Posts

Showing posts from January, 2015

Weighing Our Options

Image
Part 2 of 3 about my most recent blood clotting ordeal. Go here for part 1 . Dr. Foley ordered an echocardiogram bubble test to check if there was a hole in my heart between the two upper chambers. It's actually a common occurrence that affects upwards of 25% of the population and is referred to as PFO, or Patent Foramen Ovale. It can lead to a DVT (deep vein thrombosis clot) moving from the venous side of the heart to the arterial side which appears to possibly be what happened in my case. Without a PFO, the chances for a DVT posing a stroke risk just aren't there. The clot moves via the veins back to the heart and into the lungs where it's stopped and results in a pulmonary embolism or PE. Where a PFO is present, the clot may migrate to the arterial side of the heart and work its way to the brain and cause a stroke or it may become lodged in any number of places as the clot is carried along via the arteries. In my case, a clot became wedged in the popliteal artery.

I'll Be a Few Hours Late

Image
Where to begin? I'm finally home after my longest stay ever (4 nights) in a hospital and it's so nice to be back. I've been having more clotting issues related to my Factor V Leiden condition and once again they nearly got the best of me. I had noticed some cramping in my feet for the past several weeks as well as some pain in my lower left leg when I'd try and workout. It became so debilitating Sunday morning that I couldn't even walk on the treadmill for two minutes at a speed of 1 mph. There was a sharp pain in my shin that was now radiating to my calf which felt exactly like a lactic acid burn when muscles are overworked and starved for oxygen. Because the pain had been more toward the front of my leg I put off any thoughts that it was clot-related but now that it was migrating toward my calf, I was reconsidering. I went up to talk with Tammy about what I was experiencing and she insisted I head over to Ridges ER in Burnsville to have it looked at. She'

Some Thoughts of Mine to Someday Look Back On

Image
There's a quote that says “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Maybe 'fascism' is a little strong, maybe not, but it's a swipe at where I see too many conservatives today as they brandish their guns and bibles while caught up in a wave of nationalism that carries them along in a most peculiar display of unquestioning loyalty for a cause that is out of focus and offers them little other than fear in return. I don't get it. There's been lots of discussion on social media this week about Clint Eastwood's new movie American Sniper based on the life of Chris Kyle. I have little to no desire to see it. Perhaps in my other life I'd have been singing its praises along with so many other Christians who can't seem to get enough of this sort of thing but I've moved on. Sorry for sounding so harsh but the way the Christian faith has been hijacked in this country is more than a little unsettling to me. R

Cluster Headache Follow-up

Image
I've been feeling desperate to come off the prednisone and not surprisingly, I got too aggressive with my tapering plan and made a mess of my headaches yesterday. I was at 42mg on Monday and stepped down to 37mg on Tuesday and 32mg yesterday. That was too much and it resulted in a day full of headaches that didn't even respond to my oxygen therapy. I recovered nicely though and only had one headache during the night. We saw Dr. Sethna this morning for my two-week follow-up. It seemed to us like he was trying to find some sort of correlation or common thread for why my headaches are happening but there really is none. I told him that I felt "They happen because they happen". Considering that I'm more prone to my headaches at night while I'm sleeping, he wanted to make a case for this being a melatonin issue. He said that melatonin is suppressed by the body during daylight and that it enters the bloodstream when you're in a dark environment and that perh

And So I Endure

Image
I'm at my wits end with these headaches, having been so beaten down by them. Each night is one of frustration and maddening pain as I'm drawn away from my sleep every 90 minutes by stabbing pain behind my left eye. I stumble my way over to the oxygen tank to turn on the flow to the regulator as I press the mask to my face and take long steady breaths. It typically takes 15 to 20 minutes for relief to come. I'll hold the pose for several minutes after the pain is gone before entering the headache data in my pain journal on my phone and crawling back into bed to try and resume the sleep I so desperately need. This interrupted sleep pattern I find myself in has left me perpetually tired and feeling not at all my normal, mostly pleasant self. I was on the edge of my bed 5 times last night, rocking and moaning in pain: at 12:48, 2:25, 4:00, 5:29 and 7:01. Just fucking ridiculous! No doubt I can hear people saying after reading this "just retire already!" Yeah, I

Some Sounds from the Past

Image
I spent some time this past week getting more familiar with my Panasonic Lumix Tammy bought me for Christmas. It's my 3rd variation of this camera that I've had in the last 7 years or so. I like them. There's so much it can do and it's not enough to be just a little bit familiar with its many abilities. I want to be able to quickly navigate the menu to get the desired result without too much fumbling around. That's going to take practice and more time spent with the manual, actually getting all the way through it. I'm very impressed with the Intelligent Zoom mode. I took this photo out of our window from about 18-20 feet away. My experience with other digital zooms is that photo quality quickly suffers using them so I avoid them. Not this one. I'm listening to some long lost music from my album collection as I blog; specifically the Bellamy Brothers! Nope, I'm not much for country but I love every song on this album, the one featuring their song Let

