Process of elimination #lupus

I’ve had problems with breathing at night for quite a while. It started a few years ago and would happen occasionally, and seemed to get worse when I took tramadol for some reason. It’s gotten worse since then. I’ve seen  a pulmonologist, cardiologist, neurologist and a GI. So far everyone just blows it off.

It’s been really bad. Two nights ago, I was up all night long. I went to bed at 7am. I felt like someone was squeezing my chest, and every time I was about to fall asleep, I woke up choking for air.

It sounds like sleep apnea but I really don’t think that’s it. I tested negative for it in 2014. I’m more concerned that it might be my heart or my gall  bladder.

For most of February I was probably getting 4-5 hours of sleep per night. I tried propping my bed up for a while, which was terribly uncomfortable. I stopped taking any medication that has drowsiness as a side effect since that seems to make it a lot worse. I was doing breathing exercises before bed and whenever I woke up in the night, which only provided temporary relief. If I fell asleep at all, it was by accident.

On the nights I did sleep, I was waking up hot and drenched in sweat, which can sometimes be a sign that your heart is doing fucked up shit.

More recently, I’ve weened off the metoprolol (beta blocker for heart palpitations) and also lowered my blood pressure medication (both at my own will) and I’m doing a little better. I had a stress test last October that showed that my heart was performing well while on the metoprolol, but I’m thinking that it’s causing a problem now.

I’m still taking the Norvasc for my blood pressure, but I’m down from 7.5mg to 2.5mg. My blood pressure is elevated and my heart rate is in the 100s, but I’m sleeping better. I have to sleep.

As you’ve read before, I’ve had some problems with sitting in certain positions. I’ve given up on sitting on the couch because it gives me chest pains and shortness of breath.

I am going to make an appointment with a new cardiologist because my current cardiologist likes to blow me off and tell me to exercise. I’ll exercise as soon as I can breathe.

I am hopeful to find a cardiologist who knows how to look for even the most minor inflammation. My current cardiologist had admitted that sometimes inflammation can be so mild that it’s easily missed.

Also, I’m having a terrible time with gastritis and acid reflux. I stopped taking the Duexis (ibuprofen) and I also think that it’s made a difference in my breathing at night. I occasionally just take over-the-counter ibuprofen. I haven’t had it in a few days though. I’m probably more achy than usual but it hasn’t been unbearable. But I haven’t really left the house in a few days. Also, my period is next week so I know I’m fucked for pain and headaches.

My breathing gets worse when I have my period too. I was thinking about taking the progesterone shots to stop it.

I’m going back to my GI and asking him to check my gall bladder. I’m on 240mg of Dexilant per day, which is a dose the pharmacy didn’t even want to give me, and I still feel like I am drowning in stomach acid.

He has been reluctant to provide me with any real treatments so far. The only reason I have the Dexilant is because my rheumatologist gave it to me. I am hoping that at my next visit with my GI, he will be more proactive. If not, I’ll have to find someone else.

The gastritis is keeping me up at night. I have to get up at 4-5am and eat, and take medication for it so I can (hopefully) go back to sleep. Otherwise I feel like lava is eating the inside of my stomach.

So, maybe it’s my heart, or my stomach, or both. We’ll see.

I am also going to see another neurologist for the breathing issues and a bunch of other shit. I’m having a lot of muscle weakness in my hands and I’m dealing with a lot of brain fog.

For the past few weeks I’ve had some kind of tendonitis in my hip. My knee was bothering me too, but that seems to be better. I can’t really think of anything I did. I tend to bear my weight on my left leg when I’m standing for a while, but I don’t see how that could cause my hip to hurt for 2 weeks. Then again, I suppose it could, since Lupus is a dick.

I’m having a bad time with my body temperature. Sometimes I’m too hot, and sometimes I feel like someone drained all the heat out of me. I’ve been getting cold hands and feet like usual, but I’ve also been getting ice cold spots on other parts of my body, like my knees and hips. I don’t really know what that’s about. It makes me worry about my circulation. I don’t know if you can get Raynaud’s in other parts of your body. Or perhaps it’s the “vasculopathy”. More mysterious bullshit to deal with.

I also have a shivering problem, and sometimes I’m cold, and sometimes I’m not. It’s really hard on my muscles because it makes me really tense. It’s uncomfortable. I don’t know what that is, either.

