Posts filed under ‘Health’
Princess Celestia has a dog named Vito that she adopted from the animal shelter. He’s a large dog, probably a shepherd, maybe even purebred. When she took him home it didn’t take long for him to start losing weight at an alarming rate. He was also constantly having little “accidents.” He ate ravenously but suffered from chronic diarrhea, and, worse yet, seemed to be starving to death.
Many of you may read this and assume the dog is diabetic (as would be my first guess) or that the dog has pancreatic cancer. Both are good guesses. But you would be wrong. Vito’s problem is caused by the failure of his pancreas to produce necessary enzymes to digest food efficiently. His disease is serious and life threatening, but it is easily treatable.
Princess Celestia had to pay for many rounds of expensive testing for Vito before he was finally diagnosed. However, once Vito was properly diagnosed she had already found an internet forum for owners of dogs with EPI. EPI is Vito’s disease, and it is an acronym for Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency.
The people on the EPI forum were able to put Princess Celestia in touch with other dog owners in the same situation, and they were able to help her with recommendations on medicine and enzymes and how to properly deliver enzymes to Vito. So, working in cooperation with her veterinarian and her friends on the EPI Forum, Princess Celestia was able to get poor Vito back into fighting shape.
EPI is a disease that is often fatally misdiagnosed or looked over. The people on the EPI forum are working to spread the word about EPI so no more dogs are put down or made to needlessly waste away. They are trying to raise awareness among veterinarians and to raise money towards research to combat the disease.
And now I’ve done my part by calling your attention to this website. If you’re an animal lover, then you should go check it out. You never know. You might save the life of a dog or cat one day…simply by knowing the symptoms of a rare but fatal disease.
I turned 40 over the weekend. I also participated in my fourth 5K race. I don’t race, because I don’t believe in running. I walk. Also, I broke both my ankles once in a freak accident, and now I have plates and screws in my left ankle so I’m not allowed to run. Or at least that’s my excuse.
This was the Chuy’s 5K, and it’s down south in Oak Hill. New Oak Hill. I’ve lived in Oak Hill, and I just know we didn’t have anything like Arbor Trails back then. So, you walk the 5K uphill and then downhill. Since the race was in South Austin instead of me spending the night at Lubbock’s the night before the race, as we usually do, I decided that it would be fun, seeing as how it was my 40th birthday, to have an adventure.
So, I found a “resort” on the internet and booked a room in south Austin so we wouldn’t have such a long drive Saturday morning. I found this place on William Cannon called the Austin Lonestar RV Resort Park. I think I scared Lubbock, who texted me from work on Friday to ask if we would have air conditioning.
Actually, the place we stayed at was clean and cute, and, yes, there was air conditioning. It was like a little mobile home with a wood deck. Sort of a duplex log cabin. We had the right hand side. And except for the fact that the propane tank had run out and had to be changed (no hot water) everything was super great. We had cable TV and wireless access. There was a swimming pool we didn’t get a chance to use. And the place was super quiet with a bunch of retirees and young families.
The RV park thing is kind of a weird dream of mine. My idea of the perfect life would be to travel the country in a motor home and interview strangers and then write about them on the internet. I would be like the new, female version of Charles Kuralt, finding fabulously eccentric and fascinating people to entertain the masses. My new blog would be called Travels with Gooseberry, and I would have to take my new dog with me for company. I don’t have a new dog. I would just get a dog before I took to the road. Feel free to contact me if you would like to fund my dream.
In reality, it would probably be more like that Albert Brooks movie, Lost in America. But in my dreams my new dog Tiny and I are winning Pulitzer Prizes from my Winnebago. Lubbock says that I am bound to win any RV Park popularity contest and would probably make new friends at each park and start Crochet Clubs across the nation. I wonder if they have beauty pageants! I’d have a shot at Miss RV Park.
After our little adventure, the Mr. Brewsters made me birthday dinner. Yummy enchiladas and chocolate cake with coconut frosting. I scored a fancy armband for my iPod touch. No more do I have to hold it while I walk. Woot! And I also got the most beautiful afghan. I know you envy me. Lubbock showed up for birthday dinner, and she got to meet the Mr. Brewsters. And, like I thought would happen, they all three ganged up on me. And by ganged up I mean that as a bonus the headlight on my car that’s been out for two weeks got fixed Sunday morning, and I spent the night so I wasn’t driving back home in the dark with one headlight. It was sort of like an extra birthday present that one of the Mr. Brewsters could replace my bulbs.
Then the Mr. Brewsters went to look for a house. And they found a house. And on Monday they signed a contract on that house. I am moving in to the Harry Potter room under the stairs. Just kidding. But I wonder if that counts as a tiny house.
