Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Very pleased after Naturapath doctor visit

I was a little worried she'd be a little "too" new-agey for me. And when I found out that her office is inside a yoga studio, it made me a little more anxious.

But, she wasn't (woosh). She seems to be incredibly intelligent. She understood every condition I've thrown at her on my list of complaints. She not only knew exactly what each condition meant, but the regular medical treatment for each of those conditions as well as the naturopathic treatment options. AND she understood how all my "conflicting" conditions interrelate and how treatment for one might cause issues for another.

I was impressed. And honestly? I don't impress easily anymore after everything I've been through.

She's got a list of changes she wants me to make. However, she wants me to make the changes very slowly and gradually so that we introduce only one change at a time and give it a few days before making a second change (did I say she impressed me already?).

EVERY other doctor I've gone to was 'satisfied' if I said I was taking a supplement for xyz. She instead wants to modify the supplements I'm taking because the form of the supplement I'm taking doesn't work as well as another form. Her explanation? If you're going to take time and money to take these things, I want you working with the best quality for the money and getting the biggest benefit. :-)

Of course, more water is one of the changes I need to make. I've always known I don't drink enough water and drink too much "junk" liquid. But, I struggle to drink water ... and even when I do better, it's a battle for every swallow. She actually came up with some very valid and applicable methods to make it easier for me to drink it. Again, I'm impressed.

AND? best of all... she explained that there's a complex relationship between magnesium and b6; and feels that by adding magnesium supplements to my list that my body should be better able to process it (and processing it properly is a key to decreasing the excess amounts). AND that she's going to research it further to see if there's anything else that we can do to "detox" as quickly as possible. :-) Which is really why I went to her in the first place.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

May Coupon Giveaway

OK - I finally got about 500 coupons clipped and sorted (yeah, didn't take as long as I thought, but longer than I wish it could have taken).

I've got approximately 150 coupons that don't expire until May 31, 2009 - and am giving them away to a reader.

Please post a comment if you'd like to win before 12:00 am Saturday. If you do not have a blog with an email attached to it, please leave your email in the comment. I will pick a random number to select the winner. I will contact the winner via email by Sunday night. If they don't respond within 48 hours, I'll pick someone else.

And, I will be a good girl & clip my coupons - and this will be repeated at the end of every month with however many give-away coupons I can find.

Good luck

Monday, April 27, 2009

Less angry - still quite emotional

I'm still struggling with a lot of strong emotions over my health. I'm not angry with the one doctor who was a complete jerk anymore. BUT, I'm angry, or really - mostly upset with the whole process and system that allowed a significant diagnosis not get communicated clearly to the people (like me and my regular doctor) who needed to know what's up.

If we had known it was B6 when my symptoms first started fluctuating again, we might have had some idea what to do next. In the meantime, my over-all condition has worsened and it might have caused permanent damage. In the meantime, it's been two more years where we didn't get better and might add at least that much more time to the recovery period. A period of time which is really critical to "a"s development. I've missed out on so much because I'm always needing to go lay down - because I'm tired or don't feel well. The last two years seem like such a waste.

I've got an appointment with a Naturopathic doctor tomorrow. Have high hopes. I can't find anything online regarding flushing B6 out of your system, just that it takes years to work itself out... so I'm still going to ask her opinion, but not be surprised if I just need time. I am hoping though that she can advise me on the smartest diet changes to make to try to still have a healthy diet but with as little B6 as possible while I detox from it. She's very clear that she plans on spending at least an hour with me tomorrow and that she works with whole body healing types of things. One of the things that has bothered me is that I have so many nutrient deficiencies (and this one toxicity) -- without a root cause. And pretty much the only discussion my doctors have is to throw me on more supplements (and take me off of the one). I think I eat a balanced diet (not a perfect diet, but one with variety)... and it would be good to know what (if anything) I am messing up.

A long rant (moved from my knitting blog)

** Originally posted on my knitting blog (by accident) on the 23rd **

OK - you know that last week I had found out more about B6 toxicity symptoms and that I had a theory I wanted to discuss with my doctor and to get screened to see if that might just be the key to the mystery of my health issues.

