Thursday, 30 October 2014

Antibiotic Adverse Effects

When I had this last prescription for antibiotics filled, for the ear infection, the pharmacist warned me that it was a strong dose and could cause some problems with my gut. I looked at him in question. “Diarrhea,” he said.

As I have a common MS problem...constipation...I thought that might be a welcome change from the bloated feeling I experience most of the time.

So today, with only three capsules out of a total of forty left to take, four if you count the one I lost when I spilled the bottle, the diarrhea hit with a vengeance. The bathroom and I have forged a whole new relationship today. I had my book and a couple of magazines on the counter, ready for the next visit. And there were a lot of visits.

I have a new understanding and empathy for people with IBS...irritable bowel syndrome.

Of course the bathroom and I have been constant companions this week already; taking a water pill twice a day will do that for you. I’m glad to see the swelling is down in my feet and legs, so it must be working.

One good thing, the gut stuff has settled and seems to be almost over, helped by the fact I quit the medication as ordered by the pharmacist. My recent trip to the hospital showed my ear infection was resolved so I don’t think it will be a problem.

Good thing it was today, when the bathroom is only steps away and I’m comfortably at home. The bazaar I signed up to participate in is on Saturday, and who knows what the bathroom situation might be. Sometimes things just work out, and after the week I’ve had, I’ll take any good luck I can get.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

In Trouble Again

I had an episode over the weekend, and ended up at the hospital for the day. These last two months have been nothing but ongoing and accumulated stress and I think I hit the wall Sunday with a full out anxiety attack.

Let me start at the beginning, Labour Day weekend. It was pain and more pain from a toothache, compounded when I got a cold and cough which meant putting up with the pain until I could see the dentist.

Meanwhile, I jammed my little finger and now it’s permanently bent at the last knuckle. It aches and really hurts if I hit it. This required visit to the walk-in clinic. Turns out it’s a Mallet finger and not much can be done. A month later and it is still red and swollen.

Finally, I saw the dentist (which is akin to torture for me as I have an intense fear). I got the tooth taken care of, an abscessed back molar that was extracted. This resulted in a few more days of pain, soft diet and rinses that should have improved by the end of the week. No way, no how.

An increase in the pain and a slight fever sent me back to the walk-in clinic. So then I’m on a different pain killer and an antibiotic. Ten days on Amoxicillin and things were supposed to be better.

All of September I felt tired and the brain fog made it impossible to concentrate. I didn’t get any writing done on the book, upsetting as I want it done. A self imposed stress, I know.

I was without my car for a few days in October for winter servicing, which nicely cost less than I’d anticipated. A few days after I got the car back I’m on my way out and find someone has broken the gazing ball in my garden and keyed my car. I inform the property manager and they call the police, who come to interview me for the report. Even though I’m the injured party and not a suspect, it was still stressful. Now I have to see about more car repairs and that just adds to what’s on my plate.

We did get some good news during this time, my daughter got engaged and my son hosted the family on Thanksgiving weekend and announced he and his partner of ten years had secretly gone away and gotten married. Good news, good times.

Then I got a new pain, behind my right ear and down my neck. I put up with it longer than I should have, but finally made it to the walk-in clinic, now three times in a month, and found I had an ear infection, same side as the extraction. More antibiotics, only a stronger dose and longer duration.

Add in the normal MS stuff, the fatigue, the brain fog, and the usual back pain I live with daily, it’s been rough. And for some reason I agreed to take a table at the Legion Ladies Bazaar. I thought I could do it if I had some help, and maybe get rid of all the hats, scarves and mitts I made last winter. But, no, that wasn’t good enough, I needed more. So I’ve been crocheting up a storm making bazaar type items to add to my table.

And now my car is making some strange noise that will have to be looked at. I need the car to work and be reliable, I don’t need strange noises.

Stress has always made my MS symptoms worse, which is one of the reasons I live a fairly quiet life. I try not to take on more than I can handle, so more than a month of pain, infection and medications really depleted my resources.

Last week, the paternal grandfather to three of my grandkids died suddenly. There was the immediate shock of it all, and I worried about my daughter dealing with three emotional children at the wake and funeral. So I volunteered to go with her for some added support.

My daughter is smarter than I am. There, I not only said it, I put it in writing. LOL She didn’t want me to go as the funeral was taking place up north and she needed to be flexible as to whether she stayed overnight or not. She didn’t need the added worry I would present in making decisions during those few days. I know she was right, was proved right by what happened on the weekend.

