Thursday, June 20, 2013

Light at the end of the tunnel

It's been a month since I started treatment for my new reality. I've got a frequent flyer card at the hospital. Having standing orders for lab work every two weeks is all it took. I've figured out my daily medication dance - some I take in the morning, some I take on an empty stomach, some I have to take with food, some only at night. It's kind of crazy when I step back and look at it but I've gotten it down to almost second nature.

Last week I met with my kidney specialist to see how I'm responding to her treatment plan and figure out next steps. It was amazing to see what a difference my labs show after such a short amount of time. Kidneys still functioning perfectly, my proteinuria is down to 3 from 18 a month ago. My risk factor for long term decline is down to only a moderate chance. She also said that I'm no longer in danger of developing new blood clots and if I keep this up I should be all better in a few months and can taper off my meds. Best part: no more fluid restrictions and I can *try* running again and see how it goes. 

There was a little bump at the end of the week when I was so light headed and feeling sick at work that I went to the nurse and had my blood pressure checked. It was SUPER low so I went home and called the doctor. Apparently it was hot enough outside added to my higher dose of diuretic I've been taking that I was dehydrated. Drank some Gatorade and lowered my diuretic dose and I'm all better again.  

This week I met with my regular primary care doctor since it has been three months since we made our deal about going back on Coumadin - three months to the day as it turns out although I didn't do that on purpose. It just happened to be the day I ran out of my medication and I didn't want to refill that prescription again. He agrees that I've made enough progress that I can stop taking it. Hopefully forever this time! I've been celebrating with a huge salad every chance I've had because I can eat whatever greens I want to again. 

It's no secret I'm into natural and alternative medicine and I wonder how much the essential oils I've added to my daily regiment have aided in this quick turn around from diagnosis to now. I look at it that they are all natural and they can't hurt so why not add it to my mainstream medicine regiment. If it helps, I've gained speed toward good health; and if it doesn't it won't hurt anything by trying. After all the research and how much better I feel when I use them, I believe it is helping so I'm sticking with it.

Here's to summer and improved health. Although I could do without the heat outside, I'm certainly not complaining about anything in my life right now.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Five Stages of Grief

I kind of knew about this whole five stages of grief theory because years ago there was a cartoon giraffe that people sent around in email (this was before the days of 'sharing' on Facebook) but I had no idea it was real. However, I've been through them all and can tell you they are very very real... I wish I'd had the foresight to save that little cartoon so I could insert it here but alas I didn't. Here's how the stages have played out for me now that I have the benefit of hindsight.

Denial - this happened many times. I denied there was even anything wrong before I finally went to see the doctor with both lungs halfway blocked with blood clots. Happened again when my legs started swelling up and I didn't mention it until it was impeding my ability to do yoga. In the overall scheme of things, I think I excel at this one the very most! How about when I was so sick I ended up in the ER for five hours but was still planning on going to spend twelve hours at a dance competition. "I'M FINE!"

Anger - This one was kind of overshadowed but I know I was mad for several weeks in my initial treatment when I had to give up all my favorite foods because of my blood thinners. I think I could have gotten my dose regulated far sooner had I not insisted on still eating broccoli at least a couple of times a week. I was also briefly but epically here right after my final diagnosis when I declared to the Universe that this shit wasn't going to stop me...

Bargaining - I bargained with my doctor when he wanted to put me back on Coumadin when we realized I hadn't stayed on it long enough initially for my clots to be dissolved. He was nice enough to humor me with my bargaining antics. Probably because I'm super duper good at it!

Depression - this one was the most marked for me since I've never suffered with depression. When it became clear there were more things going on with me than a silly little blood clot that would eventually go away I got really depressed. It didn't help that I had ballooned up an extra thirty pounds of water weight in three weeks so on top of dealing with a long-term illness I was super bloated with nothing that fit. Literally. Anyone would be depressed at that point!

Acceptance - I've gained this level in the last couple of weeks. Treatment options are working and I'm getting better and better every day. Yes, I have kidney disease that will never go away, but I'm okay and I can still do pretty much everything I want to. I've had to give up running for a time, but I still have yoga and I can swim and play tennis which I'm going to incorporate more of this summer to stay active. The best part is that I didn't die and chances are I'll never be worse than I was at my most depressing time if my treatment plan continues to work well.

Now that you've seen how things played out with me... I used my overachiever skills and my advanced youtube searching capabilities and found the giraffe video! It is just as funny years later although for more personal and ironic reasons. Here it is for your viewing enjoyment:

So, life, what's the next chapter for me?