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July 31, 2017; Journal Entry 3: De-Carbonated

Well, it’s been 6 days without any carbonated drinks.  I’m pretty proud of myself for that.  I’m pretty well addicted to Pepsi, or any other soda.  I’ve known for a long time, and I didn’t need Dr. M to tell me, that carbonated drinks are SO bad for you.  I just hadn’t gotten to the point where I really cared enough about my own health to stop drinking it.  And, indeed, it’s been a very difficult week.  I wish I was  one of those people who could just chug water and be happy and healthy.  I’m a flavor addict.  If it doesn’t taste good, I want nothing to do with it.  I’ve tried some of those little bottled flavorings that you add to water, but they give me heartburn.  So, I don’t know what the future holds in store for me to drink… I might just have to bite the bullet and drink the flavorless water anyway.  I’m in this for the long run.

I’d like to say I’ve been doing exceptionally well with my food intake.  But I’m not feeling guilty about it, as Dr. M (the endocrinologist) said he doesn’t want me to change my eating habits until I get my blood workup done next month.  Even so, I’m consciously holding back and eating better.  Mostly.  Dr. M said he would be “teaching me” how to eat/avoid carbs etc. after the blood workup comes back.  I’m hoping when I go see  him again that I’ve lost some weight.

Even so, I have this scary symptom(s) that does not seem to abide by my rules.  It rears its ugly head whenever/wherever.  Usually when I have to stand for any length of time.  First I’ll break into a profuse sweat (soaking anything/anyone around me), then my hands will begin to shake, then my arms and, if I don’t find a place to sit fast enough, my entire body will tremble.  My breathing will come much faster and uncontrollable, and to the point where I will pass out.  The only resource to stop it is to sit down for around 15 minutes at least.  It can be terrifying.

I will be contacting my primary care doc about this one!

So, that’s about it for tonight.  Not so much.  I’m distracted and need to go quilt.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.  Blessings ~ Tamara

 

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Hypo “what”? Hashi “who”?

** This post is for my own benefit. I doubt anyone else will read this, which is fine. I don’t want sympathy. I will just need to remember this down the road.**

Try to imagine. Just try.

I’ve lived the past 30+ years in pretty much constant pain. I have (5) herniated discs in my back (C1, T5-6-7 and L5), as well as knees and feet “riddled with arthritis”, according to my orthopedist. Add to that, just for fun, that I’m about 200 lbs overweight. Yep, about that. I’ve had my health issues and gotten through them with a healthy heart (per my cardiologist), healthy lungs (per my pulmonologist), healthy urinary tract (per my urologist), healthy reproductive area (per my OB/GYN specialist). But, some time back, I don’t remember exactly when, I was diagnosed by my primary care physician, as having hypothyroid.

Hypothyroid is having an underactive or inactive thyroid gland. I was prescribed medication to help “activate” my thyroid. So what? That’s what I thought. I didn’t really even know what a thyroid was, not to mention where it’s located. So it can’t be too important or vital to things. But I took my meds, off and on, and not in earnest, not really caring about the diagnosis. I continued to visit my PCP twice yearly for checkups, and my thyroid always read low ~ duh! Of course, I wasn’t taking my meds appropriately!

Well, this year, things have changed for me. I don’t know why, and I may never know why. Back in May, I decided I WOULD begin taking these thyroids meds like I’m supposed to… in the morning on an empty stomach, then wait for an hour before you eat breakfast. Okay, doing good. One month later I’m starting to have some not-so-good symptoms. Out of curiosity, I found a decent hypothyroid women’s group on Facebook and I joined. The stuff I’m finding out is still making my head spin! The administrators of this group seem to be very well-educated on the subject, but I’m not one to believe information just on a say-so. I weigh facts from several different sources before making decisions about things.

But what was real are these symptoms: hair falling out, no tolerance for heat above 65 degrees, profuse sweating, sinus drainage causing constant clearing of throat, leading to laryngitis a couple times a month, extreme fatigue, debilitating brain fog, short term memory loss, the “shakes”, inability to concentrate, lack of appetite, light-headedness, confusion, easily bruised, depression, on and off fever, inability to get to sleep, inability to get out of bed in the morning, pain in all of my joints and muscles, constipation, inability to make decisions, lack of any real interest in anything. And I’m sure I’m forgetting at least two or three. All of this while still having to deal with unresolved chronic pain. I’m really just about at the end of my rope.

