Thursday, June 12, 2014

The magic of a $99.99 special

Hi everyone!

Guess what I've been doing these days?

If you answered with vomiting and getting admitted yet again to the hospital, you would be correct!

New gastro issue this time, my small intestine decided the stomach was getting way too much attention so it got inflamed to the point that (a) they thought I had appendicitis and (b) it triggered a gastroparesis attack.  So off to the ER I went.  Tip for you:  Never go to the ER on a Monday morning if you can help it.  Everybody suffers through the weekend with their crap and then Monday morning decide they just can't face the office and perhaps they should go to the ER.  I waited over three hours -- start at 6:30 a.m. -- to get a bed.  By about one they had ruled out appendicitis and ruled in enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine) and decided to admit me.  Luckily only a 24 hour stay this time; I swear you can hear a taxi meter chiming off the dollars every second you're in the hospital.

The title of this post refers to me believing that maybe I can actually lose weight.  Around Christmastime I got myself a Fitbit Flex.  Right after that I got really sick with all of this GI stuff so it wasn't until about a month ago that I set up some of the dashboard stuff like a weight goal.  Back in my high school days I weighed 154 lbs for forever.  No matter what I did or didn't do, I was at 154 and I was (mostly) happy there.  Freshman year in college I was walking everywhere and got down to 145 which was great but 154 seems like a better goal.  For one thing, 50+ pounds is easier to lose than 60+ pounds.

And hence the title.  When I put in my weight goal, the Fitbit dashboard tells you how many pounds you have to lose to get there.  And apparently the Fitbit can do math better than I can, or maybe it just did the actual math.  At any rate, suddenly I didn't have to lose 50+ pounds.  I only had to lose 48.   Which is better than 50.  Fifty sounds like such an impossible goal.  "I'd have to never eat and work out five times a week to lose 50 pounds!"  But less than fifty?  Totally doable.  Forty-eight pounds is nearly 45 pounds.  Then you're almost to 40 and once you hit 40 that's practically 30.  Once you've got less than 30 pounds to lose that's almost 20 and then you're nearly at your goal weight.  Right?

With the fun flare up last week, the gastroparesis seems to be stuck.  Not in the ER but not eating very well.  I get hungry, which is a good sign, but then I get full really quickly.  Consequently today I only have 41.8 lbs to lose.  That's almost only 30 pounds left to go!

And this is why everybody wants to shop in Oregon where there's no sales tax.   Your purchase will be $104.23?  Too much.  Only $99.99?  Sign me up!

I'm off to try to eat some Spaghetti-Os.  Nice, squishy, there's-kind-of-a-vegetable-in-there Spaghetti-Os.

Cheers,
the CilleyGirl

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Catching up

I've actually been up to quite a bit lately and that even includes some exercise!  As promised, at the bottom are some pictures from the Tulip Festival from when I ran ("ran") the Blooms to Brews 10K.  It was an incredibly bright day when I took these but the overexposure really makes the colors pop.

The weekend after Blooms to Brews I went to Bend to visit my friend S's dog Kip (the black dog smiling below).  Okay, also my friend S and her husband and her other dog Lily (the white dog below) and the four kittens they were fostering.  S is the one who fostered my two gigantoids; she raises good pets.  We've been friends since about 1997 and when she lived here we used to hike all the time.  In the early days she had an awesome Collie named Jasper and then later it was Kip and I had my dogs and then later Lily joined in.  My dogs got too old to hike and Kip -- a tripawd -- is also a senior dog and can't go very far anymore either.  But every time I go visit we do go hiking and this time we took Lily and some other friends out to hike the Falls River trail.  As you can see, absolutely beautiful and really great weather -- it snowed like a week later down there.  

I also got in a kitten fix.  Two boys and two girls, only a few weeks old and about as big as your hand.  Sadly the buff colored boy didn't thrive with them (from a different litter) so he's now being fostered by a vet tech to give him some extra attention and medical-y stuff.  The other three are definitely thriving and growing like gangbusters.  So cute!

