Category Archives: How Ya Feelin’?

Posts regarding health – mental, emotional, physical…

That Damn Ticker

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So, my stupid heart is being stupid again. It is such an asshole sometimes.Stupid asshole.

I should start from Sunday night. I was having a weird scratchy throat. I didn’t feel sick and thought maybe it was allergy induced. Zyrtec made no difference so I TRIED not to worry about it and finally went to sleep a little after midnight.

I woke up around 5am sweating and feeling unwell. As I sat up, I realized my heart was beating too fast to count. Well over 150 bpm. I got some water and took my usual daily, tiny (12.5 mg) dose of beta blocker. I tried some vagal maneuvers and splashed cold water in my face. After a little while, it was clear that none of that was helping and that I needed to go to the ER.

I was put into a room and hooked up to machines within 10 minutes of arrival. My heart hovered around 150 – even after trying more vagal maneuvers (directed by RN). Doc came in within a few minutes and right away wanted to give me adenosine. This is a med given via IV that basically resets your heart. You feel as though your heart stops and from what I have heard, is an awful feeling…like you are dying. Needless to say, I did not want it. I have been terrified of that med since reading about it 12 years ago after my first sustained tachycardic event.

The doc was really pushing for the adenosine and seemed irritated that I wanted to wait. I knew I was able to convert (eventually) without it in the past and drugs always give me weird effects. So I was just not ready to try it yet. I will say, the RN seemed very supportive of my decision (both RNs and the tech I had were wonderful) and was super helpful.

I was given an IV and they drew some blood. She turned off the light for me as I laid there with my meditation app – trying like a crazy bitch to calm down. My rate would fluctuate between 130-150 for a while. As adrenaline surged through my body, I could not stop trembling. It was as if I was naked in the tundra. The shaking was insane. But I couldn’t control it regardless of a major effort. This is not great for my already pain in the ass muscle issues, by the way.

The new doc came in (she was also great) and we decided that I would take another 12.5 of my beta blocker. She also gave me a children’s dose of benadryl just to see if the throat thing improved (just to determine if it was allergy related). The benadryl did nothing but the beta blocker slowly decreased my heart rate over the next couple of hours. God, I am so damn thankful I didn’t do the adenosine.

All tests (including strep and urine) came back negative except for low potassium and phosphorus. Both of which can cause heart issues. However, the doc didn’t think that was the cause since they weren’t THAT low. Though she did make suggestions about taking Vitamin C to help my minerals absorb, because clearly they are not – which I already knew. I have not been taking Vitamin C, so I will be getting some today.

I do think the low minerals could cause this for me. I am super sensitive to any changes and I think I may have been a little dehydrated as well. This probably was enough to piss off my heart.

They said they think they saw some SVT in the beginning but most of my time there, I was in sinus tachycardia. This would be referred to as Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia – since I wasn’t exercising or doing something to make my heart race. It all may have been triggered by SVT, however.

I was told to double my daily dose of beta blocker. This, I do NOT want to do. It makes me groggy (already exhausted as it is) and it affects my weight loss. Ugh. I just do not wannnnnnaaaa!!!

I will be seeing my cardiologist on Thursday. In the meantime, I am dumping the very low carb diet and adding high potassium foods. I think I feel better with fruits and more veggies. I wasn’t losing any more weight anyway. It is time to just eat a healthy, balanced diet – even if I stay the same size that I am, I think I will feel healthier.

I have had many heart issues in the past. Mostly with short bursts of SVT and PVCs. In the past two years, even those have been under control. Taking zantac for reflux has helped A LOT as that was a big trigger for my palpitations. I have been very proud of my heart up until yesterday. Right now, I am pretty pissed off and disappointed.

My last SUSTAINED (more than 20 mins or so) tachy event was about 12 years ago. So, I shouldn’t assume this is going to be “a thing” now. But it is difficult not to fall back into negative thinking patterns. My instinct is to catastrophize and assume this is the beginning of some fear filled rabbit hole. I need to really work at not letting this happen.

When this occurred 12 years ago, it literally robbed me of years – I was consumed with fear for so long. It took a lot of work to get away from that and I refuse to go back there. But I may need help. And I may have some brief set backs. So, I hope the people in my life can bear with me for a hot second.

We are going on vacation soon. We will be in the Dells. It is difficult not to worry about being away from a large hospital or going on a boat ride or drinking a bloody mary. I want so much to enjoy this trip. I cannot worry about my heart freaking out the whole time. So I need to figure out just HOW to make my brain work for me and not against me.

Today, I will rest, putter around the house and try to take it easy mentally and physically. I am slathered in benadryl and hydrocortisone creams because the damn EKG stickers give me a terrible (and ugly) rash. I am also drinking a glass of high carb vitamin C. And I am not feeling remorseful about it. I am bummed/guilty to be missing some events and meetings this week, but I gotta take care of myself. Priorities and all that.

Sigh. Stupid heart.

 

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LCHF: Worth a Try…We Shall See…

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I have written about my weight before. Some may even think I talk about it too much. Or, at least, worry about it too much. I suppose I would agree. I certainly don’t want my daughter to be as concerned with her body image as I have been with mine. I get to the point of beating myself up mentally whenever I look in the mirror. I cry. I yell. I throw my clothes on the ground and refuse to leave the house (this isn’t a regular thing, but it has happened). I would never want Cassidy to feel this way – so why do I do it to myself? It has been ingrained in my head since childhood that how we look is the basis of our value. Cognitively, I know that is crap…but my subconscious sees my fat or cellulite or signs of aging as unworthiness. It truly is fucked up. And telling me “stop feeling that way” is about as productive as telling a depressed person to “cheer up”. Believe me, if I could – I would.

So, a little background…When I was pregnant 11 years ago, I gained 70+ pounds. Shortly before becoming pregnant, I went on a beta blocker for my heart – so that didn’t help. After having her – using a multiple of dieting methods – I was able to lose some but a big chunk wouldn’t budge. I honestly tried everything. Finally, I went off of a medication (cymbalta) and the rest fell off with sensible eating. I lost over 30 pounds in less than 3 months. And I kept it off for a number of years.

In 2014, my medical issues got worse, I had surgery and then post op complications (the whole antibiotic thing I wrote about a few months ago) – I gained about 30 in a fairly short block of time. And with my liver injury – my body has been holding onto fat for dear life. Again, it just wouldn’t budge. Over the last year, I have VERY slowly been able to lose about 13 pounds. But that stalled a few months ago and no matter what, the rest just won’t leave.

So, I have decided to try the LCHF (basically, Atkins) diet to get things progressing. I do not know if this will work. I do know that I have never really tried this before. I want to lose 15 lbs but would be happy with 10. It isn’t like I have a shit load to lose. So, I realize my results won’t be like those who lose 10 pounds in one week. And there ARE a lot of people like that.