I suddenly couldn’t deal anymore. The changes over the last year, the health and other concerns over the last six weeks, the ongoing pain, and maybe the upset stomach from all these antibiotics and I was not coping. I looked steady but felt as if I was quivering on the inside. I felt short of breath, like a weight was sitting on my chest.

Saturday night I could not lie flat and saw my legs and feet were hard and swollen. Sunday, it was worse and I went to the hospital, done with my hat trick at the walk-in clinic. It took more than six hours, busy spot on a Sunday morning, but after an EKG, chest x-ray and some blood work, I was reassured that what I was feeling was not cardiac, or pneumonia or sepsis.

I was given some medication to calm me down and a second dose of the same diuretic I had taken that morning. With all that had been going on I hadn’t been taking my regular dose and the fluid had built up, making it harder to breathe and pooling in my legs and feet. I came home with directions to take the water pill twice a day for a few days and then back to daily. I was also given a prescription for that calming pill, just in case.

I’ve always been aware that I need rest between periods of activity, and know with the cognitive issues I have that I can’t cope with too much stimuli. Every time I get a cold or a new injury it depletes my coping ability and I need to rest and regroup. These last two months I have been bombarded with an unusual series of events, each taking their toll in a different way.

I still have to talk to my son, and am buying time until I can talk to him in person. He’ll be angry, and rightly so, that he was not told, before hand, that I was going to the hospital. We went through this last year and he made his feelings known. But, as he has a family connection to the deceased and would be travelling this week for the funeral, I opted for silence.

Sometimes, by living my quiet life, I shut out the rest of the world. I can forget in the solitary day to day that my life has changed forever and my future is unpredictable. At other times it’s like a head slap that I can no longer do what I used to do, be what I want to be.

In two weeks, I go to my appointment at the MS Clinic. I think it’s time for a discussion, for some honesty and truth, no more denial.

Tell Me Why

After a rough weekend I went to bed early last night, and was surprised when I woke up four hours later. Four hours, wow, that’s a lot of sleep in one go for me. A quick trip to the bathroom and I was back, snuggled under the covers and asleep.

Another four hours sleep. I was feeling good, and I think, maybe that’s what I need, to start making up for the years of sleep deprivation. That thought had actually crossed my mind before. I need to sleep when I feel that incredible fatigue come over me, and stop fighting my way through it.

So I’m lounging in bed, feeling good, thinking about what I might accomplish on this good day and I turn over...and bam, out of nowhere, this incredible pain streaks down my right thigh. I freeze, afraid to move in case it comes again, or gets worse. Gingerly I turn, move, test the waters so to speak.

Now the real test, can I stand? Feet flat on the floor, Ok so far, and yes I can walk, leaning on the table, the door frame, I practically fall as I sit on the toilet. I feel pain in my lower legs, but push myself up and carefully make it to my chair.

This is my day, sitting in my chair, playing on the computer, reading, some games, maybe crocheting. Everything I do is a struggle. I ache all over and next time I get up I’ll get an Advil, but right now I need to sit.

Legs ache, right wrist, thumb and shoulder, and I feel the brain fog taking over so it’s hard to think and get this done. I want to go back to that moment earlier, that feel good moment before the pain started again, before my day became real.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

It's a Small, Small World

I had a sad conversation with a friend yesterday, sad because she has reached a level of acceptance that she has fought against for the last few years. Acceptance that she can no longer do the things she used to do, or be the person she once was.

I’ve been coming to that same level of acceptance but it’s still like a kick in the teeth when I come face to face with a specific episode. In that regard we’ve had the same kind of week.

My daughter has to travel north to attend the funeral of her children’s paternal grandfather. He died suddenly at the age of 53. He’s their Poppa, and the kids loved him and will need support to get through the loss. I offered to go with her, to be there for her and to help with the kids.

She chose to go alone. Thanks but no thanks. She wants the flexibility of staying overnight, of giving the kids more family time, of attending the wake and the funeral without hours of travel back and forth. And the kicker, she’ll have enough to worry about without my being there and having to deal with my issues in addition to everything else.

I appreciate her honesty, and applaud that she can say what she needs and doesn’t let herself suffer a situation she could have avoided. It took everything I had to agree and chat, but when I got off the phone I burst into tears. I was a nurse for thirty years, and I’ve been a mother for more years than that, it’s in my nature to help, to try to make things better, to just ‘do’ for others.

Anymore, it’s all I can manage to do for myself.

