Unable to Eat

I was feeling good. Really good and beginning to actually function. I was hungry occasionally, tolerating sun, able to accomplish more, losing water weight, less pain, and more energy. I was feeling more confident about my treatment plan and relived that my efforts were paying off. I had visited family to help out with an emergency. Than of course, went back home. The following morning I felt a bit off. I thought I just over did it a little. However, by the following morning it was clear something was wrong once again.

I began out of no where vomiting. To be clear I never vomit with any of my chronic illnesses. I had the runs. Unable to eat and barely able to drink. I ran an extra bag of Saline fluids because it was a Saline day thankfully. I toughed it out all weekend. Finally giving in I went to the Emergency Room only to be “accidentally” sent home. I continued to get worse each day. I began having palpitations, chest pain, all my pain was intolerable by this time, and unable to eat more than two crackers at a time. Due to vomiting I missed all my meds, vitamins, and supplements for about two weeks. On the bright side I’m certain now this plan works.

I have never had to go to the emergency room twice in one week. I was hesitant and frustrated. It was not a smooth trip by any means. In fact, the doctor only agreed to treat me and admit me once my gastros office yelled at her for saying I should just be sent home. I had seen this ER doctor one other time for a mast cell reaction. She didn’t understand it or want to call my doctor so told me I was over reacting. #RareDiseaseStruggle

Finally, I was admitted, as I said. However, no one had much direction on what to do other than offer me food and some encouragement to try to eat. If I had energy it would have been tempting to yell at someone because if all I needed to do was try some food I wouldn’t need to stay in the hospital! They ran basic labs, a stool test, ultra sound, and part of a colonoscopy. They yielded results but nothing that gave them direction for treatment. My body was starving when I was admitted and left. I had half a dozen stones, low blood sugar, a broken cyst, and low vitamin levels. I slept in the beginning about 20 plus hours a day. In perspective I never nap.

This was by far the most frustrating hospital admission I ever had. While waiting for my scope I turned on worship music and just cried from the pain. I had to try to think ahead as most times it took about an hour if I needed anything.  When I got to my hospital room I struggled flushing the toilet from being weak.

37069872_10217130570443113_1317344401864785920_n.jpg

Finally I could get in a few bites of soup. So they allowed me to go home because no one was sure what else to do.

So why can’t I eat suddenly? Well, I have of course a well thought out theory. I believe I either got food poisoning or a virus. Due to this I was unable to keep my steroids in so I encountered a mild adrenaline crisis. Additionally, mild flare up of UC, EDS, POTS, and Lupus. To top it all off I have my suspicions that some sort of a mild motility disorder is going on as an overlapping illness with the EDS, Mast cell, and POTS trio.

My days currently are spent with my pets as I try to finish my bachelors degree. I attempt to stimulate appetite and eat extremely small meals. So far I am down about 18 pounds. Outside of that it is mainly resting. There’s not much you want to do when always running on empty.

My goal is to get back in all my meds and supplements because they have been life changing for me. No I have not acquired a magic pill but just another tool to add to my tool box. I follow up with my PCP this week and will be discussing the possibility of a UTI. Furthermore, bring up once again the fact that I am in pain when I eat still. I will see someone who works with my gastro and see if we make any progress. At this time, my doctors are against TPN. However, soon I am getting a PICC line Finally placed for my fluids.

I have 100% seen improvement just to be clear but improvement doesn’t mean I never have set backs. Everyone with an illness has ups and downs. I know in my heart this could have been much worse than it was. I will be working on getting out info on the elements of my plan that help me so much. Additionally keep an eye out soon for a transitioning home from the hospital post.

For when I am weak the Lord is my strength. My provider. My everything. Praise Him in every storm. I am beyond thankful for those He has placed in my life as support. He embraces me when things feel like a nightmare and provide comfort. He has chosen not to heal me but to hold me and I will praise His name forevermore 

Advertisements

Hospital Part 2

Part two more or less of my hospital stay. I apologize it is all over the place.