But I want to make this clear – I will never be a militant dieter. I am of the mindset that life is so very short and I plan on enjoying as much of it as I can until I can’t. And, yes, that includes cake. I enjoy food. I am not addicted. I am not obsessed. I enjoy it. It is a great pleasure in life and I will never be one of those people who simply use it as fuel. That just isn’t me. During those years when I kept the weight off – I basically ate healthy, fairly low carb most of the week. On weekends and vacations, I allowed myself to splurge. I am happy with that way of eating.

So far on the LCHF (2.5 days) – I have lost 2 lbs. And I can even see the difference already. We shall see where this goes as it is certainly worth a try. The food is most definitely limited – but also very filling. I am trying to keep my net carbs (carbs minus fiber) under 25 grams per day. This isn’t easy, but so far has been do-able. But if I have a piece of cake at a party or some corn at a fair – I am not going to torture myself as though I am some kind of failure. Because, really, what I want more than anything is to be okay with what I am and how I look in each moment. I am 41. I will never look 20 again. And it simply is not fair to myself to expect that and punish myself because I don’t.

If anyone is interested in learning about LCHF…I will put a couple of videos below. There is also a lot of info HEREBut, again, I am not pushing this diet…not even recommending it yet. I think the science is very interesting and I have seen a shit load of success stories and I am trying it. That’s all. At this point anyway 😉

What a Pill

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These past few weeks have been pretty nasty for me health-wise. But it seems I have found the cause for some of the problems and I couldn’t be more grateful!!!

Several weeks ago, I began having some very uncomfortable and startling symptoms.  My heart rate, which is typically 65-75, started averaging around 85-90. And yes, for me, this is very noticeable and uncomfortable. When you have SVT, you are VERY aware of your heart rate without even taking your pulse. I also started having many more PVCs (what feels like a skipped beat) and constant adrenaline surges. And to make matters worse, I went from my regular crappy 5 hours of sleep a night to 2-3 hours each night. I would jolt awake whenever my body would start to go into a deep sleep. I was fucking miserable!!

My Dr. prescribed trazodone to help me sleep. I took a low dose the first night and my heart went INSANE. Not only was I having more PVCs than usual, I started getting them every 4th beat for HOURS. And I was tachycardic off and on throughout the night. Oh, and I didn’t sleep a wink. It was awful and I will never take it again. It has been known to have some heart rhythm side effects, so screw that noise. Anyway, my cardiologist had me come in for an EKG the next day and it was fine as the med wore off. But she said that my decision to never take it again was probably a good one.

During this time (and a little while before), I started a pretty strict diet. I was measuring and logging everything I ate – staying around 1200 calories a day. I also started exercising 50+ mins per day instead of my typical 30-40. During those weeks, even with large calorie deficits, I couldn’t lose even  1/2 of a pound. It was very discouraging.

Okay, so…I have been taking a beta blocker called metroprolol for over 8 years for my arrhythmia. It has worked great. I have taken the same dose and same brand forever. Suddenly, a few days ago, I realized that my symptoms started when my Dr. ordered a different brand. Same dose and active ingredient, but it was a different manufacturer and formulation. I have heard of this happening to others, but I never thought the difference could be THAT severe.

I had a few older ones left over and went back to taking those. Within two days, the adrenaline surges were gone, heart rate was down and the past two nights I have slept 6 hours each (with some interruption but nothing compared to previous weeks). Sleeping 6 hours after days and days of only 2 or 3 is like eating a feast after being stranded on an island with only snackable bugs. I am still on the look out for the perfect ear plugs but those and the mask do help as well.

I called the pharmacist and she said she also has a bad reaction if the brand of her medication is changed and she sent a med change request form to my Dr. right away. Wow! I wasn’t crazy! Well, in this case anyway.

So another weird thing about this…and I am not sure how it relates…but something odd happened with my weight. Those weeks of working so hard, being so strict and losing nothing, even with such a significant calorie deficit, was depressing. This past week, I didn’t exercise AT ALL. I mean, with only 2 hours of sleep, screw that. I also didn’t log my food or cut out carbs. I suddenly lost 6 pounds. In ONE week. It makes no friggin sense.

Also, around the time of the change, my muscle relaxer (given for severe muscle tightness/spasm and pain) just stopped working. I am not sure if this is related as well, but I may give it another try.

I absolutely am shocked that such a thing could make such a life altering difference. I really hate having such a sensitive body. And God help me if they ever stop making this brand of my medication. Wowzers. That SUCKED. Yea, I still have my other issues and we are in the process of figuring all that shit out. But holy hell I am so glad I can at least feel a little better while I limp around aching and moaning.

I’m Sad. Can We Talk?

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Last week, I was watching Fashion Police’s Emmy Special. I watched every week and especially looked forward to the award editions. I considered it one of my many guilty pleasures. As I was laying there watching, I thought to myself, “Wow. 81. I am really going to be sad when she dies.” The next day, I learned of her cardiac arrest. Minutes ago, I learned of her death. And, yes, I am sad.

She lived a long, full life. And while her death was somewhat unexpected (before the end of last week anyway) – it isn’t necessarily as shocking if it were someone in their 40s. But it is a huge loss and I cannot help but to think about her daughter, Melissa. I very much enjoyed their short-lived reality show (boy, I wish they had started that earlier) and felt like we really got to know them to some degree. Even if it was scripted or not entirely real – the one thing you could never deny is the love and devotion between mother and daughter. They were most certainly best friends if not soul mates.  What a unique and fun thing it was to watch the two of them together. Oh, I really loved that silly show.

But the very best peek into the life Joan lived was the documentary, A Piece of Work. The pain and tragedy peppered with success and SUCH hard work was remarkably revealed in such an authentic way. Please do watch this film. I always loved her fearlessness but that movie gave me a whole new respect for her. And her career, my goodness. Just take a look at THIS commemorative article from Variety.

People say they hate her because she makes fun of others. Dudes. She is a comic. This is her thing. It was also Don Rickles’ thing – but being a man – no one gave him shit about it. In fact, it is the basis of humor for many comics and, no, it isn’t for everyone. Regardless of the topics of her jokes, she was generous, truthful and gutsy. And I loved that she was unapologetic about her work. This is what made her (and others like Kathy Griffin and Sarah Silverman) a champion in my mind and a idol in my heart.

Yea. I am pretty sad, goddammit.

 

 

 

Open Letter to the Jerks Who Think They Know Me

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It has come to my attention that people think I am lazy. For some reason I have been an easy target lately but I have also heard this by a few ever since I decided to be a stay at home (step) mom. People are so quick to judge without having ever been in similar shoes. So let me explain some things to you.

I have never been super ambitious or high energy. I have even joked about my laziness in the past based on needing more down time than the average person. But maybe some people haven’t heard me also discuss some pretty major issues. I know many of you have and it may be one of those “just get over it” situations. And I am. Truly. I am not losing sleep over this. I just am not the type who can remain silent when surrounded by nitwits. So, I will say my peace and let it be.