I have an appointment with my rheumatologist this week. I’m basically just going to reiterate this blog.

 

 

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February #lupus #ra #humira #spoonie

February was a long month. It seemed like my family and I were sick for weeks. My brother came down with the flu on Superbowl Sunday. Everyone’s been sick since then. We had a sudden heat wave and I think it just made everybody sicker. I had a sore throat for weeks, and then finally last week I got a cold. Once I actually got sick, it wasn’t that bad. But it took so long just to come down with it. I felt awful for a long time. I’m doing better now but my sinuses are still stuffy.

I had to take my Humira a few days late a couple times this month just to make sure I was well enough to take it. It ended up working out, but it’s kind of stressful when you’re not sure if you’re sick or not. I did my shot yesterday. I’m tired today but not sure if it’s from the shot or just from everything.

I’m not sleeping well. I’m pretty exhausted. Sometimes in the middle of the day I’m so tired I just want to cry. I would take a nap, but I haven’t been able to sleep at any time of day. I’ve talked before about my breathing problems at night. This month it’s been really bad. I feel like there is something wrong with my diaphragm. When I lie down I feel some resistance in that area, like it collapses or closes up or something. Right when I’m about to fall asleep I jerk awake gasping, and I can hear it. It’s not wheezing. It seems different. Sometimes I have a night where it doesn’t really bother me. Those seem to be the days where I didn’t take any medications that cause drowsiness or relax muscles. So now I’m afraid to take anything like that anymore, because I want so badly to just sleep. Last night was a little better than usual but I was still up pretty early because of my usual gastritis pain that hits me around 5am. If I fall asleep around midnight and wake up at 5, that’s actually a good night for me. Sometimes I go to bed and I’m not really able to fall asleep til 2-3 because of the breathing problems, and the quality of sleep I do get is pretty shitty, and I wake up all jumpy and jittery.

My joints hurt a lot this week. Particularly my lower spine, hips, knees, and the bones in my feet. I’m not really sure why. Sometimes when I get menstrual cramps, it’s like the pain goes all the way down to my feet.

I’ve had a lot of nose bleeds. I had a week this month where I was having 2 a day. I wasn’t gushing all over the floor but I still needed to keep tissues around. I chalked it up to to the Flonase that I had been using for some nasal swelling. I prefer nasacort since it doesn’t smell like flowers and it doesn’t give me nosebleeds.

The last 2 doctor appointments I’ve been to were complete shit. They didn’t listen to me at all. Sometimes a doctor’s only goal is to bill your insurance. I went to the gynecologist for a “Well Woman” visit which is free for everyone because of Obamacare. I had a few things concerning chronic pain in that area that I tried to talk to her about, things I thought she might be concerned about too, but she seemed more interested in hurrying me along, since it was my free visit. The pain I have is abnormal and uncomfortable daily and I was hoping to get some help or at least an explanation.She basically just told me not to wear jeans. And I’m just thinking “Um, it’s not normal for jeans to make your ladyparts hurt to begin with.” I thought she might check my hormone levels since an imbalance could cause pain sometimes. Nope. I also talked about progesterone to stop my periods since they make my lupus worse every month, and she really wasn’t interested in providing me with extra information. I asked her if she had some of those medication brochures and she told me to google it.

The more I thought about that appointment, the more pissed it made me. I felt a bit violated and unheard at the same time.

Doctors hate Obamacare and are prejudiced against any service they have to provide under it. She just wanted to do the minimum and get me out of her office.

I would happily talk about the other appointment I went to openly but [insert dysfunctional relative here] reads my blog and I’d sooner share things with strangers at the bus stop. I don’t usually talk about the harassment out of fear of retaliation.

It was just another situation where I was disappointed by a doctor with whom I shared things in confidence, and now I have to see another doctor and start all over again.

Today I was supposed to go see a neurologist. I made the appointment on speakerphone with my mom 2 months ago for today, March 1st. I put it right into the calendar on my iPod. I can only make appointments on Tuesday or Thursday, and I go mostly on Tuesdays. The staff must have forgotten that Monday was leap day, because for some reason I was scheduled on Monday. I know for sure it was supposed to be March 1st. I remember specifically asking for it since it was a Tuesday. So now they won’t see me at all since I was a “no show”, even though it was their mistake. They’d never admit to it in a billion years and in the mean time gave me attitude like I was too lazy to show up yesterday. They told me they tried to call me once to confirm the appointment on Friday but that there was “something wrong with my phone”. My mom called to confirm the appointment this morning since I never got a call, and it’s a good thing she did, or else we would have driven 3 hours round trip for nothing.

