Tag Archives: healing

Surgery in T-4 Days…

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The next four days cannot pass soon enough!  I’m focusing on my recovery period more so than the upcoming gall bladder surgery.  (at least that’s what I keep telling myself)  The truth is, no one wants to have surgery, but, in this case, I so want it behind me so I can move toward better health!  I’ve been on bed rest for the last three weeks since my ER visit and this is entirely contrary to my normal routine.  I’m usually very busy, so this little “vacation” of sorts, a miserable one at that, has been very strange.

The nurse called from the hospital yesterday to review my medical history, etc. and really put my mind at ease when we discussed my past vasovagal response.  She noted on my file for them not to place the i.v. in my hand, but in my arm rather.  What a huge answer to prayer this was!!  I really did not want to pass out again in pre-op, like I did previously with another surgery.  This offers a great deal of peace of mind for me and is so comforting to know they will respect my wishes.  Of course, I may have to remind the pre-op nurse of this on the morning of my surgery, but now I feel comfortable making my preference known and knowing they can accommodate it.

It is never a good feeling being out of control and that is exactly what a vasovagal response is.  It’s an involuntary reaction to pain or a situation that your physical body wants to escape.  And so, you pass out – sort of a self-preservation response.  So, I’m very glad to remove this scenario from possibly reoccurring altogether.

I’m so looking forward to feeling better!  I’ve been trying to reassure my kids (16 & 18) that this is a very routine surgery and I may be home the same day, etc.  They’ve been so concerned about me but I think they’re relaxing a little now.  I hope so.  I don’t want them to worry.  First of all, I know ultimately I’m in God’s hands and there is a great peace knowing that!  Secondly, I believe the surgeon is highly skilled and the hospital is very competent.  So, I believe my surgery should go smoothly and I’ll be on the mend very shortly.  This time next week, my body will be in the healing phase! Praise the Lord for that!

Then, I will recover for a couple months and have a hysterectomy.  (glutton for punishment, huh?)  Again, while I’m not looking forward to the surgery itself, I am excited about my recovery.  2016 will be a humdinger of a year but I know that God is walking beside me each step of the way and that gives me great peace!  I also am confident that He is working ALL things together for my good and His glory!  (Romans 8:28)

My husband and kids have been wonderful caretakers of me and I’m grateful for that.  I am, however, looking forward to resuming my normal responsibilities once I recover.

Last night our Bible study leader brought chicken, rice, salad and cupcakes for dinner, which was very thoughtful.  The kids were very excited.  And a couple neighbors have offered to bring dinner post-surgery too.  And our Bible study leader will bring dinner again next week.  We appreciate their kindness so much.  I think the last time we had someone bring us dinner was when our daughter was born – 18 years ago!  We are so accustomed to blessing others that sometimes it’s a little strange being on the receiving end.  Although if there ever was a time when someone needs a blessing – it’s when they’re going to have surgery, I have to say.

If you would, please say a prayer regarding my surgery and for peace for our family.  Thanks so much!  Blessings!

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…Be still and know that I am God.”  ~ Psalm 46:1,10

 

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Waiting for Surgery

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Surgery is such a common occurrence these days that it is possible you or someone you know will have surgery in the near future.  As I find myself in that category, I thought I’d offer some useful tips for both the patient and friends and family.

To the patient first – 

  •  My best advice is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible regarding the type of surgery you will undergo.  The more you know, the less you will worry.  The fear of the unknown is a terrible thing.
  • Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • Prepare your household (stock up on groceries, make sure things are taken care of in advance that usually rely on your efforts.)
  • Pay all bills and make sure spouse knows where important papers are.
  • Pamper yourself a little.
  • Pray and leave the surgery in God’s hands.
  • Relax.  Before you know it, the surgery will be history and you’ll be on the road to recovery!

