My last post was about the insanity in my life and the new request for a c-spine MRI for Facet Injections. Update time.
Even though Tricare tried to derail the planned MRI by not letting me know ahead of time I needed an authorization because last year we switched from one major medical billing company to another, because government whatever, an awesome lady at the hospital billing department caught it, called me, called my referring doctors, and got the referral the day of the MRI.
Long story short, I was laying in an MRI machine Monday night listening to Blue Oyster Cult.
I got the disk before I left so my pain docs have the images tomorrow for the facet injections. If they happen.
I got the radiologist’s report today.
Because something popped up on my MRI. Because of course it did. I am the poster child for one-in-a-million. I figured a hip replacement at 34 years old was rare enough. Then I figured the inoperable brain tumor was rare enough.
But then we see this on the report…
It would appear I have something called a perineural cyst on the left side (because of course it’s the left side. It’s ALWAYS the left side!!) of T1-T2. More commonly known as Tarlov Cysts and more commonly found in the sacral spine.
So it would appear that I have some new tests and experiences ahead of me. There’s even a rare disease foundation for the Tarlov Cyst Disease research. As in 8-9% of the population: rare disease. I did what I always do and dove into research (and admittedly I have more reading to do, and I will probably reschedule my “routine” neurologist appointment since my next appointment isn’t until March 1) and it seems perineural cysts are under the “rare and genetic diseases” GARD and/or NORD national Organization for Rare Diseases . I’m nothing if not a research junkie.
I’m still processing. Clearly I have more to read and learn, and doctors to talk to.
BUT: they can’t tell me it’s “in my head”.
We had 2 people jump off the bridge this weekend! TWO in two days! Well, less than 24 hours actually, I think. Where I live, our local bridge is the tallest thing in 3 counties, so occasionally we have a jumper. I think I read in the 41-ish year history of the bridge, 14 people have jumped and succeeded in committing suicide, and 7 or so have jumped and survived. The last person to attempt a jump was stopped last summer by cars stopping in the middle of the bridge and people getting out of their cars to talk to the young man.
I should insert here that both of the people (a 20-something year old man on Saturday and an 18 year old girl at 2 am Sunday) survived the jump. They are, of course, in critical condition. Please pause and send some positive energy out into the world.
I understand what might drive someone to desperate actions. About 12 years ago I had a plan to jump off the very same bridge. It’s a long story, but the rest of it begins with the fact that I didn’t want my kids to have to say “my mom committed suicide….”, so I turned my life upside down and went a little crazy for about a year, but I came out the other side and started putting my life together. We all have dark days and tough times, so I’ll just wrap up this part of the story with…
Just find ONE thing. Doesn’t matter if it’s your kids, your cat, your spouse, or just needing to water your plant tomorrow. ONE thing, and reach out. Somebody cares, somebody loves you, somebody will talk to you or stay with you. One thing, one day, one minute, one more thing, keep holding on.
It’s hard to believe we’re only 22 days into a new year. It feels like a lot is changing. And in my little corner of the world I have some changes too. I’ve been pretty quiet lately, partly because I’m in the middle of a lot.
- My sister (in law) passed away 3 years ago now. January 19th was 3 years. I think I am finally learning how to live without her here. I miss her. I talk to her a lot. I hear her voice in my head telling me “Don’t be sad for ME, girl. *I* am off dancing with Bowie and Freddy Mercury!” I know. I miss you, Bren.
- I chipped two teeth in December, thereby forcing me to go to the dentist and deal with the damage from brain radiation. I had 4 fillings last week, and I still have a bit of dental work to get through. I still believe anyone that would choose to be a dentist must have some sadistic tendencies. How many serial killers have been dentists? Anybody know?
- In addition to being sore from fillings in my wisdom teeth, I seem to be the only person that can kick my ass. There was some kind of incident with trying to put a metal colander away. All I know is I have a black eye now.
And I cut my finger when I got in the show to wash my hair. Still haven’t figured that one out.
- Finally, I got the release from my neurologist to get shots in my C-spine again after 4 years so I have an appointment for an MRI next Monday for new films (it seems the last c-spine films I had was in 2015) and facet injections into c5 and c6 on Thursday, the 31st. These suck, but the nerves in both arms are making me a little crazy, so I hope it’s worth it.
Image borrowed from Google images.
In addition to my normal juggling of kid’s school, theatre, chorus (new this year), and now her orthodontist appointments, I have my pain, neuro, (now) dentist, and scheduling facet injections. If these are successful I can look at moving on to a facet denervation procedure. Oh fun. But if it works, it relieves a lot of pain in my neck.