In other news, I finally made it to the gym I joined.  Planet Fitness is right up the street from my house and I find all of the purple amusing as well as the fact that they spelled judgment wrong everywhere (no extra "e" people!).  My friend Julie joined too so now we've set up a schedule of three times a week, Tuesday and Thursday at o'dark thirty and then Saturday mornings.  Julie still can't run and won't for quite a while so this is a good way for me not only to get my butt into the gym (failure to show up means being hassled unmercifully by text message) but to take it easy in building a base back up.  Plus, weights; I have zero upper body strength.  Really, I don't know how I manage to keep upright with these boobs.

I also joined a Meetup group that does walks and hikes on the westside at times I can actually go.  I did my first four mile hilly walk with them on Monday (and got in a dog fix, we had three corgis, a weimeraner, and a greyhound) and plan to hike with them on Sunday.  I'll be running again in no time!

























Cheers,
the CilleyGirl

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Race Recap: Blooms to Brews

I know, I know:  What on earth is a race recap doing on this blog?  I promise, I'll mention something about vomit in here somewhere.

I spent my weekend up in Woodland, Washington, which is about 20 minutes north of Portland, for the second running of the Blooms to Brews.  They have both a half and a 10K, I ran the 10K.  And I actually did do some running!

I drove up Saturday, late morning.  It's about a 40 minute drive from my house to Woodland.  Blooms to Brews is part of the Woodland Tulip Festival and I've finally been ready to see some tulips after The Great Tulip Overdose of 1995.  Don't ask.  Okay, ask:  In 1995 my mom and I went to La Conner, Washington, where tulips are A Big Deal.  There are three bulb companies up there and acres of tulips.  And irises and daffodils.  We spent a whole day touring tulip fields and shooting photos.  I shot eight rolls of film.  I never wanted to see another tulip after that for a very, very long time.  And I hadn't until this weekend.

Anyhow.  The tulip festival is just one company and a couple of fields.  They have a small display garden showing off the niftier varieties of tulips other than your standard red and yellow smooth petaled tulips.  I haven't downloaded the photos yet but if they turned out well (it was really sunny, I think everything turned out overexposed) I'll post a few here some time.  I did not get tulip'd out.  I did get sugar'd out though; there were about 15 vendors and I bought way too much sugar.  Some amazing almond toffee (like almond roca but with extra added crack), some caramel macchiato spiced almonds (great post-race snack), and I bought some really great raw blackberry honey from a guy who looked just like Uncle Sy from Duck Dynasty.  Can't wait to have that in my tea!  Also bought some yummy mustard called "Fool's Gold" that I think is a honey dijon'ish taste.

Stayed overnight in Woodland even though this is fairly close to home but I wanted a mini break and it turned out so did a lot of my fellow Portlanders, which was cool.  Sunday morning was the race and despite an initially chilly wind it was perfect weather, about mid 50s at start and into the 60s by the end.

I spent the first five minutes cursing myself and wondering why I'd ever thought I could do this on zero training.  My right quad had been tight going in to the race and it bugged me throughout.  But after the first mile I started warming up and enjoying myself.  Although we were on roads that were not closed to traffic -- and some drivers don't understand moving aside for runners, we have a permit to be out here dammit, we all almost got hit a couple of times -- the race went past Horseshoe Lake, the tulip fields, and then the Lewis River.  It was an out and back.  I walked part of mile one, all of mile two and a smidge of three with a couple of lovely ladies down from Spokane and then at the water stop they stopped to take their time and I decided to try some running.


Look at some of those negative splits!  Official finish time was 1:38:38.

As part of your race entry, everyone got a BBQ pulled pork sandwich and beer afterwards.  My stomach laughed at the thought of beer ("Try it and I'll vomit!" - obligatory vomit reference) but the pulled pork was really good.  As I was eating I ended up chatting with the ten year old son of the people who had put on the race.  So cute, he was a one-man PR machine.  They're adding a marathon next year and the boy told me they were going to have finisher medals for the 10K too next year.  Speaking of the medal, check out that link above to see the medal; it's a purple Solo cup that's a bottle opener and it is about the size of my hand.  I was deeply jealous the 10Kers didn't get one too.