To friends & family –

  • Ask your friend or family member how you can best offer assistance.
  • Plan to prepare a simple meal to drop off after surgery. (Don’t linger.  They need rest and are likely in pain.)
  • Offer to do light grocery shopping.
  • Write a thoughtful get well card.  (Everyone loves to be thought of, especially when they’re not feeling up to par.)
  • Give a little thinking of you gift. (lip balm, lotion, word search puzzle book, etc.)
  • Pray for their healing, comfort and peace during this time.

 

I hope this was helpful.  If you’d like to add any tips, please leave a comment.

Here’s wishing all of us a healthy year!

 

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Being a Healthcare Advocate

An advocate is one who stands in place for another, who fights for another.

I am Sarah’s greatest health advocate.  Sarah is my 18 year old daughter who was recently diagnosed with POTS.  (I wrote a lengthy post on this that you can check out if you’d like.)

I suppose being a mother predisposes one to being an advocate.  After all, no one wants what’s best for their child more than their mother.  I have become a “Mama Grisly Bear” when it comes to my daughter.  My further training in this regard came in recent years, caring for my aging father.  He particularly has needed an advocate during doctor visits and his hospitalization several years ago when he survived sepsis.  I told him then that I would always be his best advocate and I meant it.  I still am.

In recent months my role as “Health advocate” has expanded to include my teenage daughter, Sarah, who has seen more specialists than one can imagine over the last year.

Last October I became convinced that my daughter’s symptoms matched those of patients with Lyme disease.  In fact, I was pretty sure she had it.  Of course, I have no formal medical training (unless you count being a nurse’s daughter).  🙂  I read articles online and really researched this.  I spoke with friends about it and they, too, were fairly convinced.

So, when we met with Sarah’s new primary care doctor, we strongly requested her being tested for Lyme.  And not just any old test.  We had read that the Western Blot test was the most accurate and that was what we wanted.

Not only did her PC order the Western Blot test, but also ordered another Leukemia round of blood tests as well as any markers in her blood indicating other diseases.  We were glad she was so proactive in ordering these tests but were sent on another emotional roller coaster while we awaited the results once more.  Thankfully, all results were negative!

Because Sarah has seen so many specialists, we always type up a “Medical History” information sheet, which is typically several pages long and includes all recent MRI’s and CAT scans and other diagnostic testing.  I also photocopy all recent lab work results so they know instantly what she’s already been tested for at a glance.

I’m sure some smile at this and perhaps think my efforts are “over the top”, but most thank me wholeheartedly for doing this.  It eliminates many questions and saves their time so they can concentrate on the bigger picture.  It also means we do not have to answer the same questions over and over again, specialist to specialist visit.

Part of being a patient advocate is steering the treatment in the direction you are most comfortable.  Example: Our family tries to eat very healthy and veers toward a more holistic path when possible.  We’re not opposed to medications, but only when necessary and if a supplement couldn’t work just as well.  I am reminded of this because several doctors have suggested birth control for Sarah as a treatment for a couple different issues (that have nothing to do with birth control itself actually).  Sarah has done some research into this drug and is adamantly opposed to using it.  I have to say that I am not a fan either and wouldn’t want that necessarily for her.  My mother died at age 53 of breast cancer and studies have shown increased estrogen levels lead to breast cancer.

Each time we have politely declined using it, both doctors were certainly understanding, which we appreciated.  (I had a doctor years ago discharge me as his patient because I refused to go on a steroid because we were trying to conceive at the time.  So some doctors believe it is their way or the highway, apparently.)

Side note:  Sarah wanted to be a midwife for a while and during that time, educated herself greatly in every aspect.  She even was able to attend a home birth, which was a memorable experience for her.

So, you might say I am a Captain of the Healthcare Sea on my daughter’s behalf, in a way.  Obviously, my daughter’s care is ultimately up to her doctors, but if I believe a leaf needs turned over, I will advocate for it.  Steering is definitely a part of being a good advocate.  So is educating yourself on the symptoms and known diagnosis.  Don’t be afraid to speak up.  In this case, it’s my daughter’s body that we are dealing with.  She may be a stranger to the specialist, but to me, she is a huge part of my world!  And my heart.

