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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Answers, Finally, to the Health Issues Plaguing Me

By the end of this post, the relevance of this picture will be made clear.

I want to apologize on my slacking on writing posts lately. I've been going through a lot lately, had my kids full time lately, and on top of that, have been having quite a few health issues that were a mystery.
My symptoms were exhaustion, dizziness, and splitting headaches. I'm generally tired but this took my exhaustion to another level. You can probably imagine how hard it is when your body wants to sleep 20 or more hours a day and whenever you get up the room spins and your head pounds, and even lying down doesn't fix it.

When I reached out to my doctor, he wouldn't let me do anything until I took a corona test but getting one done was easier said than done. We have corona drive in/walk in testing places, but none of them are within walking distance of my house, and in quarantine, I wasn't allowed to use public trasportation or take a taxi (or so I thought), so I had to arrange a test at my house. However, even getting the referral to an at home test took time, then it had to get approved, and then someone had to call me to arrange it, but two weeks after my virtual doctor's appointment, no one had even called me to arrange it, and no, I wasn't able to call them to arrange it either. But I reached out to officials from my local municipality who offered to help make that quicker, but heard nothing back from then either.

At this point, I was very stressed out, and knew that while I was waiting, suffering, I wasn't able to get anything else ruled out- no one would test my sugar or my blood pressure, which could have been the cause for that. So I mentioned something to a friend, and she gave me a blood pressure cuff to borrow. 

Then, one night at 1 am, when I was feeling exceptionally dizzy and headachey, I took my blood pressure and it was sky high- 230/170. I tried measuring it again and again to see if it was a fluke, and while it varied slightly, it remained very high. I asked friends for advice, and I learned that blood pressure that high is called a hypertensive crisis and needs immediate medical attention because it can be the sign of or cause a stroke or a heart attack. 
However, people suggested that it might be the cuff, so I asked if a paramedic could come and test it for me, but was told that since I was in quarantine (because I was waiting for a corona test) no one could come to my house to check me, and my only option was to call an ambulance. So they did, and when the ambulance came, all suited up, they measured me, and the number they got on their cuff was also nearly the same as the one on my at home blood pressure cuff. It was then decided that I'd be going to the emergency room, so I packed my bag, expecting the worst.
On the way to the ER, 15 minutes into the ambulance ride, my blood pressure was still high but not as sky high as before.
And then in the ER, I was in the corona "biological ER", and finally got my corona test. (Oh my gosh, that hurts.) And they tested my blood pressure. And it was normal. And they gave me a blood test and a chest ex ray.
But since my blood pressure wasn't high in the ER, I wasn't a priority for them, so I just mainly sat around playing on my phone. After spending a few hours in the ER, at 4:45 am they told me I was being released. Without corona results yet, which they told me should take only 2 hours. How was I supposed to get home? Well, you can take a taxi home, they told me. I thought I couldn't because I was in quarantine. They told me legally I was allowed to take a taxi with all the windows open and masks on the whole time.
I got into a taxi, knowing it would be an expensive ride, but what other option did I have, went to draw cash (since I wasn't assuming I'd need a taxi back so didn't have cash with me) and then as soon as I got back into the cab after drawing cash the taxi driver said he found out he couldn't take me because he had heart issues, and drove me back to the hospital. No other taxi driver wanted to take me because I was in quarantine, and just as I was about to get all worried (no public transport, no taxis, how else???) one taxi driver agreed to drive me home. Yes, it was expensive. I paid $85 for the ride because of the distance and time of night. And I was told that since I didn't get admitted to the hospital, I'd have to pay both the emergency room and the ambulance fee since I didn't have a referral (how exactly was I supposed to get a referral at 1:30 am?). And that would likely be another $575. But even if that was the case, I didn't regret going, because better safe than sorry. Better pay that much to make sure you aren't going to die than die at home from a stroke or heart attack.

The next day I tried reaching my doctor for him to give me a referal to the ER retroactively (it sometimes works) but he didn't call me back after I left a message with his secretary, and there were no available appointments with any doctor until the next day. Oh, and in the meantime, I got results from my corona test. Thankfully negative. So I could actually finally go in to see a doctor.