One week ago yesterday and one week after my surgery, I joined Lubbock for the weekend, and we went to the North Austin Event Center to pick up her packet for the Capital 10K. Her enthusiasm inspires me. Like me, she doesn’t believe in running, but she is consistent in her efforts to work out, and she walks 2.5 miles every evening.
So, I was inspired enough to want to go with her to Academy where she also talked me into buying fancy shoes. When I say fancy shoes I mean the cool Nike+ iPod running shoes and the sensor that goes along with them. This represents a $100 investment on my part which was offset by $50 in the form of a Visa gift card contributed by Lubbock. I have generous friends. Actually, this was very savvy on Lubbock’s part, as a tool of motivation, since I hate exercise but love technology. I’m like a man about wanting the latest electronic toy. Also, I love that Mr. Landlord is an Apple junkie and a runner, and I was hoping to make him pea green with envy at the next Neighborhood Association meeting.
The sensor tells you how many miles you walked, how fast you were going, and how many calories you burned. It’s like the ultra pedometer. You put it inside your shoe. And the shoes are as light as air. They are without a doubt the lightest pair of tennis shoes that I have ever owned.
After the fancy shoe purchase we went to Town Lake (Lady Bird Lake for you newbies) and walked around for 2.5 miles. I did have to rest a couple times because I’m a total wimp. Well, I would have been totally okay if it weren’t for the fact that we had to take stairs, and it was hot out. Really, if it weren’t for inclines I could have done it without a rest.
After we walked we then synced the information to Nike, and voila! Now Lubbock can keep tabs on whether or not I exercise, which is a good thing because of that accountability thing. I am an inherently lazy person.
Monday Lubbock sent me an invitation to walk a 5K, which is 3.1 miles. Easy stuff. So, I paid my $30 to register, picked up our packets yesterday and walked 5K around some park in Cedar Park to benefit the Williamson County Humane Society. After we finished Lubbock took my picture with her iPhone and “threatened” to send it to my mother as proof that I was exercising.
Then we went to Cracker Barrel and probably ate twice as many calories as we burned.
To walk 3.1 miles two weeks after gallbladder surgery is not too shabby, I think. I can do it in a little over 45 minutes. Maybe I’ll keep this up. I love my fancy shoes. Now if only I could just click my heels together and lose 75 pounds.
“I don’t entirely approve of some of the things I have done, or am, or have been. But I’m me. God knows, I’m me” – Elizabeth Taylor
I’m loathe to write about Elizabeth Taylor because there’s nothing I could write about her that’s not already been written. However, it seems a shame to allow her death to pass without commenting on it. She was, after all, the first woman to be paid $1,000,000 salary for a movie, an exorbitant amount of money for the time. Taylor was widely reported, for many years, to be the world’s most beautiful woman. She was famous for her violet eyes, her many marriages, her soap opera-tabloid lifestyle, her entrepreneurial successes, her philanthropy, and her jewelry collection.
She hastened the end of the marriage of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (let’s face it; those two would have eventually divorced anyway), and she was denounced by both the Catholic Church and the United States Senate for her affair with Richard Burton. The affair with Burton hastened the end of her marriage to Fisher, and ended Burton’s marriage to his first wife, Sybil.
But it began a new and tempestuous marriage that spanned a decade, two weddings and two divorces. It also gave us the great performances we see in, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Would a movie version of Edward Albee’s play have been nearly as fascinating with anyone else playing George and Martha? I hope we never have to find out.
For all her addiction issues and flights of excess, sexual promiscuity and sense of entitlement (she was famously demanding, spoiled, and difficult to work with), she will also be remembered for her courage to speak out against AIDS at a time when no one was doing so. She was, by all accounts, an excellent mother, and this will be one of the many parallels that cause people to compare her with Angelina Jolie. She had a sense of humor about herself and would famously poke fun of herself on talk shows and with her friends. For instance, she stipulated that her coffin would arrive fifteen minutes late for her own funeral.
She had a great love for the gay man, and what gay man wouldn’t love Elizabeth Taylor? She was an icon and a diva. She had a longstanding and close friendship with Roddy McDowell, with whom she starred in one of the Lassie movies. As a young woman she fell helplessly in love with Montgomery Clift, and even though he preferred men, they remained close throughout his lifetime. She was Rock Hudson’s friend and his champion. When AIDS was denounced as a punishment from God for being gay, Elizabeth Taylor stood up and called that viewpoint nonsense. She was, above all, a spectacularly loyal friend, and her steadfast devotion to Michael Jackson proves that beyond a doubt.
Elizabeth battled lots of continuous health issues and went to rehab more than once. In her middle age and beyond, her metabolism caught up with her, and she battled the bulge many times. Sometimes she won, and sometimes the bulge won. But even as a woman in her 70s, suffering from pain, poor health, and mobility issues, she was still famously beautiful. If you could find anyone in the world who didn’t know who she was, they would have inevitably been struck by the thought of what a striking woman she must have been when she was young. She was the kind of woman that you literally couldn’t help staring at, at any age.