I do not work outside of the home for several reasons. One being that I was falsely accused of a crime and have a criminal record that has devastated a big portion my life. That will not go away. Ever. The emotional scars are permanent and deep.  It also makes getting any decent job very humiliating and difficult. For the good jobs which require background checks, I always have to try to explain in 50 words or less the whats, whys and hows. For the more menial jobs, they do their own checks on CCAP and I never get any chance to explain at all. Eventually, I gave up. And funny story – one of the people who likes to criticize my lifestyle is one of the people who created this entire problem to begin with.

Another reason I do not work outside the home – I have been taking care of children for 13 years. With vacations, various days off, sick days, early release and summers – getting a job flexible enough for their schedules and/or financially worthwhile has been impossible. It simply made no sense to work just to pay someone else to take care of our kids. And before they were school age, I was with them 24/7 by choice. Even though I was made to feel like a loser at times for being a stay at home mom, I can assure you – it was worth it. That time flew by and my daughter is now almost 10 years old. I am very grateful for that time with her. I also appreciate the time I had with my stepdaughter during those years when we were very close.

When I am at home, I spend a lot of time in my room because that is where I am comfortable and where I keep my computer/work table. While I don’t make big bucks – I do quite a bit of website work, volunteer work and writing. Our house is 1300 sq ft and I am rarely alone or unaware of what is happening in all corners of the house. I cook, I clean, I do laundry, I run errands – but, yes, I also spend time in my room simply because I like it better. For some reason, the room in which I spend my time seems to be an issue for some people. I guess sitting on a couch working on a laptop is more respectable than sitting on my bed working on a laptop. Whatever, jerks.

I lay down a lot because I am in pain a considerable chunk of the time since surgery/complications. If you have never dealt with chronic pain – you can really just shut your fucking mouth. Until you go through it, you have no clue. It IS getting better with therapy and time. I am so thankful for that. But this has been the most painful and depressing year of my life  (aside from the year I was accused of child abuse). Don’t you dare pretend to have any idea what my life is like. Because barring a handful of really great people, most never bothered to ask.

I realize I make it easy to jump down my throat, judge or talk shit about me. But know this – I am a great mother and have been the best step mother I could be in a very difficult situation. I am a caring friend and compassionate person. I volunteer and help others whenever I can. I have a banging sense of humor, make some delicious ass food and I am pretty smart too. If my in-home logistics, past-times and sleep patterns somehow make me a lazy loser, then so be it.

As a good friend reminds me from time to time – your words say far more about you than they do about me. So go pray or have a drink or do whatever you do in your perfect life, assholes. Because you are too insignificant for me to acknowledge after this post. Piss off.

Breast Cancer: It’s All Fun and Games

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Oh goody! I found another thing to be annoyed about and how lucky are you to get this invitation to join in my curmudgeoness. I normally don’t like it when people pretend to be social media police. People do it to me sometimes and it bothers me. So,  I do hate that some of you have put me in the position to flash my own plastic badge. But I simply cannot stop myself.

As you may know, it took me a little while to really have an appreciation for the Ice Bucket Challenge and to realize that it actually was doing a lot of good – even though some people have been intention-challenged about it.  What I am here to bitch about is not the same and I will tell you why.

You must stop playing these insensitive, annoying and imbecilic Facebook games under the guise of breast cancer awareness.

“I just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket.”

“I’ve decided to stop wearing underwear.”

The list goes on. And the more it goes on, the more I want to punch you in the vagina.

Listen, I am sure most of you are wonderful, brilliant people in your own way. I am sure that I may like you as a person and perhaps as a friend. I am sure you have decent intentions. But this…this is foolish. Please stop.

Posting some ridiculous status update is doing NOTHING for people with breast cancer. And what it could be doing is offending and even hurting those who are already going through so much. Imagine having to deal with endless rounds of chemo and radiation. Imagine having to go through the side effects of many medications. Imagine losing your hair and having every muscle in your body ache and burn. Imagine having to have your breasts removed in order to, hopefully, extend your life. Then imagine going on Facebook and seeing people repeatedly playing some GAME about the very serious disease you are currently fighting. Imagine seeing senseless, fake posts about using your BOOBS to get out of a ticket!!! Do you see how stupid this is?

How about the oh so popular No Bra Day? You really think women going through breast cancer treatment want to see your tits jiggling and flopping about? Chances are, no, they do not. Put your goddamn bra back on and make a fucking donation. Or offer to give rides to a person facing cancer. Or bring her cookies. Or help her clean her house. Or volunteer to watch her kids. And please, wear a bra while doing any of those things.

You want to help raise breast cancer awareness (even though I am pretty sure most people are fully aware of its existence)? Help educate people. While everyone not living under a rock has heard of breast cancer, they may not know all of the facts. Instead of posting some vague status that isn’t the least bit humorous, post a fact about breast cancer. Or you can post the link to where people can donate.

Sorry if I sound mean and bitchy. But someone needs to tell you guys the truth. These silly games help no one. And they are not even entertaining. If you are going to perpetuate silliness – at least, for the love of Pete, make it FUNNY. And hey, if these games one day morph into something that raises over 80 million dollars – then, perhaps, I will change my tune. In the meantime, I have to go yell at some kids on my lawn.

My Take: Dealing with Anxiety and/or Arrhythmia

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(I have written an update to this post. While most everything here still rings true and is important, there are just a few updates which can be found HERE.)

I belong to a couple of online support forums – one for anxiety and one for arrhythmias/heart issues. It is quite fascinating how the topics can often intermingle. Especially the anxiety and heart issues. If I had to guess, I would say that some form of anxiety/panic co-exists with a heart rhythm disorder probably 80% of the time – and that is a conservative estimate.

Some times the anxiety triggers the arrhythmia and very often the arrhythmia triggers the anxiety. It is a vicious, shitty cycle that spins with the velocity of a cyclone and it is very difficult to jump out. Let’s get off this stupid (not so) Merry Go Round, shall we?

When I do become involved in the discussions on these forums, I find I am most often giving support, advice or tips to those who may be newer to these experiences. Having dealt with this issues for several decades now, I have gained a lot of insight which I feel would have helped me earlier in my journey. So, why not utilize my crappy background to benefit others? There may as well be something good to come out of that suffering, eh?

There are several things that come up over and over again. So instead of constantly rewriting the same answers, I figured I would make a post with all of that information in one place. And this will be that place. Welcome, all. Have a seat. Relax. Have a listen and be well. This is for anyone who is dealing with anxiety or panic or an arrhythmia or all of the above. It could also be helpful to those who love someone dealing with one of these maladies.

Me?

I have lived with anxiety/panic for nearly 20 years to some degree. Maybe even longer. If you go to the My Crazy Brain category on this site, you will find a lot of posts on these topics.

I was diagnosed with SVT, PVCs and PACs about 10 years ago – but had it for many years prior. I was diagnosed with mild MVP a couple of years after that. All of these conditions cause symptoms that I can feel. Many people do not notice a thing and never even know they have it until it pops up on a monitor. But lucky me – I feel almost all of it. If you go to the My Crazy Heart category on this site, you will find quite a few posts about my heart issues.