I've started having symptoms again - and things are getting worse. And, as per the "plan of action" (or lack thereof); I'm supposed to call my doctors nurse so she can inform the doctor so they know what's going on. So, I do. Only the regular nurse is on vacation this week. I leave a message with the new nurse to call me. She tried to call, I was tied up on a conference call. I call back. She doesn't call back. I call the following day. I called again this morning. I get put through to her and she wants me to come in today. Right away. OK. I was really just hoping to ask to get a B6 test. No hurry... but if the doctor wants me to come in, I can.

My doctor doesn't have any free time today, but wants me to be seen. Since I've been through this before, I'm tempted to cancel; but think - you know what? You just never know; no one seems to know what's wrong, it's good to get extra opinions. Maybe this guy will have some new insight.

He walks in, says he's not going to ask how I'm feeling since he knows the answer is probably "I've been better". Good start. I ask how far back he wants me to go (cause it usually works best to start at the beginning). He says, "I'm just filling in, so why don't I just ask some questions". We talk about the fact that I don't have "new" symptoms; just worsening symptoms. He tries to narrow down exactly what the symptoms are. So far, very good. Right to the point.

Then he starts looking at my chart & questions start to swirl a bit - there's a lot in my chart; and some of it was proven wrong recently. Being on coumadin, but not being on it any more. He was adamant that I should still be on it - I told him to talk to the six specialists who told me I shouldn't be on it. (probably shouldn't have done that). At this point he's complaining that I'm "all over the place" --huh??? remember? I'm answering his questions... I had asked if he wanted me to start at the begining, he didn't feel it necessary, but now, I'm not providing a clear picture.

Then we get to the "why are you here" part and I explain that I want a test to measure my B6 levels. I explain that I'd been diagnosed with B6 toxicity in 07; and that I'd learned online that it might be related to my current symptoms and wanted to verify. Doesn't that sound reasonable? I thought it did. I got nailed to the wall ... the ghist of it was that if I'd already been diagnosed that I didn't need all the testing I was getting; etc. etc. Umm... ok? He made it sound like I didn't need the test. I already had my diagnosis. ? What? ??!

He made it VERY clear that I was wasting his time & my regular doctor's time and that I should have asked more about the toxicity with the specialists.

I think I finally made it clear to him (still not sure) that when I was told I had B6 toxicity that they made it sound like it didn't mean anything. I was NEVER told that it was related in any way to the health issues I was experiencing. I asked "what does it mean to me" -- and got told simply "stop taking the supplements - no more."His response? "That's a concern" -- What does that mean?!

SO, now I'm lost. They are supposed to call me early next week with the blood test results. I'm "guessing" at this point that I should act as if I still have the toxicity even if my levels are normal. I don't know what the next steps are. I don't know if there are next steps. I don't know if there's a specialist to go to (or what kind) to discuss prognosis, expectations. I did understand very clearly that I wasn't supposed to expect any answers from the doctor I saw today.

I am planning on getting a call into my regular doctor and have him help guide me with "what's next".

In the meantime? I'm furious. I'm angry with this obnoxious doctor who was so rude about my wasting his time that he didn't make it clear to me that either "Yes, you do have it and sorry the other doctor's missed it" or "The test will be the proof that you have it". I'm furious that I didn't see this doctor years ago if it was so "obvious" that's what this was. I'm angry with myself for not asking more questions years ago. I'm angry with Mayo for not understanding the condition they'd diagnosed me with to explain to me it's impact on my life. I'm angry that I'm going bankrupt over this whole mess. I'm angry that my innocent son has missed out on so much in his life because I've been sick when I probably didn't need to be.

Some day - probably soon, I'll be thankful that I've got a diagnosis and will know how to keep things from getting worse. I'm not there right now. I'm crying my eyes out and ranting to anyone who will listen, instead. I can't focus on anything. I can't hardly think clearly right now.

I wish I had waited to see my doctor. I know his response would have been more along the lines of - wow, could that really be it? Let's go find out for sure. He would have been happy to help find a solution. He wouldn't have had any answers as to what to expect, but I'm sure he would have been eager to help me find a specialist who could answer my questions. Instead, I practically got reamed by this assinine man who had better things to do with his time. I felt like he was blaming me for being ignorant. And, here... if this really is what's going on? I'm actually the first one to put the two pieces together. Not the doctors. ME. I didn't get trained on this stuff, there's no way I could possibly have known that B6 toxicity was relevant to my condition I was experiencing after I'd stopped taking them. No one provided the slightest hint that I might have to be on the lookout for anything. No one told me that it would explain ANYTHING. As far as I knew, it had no symptoms of any meaning. LET ALONE explain almost 100% of my undiagnosed condition.

