A New Routine And A New Doctor For 2017

Over the last almost five years now, I have spent so much of my time going to doctors. First it was to the follow up appointments after my surgery. (If you are new to the blog, then look at the posts for June, of 2012 to get up to date on what happened) Then it was to gastroenterologists both in Arizona and here in Georgia, trying to get answers to why I was in so much pain, and trying to get my colostomy reversed. I was denied the surgery to reverse the colostomy and repair my abdominal wall. That was devastating to me but with the help of the mental health clinic I was able to cope and get myself ok with it. I also did not ever get an answer to why I was in so much pain months and years after my surgery. I still don’t have an answer to that. But starting last week, I have changed the game plan, and have moved forward to a new phase in the taking care of Fabgrandma.

The first thing that happened was on Monday. Fabgrandpa and I went to the health supply store in Carrollton, Georgia to pick up our BiPAP machines. Our sleep studies back in October and then again in December indicated that we both have sleep apnea. The sleep apnea, along with the opioid pain meds I had been taking, was making me sleep all day. Almost every day. If we had a doctor appoinment to go to, I would almost fall asleep driving home. I really had no idea that I had sleep apnea. I was referred to the sleep study by the cardiologist I went to after my feet and legs swelled up. 

I have now been sleeping with the BiPAP machine for a week. Even though I am only sleeping about five hours a night, I feel more refreshed and more like I really slept. Getting used to having the mask on my face is not easy. It dries out my mouth so much that my lips stick to my teeth inside my mouth. But I am doing it, and it is helping me feel better. I bought a bottle of Biotene Spray and that is helping with the dry mouth.

The second thing that happened is that I went to a pain management doctor. I had asked my primary care doctor for a referral over a year ago, but she could not find a pain management doctor who would accept me as a patient. On my last visit to her, I told her that the Percocet she was prescribing for me was no longer working as it used to. I asked if she could write me a prescription for something different. She told me that what she was prescribing for me already was the strongest she was allowed to write a prescription for, and that she knew the day would come when I would sit there asking her this very question. She tried again to refer me to pain management, and the next day, Dr. L’s front office called to schedule an appointment.

Dr. L examined me and went over my records. She started out saying that she normally does not treat people who have abdominal pain, they usually treat people whose pain originates in their back. But after her examination, she did detect some arthritis in my back. I also did a check off sheet for symptoms of Fibromyalgia, and had so many of the symptoms it was insane. So, Dr. L decided to accept me as a patient. 

The first thing I had to do was stop taking the opioid pain medication that my primary care doctor prescribed, and to sign an agreement that says I would not ask for opioid pain medications from any other doctor. I also had to sign an agreement that I would submit to random drug testing to insure that I was not taking any opioid, or narcotic, pain medications. I have not taken any of those pain meds since last Tuesday. Instead, I am now taking Gabapentin, which attacks pain in a different way. She also prescribed Meloxicam, a anti-inflammatory medication; and Flexeril, a muscle relaxer. She told me to take the Gabapentin only for four days, to make sure I had no reaction to it. Then, take the Meloxicam for four days, again to check for reaction. And last, add in the Flexeril, at night when I go to bed. So far, so good. 

I want to say here that even though I have been in pain, true debilitating pain, for almost 5 years, when I quit taking the Percocet, I seemed to have quit having the pain I was taking it for. That sounds weird, but it is how I feel. I still have pain, but it feels different now. I can tolerate it. I can live with it. I am not sleeping all the time either. So, while I may be a bit grouchy, and somewhat weepy since I stopped taking the Percocet. I will get over that I am sure. 

So. We are treating ME. NOT my PAIN. I am getting the sleep I need. I will update as we go, and hope that things continue in a positive manner. What are you doing to improve your health this year?

This #BloggersTalkingAbout series features amazing bloggers writing from the heart. Continue reading more by following these links.

Loving Yourself by Joanne

 Loving Yourself This Valentine’s Day by Traci

 Care For Yourself By Reducing Anxiety & Worry by Karen

 Permission To Cry by Brandy

 Caring For Myself In My First Trimester by Jenny.

If you’re a mom/female blogger, join us in our group, Bodacious Bloggers.

Tomorrow We Get Our BiPap Machines

Back in November, I wrote about Fabgrandpa and I going for sleep studies.  That started a round of about a hundred doctor visits for us that included me going to a cardiologist. The cardiologist did a gazillion tests, and found nothing wrong with my heart. That is a relief, but it didn’t tell me why my feet and legs swelled up and were so painful. She referred me for a sleep study to check for sleep apnea

sleep study

All wired up for a sleep study for sleep apnea

After I went for the sleep study, I had an appointment with a lung doctor, Dr. Reid. He said my sleep study showed that I stopped breathing 29 times in an hour. That is enough to be labeled as “Severe Sleep Apnea”. The next step was to go back to the sleep center for another sleep study. This time, they put one less wire on me. This test was to determine the settings for my BIPAP machine. I still didn’t feel like I slept at all, but they were able to get the settings and send them to my doctor. Dr. Reid then sent a prescription order to a home health supply place in Carrollton. We finally got the call from them last week that our machines were ready to pick up. We go in the morning to get them. 

BIPAP

BIPAP Machine

In between times of the sleep studies, I also went to my endocrinologist, D. Vavrik. I showed him pictures of my legs and feet, and he said “I don’t do feet and legs, if it happens again, go to your primary care doctor.” Well, then. My A1C was too high, at 8.9. This is not a good trend for me. We talked about my blood sugar numbers when fasting, and how much insulin I was taking. He raised my insulin dosage to 35 units at meals for the short acting Novalin R, and 3o twice a day for the long acting Novalin N. So far, those increased dosages have been keeping my fasting blood sugar under 125, which I can live with for the moment. 

Fabgrandpa has also done the sleep studies, on the same nights as I went. His test results showed that he stopped breathing 66 times in an hour, which is more than once a minute. It made me wonder when he DID breathe. So Dr. Reid has also ordered him a BIPAP machine. I am really hoping that these machine make a difference in our sleeping, and therefore, in the way we feel during the day. Because, I am sleeping all day most days in my chair. I have no energy, no get up and go. If I do something like to to the grocery store, I wind up not being able to do anything for two or three days after. I still have to go and do it, though. 

On Tuesday, I am going to a pain management clinic. I went to my primary care doctor over a year ago, and asked to be referred to a pain management doctor, but none of the ones in our area would accept me as a patient because my pain does not originate in my back. They know how to treat back pain. They don’t, however, know how to treat chronic pain caused by a 12 inch surgical scar and lack of core muscle. My primary care doctor finally found a pain group that would accept me and I am hoping that they can at least prescribe a new pain reliever that will help me feel better. We’ll see. 

So, that is where we stand as far as health issues go. I have no heart disease, no congestive heart failure, no vascular disease. I DO have sleep apnea, chronic pain, and high blood sugar with type 2 diabetes. I hope that the coming year doesn’t bring any more issues for me. I also hope that whatever happens in Washington, D.C. doesn’t effect my health insurance. I have Medicare and a MAPD plan through Humana. It isn’t the best ever, but it is insurance. Have you been for your yearly checkups yet? What do you think is going to happen with the state of healthcare in the United States? Let’s get the discussion going.