Post-race my quad was shredded and my legs were tired but on the whole I felt pretty good.  Probably better than I should, considering my lack of fitness and training.  Glad I did the race though!  I'd enjoy doing it again next year, here's hoping I'll be in shape for that one.

Cheers,
the CilleyGirl

Monday, April 7, 2014

Exciting times

Yes, very exciting times.  I'm still struggling with daily life with full-blown gastroparesis.  My Fitbit Flex goes off three times a day to remind me to take my GP meds.   I'm constantly evaluating whether I'm having a regular old "blah" moment in my day or if I'm getting nauseous, and if I'm nauseous how bad it is:  Do I need some anti-erp meds and it will pass or am I headed for a trip to the ER?  I've got that going on right now.

A day where I eat two actual meals is a good day.  Three meals makes for a stellar day.  When the stomach muscles aren't working properly, I get full very fast, and thankfully I'm learning that even a few bites too many can mean the difference between feeling alright and feeling like I'm going to erp.  I'm getting good at boxing up food to go or putting it back in the fridge or just tossing it out, rather than surrendering to the "you must clean your plate" mentality so many of us grew up with.  I'm eating lots of ramen noodles and drinking lots of protein shakes.  Today I'm at about a five on a scale of 1 to 10.  I had a protein shake for breakfast and I expect to have an Everything bagel with salmon cream cheese and chicken noodle soup for lunch.  Dinner could go either way, either "real food" (like a grass fed beef burrito or salisbury steak with mashed potatoes) or ramen.  At this minute, I'm thinking ramen will be all I can handle.

Keeping hydrated is a big challenge.  I saw my GI on Tuesday and spent a lot of time waiting in the little room so I studied the charts on the wall.  Quick anatomy refresher:  A few things are absorbed through your stomach and a few through your large intestine, but most is absorbed through the small intestine which is last in line.  I can drink but the fluids just don't get that far in a timely fashion and so I get easily dehydrated and stay that way longer.  I just filled my 32 ounce cup with water and got some sparkling water but I'm feeling like I'll be lucky to get through the 32 ounces today.  Oh, and an extra added bonus:  when water isn't being absorbed properly into your system, it causes -- shall we say -- some congestion issues?  GP is the gift that just keeps on giving.

I ended up not running Shamrock and I think I'm going to skip Rock 'n Roll as well.  I am doing a 10K this Sunday though.  The weather is supposed to be beautiful and the race is part of the local tulip festival so I'm heading up Saturday to tour the tulip fields and then spending the night. to race in the morning.  Kind of a mini-break for me.  I'm looking forward to having hopefully something of a normal weekend.

Cheers,
the CilleyGirl

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Moving along

My last post got lots of views but zero comments.  Do you all not like talking about vomit or something?

Life continues to go forward as I work on learning how to deal with this chronic illness.  No return visits to the ER -- yay! -- but the last several days have been very blah, culminating in -- spoiler alert! -- a quick tossing of my cookies.  I think it was the high carb lunch that tipped the scales.  Low carb is what I need to do.  What I will do.

Because of the major blahs, I decided not to try to pull a 15K out of my ass and handed off my Shamrock bib to someone else this year.  Who may become a new running buddy so that's nice!  She's slow like me and lives very close.  I was sad not to be doing my fifth Shamrock race though.  Speaking of running, yes I plan to begin again as I still have April and May races on my calendar.  I feel better today than I have in about a week so finger crossed that that feeling sticks.  One of the more bizarre aspects of this gastroparesis thing is that I can be stuffed and starving at the same time.  I have to listen to the stuffed feeling over the starving feeling, else bad things happen.  I keep telling myself I can have more to eat later if I'm still hungry.  Usually though the stuffed feeling fades and so does the hunger if I do it right, leaving me just right in terms of what my stomach can handle without reversing the process.

I have to admit, it is nice to have a real live medical reason not to be eating a lot of vegetables and fruit.  "No, no salad for me -- doctor's orders!"  Totally wish I'd had this excuse when I was a kid.  Okay, not really.

