Saturday, February 26, 2011

Caramel, Not Steroids, Epilogue to Snowgate 2011

The adrenals did kind of tank. Not only did we get stuck in the snow, which was stressful, the toddler later opened the door in the backseat while the car was moving. Even though I objectively knew she was strapped in and the door was not open open, my gut clenched sending out all sorts of fight-or-flight signals.

Which made my mid-back throb and I just...deflated like an old balloon half-way through our family grocery shopping trip.

But it wasn't as bad as it's been, we found the child lock button thingy on the door, finished our grocery shopping and I didn't have to up dose.

Although I should probably be careful so it doesn't get worse. I keep hoping if I can get through these stressors without having to updose that it will help reboot my HPA axis that much more.

So in the name of rebooting, I ate some ice cream. Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra (sp?).

It was totally medicinal.

You should try it sometime.

Post Script on the roads: The hubby initially made fun of me for getting stuck and calling the po-po, right up until he had to drive the side roads around here. The highways were clear for his work commute, but they didn't plow or salt the side streets and we got more than 12" in a 5 hour period.

We also got stuck, briefly, in the grocery store parking lot, which helped prove my point. Or rather, it made it so that if the hubby persisted in calling me a loser, then by getting stuck himself, he was just as much a loser.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Snow, Salt, Sugar

Last night, when the weather people had orgasms on live TV about 10" of snow being a "conservative estimate" the hubby and I rolled our eyes.

The weather people were just excited to have something that let them be on camera for more than two seconds.

Or so we thought.

Today I was supposed to get my permanent crown. And have a play date and go out to dinner and go grocery shopping, but we canceled those non-essential events last night when all the schools closed.

Come hell or high snow though, I was going to the dentist. I wanted my damn tooth.

Famous last words.

I got out of the driveway okay. The snow was past the bumper, but I did a quick and dirty shovel job to chop it up enough that I cleared the drive way fine. Only once have I gotten stuck in the driveway and had to cancel something. I figured if I could get out of the driveway the rest would be easy peasy.

I'm sure that's what the police were thinking too when I called them.

The roads were not clear, but the snow was at least flattened down by all the traffic. However, it was very slick and one intersection was a sheet of ice.

We got stuck.

People were backing up into oncoming traffic to turn around. Cars whipped around those of us who were stuck, thinking what exactly? They were better drivers? The roads weren't that bad and we were all pussies? What?

Whatever their logic was, they were wrong and they learned how wrong very quickly as they lost control of their cars swerving in front of those of us who were spinning or wheels in place.

I didn't feel safe trying to get out because I couldn't control the direction the car swerved in as I gunned the motor. Plus, with everyone whizzing by so nonchalantly and then randomly losing control themselves, I was pretty sure someone was going to get hit.

This calls for the police, I thought. They should be monitoring this intersection and stop this free-for-all.

Also, I needed some help getting unstuck. Mind you, I wasn't stuck in snow. I was stuck on ice. Pure ice that covered the entire intersection. There was no traction.

22 plus years of driving and never been stuck like that. Never called the police either.

The police were unimpressed and barely contained their disgust with my motoring inadequacies. I was kind of disgusted with their lack of regard for public safety, but whatever.

I was on my own and had been so informed by the authorities.

Somehow I got moving. Inching forward with the engine revving at 5 and 6 rpms.

A sharp pain then started in my gut and my back began to ache.

Just what I needed! Adrenal weirdness that isn't supposed to happen to me, but happens anyways.

Then the police called me wondering where I was. Guess they hadn't meant what they said and sent a cruiser out after all. Someone needs to work on saying what they mean and doing what they say, which I pretty much told them.

I suspect I'm going to be on some kind of list of people who irritate the police and need lots of tickets after this.

We got home. Never made it to the dentist and I made some quick Nutjob cookies. (Nutjob because they are reduced sugar, gluten free all that health nut stuff.) Chocolate, sugar, salt, peanut butter.

Hopefully some rest, some sugar, a little salt will be enough to compensate for the stress.

Oh, and a nap. A nice long winter's nap. Wake me when it's Spring.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Health News

First up, Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It will be on the Dr. Oz show tomorrow. Catch it if you can.