I have, however, researched, found, and made an appointment with an endocrinologist in Auburn, NY. My appointment is one week from today. I’m optimistic. Dr. Shirwan Mirza seems to have a good reputation according to his reviews. I pray to God that he’ll be able to help me.

Oh! I almost forgot the “Hashi-“ part! Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is often the CAUSE of hypothyroid. It is an autoimmune disorder in which antibodies directed against the thyroid gland lead to chronic inflammation. It is not known why some people make antibodies, although this condition tends to run in families. Over time, however, this results in impaired ability of the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones, leading to gradual decline in function and eventually an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Hashimoto’s thyroiditis occurs most commonly in middle aged women, but can be seen at any age, and can also affect men, and children. Hey! How about “no cure”? It can only be treated with medications, diet and/or surgical removal – which will require medications. I’ll be tested for all of this when I see Dr. Mirza.

For now, it’s “wait and see”. But, if anyone does read this, thank you for taking the time. And maybe something here can help you.

Blessings ~ Tamara Continue reading

Let’s Go To The Movies

And thus starts a brand new year today.  I’m going to try to blog more reliably beginning this year, and I’m going to start with a critique of a local movie theater that we visited last night.

The “Township Tavern” located in the Township 5 Center in Camillus, NY, was perhaps the best experience I’ve ever had in my life in movie-going.  It was Al’s and my first time going to the Township Tavern, and, being the pessimistic person that I have always been, I didn’t expect much but crowds and discomfort.  But I’d heard good reviews from others, so I had to give it a try.

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I pre-purchased our tickets online, which was done with ease and no confusion.  You get to pick your movie, and even the seats you want all from Fandango.  When you get to the theater, there’s a kiosk where you pick your ticket(s) up with a couple of touches of the screen, then you go in and go right to the entrance to the theaters.  The outer area has a complete bar and restaurant, and plenty of helpful staff everywhere.  You might need to really pay attention to where you are walking, though, because there are service staff hustling all around taking orders to movie-goers very quickly and efficiently.  It would be easy to knock into one, or they knock into you, because of a misstep.

Inside the theater is very roomy.  Seemed like there were many fewer seats, because the seats are roomy recliners that leave plenty of room for people to walk even when fully reclined.  Talk about comfort!  Way better than anything I have at home!  The recliners are upholstered in a leather-like fabric, and equipped with a little swiveling tray that can hold your food, or in my case, my purse.  There is a little push button on the tray that will summon a service person once pressed.  And the service staff was exceptionally attentive, fast, courteous and helpful.  Food and drinks (including alcohol) were ordered from a lengthy menu, and although a bit pricey, looked and smelled delish!  Let me just say one thing about the “priceyness” of the food/drinks…I think it’s well warranted given the awesome customer service provided, and the comfort feature of the theater.  However, Al and I were going out to dinner afterwards, so we did not order food, only a yummy blueberry/lemonade.  My knowledge of the food came from all the patrons around us who HAD ordered!  LOL!

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One slightly negative thing I can say is that there was an incredible smell within the theater, thanks to all the various food items that can be ordered.  While we were there, it was an incessant wafting of garlic and vinegar that permeated the air and was distracting.  I was expecting the service staff to also be a distraction throughout the movie, but that was not the case.  I guess, once the movie started, patrons calmed down about their eating and just watched the movie, as there was minimal movement throughout the show.  We watched “Passengers”, by the way.  Loved it!  Oh, one other comment that could be negative… during some of the more intense parts of the movie when the music quelled, the entire auditorium vibrated.  More of a distraction than a bother.

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All in all, the experience was terrific.  In fact, I’ve decided that I will not patronize any other theaters in the Syracuse, NY, area except Township Theater.  WAY surpasses Destiny USA.  A little more expensive, but SO worth it!

Happy New Year!

