Excitement, Obstacles & Why Can’t Anything Be Easy?

I haven’t been writing much lately, for a few reasons. Just bummed mostly but excited for family to come. I had to get the house ready as best I could and get groceries so I’d have food to feed everyone. It was a good visit but not long enough. I lost a few hours with them too, because someone couldn’t bend a little. They’re gone now and I miss them tremendously!

I had to cancel my last appointment with my therapist because it was scheduled the day family would arrive. I emailed her later to explain why since I didn’t get to speak to her personally when I rescheduled the appointment. I told her about a few things that have happened in the last three weeks and when she responded she said, “Nothing is ever easy for you, is it?” She nailed it! I’ve been saying that for years! Here’s a rundown of the things that have happened in the past three weeks:

  1. My insurance covered the last round of injections I received but changed their policies since then. They won’t cover them anymore, so now I have to struggle not knowing if they would have helped with my pain.
  2. Ortho doc won’t reconsider knee replacement surgery because my weight/BMI isn’t where they want it to be and my legs are still weak. I think by the time she decides to move forward with surgery, my insurance will no longer cover it. That’s just my luck.
  3. My new doc (since January ’17) that I searched for over the last 10 years, has left the clinic and they won’t tell me where she went! Figures. I finally find a good doctor; one who listens and actually tries to help, and she’s gone. Now I have to find a new doctor or see another in that clinic.
  4. I tried to include my first-born grandson, (who was adopted by his other grandparents) in our little family get-together even though I knew what the outcome would be. The other grandmother wouldn’t hear of it, even though she too, was invited. Instead, she went behind my back and made other arrangements for D.M. to see my daughter (his mother) and his little brother. This took several hours away from us. I’m glad my daughter was able to see D.M. but it’s a shame that other grandmother couldn’t bend a little and come to our house so we could all spend time with D.M.
  5. D.M.’s birthday was Oct. 23. I made arrangements to meet after school to give him his gift in person. This is what we’ve been doing the last few years for Christmas and birthdays. I didn’t think this year would be any different. The night before we were supposed to meet, I find out D.M. is sick. Ok, so I mailed him his gift. It has now been 2 weeks and I’ve not heard one word about whether he liked his gift from me and his great-grandpa. Nice. What a way to teach a kid manners, right?

Anyway, nothing is ever easy for me. It seems that I run into an obstacle at every turn. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect life to be easy but sometimes it seems the universe hates me! Every month, there’s something new staring me down…as if to say, “Don’t get too comfy!” I wonder what’s in store for me in November…..

10 Years Coming….

It’s been months (and months and months) since I’ve updated my blog! The last time was just after being fat-shamed by a so-called specialist last year that my doctor finally sent me to. At that point I was pretty much done with doctors, especially the one I had been seeing since 2005. I had tried numerous times to find a new doctor….one was just as bad or worse than the one I was seeing so I just gave up. Tired of being knocked down time and time again.

Instead I focused on losing weight. I had tried for years to lose weight, never getting any help from my doctor, naturally. I tried every diet in existence, so it seemed….except for the diets you have to pay for. I couldn’t afford to to do that. I still can’t but I had to do something. I was at the heaviest I had ever been and it wasn’t getting any better. With doctors saying things like, “eat less calories,” and “you’re not getting enough exercise,” and “eat smaller portions,” and not even asking any questions about my diet or exercise, it became blatantly clear that I was not going to get anywhere with them! So, I signed up with Nutrisystem.

I started Nutrisystem on April 24, 2016. I lost 8 lbs. the first month. I am currently teetering between a 50 – 60 lb loss. I’m quite proud of myself! Nutrisystem does work but you have to stick to it. I followed the plan exactly as they instructed and by Thanksgiving I felt that I could relax a little. After the holidays I got back to it and I will continue to stay on it until I am at a weight that I’m happy with. I digress here, this post is not about my weight loss….but it WAS the start of a new, more confident me.

