Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Emergency Room - Where everybody knows my name, doo doo doo, and they're never glad I came, do doo doo...

This is another drive-by update.

I turned 33 this week. I am now JANNAH TASTIC. Cuz apparently 33 is the age of people in heaven, so say some ahadith. Does this make me heavenly? IT SURELY MUST. DO NOT DEBATE THIS.

Seriously though, I feel fairly meh. I’m out of shape and have gained a few pounds. My family insists the weight has filled out my face so I look healthier. I personally prefer the wan and consumptive face I usually have when my body is closer to my preferred weight but all one’s preferring won’t keep cake from jumping into one’s mouth and finding its way to their jowls. I guess my face looks ok otherwise. Some wrinkles but hey, I’ll swap them for the absence of acne any day. About damn time those bastards left me alone.

My pain levels are good though. Not at their lowest, but manageable at a five out of ten. I can walk straight and am not limping or wincing, though my skin still has that constant bruised feeling going on. For me, that’s a pretty good pain status. Unfortunately my energy levels are shot. I seem to always be extra tired these days. I’m considering upping my dose of pep pills, but I’m wary of self-medicating. Can’t put my finger on the cause of this down-tick. I hope it passes. I’m tired of being tired, waking up like the walking dead only to mostly stumble through the day. It’s no fun at all.

So of course, I celebrated my birthday with….. a….. FUN MEDICAL MISADVENTURE!!!! WHEE! It wasn’t anything dramatic though. I had some dental surgery the week before and woke up with a fever and face like a chipmunk. So away the husband and I went, to our favorite date spot – The Emergency Room – where everybody knows my naaaaame *que the Cheers theme song* (at least the receptionists and pharmacists do)!

It seems my dental surgery had resulted in an infection, and they needed to be sure it wasn’t in my sinuses as well, so I had to X-ray my head. One X-ray image in, and the technician stops the process, comes out of the monitoring station looking all concerned and asks me: “are you wearing a nose ring?” Uh, you see my face. It is not nose-ringed. I don’t have such extra holes in my head. She looks at me in consternation, as if squinting at me will make my naughty invisible nose-ring appear, and goes back to the monitor. Then she gets her manager. I hear hushed whispering. The husband is with them and asks “What’s going on? What’s the problem?” More hushed whispering.

Then the lead technician comes over. She too looks at my problematic head, confirms I have no grommets hanging out of my nose, and then says “Ma’am, there is some abnormality.” Not this again. Abnormality is practically my middle name. The husband calls out “they say they’re seeing something weird on the scan on the right side of your head.” What do you mean weird? And are you sure it’s the right side? “Yes ma’am, on the right, near your nose.” I start wondering if any of my many nights of lucid dreams were actually alien abductions with traditional nasal implant souvenir. Or maybe I shoved a crayon up there when I was a kid and forgot about it. OR maybe one of the doctors left something in my sinuses to remember him by. My troublesome head boggled at the possibilities.

“You’re SURE it’s the right side?” I ask again. “Because I DID have brain surgery but it was on the left side.” They all go back to the monitor, staring and discussing. Finally I hear Mali announce “It’s a flipped image! It’s the left side! This must be from your aneurysm surgery!”

And lo and behold, the abnormality showing up in the X-ray wasn’t just FROM my aneurysm surgery. It WAS my aneurysm they were seeing. Apparently, the Onyx HD glue the neurosurgeon used to seal up my 10mm aneurysm shows up on X-rays like a solid object, complete with daughter-aneurysm lumps. So I do INDEED have a rock in my brain.  Checkit out!

Awright, that's it for updates. I shall probably now disappear for another few weeks. Try not to miss me too much. :P

Monday, August 3, 2015

Yo man.... perspective.... and kale.....

I had a couple of instances I wanted to blog about but it’s been really busy at work so I wasn’t able to catch those thoughts and put them down to electronic paper before they faded away. But I'll try and recall them.

