Thursday, October 13, 2011

Never Mind

This post is gonna be long and dull and droning.  So maybe come back on another day when I'm not so annoying.  But if you care to stick around, well, you were warned....I'm not in my Happy Place.  Read on, if you dare.

Today, Thursday, the rain settled in, the same rain that had been predicted for most of the week.  It's a lot colder and the persistent mist turning over to full-fledged rain at times makes it even more miserable outside.  I'm on tenterhooks around here right now.  The garden needs to be put to bed for the winter but yet I don't want to drop the progress we are making on Aaargh either.  The temps are still well above freezing at night and that's a good thing for curing mortar.  Rain, of course, puts a huge damper (pun intended) on progress.  I had someone suggest I could haul all the stones that are in need of dressing into the garage to work on them and they're right, I could, but then again, wait---I don't wanna cart all that rock back and forth.  I'm lazy.
The view from Aaargh this morning....looking west.  Looks wet.

Besides, the garage is a disaster zone right now too, with saws and lumber and stuff Everywhere, so I really should/could clean that out while the drizzle drizzles on.  I was out there this morning for awhile, but didn't know what to do with all the stuff that belongs to the assorted menfolk who live here.  So I gave up on that project too, and dejectedly made my way back to the house where I was confronted with a myriad of undone chores, too!  It seems the dogs need bathing and grooming (Shih Tzus have hair that grows like mad) and the laundry has dried but has not been put away.  The dishes are done, but there are no pots on the stove since I forgot to defrost something to cook. 

And tomorrow I have a doctor appointment again, a new patient visit with another new doctor...oh, how I hope this one is the Real Deal.  I don't see how it could get much worse than the Polar Bear, but then ya just never know.  Weirder things have happened to me.  I had to go and see someone because my thyroid meds are almost out and I have no choice. 

It was a year ago this past week that I was hauled into the hospital for the false alarm and all the weird health symptoms haven't changed a whole lot.  The only good thing to come out of all that lunacy was the fact a rheumatologist (no, I didn't have rheumatoid arthritis, thank goodness) sent me to a sleep clinic for sleep apnea testing last December. 

It's been almost a year now, and I do feel the CPAP machine has changed and very probably saved my life.  Yes, sleeping with a Darth Vader mask is a major pain to get used to and it isn't glamorous, sexy or comfortable, but it worked wonders for me in some areas of my life.  I no longer wake up with a headache every day.  A headache that lingered and worsened as the day went on.  The first morning I woke up without a headache, I couldn't figure out what was missing.  That's how long I'd had had been such a part of my life I had finally just grown used to them.  I can sit down to the computer or a TV show and not find myself dozing off and snoring with my head on my chest.  I now can go to bed and stay there, no more runs to the bathroom to pee every other hour.  That's a huge accomplishment!  And when I learned the reason why the need to use the bathroom was so prevalent, I was doubly glad for CPAP therapy.  Here's a shortened version of why:

 Nocturia, or nocturnal urination, is sometimes a symptom of sleep apnea.  The reason patients with untreated sleep apnea have more frequent urination at night is related to the increased pressure in the right side of the heart. This increased pressure is usually the result of low oxygen levels in the bloodstream caused by the apnea events: when oxygen levels fall, the heart works harder to get oxygen to the brain.  An increased pressure in the heart is a sign that there is too much liquid in the body: when the heart receives the stimulus of the increased pressure, higher levels of a hormone called atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) are secreted from the heart. ANP is a diuretic that is associated with the increased need to urinate. 

Very interesting, considering my blood oxygen levels were down in the 70's at times during the sleep study.  No wonder I was running for the bathroom half the night. No wonder I had so much trouble staying awake during the day.  I had even quit driving for long distances since I had tremendous trouble staying awake behind the wheel.  Scary stuff, sleep apnea. I saw the apnea doc last week and he was really pleased with my progress, too, said my compliance was excellent and overall, things looked pretty good.  I don't have to see him for another year.  (See, I don't tick off ALL the doctors in my life, I'm not Completely Impossible.)