Lots of people had all sorts of ideas about what was causing my health issues. I must have blood sugar problems, because I'm fat. I must have blood pressure issues because I'm fat. I probably eat too much salt. This is all probably because I'm fat. Of course, you see a fat person with some health issue, it must be their fatness to blame.

But the doctor recommended blood tests and gave me referrals to the ENT and eye doctor. The blood tests all came back fine other than low iron, which I've had forever, and is definitelly not the reason for these issues. My blood sugar was perfect. My blood pressure has remained fine, but we're going to get myself a halter blood pressure monitor just in case. My thyroid T3 and T4 numbers were fine. But my TSH, my thyroid stimulating hormone, was scary high. This actually all made sense, because my mother has hashimotos thyroiditis, an auto immune issue where the body kills the thyroid causing hypothyroid, which can cause blood pressure issues, dizziness, headadches, and guess what- also makes you fatter. So its not my fat causing an issue, but possibly the same thing causing my other issues might be contributing to my weight.
However, the doctor wants to make sure that the TSH results arent a fluke so they are restesting me for that tomorrow. And now I have a referral to an endocrinologist next week.
Oh, and the insurance company agreed to pay for the ER and ambulance, because of extenuating circumstances.

This past week I stopped at a glasses place for an eye test, while telling the optometrist the story. He said he sees my number jumped a lot but I should first go to an opthomolagist. I did that and the doctor said everything is fine with my eyes, I just need new glasses. Then I went to an ENT, and he said I have vertigo, which, to be honest, I'm not sure is the answer. But he recommended a vestibular physical therapist to realign stuff to fix the vertigo.

Another thing that concerned me was that maybe my medication was causing my health issues. I'd been at my current dosage of cipralex for 4 months, but it was a really high dose, and I googled and apparently there is a case study of someone who got reversible hypothyroidism from Cipralex. Anyhow it stopped working so well for me as an antidepressant so my doctor had mentioned switching to another drug, and this seemed as good of a time as any especially with all the health issues that could be connected. So I got switched to Cymbalta, which is an SNRI, not an SSRI, which is stronger than SNRI, and has the added bonus of being good for chronic pain and chronic fatigue issues, both which I have. So hopefully that will be helpful. I'm already on my second day of the switchover process (slowly weaning off one and going on to the other) and I'm really hopeful.

Ok, so I had many half answers, but none of them seemed like the real answer.

Today, I tried writing a blog post. I was totally in the mood to write it, inspired, was well rested, and as soon as I sat in front of the computer and attempted to write, I started losing my ability to focus, couldn't concentrate, and I just couldn't do it. I wondered if maybe it was something psychological, because I do sometimes dissociate, which is a trauma response to stressful situations, and part of that is losing my focus. This actually has been happening so often during the last few weeks whenever I try to write, which is why my posting rate has really slowed. I thought I maybe had a psychological block to writing, but I didn't know why, since I had so many things I wanted to share!
But I thought, maybe this all is an eye issue. The eye doctor did say to get new glasses, so I made an appointment with the glasses place again and got my eyes tested there again.

And I finally have the answer. It may not be a complete answer. It probably is only part of the picture, because what is causing this (maybe thyroid, maybe something else), but oh my gosh, I needed new glasses desperately.

This is actually quite interesting, because my vision has more or less stayed the same my entire life. I first got glasses in third grade just for seeing the board, and was a -0.40. In sixth grade I went up to -0.70. In eighth grade I switched to -2.0 and then for the next approximately 20 years my vision stayed nearly exactly the same (only at some point, maybe adulthood, they added a .5 astimatism to one eye). Its not that I didn't check my eyes- I got mine checked every year or two and at some point they switched it to -2.50 and -2.25.
Ten months ago, I took my sons to the eye doctor and while I was there got my eyes checked. Mine were perfect with my glasses. Then four months ago, Ike mentioned that his glasses weren't working well enough for him, and we got his eyes tested again and they nearly doubled, and he got a new pair of glasses. (And now he wears them all the time, because he sees how much better he sees with them, and doesn't forget them like he used to with his first pair.) While we were there we got Lee tested again, and he did need glasses for distance, but still didn't want to wear glasses. The doctor said he wouldn't give a first time glasses wearer contact lenses, so Lee agreed to get prescription sun glasses to start out. (By the way, Lee now needs a new appointment, noticing his vision did get worse.)