My friend is eighteen years older than I am, and fiercely independent. She has been a widow for more than twenty years I believe, so she’s used to fending for herself, doing as she pleases. This year has been hard for her, as she’s lost one friend to cancer, and is about to lose another.

This time it’s her cousin, and as much as she wants to be there, spend some final time with her relative, it’s the distance, the effort of going, travelling back and forth from hospice to hotel and then the long drive home, alone. This week she couldn’t face it, couldn’t face anything and has had to accept, finally, that she just can’t do the same things she’s been struggling to do.

In the last two years I’ve tried to accept how small my world has become, what I can and can’t do. Not only has my living space become so much smaller, so has my life beyond these four walls. I hate, and fear, that I will lose this last vestige of my independence. Asking for help has always been difficult for me, and I’m still coming to terms with that.

Funny, but despite the difference in our ages, my friend and I struggle with the same demons. Is it easier for me to accept the changes because I have a disease I can name and blame? Is it harder to accept when it’s old age that is making the mind slow and forgetful, the body weak and wracked with pain?

I don’t know which is worse, the ongoing battle to maintain and constantly having to face and accept failure, or just giving in, to let that world shrink around you without a fight.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Know Thyself

People take their abilities for granted, because they can get through life without having to question what they can do. I’m not talking the biggies, but the routine daily tasks one faces.

For example, today I left the store and made my way to the curb, ready to cross the road to my car. A curb, not a monumental challenge for most, but it is for me. I stop because I need to ready myself to take that step; it’s not an automatic thing anymore. I have to think it through, step down with the left leg, always the bad leg first. Position the cane for support and balance, take the step and hope like hell I don’t land on my face in the street.

Some of the changes I deal with have occurred over time and I make accommodations without realizing I’ve done it. And sometimes I feel a change and consciously alter my behaviour.

I noticed the other day that I can’t make it from the driver’s side door to the back of the van before the locks click, not anymore. I have an older vehicle, so it’s a key entry. I used to leave the driver’s side door open, make my way to the back, remove my walker and return to the driver’s door and set the lock. One day, a while ago, I noticed that I was reaching the back door before it locked and started saving myself some steps by locking the door first and then opening the back.

No can do, not anymore. The last few times I’ve been out I only made it as far as the rear tire area before I heard the doors lock. It’s not a big thing, to use my key to open and then lock the rear door, but it is a disappointment to realize my walking is slower and more of an effort.

And then there’s the dropping of stuff. I have been on antibiotics and struggled to open the child proof cap, and spilled the capsules all over. I picked them up from the bed, counted and was many capsules short. Moved the bedside table and found some on the floor and on the small ledge on the side of the table. Count was still two short. I shook out the comforter and found another, but so far, finding that last one has eluded me. Since the dosage was pretty strong I think I’ll be OK taking the last dose at half strength.

Here’s another thing, short term memory loss. I had two examples of dropping things and can’t remember the other one. I hate when that happens, like I need to make notes constantly to keep myself on track. Same thing happened when I left the city the other day after having lunch with my brother.

I had an idea for my other blog, but needed to know the mileage from home to the restaurant. I had set the trip thingie at zero when I left the house that morning and checked it as I turned right, made it across three lanes of traffic in order to turn left at the next corner. By the time I navigated all of that I had the mileage, 68 Kms, but forgot what the idea was.

Often these forgotten thoughts, ideas, whatever will come back to me out of the blue, but not this time. So I’ll just say that I’m dropping things, making weird mistakes when typing (thank goodness for spell check) and finding numerous tasks that require fine motor skills more awkward and tedious.

Small signs of my gradual and ongoing deterioration. Sometimes self awareness is not such a good thing.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Least Little Stress

My day actually started off pretty good. I was up and dressed, had the garbage out and was ready to go to the other building to do my laundry. I had even packed everything on the walker so I just had to walk out the door.

It was a gorgeous fall day, the sun was shining and it felt warm and wonderful.

I needed to report to the manager, tell her about the vandalism to my car and my garden gazing ball. She came and inspected the damage, and wanted me to file a police report.

My day quickly went downhill from there as just that added stress, and something else to worry about, to need to take care of pushed me over my limit.

The policeman that came was very polite, and reassured me I did need to file a report to create a ‘paper trail’.

All I know is I am so tired I can barely hold my head up or keep my eyes open. But it’s too early to go to bed or I’ll be up the rest of the night. This whole thing has left me stressed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if when I finally make it to bed, I’ll suddenly be wide awake.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

How Much is Too Much?