It’s been busy. There are a lot of changes this year. Here’s to hoping we all make it through it!
Holy timelines!! Has it really been a month since I last posted?! I knew I haven’t been writing much, but I didn’t realize it had been close to 5 weeks. Sorry, I’m alive. If you follow my Instagram or my blog’s Facebook page, you know I’m still posting. I just haven’t been writing lately. Anything really. I’m barely even journaling much right now…
Since my last post, I’ve made one of our annual pilgrimages to our state’s RennFest. Opening weekend usually falls on or about my oldest daughter’s birthday and my family is a bunch of nerds so we go every year for her birthday.
Yes, that’s me in full garb. It’s taken me 5 or 6 years (and I have a couple of outfits) but yep, we show up in head to toe 16th century clothing. We usually go at least twice. Once for opening weekend (for K’s birthday) and once in October, the first weekend if we can swing it, for our anniversary because we got married October 2nd.
My youngest child has started her sophomore year in high school. And my son came home after 3+ years. And my husband is currently working on possibly changing jobs if everything lines up well. It’s been a busy month!
I also saw my neurologist and pain docs. Neurologically I’m stable and she pushed my annual check-the-brain-tumor MRI in July, but I’ll probably have a scan in November or December because I’m mostly stable (and I haven’t choked in quite a while, knock-on-wood, #dysphasiaisabitch ) but if I get overwhelmed my ability to remember anything or put a sentence together goes out the window.
I saw my pain docs and talked to them about the pain in my right hand (inspired by Wendy’s info) and they agree it’s probably De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. She chose to treat it first with a brace and Flector patches (diclofenac, an NSAID). I am really, really dominantly right handed so I sleep with the brace on. But when I slept with the patches on my right wrist, I woke up feeling like I was having a hard time breathing. Turns out there are associated cardiac risks with Flector (and I’m allergic to aspirin) so that was axed. I tried Lidocaine patches too, but they actually seemed to make it worse. Fortunately the brace seems to be helping and my pain doc has decided to wait on injections or referrals. It feels like a slow process to treat something they can actually fix, but one thing at a time, right?
I also talked to my pain clinic about the possibility of medicinal cannabis or even just CBD oil. Because of the meds I’m already on (and even though my state is finally getting on board with cannabis options) I would only be “allowed” topical CBD oil with prior notice. Anything else would fall under a “transference of care” and I would not be allowed to continue my current meds and be transferred to a doctor in this state that issues licenses for cannabis. So….yes, we’re making progress. No, it’s not easy. No, it’s not really a good option for me right now. I wish they’d allow me more time to work with stepping down off some meds and onto others, but I didn’t get the impression that was an option yet.
Tomorrow is one of the annual Navy events we try to go to, so I get to get all dolled up and go to a (semi)formal event tomorrow night. Next week is my 19th wedding anniversary. My youngest is up to her eyeballs in chorus and theatre (which means I’m sort of up to my eyeballs in stuff, but the school musical isn’t until Spring so I’m not quite up to tech week insanity. (If you know what that means, you get it.)
So, yes I’m still here. Juggling monkeys and handling stuff. Gentle hugs and hope you guys are good!
I realize my last post (definitely a minute ago) was pretty dark and unhappy, but indulge me for a minute? It’s been a week. I just need to vent.
I got voluntold I needed to schedule an appointment with my PCM at the beginning of the month because the doc I have been seeing for the last few years is rotating out and to save me the frustration of waiting for the new doc to check in and get up to speed and then catching her/him up on my particular case, it’d be easier just to get my yearly check out of the way.
So I got my labs and got the check up done. Labs were good, but doc was covering bases and wanted to make sure my brain tumor wasn’t getting any ideas about sending friends and relatives into any other body parts, so she gave me an order for a mammogram. I got that scheduled and it was done yesterday. (in other grumblings, I’m pretty sure she should have been kinder or bought me a drink….but anyway.)
In the midst of directing traffic, my pain specialists needed to reschedule my every-8-weeks check to be compliant. Okie-dokie. Reschedule me. Ain’t no thing. No, I don’t want to see the other PA, I’ll wait for the one I usually see. Yes, I know that’s an extra week. I’m used to you sending my scripts between appointments. Same doc, same pharmacy, yes I know the fluffing rules.
Scripts were due today. They called me yesterday to let me know they sent my scripts in, pick them up today. (yes. A lot of rules. I follow them. I’m over it but I still do it.)