Thanks for visiting ~ Tamara

If Only … Thoughts on Mothers and Daughters

My relationship with my mother was a dismal failure from the time I turned approximately 13. Fault? I guess that doesn’t really matter, but I think we shared fault. She did not know how to communicate effectively to a teenager, and I did not know how to communicate with someone who did not know how to communicate.

 

From the time I turned a teenager, I wanted out of my parent’s house. That was my goal in life. I did not understand them, I did not even like them. I thought they were insane. I thought I would do a much better job when I finally have kids of my own.

 

When I finally moved out, got pregnant and married at age 18, I thought I would have my “white picket fence” and live happily ever after. I didn’t think I would ever need my parents again. And, truth be told, I rarely communicated with my mother and father after I moved out, unless it was to call my Dad for help for whatever reason – and there were numerous ones! But I was so wrapped up in my own life and problems, that I never called my Mom just to talk. We never, ever talked just to have a conversation, to find out how each other is doing.

 

I’m a Christian now, and I try not to look back at my life with regrets. It’s not easy when there are so many. I do try to leave it in God’s hands. But holidays come around, Mother’s Day, my Mom’s birthday, Mom and Dad’s anniversary ~ yep, I still remember them, even keep them on my calendar(s). I think back to all of the night gowns given to my mother for Christmas. Bells for Mother’s Day or her birthday, she collected them. Candy was always a welcome gift. But how I wish we’d had a relationship. There are the clichés: hindsight is 20/20, if only I knew then what I know now… etc. I wish I’d been there for her when she needed someone. I wish I hadn’t been so self-involved. I wish we had talked!

 

All I have left over her, besides photos, are memories of things she did, how she looked ~ things that I now find comforting, and find in myself often. But I have precious few memories of the last 5 years of her life. That was my “self-indulgent” time. I couldn’t find the time to go the 15 miles from my house to where I grew up to see how she was doing. To see if I could help. To be there for her, or my Dad. It haunts me now.

 

If I could have a “do over” in life, it would be to have a better relationship with my parents… Mom especially. From that I would’ve learned to be better… better at everything. Perhaps my kids wouldn’t have paid such a price for a self-indulgent mom, and maybe I’d have a better relationship with them, as well. However, no “do overs” in life. You only get one chance to do it right.

It’s Spelled C-H-R-O-N-I-C ~

This post is about chronic pain, plain and simple. I’m not looking for sympathy, neither are those who share my condition. Just looking for understanding, respect and tolerance.

I never ever thought I would be “one of those” people who had to tolerate pain in one or more parts of their body 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Yet, here I am. My feet are “riddled with arthritis” as my orthopedist told me. Also my knees. Osteoarthritis. An interesting diagnosis, I thought at the time, surely there is a cure. No, he said, only pain management. “Pain management”? Okay, then give me a pill and let me go back to my life, I thought. I wasn’t yet aware of how much my life was about to change.

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I tried several different pain medications, injections, etc. and none seemed to keep the pain at bay for very long. And, in the beginning, it was even “that bad”… more of a nuisance than a driving force. I might limp while going to the grocery store, or shudder at the thought of crossing a large parking lot. I obtained a temporary handicapped parking tag with the intent of turning it in after a few months and I got the pain under control. The months lagged. I kept asking for a renewal from my doctor each time the expiration came due on the tag. I figured, surely by the time THIS ONE expires, I’ll be able to walk better and longer distances.

Last month I had a bi-annual checkup with my primary care physician. I asked for the permanent handicapped parking tag. He looked at me and winced. He clearly did not want to go that route. Indeed, he told me if he gave me the permanent tag, that I might start thinking of myself as “handicapped”… and he didn’t want me to do that. And he forbade me to use the electric carts in stores. However, he did give me the new tag. Neither of us was happy, but I have to be realistic. The pain, especially in my feet, was now unrelenting.