One Bad Ass Mineral 

One thing I tend to preach about – perhaps to an annoying level – is magnesium. And let me tell you, I have my reasons. Whether you have anxiety or heart rhythm issues – magnesium may just end up being your best friend. It also helps many other ailments and it is definitely worth looking into. I can say with all honesty and certainty that supplementing with magnesium has made a very big difference in my life.

A couple of years ago, I was having hundreds of ectopic beats (PVCs and PACs) per day. Sometimes they would come every other beat. I was absolutely going insane. And, of course, it drove my anxiety into high gear – which only made my heart nuttier.

I searched high and low for solutions. I tried it all, man. Aloe gel, apple cider vinegar, black strap molasses, meditation – if I read about it, I tried it (for the most part). I saw several doctors. One wanted to perform an ablation procedure on my heart and another said that was a ridiculous idea. Finally, I spoke to a pharmacist/nutritionist here in Racine at Nutritional Designs Pharmacy. She explained to me how magnesium works and that I may just be deficient in the mineral since American diets are so lacking many of the nutrients we desperately need.

I soon found myself in Barnes and Noble with a decaf coffee drink reading The Magnesium Miracle by Dr. Carolyn Dean. Suddenly, a light went on and I knew I had to try what could just be a last-ditch effort to slow those horrendous ectopic heartbeats.

From the National Institute of Health website:

Magnesium is of great importance in cardiac arrhythmias. It increases the ventricular threshold for fibrillation. Sinus node refractoriness and conduction in the AV node are both prolonged. Main indications for intravenous application of magnesium are Torsade de pointes tachycardias, digitalis toxicity induced tachyarrhythmias and multifocal atrial tachycardias. Additionally, patients with ventricular arrhythmias due to overdoses of neuroleptics or tricyclic antidepressants may profit from i.v. magnesium. Monomorphic ventricular tachycardias and ventricular arrhythmias refractory to class III antiarrhythmics have been shown to respond to i.v. magnesium. Recent publications have documented that perioperative use of magnesium can reduce the incidence of arrhythmic events on the atrial and ventricular level. Oral magnesium has been used for many years in patients with symptomatic extrasystoles. Studies show that the incidence of extrasystoles as well as patients’ symptoms are reduced during oral magnesium therapy.

With the recommendation of the above mentioned nutritionist, I began supplementing with Krebs Cycle Chelates (I take one in the morning and two at night), a magnesium/potassium supplement (one at night – never go above 90mg of potassium without a Dr’s suggestion) and with powdered magnesium citrate (which I add to my tea several nights per week). They can be purchased online (see links) or look for a local health/supplement shop in your area. In Racine, I highly recommend Nutritional Designs.

It is very important to find an absorbable form of magnesium. The magnesium oxide you typically find at Walgreens only provides 4% of absorbable magnesium. This means you are paying to basically have your crap loaded with magnesium – it simply goes right through you and does not enter into your cells where it is needed.

It should also be known that typical blood tests cannot detect an accurate level of cellular magnesium. It can only tell you what is floating through your veins. This does not help you. The best way to know is to go by how you FEEL.

I also take a warm bath with epsom salts and baking soda (about a cup each) almost every night. This not only helps my heart and anxiety but also menstrual cramps (when I had a uterus), muscle and joint aches (its been a godsend since surgery) and really helps with my sleep.

How much magnesium should you take? Well, it isn’t a difficult experiment – but perhaps one you’d be best doing on the weekend. If you want to know how much is too much – you ask your bowels. Hey, I am sure it won’t be the first time you’ve talked to an asshole! So, you need to purchase an absorbable form of magnesium (magnesium only, do not do this with a complex or combo supplement. With combos – take the recommended dose unless directed otherwise). Make sure you get a dose low enough to take multiple pills (or whatever form you take) per day. Take a small amount each day. And then a little more. And keep increasing until you have loose bowel movements (yes, the runs). And hey, if you have been constipated – this just may be a relief! Once you get runny stools, you back off to the previous dose and continue on that dose as long as your movements are back to normal. That is the magic test to find out how much magnesium your body is needing you to take.

**I highly HIGHLY suggest trying magnesium if you are struggling with an arrhythmia. But – as always – please check with your doctor first. I AM NOT A DOCTOR and this is not to replace professional medical advice!!!**

More Heart to Heart

Along with my beta blocker (Metoprolol 12.5 mg twice a day – which helps tremendously for tachycardia), magnesium has truly changed my life in regards to my heart arrhythmia. I went from having 100s of ectopic beats (what I sometimes refer to as “skipped beats” even though that isn’t exactly accurate) to maybe 4. Some days I get more and some I get none. Right now, I am in what I consider a “remission”. I get maybe a couple per day. Next month I could have a week where I get 20 a day. But that is not frequent. There are people who live with 10s of thousands per day. This isn’t a cure and isn’t an exact science. We simply look for things that help our lives become more manageable.

I am sure you already know, but just in case – you should really eliminate stimulants from your life if you are dealing with an arrhythmia or anxiety. This means caffeine, energy drinks, decongestants and even some times ginseng or similar herbs. Be careful of anything you take as far as herbal remedies or medications. I once tried melatonin and my heart went bonkers. Same thing happened with valerian root. Both of these are supposed to be calming. Even sedating. But for me – opposite. You just never know.

When having any kind of local anesthetic/novocaine, make sure you speak to the doctor or dentist about your heart. Many of these medications have epinephrine in them and, usually, you can request for that to be left out. Epinephrine will most certainly make your heart tachy.

When prescribed a new medication, I always ask the doctor AND the pharmacist if it will have any effects on heart rhythm. Always better to be safe rather than sorry.

Someone asked me yesterday how I have gotten to where I am now as far as my acceptance with these stupid heart flip flops. My answer isn’t an easy one. And it won’t be the same answer each day. But what I can say is that this is a process and likely a life long one. Some days I can deal with it calmly and rationally. And other days I am scared and angry and want to throw something against the wall.

Each arrhythmia is different and each person is different. I can only tell you what has helped ME. Walking and trying to stay as fit as I can helps me. I hate exercise, really, I do. But I make myself do it because I know my body needs it. For some people, this may not be the case. It is all individual and needs to be discussed with your doc. Alcohol also makes me feel worse so I usually avoid it. For others, it doesn’t bother them a bit.

While I do have my little tips and tricks when it comes to dealing with this crap – none of that really helped until I came to a realization. And that happened gradually as I became more and more sick and tired of wasting my life.

I watched my father die in front of me at the age of 46 years old. I was 23. I know all too well how short life is. Even if we live to 90 – it is still very short in the grand scheme of things. And it flies by in a flash. I could no longer allow myself to waste away in a puddle of my own tears and fears (not to be confused with the band, Tears for Fears, which is pretty fucking awesome).