After the holidays were over, I realized that as much as I despise doctors, I still need one. I realized that it must be a new doctor because my current doctor was not acceptable. Tired of her constantly sweeping my concerns under the rug and giving me stupid answers. For 6 years I heard, “You’re too young for knee replacement surgery.” She never once sent me to a specialist to make that assessment. Last March, when she finally did send me to a specialist, the specialist said, “You’re not too young for knee replacement surgery. You’re just too fat.” So, if my doctor would have sent me to him 6 years and 60 lbs ago, then maybe I would have had some kind of treatment or the surgery and regained my life by now! Thanks a lot, Doc.

So, in Jan. 2017. I started researching doctors in neighboring counties/towns. Of course, I had done this before a few times and ended up not making any progress towards finding a new doctor. This time was different. It had to be different! I made an appointment with a local doctor. I was prepared to get knocked down yet again, because that’s what always happens. This time was different. This new doctor spent an entire hour with me! She sent me for xrays and she lined up an appointment with a specialist in March. She told me that she didn’t think my current weight would be an issue with knee replacement surgery. I was so relieved to have found this woman! She was kind and sympathetic, informative and thorough. This was the first time in 10 years I had felt hopeful. 10 freakin’ years I had been trying to get help. In the very beginning it wasn’t even pain, but I knew something was wrong. Year after year, no special blood tests, no imaging, no help, no information. Now I finally had some hope!

When I saw the specialist, she was also very nice, sympathetic, informative and thorough. Instead of telling me I was too young for knee replacement surgery, she explained to me WHY age was a factor. Instead of telling me I was too fat, she explained to me WHY weight/BMI is an important factor. She even offered a referral to a weight loss specialist. Instead of telling me to do squats to strengthen my leg muscles, she sent her in-office Physical Therapist in to talk to me and he gave me specific exercises to do at home. (My insurance won’t pay for pre-surgery PT.)

This doctor, asked me many questions about what I have tried and offered injections (other than the normal cortisone shots that didn’t help me at all) and told me it was entirely my decision as to which injections I wanted to try and she gave me informational pamphlets to help me decide. In April, I went back to her with a decision. I decided on Synvisc-One injections. This injection was suppose to create cushion in my knees where I was bone on bone. I was very nervous. I’m already in tremendous pain so I was apprehensive about the pain of a needle being jabbed into my knees! It really turned out to be ok. It wasn’t that bad. Afterward, I was walking with little pain and faster than I had in years! Of course, it didn’t last long. A few short hours later it was right back to the way it was before. My knees are just too far gone.

In an effort to help with pain management, my primary doctor prescribed a medication that helps nerve pain and nerve pain caused from inflammation. It can cause depression so I have to be careful. It has helped with some of the odd pains I was having…..and therefore helping me sleep at night. Not perfect sleep, but better sleep. I’ll take it.

So, it’s June now and I am still working on my weight and building the muscles in my legs to support my knees. I can’t get the injections again for 6 months, but they won’t help anyway. I just have to keep trying different things to manage my pain.

Slowly but surely, I am moving forward. I had been stuck for 10 years trying to get help with no success. I was sinking deeper and deeper into depression and hopelessness. I am finally getting help and guidance, information and treatment!

Mistrust, Disgust & Humiliation, Part Two

Well, my appointment with the orthopedic specialist came and I’m glad it’s over! What started out as a consultation about my knees, turned into a fat-shaming session — in less than 5 minutes!

First, he asked me what he could do for me and I told him that my doctor had been telling me for years that I’m too young for knee replacement surgery but that I’m in severe pain and having mobility issues. I told him I need help.

He said, “Well, Debbie. You’re not too young for knee replacement surgery.” I felt good for a split second that I was finally going to get some help. Ha. Short lived. He added, “However, you’re not a good candidate for knee replacement because you’re too heavy.” See, less than 5 minutes.

If I’m such a risk why did I just have surgery last year? 

He continued to tell me how I needed to count calories and eat smaller portions. I sat there in total disbelief because this man has the balls to think he knows me?? I tried to explain to him that I have been struggling with my weight since my first child was born and I’ve not had much success in losing weight. He interrupted me to tell me I needed to eat less calories. I said, “If it were that simple I wouldn’t be fat right now, now would I?” He said, “Let me tell you a story and see if it makes sense to you, Debbie.” He proceeded to tell me about his sister, who was overweight and was suffering from knee pain. She was a widow and she ate out all the time. She didn’t cook for just herself. He said one day he went to visit her and she had lost a lot of weight. He asked her how she did it and she told him that she would get her food at restaurants, eat half and save the rest for lunch the next day. Of course it makes sense but….