But, one thing that the Polar Bear finally did scare me into doing last October was this, due to some  high cholesterol readings, she insisted, no, let me rephrase that, demanded I start taking a statin.  I didn't want to, but felt terrified of what would happen if I didn't.  So I did.   I know this is a touchy subject, but I am not in the camp of believers when it comes to statins.  I have read so much about them and yes, to be fair, I know I could find someone, somewhere who declares oxygen to be detrimental to a person's health, too, so no, I don't believe everything I read.  I do tend to believe what I experience first-hand, though. 

And what I've been experiencing since being on the statin is not good.  Muscle aches and pains abound.  I'm miserable.  Yes, I know I lift a lot of rocks, and yes, I know that wear and tear cannot be discounted, but this is different. And I've gained over twenty pounds since taking them.  Weight gain this time of year?  When we're running like crazy getting ready for garden walks and now hauling stone around?  Summer is the time of year I typically lost weight due to the extreme physical output of keeping this big ol' garden in shape.  I was never thin, but this is something else again.  I started keeping a food journal and joined one of those calorie counting sites and was amazed.......I'm not eating that many calories and still the weight is going up.

See, I tried to explain all of this to the ol' Polar Bear MD in June.......she blasted me for the weight gain.  Flat out tied into me like a fat chick (me) on a chocolate cupcake.  "You have NO excuse, you cannot blame the statin which is saving your life, you are just looking around for something else to hide the fact you are stuffing your mouth with food!  There are NO studies out there that show statins increase anyone's weight.  This is simply untrue, and I will hear none of it.  The reason you are gaining weight is because you are not watching what you eat and you are not exercising properly."  I told her I haven't changed a thing with my eating (at that point) so where was the weight coming from?  "From what you are Eating!!"  By this time she was nearly screeching....oh, such a horrible visit...

And when I mentioned the muscle pain, she was off and running again.....No studies have confirmed that statins cause muscle pain and weakness, none whatsoever.  Why, the statin is NOT to be blamed for my aches and pains.  I'm doing something differently, that must be the culprit.  Maybe I started exercising finally and now I'm a little sore.  Well, big deal.  Keep up with the exercises, eat no more than 1200 calories per day and you'll feel better.

But I had jumped in with this:  I've worked hard physically all my life.  I grew up on this farm, I stayed on this farm and I hope to only leave this farm horizontally in the end.   Nothing much has changed for the last 53 years except I'm getting older, so why all the new aches and pains after starting a statin?  She of course, took me to task for 'working wrong' and I should go to a gym and get a personal trainer and give up gardening and walk 15 miles a day and 'her father had an 11,000 (yes, eleven thousand, you read that right) acre farm and he didn't complain a bit.  (Huh??? That made no sense to me....what does her father have to do with me?) and then she went on to say she has a patient who is dying of cancer and who Never, Ever Complains, not once! and she knows he is in a Ton of Pain and yet he is Stoic and Cheerful and A Wonderful Person.  Huh, yet again.  What does this have to do with me?

So, now you know why I decided this doctor was not exactly a Keeper.  But believe it or not, I have continued taking the statin despite my better judgment.  And the pain isn't getting any better.  I have days when walking up the steps is a chore and a half and every muscle in my body says enough, already, just die and get it over with. 

Yesterday I sat down and read article after article on statins and if you get past the ones put out there by the pharmaceutical industry, you'll find page after page of comments from people who are going through the exact same thing I am, weight gain and pain, and half of them are terrified to go against their doctor's orders and stop taking the statin for fear they'll die of a heart attack.  What about the links to ALS and liver and kidney damage, and good grief, Cancer?  Our brains are made up of 25% cholesterol....(I know, there I go believing everything I read) and I'm taking a drug that reduces the cholesterol in my body?   And if I can believe some of the things I've read, in one study, half of all heart attack patients had cholesterol levels lower than 160! Not to mention it raises the possibility of developing diabetes......and this is something that has happened to my 91 year old mother.

