The Physical Ailments Archive

Certifications

Posted July 15, 2021 By kmarrs

I’m currently working towards getting certified in basic first aid and CPR. I feel these will make me a better caregiver to the elderly, but also a better prepared mother.

I achieved my first aid certification last night. Most of the class was online lessons, but there was an in person demonstration of how to use an EpiPen which is an important skill that you don’t have time to stop and read the instructions for when in the heat of the moment.

Next week is CPR. That course is fully in person. I’m looking forward to it.

I still want to get my EMT certification. Again, I feel it’ll have me better prepared in an emergency, but also I want to volunteer my services at things like pride. Or even street medic protests. Though my best friend will beat me to death with a flip flop over that last one.

I enjoy learning. I really enjoy learning useful things. And has my brain heals from brain damage from prolonged lack of blood, I’m finding myself capable of learning again.

Speaking of healing, I say my cancer doctor the other day. I am confirmed in remission. I bought us cake about it.

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Gallbladder

Posted July 8, 2021 By kmarrs

Sorry I missed last week’s post. I was physically not OK and spent my usual time to sit down and write napping.

I’ve known for a while my gallbladder was in rough shape. I actually decided in the fall of 2020 that I was going to look into getting it removed this year. Then the whole cancer thing happened. I decided to put it off because it wasn’t exactly hurting me, it just felt like pressure under my lower right ribs. On the pain scale, we’re talking the occasional 2 or 3. Enough to make me want to take my bra off, but that’s it.

Then around 2 am on what was officially Thursday the 24th of June, I started getting the worst heartburn. The worst. I don’t have breakthrough heartburn often, but when I do, it’s a doozy. Only, it wouldn’t go away. I drank a bottle of Pepto, ate a container of tums, tried my hot pepper trick. Nothing.

Eventually, I went to urgent care for their heartburn cocktail. They gave it to me, along with an EKG, and sent me on to the emergency room. There, they did more testing on my heart, but they also scanned my chest and belly and found my gallbladder full of stones and angry as can be.

It took a full week of managing fat intake very carefully and giving up any remaining carbonated drinks in my diet, but I am finally pain-free again and have been almost a week now. Meanwhile, I also have a surgery consult. I’m looking to schedule my surgery for the very end of August or early September. By then I’ll have a week’s paid vacation at work so I’ll only be short 1 week’s pay in my recovery.

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How March 2021 Began

Posted April 15, 2021 By kmarrs

I wasn’t feeling very good leading up to March 1, but I honestly thought it was food poisoning that lingered. After all, I’d just had a set of iron infusions so my hemoglobin should have been going up, not down. And yeah, my stools were black and tarry, but iron can do that. Plus I’m a whole entire dumbass due to brain death from repeatedly not having enough blood over the span of 4 years. That doesn’t help.

After 3 days of feeling rotten and not getting better, and having lost the ability to walk more than 100 feet without having to sit down to catch my breath, I called my mom and had her take me to the ER. Here is a key thing though. Usually, I go to the Ohio Health ERs but I was getting more and more upset with the entire Ohio Health system. So this time we went to the closest Mt Carmel hospital.

Mom found a wheelchair, wheeled me in, and we got situated in the waiting room. Triage called me back and I explained everything. By that point, I was figuring it really was blood in my stool and my hemoglobin was probably down to a 6 or 7. They took some blood to send to the lab, and I sat and waited.

I don’t know exactly how much time passed, but it was pretty much exactly how much time is needed for my blood to go from ER to lab, the test to be run, the alarms start ringing, and the lab to go “Oh Shit!” and call the ER with a stat report. They immediately found me in the waiting room and rolled me to one of the rooms reserved for cases that can’t wait, talking about immediate blood transfusions.

Fam. My hemoglobin was a 4. Now some of you have been here for a while. Some of you are new. I don’t want to assume prior knowledge anywhere. So I’ll go ahead and gently remind you that as someone who was assigned female at birth, my hemoglobin should be between a 12 and a 16. I’ll further remind you that when my hemoglobin dropped to a 6 a few years ago and my doctor called me in the middle of the night and told me to get my ass to the hospital stat, it was explained that at a 6 I basically had half as much blood in me as I’m supposed to.

It was March 1, 2021, and with a hemoglobin of 4, I had about 1/3 as much blood as I needed to survive. I should be dead. That is not an exaggeration. Luckily I basically refuse to die and despite such a low amount of blood, I hadn’t even passed out. I have, however, over the years suffered a consistent lack of blood and oxygen to the brain and this most recent episode really was pretty harsh, so I have suffered some amount of brain death not yet determined. I’m a touch salty about that. I used to be really smart. I can tell the difference. So can those who have known me a while and who talk to me regularly. So I wasn’t passing out but mentally I was suffering.

Anyway, they gave me blood pretty much immediately and found me a room on the surgery floor. The next day they did an endoscopy and found nothing at all. They had a colonoscopy in the plans, but that would have to wait a day so I could do the prep. They decided before they started the prep, they would do a CT of my abdomen.

They found a mass of something attached to my lower bowel and I was immediately scheduled for exploratory surgery the next day, March 3.

The surgeon and co were reassuring that the odds were it was a clump of blood vessels that shouldn’t be there but would be an easy enough thing to fix. It was a reasonable source of bleeding and would likely explain the anemia. So they opened me up to check it out and remove it.

They did not find a clump of blood vessels. They found a tumor that was confirmed to be cancer in the days that followed.