I had two strange nose bleeds. I have had more nose bleeds in my life than I can count but these were different. My second one happen 4 am. I got blood everywhere in my bathroom, it poured out uncontrollably. I am anemic currently so I feel that it is related.

20160104_193308

I had a repeat colonoscopy last Tuesday.  The picture above is my special drink. I usually do Miralax for colonoscopies. I found this solution to work quicker, be less painful, and taste somewhat better. I did get dizzy.  This one is called go lightly. I got the solution late in the day and was still nauseated so my nurse told me to drink as much as I could without making myself sick. I got more than half down.

I had been given my insomnia medication the night before the scope. I usually don’t take it at home and I had forgotten why until I had an emotional meltdown directly after the scope. I didn’t get much sleep the night before and woke up too soon after the scope. I wasn’t crying because my colon has healed somewhat. I was crying because I was scared of not being taken seriously and being taped in this abdominal flare up. I know the pain levels need to come down in order for me to function better. Apparently not everyone understands that humans have emotions. Someone had told my mom that I need a psychiatrist. I get extremely irritated when people dismiss me or downplay my pain and symptoms.

I believe that crying can be helpful in coping with an illness and life in general. Medication can also play into emotions. I have had people tell me I need a better attitude when I am doubling over in pain at the doctors office. No one smiles 24/7.

The IV fluids were my best friend. It makes a huge difference. I ran low-grade fevers off and on as well.

20160106_162747

I was discharged late on the 6th. I have only been home a few days, my body is still trying to adjust. Last night I wasn’t able to sleep. I started having IBS/IBD symptoms 4 am. Therefore, Saturday was  difficult. I had a lot of nausea. I couldn’t take any of my meds until 1 pm. The doctor had been talking about readmitting me, but I don’t feel that is necessary at this point.

I see a newish Gastro Friday. We are hopeful that she will be able to help. I am still randomly bruising and bleeding. I am able to eat some. Grateful for the small improvements. Thank you to everyone who prayed for me when I was in the hospital.

 

Six Months

Today is my six month anniversary from being admitted to the hospital where I fought for my life. In addition, it has been six months since I have been in urgent care or the ER. This is the longest time I have stayed out of the ER or urgent care in seven or eight years. I never thought I would be able to say that I stayed out of urgent care for so long. Things have slowed down with my health. During my last major flare up typically I had a doctors appointment, medical testing, infusion, or an urgent care trip at least once a week. It was time consuming and draining.  I feel extremely blessed and grateful to be where I am now. I am also grateful for the medical professionals who cared for me, helped me, and continue to be on my case.

Hitting rock bottom with my health at the hospital was daunting. I can vividly recall, a chatter box doctor going over my medical history and medications several times. Then explaining I shouldn’t be in pain and implying that I should be in much worse condition (not that a 10 on the pain scale is in good condition). No one enjoys hitting rock bottom, but it was a blessing and a turning point. Though there are many negatives associated with steroids, they saved my life. Now they are helping me get stronger and hopeful begin to live again. (Yes, I am tapering.) I know I have said it before, but it is worth repeating, being admitted to the hospital was a blessing.

It is mind blowing for me to be able to say I have not stepped foot in urgent care in six months. I am beyond excited. Today, I am celebrating this victory. My mom and I are spending sometime together. She has been my caregiver and source of support and strength so I am blessed to be able to spend the day with her.

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

1.The illness I live with is: My main illness is Lupus. I have autoimmune and an additional half dozen.
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2013
3. But I had symptoms since: Childhood.