EDITED: Taubes filmed today but the episode won't air until 3/7. Sorry about the confusion. I got bad info intially.

Next, Ketogenic Diets and Physical Performance.

"Impaired physical performance is a common but not obligate result of a low carbohydrate diet. Lessons from traditional Inuit culture indicate that time for adaptation, optimized sodium and potassium nutriture, and constraint of protein to 15–25 % of daily energy expenditure allow unimpaired endurance performance despite nutritional ketosis."

Hibiscus Powder and Metabolic Syndrome.

"Significant differences in total cholesterol, HDL-c, and the TAG/HDL-c ratio were found when the means of absolute differences among treatments were compared. Therefore, in addition to the well documented hypotensive effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa (HSEP), we suggest the use of HSEP in individuals with dyslipidemia associated with Metabolic Syndrome."

The study used a powder in a standardized dose, but no one is really selling this as supplement yet as the studies seem to be newish. Amazon has a loose powder you could buy, but who wants to deal with that? Fortunately, lots of herbal tea blends use Hibiscus--look for the Celestial Seasonings Zingers at the grocery store.

The FDA knew there were quality issues with the manufacturer of contaminated baby wipes that killed a toddler.

Court upholds law
blocking patients from suing vaccine manufacturers. Interesting read. To date, more than $1.9 billion has been paid out to compensate patients for vaccine injuries.

Oral magnesium supplementation reduces insulin resistance in non-diabetic subjects – a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial

"The results provide significant evidence that oral Mg supplementation improves insulin sensitivity even in normomagnesemic, overweight, non-diabetic subjects emphasizing the need for an early optimization of Mg status to prevent insulin resistance and subsequently type 2 diabetes"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hodge Podge

Dr. Oz just endorsed the HCG diet so long as you are under a doctor's supervision.

Interesting.

Personally, having used HCG during infertility treatments, I never found it to have much of a weight loss effect.

Instead it inflated my boobs well into the DD range and made every pregnancy test I took positive.

So if you want huge boobs and a false positive on a pregnancy test, knock yourself out. But actual weight loss? I don't know about that. It's probably due more to the 500 calories a day diet than the HCG injections, but what do I know?

Also, for anyone who wants to lose weight without hunger--something Ozzie has referred to several times but without offering a solution--low carb, low carb, low carb. Or Paleo if you want to be more PC about it.

I have lost 1.5 pounds to date. Which is nothing. It's in the bobblehead range of my regular day-to-day weight fluctuations. I won't be impressed until I've lost at least 5lbs and have blasted through to new numbers I haven't seen in years. Until then, meh.

There has to be some physiologic something at play here. It's not me. I'm doing all the right things and have been for several weeks now and nothing.

I want to scream. Especially after trying on the jeans I have that are the next size down. Yikes.

That was frightening.

Not to mention demoralizing.

180 squats. That's how many I'm doing.

Plus cardio.

And naps to support the effort.

And only 1.5 lbs down.

My body does not work.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Exercise for the Weak

First, a clarification on the previous post. The ER did not give me antibiotics, which is why I went to the RE who didn't have the right antibiotics on hand, and what they did give me added heart attack symptoms to the hallucinations of death and 'dissolvement' which is how I ended up at Dr. Vicodin's. So three days and three doctor's visits just to get the right stinking antibiotic for a 1% complication of infertility treatments.

Oh, and I missed a week of work due to illness. Those pelvic infections do not mess around.

I went back and edited the post trying to make the sequence of events a little clearer to future readers. I am not sure I did such a good job of it, but I tried.

On to today's post.

Exercise is interesting. I enjoy working out, but I have to say, the fact that exercise fatigues me to the point of napping is not so enjoyable.

People tell me I look tired. I think I look tired too. Puffy and pale.

And my brain gets 'eated' by the fatigue.

Today, on the drive home from the rec center (where the toddler swam while I did a slow zombie shuffle of 1.5 miles due to be tapped out from the previous day's workout) I thought we had gone South and West to get home instead of North and East.

Didn't recognize the stores or streets around me at all. Completely convinced we were going some other direction on some other street.