Yes, my scripts were sent in, but they neglected to let me know they were only sending enough meds to line up with my appointment on the 27th instead of just filling the usual fluffing scripts and seeing me in 10 days.
Yes, my scripts were sent. Yes I’m happy they’re not making me wait and I’m not without pain meds. But I feel like I’m being punished for being sick.
The American approach to chronic illness/chronic pain is growing more and more frustrating. I jump through a lot of hoops and follow a lot of rules because I haven’t felt like I have a lot of options. I have an artificial hip from hip replacement surgery at 34 because I have Congenital Hip Dysplasia that was missed until well into my late 20’s. As a result, my spine is seriously pissed off most of the time. Then, four years ago, I was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Related? Possibly, but it doesn’t really matter now. I just treat and survive the symptoms.
I didn’t ask to be sick. I’m stable but it has taken years of going through a lot of trials and failing SSRIs, nerve pain meds, OTCs, and a bunch of other difficult options. I’ve been through anestesia 13 times in one year and I’ve lost count of how many needles they have stuck in my spine. It’s been fun.
So….hopefully understandably I am especially frustrated today. I feel like I’m being punished every time my doctors put up another roadblock or hurdle to jump through. I’m trying, and until more recently I haven’t had a lot of options in my state. Suffer or dance, monkey.
I actually now have another option, but I have to talk to my pain specialists and get them on board or I end up failing tests they require. Here’s hoping.
*sigh* I’m off to eat ice cream and watch something that hopefully will replace frustration and hostility with just a hair more patience.
I’ve had a shit day. I realized I have been pretty quiet as far as blogging goes lately and that pretty much because I am stable, and other than the normal day to day, there’s not very much in my life that’s worth writing down and sharing.
I mean, because Wendy ( Picnic With Ants) shared some of her story about the pain in her wrist and thumb I was able to do some reading and figure out my symptoms matched hers, but not necessarily the intensity so I have been waiting to see if it resolves on it’s own. I have an appointment with PCM DR Traffic-Director tomorrow and it’s still there just enough to be a bother, so I think I will bring it up with her tomorrow.
I also checked my labs so I knew what was going on before I see her, and found that my numbers are actually pretty good! The only discrepancy I see might mean my synthroid dose just get bumped up a tiny bit, but that doesn’t actually surprise me since my thyroid disorder is autoimmune.
But none of that is related to my shit day…well, mostly. Appointment with Dr Traffic-Director was scheduled for tomorrow because 1) It’s time for my yearly physical 2) the doctor I have been seeing is active duty and getting orders to rotate out next month (if you’ve ever been in the military clinic setting for your primary care, you’ll get that) and (3) because I have been informed that the clinic is instituting a new “program” for chronic pain patients.
As part of their new Pain Process Protocol Program (seriously how many fucking hours did you schmucks spend around a table in a boardroom to come up with that one?!?!) I have been “issued” a prescription for Narcan, I get a new case worker (oh goody.), and I have to check in with my primary care doc every 90 days.
1. Yeah….that prescription ain’t gonna be picked up.
2.My “primary care” is a joke, they rotate out every 3 years. We retired here. I’ve been with my same pain specialist for over 6 years and I already follow all their rules and jump through their hoops (new contract at the beginning of the year, random urine screenings, seeing them every 8 weeks, fill all my scripts at the same pharmacy, I am only given 30 days of meds at a time, so my meds have to be refilled every 29 days….
I am stable, compliant, and my doses haven’t been changed in several years.
So fuck you guys and your Narcan, and your 90 days, and your case worker.
You’re about 6 years too late. I have been with the same pain specialists for over SIX years. And allll those things we get told to do before or instead of pain meds; I DID THEM.
Every formula of the SSRIs, SSNRIs, and SNRIs out there; acupressure, acupuncture; Reiki, Biofeedback, physical therapy, “gentle exercise”, occupational therapy, yoga, talking to at least 2 shrinks, trigger point injections; massage therapy; Lyrica, Neurontin, ….you name it, I tried it. I had to trial and fail every other option before I got any narcotic pain meds. It was not easy. It was probably a 5 year process. I also even underwent light anesthesia (propofol) 13 times in one year for spinal injections and a rhizotomy.
NOW, six years later, when I am stable and compliant, and my only “risk factor” is that I take narcotic pain meds; you fools want to stick your nose in. My primary care is just a traffic director….issuing referrals. My case is difficult and complex, and the people that I see the most (pain doc & neurologist) KNOW me. They know me and my case.
I did not accept the “script” for Narcan, I didn’t answer my phone when my “case Manager” called. Go away. And take you stupid PPP Program with you.
