I've been trying to write a Health Update for weeks. Every time I go to write it I just can't. Not sure why but probably due to the fact that I have so many health "issues" going on right now (thankfully nothing too serious). So it is just depressing to write it all done. But at the same time I want my blog to be a resource to help others so I feel like I should write about it and many of you often ask, "How are you feeling?" and I give my standard response of "ok" or "fine" and really that isn't always the case. As other MS'ers know it MS makes every other little health problem more complicated which I have experience first hand! So here goes (in no particular order and warning it is a long one). . . .ENT - Ever since I flew to California in September 2010 my left ear has been blocked. I had a lot of problems when I first came home which you may remember me blogging about. After a visit to the ENT I learned that I had a deviated septum as well as some other ear and nose/sinus issues. The only solution = surgery. The main purpose of the surgery will be to unblock my ear (hopefully) but I will also have the deviated septum corrected as well as the other "issues." The surgery is Feb 2nd and I'm REALLY hoping it will solve my problems. The ear is driving me CRAZY! These ENT issues also help explain why for many years I've had constant colds and that combined with the MS means these colds last FOREVER!!
GI/STOMACH - I first had stomach issues in May 2009. After going to the doctor and being told it was gastritis I was given Prilosec to take for 1 month. That seemed to fix the problem. Fast forward to a few months ago when it started again. Funny thing is that I didn't realize it was the same problem for a long time. I knew I didn't feel well and that I didn't really have an appetite but never thought about it being the same issue I had back in 2009. Luckily one of my friends connected the dots for me and I called my doctor. He called in for 1 month of Prilosec again and again it did the trick. . . until the month was over and I stopped taking it. This time the stomach aches came back. I called my doctor again but he did not feel comfortable refilling my script instead he wanted me to see a GI doctor. So another new doctor and another trip to St. E's for an appointment. Luckily I really liked the doctor (who happen to be about my age and very handsome). He agreed that it is probably acid related (and due to the fact that I'm an ibuprofen addict) and nothing serious and told me to continue taking the medication (although he switched me to Nexium since he had samples that he could give me). He also recommended that I have an upper GI scope to confirm that there is nothing else going on like an ulcer. So on Jan 24th I will go to St. E's for that procedure which will require me to take a day off from work ( I will also have my pre-op apt with the ENT doctor that morning - might as well kill 2 birds with 1 stone!) Hopefully the scope will not find any surprises and I will just continue taking my medication and all should be fine. Thank God this medication works b/c the stomach aches were the WORST!!
ECZEMA - I've had eczema since I was a kid. It started when I was just a baby as a reaction from my milk allergy. As a kid I always had flares on my hands and feet of another kind of eczema which was often very painful. I have outgrown my milk allergy but unfortunately I have not outgrown the issues with my hands/feet. I have regular "flares" a few times a year and for the past several weeks I've been having a very bad flare. I'm sure my hands are irritated by the foam I use all day long when I'm in and out of patient's rooms at the hospital. I finally got a refill on a script for a steroid cream and I've been using it for a couple of days. Not really sure if it is helping yet. I go and see my dermatologist next week so he can take a look (yes just another doctor's appointment and more time away from work - ugh). Basically my hands are very very dry and peel and crack which leads to some bleeding. Additionally I get these tiny blister/bubble things which are SO itchy. The combo of these things is just unbearable. I googled auto immune diseases and eczema b/c I'm thinking there HAS to be a connection.
LEG - One of my regular MS symptoms is leg pain. I get pain in my right leg especially in my knee and hip. At times it can be so bad that it will wake me up at night. It comes out of no where and I can go weeks with nothing then all of a sudden have pain for several days in a row. Fortunately my friend ibuprofen (which doesn't help my stomach issues) can get rid of the leg pain pretty quickly.