While I don’t really want to be at a doctor’s office where the staff doesn’t know how to read a calendar, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see a doctor today. I really want to talk to someone and hopefully figure out my breathing problems. I’m scheduled to see a new neuro but their first available appointment is at the end of April. I am hoping that if they get a cancellation, they can get me in sooner.

At the same time I am a bit disenchanted with going to doctors in general. I feel like I’m not being heard or helped. I’m not expecting a magic wand but maybe a bit more understanding would be nice. Whenever I have a new troubling symptom I feel like it takes years to figure out what it is, because I have to go around and see all the specialists all over again, only to have most of them shrug and go “it’s probably the lupus”. Well, no shit sherlock, but I’m miserable, so fix it.

For example, I’ve had heart palpitations and high blood pressure for years. I still don’t really know why. It’s probably vascular. But for me to finally know that it’s “probably vascular” took me years of “it sounds like anxiety” and various tests coming up normal. I had to beg my cardiologist to give me medication for it. My resting BP was 140/100 and it was giving me terrible headaches, shortness of breath and dizziness. They were perfectly OK with letting me go on like that because it’s “not that high” and “it would take ten years to do damage”. It’s still a problem but I’m a bit more comfortable now. I have a handful of symptoms like this that make daily living really hard and they all just kind of shrug at me, and my nighttime breathing problems is one of them.

Also my bladder problems… I don’t remember if I already wrote about this or not, but I was able to figure out that some of my bladder irritation is probably an allergic reaction to salmon. I was eating it a lot since my diet is pretty limited, but I realized when I hadn’t eaten it in a while, I wasn’t having the burning or frequency nearly as much anymore. I still pee a lot but I’m in a lot less pain now. But I’ve been dealing with the bladder irritation since I did the Rituxan treatment in 2014 (which can happen with some drugs) and it’s been terribly uncomfortable.

Sometimes I get treated like I’m doing something to cause my own symptoms.

Or the “you’re too young to be dealing with that”.

Oh, ok then, I guess I’m not.

I’m still not really able to sit on the couch without getting the vertigo and chest discomfort. I’m really not sure what that’s all about. I’m sitting in dining and office chairs most of the time now. Some days are better than others. It’s been hard on my body but the pain has been easier to deal with than the vertigo. By nighttime I’m pretty achy. It’s hard to have the endurance to sit at a table when you’re sleep deprived, too. I feel like I’m pushing myself every day now. Days feel really long sometimes.

Veering off into a completely different direction, I am pretty disappointed with the changes in social media lately. As sad as it sounds, they are the bulk of my social life, and the new algorithms that control who and how I interact with people have made things like facebook basically useless. The facebook algorithm is designed so that the less you interact with someone, the less you see of their posts. But then what ends up happening is you never see a person’s posts so you never interact with them. It’s a shitty catch-22 algorithm. So I know my friends aren’t ignoring me, they just aren’t seeing my shit, and vice-versa. Twitter is starting to do the same thing, and they both throw in a lot of advertising, which is annoying. I also am annoyed from seeing 2-day-old posts at the top of my news feed, and seeing a post again just because someone commented on it. I’m starting to fail to see the point in using facebook. I know there are other social media apps and stuff but I don’t have a smartphone and I am limited to what my computer or my iPod 4 can do. I like sharing my art and my stupid thoughts and my blogs with people. It makes me feel normal.

Speaking of art… I had a week where I did quite a few digital drawings, still life stuff. I got sick and I got off track a little bit but I’ll get back to it. I was learning about my camera the other day. I haven’t played around with the settings much and I was having fun with that. Today I downloaded Blender to see if I still have any 3D modeling skills intact. It all still makes sense, I just have to practice it a little bit. I totally bombed this tutorial on Youtube, but probably because I was trying to do it with a headache. There are quite a few computer programs I want to try. I was looking at Maya, and I am already familiar with 3D Studio Max. I also want to try Sketchbook Pro and probably Photoshop for drawing. I also would love to get my hands on some music software like FL Studio. I can use my piano keyboard as a midi controller and I know I’d have a ball with that.

Last night the fog rolled in really thick and it smelled like the beach. It was pretty much my favorite.