Fact is, I am going to die. I don’t know if it will be due to my heart or an accident or a toilet seat falling from a jetliner in the sky. And I certainly do not know when I will cease to exist. So, while I am here – I am going to do the best I can to actually LIVE. Waiting to die isn’t a life. It definitely is no fun. And it usually doesn’t include cake. So fuck that. And I don’t mean I am out there hang gliding or mountain climbing. I am still pretty toned down. But I no longer set up camp in that pile of shit pebbled with fear. I do things I can savor, even when I have to force myself.

Am I always able to keep it all positive like that? Hell no. But the older I get, the more I refuse to wither away until I am actually dead. So, I can sit home feeling my pulse all day long just waiting for that final thud. Or I can deal with my PVCs and other crap while I am spending time with my family or going to a movie or eating a tasty meal. If the thud is coming – I may as well be trying to enjoy myself when it arrives.

After All, I AM the Neurotic Housewife

I was always an anxious child. And that anxiety manifested, eventually, into depression and later on into panic. The panic came after the arrhythmia. I was undiagnosed and untreated for over a decade and this created the whirlwind of panic disorder. At my worst times, I was having more than one panic attack a day. In the past 9 years, I have had maybe 5 full-blown attacks.

I still deal with GAD and health anxiety. Much of the time, these aren’t much of an issue. But other times – I can go off the rails. Before my recent hysterectomy, my anxiety went into overdrive. I was obsessive and SCARED TO DEATH. But I got through it with the help of medication, meditation, loved ones and some CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) techniques.

I Said Yes to Drugs

For years, I was a medicinal guinea pig. SSRIs, SNRIs, Tricyclics, Benzos and other oddballs tossed in for good measure – I tried almost all of them. They either didn’t work or the side effects were worse than the original problem. I ended up hating meds and refused to try them again.

But after my daughter was born, I became a wreck. As a stay at home mom, I was with her all day. And I panicked constantly that I would drop dead and she would be left here alone until Charlie returned at night. It was awful and no way to live. I was absolutely miserable. So, I finally broke down and agreed to take a daily medication for the panic.

I started taking klonopin and I swear it saved my life. The panic subsided almost immediately. I noticed no ill effects and, in 9 years, I have not had to increase my dosage. I believe the beta blocker and magnesium also help in that arena as well – but the klonopin has truly changed my life. I will happily take it forever if need be.

Now, it doesn’t eliminate any depression nor does it get rid of my generalized anxiety. It simply stops the panic and the physical/physiological symptoms of the anxiety. The thought processes that create the GAD have to be dealt with on a cognitive level. And I do work on that constantly.

In the Midst of Panic

People often ask what helps during a panic attack or extremely anxious times. Through the years when I did have so many, I developed many coping skills. Here is a list of what got me through those moments and what may help you too:

  • Distraction is key!! Count the pennies in your change jar, rearrange your living room, clean out your closet, alphabetize your CDs (do people still have CDs?), watch a funny television show, pull weeds, organize your bathroom drawer, make a grocery list – get your mind on something easy, simple, lighthearted and distracting.
  • Buy and read the book – The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. This was my Bible for a long time. And I still pull it out during hard times. Do the exercises in the book!!! I cannot tell you how helpful this is.
  • Relax. I know, I know – this is the worst thing to tell a person who is panicking. But do what you can to manifest some relaxation habits. Take a bath (again, epsom salt!!), guided imagery meditations – you can find millions on YouTube, stretches, painting or crafts….find things to relax not only your mind, but also your body.
  • Move it move it move it. During a panic attack, your brain is releasing adrenaline and setting off your fight or flight instinct. The adrenaline and muscle contractions are what is causing those horrible physical symptoms of a racing heart, sweating, shakiness, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest tightness, muscle aches, etc. Exercise and moving your body will release that adrenaline more appropriately. Take a walk and notice the beauty around you. Try out a yoga video online. Jump rope. Swim. Move your body in a way that feels comfortable to you.
  • WRITE!! Journaling helped me so much. I would use the same notebook each time. I would just keep writing until I started to feel better. I wrote whatever I was feeling, I wrote gratitude lists, I wrote about my day – anything. And not only is this  releasing your feelings – it also provides proof for you the next time that you have been through this before and you SURVIVED!! You can clearly see that (for example) last Tuesday you were also certain you were about to die and had chest pain and had tingling in your legs…and that you lived through it.
  • Call a trusted friend. Now, while this may be extremely helpful, it can be tricky. You do not want to become a constant burden to the same friend every day. It cannot always be about YOU and how YOU feel. You will drain the friendship – even the great ones. You must make an effort to gear the conversation toward THEM. Ask them about their day and their families. Show them you care and appreciate their time. It not only will strengthen the friendship, but it will also help you escape your own shit for a while. Try not to be an energy vampire.
  • Help someone. Anxious/depressed people can become pretty self involved at times. Some more than others. It is important to get out of your own mind and a great way to do that is to help others. Volunteer. Visit a nursing home. Make cookies for a sick friend. Write cards of thanks and mail them. Walk a neighbor’s dog or mow their lawn. Help out at your local food bank. The options are endless. You will feel better and you will help someone else feel better. Win win, man. Also, you may just get a new perspective that helps you see how good you have it. As sucky as anxiety disorders can be – there are problems that can be much more devastating.

Some People Just Don’t Understand

And they never will. If they have not felt this themselves – they just can’t truly get it. There are some great people who really try to understand and are compassionate enough to be there for you even if they don’t know what it is like. These are the people you really need to appreciate, pick flowers for and smother with kisses. These people are rare and precious and deserve praise.

It is not easy to be the loved one of someone experiencing this mental bullshit. It sucks for them too – please remember that.

There will be people in your life who treat you like a disease. They will talk to you like a child and roll their eyes when they think you aren’t looking. They will never attempt to muster up an ounce of compassion and they have no tolerance for your emotions. They will think you are too sensitive and need to get over it. They may be close friends, relatives, clergy, teachers and people you’d expect to care. But they don’t. And there isn’t a goddamn thing you can do about it.

You can let it get to you. You can over explain or try to change for them. You can hide your real self. You can allow yourself to be constantly disappointed and heartbroken. Or you can simply say goodbye. I will let you guess which option is healthier.

In Closing….

While I could go on and on all day about these topics, I must end it at some point. And like I said, I have written extensively about all of this in the past. Feel free to search this site (almost a decade of blog posts here). And if you would like to discuss this or anything else about these subjects – please feel free to comment!! Start a discussion.

So, as a re-cap:

Magnesium is wonderful. Klonopin saved me. Beta blockers help the heart and adrenaline surges. Different meds work differently for each person. Speak with your doctor, be patient and give the med a chance. But be aware and listen to your body. If something is making you feel horrible, say something and make them listen!!!

Distraction is key during panic. Helping others is one of the best ways to overcome your own anxiety. Exercise is necessary. Stay away from stimulants. Read The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. And remove toxic people from your life.

Most importantly – live. This is your one chance and it is passing you by RIGHT NOW. Live the life you are so afraid to lose. Shit, you may as well make the fear worth it, right?