Even started talking about the route with hubby who oriented me as to the reality of road and direction.

Sigh.

I feel better now. After a nap.

The other interesting thing is now I crave salt. Really crave it. Eating lots of olives.

Seems like my body has no sense of direction either.

Maybe if I scale back to 2 metabolic resistance workouts a week and low impact 'steady state' cardio in between that will mitigate things? Because I've been trying to go full bore on alternate days, interval cardio training, half an hour of squats and jumps etc... I can handle it in terms of fitness, but the energy reserves/production just aren't there.

One of the NPs in my family gently suggested maybe this wasn't the time to be trying to lose weight and exercise. Hah. If I wait for the right time, I would do nothing.

In a month, when I taper again, there will be no exercise, it will be impossible for I don't know how long. However, I hope there will be new weight loss to maintain and then, when I feel better, I will drag myself through those painful beginner workouts yet again.

Pain and pain and pain. That's what it's like to exercise with illness.

This is as good as it gets. The challenge is to figure out how to make do with less than the best.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Dr. Vicodin Story

Right after the bullying Jesus Freak doctor, I landed at the office of Dr. Vicodin. They seemed competent enough. Zeroing in on a PCOS diagnosis on our first meeting and dashing off a referral to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) without batting an eye (or cracking open a bible or drawing a picture for me of Jesus on the cross).

Quite refreshing.

And then things got weird.

The set up goes like this....

My first (and last) IUI cycle resulted in a pelvic infection. (IUI = turkey baster method of getting pregnant). This happens about 1% of the time (and once again I won the wrong kind of lottery!).

The pelvic infection drove me to the ER first. The pain was such that I promised God if She just let me out of the bathroom I would go to the ER. Also, it was Sunday which limited my medical care options.

The ER missed the infection. My fever was 101 but copious amounts of Advil masked it quite well and I guess my blood work was fine.

Well, the ER doc was quite sympathetic and asked me what I wanted for pain at home.

I requested prescription ibuprofen.

But they pressured me to take a prescription for Vicodin as they didn't think Ibuprofen would be enough for the pain.

I told them I didn't want Vicodin. I'd had it once before due to a root canal and thought it was useless.

So they offered me a compromise of a Vicodin/Advil combo pill for the pain.

Since I was doped up to the point of being unable to walk, I thought that was a swell idea.

What wasn't so swell was waking up in the middle of the night believing:

1. I was dead.

2. The left side of my body had dissolved.

3. There were tentacles bursting out of my stomach.

4.I was glowing in the dark.

5.I was having a heart attack, complete with pain radiating down my arm.

After a useless visit with the RE the next day, who didn't have the right antibiotic injection on hand to treat the complication of their care (seriously? and they wonder why I never went back!), I ended up at Dr. Vicodin's office due to the heart attack symptoms the antibiotics the RE prescribed caused.

They hooked me up with an antibiotic shot in the ass and a prescription for different antibiotics as the one I'd been given was the source of the heart attack symptoms. When I asked them how I should dispose of the Vicodin, they quietly palmed my bottle of narcotics, tucked it in their pocket and said they would give it to patients who couldn't afford their medications.

Then they told me some disjointed story about a 13 year-old patient who was pregnant and just acted weird in general. Too much information about other people, you know?

The whole thing seemed off to me at the time, but I didn't know what, if anything, I should've done about it.

The next time I tried to make an appointment, I was informed the doctor had moved out of state. My one doctor friend tells me this happens sometimes with docs who behave badly as a way to keep their license??? I assume Dr. Vicodin had a bit of narcotic issue as my doc friend also told me what they did was very much not kosher.

And that's the story of the doctor who took my Vicodin and ran.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sick Strength

For Valentine's Day, I invited my hubby to try a metabolic resistance training workout with me.

And I kicked his a$.

What?

As healthy as he is and as active his work is and as much as he plays hockey, I am in better shape.

Maybe.

I have some doubts about that. Put me in a hockey game and I would probably die.

It was just one workout anyway. He'll tone up right quick and surpass me in the blink of an eye.

In terms of muscle strength, I was ready for my first pass at metabolic resistance training. It hurt. I'm sore, but I'm not walking funny. It was the kind of hard that I find fun.

