Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"What's going on with you?" Part II

If you're friends with me on Facebook or glanced at my last post of status updates from 2013, you probably noticed that I have been sick quite frequently this year.  In fact, this last hospital admission my mom called and said, "Could you please let us know what's going on before you post it on Facebook."  Well, Mom... more Americans get their news from Facebook than any other news source.  Not only that, my cell phone only has Internet service in the ER, so what else am I supposed to do to entertain myself?

Speaking of the Emergency Room, I have spent more than 14 hours there this year so far.  Although I do not have an exact count (yet), including the blood glucose testing, I have had well over 100 needles in me since January.  I've gone through 14 bags of IV fluids, three bottles of Ibuprofen, missed over 142 hours of work, and I don't even want to know how many days of 2013 I have spent in bed or on the couch.

With so many clinic, Urgent Care, and ER visits, you would think that I would have an answer to the what's going on with you question by now.  Unfortunately, I don't know what is going on with me, but I do know what is not going on.

Back in August, I reluctantly hobbled into the ER believing that I was not sick enough to be there.  I expected to be triaged to Urgent Care and sent home with, "You're fine and a waste of our time."  When I sat down, the RN took my blood pressure and it was 146/92 with a heart rate of 95.  My blood pressure is always between 110/70 to 120/80, so I was fairly surprised when she slapped the ID band on my arm and sent me to the ER.

I spent close to four hours in the ER hooked up to monitors as they pushed IV fluids through me.  My heart rate was going back and forth between 70 and 140 and my blood pressure was going up and down just as fast.  In the time I spent in the ER that day, I talked to a resident, an ER physician, and the physician that took over my care when I was admitted to the hospital.  All three of these medical professionals interrogated me on my history of an eating disorder, my eating habits, my body image, and all three made it clear they didn't believe me when I told them I was no longer anorexic or bulimic.
Throughout the 37 hours I was hospitalized, I was encouraged to eat because that would make everything all better.  At discharge, I was given a summary of my hospitalization.  I had metabolic acidosis and severe dehydration listed on the sheet and was scheduled to follow up with my primary physician the following week.

I left the hospital around 10:00 that morning and ended up back in the ER at 3:30 that afternoon because my chest felt like it was being crushed every time I exhaled.  The next ER physician I saw was obviously in a hurry to leave for the day.  Without a very thorough exam, he decided it was "something musculoskeletal" and most likely caused from being down in bed for so long.  And he left for the day.  The RN was lucky enough to reach him in his vehicle so he could phone in a prescription for the pain and a muscle relaxer.

I've had issues with this same thing occasionally since then, but chest x-rays and the one EKG they did on a separate ER visit came back normal, so for goodness sake, just eat something Melissa and this will all get better. 

At my follow up with my doctor, I asked how in the world I could have had metabolic acidosis.  She never mentioned an eating disorder specifically, but did ask if I felt I needed to see a therapist.  I laughed and without hesitating said no.  I explained that my life is a great place.  I love my job, I was diligently writing a book, and had no reason to see a therapist.  I thought that was ridiculous, but blew it off.  Well, I blew it off until I logged into my MyCare account to view my follow-up lab results.  I happened to navigate into my hospitalization summary.  The ER physicians that admitted me to the hospital neglected to put on my discharge summary that in addition to dehydration and metabolic acidosis, they also re-diagnosed me with anorexia.

I sent a message to my doctor stating how inaccurate this was.  I had an eating disorder for 14 years and this is NOT the same thing.  When you have an eating disorder label on your medical record, I have learned that there is no such thing as unintentional weight loss.  No matter what other symptoms I have had, losing 50 pounds in a year is an automatic "Congratulations, you have relapsed!  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.  Go directly back to treatment.  And, for goodness sake... eat something and this will all go away!"

For two months now I have been trying to explain myself to countless physicians, friends, and family.  After all, people with a history of any type of mental illness are liars, right?  Obviously, I lie about my eating habits.  Never mind that my blood sugar has been as low as 43 and as high as 256.  Never mind my blood pressure has been as high as 174/107.  For goodness sake, eat something and this will go away.

I landed back in the hospital on Sunday with the same symptoms as back in August.  Again, the eating disorder was mentioned.  How much are you eating?  When are you eating?  Are you drinking enough water?  I went through close to 200 ounces of fluids at one point and still ended up in the ER needing two bags of IV fluids.  Again, that eating disorder label is on my medical record, so I'm a liar.  Therefore, no.  I'm not drinking enough.  I'm not even sick, actually.

Here I am, two months later and struggling to not lose anymore weight.  I'm keeping detailed food records again, but making sure to add in everything else that is going on.  The abrupt changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose, my lack of energy, headaches, and a bunch of other crazy things that can only be fixed by eating something.  Well, that's what they say, but I've been eating what I can, when I can, and this isn't all better, yet.