I do still think I probably have hypersomnia - it can be caused after neurologic damage... and B6 toxicity can cause nuerologic damage.

So, like I said, I know I should be happy that I finally have some answers. I'm still struggling through the vast amount of emotion going through me right now over the jerk doc (as he will forever exist in my mind). I've been suffering for so long and desperately seeking answers... just to find out that the answer was there, but buried in a bunch of old tests that no one took the time to really figure out.

Officially out of my hands

The guy with the auto-hauler came by at 3:00 today to haul away the T-bird. It's on it's way to a brand new home in Oklahoma. Amazing!

Monday, April 20, 2009

New insights - too soon to get my hopes up that it's an answer

I think I've figured out something that might be key to some of my health issues (beyond hypersomnia - which is still a probable, maybe thing).

If I go back in time, I had my PE in Nov 2004. When I had it, it was discovered that I had high homocysteine values - which is usually an indication of B vitamin deficiency. It can raise your risk of clots (hence possible contributor to PE and why I got tested). It can raise your risk for heart disease and cause lots of issues. Although you can lower your homocysteine levels by taking B vitamins, there's no proof it lowers the risk of clotting, etc. HOWEVER... taking B vitamins is relatively safe, inexpensive, and it does lower the levels ... so it's standard practice to suggest taking Folic Acid, B6, and B12. I took them faithfully.

Within a few months I had recovered (as far as I can tell) from my PE - but within a month of that I started having weird pains, chest pressure, etc. And thus all my "issues" started. Things got worse & worse until I ended up having those "episodes" of loss of feeling and loss of balance. Then in January 2006, I had an "event" where those episodes stopped being intermittent and instead become "my new reality". At that time, they couldn't figure out what was causing it. For lack of any other explanation, they decided that it could have been a very small stroke. Although those symptoms didn't come back for another six months or so... I still wasn't doing well. Tired all the time, etc. etc.

After my mother got diagnosed with B6 toxicity - knowing I was taking B6 she told me to get tested. I asked REPEATEDLY to get tested for toxicity and got told repeatedly that it was next to impossible to get toxicity from a single over the counter supplement. After going to mayo and still not getting answers on my issues, I ended up at the pain clinic - where I got stubborn and flat out demanded someone test me. Sure enough, I was toxic. Told to stop taking the supplement immediately. Didn't really get told anything else. And, honestly? I didn't really ask anything else about it.

I've had some intermittent symptoms since - but things got much worse this fall. I had another "event" in Dec 2006. But, funny enough? I did a search on B6 toxicity - and wouldn't you know it? nerve damage in the form of loss of sensation, numbness, tingling, pain - and being overly tired, and balance & coordination issues are the symptoms of B6 toxicity. Now, wouldn't you think someone, somewhere would have tied the two of these together? Did I really have to spend $20K on medical tests when I'd already been diagnosed with toxicity? Now, supposedly, after stopping supplements, you're supposed to see improvement in pain, tiredness, and balance and coordination -- and I did for a while. Unfortunately, the nerve damage *might* be permanent. But then things did get worse again.

But, I thought to myself - but I'm not taking B6. I know you can get B6 from diet - so I got to wondering if perhaps, I'm just overly sensitive to it (since I shouldn't have been toxic from the supplement when I was taking it). Started digging into seeing a Naturopath (woohoo! one just moved to Des Moines!!!). Can't wait to start working with her!

Anyway - didn't take me long to figure out two probably problems:

My cereal bars I've been practically living off of (eating 1 or 2 EVERY morning, and sometimes one for a snack)??? Contain B6 -- 100% of recommended dose!

But, then I also got to thinking about the supplements I am taking. Wouldn't you know it? My doc had me start taking a multi-vitamin around about the time that things started to really turn down hill again. And, when I look at the bottle? It supplies 100% of the daily recommended dose as well.