July 3 was the first anniversary of my brain surgery to repair my aneurysm before it ruptured. In the past year, all the memories and stresses of that time have gone from stark Technicolor to washed out – which I suppose is one of the good things about having a wonky brain and memory.  I remember the bleed-out at the clinic that did my angiogram the day before the surgery, and the amazing sandwich I got to eat after fasting for a trillion hours (I LOVE YOU JIMMY JOHN’S). And I remember the never ending pre-surgery preps, with the surgeon’s nurse and head OT nurse having some kind of weird territory/power struggle over my gauze becapped head. And of course, I remember jumping into the conversation about some sport that the doctors were having as I was slowly fading out of consciousness, and my fuzzy brained hope that I was being appropriately social and not sounding drunk. And I remember waking up in recovery, and the drama with the damage they did to my throat when they took out my tubing, which turned me into a blood fountain. But that’s mostly it. The rest, my husband has to remind me about.

It’s funny how something that once loomed so blindingly large in your life can fade to such banality. I realize how blessed that makes me – that I was able to have my life-saving surgery within days of my aneurysm’s likely rupture, and that I was able to return to work without any noticeable side effects or changes, to such a degree of success that I now sometimes forget to tell doctors about the aneurysm when sharing medical history. Inshallah (God willing) in a month or two I’ll head back for my second post-surgery follow up angiogram, and hopefully it'll find everything in there as good as they need to be.

OH! And I was able to fast all of Ramadan! Subhanallah (glory be to God). That was such an unexpected gift. Last year, I couldn’t fast at all, as I had my surgery right at the start of the month, and was on such heavy medication throughout that I wasn’t physically able to. I’m still on a cocktail of pills so I wasn’t sure how I’d manage if I was unable to take them at the normal times, and also have access to interventional medication when I was feeling especially ill. Everyone in my family was VERY wary of me fasting and kept trying to dissuade me but man, last year was the first time in my life I didn’t fast a Ramadan and it felt bad. Like I was deprived of something. I need that month of discipline and increased spiritual focus. It helps reset your body and soul. So I made my mind up that I’d fast as much as I could and do whatever necessary to ensure that. For me, that meant I had to take two naps a day, go to bed early, and put up with a near daily mild-migraine. PLUS, I was operating at about 1/3 of my normal productivity levels at work. But hey, so is everyone else who’s fasting, so it went unnoticed. 

This is the year I am supposed to be getting back into shape, after two years of being in a recovery/post-operative state. But unfortunately I haven’t yet gotten there. I’ve thrown out my back and even sprained about five times this year, with increasingly little provocation. Each time it happens, I am barely able to walk or sit and have to be on muscle relaxants and pain meds for weeks. Even right now, I’m still getting over a sprain that had me in the emergency room and on bed rest for nearly five days. Just when I think I’m better, I do a little more activity and suddenly, I feel that gut-wrenching twinge in my back that is the precursor to days of agony and immobility. Sigh. So I’m taking it easy for another week or so before I hop back on to my elliptical and try some weights. I wish I knew a physical trainer out here with the expertise needed to train someone with a connective tissue disorder and spinal degeneration. I think that’d help ensure I don’t harm myself trying to get fit.

AND, I am going to try a new diet. Yep. It’s not a normal Zee year if I’m not trying to starve myself thin. I keep foolishly hoping that somewhere out there is the diet that will work with the confusing conundrum that is body in the best way possible, making me effortlessly thin. This time I’m doing a version of the Fuhrman diet, which promotes eating food with the maxium micronutrients per calorie. This means you eat tons of greens mostly (KALE?! KALE!) and avoid animal fats and protein, processed foods and carbs. My mom has been doing it on and off and has lost about 40lbs and just seems a lot healthier. I love veggies so hopefully this one won’t be too difficult.

And…. I’m turning 33 soon. Whoa. Like. Whoaaaaaa. But Subhanallah, you know, I’ve had an amazing 32 years, and I can only hope and pray the rest will be even better. :D