Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When All Else is Ruled Out--

Today is actually my first day back at work since before Labor Day weekend (9/4). I can't even describe how frustrating it has been to have surgery and then have surgeons of 2 different specialites tell me they couldn't identify the cause of my problems...then to have fevers and have several doctors tell me they don't know why. I finally saw someone I know and trust, who did a new exam and a lot of labs. He approached it as an interesting case, and explored all areas. In the end, we know (by labs) that something messed up my pancreas and I have inflammation, and by symptoms I have fevers, fatigue, nausea and diarrhea. The numbers are headed back toward normal, but I was still unsettled without an explanation.

I spent nearly all of yesterday doing research in the medical literature and I am now confident I know what happened. There have been a number of reported cases of pancreatitis triggered by ACE inhibitors. A handful of those occurred after months to years on the exact medication I was on (there are several medications in that class), and a few occurred after very short times on the medication. One abstract discussed a "typical" case as a middle aged woman with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, who had recently started an ACE inhibitor...and the author exhorted fellow ER physicians to consider ACE inhibitor reactions as the cause of the condition, as he had seen it several times. There were also 2 abstracts on cases where individuals were treated multiple times and even had surgery but the abdominal issues only resolved after discontinuation of the ACE inhibitor.

I guess for some the above might be classified as "too much information," but I tend to get scientific when I can't understand a problem, and having what I consider not only a plausible but even a "likely" explanation cheers me immeasurably. Instead of that big "WHAT IF" being out there, with this research data I can rest much more easily with a concrete explanation in my mind. Although the doctors all (but the last) discounted my inquiries about intestinal angioedema from the ACE inhibitor as much too rare an event, they did a very good job "ruling out" everything else they could think of. They literally ruled out everything they could think of, and were done. (I used the all-important question, "What else could this be?" with each of them, including residents, more than once.) My surprise is that they were content to leave it an open question. Obviously, if it were personal to them, their response would have been different.

So, adding their confidence that "it" wasn't "a, b, c, d, e, f," or "g" to my research, I am now confident that it was pancreatitis triggered by the ACE inhibitor, something not ruled out or even on their lists. So now I know what I'm watching; I don't feel afraid of the fevers, etc., and expect it all to get better, albeit over a much longer time than the surgeons realized.

So, with some pancreas-local pain and associated symptoms, and thinking pancreas-healing thoughts, I'm back at work and trying to remember what it is I do!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Return--

I've been quite remiss recently, in writing here. I think it's because I've been off my stride; I'm still recovering from surgery and essentially focused on that. I also signed up for Facebook--and after not quite 2 weeks, I think I'm done with it. It was nice to hear from some old friends, but for the most part, there's not much to it. People post bits of 'whatever' on there...little updates, nonsense, or unfounded, unresearched politically charged statements which they are then never required to defend or apologize for. But, that's the subject of another post.

Today, though, is just for the mundane. I need to get prescriptions, go to the allergist, and try a little walk to begin getting my strength back. Maybe I'll clean up a bit--I don't know about you, but after a weekend our house needs a bit of cleaning. (Who wants to clean on a weekend?) Hopefully I won't be too wiped out by this evening as I have the last several, but that's the path to getting back to normal, I'm sure.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On Writing

by Stephen King

A memoir on writing, from Stephen King to his students and fans.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


by Elie Wiesel

Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel's brief but riveting account of his survival in Nazi concentration camps, first published in 1958, took my breath away.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Triumph

One thing I never even considered when I started blogging was that I would discover "a whole 'nother skill" (that's local dialect, by the way). As most bloggers do (I guess), I have [re]discovered the joy of programming--and it's not your high school BASIC we're working with anymore. In the process, I have learned enough about HTML to customize my blog pages somewhat, which has pleased me inordinately.

Then, I developed a desire to have my book reviews ("Books I've Read" in the menu above) display as what they call "post summaries" with links to the whole posts, so the reader can see a list of books/authors all together. Today....I FINALLY DID IT! I won't say how many times I've worked on the programming (quite a few) before actually achieving the Post Summaries/Links format and having it be specific to those posts I wanted to apply it to--

BUT--I'm so thrilled (we must appreciate the small victories, you know) that today I put together exactly what I had envisioned: on the Book reviews only, (a major feat, considering how the formatting is typically either universal or nonexistent) you see a list of titles and authors with a "teaser" line of the review--and a link to click through to the entire review. After the work I did to learn HTML and figure out "if/else" conditionals, styles and other formatting--you've got to take a look! True, the basic HTML I worked on didn't do the trick (I found a Java programming website by 2 two excellent authors who provided the actual code which finally worked,) but at least I figured out how to add the Java code in precisely in the right spots!

I'm so pleased; now I will put up the next several book reviews I've been drafting...but the real victory is to just have my reviews--my pages--as I imagined them!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm Back

Funny how things work out. First, we have resolved never to toast my good health again. I'm not sure if that's what caused it, but you can't be too careful!