Now, I haven't had time to discuss this with my doctor yet. But this really fits with my symptoms and timing, and it all ties together far better than any of the other suggestions. I can't help but be very frustrated by the whole process. I know that he's tested my B12 levels as B12 deficiency can have similar symptoms - but I've been taking those supplements regularly and my levels are normal. I'm also pretty sure that since I haven't been taking B6 on it's own, he hasn't tested for it - but I'm going to call and find out for sure. What do you bet it's higher than it should be?

I'm trying to not get my hopes up... but I think, just maybe - this is a key.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sleep Study

OK, so there were two last tests that my doctor ordered... just to "cover all the bases" and not expecting to find anything. One was a colonoscopy - and I'm going to spare you the details. Suffice it to say, things are fine.

Second - a sleep study. I wake up every morning - completely exhausted. It takes a good hour to convince my body to move properly. I fall asleep pretty easily at night and sleep undisturbed for the entire night. I have two brothers & a sister with sleep apnea -so I know the symptoms... I don't have them. My sister also has restless leg - so I'm familiar with it as well... I don't have it. I struggled with insomnia in my teen years - I definitely don't have it.

Oddest thing about it is although I've never been a morning person ... up until about five years ago, I couldn't sleep past 7 to save my soul. Now I can't get up by 7 unless the house is on fire and someone drags me out of bed to save me. I've got 5 alarm clocks going - and I'm still having trouble. My health has been poor and we've had lots of things going on - so the last thing my doctor's were worried about was my trouble with over-sleeping. But, honestly? It's the biggest issue with quality of life that I have right now. I'm beyond tired ALL DAY LONG. And I don't have the energy to play or walk the dog, or do much of anything beyond the bare minimum.

So - met the doctor the afternoon before my sleep study and it was very interesting. Apparently there's a not very well known condition that is the opposite of insomnia - called ideopathic hypersomnia. And, I have 9 out of 10 of the symptoms - to a capital T. Holy cow. Interestingly enough, although sometimes they don't know why someone starts to have this, it can come on after nuerologic symptoms. Which I also have had - and in fact, I've had this "exhaustion" ever since my first "mini stroke" - or whatever it was, if it wasn't really a stroke. It's gotten better and worse, but it's never really left... so the timing fits. Also, one of the "key signs" of this is that people who have it tend to try to avoid napping (because it doesn't help). And -that is really what I do as well. If I do take a nap, it ends up being 5-6 hours and I'm still tired after the nap; what a waste. So although I'm too tired to move or do anything except go lay down; I then turn around and do everything I can to stay awake while I'm laying down.

So, he told me that if I didn't have insomnia, nor sleep apnea, nor restless leg syndrome (which I knew I didn't)... then he wanted to know if I could stay for further testing the following day to test for narcalepsy (which I don't think I have) - and hypersomnia. I won't know for sure the diagnosis for the next couple of weeks, but I am curious.

The sleep test went well - I slept through the night, had trouble waking up, just like always. Of course, I don't have any of the conditions I didn't think I had. Then - the following day - every two hours they would have me lay down to take a nap. They'd give me 20 minutes and then wake me up again. I'd have to get out of bed & sit until the next time a nap was due. I wasn't worried about it... but living it? How cruel is it take someone who is exhausted - tell them to try to sleep, and then wake them up literally within minutes of falling asleep? Ugh. It was actually very frustrating. And I also found it quite challenging to "put away" the things and try to sleep during the day after so many, many days of fighting off sleep during the day.

So, it will be interesting!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

5 yr old funny

"a" and I have been having lots of discussion. Apparently there is still some question as to who is the boss.

He finally recited back to me the following list:

Megan (his preschool lead teacher) is the boss at school
Daddy is the boss at Daddy's house (fair enough)
Mommy is the boss in the car and at home

BUT... "a" was trying to sell me on the idea that he is the boss of the couch, and as such, he should be allowed to sleep on the couch whenever he wants.

um. no.

Talked about why I was saying no (not that he fully got it)... and finally just said, nope, it's in the home, I'm the boss of home, so I'm the boss of the couch as well.

Well, he says... I want to be the boss of something. Fair enough, right?

So, I told him that he could be the boss of the puppy.

No fair, he says... she never listens to me.

Hmmm? since when did being the boss mean that anyone actually listens and does as their told? LOL -- though I couldn't very well tell him why I was laughing - I've still got him at least sold on the idea he's "supposed" to listen to me (the boss).

