A little of April and May #lupus

I know I am overdue for a blog. I don’t really remember where I left off last time. I’ve been to a new cardiologist and I had an ultrasound to see if there was any inflammation around my heart causing me chest pain and shortness of breath. I have yet to know the results of that test because the doctor cancelled my appointment since she will not be in town.

The cardiologist did mention that I could also have a problem with my diaphragm. I’m starting to believe that that is my whole problem. I notice now when my heart burn and gastritis are bad, so are my chest pains and shortness of breath. My breathing trouble at night gets worse when my stomach gets worse. Nothing seems to stay down in my stomach anymore and I’m clearing my throat all day long from the acid reflux.

I started taking Carafate about 5 weeks ago in hopes of healing the gastritis, and so far I don’t feel any better. I still have to eat right before bed and eat in the middle of the night or early morning to get the grinding pain to stop. My stomach grinds even when I just drink water. I’m not sleeping very well. I’m sleeping propped up which has been really hard on my back since I am a side-sleeper. I feel like I can’t breathe when I sit. I feel really full when I drink water. I’m miserable with this problem, to be honest.

My GI wanted me to see a nutritionist to get ideas for meals, but I honestly don’t know what they would tell me to do that I’m not already doing. I can’t possibly eliminate anything else, and everything I have eliminated has been for good reason so there isn’t any way I could put it back into my diet. I have made an effort to still try to be as nutritionally sound as possible.

I’m going back to the GI soon to talk about the carafate and my diaphragm.

I went to see a neuropsychologist to get some help with my brain fog. It’s really bad, so bad that I don’t know how I will ever be a functioning adult if I don’t get it sorted out. I had an MRI on the 10th just to check up on my brain and make sure I don’t have lesions and stuff. The doctor wants me to do some testing for my brain fog but they didn’t have an appointment for me until the end of summer so I’ll just be waiting til then.

I’m still taking the Humira shots twice a month. They are still helping some of my lower GI tract inflammation and also some of my muscle pain seems to be better. I would be hard pressed to say it isn’t helping some things. I am still disappointed that I feel so awful all the time, but I am hoping if I can get my GERD/hernia and my brain fog sorted out, I might not feel so terrible. Those 2 problems are really bothersome and could possibly be overshadowing any other relief I might be getting from the Humira.

I’m having a bad time with vertigo. I’m dizzy just from looking down slightly at my computer screen. I noticed my vision seems a bit weaker lately, not sure if it’s just time for an adjustment in prescription or if it means anything. I do have an astigmatism for which I do not wear corrective contact lenses. I’ve always been fine without torics. But lately it bothers me when I wear my glasses too and those do correct my astigmatism. I tried my toric samples the other day and my vision didn’t seem to improve. It’s not a big deal, just an annoyance. Maybe my vision is blurry because I don’t sleep much. Who knows.

Some of you noticed that I haven’t written a blog in a while. I truly appreciate everyone that follows along with me. I have someone in my life that is harassing me, especially on the internet, and I have continued to write knowing that they read it and that they may decide to bother me more, and that isn’t going to stop me from doing what I feel is important for people who like to read my blog and for myself. I considered dropping out of sight and closing down my blog and making an attempt to write somewhere else anonymously, but I don’t want to give anyone that kind of power over me, and I don’t want to abandon people who have been so supportive in the last 4 years. I’ve recently had a change of attitude over the whole situation and now find it laughable and quite pathetic.

Cheers to that.

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.

 

 

Vertigo and stuff #lupus

I’ve been getting vertigo and shortness of breath from sitting on my couch.

I agree, it sounds ridiculous.

It must be a positional/blood flow thing. Like when you get a random boner, only vertigo.

Luckily I’ve never had a random boner.

I’ve been sitting in a chair at the table for most of the day to avoid it. But I reach a point where I can’t sit there, either. My neck and my back couldn’t take it anymore so I went to lie down on my side on the couch for a bit, and sure enough, the room is now spinning. I also feel like someone is sitting on my chest. I’m having more shortness of breath when I am trying to fall asleep too.

I wish my ass was less bony.

This has been going on for a week or more. It’s just this month’s weird problem. I get a new one every month. It’s like a ‘Weird Problem of the Month’ club. This subscription sucks.

I saw a specialist for pain and brain fog a few weeks ago. I’ll be nice and just say he wasn’t a good match. I have appointments with a couple more, my mom and I figured we might as well shop around a bit for this type of specialist considering it’s a tricky subject and the specialist needs to know what they’re doing.

