Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Chapter 46...1997-2001 My health!

About 1992 I began feeling tired all the time and losing energy. I have never been a sickly person, so it was different to live with. I would pull a muscle and it would hurt for about 8 months or so. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and tested for Lupus. I was also tested for allergies. They found I was allergic to 28 of the 43 things they tested me for. The worst was dust mites, grasses, trees, dog, cat, cigarettes, mold, mildew & weeds.
They started me on a weekly series of allergen shots for 6 months then a shot a month for 2 years. I started gaining back the weight I lost and I was having other health problems. It seemed like every year there was a new “itis” that hit me! arthritis. Bursitis, diverticulitis, Irritable bowel syndrome (that’s fun!) whatever!! I was in pain and tired all the time!! I wasn’t ready for all this old person’s diseases!! I just discovered life and wanted to get the most out of it!!
I went to the doctor in 1994 with problems of night sweats and horrible female things and he told me I was peri-menopausal which meant I was approaching that golden age!! WHAT??!! Okay, so I am approaching the menopausal years!! Wahoo!!
I was getting ready for work one morning and was brushing my hair when an enormous rage hit me and I banged the brush against the counter and broke the brush, then I pulled all the drawers out and threw them and the contents all over the bathroom then went to work. All this without a tear!! I came home from work that day and saw the damage I did. I called the doctor and made an appointment. He asked if I was depressed and I started bawling!! He gave me some Zoloft (antidepressant) to take and it made the world a much better place for me and everyone around me!!
I fell while out walking one night and landed on both my knees! That hurt like heck and kept me from doing my walks for awhile. I was getting exhausted easily and was tired all the time. My back hurt a lot and I tried to exercise to get it stronger but it hurt worse when I exercised.
I quit the Fire Department Firefighting in 1997 because of my tiredness and all around health. They kept me on as medical responder and I was the Medical Program Coordinator for District 5. It opened up an avenue for people that wanted to be an EMT and First Responder without having to be a full fledged Firefighter. We have many more medical calls than fire calls. It gets old real easy when you get calls at 2am and 3 am for “chest pains” or “dizziness”. More than half the calls could be handled by the ambulance by itself but the Fire Department is paged out simultaneously with the ambulance. If there are no responders, it makes the Chief nervous so I tried to make as many calls as I could. It was effecting my work because I was losing sleep and overall it was effecting my health.
In September 2000 I was diagnosed with Diverticulitis and was almost put in the hospital. I talked the doctor out of the hospital stay and promised to take it easy. I asked for a leave of absence from the Fire Department and quit making calls. I was still exhausted and finding myself coming home from work and sitting in the recliner then waking up and going to bed, pulling myself out of bed pushing myself to work, trying to keep awake at work, etc etc. I would wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air, and my heart would be pounding a mile a minute!! The doctor told me it was part of menopause. I would also wake up soaking wet with night sweats!!
I would wake up with Booboo my cat right at my face. She would be kissing me on the mouth!! I thought that was weird. I would wake up to Tlingit howling in the middle of the night and thought he was having doggie nightmares. I told a friend and she said that they were trying to wake me up because I quit breathing. I said WHAT??!! She said when she was camping with me she had to leave the trailer because of my snoring and stopping breathing!! I asked her why she didn’t tell me about it and she said she thought I knew! I asked my doctor and I was sent to Sedro Wooley for a sleep study. The test came back that I would quit breathing for at least 20 seconds at a time and quite a few times an hour. After two hours they came and put me on a CPAP machine and I slept through the night. I was told I had a severe case of sleep apnea and needed a CPAP machine at night to sleep. I obviously was not getting sleep when I thought I was. They told me that I was lucky I found it when I did. I could’ve died in the middle of the night of “natural causes”. They set the machine at 17. The machine only goes up to 19. They said they usually start people on a 6 or 7, so my case was severe. Whew!! I guess I’m lucky! It was really hard to get used to putting the nose mask on at night and breathing through my nose and not my mouth. It is not a sexy thing either! There goes my sex life!! But I am grateful that I have the health that I do. There are a whole lot of people a lot worse off than I am!!
I was diagnosed with Diabetes about four years ago! I eat completely different than my sister and we both have the disease. My doctor said there was no escaping it as it is on my father’s side of the family and they all had it. I have been on insulin for two years now and have gained an enormous amount of weight!! I gained 60 pounds as soon as they put me on insulin!! They said “Oh by the way, insulin will make you gain weight”.
SWELL!! Now I eat less and gain more! I cannot walk because of my breathing problems, and my back is worse. Catch 22!!
Two years ago I fell while walking. I was walking at a fast pace and fell flat on my face!! I fell really hard and hobbled back to my house about a mile away. About 2 months later I was nearly crippled. I could not get out of bed without screaming!! I was having severe lower back spasms. I was sent to specialists and they suggested a steroid shot so I had one in my neck. It helped for about a year then the pain returned. Eventually I will need an operation if it doesn’t get any better. I have degenerative disc disease in both my cervical and lumbar areas. I am trying to get on without the operation but I am afraid I might have to get it some day.
Well enough of the sicky stuff!! I wasn’t prepared for all the doctor stuff in my late 40’s and 50’s!! Now I need to learn to live with what I have and get on with my life!!
There is way too much to see and enjoy!! And I will do it sober!!
Tomorrow…..What my life is like now!!

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