Playing Doctor Pinball Pays Off

This was originally posted to my old blog on October 15, 2013

I have written in the past about my ongoing troubles with GERD.  For those of you who don’t want to travel back through my previous posts, I have GERD and up until today, I thought all of my pain was attributed to this terribly uncomfortable heartburn problem.  I was wrong…well, not all wrong, I did suspect that there was possibly something else.  About that, I was right.

My primary care doctor, a few weeks ago, sent me to a GI specialist to try to figure out why my heartburn was not being successfully controlled by medication and diet.  The GI specialist ordered an endoscopy.  Let me go off track here for a moment and tell you the wonderful story of how the endoscopy went.  They give you an IV and through that they give you nice drugs that relax you and help you doze off a bit.  My IV either punctured through the vein or was not in it at all.  All those wonderful drugs filled a nice lump in my arm, NOT getting into my bloodstream and therefore NOT making me relax or sleepy. Needless to say, I felt every moment and millimeter of the endoscopy.  Not a comfortable experience, but not terribly painful.  Thank goodness it only lasts a few minutes.  After the endoscopy was done, I would say about 30 minutes to an hour later, the drugs finally hit me and I slept like a baby for several hours.

OK, back to the story at hand.  The GI specialist, after hearing me explain that I don’t get heartburn from foods, or when resting, and not too often when lying down anymore; but I do get it real bad whenever I try to engage in any physical activity, with no relief from medication, suspected I might have a heart problem in addition to the GERD.  He referred me to a cardiologist.

The cardiologist checked me out, did an EKG and a stress test with ultrasound and found an abnormality, “a narrowing”.  So, now I get to go in and have an angiogram to find out the extent of this issue.

At least I know what the source of the pain is now and can move forward to get it resolved.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go shave my groin now.

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Is There A Bottom? ‘Cause I Want to Stop Falling and Hit Something

This was originally posted to my old blog on August 24, 2013.

I have been depressed before, several times in my life, each caused by some horrible bad event(s).  But this bout is a new depth of despair I have never experienced before.  The feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, are so powerful and overwhelming they bring me to such a drained and exhausted point that all I can do is sit around like a zombie or sleep for ungodly amounts of time only to wake up to physical pain and fresh feelings of worthlessness. I find myself overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, fear, and sorrow to the point of bursting into uncontrollable sobs.  I just want to shut down.

I know what the causes of this depression are.  I am having to deal with constant rejection to job applications.  It’s not just the pain of rejection but the knowledge that if I can’t get a job very soon we will be suffering big time financially.  On top of the financial stress and the constant rejection, I have serious health problems that keep me sedentary and in chronic pain.  Just imagine not being able to do even the most common of physical activities without severe pain, and being forced to sit on your ass all day, everyday.  It may sound appealing to some, but for  me, someone who actually likes and craves physical activity, it is torture.  Not to mention the feelings of worthlessness that come with it.  I can’t do anything to be a productive member of my household!

There are so many side effects to all of these problems that I can’t cover them all.  I can, however,say that they are all bad and just feed my depression.

I know what will fix this problem.  If I could get a job I would feel so much better.  But if I get a job it would cause me to be in severe and constant pain because of my health problems.  So somehow I need to cure my health problems and get a job, then all would be right with the world.  What are the odds of that happening?  I’ve been seeing a doctor to try and fix my health, but it has been very slow going and there is no immediate fix in the near future, so I’m screwed if I land a job within the next week or two (this is how soon I need it).   On top of all this shit, I don’t qualify for disability help because, according to the government, my illnesses shouldn’t effect my ability to work.  Not that I want to have to rely on anyone for financial help, I would much rather be able to work, but how well do you think you would be able to do your job if the physical part of it caused you to constantly feel like you were having a heart attack?

I just don’t see an end in sight.  This has been going on for years and I am tired, tired of trying, tired of constantly working for something better that never comes.  With every little bit of good comes a ton of shit. It has trained me to never allow myself to fall for happy things, because behind every happy thing is a black hole of sorrow. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have to worry.  I can’t remember a time when my hard work paid off. I can’t remember a time when disaster wasn’t waiting just around the next corner. I can’t remember a time when I had a shoulder to cry on without being made to feel guilty or worse.

GERD, or better known as “Oh, my God, just let me die already!”