I tried to tell him that I’ve been trying to get help losing weight multiple times because I just can’t seem to lose. I told him I think there’s something else going on. “Eat less calories,” he said. Seeing red! I told him that I can’t even exercise like I need to! “You don’t need to exercise to lose weight, Debbie!” I was getting angrier by the minute. I mean, sure you can lose weight without exercising but if you have too much extra weight and you don’t exercise you’re going to end up with loose skin hanging all over your body! Exercise and diet go hand in hand. Both are important – says every fitness and nutrition expert in the world! They can’t all be wrong!! Besides, it wasn’t just exercise that I couldn’t do. I was having trouble with daily activities! My knees are severely damaged! You just don’t realize how important your knees are until you can’t even pivot, or get up out of a chair!

I tried to tell this man, who has the bedside manner of Donald Trump, that I don’t eat the way he thinks I eat! He says, “I don’t think anything about you, Debbie.” I said, “Obviously you have this preconceived notion that I eat more than I should and that I eat a lot of calories!” He interrupted me, yet again. “Eat less calories, Debbie. Calories are the key.” I interrupted him this time and said, “Let me tell you what I eat!” I tried to explain to him that I drink lots of water, watch my sugar consumption, watch my portion sizes. I don’t eat fast food. I don’t eat a lot of processed crap. I don’t drink soda. I don’t eat dessert. I eat healthy foods and lots of veggies, especially salads, a lot of them. One day a week I go out and eat.” He still insists that I need to eat less calories. How many calories does a freakin’ vegetable salad have? GEEZ! 

I could feel that I was about to shut down. Nearly in tears I said, “Based on what you have told me here today, if my doctor would have sent me to see a specialist 6 years and 50 pounds ago, then I would have had the surgery and be on my feet walking again like I use to.” I said, “I use to be a cross-country backpacker and now I can’t even take a short walk to the mailbox!” He said, “Well, things are different now.”

I shut down before I could tell him that I ate veggie salads, grilled chicken, tuna and soups for the better part of 3 years – between gall bladder issues and my hiatal hernia repair surgery last year – because I couldn’t eat anything else without feeling bloated or having a phantom gallbladder attack. Do you want to know how much weight I lost doing that for nearly 3 years? 15 whole freakin’ pounds. 15!! Tell me there’s not something else going on…..

I stood my ground with this doctor for a lot longer than I thought possible. My therapist advised me beforehand not to shut down. I have a tendency to do that when I feel I am not being heard. What’s the point if you’re not being heard, right? Anyway, I found myself raising my voice numerous times, talking over this so-called doctor because he kept interrupting me. I could not believe how rude and insensitive he was. I had had enough.

When he got up to leave the room, he stuck his hand out to shake my hand. Not going there, doc. I told him to just get out so I could get dressed and leave.

Afterward, which was nearly 3pm, Dad and I went out to eat. We hadn’t eaten ALL DAY but I felt so ashamed and guilty for even thinking about eating! How dare someone make another human being feel that way! I used the restroom when we got to the restaurant and I felt like I was going to throw up. This man made me feel ashamed of myself, ashamed of what I look like, ashamed of who I am. He doesn’t know me, my struggles, or anything about me.

Doctors seem to only see black and white, or what they know and what they think they know. The only doctor I have ever had that actually helped me with my weight problem was the first one who actually looked a little deeper into what might be going on. He checked my thyroid, found it extremely low, put me on meds and I lost 35 pounds fairly quickly but then I hit a plateau and I moved away and now I’m stuck with donkey doctors.

I’m done with them all. I decided in a last ditch effort, I will try NutriSystem. I’ve tried just about every other diet on the planet except for the ones you have to pay for. Couldn’t afford it, still can’t, but I have to try. I start tomorrow.

 

A Helping of Thanks with Sarcasm on the Side

I would like to thank the medical profession for not helping me in the last 10 years. I don’t know how I could possibly live my life without pain.