Cheers,
the CilleyGirl

Saturday, March 1, 2014

To make a long story short(ish)

Since my sinus surgery on January 7, I've been in the ER twice and the hospital for three days.  Chronic nausea and vomiting that led to the natural conclusion of severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.  I've got prescriptions for four different anti-nausea meds.  I've been tested from stem to stern and back again.  I've finally stopped looking like a junkie from IVs and repeated blood draws, including one just above my ankle.  Little tip:  If they ever want to put an IV in the underside of your wrist, beg them to find another spot.  It not only hurts like hell, visually it's creepy as all get out.

My primary care physician is fabulous -- she spent an hour with me going over everything, immediately scheduled two more tests to rule out a couple more things they had yet to test for, and when that came back normal immediately got me in for a GI consult.  He was fabulous too -- not only went over the novel that my medical history is by this point, but went back two years in my medical history, then immediately scheduled me for an upper GI endoscopy.  That's where they put a camera down your throat to see what your stomach is up to.  Kind of like a colonoscopy, but from the other end.  This was Monday.

By the end of it, I finally had what they think is the answer.  The fancy name is gastroparesis.  The layman's term is lazy stomach.  Basically, my stomach is not emptying as fast as it should.  For example, after you eat your stomach muscles should be processing then pushing out everything in like an hour or so.  I had last eaten about 12 hours before they did the endoscopy and last drank some water close to five hours prior.  During the scope, my stomach was still about half full of water plus I still had parts of last night's dinner in there.

In doing research -- which I'm still doing, and I'm going to write down questions for follow up with my GI -- it seems that thankfully I may have a mild case, at least now that the attacks seem to have stopped.  Knock on wood.  (Knock on lots of wood!  Twenty four hours of straight nausea sucks rocks, let's me tell you.)  But I also think I've had a very mild case for at least two years or so.  That was about the time my appetite changed, that I got full fairly quickly while eating, and random bouts of nausea with rare instances of vomiting.  By the way, I hope nobody is eating while reading this.  They took some biopsies during the endoscopy which showed inflammation.  So I really need to make some diet changes to manage this and prevent future attacks.  And strong memories of constant nausea and vomiting really inspire you to make changes in your life.  Ironically, it needs to be a low fat, low fiber diet.  Meaning, very few raw veggies.  I was treating this without even knowing it!  Cooked veggies, little or no peels on fruit or veg, lean protein.  Sounds to me like paleo/primal with a few adjustments in how things are prepared.  At least I know how to do that!

And how is your 2014 going?

Cheers,
the CilleyGirl


Saturday, January 25, 2014

When last we left our heroine...

...she was totally rocking a mustache bandage.  The sinus surgery went very well.  Me thereafter, not so much.

Surgery was January 7.  It took about half the time they had expected and then I came out of recovery in fairly short order.  Surgery was at 7:30 a.m., I was home before noon.

My friend S, to my undying gratitude, came up to take of me for several days.  She works from home so with an internet connection and my office she was able to do this for me.  Mostly it was making sure that I was taking my pain pills on a regular basis; otherwise, I was pretty much a lump on the sofa or asleep in my room.  They put me on Percocet, and I think I was taking too much for the first few days.  By the time S left on Thursday, I had cut back and felt decent.  I could breathe through my nose since waking up from the surgery.

By Sunday I started to not feel so great.  I still didn't have much of an appetite -- my sense of taste/smell disappeared altogether for a couple of days, even chocolate tasted like paste which is so not fair -- and was having a hard time getting enough fluids in me as well.  The latter was more of a fatigue issue in a lot of ways, I think if I'd had a camelbak so that I didn't have to move to drink I would've been better off.  I kept having hot flashes, which I think was from the Percocet, and then I'd freeze and I was dizzy a lot.