Originally posted to my old blog on April 26, 2013

I wrote and posted the following six months before I ended up having open heart surgery.  If you are experiencing “heartburn” or any kind of chest pain, see your doctor right away and have your heart checked thoroughly.  I was misdiagnosed with GERD when my problem was actually coronary artery disease. When you are diabetic, age doesn’t matter!  I was only 34 when I had heart surgery!

I have a high pain tolerance; as a child I used to get ear infections and not even realize I had one until my eardrum burst (or at least was on the verge of exploding).  I suppose most of the time it is a good thing, being a Type I diabetic and having to take three injections a day and prick my finger several times a day; yeah, it’s a good thing to have a tolerance for pain.  Really, the injections and prickings aren’t painful in the slightest.  A better example of my tolerance for pain would be the broken finger, tail bone, and many other injuries I have had over the years that I didn’t really find very painful.  A bad thing about having a high pain tolerance is the annoyance I feel toward people that have a low tolerance for pain; I just can’t understand why they are being such babies.  It’s just a broken bone, gosh…

Well, I can understand now what people mean by “Oh, my God! Just let me die already!”  It all started about a year ago, maybe earlier.  The symptoms began infrequently, a couple times a month with a mild pain in the center of my chest.  Being a diabetic with no health insurance (I haven’t seen a doctor in about 7 years), I worried it might be heart failure.  I just buried it in the back of my mind with all the other things I was in denial about.  Quickly, but just gradually enough, it became more frequent and severe.  The pain in the center of my chest kicked in whenever I tried to do anything active, or bent over, or lay down, or ate a big meal.  The pain spread to my arms, I got weak and tired and just had to sit down, sometimes the pain even penetrated through to my back!

It was when the pain was there everyday, mild pain all day with two or three severe flareups a day, that I finally researched the symptoms.  According to the Internet (I read up on several sites) it was either heart failure or Esophagitis (AKA GERD).  Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, my symptoms fit perfectly.  The sphincter at the end of the esophagus that opens into the stomach isn’t working properly and acid is backing up into the esophagus causing painful and damaging heartburn.  So, what can I do about it without health insurance?  I did everything the Internet told me to; I cut out all the foods and stuff that cause heartburn: Onions, grease, fat, tomatoes, chocolate, caffeine, carbs, peppers, other spicy things, citrus fruits, tobacco, alcohol, etc.  I tried to lose weight and succeeded to a small degree but it is hard to lose weight when you can’t do any physical activity without severe pain.  I ate TUMS like they were candy and tried Prevacid but it didn’t help in the slightest.  I ate black licorice and drank aloe vera juice, and ate foods that help relieve or prevent heartburn, with very limited results.  I finally found a treatment that worked but it has its own down sides, apple cider vinegar.  I have no idea how or why it works but it is the only thing that brings relief almost instantly and lasts for hours.  I take a shot glass and fill it half way with apple cider vinegar and half with water and shoot it down in one gulp.  After gaging for a moment I drink three shots of water to wash the taste out of my mouth.  Moments later I feel much better, but not completely pain free…

Until recently the pain only kicked in when I tried to be active or ate too much or the wrong things.  Then the day came when the pain woke me up early in the morning.  This was the first time this had happened, heartburn on an empty stomach and while I was already asleep?  On top of the strange timing, it was the most severe pain I had ever had; severe pain in the center of my chest, nauseating, dizzying, pain down my arms and across my collar bones, leg weakening pain, and even a bit of shortness of breath.  I thought for sure I was having a heart attack!

After several hours in the emergency room, an EKG, chest x-ray, blood work, a nitro patch, and some other tests and observations, I left with the diagnosis of esophagitis and hypertension.  They prescribed me Omeprazole and gave me instructions on how to control the heartburn (all the same stuff I’ve already been doing).  So now I am relieved that my heart is healthy* but discouraged that I may never be rid of this constant and debilitating pain.

Will I forever be frightened to walk?  Frightened of bending over?  Loathing of the one thing I used to love almost more than anything, going to bed, because laying down is so very frightening now?  Scared to eat because all eating does is cause me horrific pain?  Will I ever be able to live, walk, clean my house, exercise, again?

*I was misdiagnosed in the ER.  This diagnosis happened only six months before I ended up having open heart surgery.  Be careful, have your symptoms checked by your primary doctor.  Insist on ALL the tests.