What I most remember Elizabeth Taylor for is that she shared my father’s birthday. My dad was born on the same day as Elizabeth Taylor. He’s five years older than her. He liked to say that the gap between their ages increased over the years but given her childhood stardom, I find this unlikely. It’s probably just my dad’s sense of humor. Elizabeth Taylor’s death reminds me that true beauty, like life, is fleeting. Appreciate it while you can.
I almost never get indigestion. Last October, around the same time as my dog went blind, I had one violent attack of tummy ache. I left work early and took some Tums and laid down. Since then, nothing, until about three weeks ago, when I dared to eat Jack in the Box for breakfast. I would recommend that if you know that you have gallstones (which I didn’t) that you lay off the Jack in the Box.
Pretty soon after that I was experiencing some discomfort. Then I decided to get lunch from Short Bus Subs. Short Bus Subs are excellent, and they offer some healthier sandwiches. However, eating again aggravated my stomach issues, and I went home early because I was in so much pain. The pain was in my central abdominal area, and it was like heartburn, only it wasn’t heartburn. It didn’t reach that far. What it did do was make me violently ill. I threw up in the women’s restroom before I went home.
The next night I went over to the Mr. Brewsters’ so that I could ghost write a cover letter for a job interview. We had chicken and spaghetti. Again, I experienced discomfort of the same sort as before. I drove home and threw up in my kitchen sink. I couldn’t make it as far as the bathroom. That was a Friday night, and I had pain pretty much every day thereafter. It would go away when I went to sleep at night, and I’d wake up the next morning feeling alright. I never knew what was going to set it off. I would eat something and then live in hell for the rest of the day. That is, until the following Thursday.
Thursday I went home a half hour early because that was all I could stand. I felt bloated all the time, like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. And I couldn’t get rid of the air. I popped into bed, took a ton of acid reducers and Tums and lay there miserable while nothing happened. The next morning, more Tums and acid reducers, and I was just as miserable. The pain had kept me up half the night. I chatted one of my coworkers who works from home.
i am so sick to my stomach lately; i’ve been sick since yesterday, and nothing i take makes it any better
do you feel nauseous?
could be your gallbladder. you better go see a doctor.
So, I made an appointment with “my” doctor. Actually, my doctor was in India again, so I made an appointment with someone in her office. I rattle off my symptoms, and the doctor says, “That sounds like it could be your gallbladder.” And I said, “I thought so.” This is because I have the internet and can diagnose and prescribe for myself.
The doctor explained to me that he was going to send me to get an ultrasound. The ultrasound was to check out what was going on down there. If it was my gallbladder, then one of two things could happen. If it wasn’t so bad, then I could live with it until I could schedule a surgery. If it was as bad as he thought it was, then I would probably have to have emergency surgery. He gave me a prescription for some hydrocodone. I went in to work for only long enough to explain to them that I had to go home and take narcotics.
After about an hour, the doctor’s office called. A different doctor than the one I’d seen originally advised me to hold off and schedule the surgery for later. Then the doctor I’d seen originally had a nurse call and tell me to get myself to the emergency room where they would be expecting me for surgery. So, I packed my little overnight bag and drove myself to the emergency room.
Turns out they weren’t expecting me. In severe pain, I walked, with my loaded suitcase and my purse, back and forth from the emergency room to my doctor’s office and back again, twice. They could not admit me. The doctor’s office hadn’t sent the ultrasound or anything they needed. Well, it turned out that the doctor’s office had sent it. I was just asking the wrong people, apparently. When I finally got a bed in the emergency room, after nearly two hours of waiting, a doctor told me that he’d been waiting on me and asked me what took me so long. He was under the impression that I was in my doctor’s office when my doctor called him. No, I told him, I was in the comfort of my own home, enjoying my pain pill. Then I packed my little bag and drove myself here.
Now, when I finally got a bed in the emergency room is when life started to get better. They hooked me up to an IV and gave me morphine. Morphine? I thought that was what they gave to people who were about to die, like terminal cancer patients. Morphine! But seriously, I love morphine. I didn’t even realize how much pain I was in until they gave me the morphine. Wow! This morphine stuff is great.
They moved me to a bed in the hospital. I was going to have surgery the next day. I was not allowed to eat or drink anything. Seriously, I think you’ve never had a gallbladder attack if you think I want anything to eat or drink. Go ahead and hook me up to that saline. I hadn’t eaten since just before noon of the day before. I never wanted to eat anything again for as long as I lived. What was eating but pain and misery? Eating: it’s so not worth it.