I have an appointment with a gyno soon, because unfortunately the chronic pain and skin inflammation that goes with autoimmune disease can affect anywhere. Also, having Addison’s Disease, my hormone levels could be unbalanced. My periods every month make my lupus worse. I hate knowing that week is coming. I hate having that setback all the time. I hate the extra migraines and the ‘Weird Problem of the Month’. I hate the extra stomach pain, and the extra pain in general. I hate the extra fatigue, and the lack of sleep, and the cramps. I wish there was a different word for cramps, because the word ‘cramp’ doesn’t do the ‘barbed-wire-wrapped-around-my-uterus’ feeling justice.

Oops. TMI.

Right now I’m shivering for no reason. I’m not cold, because it’s hot in my house right now. Just another weird symptom I’ve been having lately. It makes my muscles hurt. We broke a record in heat today. “Winter” LOL.

I did some art today. I’ve had a bit more energy in the morning for the past couple days. When I am able to sleep until 7 it seems like I do better with energy. But when I sleep until 4, and then I’m up for 3 hours and then have to go back to bed, I usually feel shitty.

Thursday is Humira day.

Well, I managed to mention butts, lady parts, and boners in today’s blog. I should probably get off the computer now.

 

 

 

Tomorrow and energy and stuff #lupus

My rheumatologist told me last week that we are doing everything we can safely do to control inflammation and the pain caused by it. The next step is to try to control the pain not caused by inflammation, and also my brain fog issues. I’m seeing a new specialist for those things tomorrow. I’m not a fan of going to see a new doctor. It always makes me nervous.

I’m still struggling with energy. It doesn’t help that I can’t seem to get a decent night’s sleep. I woke up every hour last night, mostly because I pee too much. I feel like a sloth today. I’m having some shortness of breath that isn’t helping either. I’m having some headaches that come with vertigo and feeling lightheaded. They make my neck hurt too. I’ve had them before. They’re not too bad this time but they make it really hard to concentrate. They make the brain fog a lot worse. They get worse when I look down for too long. Sometimes they make my muscles feel weak, and they make my teeth hurt. They’re weird headaches and they feel awful. I’m pretty sure they are vestibular migraines. When I can rid myself of the headache/neck ache, all the other weird symptoms go away too.

I’m taking more vitamins. I went up on my iron and started taking D3 softgels instead of tablets. They seem more effective for some reason. I get more achy at night when I don’t have enough D3.

I’m backing off on the ibuprofen. Mostly just to see what happens.

My BP seemed a bit on the low side today. I’m gonna try going back to my usual dose of Florinef. Maybe it will help my energy. It might give me more headaches. I don’t know. It’s a medical Rubix Cube.

I had a minor stomach flu on Monday. It wasn’t really that bad but I still don’t feel 100% yet. Today I would normally do my Humira shot but I’m gonna wait an extra day to make sure I’m over it. I’m kinda too tired to deal with stabbing myself today anyway. It’s an easy process but the injector pen is painful.

I’ve been using restasis eye drops for a few years. My eyes used to feel so sticky and dry. I’m taking a break from them now. I feel like every time I use them they make my eye feel irritated all day, which seems counter-productive. I’m using Pazeo allergy eye drops now and they seem to be taking care of the irritation and my eyes don’t seem to feel dry even though I stopped the restasis. I’m still not wearing contact lenses that much but I am able to actually wear them when I want to. Mostly I’m just too lazy to put them in.

 

Eyeballs. Enbrel. #lupus #stillsdisease

I’ve stopped the Actemra infusions and switched to once-a-week Enbrel injections. So far I’ve done 2 injections with the auto-injector. When the pharmacy fills my prescription I think they will be giving the prefilled syringes instead. The auto-injector hurts. It’s easy to use, it just jabs really hard.

A few days after my first injection I noticed my back muscles felt a bit better. It wasn’t miraculous relief but I was suddenly able to sit more comfortably after months of pain and weakness. I still feel hot during the day but I’m noticing I get the chills now, which I wasn’t before. I feel a little less uncomfortable in the fever department some days. Also, I had a few days where I didn’t have bladder pain. It was short lived, but it happened.

I’m going to continue with the Enbrel for 12 weeks and see what happens. My doctor is excited because Enbrel is much cheaper than the other medications that we were looking at, like the Kineret.

I went to the opthamologist last week. I haven’t been able to wear my contacts for the past few months, and they haven’t been very comfortable for years. I already use restasis but have been feeling like my eyes are still dry and gritty. I’ve been worried about having autoimmune inflammation in my eyes. I figured they would tell me I just can’t wear contacts anymore.

It turns out, for a change, that my problem is a lot simpler than that. I have allergies. I started using pazeo drops and for 2 days I’ve been able to wear toric lenses. I couldn’t wear torics at all before. Now I can see sharper when I wear contacts. Before, I was just using regular contacts. They were good enough, but not sharp. I haven’t tried wearing makeup with contacts again yet. I’m still giving the drops some time to work. When I put my contacts in yesterday, they still felt gritty for the first hour, but felt better after that. I’m hoping to get continued relief so I can wear my contacts more often. It’s nice to not have a pair of glasses on your face all the time, especially on headache days.