196732_1956236312316_16177_n
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: Not being able to be in the sun not being able to be on my feet for to long.
5. Most people assume: That I’m healthy, faking, or lazy. That I don’t do anything productive on a regular day.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: Being dehydrated. Dizzy spells.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: Diagnosis Me
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My heating pad.
9. The hardest part about nights are: Getting to sleep & saying asleep.
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No rude comments, please) Currently about 15. I also do chemo, self-injections, once a week. Please no rude comments, but feel free to privately ask me about my treatment plan! =]

11888051_935586879797869_2349040824378437850_n
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: I have tried a lot of different treatments. Currently in regards to alternative treatments I maintain a healthy diet, aroma therapy, and keep stress levels down. A lot of ‘natural’ treatments can be risky for my combination of illnesses.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I don’t prefer one over the other. Most days I my illnesses are 110% invisible. I have worn braces or used walking devices and some people are just as judgmental. You’re too young to use that.
13. Regarding working and career: It is difficult that I cannot work right now. I am a full time college student and patient.

dog_glasses1

14. People would be surprised to know: I am busy despite my illness. I try to be transparent about it in hopes that others can open up about their illness. In no way am I looking for sympathy I want to encourage, support, and educate others.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: I need to rest and slow down.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Achieve a 4.0 GPA.

20150426_223046
17. The commercials about my illness: Ha. They are great… now only if the TV would play them…
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: I miss being normal. Doing normal activities like going out with friends, mission work, and being outside especially in the sun.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: Doing mission work and being outdoors for extended periods of time (AKA on a sunny day more than 5-10 minutes)
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Running a Facebook page, a blog, coloring, and crocheting.
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Something outdoors, maybe visit the ocean…One day mission trip? So many possibilities!
22. My illness has taught me: To cherish every moment.

11953249_10207567457774521_5366497583257886666_n
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: You don’t look sick.
24. But I love it when people: Listen. And are supportive.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: So many to choose from! I love, “The Lord will Fight for you, you need only to be still” Exodus 14:14

containing-814579_640
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: To educate themselves. Allow yourself to grieve and to adjust to Lupus. Learning to pace yourself is key. You will inspire so many people!
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: How rude some people are, especially those in the medical field.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Spend time with me and being supportive. Don’t under estimate the power of a simple short conversation or a gentle hug.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Weekbecause: I feel obligated to share my story and assist others with chronic illness in any way possible. My hope is that others will be encouraged, learn, and find support through my openness. I am bursting with excitement for invisible illness awareness week. I hope you will join me in learning about invisible illnesses, celebrating those who have overcome obstacles their illness has presented, and sharing inspiring stories. Together we can put a stop to the assumptions of invisible illness. We can make invisible illness visible. https://chronicallyhopeful2014.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/invisible-illness-awareness-week/

askme

 30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Excited.

blogger-badge03

Stomach Flares & Food Battles

56631647

I have struggled with eating, due to my stomach for years. I found out I have an allergy to dairy at nine years old. Adjusting to that was a challenge because I loved dairy, but I adjusted fairly well. Growing up I was always on the thin side. Not under weight, just thin, until I hit high school. It is hard to remember if my stomach issues began again Freshman or Sophomore year. My health declined in high school, it is difficult to recall which symptom began when.

I was never a big eater but I ate enough. Then I began having difficulty eating. I would live in the bathroom from eating. I could not pin point one group of food though. It was food in general. In the beginning the stomach flare ups were every few months. Then the flare ups got closer and closer together and the pain became more sever. Before Prednisone, the flare ups began to scare me a bit. I was under weight. I could not believe my eyes when I saw my own picture… I looked like a skeleton. I am a tall girl, 5’8” to be exact. If I was shorter weighing 100 pounds wouldn’t be so bad. I knew that losing weight was dangerous at that point. I did everything in my power to maintain my weight. I tried eating every few hours and included high calorie things in my diet. It was a battle to maintain my weight.  When I began my relationship with Prednisone, I continued losing weight. Now on 60 mg I gained a couple of pounds, mainly moon face.

2013-05-26 001 021

In the beginning I thought I had IBS. As time flowed by, I knew it wasn’t IBS. My symptoms got drastically worst last year. Going to the bathroom 30 times a day and having bloody stool. The Gastro I saw order the wrong tests and offered no insight. I felt hopeless with my abdominal issues. The intense pain and stomach flares continued. I knew there was something wrong. I never fit nicely into diagnostic criteria. If I had a penny every time I heard, “You are complicated,” You are different,” Well I’ve never seen a case like this before,” or “I have no idea,” I would be rich or at least have enough money to buy all my college text books. Being unique medically is frustrating. No one wants to be one in a million medically,  but with some of my stuff I am. I had previously seen a Gastro who I loved, however going back was not an option. He wanted to help me but the office did not have the equipment or advanced testing ability.