Friday night, we had a nice dinner out to celebrate my good results on the heart-thing. We went early, soon after work, and by late evening I had a bad belly pain. Saturday morning, it was worse, and included my entire abdomen. By Saturday night, it was apparent that I needed to go to the ER. Various tests and worsening of it all led me into surgery by Monday afternoon. For better or worse, the surgeons couldn't figure out exactly what happened--but my appendix is no longer with me, just in case. I came home from the hospital on Tuesday night to complete my recovery at home.

So--you never can tell. My dear husband and I had planned to rest and stay put for Labor Day weekend; we were going to pack a little picnic and go to a local state park for a nice afternoon. Just goes to show you that you can't always count on doing what you plan on doing!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Great News

Whew! Horray! Thank God! You get the message. I just found out that none of the horrible potential things that I've been worrying about are wrong with my heart. It's just high blood pressure. Yay!

Day before yesterday, my cardiologist had his nurse follow up with me to see how I was making out after the last med change. (My BP was still higher than it should be.) We traded phone messages, and in one I told her she could feel free to call back and tell me my echo was totally normal. The next day, she did!! Thank goodness...it was impossible to put thoughts of potential cardiomyopathy out of my head and concentrate on anything.

They also added an ACE inhibitor, which, after one dose, has really worked. My BP was so low this morning I was dizzy. A lot of coffee and some diet Coke helped a bit, and we're still good with the pressure this afternoon. I'm going to look out for the cumulative effect, but By George, I think we may have it here.

Tonight, hubby and I are going to our favorite restaurant to sit outside on the patio and celebrate the good news!! A great way to start the holiday weekend. Have a fantastic one, everyone!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

We Saw the Meteor Crater

I keep wanting to call it "Meteor Crater National Park" or "National Monument" or something, but it's actually all privately owned. I can't help thinking it might have been better if it were a National Park. (We have been to sooo many National Parks, and every single one was staffed by Rangers who seem to know everything about the site and can tell the story like nobody's business.) Anyway, about 50,000 years ago a great big meteor hit the Earth, 35 miles east of Flagstaff. Of course, Flagstaff would come into being about 49,895 years later.

Here's a view from the road as you're heading in toward the crater. You can really see how the "arid grassland" was thrust upward by the impact--and it's even more impressive if you've been driving for about 35 miles over nothing but flat desert. The raised rim is 150 ft. high, and the crater is 3/4 mile wide.

As I mentioned, it's privately owned and operated, and I suffered massive sticker shock when we got up to the entrance. (Cost to get in--adults $15, seniors 60+ $14, kids 6-17, $8...which isn't bad if you're spending half a day, but you can see the whole thing, including the movie but not the hike,[cancelled due to electrical storm] in less than an hour.) Of course after driving 35 miles east, then about 6 miles south, you might as well pay the fee to get in or you've done all that for nothing.

Inside, they have an exhibit area (not big enough to call a museum), with several meteorites to touch and many interactive exhibits for the kids. They have a 12 minute movie, during which I kept expecting information about this crater, but the movie was old and very general.
The highlight was going out on the walkway to look at the crater. Here's my teenager looking through one of the telescopes at the bottom of the crater.

And, looking right, middle, and left (below), here it is. It's reported to be 550 feet deep, rim to bottom, and 3/4 mile in diameter. There is a walkway with overlooks down maybe 30 feet below the rim.

It's about as exciting as it looks. I mean, I'm kinda interested in geology and we did see layers of rocks....but, it just didn't meet expectations--I expected to learn more.

I asked my son if he'd recommend to his friends to go there and without hesitation he said, "No, it was boring." I thought it was amazing to see the remnants of a real meteor creater on Earth (I kept thinking of the moon), but I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't a bit overblown and a bit less educational that I had hoped. Just in case you're interested, here's the website: http://www.meteorcrater.com/

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Really Good Choices I've Made

Planting the butterfly bush outside the window next to the couch. I get to see the flowers, watch the butterflies come for its nectar, and now see tiny wrens and finches come for its seeds.

Making the "office" in my oddly laid out house into another bedroom. It's changed everything and now feels like a real home.

Buying my Toyotas. The first one saved my life when many cars would've failed me, and the current one is just a great car.

Asking my husband out to lunch for the first time. A friend turned into the love of a lifetime.

Choosing my son's first daycare provider...she was a loving second mother to him for 8 years.

Getting pregnant...God gave me the greatest joy of my life.

There are probably more to list, but the everyday choices which had little effect on my life are soon forgotten, while some seemingly insignificant choices have had a lasting impact.

Sometimes we know which the "big" choices are at the time, and only hope we get them right....other times we decide to take a chance, come what may...and other times, what seems like a world ending dilemma turns out to be minor in the scheme of things. It's quite impossible to say, sometimes. In fact, as I thought over this list for the last several days, many more things than not were "still waiting to see if that turns out to be a good choice or not."

So, what are some of your Really Good Choices?