And The Elusive Lucille (aka Mom) is the other reason I don't know what to believe.  She is 91.  When she was 80, she was told she had high cholesterol.  She was prescribed a statin.  Within two months, she was no longer riding her bicycle down here to visit me.  She used to ride it down here everyday up until the statin.  And she used to walk down here, too.  With the advent of the statin in her life, she stopped walking as much as possible, she said the pain in the calves of her legs was just too much to bear and though she still does walk enough to get around (and yes, she does help me weed to this day, and does her own grocery shopping and gets her own mail) anything more than 50 feet at a time puts an incredible stress on her.  She really hurts, though she doesn't think I can see it.  And she was diagnosed with the 'start' of diabetes about a year after being on the statin, too.  She won't eat anything beyond the low-fat restrictions she is on (remember, she's 91!) and she has never weighed more than 120 pounds her entire life.  I have noticed brain fog with the statin and at times, Mom is confused too....and I know, yes, again, I know, she is 91-----so how much of this is normal for a person in the ninth decade of their life?  And yes, I know, she is very Lucky and so am I to still have her in my life.....but, I keep wondering:  If Mom wasn't put on a statin would she:

A. Have died at 81
B. Have enjoyed her long life much more than she is now?
C. Not developed diabetes and muscle pain?

There's no way to know it, and yes, she's been on them for ten years now and she's still here.  Did the statin save her life?  I know it made it more painful.

So, tomorrow is the big day when I see the new doc.  I have questions without a lot of answers.  Do I blindly continue to take a statin even when there's more and more evidence out there it causes just as many problems as it potentially cures?  Funny thing, doctors.  Years ago I was so depressed I didn't care if I lived or died and Carl hauled me in to a Crisis Center.  The shrink told me to have my thyroid checked and guess what?  Hypothyroid to the Max.  He had never seen numbers like that, so had them redone just to make sure, and sure enough, the reason I was so depressed was due to the thyroid.  Of course, Prozac was tossed in my general direction, too, and between the antidepressant and the thyroid meds, things improved exponentially. 

But then I had to switch to another doc due to insurance changes and that one didn't care to read up on thyroid problems and though I was treated, it was being undertreated, which led to depression issues yet again.  After years of that nonsense and all the wonderful pharmaceuticals they gave me for depression (love the ads for them on TV, by the way, don't you?? The disclaimers are hilarious) I finally found an MD who would optimize my thyroid levels and guess what?  The depression left me as fast as it had come.  But then that MD also left town and I was back at the mercy of another doctor and yet another and finally came to rest in the clutches of the Polar  Bear, who coincidentally, also cut my meds for thyroid down to a much lower level a few months who knows what the H E double hockey sticks is Really going on with me?? 

Let's hope the new one does. 

There, I feel better. 

In the words of Roseanne Roseannadanna, "Never Mind."


Anonymous said...

Good luck for tomorrow. I hope the rain stops and the sunshines and the new Doctor's bedside manor is a lot better than the last one. I know just what you’re going through.
I had to see the Doctor today :o( I will email you )
Be thinking of you tomorrow
Sue x

Alison said...

Good luck with the new doctor! Keep us posted (I know you will)! I'm glad to hear the CPAP machine is helping, and that you are still using it. I remember the posts from when you first started using it, they were pretty hilarious.

If winter comes on before the garden is ready, do it in the spring! That's my motto and I'm sticking to it.

Rosemary said...

Karen I am glad you find the Cpap machine has helped ........ I hope the new Dr. is a good one..there are lots of bad ones , but how hard it is to stand up to those.Do think sometimes it is better to listen to our bodies rather than pop a pill especially if it is not making one feel better..

HolleyGarden said...