I was frustrated and irritated with Gastros. I coped the best I could with the flares. About six months ago I began having extreme abdominal swelling. It was not bloating. I  would get so swollen that I looked at least six months pregnant. This was a red flag. I was advised by several doctors to go back to Gastro. Reluctantly I did so. The doctor told me I have IBS, ran a breath test, and offered no treatment plan or advice. This was not the outcome I had hoped for.

A few days before getting admitted to the hospital I suspected a stomach flare up. When you feel a flare coming on you always hope and pray that your wrong and it was a false alarm. But sadly I know my body too well. When I suspect something 99% of the time I am right. Which is a blessing and a curse.

In the ER, the day I got admitted, sure enough a stomach flare hit and it hit hard. I am blessed that they admitted me. I don’t know how I would have coped with that stomach flare at home. Fluids intravenously are a life saver! They are truly under estimated. If you follow my blog or Chronically Hopeful on FB you know how the story goes, I got diagnosed in the hospital with IBD. Part of the reason for my ulcerative colitis is lack of blood flow to my intestines. Some blame this completed on Lupus. Me? I believe it is a lovely combination of Lupus and POTS.

The picture at the top of this post is exactly how I feel, “Look at all this food, I can’t eat.” I saw a  dietitian in the hospital. She was nice, but honestly not helpful. No one has been much help when it comes to my diet. They tell me everything I can’t eat but don’t give any suggestions of what to eat. Actually one of the doctors in the hospital told me that they weren’t considered about me eating, it wasn’t a priority. No offense but I think (especially with POTS) that eating is important.

There are a handful of foods that are my ‘safe’ foods. Eating is a challenge. I am not allowed to have fiber, whole grains, or dairy. I need to limit protein.  I get frustrated often when I need to eat, because of the simple fact I don’t know what to eat. The healthy foods I enjoyed eating are now off-limits like salad. I have been trying the past few years to improve my diet, eating less processed foods more fruit and vegetables. Now I can’t do that. A lot of vegetables are too hash on my stomach because of the ulcers. Sometimes I feel like eating but I am hardly ever truly hungry. I eat because I know I need to, my body needs food.

Trying a new food is a game. The doctor told me to try stuff and if you have intense pain and live in the bathroom don’t eat it again. I try to reintroduce foods one at a time every other day to every few days. This way I know if a particular food bothers me and I am not completely miserable (hopefully). I have to admit, at times I eat stuff I know will make my stomach hurt because I don’t know what else to eat. Prednisone cravings do not help.

download

Today, I tried something new and I regret it. I was annoyed because I was feeling pretty good until I ate lunch. Good days have been hard to come by. So when I have a decent day I love to take full advantage of it. Right now, eating something that upsets my system not only gives me a stomach ace but a back ace and severe weakness.

Last week I followed up with a Gastro that works with the Gastro I saw in the hospital. Sadly I had to switch due to the doctor not taking my insurance. Thankfully I ran into the Gastro I had in the hospital and he will be speaking with the new one. I feel much better about things this way. In a week I am going back to the OR for an upper endoscopy. Hopefully, after this I can stay out of the OR for a bit. I am not expecting them to find much, due to the fact I am on a lot of Prednisone. I know what to expect, this will be my third upper endoscopy.

Of course I am grateful for decent moments and days. I am hoping one of these flares will calm down soon. Hope you are doing well. Wishing you pain-free days, filled with blessings. Sending spoons, prayers, and hugs ❤

Brief Update & Summer

Originally I had a lot of blog posts plan for May and Lupus awareness month. Sadly, due to being in the hospital and trying to recover from it, I haven’t been able to blog at all. My body is still drained. I have been battling a lot of weakness and pain still. Sadly my treatment plan has been impacted by my hospital visit. I am no longer on  methotrexate or Benlysta. Not having those meds have negatively impacted me. Currently, I am on a lot of Prednisone. I am thankful for the help from it, but like anyone else I look forward to eventually coming off of it. I do really well on Prednisone in general. The only side effects I encounter are moon face, minor mood swings, trouble sleeping at times, and I clean a lot on it. In perspective, it is excellent. It has also helped me maintain my weight. My weight has stayed the same despite not eating for ten days. I am still seeing a lot of doctors and going through medical testing. Usually one or the other weekly.