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Coupons - so many coupons

OK, I've been busy on a knitting project and ignoring my coupons... wow, do I have a ton. (obviously - if I usually give away around 100-150 coupons a month).

Here's my old process:

1) Get Sunday paper, collect coupons at stores, or in products, or in the mail

2) every Sunday I would clip ALL of the coupons and put them into two piles - keep AND give away. It used to be that I would keep less than 25% of the coupons; but you never know which coupons with sale prices might be free in the coming weeks - so I learned to keep coupons I didn't think I would need "in case" ... I still don't keep coupons for items I wouldn't use even if free.

3) The pile that I was going to give away -- would get divided again. Coupons that didn't expire for over 30 days... were going into an envelope for a giveaway... coupons expiring sooner would get thrown into an envelope to send overseas to Military families (they can use coupons over 6 months past expiration date at their military shop).

4) Then I would file away the coupons I'm keeping into a 3-ring binder with dividers for grocery aisles.

5) While filing, I would pull out expired coupons that I hadn't used and put them into the Military family's envelope.

6) Then flip through all the flyers and sale ads, and the coupon book & try to match everything up. Browse online at some favorite blogs who do the same & see if I have the coupons they list to match up for some real bargains.

7) Pull out matching coupons & clip them to my notebook with store; sale dates; items on sale

8) When I go to the store, if the bargain isn't available - i.e., item sold out or pricing doesn't match the online board's pricing - if I don't use the coupon after all, I put it in my purse with the coupons I'm collecting that week for the following Sunday to sort out again.

------ big issues here... steps 1 through 5 take forever when you figure I handle about 200 coupons per week. So - I've got a stack of coupons to clip & sort and very few that I can find. I haven't clipped for a couple of weeks - and the piles are too tall now to keep on my desk. sigh

I'm leaning toward one step - which is only to file the coupons that are 'loose' - and then take the non-clipped coupons and file them by date in a manilla folder. Benefit here is reduced time cutting. Disadvantage is that although the online posts usually reference "see coupon in 3/8 paper" -- it doesn't help me when I'm flipping through my sale ads and coupons.

Also, I always justified in the past that I was going to end up clipping them anyway to mail overseas even if I didn't use them.

sigh ... guess I just need to be an adult about it and go home tonight and clip coupons. I just know it's going to take three or four evenings (if not the whole weekend) to get caught up.

Its not like I don't know it's worth it... on average I'm getting about $30-40 worth of free merchandise a month, plus saving over $50 per month on groceries. I've done the math - and the money issues I'm in means that clipping coupons means we're eating better than we would if I didn't. I just wish it was easier (but then, wouldn't more people do it if it was easier???).

Friday, April 03, 2009

and now a vent

Geez... got REAMED tonight by a neighbor. All in all, I'd rather they did complain to me first if they have a complaint before going to the management... BUT, she didn't have to raise her voice to me and repeat her complaint a dozen times.

Here's the issue. Kyra (the dog) gets over-excited (justifiably) when I let her out of her kennel after she's been in it for ten hours. I've been trying to figure out "solutions" and ways to train her so it's not insanity. Basically, when I get home from work she kicks up an enormous racket. Barking, yipping, whining, scratching at the floor of the kennel. A co-worker told me that a trick that might help is to NOT let her out the second I get home... but make her wait a minute or two. So, we've been trying that. It's not working great... but it is helping a little. Basically she's still freaking out the minute I walk in the door, but when I walk past her stating "a minute" and I go to the bathroom, in a minute or so after I leave the room, she calms down a little. Which is good, right? Still a couple of minutes of loud noise & annoyance... but my hope is that with time (and maybe a little age) it will get better.

THEN, when I do let her out of the kennel - she's still over excited (unfortunately). She literally trembles with excitement and wants to jump all over us. I hang onto her collar, encourage her to sit, to calm down... and when she does, I pet her and give her all the attention she wants. When she's trying to climb all over me, jump over the couch, I hang onto her collar to keep her from doing so, and say "No, SIT" in a firm voice. It takes about five minutes of repeating these actions before I can walk to the door to take her out (she's insane, I tell you). Unfortunately, she doesn't think she wants to go outside & go to the bathroom just yet. I know she needs to go, but the majority of the time, she still wants attention. If I put her out too quickly, she sits at the patio door and yips this really loud, really "sharp" yip. ANNOYING to me (and apparently the neighbors). I've tried everything from going outside with her, to scolding her, to leaving her barking... but if I put her out before she thinks she wants to be out - she'll do this. She won't go to the bathroom. If I let her back in, she'll want to go back outside again in two minutes. It's really obnoxious.