A special thanks to my doctor, who has been telling me for years that I am too young for knee replacement surgery. This allowed the bone damage to worsen and the pain to increase, rendering me unable to work and to become more sedentary every year. I love the ‘fat me’ that I have become due to decreased activity.

I can’t forget to thank the referral doctor for the humiliation, which is good for the soul I’ve heard. Thanks for pointing out that I am fat. I would have never known that without your ‘help.’ I really appreciate the ‘fat shaming’ because without it I would have felt good about myself that day. Oh, and please pass more thanks on to my doctor because NOW I know that 50 lbs. ago I could have had knee replacement surgery regardless of my age. I really am happy that I’ve suffered all these years so you both could make sure your bedside manners, understanding, and compassion were top notch.

Special thanks to my best friend, fondly named Michael Cane, who has been faithfully by my side for the last 4 years. Without Michael, I would have fallen more than the 4 times I did. The embarrassment of those 4 times was more than enough times to make me feel hopeless.

Of course, I can’t forget Peter Pottywho has been my constant companion during the night. It’s nice when I don’t have to walk to the bathroom at 1am, 3am, and 5am when I have to pee.

**************

In all seriousness, I am thankful to wake up every morning, albeit with pain. I am thankful for a lot of things but it sure as hell isn’t the medical care I have received in the past 10 years!!! It’s no wonder people don’t go to the doctor. It’s no wonder they don’t trust doctors! I’m in that very same line now.

My Ordeal

It all started in January. I went to my regular doctor for my annual check up. Ladies, you know what I mean. Blood was drawn at this visit and the next day Doc calls me and tells me that my blood work results showed I was anemic. That explained the 2.5 hour naps I was taking every single day because I couldn’t keep my eyes open!

Doc went on to explain that since I no longer have a monthly period, there’s no reason for my iron level to be that low. She said there must be blood loss somewhere inside. She strongly suggested an EGD and a colonoscopy. I had been refusing a colonoscopy since I turned 50. Was this her way of making sure I did it, whether I wanted to or not? Perhaps.

I told her I thought it was probably my diet. She said, “No, not unless you’ve gone completely vegetarian.” She wouldn’t even entertain the thought that it was my diet. Was she assuming that because I’m overweight I must get enough to eat? She’s a doctor. Doesn’t she realize that many overweight people are actually undernourished? How can she say with all certainty that it’s not my diet? She doesn’t know what I eat or don’t eat!

She went on to tell me that I could have colon cancer, lymphoma, Crohn’s, or Celiac Disease. Way to go, Doc! Scare the crap out of me. Again — her way of making sure I have a colonoscopy? I was beginning to think so. Reluctantly, I agreed and an appointment was made. In the meantime, she told me to take an iron supplement.

Within a few days of taking the iron supplement, I started to notice a change. I wasn’t totally exhausted by 11:00 am every day. I started sleeping better. Apparently, lack of iron changes something in your brain and that causes insomnia…and I hadn’t slept well in months! Due to these changes, I knew the blood test was accurate.

I was still convinced that it was probably my diet. I didn’t eat breakfast, lunch was my biggest meal and consisted of a vegetable, meat (usually chicken) and sometimes a potato or pasta. Maybe I’d just have a salad made up of romaine lettuce, carrots, celery, and zucchini. I wasn’t eating beef, not much grains — not bread, not even cereal. I wasn’t eating beans. I wasn’t eating much spinach or other dark leafy greens. At dinner time, if I was hungry, I had crackers and cheese or I’d open a can of soup. Maybe for a snack later I’d have a handful of pretzels or a few Hershey’s mini candy bars. Not a very iron-rich diet you say? Riiiight! I also wasn’t taking in any vitamin C, which helps you to absorb the iron in your diet. Ever since my gallbladder surgery, if I ate certain things (beef, grains, some veggies, beans etc.) I would feel bloated and had major discomfort in my stomach. So, I stopped eating those things! I figured I didn’t need the carbs or calories anyway! I thought this was just the way it is after gallbladder surgery.

In a couple of weeks it was time for the dreaded colonoscopy. I was instructed to stop taking all supplements, and my pain medications one week prior to the EGD and colonoscopy. I knew this was going to be miserable because I NEED that pain medication! By day 4 I was in tears and in major pain. I couldn’t sit still, couldn’t walk much, couldn’t sleep. I was a basket case!!