Getting my strength back has been a challenge. I feel extremely run down; like I am dragging my body each time I move. I have had to rest so much due to the extreme weakness. Some days I feel as though the only thing I do is rest. It is frustrating.

Yesterday, I finally completed all my work for the semester. I am thrilled. My hope is to be able to work a lot more on my blog now. I am relived to be on break. There is not much I can do this summer due to my health. Because of my Lupus I get extremely sick from the sun which limits me. I will be utilizing my summer to prepare for the fall. I will be going away to school. The school is about an hour from my house, close to other family, and closer to my doctors. I am extremely excited. I have already begun ordering my text books for the fall semester. I enjoy going ahead with my school work. I find it works out best this way if I have a bad day I can rest more without it interfering with my school work. My plan is to read and outline as much as possible for my classes and to listen to related lectures on YouTube. I also have a nice pile of books to read for fun.

Hopefully, I will go back to posting regularly on here. My apologizes for not posting much, especially about Lupus awareness month. Thank you for your understanding. Sending lots of spoons, prayers, and hugs.

Share in the comments your plans for the summer.

The Blessing of Pain

Returning home from the hospital is a breath of fresh air, however it comes with countless diverse challenges. I tend to forget that being in the hospital demands a lot from my body. Though I feel as though all I did was rest, it is actually the conservatoire. The dehydration and lack of nutrition take a toll on the body. Not to mention daily blood work, new medications, antibiotics, cat-scans, and additional testing. Despite the weakness, towards the end of my stay at the hospital I attempted to walk up and down the hall a few times a day. My strength is still oceans away.

Being admitted to the hospital has drained all of my strength. My to do list swarms my cluttered mind. I desperately want to go back to ‘normal’, but I know if I push too hard too fast my body will not forgive me. Regaining some sort of balance and normalcy is a moment by movement struggle. It is hard to determine if I am pushing myself too hard or not hard enough.  #Spoonie Life Struggles

Of course, it is the end of the semester. Therefore losing ten days is drastic. I am usual complete my school work weeks ahead of time. I hate having assignments hanging over my head. Being behind in school work is a nightmare for me.

After leaving the hospital I reflect as much as my weary mind allows me to about the days before being admitted, the stay, and life in general. I can’t help, but acknowledge the blessing of pain. The blessing of pain sounds bazaar, for lack of a more fitting word. No one enjoys being in pain, it is absolutely miserable. But, God gave us pain for a reason, ultimately it will bring glory to His name and sometimes it is a life savor. Intense pain is a red flag scream, “HEY WAKE UP, SOMETHING IS WRONG.” Many times being a spoonie I ignore these sings. Discerning what is urgent is difficult.

I was informed the night that I was admitted, normal people do not have any signs of high liver enzymes. Normal people experience no pain. However, personally the liver complications nearly broke the pain scale. My pain was without a doubt a ten out of ten.

Honestly, that entire day is a blur, I could not think straight and was consumed with symptoms, pain, and the worst weakness. I nearly feel asleep talking to people at church, which is out of character for me. The Lord truly blessed me though my pain that day. If it wasn’t for the weakness, pain, and my mom I could have encountered permit damage. The negative possibilities spelled out to me were shocking. No one knows how my enzymes rocked up so high then crashed at the speed of light, none of it made logical sense. Without a doubt my condition would have been much worse. It is hard to swallow the pill of beauty and blessings through our pain. “ Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5. 

The Lord is faithful and he always provides. He graciously pours out countless blessings in our lives, but we fail frequently to acknowledge them or to understand them. The Lord uses everything for his glory. He can turn our worst pain into His greatest blessing.