This is really the only time she barks. And I do know it's annoying, but I'm kind of at my wits end on how to handle this. I want her to learn that the first chance she gets outside is when she should go and that she'll get all the attention she wants when she's done her business.

So, tonight, I was in the bathroom cleaning the cat litter, and was giving her five minutes to bark (watching the clock). She barked the whole time. Before her time was up, a neighbor came to complain. Now, when it comes right down to it - she had EVERY right to complain. I probably would have as well.

But, it wasn't a complaint -- it was a confrontation. I apologized profusely AND then she started yelling at me about how I wasn't supposed to put the dog on a chain and she was tired of listening to the dog bark all morning long, all night long (which isn't true). And then she even yelled "and you probably don't even clean up after it". ? I'm sorry, but I do pick up after it, if I didn't then she would have yelled "and I'm sick of seeing poop all over the place" -- right? But, no, I do pick up after my dog. I don't follow her around (which I could probably do, if I wasn't already living a life) - but every morning I go out and pick up everything I can find. I do find that some mornings I can't find anything (not sure why)... but the following morning I'll find three or four somethings... I know she's going a couple of times a day (I remember from the regularity of cleaning up after her when she was going in the house).... but for some reason I just don't always see it. It evens out though... and I figure if I'm looking for it and having trouble finding it, it's less likely someone else is going to stumble onto it and complain in between times.

I didn't lose my temper but that was mostly because I was waiting for her to take a breath so I could ask if the dog was also barking during the day while I was away at work (I worry about that). She said no. So, I said thank you for coming to me first, and I would do everything in my power to cut down on the barking - and shut the door in her face.

I think I was quite civil. But WOW? I've had lousy neighbors before and had to complain... but I've never raised my voice? What's the point of that? I figure she needed to unload on someone and I got lucky... like I needed it.

Anyway, had to vent... nothing like getting reamed within five minutes of walking in the door.

First a positive post - Kindergarden Round up

Can you believe "a" starts school this fall? I still can't.

Went to roundup yesterday... and when I walked up to the desk to check in - they asked me when I had registered my son. I panicked for a minute - because in the back of my mind I was thinking ... sh*t isn't kindergarden round up WHEN you register? it was where I grew up... but then I relaxed (incorrectly) because I remember calling last summer when we moved to this apartment.

I spoke to one of the kindergarden teachers about waiting a year with "a" and what all was entailed. So, I was confident that we were a-ok.

We weren't. Apparently I called too soon. Only they didn't tell me that I had to call back after school started.

So, I registered him yesterday. Only, apparently (something else I didn't know) - in a large school district where budget cuts are the rule -- there's a first-come; first-served issue. We are 112 on a list where they only accept 92 students. huh. They said not to worry over-much... that many of the children on the list would probably move out of the area before fall.... that it happens all the time... but, if it doesn't happen, he'll be bussed to a different school (even though we are two blocks away from this school). The good news (if there is any) is that if he is bussed to another school, we will probably live far enough away that he'll get bussed for free.

Did you know that they can now charge parents for bussing kids to school? Seriously? We live so close that we're in the "walk" zone -- which means no bussing even if we wanted to pay for it. But apparently, if you live past the "walk" zone but within two miles of the school, you can only send your children to school on the bus if you pay the fees. I understand it, and I understand that if they didn't have this option - the kids would be walking otherwise... but I'm still a little outraged over the premise of it. To me, it should at least have a pro-rated cost for those families at lower income (like the lunches)... otherwise it's the disadvantaged kids who can't ride the bus during lousy weather -- and the rich kids get to ride. Just doesn't seem very "american".

Anyway - on a positive note... "a" loved it. Of course, it came with OJ & cookies,, and he got to go explore classrooms and do art projects. I'm sure once it's for real and they actually make him do something similar to work he'll hate it as much as he does preschool. But, as it was, he didn't want to leave when we were finished - he wanted more "classes". ;-) Made me pretty happy.