I did go to bed early, slept for 10 hours, woke up tired and then took an involuntary* 4 hour nap, which is the adrenal component. Hopefully as I condition, my body will get used to the workload and it won't sap my energy so badly.

If this doesn't get weight loss moving, I don't know what will. It certainly has ramped up the asthma, which is all kinds of not awesomeness.

Eating-wise, the food has been cleaned up for about 10 days and I haven't lost any weight. So I'm restricting it further this week by doing an almond flour muffin for breakfast and a few hardboiled eggs for lunch with a protein and veggie dinner. I've cut back on diet soda and started drinking more green tea as a replacement (it's supposed to help burn belly fat, but it is also just good for you in general).

Something has to give soon. Besides my lungs and adrenals, I mean.

Right?

* Involuntary as in I didn't have much choice, was I napping or passed out? Only the adrenals know for sure.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Resisting the Plateau

I have not lost any weight since before Christmas.

For a while, I was blaming the week I spent making french-kissing, from my lips to my hips, butter toffee, drenched in chocolate and dusted it with crushed pecans.

It was supposed to be a gift for the neighbors, but uh...I ate it all. So I would make it again and then eat it again etc...

I really really really like butter toffee. A lot lot lot.

I gave up on the toffee ever leaving my house and thus, stopped making it and promptly returned to low carb, but the weight just wouldn't move.

It wasn't that much toffee, okay?

Plateaus and stalls are common in weight loss and, it seems, particularly in low carb. I think half the reason people abandon low carb is due to the unavoidable plateau somewhere between week 3 and 6.

"It's not working," they cry and then they quit in a huff. I see it all the time on the diet forums.

I know better, but this has been one heck of a long weight loss stall. Especially considering I've been exercising pretty consistently on top of all the low carb goodness. Two months with nothing? Not even half a pound? Really?

So I've been reviewing my options for busting through this stall.

1. Go ultra low carb. As in meat and egss and nothing else until a)I puke or b) lose weight, whichever comes first.

Not such an appetizing option in my opinion. Also, it's hard to be perfect with a family that doesn't low carb. Plus, adrenals = low blood sugar so I have to watch that too.

Perhaps I could do ultra low carb on alternate days or just on the weekends as a kickstart. Something to consider.

However, I have been cleaning up my diet a bit. Focusing more on low carb and less on low carb 'legal' stuff which always has more carb content. That and no snacking after dinner, which always seems to help.

2. Revisit my exercise program and look more at metabolic resistance training (a.k.a. strength cardio, high intensity interval training and interval training).

However, the adrenals don't like intense anything. I go too hard and I risk crashing (based on past experience and not wanting to risk any recovery gains I've made thus far). Heck, if I go easy I can crash so...eek.

Consider though that interval training's guiding principal is rest for twice as long as you work. That sounds right up the adrenals' alley. So I could crank out a hard minute on the elliptical and then coast for 2. Sounds doable.

On the strength cardio aspect of the concept, I would have to craft my own workout. I am not ready for P90X (I actually have no desire to ever do P90X but the principles it uses are the same as what I'm looking to do) or kettlebells and I don't have access to a gym with weights. I'm not sure I'm doing it exactly right but the routine I've come up with is something like:

SET 1

-10 plie squats

-10 plie squats with jump


-Hold squat for 10-20 seconds




Rest



SET 2

10 Burpees


Rest

etc...

Supposedly the science says if I do it like this, fast and hard with rest in between sets, that I will improve my insulin sensitivity for up to 36 hours after. Additionally, science seems to show that some kind of aerobic resistance is the best work out for insulin resistance. "Steady state cardio" (as trainers call it) is worthless for fat loss.

I kind of agree with the trainers after all these weeks of walking and ellipsing and low carbing and not losing weight.

Just can't make it too hard or else I will poop out. That will be the trick, to balance it all against what my body will actually tolerate.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Unbelievable Weird Sh*t Happens to Normal People

One of the personal dramas I've been dealing with is coming to an end and I can finally talk about it. It has nothing to do with health (other than mental) but since I mentioned it here, I'll give closure. Not to mention it's a really weird story.