Actemra, 5 weeks #lupus #ra

I’ve had 5 Actemra infusions. This month my doctor wants to see me after 5 weeks (instead of the usual 4) to see what happens with my symptoms when the Actemra wears off. At my last appointment he asked me how I feel now compared to how I was feeling a year ago. I thought about it, I thought about all the things I write in my blog. I told him that I don’t feel any different than I did a year ago. I really have not felt any significant improvement since starting the Actemra. I’ve kept a blog, and a journal, and recently, a log of my fevers. I’ve thought about all the activities I do regularly, and whether or not any of them have gotten any easier. I just really don’t feel improvement in my pain or stiffness.

My eczema rash on my inner elbow has gotten better. But it got worse after my 4th infusion. He said I looked less red when I was there last time. My lupus face rash seems less intense for now. I haven’t broken out in the hot sunburn-like rash all over my body this month. This month I’ve still had the red knee rash, the red hot itchy painful feet, and the burning itchy rash on the backs of my knees. My hands haven’t had a rash but the pain is still the same. My raynaud’s is better, and the doctor pointed it out, but it gets better every summer. My feet and hands don’t get cold and numb when it’s 80-90 degrees out.

My fevers are still kicking my ass 3 times a day. They don’t always register high on the thermometer. Sometimes the number is “normal” and I feel hot and sick, and sometimes the number can be high but I don’t necessarily feel hot. I’m on 800mg ibuprofen (Duexis) 3 times a day, and I know that affects my temperature. I would feel a lot worse without it I can’t eat a cooked meal without spiking a fever, or move around too much without getting hot and sick. And I definitely can’t be outside. Sometimes I have to reschedule doctor appointments because it’s just too hot to drive 3 hours. Sometimes sitting still I’m just so hot I want to cry.

I’ve been reading blogs from last year and the beginning of this year. I’m still dealing with the same symptoms I was writing about in those blogs.

The doctor will probably decide whether or not to continue Actemra when I see him again. I’m still waiting to see how I feel on that 5th week, but I’m not expecting to feel different since I’ve never really felt any relief to begin with.

My muscle pain and fatigue is pretty bad. I feel weak. I was in the pool in August, doing mild exercise. Just moving around, really. I’m still sore and tired from it. It’s made me feel weaker than usual. It’s been hard to explain to doctors that this is why I can’t exercise. I never seem to recover. I never seem to get stronger.

It’s been pretty hot here. I’m clinging to sanity by wearing a frozen towel around my neck.

July blog #lupus #stillsdisease

I had my 4th Actemra last Tuesday. I told them I didn’t want Solu Medrol with it this time. That has honestly never helped me. It actually seems to make my pain worse. It didn’t help the fevers either. The other night my feet and knees were on fire with a burning hot rash. All my joints have been hot, and I’m just feverish in general. I got up early today because I was too hot to sleep. My temperature is usually around 99.1-99.8 F which isn’t high but apparently it’s enough to interrupt my sleep. It’s strange because taking ibuprofen or tylenol don’t seem to help that much. I’m not feeling anything with the Actemra yet. Maybe I’m not supposed to. I’m still waiting until the 6 month mark, but so far I feel absolutely nothing. I’m still easily pained and easily fatigued by the simplest activities. And I’m too friggin’ hot.

My neck pain and headaches have been really bad. The neck pain turns into stiffness which turns into vertigo. I’m having a really hard time with range of motion. I still can’t look down without getting the spins. I feel lightheaded most of the time. Wearing a neck brace seems to help. It’s not very comfortable though.

I had the EEG the Friday before my infusion. The office fucked up and didn’t tell me that I was supposed to come in sleep deprived so that I’d be asleep while they did it. It was a giant waste of time. I guess one of the staff (the one who has been rude to me) was in a spat with the EEG technician and they weren’t talking to each other, because some people never leave high school. I feel like she sabotaged my test by not telling me how to be prepared for it. Of course I’m just speculating but I wouldn’t put it past this woman to do such a thing. She orchestrated a big lie last time I was in the office to cover her own ass because she forgot to give me orders for a blood panel. She treated me like I was too lazy to go, in front of the doctor, when I didn’t know I was supposed to go at all.

On a side note, I am not one of those “I can sleep anywhere” people. I can’t even get to sleep in my own bed at night when I want to, so even if I did come in sleep deprived, I probably wouldn’t have slept for the test anyway, I would have just made myself feel like shit by not sleeping and then dragging myself to Los Angeles.