Oxygen Therapy for Cluster Headaches

Image
I called in sick to work on Saturday, Sunday and today. I'd like to make it in for tomorrow's early morning shift but it's looking doubtful. My headaches are still plaguing me quite a lot but it's mostly just at night while I'm asleep and first thing in the morning after waking up. It leaves me very tired not being able to sleep through the night with each headache requiring me to get up and don my oxygen mask for the 20 to 30 minutes it takes for the headache to pass. I started using oxygen one week ago today. I didn't try it sooner because the regimen for fighting my cluster headaches was working: daily prednisone of whatever amount is necessary coupled with 20 mg of Imitrex nasal spray for the occasional breakthrough headache but that's no longer working for me. The oxygen tanks are delivered directly to our home by a van from Alina. I inhale the pure healing air at a rate of 15 liters per minute through what's called a non-rebreather mask; a ma

Not At All The Way I Wanted To Go Out

Image
I woke up yesterday feeling so good. I slept through the night without the interruption of a headache and without any foreshadows of one. I was feeling as good as I've felt in a while, attributing it to the series of shots the doctor gave me in the back of my scull the previous afternoon. It wasn't until 2:00 in the afternoon that I felt the tug behind my left eye of an approaching cluster headache. I hesitated a little to make certain but then headed upstairs to sit beside my size M oxygen tank to find relief. It came quickly. No worries. I would have a couple more episodes like that later in the evening but nothing that caused me any real concern. I had to venture out to Walgreens around 5:00 to pick up a prescription for a testosterone patch that my doctor wants me to try. While waiting in the drive-thru he called to inquire as to how I was doing. I told him the good news and he seemed quite pleased. I said that I think it was the steroid he injected me with that helped bu

With 100% Certainty!

Image
Tammy has spent the last couple of days getting her new sewing room organized. I had no idea it would be this involved. She's going through all of her crafting things located in the den and reorganizing them for storage in her sewing room. I hadn't imagined it would be this involved but it is and once she gets it done it's going to be a great space for her to work in. Good for her. I'm happy we did this and just in time for her pending retirement in April. Speaking of her retirement; she picked up a pesky virus on her computer downloading a countdown widget for her retirement date. I finally got rid of it but it was much more of a hassle than it should've been to find the solution. I ended up uninstalling her Google browser and all of the associated files then downloaded a clean version. Fixed! But back to her retirement and her idea of a countdown timer. No viruses are possible with this version! I swore last year when I bid my schedule and vacation for this

My Meeting with a Neurologist

Image
My cluster headache phase has been out of control for the past two days with headaches occurring upwards of more than 8 times a day. That's just unheard of for me. I saw my primary care physician Monday afternoon and he wasn't happy with me because of the amount of prednisone I've been using. My regular doctor (Dr. John Gay) retired more than a year ago and I've not yet found anyone I'm comfortable with to take his place. As best he could, Dr. Gay appreciated the crippling pain associated with cluster headaches and would go out of his way to see that I got the meds I needed to minimize the pain of my headache phases throughout the years. If that meant using more prednisone than he'd like to see me use then so be it. Living with the pain of cluster headaches is no option either. The doctor I saw on Monday is a by-the-book sort and he does not color outside the lines. He offered me pain meds to get through the cycle but I told him that those would be of no val

Breaking Point

Image
I had the worst night of my life two nights ago while at work due to cluster headaches that would not stop. I had contemplated calling in sick for the shift earlier in the day because I was feeling off but I figured I'd be fine. It wasn't because of headaches. I got to work feeling good and ready for the all-night shift. Everything was going well until around 11:05 when I was preparing to go back into the sector and let Jason out so he could go home. I could sense a headache developing. I didn't want to burn through an Imitrex so I let it ride to make sure the pain I was feeling was the real deal. It wouldn't be until I was standing behind Jason in the sector before I knew it was. He unplugged and left the area while I quickly unpackaged an Imitrex spray and shot it into my nose, inhaling it deeply for the quickest relief possible. The relief never came. I struggled through the next hour of steady but routine traffic, trying to focus through the sharp pain behind my

Cluster Headaches

Image
I'm in the throes of my worst cluster headache phase ever. If you're unfamiliar with what a cluster headache is,  this video will give you a very good idea. This, at times, is my reality. Cluster headaches, also referred to as suicide headaches have been described as the worst pain known to man. They're worse than a migraine or childbirth or a severed limb. If you've ever had an ice-cream headache where there's a terrific pain behind one eye for 20 seconds, you have a bit of an appreciation for what a cluster headache feels like except the pain lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. They're called cluster headaches because they come in clusters. In my case, they typically last 4 weeks and during those 4 weeks, I'll usually get only 1-2 headaches each week provided my doses of prednisone are doing their part to keep them at bay. After the headache phase has passed I'll often be free of them for anywhere between 12-20 months. I'm not sure what