Saturday, July 28, 2012

Gaining not Losing

I'm so mad. I don't know if it's the meds or my laziness that's got me gaining faster than a holey bucket, but it sucks.  I'm heavier than when I got sick in the first place.

Time to get serious about this stuff because I can't manage my health issues and medications and keep gaining weight.  I want my face back.  Moon face sucks.  Thank you Prednisone. I want off the diabetic meds too but gaining weight isn't helping that either.

Joined the local YMCA to hopefully keep exercising since I graduated out of physical therapy recently.  I'm hoping I can at least slow the creeping pounds until I figure out if it's the meds or my lack of activity.

I hate being sick and on meds that make me swollen and hungry. I need motivation.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Starting a New Life After Almost Dying or How Polymyositis Changes Everything

Sooooo.... yeah, I guess I fell off the diet wagon for a long time, and then this year I find out the hard way that I have a rare autoimmune disease called Polymyositis (PM) with Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD). Basically my body is attacking my own muscles, & the worst parts are the shoulders and hips. Some people have issues with swallowing, but I'm okay there thankfully. I had to go to inpatient rehab twice for weakness that put me in a wheelchair. Each time I got out, I was able to walk with just a cane outside. This time I weaned off the oxygen and my lungs are finally clear of crackles.

It all started with bilateral pneumonia right before Halloween 2011, which led to respiratory failure and they thought the muscle weakness was atrophy from the coma. The coma was to keep me from ripping out the ventilator they put in. It was all actually the start of Polymyositis. It took almost 5 months to get a diagnosis of PM. I was in the hospital at least once a month for a minimum of a week at a time, and I had to switch hospitals to find this out. Come to find out, weaning me off Prednisone was causing relapses! Now I'm on tons of harsh meds, and physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) have gotten me almost back to 100%, but not quite.

Ironically, I was in the process of losing weight and was down to 211, but stuck and going back up. In the hospital I swelled up from the high doses of Prednisone I'd be given, and go back down from the Furosemide/Lasix. I have stretchmarks on the sides of my knees as reminders of this. I couldn't even bend my legs at the knees all the way it was so bad one time. At least now I know what to expect when I get Prednisone in the hospital.

This last stay in the hospital, in inpatient rehab, I was doing 2 hours of exercise and one hour of daily living (ADLs) every day while on a 10 carb meal limit. The Prednisone increases my blood sugar and makes me hyperglycemic. So the exercise & carb restriction had me come out of the hospital at 194.7! I stepped on the scale twice to make sure. Since I've been home, I'm back up to 210 with PMS this week. I'm hoping the Lasix brings down the bloating, & next week I'll be discussing tapering the Prednisone so the swelling goes down. I'm inching up in weight, but I don't know how much is meds and how much is lazy eating & not exercising 2 hours a day.

Here's the plan to figure it out: 

Elimination dieting of sugar, dairy & wheat/gluten starting June 4th and each week after, eliminate the next thing. It's first Monday of June. Why wait? Because I'm planning a major event by travelling to Chicago June 1 and trying to 'cleanse' my diet while travelling is stupid & I'll fail. If I fail, I'll give up. I'll be checking with my Drs. on this idea as well before I start. My next step has slowly helped ease me into this somewhat. I'm really going to miss cheese, greek yogurt, ice cream & chips.

Cleaning of the kitchen cabinets and freezer/fridge. I've been 'shopping the pantry' to clean out expired foods, processed foods, etc. Now that I'm paying attention to what's in the food I eat, and how I feel after I eat it, I realize that the garbage I'm putting into my body makes me feel like garbage. The less temptation I have in my cabinets or fridge, the less likely my willpower will give out. So processed, microwavable, HFS, MSG, and similar items are vanishing from my home.

Exercise program: My PT told me to walk every day and each day go two houses further. This starts now, obviously. I also have OT exercises to do with my arms even though I'm not in OT anymore. These keep my strength up where I'm still shaky and hopefully keep the flares at bay. How many times did I wish I was in shape before getting sick?! Having two nurses have to help you, or not trusting someone to be strong enough to catch you if you fall because you're heavier than them sucks. Muscle strength is what helps me to get up off the floor! Motivation is all I need when I'm not being goaded by an evil therapist. Yoga & swimming are on the OK list as well. I'm excited about this. I also think Tai Chi might be good for me for exercise and for keeping stress at bay.