HEADACHES - I get headaches ALL.THE.TIME! I've read many articles citing the fact that people with MS do have a higher incidence of headaches. Great! I also think in addition to the "regular" MS headaches I also get headaches related to side effects to many of my medications especially the Avonex. Again the ibuprofen usually does the trick but again my stomach does not appreciate my regular pill popping. If you have MS do you get headaches a lot?
SLEEP - I've talked about my sleep issues and insomnia many times on my blog so I'm sure it is not news to you that I have this problem. I think most people with MS do. Lately I've been sleeping well which is a nice change. The crazy thing about insomnia is that it comes out of no where. I can sleep well for many nights then all of a sudden I have a terrible night where I'm up all night! I'm trying to wean off my sleeping medication but have realized this doesn't always help. Most nights I've been able to just take 1/2 of what I normally take and still sleep so this is good news. I really don't want to be dependent on sleeping medication and I've been on it for a LONG time. I've also eliminated caffeine (again) b/c I know even a little bit doesn't help my sleep. So no more coke (again). When I do have insomnia I should make the most of the time and clean or blog but instead I just toss and turn and worry about getting through the next day! FATIGUE - oh fatigue you are not my friend. This is by far the worst of my MS symptoms and the one I deal with the most often - like always! The thing that most people (without MS) don't understand is that feeling fatigued is not the same as feeling tired. It is much WORSE and getting sleep doesn't necessarily make it go away or feel better. Fatigue is a daily lack of energy or excessive whole body tiredness not relieved by sleep. It can be acute or chronic and I guess I fall into the chronic category. Hopefully it will go away at some point. It is better at times so that is a good thing . I continue to take Provigil on work days and I think it helps a little but not as much as it helped in the beginning. But at least it gets me through the work day. I'm not much better about listening to my body and "taking it easy" many nights during the week and during the weekend. It seems to help! I would say right now that my fatigue is better than it has been in the past so that is good. Hoping it stays this way. If you have MS do you experience fatigue and have you found anything else that really helps?
BLADDER/NOCTURIA - this is probably the best news regarding my health issues. . . my bladder issues are SO much better right now. I was on Vesicare due to nocturia which is when you wake up a lot at night to pee. Not fun and of course didn't help my sleep issues. The medication helped but also caused a side effect (constipation if you really want to know) which caused me to stop taking it this summer. Well luckily when I stopped taking it my bladder issues didn't come back! So I've been medication free since then and doing well. I know at some point I could have another flare that will cause this issue again and if/when that happens I will take the Vesicare again. I'm just happy that my bladder issues were not permanent which my neurologist and urologist (yes another doctor) thought could have been the case when this all started.
AVONEX - I continue to take Avonex which is a once a week injection. To read more about that you can read this blog post. The Avonex must be working for me since I have had no major flares since my original diagnosis. I count my blessings for this everyday as I know other MS'ers aren't as fortunate. I'm thankful that the first medication I tired has worked and that I haven't had to switch. Hopefully someday I'll be able to switch to oral meds but I'll just have to wait and see. I continue to have some of the Avonex "flu like symptoms" which aren't fun but they have decreased over time. Occasionally I will get the flu like symptoms for the most part the only side effect I experience is a headache the day after I take it. So all and all I can't complain. Although some weeks that shot just kills when it is going in!
Whew I'm exhausted from writing that! No wonder I've been avoiding it. I think that about covers most of it. Overall I do feel good. I want to stress the fact that even with all of these "health issues" I still consider myself healthy. I am so thankful that I am doing as well as I am and that my MS has not become worse. I consider myself very lucky for this. I know there are many people with MS who are much worse off and I think about them everyday. I pray that a cure to this horrible disease is found in my lifetime so that we can all live MS free lives!
P.S. I did not proof read this post (it took me way too long to write and I just didn't feel like re-reading it)! So if there are any typos I hope you'll understand!
P.P.S I'm also thankful that I've been able to so far avoid any major sickness including the flu and stomach bug which I am exposed to daily (since I work at a hospital and see sick people everday). It is a good thing b/c I really don't have time to be sick or take anymore days off from work!