I was served with a lawsuit in December. Wrongfully so, but it took a few months to sort that out and I spent that time terrified I was going to be on the hook for a lot of money I did not have. Plus imagining a judge pronouncing me guilty, the thought of which made my hyperventilate.

However, it turned out, some other company made a huge mistake and they are paying for the entire thing including my legal expenses to date.

The whole thing was/is bizarre and we still can't figure out what went wrong. The company at fault doesn't want to disclose the nature of their mistake, I gather because I could sue them???

Sue them for what I don't know as they are throwing money at the situation like there's no tomorrow and fixing the problem as far as I am concerned. Maybe their license is on the hook or something.

All I know is I am immensely grateful that things panned out this way. The whole thing was terrifying and incredibly stressful (have you ever tried to hire a lawyer in December? It can't be done!).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lost: Patient Power, Reward if Found

There is a conversation on Brain Fog about doctors and patients that I've been participating in over the last few days.

I declared in one of my comments that the doctors have all the power, the patients don't have any.

A declaration that one of the doctors commenting felt was wrong.

Well, let's review, shall we?

Yes we shall. Oh, yes we shall.

When the A$$hole Allergist declared I didn't have asthma and maybe I had a heart problem or chronic embolism issue but didn't arrange for any diagnostic testing...

I complained.

About the lack of follow up.

About the poor testing protocols.

About the abusive behavior on the part of the physician.

Go patient power. Want to know what my 'power' did for me?

Nothing.

I still couldn't get a doctor in that system to prescribe asthma medication and spent the year using leftovers from the previous year, skipping doses to conserve what was left.

And there was still no follow up on the idea of heart or embolism problems.

The HMO did assign a new doctor to me, but it was months later which was kind of useless.

Not only was the A$$hole Allergist's bad behavior not addressed, the HMO wrote me a response and said "they didn't mean what they said." Awesome. I didn't know there were take backs in medicine. Not like that.

Am I alone in thinking that patient power is slow?

When I looked up the State Medical Board's guidelines for filing formal complaints, I found what the A$$hole Allergist did to me wasn't bad enough for a complaint.

Note: I have never ever complained about a doctor before, the A$$hole Allergist was my first. Also? I plan on complaining as much as possible, not under the illusion that it will help me, time moves too slow in medicine for that, but it might help the people after me.

When I was hospitalized with asthma the following year (now with health insurance that allowed me to see a pulmonologist who believed* I had asthma) and asked for cortisol testing because I was having problems similar to what had happened to me in the past where my am cortisol was 1.3 (I keep saying 1.9, but it was actually 1.3).

I was told no.

That it wasn't adrenal.

Yet here I am, Miss Adrenal for 1994, 1995,1998, 1999, 2000, 2010 and 2011.

Yet doctors still deny there's an adrenal problem. Including the endo who ran the blood work that yielded an am Cortisol of 6 and that was with steroids in my bloodstream (And yes I'm going to repeat that over and over until every single doctor in the universe reads it and gets a clue).

Further in the midst of this, some idiot tried, again, to tell me I didn't have asthma. Somehow they missed the part where I was in the hospital just a few weeks prior with pulse ox readings as low as 90. Not that they looked at the medical records in their computer system documenting this. No, why do that when the information would run counter to their beliefs*? They wanted me to go to therapy because they subscribed to the mind-body connection, one in which everything stems from mental illness.

Seriously, I can't make this sh*t up.

So I doctor hopped a bit which really doesn't do much other than highlight the flaws of medicine, so glaring the physicians are blind. Any positive medical outcome to date has been more a happy accident than a physician recognizing the adrenal glands are driving my problems (with the exception of the one endo who 'got it' but didn't run the testing so all the other docs persist with the idea it's not my adrenals because I don't have a test proving it so).

I am sometimes encouraged by others to go see even more doctors under the misguided belief that not all doctors could be so ignorant. I refuse, because yes, they can all be that ignorant so what's the point? The reality is, all I need are steroids and occasional blood work, if I can manage to weasel that out of the medical system, I can take care of myself regardless of what diagnosis is or isn't assigned to me.

However, I have a feeling that this is not what 'they' mean when 'they' talk about patient power.