One of the problems with a disability like MS, and there are so many to chose from, is the loss of independence and the need to ask for help. When you have been able to do for yourself, it’s very difficult to admit you no longer can, that you need a helping hand.

There are certain things I struggle with on a daily basis, like standing (bad back), bending (bad knee), walking (off balance) and activity (too easily fatigued). So I’ve adapted the best I can, have assisted devices like a gripper, a cane and a walker. I have a shower chair and a stool in the kitchen.

I’ve had to accept help with my housework, vacuuming is just too painful, and gardening, too much bending. Some days it’s too much effort to cook, too easy to leave the dishes until the next day, and I’ve learned I can’t let the laundry pile up or I can’t get the bag off the stand.

I have trouble relinquishing these day to day tasks to others. I’m embarrassed, maybe a bit ashamed. I don’t know what will happen when I need help with personal care?

At what point do you lose your identity, your sense of self and become The Burden? When do you become the call inspired by guilt rather than true caring? I feel my friends becoming more distant, and why not? I can’t do the same things anymore, and I’ll admit, am not always the best of company.

My world is getting smaller all the time, shrinking along with my support system. There have been too many changes in this last year. I’m so tired of the frustration, the fatigue, and the failures. As winter looms, all I can think about is what changes will this change of season bring, and will I cope to get through it?

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Talking to Children About MS

My children were in their early teens when I started having my MS symptoms. For a number of years we had no diagnosis but we had some issues we dealt with on a regular basis. Fatigue was the worst of it, and the kids learned to recognize when I had reached my limits.

When things got worse and I ended up at the MS clinic the kids were older and could accept, or so I thought. I remember one trip to the MS Clinic, when my daughter drove me downtown to the hospital. She waited for me while I made the rounds, nurse and neurologist.

When I came out she rushed to the elevator and I thought she was impatient, but she was scared and upset at seeing the other patients with greater degrees of disability and feared for my future.

I also remember reading a story about a younger woman who began using a cane and faced her young daughter’s upset when the mother went to her school. A very emotional experience for both.

There’s an article I’ve given the link to, about talking to your children about your illness. The only comment I have is that children are more perceptive than we give them credit for. They often sense something is wrong, and without any real understanding they can create a monster scenario.

When I found my condition changing and I could no longer do the things I’d always done, I felt I needed to give an explanation to my grandchildren, so they didn’t think I had abandoned them, or worse, didn’t love them.

I spoke to my one granddaughter, thought I had done a satisfactory job of it only to find she had interpreted things differently. She went to her mother and commented how sad she must be that I was dying. What? That’s not what I said. But a distant relative, a grandfather had died after being sick and she had equated that people of our age who got sick...died.

No matter how well you think you’re hiding your symptoms, they are called symptoms for a reason, something is wrong and people will notice things are amiss, even if they don’t know the what or why of it.

It’s a personal decision who you tell about your diagnosis, family, friends, your employer. Make it wisely.

Here’s the link:

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

I can’t believe the toll this last month has taken on my mind and body. I suppose after what happened last, year after the move, I shouldn’t be surprised. Any stress, any illness or undo sustained effort puts more strain on my system than I can handle.

September started with a cold and a toothache. I put the tooth thing on hold while I endured more than a week of sneezing, sniffles, runny nose and a cough. Meanwhile my abscessed tooth was up and down with the degree of pain it caused.

At the same time, I hurt my finger. Mallet Finger they call it, basically a ruptured tendon so now my left little finger is permanently in the bent position and another source of occasional pain. Like I needed more pain.

Had the tooth out, but it got worse so had a trip to the clinic and have just finished a ten day course of antibiotics. Can life now settle down? Apparently not. The toothless area still hurts and my cough is back.

In spite of all the pain the inconvenience, and the fatigue, what annoys me the most is the mental effects. I can’t concentrate, and it seems to take forever to put my thoughts together. I have a book I’m writing that has been in the final stage for a while now and I can’t think to keep the facts together.

But I’m blogging, you’re thinking, so how bad can it be. I need to do some kind of writing, so the blog is what I’m writing. The pieces are short, contained within that post, and it doesn’t matter if it takes me the whole morning to get it done. And it does. The mistakes I’m making are frequent, spelling, words I need to search for because they don’t come readily to mind and a lot of delete and repeat.
But what would happen, I think, if I didn’t do something to keep my mind active. Word search games are good, crossword puzzles and computer games. When I’m at my worst, I can’t write, but I can’t read either unless it’s a simple story.

So, yeah, I’m thinking a mind is a terrible thing to waste.