Again, please see my update to this blog post HERE

Robin Williams: Let’s Start the Conversation

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Robin Williams Quote. True. true words. "I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that you make you feel all alone."

This morning, as I was watching one of the many tributes to Robin Williams on television, my daughter asked me how he could be depressed if he was a famous actor. She is 9. And while that may sound like a 9 year old question – I am hearing similar comments made by adults today. The DJ on the radio right now is confused because “Williams had plenty of work” (4 movies due to come out yet this year). I have heard some say he is selfish and weak and ungrateful for his lavish life.

“Depression doesn’t care who you are, honey. It is an illness that can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how big your house is. You can have millions of people who love you and still have depression. It is sad and scary. But there is help and many ways to treat it. Most people with depression can live normal lives – it doesn’t have to be hopeless.”

I don’t know if my answer was appropriate – I tend to be as honest as possible with her.

I have been very open about my struggles throughout the years. So open, in fact, it has made others uncomfortable. I have lost friends due to my outspokenness about my anxieties. My mother was never very happy with my openness, a little embarrassed, perhaps. I am certain I have not been taken seriously when it really counted in the Dr’s office because of me not hiding my anxiety in the past. While dating, I was dumped a number of times because I admitted to these issues. There certainly are consequences to sharing experiences such as these. So much stigma still remains when it comes to mental illness.

Even with all I have mentioned, it hasn’t stopped me from talking about it. I refuse to be ashamed of something for which I have no fault. I refuse to be silent because it might make someone uncomfortable. If I have a friend, relative, doctor, etc. who cannot handle my honesty – they are clearly not a person I need in my life.

I have never wanted to end my life. Not really. I may have had fleeting thoughts out of pure exhaustion and frustration. But never could I cause my own death. And I am very grateful that my depression/anxiety isn’t on that level. Yes, I have lived with this for most of my life. And there are times when it has been worse than others. So I do understand it. I can imagine that feeling of no other way out. I can imagine being so depleted of all energy. I can imagine no longer having any fight left within.

We hear all of the time – Cancer Sucks. There are 5ks, ribbons, Facebook games, telethons. You can’t go anywhere without seeing pink breast cancer paraphernalia all around. But how often do we hear about suicide awareness or mental illness charities? Why are people who are plagued with depression or OCD or bi-polar considered weak while cancer patients are considered warriors?

Here is a post I made yesterday on Facebook:

When you see an addict – picture their bandages because their using is almost always an attempt to self medicate. When you see someone with a mental illness – picture their wounds because they are as real as anything visible. Stop seeing mere weakness because there is nothing weak about being sick. What is weak is how society views and deals with these very real diseases.

Many of us grew up watching Robin Williams. He was an American icon, a fantastic actor and an electric comedian. He brought happiness and laughter to countless people around the world. And he was a true humanitarian. The loss of his life have many in a contemplative space today. The sadness is almost tangible. And it kind of upsets me that it takes such a tragedy to get people talking about something we should have openly dealt with long ago. But it is better late than never and I truly hope that, if nothing else, this horrible situation will open the eyes of family members, politicians, physicians, media and those suffering.

Stop the silence. Stop the stigma. Speak up. And speak loud.

For information on getting help for yourself or a loved one, please visit:

 http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Helpline

Hystercovery, Macrobid and a Shitty Summer (with a Dash of Hope)

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At the end of my last post regarding my hysterectomy saga, I was waking up after surgery. And when I say waking up, I mean somewhat opening my eyes and talking to people…sorta. I remember Charlie was there, I remember throwing up several times, I remember having a couple of visitors including Cassidy and I remember falling asleep here and there.

Later that night, I was eating, talking, walking and trying desperately to pee. In fact, most of my entire night was trying to pee. I knew that once I peed – I was really on the road to recovery and could go home the next day. Plus, I could feel my bladder about to burst and that isn’t fun in the hatchback of a car after a Steve Miller concert nor is it fun in the hospital. As much as I felt the need to pee, I simply couldn’t. I had to be catheterized several times and, eventually, I was discharged with a foley (aka piss tube and bag). This also happened to after my daughter was born, so I wasn’t too distraught about it. And it didn’t hurt.

I was given a prescription for macrobid to prevent any urinary track infections which could be caused by the foley. I was to be on this med for two weeks.

I returned to the doctor’s office on Monday and had the foley removed. I was able to then urinate on my own so that part was over.

During that appointment, I let them know I wasn’t feeling right. I was very weak and dizzy. I couldn’t take a shower on my own and could barely walk. I felt very, very ill. They thought it might be the pain meds and told me to make sure I eat when I take them.

That was the beginning.

I started noticing that my legs would turn a reddish/purplish color when I stood or walked. They also felt sore, heavy and numb. My joints began to ache – even my fingers. I had a lingering headache and would sometimes feel short of breath. I felt feverish and very much flu-like. I just didn’t feel right. I called my general physician and my surgeon. Both said I was probably just having a harder time healing. My GP did order some blood work and my CRP was elevated – which just tells ya that there is inflammation going on. I also tested positive for Epstein Barr but I guess they felt that test was irrelevant. I was told just to continue what I was doing and not to worry.

In addition to the above mentioned symptoms, I developed a rash on my chest, a metallic taste in my mouth, a very white appearance in my mouth and throat, floaters in my vision and extreme exhaustion. I also had a very tender, achy feeling in my upper right abdominal quadrant.  I contacted the on call nurse (this was about 2-3 weeks post op) and she said to go to the ER just in case there was infection.

In the ER, they completed a large amount of testing, gave me some IV fluids and sent me on my way. They said I was fine. I was relieved and felt better thanks to the IV.

A day or two later, my surgeon called and told me that my liver enzymes (taken in the ER) were extremely elevated and to call my GP. I did. They scheduled more testing. And, after that, an ultrasound of my liver. None of these tests gave any answers aside from eliminating possibilities. For the next few weeks I would undergo a shit load of labs and ultrasounds.  Still, no answers as to what was wrong.

I decided to get to work. I researched my ass off. I read and read and read. And eventually, I found the cause of my symptoms and test results. I had drug induced liver injury and peripheral neuropathy from the antibiotic, Marcrobid.

This isn’t common, but it does happen. And it seems to happen more than doctors seem to realize. I think this is because many patients never find out the cause of their symptoms and it is never reported as an adverse effect. Many times, symptoms do not occur until after the patient has long been done with the offending medication. I also believe the pharmaceutical companies keep busy doctors in a haze about the true ADRs (adverse drug reactions) of many overused medications.

These reactions seem to be much more common with fluoroquinolone antibiotics (ie. cipro, levequin, etc). There is quite a lot of information regarding these reactions from those meds. Here and Here are just a couple of articles; but there are many all over the internet.  I also found THIS website devoted to patients who have had these reactions. And reading their postings made me feel less alone. And strange thing is – the symptoms are almost exact. Each person is different, of course. But the similarities are remarkable. While researching this mountain of information, I found that Marcobid and fluoroquinolone ABs are quite similar chemically as well.