In this crazy process, we have discovered that I do not have an adrenal gland tumor, I don't have diabetes, and my thyroid is functioning properly.  I've been referred to an Endocrinologist, I have another post-hospitalization follow up with my physician next week, and, because they still think this is anorexia, they set me up with a consultation with a nutritionist.

This last year, I have heard so many patients tell me their stories of how they are treated (or mistreated, I should say) by health care providers.  When I had to shadow an ER social worker for my position a few months ago, I witnessed it first-hand.  I have experienced it myself.  I can't go into the doctor for an ear infection without being asked, "Are you eating enough?"

So, no.  I don't know what is going on with me.  Here is what is NOT going on.  I am not obsessed with my weight.  When I look in the mirror, I don't see myself as needing to drop a few more pounds.  In fact, the morning I went into the ER this last time, I stood in just a bra and underwear and was disgusted.  I have been at this weight before and the last time I was this size, I was sick.  But, it was a very different kind of sick.  What I see in the mirror right now is not distorted.  I know how bad I look, how bad I feel, and know that there is something going on that simply "eating something" isn't fixing.  I've lost a tremendous amount of muscle and miss my quality of life.  

I started writing a memoir about my eating disorder last year.  I haven't touched it since this all began in August because I started fearing the doctors might be right and the book was triggering me into a relapse.  Well, I know that is not the case.  The longer this goes on, the more annoyed I become.  My goal with this book was to tackle this stigma that is tied to mental illness, but it is becoming much more than that now.  I've heard way too many stories of people going through the same thing and being "labeled" and it's not right.  I certainly had plenty of material to work with before this all started and did not need another section to add to the book, so my deadline has been extended.  When this is all over with and I'm back to playing music gigs and not drowning in my clothes, I'm going to be a force to be reckoned with.  

"What's going on with you?" Part I

Before I actually write the blog entry about the status of my health, I decided to recap the year I have had using Facebook statuses and posts from this year.  Part II to follow...

TheMelissa McCarthy
You know, I think I did see that white light and God said, "NO, Melissa -- I'm not ready for you, yet." So, TA-DA!!! You guys are still stuck with me. Just wait until I'm back to 100%!! First we'll make snow angels for a two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookiedough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle.

Like my new bracelet? I am pretty sure it's worth more than the truck. All is well, but this could take 2 weeks to get completely over. All just a few short weeks before I have insurance. Of course!!

Since I'm awake and ran out of "Big Bang Theory" episodes" and blogging isn't going to happen tonight--How 'bout a little Facebook confessional?
(#1) I've had earbuds in for almost an hour and haven't been listening to anything.
(#2) This morning, I was driving and pulled out in front of a cop and I, of course, was not wearing a seatbelt. Did not get pulled over. It was an awkward ten minutes with him riding my tail, though.
(#3) I drove like a Grandma today. I usually do, but today was REALLY bad. I kind of felt like a parade leader and I liked it. 
(#4) As of today, I hate Gatorade.
(#5) When the doc (who did NOT look like any of the docs on Grey's Anatomy, by the way) said the only thing I could do for this was bed rest and fluids, I seriously pictured myself as Natasha from the Avenger's and was (in my mind) going apeshit on his ass!

That's all I got. Oh, Happy New Year, by the way! It is 2013 now!

FLU PROGRESS DAY 11: I no longer feel like I have been run over (repeatedly) by a truck. It's now just a dull annoyance. It actually feels like I walked 12 miles uphill while giving an obese toddler a piggyback ride.

I'd love to stay and Facebook with y'all, but I have to go give Gundersen some money. And then go to work so I can give Gundersen some more money.

Yeah, I blogged it. And, you're welcome. Favorite moment from last night was when the nurse came to get me and yelled back to the other nurse, "Nope - it's not the actress!!!" That still cracked me up this morning while I was driving to work.

Someone explain to me why I cannot live in an apartment complex built for senior citizens? I'm on their sleeping schedule, I drive like I'm elderly, I can operate an alert button, and I know exactly what time and channel Judge Judy, Jeopardy, and Andy Griffith are on. Sounds like I have a good discrimination suit, huh?

I now have enough PTO banked up to take an entire day off.

Wow. I don't work until Friday and I have a pair of yoga pants for everyday until then. And, we are not going to yoga.

Tomorrow night I will be at The Acoustic Cafe in Winona with my amazing friends, David Schipper & Lynn Strohm Konsela. I'm still fighting the bronchitis, but there WILL be music no matter what. :-)
It has been a long four days. And by long I mean I'm tired. And by "tired" I mean exhausted. And by "exhausted" I mean an entire marching band of purple monkeys could walk in front of me and I wouldn't notice.
Oh, Melissa... Melissa...Melissa... congratulations on reaching a new level of stupid. DayQuil - Orange. NyQuil - Blue. How many shots of espresso is it going to take to reverse this?

