Where have I been and why haven’t I been posting?

I’ve had/have some serious health problems. It started with elevated liver enzymes (more than 24x the upper limit of normal), which spurred more tests. More tests revealed lesions on my spleen and a ton of polyps in my gallbladder. There were also “spots” from the ultrasound on my pancreas. Blood counts and tests revealed a late onset autoimmune disease and another possible blood disease. I’ve also had an adverse reaction with one of the medications I’ve been on for some time. More tests and more imaging studies were ordered, and now my kidneys aren’t doing so well. The abdominal CT with contrast ruled out some things, but the oncologist ordered an MRI.

Given the urgency of the scheduling of all of these followup appointments I’ve had to cancel work flights, client visits, client training on new hardware/software and such. My employer has been great about it and I’ve filed the appropriate FMLA paperwork to protect my job. Many appointment times are dictated by the specialists, so I have to go when I’m told. At least most of them run on schedule, so it’s in and out. The urgency of these followup appointments are a bit unnerving as usually to see a specialist it takes weeks, if not months to see them.

All of this has been incredibly stressful for my wife and I. The oncologist has ruled out cancer, so yay! I’m going to get second and likely third opinions. The lesion on my spleen may in fact be a mass of blood vessels, which I’m told isn’t entirely uncommon, hence the MRI. They want to monitor it if it’s a lesion every six months with imaging. The same holds true with the gallbladder, but with that, I’m going to push hard for removal. If it’s that covered in polyps, it’s likely well on its way to removal anyway, I’d rather do that while I have excellent insurance and an excellent job that’s willing to pick up the slack while I’m going through all this. It’s corporate America and corporate Japan, so even though I’m awesome at my job, my job or position may be eliminated from far up the chain of command, so I need to be realistic about it.

The autoimmune disease is manageable for the most part. It’s not one that attacks organs or anything, it just makes me more susceptible to common illnesses, both bacterial and viral, I may have adverse reactions to flu shots, though they are nearly mandatory with this condition. I need to call my doctor at the slightest inclination of getting sick, which is hard to tell with allergies and such keeping me somewhat stuffed up. The possible blood disease – I don’t know anything about. They haven’t told me what they are really looking for and I didn’t ask.

I see the hematologist in a couple of weeks. I see the GI doc about the gallbladder next Friday. I don’t think I’ve ever been poked and prodded so much in my life. They should just draw a quart of blood and “test for everything.” Though I know that’s not possible and totally impractical, they’ve run though just about every damn thing anyway.

I also was having a lot of chest pain frequently, a couple of times bad enough to go to the ER. They had me do a stress test and imaging with contrast dye and apparently my cardiac health is excellent. That exercise thing I started a couple of months ago and that I’ve stuck with is paying off. I’ve not lost weight, but my waistline is getting slightly smaller. Having the dog helps – I run the hell out of both him and me daily, and use the gym at the hotels that I stay at as time allows.

So, that’s what’s been going on. I’ve been depressed, but a new medication seems to be helping with that. With all of the other health stuff going on my psychiatrist is scared to change any dosages on anything until all results are in. I am responsive to the new medication, though, so the images I see of slicing my carotid artery in my neck are just images, not something that seems like a strong compulsion or need. Admittedly, when the health stuff started a few weeks ago, there was a small part of me that thought “finally – a way out of this world that other people can deal with instead of suicide.” I guess I still feel that way. I don’t know why that impulse is so strong at times, and has been for so long, but at least it’s not as bad with the new med. It just sucks that there’s not an hour that goes by in my waking hours that I don’t see that image or similar mental imagery go through my mind at least a few times. I’m not saying that for dramatic effect, either.

I’ll start posting again when all of this starts to clear. As of right now, I’m just not up to it. I’m physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted most of the time. I filled out my advanced directive paperwork and will get my living will updated soon. The harsh reality of all of the initial potentials has been..enlightening, in a bad way.

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