Monday I had my first post-op appointment.  Which involved being 'scoped again -- fine -- and then having my head suctioning out -- not so fine.  I wasn't feeling well to begin the appointment and apparently some people do pass out in the middle of this procedure.  Like me.  Well, almost passed out.  It was very close.  They covered my head, throat and neck in cold packs and I recovered enough so that my doc could finish sucking stuff out of my head.  (It was the packing material they were taking out., along with some "debris.")

I went home and ate and drank a lot of fluids but Tuesday I still was feeling off and on Wednesday the fun started.  I actually felt great Wednesday morning, made myself eat something very small (a Honey Stinger waffle) and then a banana and then I had some Chef Boyardee ravioli (I know, but it was the only thing that sounded good while I was recovering).  About an hour after that I started vomiting.  I called my ENT's office because I felt like I also had a fever and asked them what I should do.  He prescribed Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.  I got that, took that, and it did not work.  And then 18 hours later I still hadn't stopped vomiting.  Urgent care wouldn't take me, they sent me off to the ER because I'd almost certainly need an IV.

Which I did.  At the ER they gave me a shot of Phenergan, a stronger anti-nausea drug, and two liters of saline.  I felt a lot better after they discharged me, went home and ate a meal and then got a good night's sleep.  Woke up the next morning, had another meal.  And promptly threw it all up an hour later.  Took a Phenergan pill, which they'd sent me home with.  Up it came.  Tried the Zofran again, the taste of the pill actually triggered a round of vomiting.  Tried another Phenergan but kept vomiting.  Yippee!  Two hours of that was enough this time, so I called a cab to take me back to the ER.  This was Friday, by the way, about four o'clock in the afternoon.  Yes, Friday night at the ER.  Takes them a while to see you.  When they were triaging me after I arrived, the poor guy thought I was going to go down like a rock right there in his office so they had me on a gurney in the waiting room.  Fine with me; at that point, I had nothing left in my system but I had this constant wave of nausea.  I spent eight hours that day feeling like I might throw up any second.

It took them three hours to get me in, at which point they gave me Zofran (told them it wasn't working so far) and hooked me up to the saline again.  And an EKG, and they did this thing called a GI cocktail (Maalox and lidocaine) because they could not figure out why I was vomiting.  In the meantime, I'm sucking down three liters total of saline IV plus they gave me six doses of anti-nausea medication before it finally started to work.  Oh, and here's the fun part:  Did you know that when you cannot keep anti-nausea medication down and you either are not able to get an injection of it or the injection isn't working, you get to get anal suppositories instead?  And did you know that when you are in the hospital, somebody's going to be inserting it for you?  I was having the time of my life in the ER on a Friday night, let me tell you.  But damned if it wasn't the suppository that finally did the trick.

Oh, and an even funner part:  Telling this story later on to my mother, she didn't get it that they do that so that you absorb the medication in a blood-rich area of the body.  She thought it was like, plug your butt, stop vomiting.  I laughed so hard when I figured that out.  "No, mom, it's not like tug your earlobe, your ankle stops hurting."  Hee!

Anyhow, I'm much better now.  The one week medical leave stretched to two, and I could've used a few more days to recuperate but I absolutely, positively had to be back in the office.  Thought I had gotten a sinus infection again, maybe from being in the hospital, but had my second post-op appointment on Friday and it turns out there was still more packing in my sinuses that needed to be taken out and that was what was causing the pain and pressure.  Well, that and my ENT thinks I instead picked up a slight cold from the ER.  I didn't pass out during the suctioning this time, but holy cow it felt like he was vacuuming the pulp from my teeth and that hurts.

It did make feel better enough that I was able to attend the first session of the Runner Chicks running clinic I'm doing.  I did a half marathon clinic with her before, this is an intro to running clinic but it sounded perfect for me to get back into running.  Today we did two miles in beautiful Portland sunshine.  I was exhausted and hurting a little (in my face) when I was done, but I'm glad I did it.  Fanconi Anemia 5K is in two weeks, I should be close to 100% by then.  Health comes one step at a time!  I also signed up for my April race, the Blooms to Brews 10K up in Woodland.  I may make an overnight out of it so that I can do the tulip tour while I'm there.

Cheers,
the CilleyGirl