April was nuts. I’m still trying to remember all the things and the stuff and the sharing…
Rehearsals, a concert, prom, tech week….
P!nk was amay.ZING!! And worth every penny for the not-exactly inexpensive tickets! Seeing her was bucket list stuff!
Four weeks of rehearsals for the kid because her school was (is …we have 2 more shows this weekend, and I’m finishing the editing of this post on Saturday afternoon) performing Anything Goes.
Rehearsals were 4-5 days a week, weekends were set builds, and one weekend was a dance intensive workshop to work on choreography. The kids have worked their butts off and it shows! They have put together an incredible show!
We got through the ….um, “stupid” business trip and my husband got back on April 4th. We jumped right into April insanity; meaning 5-6 days a week of rehearsals, me interrupting rehearsals on April 17th to drive up to DC to see my favorite show EVAR, prom on April 21, and then right into tech week. “Tech week” means full dress rehearsals and long days the last week of April. I volunteered food and serving the cast and crew, the band, the faculty, and the parents and volunteers two out of the three days.
Watching how many parents and teachers step up and volunteer to support the show is inspiring. They’re working HARD.
In the middle of tech week, we HAD to get tickets to squeeze in seeing Infinity War because we’re a household of hopeless geeks and I flat out told my kid I have to see it or stay off the internet until we do! Fortunately, we we able to find tickets for an 8 pm showing on Thursday night. (& we squeezed in a matinee on Saturday)
No spoilers. Don’t @ me. I’ve seen it twice so far. I won’t ruin anything for anyone else. 😉
But we will be seeing it again. Apparently we’re masochists.
Finally Friday, April 27 was opening night!
I am so proud of these kids. And I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am for the teachers, staff, directors, and parent volunteers giving up all the time and work for this production. The kids have worked so hard and *my* kid is ecstatic about the chance to perform and all the support. This is me gushing because this is a new chapter for my youngest and it’s awesome to see her doing the next thing and loving the experience and support she gets.
We’re closing out a long and busy couple of months. One three-week-long business trip, one snowstorm, 4+ weeks of rehearsals, three gun incidences in our schools, one trip to New York, one P!nk concert, six high school musical performances, and one blood draw (yesterday) for new Cobalt and Chromium levels for my ortho surgeon when I see him again in just over 2 weeks.
Gentle hugs, a couple of deep breaths, and and 2000 words later it’s time to move forward. May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month! #gogreyinmay
❤ ~ Xun
So in spite of my best efforts to ignore anything that even remotely resembles a birthday, my mom called me today to remind me I have a birthday tomorrow. We disagreed about exactly which birthday it is. Suffice to say we’re (read: I’m) going with I’m 36.95 plus shipping & handling.
BUT one thing we can agree about is 10 years ago today I had my hip surgery! A cutting edge, new, all-metal hip replacement designed to last the rest of my life. At the time of my surgery, it had only been FDA approved for about 14 months, and from what I can tell, it is not done much, if at all, anymore. And I was unbelievably lucky enough to have the #2 U.S. surgeon, who had, in fact, traveled to Birmingham, England to train on the surgical technique!
So today I celebrate that I have a hip I can still walk on, and I am grateful every day for that ability!
Whether or not my brain tumor is related to said hip implant remains to be seen, and they just drew Cobalt and Chromium levels last Thursday, so I will keep you up to date when I get the results. I already know my chromium levels are high, but they’re normal-people high, not implant-patient high. Or at least they were 2 years ago.
Whatever. Ya’ll ain’t getting my implant back. I am not open to a revision surgery. It’s really damn hard to learn to walk again in your 30’s.
Side note: also, 15 years ago I was within 12 days of delivering my youngest child, my Rainbow Baby, my miracle I went through Hell and high-water to have.
And the last thing to share this week is that I got to do a bucket-list, incredibly cool thing last Friday night. We went to the Kennedy Center and got to see FLUFFY!!! (Gabriel Iglesias!) (& if you know who that is, you know how funny he is!)
I don’t think I have ever laughed as hard as I did at his show. I had tears rolling down my face, bright red (thank goodness for awesome water-proof mascara). It was one of the best things I’ve gotten to see!
We had awesome seats, second row, stage right.
So, Happy Birthday Hip. I got to see Fluffy. And cobalt & chromium levels coming this week!