This is going to be really hard. Food is my life. I love cooking. I love eating. No... this is going to be a CHALLENGE! I need to change my mindset. If I overcame not being able to wipe my own butt more than once while in the hospital... I can change my diet and exercise everyday - even if I hate it. Changing my diet should be easy compared to what I've already done so far.

Time to start a new life after almost dying.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Almost Died but Didn't

About 2 weeks after my last post in October, just before Halloween, I went into the ER with pneumonia. A few days in the hospital on antibiotics led to respiratory failure, my being intubated on a ventilator, and put into a medically induced coma for about a week. This is the first time I've wanted to write about any of this. Maybe because after almost six months of being in and out of the hospital, I finally have a final diagnosis and I feel almost normal - outside of the physical damage that was done.

I officially have Polymyositis with Interstitial Lung Disease. It's a rare connective tissue (muscle) autoimmune disease with breathing issues. No definitive cause is known, but it means I'm on meds my whole life and I'm officially disabled. I can't lift my arms up over my head, and I can't lift my legs at the hip more than an inch or two right now. I'm in physical and occupational therapy to fix this and I hope to be back to normal in the months to come. I just have to stay on my steroids and anti-transplant rejection drugs forever to keep from a relapse. After experiencing what happens without these drugs, I'll gladly take those two and all the others given to me. I couldn't move without massive pain and my hands wouldn't open or close. Yay drugs, boo side effects.

It started with pneumonia. I couldn't catch my breath so I went to the ER. They admitted me, but I didn't get better so I went to the ICU. Just hours after I got to the ICU, the last thing I remember is saying I couldn't breathe and my chest hurt. Then it goes blank until I woke up a week later. My family says they gave me about a 50% of living while I was out. The hospital basically threw everything they had at me to keep me alive. I had crazy dreams from the drugs, and my son is what I remember most from the dreams. I had a tube down my throat and couldn't talk. I wrote on an eraser board the best I could, and a rolled my eyes a lot when I got annoyed, frustrated or angry. I did that a lot. Not being able to talk sucked. I did make a joke to my stepbro with hand motions (that didn't make sense to anyone but me) when I first came out of the coma. At least I kept my sense of humor, right?

Being in the ICU & having lost the ability to do anything on my own was humbling. Remembering the first time I had to stand up from the bed with a nurse's help is what keeps me going now when I get discouraged. Thank goodness for Xanax because that was the scariest moment of my life, after having been mostly immobile in a bed for weeks. Actually, the bill from that time is pretty scary too. My legs didn't work, my arms only moved at the elbow, and I needed help with everything. I'm trying to forget the tubes being removed and the other help the nurses provided. I could never work in healthcare, ever.

I went to the rehab unit for physical and occupational therapy, but the coughing from the pneumonia made everything so hard. Breathing is usually required when you exercise and I was struggling. I finally was able to walk up stairs and do a lot of my basic care and went home just before Christmas, even though I wasn't 100%. I was supposed to finish my rehab as an outpatient. I felt good and ready to go, but no such luck.

A week after getting home, the first week of January, my mom was here helping me and my right arm swelled up. Back to he ER! I had a blood clot in my right jugular. I was put on blood thinners and had to have my blood tested every week. I also would start to wean off the steriods/prednisone and get sick. I was in the hospital every month, if not every other week almost. I finally had to switch to a larger hospital because they'd had more exposure to my first diagnosis of ARDS - Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome after pneumonia. I've had so many CT's and Xrays of my chest that I glow in the dark. I have about 8-9 DVDs of images from thouse and the ultrasounds to EKGs that it's just ridiculous.

Once I changed hospitals, I got better diagnosis of what was going on, but everyone kept looking at my lungs as the issue. Finally, this last episode of muscle weakness caused such distress that I couldn't even walk. A muscle biopsy was done along with many other tests, and I joke they went all Dr. House on me, but they found out I have an autoimmune disease. Finally! I was just happy to know what was going wrong with my body and how I can manage it in the future. Once I got into therapy, I rocked it and made super progress. Only two weeks in rehab and going from barely walking to being able to take care of myself at home. The doctors are super impressed and I'm really motivated to get better.

Yeah, it sucks I'm now permanently disabled, but it could be so much worse. My meds will help me get better and therapy too. The worst part of all of this? My son having to go live with my ex-husband until the end of the school year. I miss him more than anything, but I know his being with his dad is the only way for me to get well enough to bring him home. I see him this weekend and I can't wait. There so much more I have to say, but it's time to eat and take more meds. Here's to getting better!