But it's all I got.

I can complain but it doesn't result in anyone prescribing the medications and tests I need. Nor does it correlate with an improvement in physician quality or performance.

I can ask for another doctor or make the appointment myself (if the insurance allows) but a)it eats up enormous amounts of time, time in which things can go wrong and b) there's no guarantee the next doc will be any better. Better the devil you know than the one you don't.

Further, with asthma, there is a certain amount of incapacitation during acute phases where I can't defend myself because I can't talk or reason well.

So where is my power and how do I use it? Please tell me.

Oh and here are some more examples of my Patient Power in action for your reading pleasure: the bullying Jesus Doctor nutjob and the pulmonologist who screamed at me. There's also the primary care physician who took my vicodin and ran, but I haven't had a chance to write that story up yet.

Oh yeah, I sure do have all sorts of patient power.

If you define that as being constantly ignored and having a talent for finding the weirdos in medicine.

In which case, I am a mega watt super star, baby.


*I use believed and beliefs quite deliberately here as it is what the doctor believes more so than any objective evidence that confers diagnosis and determines treatment.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Druidery of Clomid

There was a time when I was an aspiring fiction writer. I had some very modest success (i.e. no one has never heard of me) but once the toddler was born, I didn't have time to write. Nor did I want to, I had my own personal happy ending to enjoy.

I hope to go back to it someday, but that is not the point of this post.

The point is, I like to write Fantasy. Some Sci Fi. Those are my genres.

One of my books has some Druids and I found out that there was a local Druid Council in my area.

So I went to see what they were about, to find out if there was anything I could glean from the Real Deal for my book.

This happened to coincide with the day I had a serious reaction to Clomid.

We had just started infertility treatments and the first line treatment was Clomid.

Clomid is usually well tolerated and leads to pregnancy all the time.

In my body?

I may as well have smoked some crack and done meth.

I took a cat nap before leaving and when I woke up, my vision was blurry. Really blurry. As in, all I could see were blobs of color. Also known as for-the-love-of-God-don't-drive blurry.

Blinking madly cured the worst of it, leaving me dizzy and really disoriented. I could see for the most part, but the world was still carnival mirror warped.

Unfortunately, I was so high, I didn't know I was high.

So, of course, off I drove to meet the Druids. Swerving all over the place to keep up with all the fast changing curves in the road.

Note: The curves were a hallucination/visual disturbance.

I made it there in one piece, but began to realize maybe something was a little off when I couldn't walk without lurching like a drunkard.

As weird as the Druids were, I was higher. I was SO dizzy.

I had no idea what to do. I didn't know these people. They were a little wary of me (and I them) and I wasn't sure how well an announcement of "Duuuuudes, I am SO high right now, but it's okay because it's prescription fertility drugs" would go over.

So I just faked it 'til I made it. Smiled, perhaps a little too widely. Drank from the communal cup. Chanted the chant. Drummed the drum. Then sat in my car for a looooong while after their meeting adjourned before timidly driving home once the road appeared to be mostly straight.

And that is the story of how I came to learn I could never take Clomid ever again.

It never made me ovulate, but it did make me weirder than a Druid.

(Actually, Druidism is kind of interesting as a religion. As far as paganism goes, it's very cerebral. I didn't get much out of my in-person research--too high--but I learned a lot from reading and they are an interesting group. If I wasn't a preacher's kid...I might've been a Druid.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Exercise Can Trip You Up

I did a hard (for my current level of fitness which is somewhere below that of inanimate objects) squat workout the other night. It wasn't long, just intense.

And the next day the adrenals were all fired up, aching and burning. I got the message and sat on my a$$, resting as much as possible. Even going to bed early. In addition to the naps. No, not nap, napS plural.

This concerns me. If I am truly recovering and what not, I should not be having such issues with exercise. It should not deplete me so deeply.

I don't know. I'm willing to let it go for a bit longer and see what shakes out before I start duking it out with the endo on the matter of more cortisol testing. I don't know how they can say no given my am Cortisol level was 6 despite 10mg of prednisone in my blood stream, but they manage it somehow.

Must be a great hardship for them, I know.