Anyhow, last time I was at the doctor, 4 months ago, my prescription went up from what it had been at least 10 years to -3.0 and -3.25.

Today at the doctor, though, oh boy. He couldn't believe that it was only 4 months ago, but looked at the chart and confirmed it. The glasses I got 4 months ago no longer work for me and everything is blurry with them.

My vision went up to -3.50 in one eye and -4.0 in the other, and on top of that, I definitely need reading glasses. I had mentioned to him last time I was there that I was taking off my glasses to read lately, and he said that happens, and its the start of age related degredation, and usually generally don't start needing reading glasses until the age of 40, and I'm only 32. But today I was mentioning to him the issue of focusing when sitting at the computer, and he said that definitely needs attention, and he tested me, and yes, I need reading glasses. In both eyes. 0.5 in one eye and 1.5 in the other. Taking off my glasses simply doesn't work when I am at the computer, because its too far for me to see without my glasses, but without reading glasses, it isn't clear enough for me to see with them on, which is why I've been having such a hard time focusing when I'm sitting at the computer.

And because I specifically need glasses for reading, both close and medium distance, separate reading glasses won't work for me. And neither would bifocals. I need progressive lenses.
It was expensive. I got a discount because of my health insurance and after the 40% discount, I paid $700 for them. While I've purchased cheap glasses from Zenni before, I know progressive lenses are much more complicated and not something that you should skimp on, and its not like Zenni is even currently shipping to my location because of corona.

Anyhow, its a lot of money, but the fact that I finally have answers, I finally understand why I've been dizzy, have headaches, am exhausted, can't concentrate. Because my vision is really messed up and I'm wearing the wrong glasses and those can all cause that.

Now the real question is what caused my eyes to change this drastically this quickly. It can be connected to my thyroid, but even if I fix that, the vision changes are likely to stay. Who knows. I'll be furthering that research.

But for now, I'm so glad I have answers. And no, it hasn't gotten any easier to sit at my computer and write a blog post. I started writing this post on my phone, which I can hold at a distance that I can focus on. But mostly I'm thankful that I learned touch typing, because for most of the time I'm writing this post I'm touch typing and not actually looking at the screen as I write, and closing my eyes regularly, which is helping a lot, because of my difficulty concentrating while looking at the computer, and is how I finally got through this post, and gives me a good idea about how to write future posts until my glasses arrive in 10 days. And it's so good to know that it's a physical issue causing my inability to focus and not some stress related trauma trigger.

But seriously. There's a phrase in my culture that there is no happiness like the eliminating doubts/questions, and that's how I feel. There is such relief to this answer.

Now lets just hope that these $700 glasses last longer than 4 months. Please! Pretty please!

But $700 is worth not being dizzy and headachey all the time!

Oh, and by the way, none of the results of any of the tests are remotely connected to being fat. So booya to anyone who wanted to tell me weight loss is the answer. It isn't.

17 comments:

  1. I just wanted to comment on Zenni and progressive lenses. I paid close to $600 years ago for progressive lenses. Last year, I decided to give Zenni a try. My glasses cost less than $100 - style I liked - got magnetic sunglasses. I went to an opthomolgist a few months later for a different reason and he checked my vision - said the rx was right. So, since then, I have ordered another pair. Hardest part was measuring - but they have instructions and my husband helped. The worst part is the cheap shipping takes a while since they are made/shipped from China I believe. Second time was faster - I am thinking they send express mail to the coast and send first class from there so, some time was shaved off. Also went thru rakuten and got a small amount back.

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    1. Good to know! At this point, with the amount of problems my vision is having on my life, I can't take a gamble on zenni, but good idea to get a pair as a backup. Thanks!

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    2. agree on zenni and id you ask dr. will put you pd on the rx that is hard to do yourself

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  2. I'm glad you found some answers and you could afford to pay for new glasses. Thanks for the update.

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  3. What a relief that your insurance company agreed to pay for all that and that you now know what was going on. Severely high blood pressure like that is definitely an ER event though. I'm glad you're basically okay but hopefully everything will get settled and you're be a lot better, especially with your thyroid which, as you said and unfortunately, does cause weight issues. I'll pray for you, hope you don't mind. Oh, and I love the glasses, especially the color.

