, I’ve had the comments, I’ve dealt with the rudeness, and I’ve survived. Why? Maybe because I dismiss it out of hand. I don’t allow it to control me. I don’t immediately get on Facebook/Twitter, etc, and tell everyone about how some man looked at my butt. That man (not all men) is a jerk, and I have better things to do than give him any of my precious time that could be better spent on jewelry, or art, or video games. But what if someone grabs me? They’re getting decked, plain and simple. I’m not a victim.

Second, this whole “man cold”. Oh please. I guarantee there are plenty of men out there that get up, go to work, take care of what needs to be done, all while sniffling into a paper towel (I have noticed they don’t always use tissues). Yeah, there are some that are babies when they get sick… and there are women that are babies when they get sick. But if “I” only report the babies, it makes ALL men look bad, and that, I believe, is the goal of this kind of thing. Same as any commercial or TV show that portrays men as bumbling, clueless, inept wastes of life. Disgusting.

What happens when a man posts something similar about woman? A woman being a baby and not getting out of bed because she’s sick? Oh, women are all on her side, saying she takes care of so much in the house, she deserves to lie down when she’s sick. How dare that man question her!

Sick of it. Just completely sick of it.

And if your man really does leave his stuff laying around, find a way to get him to help. Nagging isn’t going to do it. A simple “I would appreciate it if you’d make sure your clothes get into the hamper, please. It saves me the time to gather up everything”. And if he does it? Hug. Kiss. You notice he did it all on his own later? A hug and a “Thank you so much for getting your stuff in the laundry! It means a lot that you care about me that much!”

A relationship is a give and take. Learn to make it work