So, after I found this info, I brought it to the attention of a doctor who was covering for my GP. She was surprised but after reading some things, concurred with my findings. I then went to a gastroenterologist who told me, “I sure wish all of my patients came in with their own diagnosis! While reading your chart, this was the first thing that entered my mind as well.” I thought to myself, “I sure wish they didn’t have to.”

He examined me a little bit, asked some questions and indeed did diagnose me with DILI with PN (drug induced liver injury with peripheral neuropathy) due to the Macrobid.

He said that my liver numbers were improving and that I was to be tested again in September. He said many of the symptoms, especially the ones involving nerves, could take a year from which to recover. I wasn’t really given any instructions – just to come back in September.

The pain in my legs has been the worst, really. It comes and goes and the type of pain changes. Most often, they feel very heavy, achy and like I have very, very tight socks on. One day, the pain was significantly worse and they were quite swollen feeling and red. It was after hours so I went to urgent care. That doctor was wonderful. He spent a lot of time with me and really explained how and why these sensations are happening. It helped me a lot and he was the first doctor to really take the time to do this for me. I was beyond grateful.

Last week, I decided it was time to go back the chiropractor who had helped me in the past with TMJ and back pain. I just couldn’t go on doing nothing. I have been feeling like I am 80 years old and it has been sinking me into a deep depression. I didn’t know if he could help, but it was worth a shot.

He examined me extensively and spent 90 minutes with me. He said that if he didn’t know better, he would think I was in a really bad car accident. Due to the systemic toxic reaction from the medication, my muscles, joints and  nerves are all a hot mess. All over my body, I have muscles that are contracted and on the verge of spasm. My mobility and flexibility are shot. And something I was not expecting – my abdomen is filled with scar tissue from surgery. Because of the toxicity and liver injury, I was not able to heal properly after surgery. Because of this, scar tissue is causing a great deal of problems (including intestinal) and pain within my entire abdomen. If left untreated, it could cause serious issues and future surgeries. I have also gained about 15 pounds and have significant swelling/bloating in my belly.

So, physically, in a matter of just a couple of months I aged 40+ years and my entire body has changed. I cannot put into words how shocking and distressing this is. Absolutely heartbreaking, really. I had this surgery so I could feel better and have a better life. Now, my life is filled with pain, worry and an overwhelming sense of being out of control.

My chiropractor is confident he can help me with scar tissue release therapy and gentle adjustments. I will be having these treatments twice a week for a long time. I am hopeful, but not optimistic. It is difficult to not expect the worst after everything I have been through.

I was in tears as I left. I felt so relieved to hear that there is hope. I felt vindicated after so many people acting as though this is all in my head. I felt grateful that this professional showed me respect and compassion and true understanding for what I was going through. I am sure crossing my fingers that this therapy helps me.

My other doctors do not seem to want anything to do with me. Not sure if they just don’t have answers or if they are worried I will sue (there are some lawsuits regarding this and similar medications – but I am not the type to do something like that)…but aside from throwing prescriptions at me, they don’t want to see or talk to me. I am not blaming. While I DO wish I had been heard when I was complaining in tears about all of these weird symptoms (when I was still poisoning myself with the macrobid) and I do feel I was ignored – it is not my intention to blame. I only want to feel better. I just want to be heard, validated and given some options. I am so grateful my chiropractor was able to do this for me.

I was really beginning to believe I was nuts. Or at least that no one would ever listen. I was even starting to blame myself. He said that I would have to be unbelievably talented to create these physical issues with my mind. We both agreed I was, indeed, not that talented.

I want people to be very aware of their bodies when taking any prescription. I want people to report their side effects. I want people to stop being afraid to question their doctors. I want people to stop believing that drugs are safe just because a doctor can prescribe them. I want people to trust their own judgement, listen to their intuition and  be their own number one advocate. No one knows your body as well as you do and no one will care as much as you do. Doctors are too busy to read the latest reports on every single medication. They aren’t lucky enough to have the kind of time House MD has to diagnose a patient. It sucks and it is wrong – but we need to get smart and start paying attention.

My whole life, I have experienced weird ass medical shit. No poison ivy, no broken arms, no ear infections (yes, I am knocking on wood). What HAS happened? In second grade I lost all control over my facial muscles for an entire day. When I was pregnant, I developed an enlarged blood vessel on my tongue which bled whenever it wanted for the next four years. I did have the common chicken pox…a couple of times. I have a weird heart arrhythmia most have never heard of (supraventricular tachycardia, anyone?). When I was a kid I used to get these weird infections on my fingernail cuticles. And, the latest addition to the list is a rare drug induced liver injury caused by the antibiotic Macrobid. If it is weird or rare – it may just happen to me. This has made me a little more vigilant than I should be. It has caused me to have considerable anxiety. But it also helped me help myself (and my family). And I hope I can help some others as well. I mean, shit. These fucking unlucky ass experiences need to be put to some good use, right??

Next time, I will talk about how intuition and subsequent anxieties may have played a role in my NOT being diagnosed properly over the years. If I hadn’t been so aware and vigilant – perhaps I would have been taken more seriously…??

 

(Please know that as saddened as I am about all of this – as angry and frustrated as I feel – I realize completely how much worse it COULD be. I know very well that people deal with much more horrible illnesses and disabilities every day. I know this and I am grateful for what I DO have. I really am. This is simply my account of where I have been and where I am now in regards to this experience.)

FAQ: Hyster-Style

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 I have been visiting hysterectomy forums for almost a year now. Since day one, I have read the same questions over and over. And this is understandable because there are so many unknowns when heading into this. I had many of the same questions (and a crap load more – sorry, doc). So I decided to make a post highlighting some of the most popular questions and my semi-educated, sassy answers.

I am not a doctor or a nurse nor do I have any real qualifications to be giving advice at all. But I have researched extensively and have lived through it. So…take it for what you will…but make sure to ask your doctor all of the questions you want. It is part of their job to answer you and help you feel at ease with this procedure. ASK ASK ASK. Be your own biggest advocate!! I cannot stress this enough. Just DO IT and quit making me yell at you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry. Got carried away.

 

How long will it take to recover from my hysterectomy?

That is like asking “what does the color blue look like?” Nearly impossible to answer. People can tell you how they perceived their own recovery or the recoveries of those they know. Doctors can tell you what the surgical machine salesperson promises while handing them a box of free pens or the average outcome of their patients’ experiences. And the internet will tell you that you will probably not recover at all, your vagina will fall off and you will die a horribly fat and sweaty eunuch.

It is so easy and natural for us to compare ourselves to others in similar circumstances. Moms compare themselves to other moms. Writers compare themselves to other writers. And I am pretty sure grumpy cats compare themselves to other grumpy cats. When reading the experiences of others we may be tempted to compare our experiences. And depending on our mindsets – that could be unhealthy, or at least mildly annoying.