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I think I finally came to grips with the fact that I will have to live with chronic pain for the rest of my life. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, and it will, in fact, only get worse. I would soon get used to measuring my activities by the amount of pain I am currently in, or am likely to be in at the time of the activity. That probably sounds pretty unbelievable to most of you reading this. My life is now measured by increments of pain. It makes sense, considering 90% of my particular pain is in my feet, making it very difficult to walk. My knees are secondary, and 3 herniated discs in my back count for something as well. I’m always looking for “shortcuts” to my activities. Can I get dropped off closer to my destination? Is there comfortable seating? How close is the seating to my drop off point? Are there stairs? Hoping for a ramp. Will I need my “cane” (my father’s wooden shillelagh)? Will there be lots of people to stare at me, and judge? Will there be people I know there, who do not know of my hidden secret? Will I have a lot of explaining to do? What if it just hurts too much? What if I just can’t stand it another minute? These are things that run through my mind any/every time I need to go outside my home. Yes, even when I go to work. So, admittedly, my social life is waning.

People with chronic pain think way differently than you do. And granted, even though my personal pain is considerable and distracting, there are so many others that are way worse off than me. They are my heroes. I know them and feel their pain as I do my own. Chronic pain “people” do not stand out in a crowd. You cannot look at them and know there is anything wrong. And they (we) do not like to share that information with anyone. If shared, there is always skepticism. People say things like: “Suck it up,” “C’mon, it can’t be THAT bad,” or “You’re just faking it.” No one wants to be held up to that kind of ridicule. Or they’re look you up and down as if they’re going to see some clue as to whether or not you are really in pain. And when they see no clear evidence, there is disbelief.
Chronic pain is exhausting. On a “good day”, at home, I might get one or two chores done ~ dishes, laundry, vacuuming. On a “bad day”, I cannot stand. I sit in my recliner with my feet up, take aspirin, and feel them ache and burn all day long. If I need to get up, I have to thrust myself to standing, then wait until my feet give me permission to move, to shuffle to my destination and then back to reclining. The entire episode is unbearable and to be avoided at all costs. Sometimes I use a prescription rub-on gel to curb the pain, but the side effects are not worth using it constantly… only when I really cannot bear it. Restraint is an important lesson. Chronic pain alters your mind. Your priorities change or may be clouded. You don’t think right when you hurt. Have you ever had a migraine, or a sprained ankle or any broken body part? Think of that pain as never ending. It will be with you for the rest of your life. No healing, no getting better. At first you just deal with it and don’t really believe it will be forever. Then it becomes a “normal” part of your life. It’s with you every day, all day, just like your pinky toe. Then it gets worse and you’re thinking desperately. And you imagine what it would be like to be pain free… just only for one day, even if just a few hours. How glorious would that be? Chronic pain makes you think irrationally. It gives you feelings of desperation, depression, worthlessness, dependence. ALL. THE. TIME. Do you even get that? There is no relief. Hence the word: C-H-R-O-N-I-C. You feel like your loved ones, those that “know”, resent you. They don’t believe you. They think you’re lazy because you don’t do your housework or go shopping etc. anymore. “You’re just lazy.” For me, even my biggest love, quilting, has suffered. I can’t concentrate on it when my mind is full of pain management wishes. I cannot, in good conscience, ask my husband to do things for me that I can no longer do. I feel like he resents me… even though I know he doesn’t. We’ve talked about it. But I cannot shake the feeling.

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I recently joined an Osteoarthritis group online on Facebook. Wonderful bunch of people, mostly women, who share their experiences and ideas for pain relief and how to try to live a “normal” life. Exercises, weight loss help, potentials for medications that I haven’t tried. I know in my head that I need to keep moving and exercise or I will end up immobile. They give me hope. Even a chuckle now and then. I know many people scoff at Facebook, but there is so much knowledge there if you know where to look and how to use it. I have been blessed.

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What’s my point to this post? Chronic pain. It’s real. It exists for thousands of people, including me. We don’t look for sympathy. We don’t look for an “easy out”. We just want to be acknowledged, understood and respected like everyone else. These days, everything is all about “tolerance”. Quit thinking we’re “fakers” and get with the program.

Unfortunately, I expect very few people will ever seen this post. In a way that’s fine with me, as I’m not too comfortable sharing all this with anyone anyways. Anyone I know. Funny how I’ve put my entire life out here in my blog, some of which is pretty graphic and shocking, but THIS makes me uncomfortable! LOL!

Thank you for stopping by and checking me out.

Blessings ~ Tamara