Just slammed a diet coke and a 4 serving bag of Cheetos. Now, gotta go talk to a patient about eating disorders!

If I die tonight, I hope my laptop dies tonight, too... because I have Googled some weird shit!

☐ Shower
☐ Brush Teeth
☐ File Taxes
✓ Rock the Bed Head
✓ Play on Facebook

This little guy just helped me meet my deductible. I feel a parody of "12 days of Christmas" coming on....

Sat with my phone up to my ear for five minutes while in a daze. Thought I was dialing someone, but finally looked at it and my e-mail was open instead. And then I tried to swipe my debit card through the pen holder at the post office today. TWICE!

Car crap aside, I did (finally) receive some AWESOME news! I do not have skin cancer! That does not mean I am going to quit yelling my public service announcements about sunscreen use out the car window at people tanning on lawns.

10 minutes on WebMD and I'm fairly sure that site is not good for hypochondriacs. It probably creates hypochondriacs, too. Meanwhile, I'm going to go get checked for HIV and a brain tumor. You know...just in case...

I never want to see another bottle or glass of cranberry juice ever again. Unless there's a cherry, some 7-Up, an a splash of something that requires a photo ID...

My eyes were crusted shut this morning and I sound like I've been a pack-a-day smoker for 20 years! It would be in everyone's best interest not to comment on my hair today.

Blood drawn out of an artery! They said it would suck kind of did!

I'm on a pretty short leash and I'm plugged into a wall. When they hook up that 4th IV...I'm probably going to need to be let out! A LOT!! And another lab draw that didn't go so well! Next time, I'm staying at the Hilton! — feeling exhausted.

See... We're cruising here!! While everyone is out there all slacking off...I'm getting things done around here!!!


Figured if I'm going to attempt a 12 hour shift tomorrow, I should start training for it. So, I'm bench pressing. And by bench pressing, I mean I'm at the mall with my butt pressed against the bench watching people.

This probably wasn't the greatest idea I've had.

Ok!! Quit posting all that Miley Cyrus crap! I've already been in the hospital once and the ER twice over the last week. Let's not make this chick any worse!

Oh, my gosh!!! I am alive!!!! It's a miracle!!!

A week ago today I was discharged from the hospital...and ended up back in the ER 5 hours later. Then, I threw up all over Bliss Road! So much of the last two weeks is a complete blur! Hopefully I will get a good report from my doc tomorrow. Some answers may be nice, too!

After an incredibly long break, I'm jumping back into the photography thing tomorrow evening. Then back to work on Thursday! I got this. At least, I hope I do because I'm completely out of sick leave!

It has been 18 days since I've worked a 12 hour shift, worn make up, and made it through an entire day without closing my eyes for at least 15 minutes. (I should note that on a few of those days, I only had my eyes open for 15 minutes!) Day 19 puts me back in the saddle! Giddy UP!!!

Dude! I made it 24 hours without needing to go visit my peeps in the ER! That must be a new record for me! In all seriousness, I would like nothing more than a beer right now!

This whole nightmare started just over a month ago. And, what a LONG month it has been!! Although I still have no answers, I am finally starting to feel a little more like myself! 

It's a big day for Melissa. This is the first day I've put on makeup AND did my hair since the beginning of August.

HEY!!! I've made it 21 days without having to visit the ER. Can we make it to 22?? I've managed to push over 130 ounces of fluids today and burn another 12 hours of sick leave. I'm a little concerned about my lack of strength right now. I'm not sure I'll have enough muscle power to pull my doc's head out of her ass on Tuesday, so I may need back up! 
Shoot me, please! — at Gundersen Health System.

I've lost 15% of Melissa since April! I was thinking Pickerman's for lunch, but now I'm kind of thinking an entire pizza or Olive Garden or something....

Someone guessed my age to be 40. Just one of the many highlights of my day.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I've used the line, "well...okay, but I look like crap" this year.

It took a few hours and a lot of sugar...but I'm happy to report I finally have my blood sugar above 60!! I'm shooting for 70 by noon... and a new doctor by next week.

I'm just going to move in here. — at Gundersen Health System.

So, I'm back in the hospital. Trying to make good use of my time. Here's my Christmas card photo! (I put it in black and white because, trust me, color is just nasty!!)

PS--bring me Kit Kats and a Mountain Dew!!! My blood sugar is at 50!!

So, if you have ever had the pleasure of having blood taken from an artery, you know it's not pleasant. So, the girl started on the left arm. Numbed it, stabbed it, and stabbed it again because stab #1 didn't work. She walked the vial over to the counter and the next thing I know, the vial of blood is splattered EVERYWHERE. The wall, the hand sanitizer on the wall, my clothes that were on the counter, and...all over the girl, too. So.. It was my lucky day. I got to go through the entire thing all over again with the right hand. I'll be sure to post photos wi/out bandaids. Later.