On the topic of exercise, the toddler fell down the stairs again. I was expecting it and was there to catch her. It was after her first PT session in over a month and I figured her muscles would be fatigued so I carefully monitored her on the stairs. Which was wise, had I not been there, it would have been a serious fall, straight from the top.

It's frustrating and frightening and I don't know how to make it better.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's Not that I'm Weird, I Just Know More Than You

HMO: We'd like to tell you about an exciting program that can help you manage your health.

ME: Is this the program where you have a nurse coach?

HMO: Yes it is.

ME: No offense or anything but I don't find that program helpful. I don't know if it's because I've taken the basic A&P classes or what, but I always seem to know more than the nurse*.

HMO: *silence, refers to script* Uh...what?

ME: I don't plan to participate. Thank you.

HMO: Okay. Thanks. *click*

They hung up before I could tell them what would really help me would be a good patient advocate. That would save us all money. But then the patient advocate would have to know something about adrenal glands and well...that's not gonna happen.

*It's not that nurses don't know anything, it's that I don't think they are allowed to deviate from their very narrow program scope. I did this type of program before and it is total fluff. Like kindergarten. "Asthma is a lung disease. You need to take your medication every day."

Really?

No sh*t. I thought it was the enlarged big toe of my unborn twin growing out of my rectum. (If that doesn't make sense to you, it's a sign that you need to watch more medical weirdness documentaries on TLC and Discovery Health).

Thank you HMO for using my premium dollars for this bullsh*t.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Living While I Can

My temporary crown fell off. That is the worst thing that has happened around here of late.

I'll take it!

My gut says I'm on the cusp of another 'good' period where I'm not hampered so much by the adrenals. I hope to coast the wave and liquidate some of this excess fat that has stubbornly refused to go to toward the light.

I have been exercising almost daily. It tends to suck the life out of me, which is the only sign I have that maybe things might not go as well as my gut thinks. But I can pretty much show up every day and crank out some kind of work out which is saying something. I'm not brave enough to do Zumba yet, at least not until I can walk 2 miles without needing a nap.

One of the really horrible nasty things that has been riding me since before Christmas may unexpectedly resolve in a really bizarrely positive way. Once it's a done deal, I will explain things more fully, but I can't talk about it until then. Please cross your fingers and do some voodoo with dead chickens for me. I can use all the good mojo I can get.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thrice Charmed…Or Not

Guess how many times we've been to the dentist this week?

Three times!

THREE!

Granted only 2 of the appointments were for me (Tip: Save yourself a fortune and don't ever try to eat a caramel if you have a crown. Crown = lifetime caramel ban.). The third was the toddler's first dentist visit ever.

I did not know this, but she should have gone at 6 months.

Huh. Does anyone actually take their baby in? Anyone?

I didn't go until 5. The toddler is 3, I figure we're ahead so far compared to my parents.

(I am winning!)

Also? NO cavities or tartar. Perfect teeth like her father. FINALLY something health related that does not take after me!

Since she'd been with me earlier for the initial 'oops I broke my crown' assessment, she knew exactly what to do. She vaulted into the chair and cranked open her mouth as if someone had promised to pour a fountain of chocolate down her throat. The dentist was tres amused.

I take it most kids aren't quite so...excited.

Then they gave the toddler her very own dental floss and her head exploded with sheer joy. There's nothing she covets more than strings of dental floss. She filches it quite often from the bathroom and then I can never find it when I need it. All my future cavities are her fault.

She continues to be sick. Alternately slumping in my lap, a puddle of alarming lethargy followed by a spastic nap-resistant unpleasantness that would rival the most anti anti-Mubarak protester (FYI, I’m Mubarak in our house, sucks to be mommy).

On the plus side, her breathing is good. It seems to just be a persistent head cold, which I hope and pray does not come to visit me. My asthma has subsided with copious doses of Mucinex, but I still have enough residual gunk that I don’t need any other bugs joining the party thankyouverymuch.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Quality in Medicine, the Lack Thereof

What strikes me as I continue to navigate the mess we call medical care is how poor performance festers unchecked. If I screwed up as often as medicine does and in the passive-aggressive manner it specializes in, I would have been fired from my last job.