Good luck. I hope you get your thyroid medication worked out. That could also contribute to your weight gain. I'm with you on the statins. Not thoroughly convinced they are not as bad as the symptom they are supposed to be treating! (But, I'm not a doctor.) I hope you find the perfect doctor for you - and that he/she sticks around!

africanaussie said...

so sorry to hear about your ill health - purely selfishly I want you to remain (or get) fit and healthy so that I can continue watching the saga of your garden unfolding. Have you done any research on omega 3 for cholesterol control? I have found it most helpful. I hoe you find the doctor to be caring and that he truly listens to you - so hard to find a doctor that does that.

Cass @ That Old House said...

Well Karen, you know I just HAD to read this post after being warned not to.

I hope the new doc can come up with better answers -- it is so frustrating to know that all's NOT well, and get no answers. It is even MORE frustrating to have a doctor who doesn't listen or believe you!

I do think that statins can cause LOTS of muscle pain. Stick to your guns.

Your Polar Bear sounds like a doc I had some years back who put me on a generic of a med I'd been on for years (with another doc) and when I had HALLUCINATIONS on the generic he refused to change the scrip to the name brand -- said I was wrong about the hallucinations! I stopped the medication, the crazies stopped, and I changed docs asap.

It's a crap shoot, isn't it?

Tufa Girl said...

Good luck with the new doc. There have to be some good ones out there - somewhere. Fingers crossed for you.

mudderbear said...

My Word!!! Excuse me if I am being way too forward or know-it-all, but Good Grief, You Poor Thing. I have a lot of sympathy for you. I share almost everything and my youngest 23 year old has thyroid problems that weren't diagnosed until a year ago. Although she has been fighting the symptoms for almost 12 !!! years. One lovely doctor just glanced her way..sort of... and handed her Metformin. AAGGHH!!
But about those Statins...I have tried them four times and had similer symptoms to you and your mother. I now refuse to take them. They can't possibly be doing me any more good than not taking them. My knees felt like jello, my head hurt and my thinking was cloudy. That has to be telling me something. I'm not a doctor and you hardly know me, but I say Get Off Them Now!! I've even read that they don't actually do much good anyway.

I got so mad reading your post. What is going on anyway?? Are these guys just peddling pills. Why does every person in America have to take several pills every day?? Sorry to rant. It just isn't fair to you.
I was delighted to see you at 'my place' today. Take good care of yourself and you know what?........Trust Your Gut.!!!

Anonymous said...

I hope your health issues get resolved. It sounds like too many opinions and not enough science. I have a tendency to believe the patients, after all, what is to point in inventing symptoms? I agree with you, other peoples reactions and attitudes have nothing to do with your experiences and emotional state.

Peonies & Magnolias said...

Good luck with the new doctor. I sure hope this one is a keeper.


Dragonfly Treasure said...

OMG! I can't believe that Polar Bear!! Your aches and pains are from the statin! I have tried every one out there and there is only one that I can take that doesn't make me feel 100 yrs old!
Yes, I thought I was "getting old" just couldn't understand why it came on so sudden.
When on the others (crestor, lipitor,lescol,zocar) I couldn't even get through a whole load of folding laundry..I couldn't lift my arms they were so tired and achy. I couldn't make it down the hall (and we have a very short hall) without sitting down and taking a brake. Weight gain? you betcha!!
After 2 wks of being off I felt so much better.
My Dr waited 2 wks before starting another to make sure it was completely out of my system.
Thank goodness my Dr beleives you can any possible side effect from any medication whether it's known or not.
The only one I can take is Pravachol (pravastatin). Not that this one will work for you, we are all different.
I truly beleive you should stop taking what you are. Your Mom too!
Your Drs should try different ones until one is found that doesn't affect either of you.
You definitely should still be looking for another that listens to you! No one knows your body like you.
I pray your new Dr really helps and listens to you.
Sedning good thoughts. Be strong and stand up and make them listen...if they still don't, walk out. No use in wasting your time.
Hoping and praying you feel better soon.

Lona said...

Good luck on your doctor visit.If this turns out to be a Polar Bear there are always more doctors. I am glad you are getting another opinion.