*gentle hugs* ~ ❤ Xunnie
Did you know P!nk has a new album out? Yes? No? Xun, what does this have to do with anything? I love Pink. She’s a better, badass, outspoken version of who I want to be. I have lyrics from one of her songs tattooed on me…
…because I tend to be pretty self destructive and I want to give better words, better directive, better inspiration to my daughters. So I try to teach them, and I try to live the words… “Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead”.
Have you ever listened to the way you talk to yourself? Women, it seems, tend to be pretty unkind to themselves. Would you let someone say something you tell yourself to your loved one? Your mom? Your daughter? Your best friend?
My point is I have been listening to Pink’s new album on repeat because I woke up with What About Us stuck in my head.
It feels like there’s always so much going on. Wildfires, threats of war, natural disasters. How can you breathe when the world gives you so many things to dodge and worry about? I have family and friends in Northern California too close to the fires right now and I hate how helpless I feel. But I know that they are all staying on top of the news and keeping tabs on each other…
“You good? No evacuation orders?
“Nope, we’re good here. You?”
“Yup. Good so far here too.”
“Okie dokie….stay inside. Can’t breathe out there.”
My mom, my son, my uncle….I’m worried and I wish I could just put them in a bubble and bring them here where it’s been raining for the last couple of days. Just long enough to be safe…
Maybe that’s why I woke up with another black eye today. That’s the hidden truth of chronic invisible illness. What you see is not my reality.
The picture on the left is me just out of the shower, no make-up, half way between what the rest of the world sees and what nobody sees. Dark line under my left eye, and something that almost looks like a bruise on my left cheekbone. The picture on the right is hair and make up done and what I show the rest of the world.
One of the biggest reasons I think “invisible illness” is invisible is because on the days that the flares, the pain, the struggle is the highest, we disappear. I know I do. If my pain levels are higher than I can handle I tend to go off line. No social media, no writing, no phone calls, no connections. And call it vanity, but I definitely don’t leave the house if I look like crap. In fact, anyone that knows me knows I almost never leave my house without my hair and makeup done.
Just because you don’t see the struggle, the pain, the fear…doesn’t mean it’s not there.
What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
What about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
What about love? What about trust?
What about us? ~ P!nk
When I’m overwhelmed or there’s just a lot going on in my life, I tend to get really quiet. Yes, I’m aware that when it would make the most sense for me to write it out, cry out to the world, I tend to shut down. Retreat into myself. I’m aware. I still call it a survival mechanism. A leftover from a tough childhood.
The things that hurt…
…on the day my sister (in law) died, my son kicked me out of his life and it’s taken me about a year and a half to get something that almost resembles the beginnings of a start. But he’s my son, that’s my boy. I’ll take the pain. There’s no way I’m walking away.
…I miss B (my sister) all the time. I wonder if I could have done more for her. I talk to her a lot. Which sounds like I’m just a leeeetle bit crazy. But I believe she’s around. I think….I hope that we can have these conversations and she hears me and I can find bits that tell me we’re communicating.
…I miss my dad. I miss my dog. I like to think they’re off in this amazing better version of here. And together.
…And my biggest secret. My wedding anniversary is supposed to be tomorrow. I mean …it still will be. The date marking an event that happened 18 years ago will still exist. But mostly only because I’m still alive, sometimes against my will, and I’m still here. I packed up and left for about a year, 10 years ago. But all hell broke loose in my life and I got scared. I retreated back into a life that was familiar. I told myself I was happy.
Then I got sicker and sicker….
Chronic pain, complications from my hip replacement, pneumonia in both lungs with O2 stats dropping to 86%,leading to in home O2 for 3 months. More surgeries, more treatments, all while a full time college student, all while moving to and through 3 different states, all while trying to make a marriage work and take care of my kids and my family.
Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary, 18 years ago I stood at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains and recited words from an event I wrote.
Now, I don’t even know what “thing” (silver? cotton? silk?) the anniversary stands for. I don’t have a card, or a gift, or a plan. Because I am unhappy. Unhappy as in I go to sleep more nights than not hoping I don’t wake up.
I’m sorry to think that for my mom and my kids, but I just feel like my reasons, my purposes…are done. They’re over and I can go now. I mean I’ve lived through 6 surgeries, septicemia, a brain tumor, radiation, and MRSA . And 2 blood transfusions. When is enough enough?
2016 was an all out, no holds barred suckfest. Universally.
But 2017 leaves me feeling like my life is upside down. I’m unhappy. And I don’t fight…..well, with anyone anymore, but my husband in particular. And very few people know that or know why. But the fight has been chipped away, and there’s not much left.
So, yes, I am very quiet lately. I am struggling. I am unhappy. And those are the kinds of things that leave me retreating into myself.