Day of procedures came and I was not only in tremendous pain but my anxiety level was through the roof! I wanted this day to be over. I wanted to go home and take my pain meds and sleep for a week! The nurses and doctor performing the procedures were very nice and explained everything that was going to be done. They tried to make me comfortable because they knew I was in pain. My comfort was short lived.

I was given what they called a “Twilight” drug. It was suppose to put me in la-la land. I wasn’t going to know anything that was happening or remember anything afterward. The EGD would be performed first. A mouth guard was placed in my mouth so that I wouldn’t clamp down on the tube. The tube went down my throat —- I gagged and choked and thought I was going to choke to death! I didn’t think they would ever finish. I was horrified. The nurses did their best to talk me through it all but it wasn’t working. (I couldn’t help think, “why am I aware of this?”) When the tube came out I was relieved. Little did I know that it would go from bad to worse when they started the colonoscopy.

Bear with me now. I hate to remember the details. It was just too traumatic and it has taken me all these months to be able to sit down and actually write about my experience! I won’t go into great detail about the colonoscopy because I think you will get the picture.

The drugs were not working on me, which is why the EGD didn’t go very smoothly for me. The doctor gave me as much of the drug as he possibly could. The colonoscopy could not be finished. I was yelling for them to stop. I was being held down by 2 nurses and told, “Stop yelling” and “It’ll be over soon” and my favorite, “Relax!” — all while being violated!!! I swear if I had seen those 2 bitches afterward I would have kicked them in the face. Thank goodness the doctor stopped the procedure, none too soon if you ask me!

Afterward, the doctor was very apologetic and explained to me that it’s rare but sometimes that happens. My pain level coupled with my high anxiety just over-rode the drugs. I should not have remembered anything but I did! He also told me that I could have taken my pain medication and that he had been trying to tell the ladies in scheduling and registration that that particular drug was OK to take! As for the EGD, he told me that he had a hard time getting into my stomach because it seemed to be in the wrong place, up too high and also that it was shaped funny. Oh great. Now what kind of tests and procedures do I have to look forward to? He suggested an Upper GI. Nothing too scary, thank goodness. He also suggested that we re-do these procedures but that he would put me completely asleep next time. You’re damn right you will, IF — and that’s a really big IF — I decide to do it again at all!

So, I had nightmares for 2 weeks after this happened. It’s hard for me to even recall the details vividly – not that I can’t recall them, but because it’s just too traumatic! Imagine this happening to you! My brain KNOWS it wasn’t rape BUT my emotions tell me differently! I don’t blame the doctor. It wasn’t his fault. Anyway, it was done now and I had to worry about what was wrong with my stomach.

An Upper GI was scheduled and it wasn’t a big deal really. I drank some nasty chalky stuff and was able to see the x-ray of my own stomach as I swallowed. It was kind of cool! The doctor doing this test explained that what I had was an Para-esophageal Hiatal Hernia. Basically, my stomach was in my chest cavity! That explains why I felt such discomfort and bloating, and nearly pain at times, when I ate certain things!! I was told that the danger was that my stomach could twist and cut off it’s own blood supply — resulting in a EMERGENCY situation for me! Yikes!

An appointment was made for a consultation with a surgeon. He was very nice, had a good sense of humor and I felt comfortable with him. He explained what needed to be done and showed me photos as well. He also told me that I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to do. THAT was the very first time a doctor has ever said those words to me! I agreed that surgery was the best option and it was scheduled. I wasn’t too stressed. I had some anxiety but it was more about my insurance covering the surgery than the surgery itself! And the surgeon said I could continue taking my pain meds, and if I could stop taking them a couple days before the surgery that would be great, but if I can’t that’s ok too.

Surgery went well. I spent 2 days in the hospital and 3 weeks on special diets. The first week was a clear liquid diet. Second week, a full liquid diet. Third week, soft foods. After that it took a couple weeks to be able to eat without getting sick. I’m doing great now….. I’m eating my favorite foods again but I’m definitely trying to get all the necessary nutrients in my diet. Being more health conscious is easier said than done!

Stay tuned for the next installment: My Ordeal – The EGD/Colonoscopy ROUND 2