You will read about women who have had the same exact surgery for the same exact reason and are running a marathon 2 months later. You will read about others who are still in pain a year post op. There are simply way too many factors to consider and they are all so individual – trying to guess what is going to happen can be difficult at best. You can pretty much count on one thing – you will be somewhere on the spectrum between worse case scenario and best case scenario. Yes, I am brilliant. Thank you.

Type of surgery, health and strength prior to surgery, pain tolerance, reason/s for surgery, how much and what is being removed, skill of the surgeon, medications taken after surgery, emotional support, time allowed to rest…I mean the list of things to factor in can go on and on.

Best advice – prepare for the worst and hope for the best (see, there’s that brilliance once again – I really deserve my own radio show).

 

Which surgery is better?

There are several types of hysterectomy surgeries. Open abdominal, laparoscopic, vaginal with laparoscopic assist, vaginal with robotic assist (this is what I had) and keyhole to name a few. With anything else in life – there are pluses and minuses to each one. And there are reasons a surgeon has for choosing one type of surgery over another based on each case.

Will you be keeping your cervix and/or ovaries? Is there endometriosis and/or adhesions to contend with? Is cancer suspected? Will lymph nodes be removed? How large is your uterus? Do you have any bleeding disorders? There are a million questions when weighing one type of surgery against another.

Some examples:

If you will be keeping your cervix, you will not be having anything removed vaginally.

If you have suspected cancer, chances are the surgeon will not use morcellation (basically, chopping up parts while they are still inside so they can be removed laproscopically) based on recent recommendations by the FDA.

If you have an abundance of adhesions or endometriosis, the surgeon may prefer to do an open abdominal surgery.

People often praise laparoscopic and/or robotic as being the “best”. This is simply not the case. It may be best for some, but not all. And vice versa. People also think that these types are easy peasy. Um, nope. Just because the incisions on the outside are smaller, doesn’t mean the inside is less disturbed. You will still have your shit yanked out, many stitches and cuts and cauterizations will still be in there and you will still need to rest and be careful.

Laparoscopic/Robotic surgeries take longer – perhaps even a couple hours longer, but there is often less bleeding and for those whom are already anemic due to heavy periods this can really be a blessing. So while you are under anesthetic longer (which is sometimes not a great idea), your risk of bleeding/infusions is lessened. Usually.

Laparoscopic/Robotic surgeries usually come with at least some gas pains. Not just the digestive farty gas pains, but also leftover Co2 which is pumped into the abdomen allowing for a clear view during surgery. This gas is often one of the top complaints about hysterectomy recovery pain. Some women experience the pains all the way up in their shoulders and down to their thighs. Those bubbles can move faster than crabs in a whore house. I was very lucky in that department. I talked to my surgeon beforehand and he said that he was almost OCD about getting as much out of the abdomen before closing. And he really did great. The Co2 pain, for me, was minimal. (see tips on treating this pain below)

Abdominal surgery comes with a big ole incision in the belly. With this there is always risk of incision infection or hematoma. You may have itching while it heals. And there will be a scar. There can also be scars with Lap/Rob but they are typically smaller.

So is one type of procedure better than the others? Yes. For you, there probably is. Do I or anyone else online know what that procedure is? Nope. That is between you, your surgeon and your anesthesiologist. And maybe your psychic – if you’re into that shit.

 

Will my surgery hurt?

You’re having innards that you were born with removed via knives, heat and machines. Yes. You will likely experience some pain. If you don’t feel any pain, you really need to start considering the fact that you are an android and probably never REALLY had a uterus at all and are part of a mass conspiracy formulated by the government designed to fill the world with walking talking Barbie dolls. Congratulations.

Really though, pain meds are awesome and most doctors are very good about keeping your pain under control. Make sure you stick to your drug schedule and waking up to take your dose may be a good idea for a couple of days. You always want to stay ahead of the pain. If your don’t, it can take longer to get it under control. Just make sure you don’t take more than prescribed and you should TRY to stop them sooner than later. Addiction is a real concern and I did feel some withdrawal symptoms, so weaning off is also a good idea. But don’t be a hero. Take your meds if you need them.

It should also be mentioned that everyone has a different pain tolerance level. Me? Total pussy. If the wind hits me a little hard, I will ache. There are others who are Vaginal Warriors and feel very little discomfort. Again, do not compare. If you need your meds a little longer, this is not a failure on your part. Blame your stupid nerve endings and brain receptors – it’s their fault.

 

How do I deal with people who say I should be better by now?

Tell them to fuck off and then key their car.

 

I went back to work a week after my C-Section. I am planning the same with my hysterectomy.

Why these two procedures are constantly compared is beyond me. One involves having a child removed – a child that is meant to come out. The other involves having parts of your body cut and burned out of your body. Not the same. And for those of you who know someone going through a hysterectomy: unless you want to make someone cry or get punched in the vagina, don’t equate your c-section to her hysterectomy. And if you had a c-section, please do not expect the same outcome. Not only could you feel very differently, but carrying around an old, icky uterus in a Bjorn will not go over very well.

I won’t even get into hormonal and emotional differences right now. I am saving that blubbering for a blog topic of its own.

 

What helps for gas pain and bowel movements?

Gas pains and pooping are a major topics on the Hyster forums. You may suffer from two different types of gas pains: digestive and Co2. Digestive issues happen because during any surgery, your bowels are affected by the anesthesia. During abdominal surgeries, they can be moved around or disturbed. Also, pain medication can be extremely constipating. The Co2, as mentioned above, is from laparoscopic and robotic surgeries. Fortunately, some of the remedies help for both and work quite well. Here is a list of what you will want to have handy to end gas pains and get those bowels movin, movin, movin…

peppermint tea

gas-x (simethicone)

colace (stool softener)

HEATING PAD!!

warm baths (if doc allows)

mirilax

warm pear juice (I think it worked better than prune juice and it tasted better)

and most of all WALK WALK WALK

 

What do I need/want/fuck it, what can I buy because I need to shop so I can stop thinking about this scary ass operation?

Well, certainly it will be different for everyone. But here is a list of what I bought before surgery to make recovery easier/more tolerable. Make sure you buy whatever you want ahead of time because your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/mother will likely get the wrong thing. This is YOUR time so make sure you pamper yourself with your favorite things.

New, comfy robe

Easy, comfy, roomie nightgown (not pjs because you wont want anything around your waist when you are resting)

Non skid socks

Big water mug with a straw

Grabber

Books

Soft, high thread count sheets

A warm blankie

A little basket or bag thingy to carry your necessities from the couch to bedroom with ease

Bathtub chair (I didn’t think of this beforehand and had to MacGyver something with a rubbermaid and, quite frankly, I am lucky to be here right now)

Pantyliners

Face wipes

Favorite foods

Lip balm

Hand lotion

Moist heating pads

(and above mentioned pooper products)

 

I hope some of these thoughts help someone out there. Next time, I will be writing more about my recovery…fun shit, man…fun shit.