In the hospital, they wrapped my legs in these leg warmer pump thingies that they give you to prevent blood clots from surgery. When the orderly came to get me for surgery, first off, he helped me get my computer in my suitcase ‘cause he felt sorry for me, trying to keep the back of my hospital gown closed and close my suitcase at the same time. Then, he grabbed my fancy leg warmers ‘cause he said that they would charge me for new ones unless we took those with us. I am going to spend the rest of my short-lived life paying for this surgery, and every little bit counts. I loved the orderly.
I really don’t remember much about the first procedure, which was the gallbladder surgery itself. I was “under” before they put me under. It was a laparoscopic surgery, so that means that they cut a small incision on the right side of your abdomen, just under your rib cage, just right of your sternum. Then they poke two holes under the incision, further right. They pump you full of gas. They stick a camera inside of your abdomen, along with a light and a tiny vacuum cleaner, I think. Then they basically suck your gallbladder out of you and glue you shut. No kidding. They don’t sew or even staple anymore. They glue you. Someone should redo Operation as a video game and make the players perform simulated laparoscopic surgery. I think there could be some serious money in that.
After they sucked out my gallbladder, there was more! Once I woke up from the surgery they explained that they needed to do a second procedure to remove some gallstones stuck in a duct, along with some bile. Honestly, I didn’t pay attention. There was something about a wire going down my throat, and then a balloon, like an angiogram, and somehow the balloon was going to pick up on this bile and the stones. I wonder how that works exactly. Static electricity? When I woke up the second doctor (the balloon guy) said he “flushed” it four or five times, so he was pretty sure he got the last of the stones and crap. How do you flush something with a balloon? Maybe it was a water balloon. I think it should definitely be a part of the new Operation. Sounds fascinating.
That was Saturday afternoon, and I was told that it was possible that I might get out by Sunday. I called Lubbock, and she insisted on picking me up and having me stay with her for a night or two, and that’s what we did. I called the Mr. Brewsters, and they would have come to visit me on Sunday, but I got released from the hospital before they could make it there. Lubbock drove me to her home where I promptly swallowed two hydrocodone tablets and passed out on her couch. I slept right through the Charlie Sheen special on the Biography Channel. I slept right through a neighbor coming to visit. I slept until sometime in the early morning.
I didn’t get much sleep in the hospital. Someone was always waking me up to change an IV bag or monitor vital signs or poke me with something or other. Not to complain or anything, but I liked the day nurse better than the night nurse. At least he let me sleep some.
On the Tuesday following my surgery I had to go back to the hospital for some kind of test involving kidney function. I gave blood again. Then I decided to go to my doctor and see if the back pain I was experiencing was normal. My doctor couldn’t tell me if that was normal or not. So, I went to the balloon dude’s office, and that doctor’s nurse also didn’t know if it was normal to have back pain after gallbladder surgery. Seriously, haven’t these people heard of the internet? The balloon dude’s nurse sent me to the surgeon’s nurse, who just so happened to be a really hot guy.
Here is one foolproof sign that I am now a middle-aged woman. When I was in my 20s I remember delivering an entire comedic monologue while I was out to dinner with some friends, over pizza at EZ’s, about how I hated that doctors were always wanting to see me naked. I have a cyst on my face. The doctor wants to see me naked. I have chigger bites. The doctor wants to see me naked. I have hives. The doctor wants to see me naked. What is up with that? Why do I ALWAYS have to be naked? My modesty was offended. But on the upside, that little rant is how I came to date Dr. Mark, who found it amusing.
I no longer have any sense of shame or modesty. And I haven’t even had a baby. Now I practically volunteer to strip in front of anyone who says he’s a medical professional. The dermatologist who removed my cyst was really, really cute. And I remember being embarrassed about that somehow. With the hot nurse, I no longer care. I’m flipping up my shirt for the whole world to see my scars. Yes, the back pain was normal and was from the gas they pumped me full of. Both the hot nurse and the surgeon poked at my abdomen and declared me healed, then helped me up off the examining table.
After my hospital trip that Tuesday I went to Lubbock’s and hung out, watching reruns of Little House on the Prairie on cable. It was my last day to play hookie. I was going to work on Wednesday. When she got off work I nuked a dinner I’d purchased from Wal-Mart earlier in the day, while I was waiting on my prescriptions to be filled, and we ate dinner together. I think we were watching another Charlie Sheen special on TV.
I said, “You know what I love about surgery?”
Lubbock said, “Pain medicine.”
“That, too. But I was thinking about the sense of accomplishment that you get.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that everyone gets excited about milestones that you first achieved when you were a baby. Like, look, Ma, I can walk and eat solid food and pee in the potty by myself. Just wait ‘til I have my first bowel movement after the surgery!”
“I think that’s too much information.”