journeying towards her better life…#8

Forgot to post the following earlier in Pat’s journey…

I met with my Naturopath, [Dr. Burke], I told him everything and what was likely coming in the way of a diagnosis. He asked me if people were treating me differently. I said no because we hadn’t told anyone exactly what was going on…we wanted to be sure first.

[The Doc] got me thinking. How [would] people react and [would] they treat me differently? I don’t want to be treated differently. After all, I haven’t changed.

After [I got] the official diagnosis, the first two people I told were my friends at work…my boss Tammy, and Mel. They knew everything I was going through from the beginning, so it was only logical [to tell them.] And the timing was right.

I thought about what Doc said and was pleasantly surprised the next day. When I saw that my in-tray was FULL, [my] initial reaction was a very loud…sssiiiggghhh. Then I thought…OK. We’re good here.

…off to a good start.

………pat.

…if dogs could talk…

…mine would say “Couldn’t you tell I was in pain? You dummy you!”

Nashville 09-2010 00116About the time Mocha was diagnosed as having a leaky heart valve which causes fluid to accumulate, she seemed to go downhill rather quickly. She’d get out of her bed and plop down on the floor. A little later she’d get up and amble a short distance and…plop! She continued this pattern for days.

The vet had advised that Mocha rest as the spirit moved her. The way she behaved, it seemed her spirit wanted permanent bed rest. And every so often the thought of “putting her down” crawled through my mind. I hated to see her suffer so.

Mocha’s appetite never waned. And when she was outdoors, she seemed her old self.

As the days passed, her body seemed to shrink and lean to one side. She walked around looking lopsided. Her tail wagged less.

When Mocha started looking up at me with a very cynical stare…moreso than usual…I thought she’d had a stroke. She wouldn’t lift her chin, just her eyes. It was as though she was casting an evil eye on me. Spooky. After a couple of weeks, her neck seemed to disappear as she hunched her back.Imported Photos 00004

Dr. Mom’s diagnosis? Old age and arthritis, along with heart disease.

“Poor, poor Mocha” I thought. As I stroked the length of her body, I’d murmur softly . “I know how you feel. I have arthritis. It’s no fun getting old. You’ll be alright. It’s okay. I love you.” The whole while she was probably thinking “You’re making it worse. Don’t touch me.”

I finally decided to get a second opinion, the vet’s, wondering if the end was in sight for my beloved, old pooch.

The assistant asked preliminary questions, all the while observing Mocha who paced, sometimes in circles, head cocked to one side. When the young woman asked if my dog was in pain, my eyes widened. Pain? That never even crossed my mind, especially since she never yelped when I held her, stroked her, walked her.

I hung onto the possibility that pain was indeed the culprit, as the assistant went to fetch the vet. “Mocha’s not dying! She’s just in pain.” Words that kept playing over and over in my brain.  I shivered at the thought that I had contemplated ending her life. OMG.

Lo and behold. The vet diagnosed Mocha as suffering extreme discomfort because of pain in her neck region. Evidently unlike people, dogs can’t turn their bodies to look from side to side. They’re kind of stuck if their necks are immobile. Worse, the sciatic nerve can also be affected, causing added pain.

Oye vay!!! It was like a wall of bricks fell on top of me. Pain, not heart disease was the reason for Mocha’s strange behavior.

If you’re like me, you bypass common sense and go straight to…worse case scenario!

A steroid shot and pain meds, and Mocha’s her old self again. Just old…not decrepit and on death’s doorstep. Thankfully, she has no memory of my idiocy…

…now that she’s back to taking long walks…and getting her treats for going poopy…

………hugmamma.February 2011 00040

wake up!…the clock’s ticking…

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus (Photo credit: anaxolotl)

That’s the news I received from my family doctor. I’m pre-diabetic.

According to the news, I’ve something in common with millions of Americans. Small comfort since statistics don’t help in battling the disease. We’ve each got to help ourselves regain and maintain good health. It’s not impossible…just lots of hard work. And the older I get, I’ve less energy and will power for using more elbow grease. Especially when my elbow’s arthritic.

Learning that I’m pre-diabetic wasn’t a surprise. My mom had it, a brother has it, and I’m sure most of my other siblings do as well. It’s in our genes, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. We have a say in the path our health takes. And it always comes back to…exercise and diet.

Rather than assign me to some implausible regimen, my doctor agrees that my best resolve is to ramp up my exercise and stay clear of anything white…foods, that is. No white breads. No white rice.

I’ve done it before; I can do it again. The difference being…time’s running out on my ability to hit the reset button. Older age has a way of dealing with procrastination…it doesn’t. At a certain point the door closes on our options.

Only one option remains for me now…a lifestyle change with no going back. I’ve gotta do…what I’ve gotta do…

Ulcus bei Diabetes mellitus

Ulcus bei Diabetes mellitus (Photo credit: rosmary)

…the alternative…is not an option…

………hugmamma.     😦

on a mission to clean up the “mess”

Straying from a somewhat healthy regimen the last couple of months had me ending up a mess, literally. While my daughter retained some semblance of her usual diet, I threw caution to the wind and gorged. It didn’t happen overnight; it never does. And it didn’t sneak up on me, not really. My hand and my mouth became best buds. My hand kept shoveling tasty morsels into my open mouth, which just couldn’t seem to get enough. I think Halloween, with its usual tempting delights, got me started, and I never looked back. Beware that first delectable bite! Needless to say, I’m on a mission! 

