Downward Spiral

If you read about my non-conversation with a haughty school secretary, you might remember I had a bit of a mild cold, but NOT Covid.

Well…on Saturday night the landscape changed. I started to run a low grade fever, went to bed, woke up wracked with chills and my temp had climbed to 102. I was nauseous and developed a very ugly, very productive cough (TMI, I know.)

With my asthma and history of viral lung infections, I had an idea that I now had a secondary bacterial infection.

All day Sunday I tried to lower my temp with acetominophen since I can’t take ibuprofen but my chest wasn’t feeling particularly great.

Early Monday morning I was able to schedule a video appointment with the doc who ordered a chest x-ray.

And just like that, the diagnosis was bilateral pneumonia!

Doc said I was very lucky. My proactive attention to the symptoms stopped me from having to be hospitalized, that’s how bad it was becoming.

That is my WORST nightmare, for sure. With a mom for a nurse, I’ve heard too many horror stories to want to end up at the mercy of strangers, no matter how talented or dedicated they may be to the craft of nursing.

Being hospitalized also triggers memories of my son’s near death experience and I literally can’t stand the smell or the bright lights or the constant sounds.

So now I’m taking two kinds of antibiotics which I also hate because I don’t tolerate them well, but no steroids because I have even worse reactions to them. I’m also taking probiotics because I definitely don’t want to contract C-difficile, which is what my son suffered from AFTER his surgery. We almost lost my precious boy twice.

How it went so quickly from a slight sore throat and congestion to full blown pneumonia in two days, I’ll never know.

There’s always a silver lining though, right? At least the x-rays showed no pleural effusion or pneumothorax and the cardiomediastinal silhouette is stable. (You medical professionals will know this is good news.)

But the real life lesson here is to never stop being your own best medical advocate. I’m only giving myself permission to have one more day of feeling poorly (and slightly sorry for myself.)

I See You. Eye Health. Seriously.

Every year I have a checkup with a specialist because I had a torn retina in my left eye in 2014 and a vitreous fluid issue in 2016 in my other eye that so far hasn’t deteriorated. (Knock on wood.)

I thought I had previously written a post about this medical condition but I couldn’t find it which is odd yet timely because I have my annual appointment on Friday to check my retinas. I don’t like ambiguity and their high tech equipment calms my anxiety.

I was told that my severe myopia was the leading cause of my retinal tear. I also believe that the crazy stress I endured because of my son’s life threatening medical condition and subsequent emergency surgery contributed to the tear, but I can’t find any facts to back up my theory. However, we know stress can do crazy things to our body, right?

In my case, I knew what it was the exact moment I saw the white flashes (Photopsia) that didn’t disappear if my eyes were open or closed. A family member was an ophthalmologist and I had worked for him during high school and college thinking I might like to go to med school, but I didn’t really want to spend another decade cooped up in classrooms. And then there was my nemesis, organic chemistry…

I called my eye doctor after hours to explain what I saw; he told me to come in at 7am the following morning, no appointment needed, and by the end of the day I had been referred to and had already been seen by a specialist who confirmed that it was a retinal tear. Laser surgery was scheduled for the next day.

My advice is not to delay seeking medical attention when you see flashes.

I won’t lie; the laser repair is the most painful procedure I’ve ever endured, worse than my C-section when the anesthetic wore off as my OB was suturing me (REALLY) and worse than a poorly done root canal. It was like a thousand sharp knives were stabbing my brain. Some people just feel a dull ache/discomfort and they’re the lucky ones.

The bright lights leave you blind for a brief period after it’s all done. For the first 72 hours after the surgery, you can’t read ANYTHING, no computer, nothing –because the eye has to stay stable and not track back and forth in order for the laser treatment to fully seal the tear. I had to sit up and could only watch TV. My friend brought books on tape to listen to, which was great. Yoga and weight lifting and jumping and pushups and plank were prohibited for about a month to reduce any pressure and inhibit healing. That drove me crazy too, but I still limit my downward dogs because I don’t like how it feels when I keep my head down. I’m scared it’s going to happen again.

As painful as it was, I’d prefer that to the repair options for a total detachment which can take place in a hospital and can involve a gas bubble insertion and/or a scleral buckle. You must hold your head in a certain position for several days to keep the bubble in the right spot.

According to the National Library of Medicine, the risk of developing a retinal detachment is five or six times greater in people with high myopia compared to those with low myopia. People with high myopia have longer eyes (axial elongation), which means that the retina is more stretched and therefore prone to peripheral retinal tears. High myopia is said to occur when a person’s myopia progresses until they need −5 diopters or more of spherical correction.

A retinal tear can lead to fluid and blood collecting in the eye, which can cause the development of several new floaters and loss of vision if the tear leads to a retinal detachment.

The retina is the thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye on the inside. Located near the optic nerve, the retina’s purpose is to receive light and then send pictures to the brain of what the eye sees.