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    1. Those are actually my current glasses. New ones haven't arrived yet. They're similar, but in blue. :-D

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  4. I'm so sorry for your health struggles, but glad you're getting some answers! I also have Hashimoto's; it's important to know that T3/T4 aren't the only measurements of thyroid health. If you're TSH is that high, and you're feeling bad, there's definitely something going on. I highly recommend the book "Thyroid Healthy" by Suzy Cohen to learn about some of the other thyroid tests. It's something that, unfortunately, is often overlooked in the current medical system. The books by Izabella Wentz also have some good information, but I found them more disorganized to follow. Also, anecdotally, everyone I know with thyroid issues has had them really go out of control since the pandemic started. I really wonder if this could be connected to your eyesight too. Good luck getting to the bottom of everything <3

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  5. Glad you are beginning to feel better. It can be really hard getting those answers. I was ill for two years and kept being told it was IBS. I lost 2 stone, was in terrible pain and kept throwing up. I spent what was for me quite a lot of money for private tests which couldn't be done on our NHS. I found answers and was finally treated in a specialist NHS hospital after my online research. I have put the weight back on, can eat anything and no pain. You can't put a price on good health.

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  6. Wow--that is quite a story! It's so fascinating about how different bodily systems can affect one another. I hope that you get the answers about your thyroid results, too.

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  7. Sorry you are dealing with all this!😪🧡 I was diagnosed with Grave's Disease 10 years ago at age 35. It affected my eyes badly. My BP was scary high and I was close to a stroke. It was terrible. I have had ups and downs but am more stable now. Find a good thyroid Dr. who will test your reverse ratio and do a more comprehensive panel. Before I was diagnosed with Grave's several Dr.'s dismissed me as simply having depression and anxiety but I knew there was something more. I believe they were so dismissive because I was female and they thought it was all in my head. Then my symptoms got so bad it became obvious. My resting heartrate was 140. It was horrible. I hope you can find more answers and effective treatments. A book that was recommended to me was "Living Well with Hypothyroidism." You should check it out. I know you are a wonderful advocate for your kids and you need to be one for yourself. I also use yoga and meditation to deal with my health issues. I am doing healing work with my chakras and have realized the importance of the throat chakra as related to my thyroid. I have to manage my condition, but I will not be a victim. I will no longer fit into someone else's mold at the expense of my true self. It is a diffucult journey, but I know you can do it as you are a strong woman with challenges that you can deal with in time! Thanks for sharing your struggles and hugs and best wishes!!!

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  8. I also second the recomendation for the site Stop the thyroid madness.

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  9. All this, the spiking varying blood pressure, verigto, etc falls into fibromyalgia/CFS. Have you also talked to your doctor about these? I've had fibromyalgia since I was 13 and it has a laundry list of similar symptoms. Hope you feel better soon!

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    1. I actually have a tentative diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Cymbalta is also supposed to help with that.

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    2. Nice! My GP doesn't want to medicate me for it. It's basically take a paracetamol and rest! I hope you get feeling better!

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  10. People can safely carry lots more weight safely and healthily than the "recommended" numbers suggest. I'm glad you're finding solutions. And if you need different glasses in the nearish future, just get new lenses. The opticians can change lenses easily.
    I paid more than I could have for my new frames, but they're gorgeous IMHO. I wear them all the time I'm awake, so I felt that it was worth the splurge.

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  11. So glad you found some answers! Life is hard enough without health issues.

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  12. I commented previously but just read something on Wellness Mama that might be of interest to you regarding thyroid health. Here it is:

    Experts like Chris Kresser and Dr. Paul Jaminet explain the importance of selenium for thyroid and adrenal health. One theory is that too much iodine (found in processed foods) without enough selenium may be hard on the thyroid and adrenals. Selenium is also needed for glutathione production in the body.

    Selenium and iodine are synergistic and occur together in most naturally occurring sources, including sardines. In fact, one can of sardines contains almost the entire RDA (recommended daily allowance) of selenium and a smaller amount of iodine. This may help the body obtain a proper balance of selenium and iodine.

    Personally, I’ve found that consuming rich food sources of selenium (like sardines and brazil nuts) and omega-3s has reduced my thyroid symptoms.

    She also adds: They are also high in purines, so those with gout or other disorders should check with a doctor before consuming.

    Don't know if you like sardines or not but if so possibly it'll help. :D

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