Yet the doctors I've seen continue on their merry way.

Where is the quality control? Where is the accountability?

For instance, let's look at my diagnosis of Hashimoto's.

The first endo gave me the diagnosis simply based on palpating my thyroid and in light of family history.

The second supported the diagnosis before the blood work came back, but at least they ordered blood work. They never called me to follow up on the results or anything, which makes the blood work sort of useless, but okay. (What is the point of ordering blood work if you're not going to interpret it and DO something with it? The doctor is just wasting the patient's money.)

The third endo questioned the diagnosis and ran more blood work for even more antibodies because they weren't impressed with the previous bloodwork and said I don't have Hashimoto's.

Here's a revolutionary idea, why not run all the blood work upfront? I mean ALL of it and then decide if it's Hashimoto's or not. Take the cost of the doctor visits vs. the blood work and factor in the opportunity cost of one patient using resources across three physicians and tell me what is more efficient, accurate and economically feasible?

Hashimoto's is relatively simple stuff medically. It's common. There's a diagnostic test. So why does it take three endos to sort it out?*

It's half-a$$ed. If I had handled my job in the same manner, first, I would've blown something up with my incompetence, second, I would've been fired as well as faced civil charges and fines from the government.

Further, I was living with the supposition that I had Hashimoto's and avoiding quite a few vegetables as a result. Imagine if it hadn't been Hashimoto's but something that required more drastic lifestyle changes? All based on a bad diagnosis.

Why is this acceptable? Why is there no feedback mechanism in place to take situations like this and use them to improve the practice of medicine?

*I guess this explains why getting decent care for adrenal stuff is so difficult. If they can't handle a simple thyroid...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nobel Prize Winner Believes in Homeopathy (Edited)

As much as homeopathic medicine is derided and debunked, it has always been a big question mark for me. Why? Because the homeopathic flu medicines use the exact same virus strains found in flu vaccinations.

Vaccinations in general, the golden child of Western medicine, can be characterized as 'like cures like' the principle upon which the entire practice of homeopathic medicine is built.

So I have never been one to dismiss homeopathy and have actually done quite a bit of reading on the topic. Although I can't say I've ever seen marked results from it so the jury is still kind of out on a personal level.

However, today, the Huffington Post reports that Nobel Laureate Dr. Luc Montagnier not only believes in homeopathy, but his research is centering on how tiny amounts of a substance alter the structure of water with their electromagnetic waves.

Montagnier says, "I can't say that homeopathy is right in everything. What I can say now is that the high dilutions (used in homeopathy) are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules."

The article goes on to list the clinical evidence for homeopathy, which is interesting.

"Most clinical research conducted on homeopathic medicines that has been published in peer-review journals have shown positive clinical results,(3, 4) especially in the treatment of respiratory allergies (5, 6), influenza, (7) fibromyalgia, (8, 9) rheumatoid arthritis, (10) childhood diarrhea, (11) post-surgical abdominal surgery recovery, (12) attention deficit disorder, (13) and reduction in the side effects of conventional cancer treatments. (14) In addition to clinical trials, several hundred basic science studies have confirmed the biological activity of homeopathic medicines. One type of basic science trials, called in vitro studies, found 67 experiments (1/3 of them replications) and nearly 3/4 of all replications were positive. (15, 16)

In addition to the wide variety of basic science evidence and clinical research, further evidence for homeopathy resides in the fact that they gained widespread popularity in the U.S. and Europe during the 19th century due to the impressive results people experienced in the treatment of epidemics that raged during that time, including cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, scarlet fever, and influenza. "

The article is well worth a read. Very startling and shedding light on a completely new (to most of us) direction of science.

EDIT: I took some time to go through the article's bibliography and the homeopathic claims may be specious if not a bit shady. Some study results appear to have been willfully spun to a positive bias so take some of the homeopathic information with a grain of salt. Further the author is a major proponent of homeopathy. I'm a little surprised the piece passed editor scrutiny at The Huffington Post. I assumed it was a mainstream media source with high editorial standards, I was wrong.

Dr. Luc Montagnier's work still stands and is still applicable to homeopathy in regards to viruses.