If the retina is unable to receive and process light, the brain won’t receive information. One condition that can stop this communication between the retina and the brain is a retinal detachment, which can result from a retinal tear.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of a retinal tear include flashes in the eye and visible spots called floaters. Retinal tears can develop and progress quickly, which may lead to retinal detachment.

The most common signs and symptoms of retinal tears include:

  • Sudden appearance of floaters.
  • Black spots in field of vision.
  • Flashes of light.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Darker/dimmer vision.
  • Loss of peripheral vision.

Retinal detachments and retinal tears

Those seemingly harmless “floaters” and “flashes” in your vision can indicate serious trouble. “Floaters” are tiny black specks that you may occasionally see floating in your line of vision.

What causes floaters and flashers?

As we age, the gel-like fluid in our eyes (called vitreous fluid) begins to liquefy and pull away from our retina. As vitreous gel changes it can pull on our retina enough to cause a retinal tear or detachment.

Having a few long-standing floaters in your vision is normal. However, if you notice flashes or an increase in floaters — or if you see a curtain or shaded area in your side vision — these can indicate serious eye disease and the need for immediate treatment. Left untreated, retinal tears and detachments can lead to permanent blindness. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are critical. In fact, vision loss could have been prevented or minimized by early detection in 50% of all medical cases involving blindness.

Please take your eye health seriously!

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

No eclipse viewing for me, the sky was overcast last night!

Let’s all be aware of the signs of pancreatic cancer.

My mom had CA of the pancreas, even though she had very low risk factors. Back when she got it, the only way to know for sure was to open her up for exploratory surgery. After that, it was a brief three months until she died.

I miss her every day. I’m sad she died when the original Angel Boy was only six and never got to see him get his doctorate from Yale, get married, and have his own Angels. She loved him so much and was such a big part of his life that he started calling both of us “Mom” and we’d answer in unison, “Which one do you want?”

We took care of her here at home with hospice support. Although she was able to tolerate high doses of morphine, the pain was overwhelming.

About ten years before an official diagnosis, she was consistently nauseous after eating and started taking papaya enzymes.

With her vast medical knowledge as the head RN at a local hospital, she probably had a really good idea what was wrong with her but did all she could to find any other reason for her symptoms. She had her gall bladder and spleen removed but nothing helped. As it still is, pancreatic cancer is a death sentence.

It’s the same horrible disease that killed Alex Trebek, Steve Jobs, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Patrick Swayze.

The most significant symptom I’d suggest to be aware of is nausea after eating. Start keeping a journal and get to the right doctor as soon as possible.

We need more research to stop this terrible disease.

Image

Old-Time Health Remedies from 1892

Old Medical BookA beat up edition of The Cottage Physician — published in 1892 — has been around my house forever; I’m not sure where it came from but I’ve always been fascinated reading about diseases and cures.

Every so often, I’ll blow the dust off and share some of the remedies here on Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

This was pre-antibiotics and I’m not sure how anyone survived any diseases at all back then. There’s also a homeopathic section and a botanical section with some interesting and even terrifying ingredients.

It seems like there was an overwhelming rush to flush the contents of the bowels as a method to rid the body of toxins and also as a cure for many diseases.

“…best known methods of treatment in all diseases, accidents and emergencies of the home prepared by the ablest physicians in the leading schools of medicine, allopathy, homeopathy, etc., etc., by Thomas Faulkner, J.H. Carmichael, assisted by other able physicians and surgeons of America and Europe.”

bistort

Bistort

Sweet-Scented-White-Water-Lily-Castalia-odorata

Female Restorative
Strengthening Syrup
Comfrey root, marshmallow root, poplar bark, bistort root, white pond lily, cloves, and ginger, of each one ounce; water two quarts, boil down to three pints — strain–add loaf sugar, one pound, boil ten minutes and skim, then add French brandy, one pint. Dose: three or four tablespoons three or four times a day; in whites, bearings down, general debility, barrenness, etc. Note: My minimal research revealed that “whites” might mean anything from general female weakness to a discharge.

I think this sounds delicious, don’t you? Especially the French brandy. I can certainly agree that a woman might need a few doses every day for a reeeeeeelllly long time.

Gray Hair
The sedentary, the studious, the debilitated, and the sickly are, with very few exceptions, those who are earliest visited with gray hair. Persons whose employment renders much sitting necessary, and little or no exercise possible, are most likely to have gray hairs.
Treatment: Mix thoroughly a small quantity of sub-nitrate of bismuth with vaseline and brush a small quantity of it into the hair daily.

The entire book can be found online at http://openlibrary.org/books/OL23291374M/The_Cottage_physician

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I’m merely sharing anecdotal content from a book I found interesting to read. This post contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on anything that you read here as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.  If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.
Credit: This was created using a Contractology template available at http://www.freenetlaw.com.