Friday, October 22, 2010

Health Update

I’ve been waiting a bit to post a health update because I wanted to see how some things shook out, sort of speak. Last week I had a routine doctor visit. I was sort of holding out because I felt like things were “off” – but I felt like if I didn’t see my doc, I’d likely be blown off and nothing much would be done.
I always seem to struggle with fatigue. I always have in all honesty, even in my 20s. Sometimes it’s been easier to fight than at other times. Sometimes you can just push through being tired. When the fatigue is bad, however, it’s as though someone else takes control of your body. It probably doesn’t help that I live alone. If I fall asleep getting dressed, for example, I can sleep for several hours and no one is there to say, hey Heather – wake up!
My GI issues are very mild at this point in my life, but for the last month I’ve had the runs almost without interruption. I haven’t had cramping or pain or anything like that. It just seems as though everything runs through me. I start having issues even before I’ve finished eating a meal! This, of course, makes ostomy leaks and skin problems more likely, so I’ve had more “code browns” than normal. If I take Lomodal it does help, but almost too much and then I do get painful cramps.
I told this to my doc and we did blood work. It turned out that I needed more thyroid medication, my B12 was low, and my vitamin D was so low it could barely even be detected. The normal range is 150 to 180 and mine was 7.
My doc started me on huge vitamin D doses once a week. I started them a bit late because I’d been warned that it might upset my stomach. The weekend after my doc visit the runs were so bad I couldn’t leave the house. I was “on the throne” at least once an hour, if not more. I was afraid that if the vitamin D did upset my tummy, that I’d get very ill. I was already really working at staying hydrated. I didn’t want to get even worse on a weekend. If you’re going to get really sick, the best time to do it is on a week day during the working day – grin!
It was a huge relief to find out there was some cause for this fatigue. Even though fatigue isn’t painful, I find it to be one of the most frustrating symptoms. You can’t see it. If you’re in pain, you know you shouldn’t be in pain. But, for some reason, just being tired all the time makes me feel very guilty. I feel like a lazy slug that isn’t doing my bit for humanity. I haven’t been pitching as many freelance projects because I’d been afraid of taking on too much. This, of course, means my income is in the preverbal crapper. It’s not like I can earn much on disability, but I haven’t been even coming close to my earnings limit.
When you look healthy to the rest of the world, no one understands the fatigue either. Even if no one directly calls you a lazy slug, it’s as though you can sense it. It makes you want to withdraw from people even more.
I had several people ask me if I was depressed. It’s a fair question. Honestly, if I was an outsider looking at my life, I’d assume I was depressed too. The thing is I’ve experienced depression. I know what that feels like and honestly, I haven’t been feeling depressed. I suspect that if this fatigue continued to be so severe, I’d get depressed, but I wasn’t there yet.
Thus, it was a huge relief learning there was some biochemical reason for the way I felt. I probably seemed way too happy when my doctor called with the results, but the truth is I celebrated that night. I called Ryan and my parents and several friends literally bursting with the “good bad news.”
This week I have felt better, even though I really don’t think enough time has passed for the B12, thyroid and vitamin D to kick in. On Monday and Tuesday I did sleep a long time (11 hours each day), but when I was awake I was alert and on my game. Wednesday I felt great and had what I’d call an actual normal day. Interestingly enough, it was the first day in weeks with no runs. Then Thursday I hit the fatigue wall. I got nothing done yesterday and kept falling asleep. Today, I got a late start, but I’ve felt pretty good all day.
Best of all, I think I’ve tolerated the vitamin D and the other things just fine. No additional tummy upset.

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