I’m probably not having seizure activity. Neurology was my first place to go with my symptoms since I felt like they reminded me of some episodes I had when I was a kid. We talked about doing a 5 day hospital stay to monitor for seizures but I don’t think I’m going to go through all that. My episodes last too long to be seizures.

I realized that my episodes at night are at least partly due to anxiety. I seem to get short of breath when I’m trying to fall asleep. It’s totally involuntary, I don’t really do anything to stress myself out before bed. I feel like the panic comes to get me when I’m the most relaxed, actually. I’m a wired person. I can’t even nap anymore. If I don’t take something at night to make me sleepy, I’ll never sleep. I don’t drink coffee or alcohol which I know can mess up your sleep schedule. I know that just in the past few years my anxiety has gotten worse because my pain has gotten worse. My pain makes it so I can’t sit still. I want to take my body off like it’s a big itchy sweater. Obviously pain is worse than an itchy sweater, but I don’t know how else to explain it. It just drives me nuts.

I’ve got some other things going on outside of my health adventures that are adding to my anxiety. I try really hard not to allow myself to take certain types of stress on, but I think sometimes I can’t help it. I told my rheumatologist about my stress, my shortness of breath at night, and that I haven’t been sleeping. I usually take xanax but he said that just relieves the symptoms and not the actual problem. He gave me Seroquel. He said it would help me feel relaxed and sleepy. It’s usually used for mood disorders and schizophrenia, but can also be used in my case for an off-label treatment like anxiety or insomnia. I’ve been taking it for 5 days now. The first 2 nights it made me feel really drugged. It helped me feel relaxed and sleepy, but it made my body feel very heavy and off-balance. I was a little worried I might fall when I got up to use the bathroom. I felt a little dragged out during the day. By the third night, it didn’t make me feel so drugged. It actually seemed like it wore off around 4am, because I was awake and wired. I didn’t really feel as tired during the day. I almost feel like even though it’s helping me at night with anxiety, that it might just be pushing it off until morning, because I’m finding myself feeling more anxious during the day lately. I’ve only been on seroquel for 5 days though, and I’m sure there’s a period of adjustment. It’s also hard starting a new medication when I have my period because everything gets thrown off from that, so I can’t really tell how something is truly effecting me until I’ve been on it for at least a month.

It’s been raining here. We actually had thunder here, which almost never happens. The rain doesn’t really make my pain worse. I feel much worse on the days when it’s 90 degrees and 7% humidity. It’s muggy and sunny today. I wouldn’t mind if it rained more.

I’ve had a rash over the backs of my knees and inner elbows since March. I also have it under my arms. After my 3rd infusion, it flared. Just in the past few days it has peeled and gotten lighter. I’m pretty sure it’s eczema. I sent pictures to my dermatologist a couple months ago but she just blew me off and said it was a “fleeting lupus rash”. My rheumatologist said lupus doesn’t cause itchy rashes like this one. I’m not worried about it but it is annoying that it’s on my inner elbow where I prefer IVs to be placed. It seems to be fading for now. I have a lot of general skin irritation that doesn’t always come with a rash. Some days I can’t wear anything besides sweatpants because it’s just too uncomfortable.

I’m still taking the Dexilant for acid reflux. I’m on 60mg 4 times a day, which is a huge dose. I take a double dose of magnesium so it doesn’t get low. I backed off the Dexilant to 60mg twice a day because I was getting terrible stomach cramps that were lasting all day. The acid came right back and was keeping me awake at night. I went back up to 4 times a day because I didn’t feel like dealing with all the annoyances the acid causes, like the pain, losing sleep, and gross taste in your mouth all goddamn day long. It seems like as long as I take miralax and “keep things moving” I don’t get as crampy. I had a bad crampy day when I was only taking it twice a day, and that’s why I decided to go back up on the dose. The magnesium helps too. I guess I’m just gonna try to deal with it, because I can’t have grinding stomach acid waking me up at 4am.

I straightened up my room a little yesterday. I was pretty tired after. I didn’t do anything crazy, just put stuff where it goes. I don’t understand why I feel like I have no endurance. My muscles get tired so easily, I get short of breath, and a headache from doing anything that slightly raises my blood pressure. I shouldn’t have to recover from putting shit in a drawer. 25 going on 90.

I want to sit and draw but my back gets so tired so quickly. And I get the spins when I look down.

Some part of me misses taking the pamelor for my headaches. It made my concentration terrible and fucked up my mood but I didn’t have a headache all the time like I do now. I didn’t get a headache from bending over. Now I just feel like I can’t do anything because I have a headache. I’m probably gonna go see a new neurologist, since my current neurologist has a witch for an assistant, and since he gets bored with headache patients. I guess I’m just ready to try the next thing, because this headache all the time shit sucks.

Hot, bored, and skeptical. There’s a giant bag of animal crackers with my name on it.

TTFN