“Cervical thoracic strain” (doctor’s words), combined with heartburn, had me laying awake a couple of nights several weeks ago wondering if I was in the throes of a heart attack. After spending a restless night analyzing my symptoms, I got the first available appointment with a doctor the following afternoon. Suspecting I might be experiencing muscle pain, I saw my chiropractor first. Her adjustment provided some relief, so that when I saw the internist I had already surmised  that chronic pain was the real culprit. An EKG,  performed just to be sure, corroborated my diagnosis. A much-needed massage a few days later, brought almost complete relief. It loosened up all the tight muscles in my neck, shoulders and back, that had probably been creeping upwards for months, as a reaction to internalized stress over my daughter’s situation, and the holiday crush. I’ve a physical therapy appointment next week. I’m hoping it’ll work out the few remaining aches and pains.

Prilosec works well to resolve my intermittent heartburn. I’ve a few days left of that regimen. But just when one set of issues was minimized, another came calling. Let’s just say it had to do with my “plumbing.” Seniors will know what I’m talking about. Younger folk, like my daughter, would say “TMI! TMI!” All I’ll say is it’s no fun seeking medical help from an ER doctor. Been there, done that, don’t ever want to do that again. Uh, uh, no way.

So while I was recovering from that bad experience, I caught my husband’s cold, and couldn’t stop hacking my head off, coughing and coughing, relentlessly. More sleepless nights until yesterday, when I finally drove myself to a walk-in clinic. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic for a sinus infection, an ailment I suffered annually in the past, but which I’ve not had for a couple of years. Because drugs are hard on the liver, I prefer not to take antibiotics. But it already seems to be working its magic, for my coughing has lessened considerably. As with all things, moderation is the key, and everything has its time and place. Although, the drug I’m taking has also done a number on my “plumbing,” in the other direction. Okay, okay. TMI! TMI!

I’m reading several books concurrently, one of which is “Healthy Aging – A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being,” by Andrew Weil, M.D. On page 1 of its introduction, Dr. Weil says something with which I fully agree. 

 In 2002, I turned sixty. To help celebrate the occasion, friends organized a surprise party for me. After the festivities, there came a time to reflect, and when I did I came to an uncomfortable conclusion: I am closer to a time when my energy and powers will diminish, when I will lose my independence. Sixty is about the time that organs of the body begin gradually to fail, when the first hints of age-related disease begin to appear.

I hardly notice my aging on a day-to-day basis. When I look in the mirror in the morning, my face and white beard seem the same as the day before. But in photographs of myself from the 1970s, my beard is completely black. Looking at old photographs, I can’t help but notice the physical change that has taken place in the course of thirty years. If I pay attention, I can notice other changes in my body: more aches and pains, less resilience in meeting the challenges of traveling, less vigor on occasion. And my memory may not be quite what it used to be. At the same time, despite the evidence, some part of me feels unchanged, in fact feels the same as when I was six. Almost everyone I talk to about aging reports similar experiences.

It’s true, all true. You’re invited to continue journeying with me through the aging process. Perhaps it’ll give you a heads up when your time comes, or maybe you’ll nod your head in recognition of an experience or two that “rings a bell.”

for aging gracefully, huge hugs…and a mountain of effort…hugmamma.

hugmamma,m.d.

Here’s a bit of medical trivia. Just to set the record straight, I’ve returned to self-diagnosing my condition of a few days ago. Given my very close proximity to the patient, whose symptoms I’ve watched with extreme interest, it seems, in my “expert” opinion that I’ve been suffering from symptoms of “dry mouth.” Referring to my copy of  “The Merck Manual of Patient Symptoms”, it seems likely that my dry eyes, dry skin, rash on my eyelid and neck, and decrease in saliva may be owing to “dry mouth.” In my case it is probably due in large part to Claritin, an antihistamine I’ve been taking for a couple of months to combat allergies. Under GERIATRIC ESSENTIALS, the book claims that “…dry mouth becomes more common among the elderly,…probably due to the…many drugs typically used by the elderly rather than aging itself.” And I am getting elderly.

A walk-in-clinic physician at Philadelphia’s airport had prescribed Claritin. I’d been suffering allergy symptoms for some time, without realizing it. I know I’m affected by seasonal changes, but they seem to occur without my taking notice. Only after I’m forced to see a doctor for relief, am I aware that allergy season is in “full swing.” Not wanting to ruin my trip to Venice, I did as the doctor prescribed. Claritin was added to my daily intake of vitamin supplements. Who could know that it would cause an altogether different ailment, like “dry mouth.”

In the recent visit to my own GP, the symptoms hadn’t yet fully developed. So my doctor felt I was still suffering allergy symptoms and prescribed Benadryl when needed, in addition to continuing the Claritin. So after doing what I was told by 2 physicians, and still not  finding relief from the problem, I’ve decided to follow my own advice for now. I discontinued taking both antihistamines. We’ll see. As of now, my diagnosis and prescription seem to be working. Oh, and I should probably be getting more sleep, according to Merck. Well, that may be a difficult pill to swallow with my recent appetite for blogging. It’s now 2 a.m. 

I don’t take medical conditions lightly, although I address them with “tongue-in-cheek” humor. But I am a proponent of being an active participant in my own well-being. I heed expert advice, but I question it and continually assess my symptoms to make certain that my health is improving. Doctors offer their best-educated opinions in the moment, but they are not experiencing it first-hand. I know what I’m feeling all the time. I wish my medical team lived with me 24/7, but they don’t, so I’m the next best thing.

I can see the next patient now…hugmamma