They removed all of it, and along with it, about 5 inched of my small bowel. The pathology shows that it was a slow-growing tumor. On the spectrum of how aggressive cancer can get, this is cancer that isn’t likely to spread and once gone, isn’t likely to come back, since they removed enough of the surrounding bowel. So it’s currently gone, and it is probably gone for good.

As of the oncology appointment I just had on April 13, I consider myself in remission. I won’t even need chemo or radiation. Just the one aggressive surgery and regular CT’s of my belly for probably the rest of my life, just to be sure.

So that’s good.

When I was released from the hospital, after like 6 or 7 units of blood total (along with proving I could use my bowels as intended post op), I had a hemoglobin of 7.9. 6 days later when I checked in with my brand new, Mt Carmel affiliated PCP, I had a hemoglobin of 10.3! Guess who can make their own blood after all! It turns out I’m even really good at it!

Which really pisses me off.

I was seeing a cancer specialist for 3 years and he refused to run any further testing to figure out what was wrong. He assured me some people just don’t make their own blood and gave me iron infusion after iron infusion along with the occasional blood transfusion. For 3 years I asked time and time again for this test and that, always affirming and reaffirming that it couldn’t be cancer. He assured me it wasn’t cancer, but ran no tests to prove it. Apparently, there is a really simple test he could have run checking for cancer markers what would have told him I had cancer somewhere so that we could have started the search for it. That test was never run.

3 years later, a little over 4 years after this all started, I almost died of cancer. Almost doesn’t even cover it. I was a day or two out from dying of cancer at most. I was down to a hemoglobin of 4 and was still losing blood. I had no time left in me when I showed up in that ER.

Mt Carmel saved my life where Ohio Health left me to die. One of my Ohio Health PCPs even implied my real problem was I was just fat.

So anyway, that’s how March 2021 started. But that was just the beginning.

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Death Had Another Near Max Experience

Posted March 5, 2021 By kmarrs
I’ll tell you all about it next week when I’m out of the hospital.
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Piecing Myself Back Together

Posted February 12, 2021 By kmarrs

This is late because I failed to write a post on Wednesday to schedule for the usual time Thursday, but I’m just going to let that be ok.

Physically I’m on the mend. I got an iron infusion on Wednesday so here soon I should have some blood. I already have more than I did when I went to the ER a couple of weeks ago. Not a lot more, but when I got labs done right before the infusion, I was up a tenth of a point. This means the mass amounts of B12 I’m taking is actually working. There was just no recovering from Covid without an infusion, no matter how much B12 I take.

Ziggy is doing better. We have hired a trainer to give him 4 private lessons. As of this point, he’s just had his third lesson, and while he still has work to do, he’s come a long way. He’s 95% stopped being aggressive and we’ve had the start of a breakthrough with the chewing on people to play and show affection. Again, we have work to do still, but I feel hope.

We had a setback for a couple of weeks there where despite taking him out hourly he was peeing in the house. But it didn’t seem to me like he was marking. It seemed like he legit had to pee all the time and couldn’t hold it any longer so he’d just stop what he was doing and pee where he was. So I took him to the vet so they could check for a UTI. While his pee looked clear and healthy, there was noticeable swelling still from when he was neutered a few weeks prior, so the vet went ahead and put him on antibiotics. And within a day he stopped peeing all over my house. After a week of taking him out hourly, and him not having accidents, we pushed things back to where we were taking him out every 90 minutes, and still, he wasn’t having accidents. We’re now on the first day of taking him out every 2 hours. Here in a handful of days, if he still isn’t peeing all over my house, we’ll inch it back to every 2.5 hours. Eventually, we’ll get to where he can go 6-8 hours without being taken out. I know it’s possible because he can make it overnight as long as he’s taken out at 9 pm and again at 7:30 am. That’s a long stretch and he does it well. I am taking it slowly during the day though because while he’s a dog and doesn’t notice the difference between 90 minutes and a full 2 hours, he will notice the difference if we jump from, let’s say, every 2 hours to 4. I need him to have faith that we are aware he needs to potty regularly and we’re never going to fail to take him outside to do so.

I don’t think his previous owner was as thoughtful. While Ziggy is obviously housebroken, I don’t think he spent his first year of life in a loving and thoughtful environment. If he had, they would have trained him. I think they just bought a dog expecting it to be easy and then when they didn’t train Ziggy became a handful, and then when he was a handful he was abandoned. Now we have an energetic untrained dog with separation anxiety.

So we’re doing what should have happened a year ago. We’re loving him. We’re training him. We’re using positive reinforcement. He’s a good boy and we’re helping him be his best self.

Finally, a story to tie the physical health beginning of this post to the Ziggins update.

Ziggy tends to his momma at night when she’s going to bed. Her anxiety is at it’s worse then and he helps comfort her. But Zigs is aware that I’m not well and he’s very fussy about me. Anyway, when I got home from my iron infusion on Wednesday I sat down on the sofa with him and Sammy and I must have smelled different with that much pure iron coursing through me because he thoroughly smelled me all over investigating the difference. He’s a good boy and will make a good ESA.

Have a happy dog cuddling his grandmother.
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Falling Apart

Posted February 4, 2021 By kmarrs

Life is a struggle right now. My hemoglobin is an 8.8 and I’m just so tired. And I’m overwhelmed with dog stuff. I’m not getting enough sleep most nights, considering I need 10-12 hours a night which just isn’t possible. I’m stressed. I’m tired. I’m depressed.

Things will get better. But in the meantime I just want to hibernate.

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