At the end of the day, I must know within myself that I’ve exhausted every avenue in an attempt to restore my daughter’s health.  I feel like I’m fighting a battle for her wellness and recovery.   One on one time with each doctor is very limited, so having medical history documented and any questions written down is vital for a successful visit.  It also eliminates “brain fog” during the visit.  It’s an amazing thing that happens when you’re finally face to face with the doctor, often after months of waiting to get in, and then all pertinent questions fly out the window.  Another thing that happens is, whatever the doctor says during the visit winds up becoming a “brain blur” afterward.  I recommend writing notes, asking questions and later documenting the visit for clarity.

I am present during every doctor visit my daughter has, even now that she has turned 18.  She’ll say that sometimes I answer the doctor’s questions and that she wished I would allow her time to do that.  So, I’ve scaled back and attempted to allow her to do most of the talking when possible.  Often what happens is that she experiences POTS “brain fog” and goes on bunny trails in response to the doctor’s questions, which can be confusing and time consuming.  And each visit is so key to Sarah’s recovery that I feel like much is at stake and we must make the most of our time.  So, I speak up when I think it’s useful to the doctor’s understanding of her symptoms.  Sarah thanks me.  Most of the time.  😉

Follow up is another major component of advocacy.  It has been amazing to me the degree that I have had to involve myself and relentless messages to doctor’s offices in order to obtain lab or other diagnostic testing results.  It matters to no one more than you and your family.  Why wouldn’t you follow up?  If the doctor says the lab results should be ready in three days.  Guess who’s calling in three days?  Me!  The sooner we have the results, the sooner treatment and recovery can begin.

Have you ever had to be a staunch advocate for a loved one who is ill?  If so, can you offer any sage words of advice?

 

{Medical Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor.  I don’t even play one on t.v.  I am a mom.  A very loving and dedicated one at that.  The information contained in this blog and any other article on my page are based on our experiences, what we’ve read and our opinions or understanding of POTS.  Please consult a licensed physician for advice and conduct extensive research on your own.}

 

 

 

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A Little Perspective

…is all it takes sometimes.  We’ve had a rough few days around here with all our aches and pains.  What am I saying?  We’ve had a painful two weeks.  But it has reached the point where we’re tired of it!  Frustrated that we’re still in pain, tired of taking pain meds, Epsom baths, applying Biofreeze gel … and don’t get me started about the seemingly endless Dr. and physical therapy appointments!! … And, then she walked past us on her way out of the physical therapy office today…

She had some sort of brace around her rib cage and a cast on her arm as she spoke in a raspy voice.  Clearly she was in a worse accident than we were and her pain has got to be more severe.  I knew from the beginning of our ordeal how blessed we were not to have sustained far greater injuries and we are infinitely grateful to God for that!  But, today was an especially painful day for me where it hurts to sit.  It doesn’t feel a whole lot better standing.  And I didn’t sleep well and I have a lot of issues on my mind at the moment… And, and, and… Blah, blah, blah, blah… Well, you get the idea.  Not a stellar day for me.

But, when I saw this poor woman today, I couldn’t help but thank God once more for His grace and mercy over our lives!  Yes, we are all in pain from the accident still, but the good news is that we will recover in time.  Pain does crazy things to you.  Not only does it make one grumpy, but it also blurs the reality that the pain will pass in time.

I was sharing my accident story with the dermatologist this morning at my follow up appointment and she concurred how fortunate we all are that it was no worse.  That fact alone fills my heart with immense gratitute.  From the outside, we all appear to be just fine, but on the inside, not only are we still in a great deal of pain, we are also still processing the trauma of the accident.  That takes time too.  Since this was the first real accident I’ve ever been in, I never realized the anxiety that can follow a major accident.  I’ve gotten better each time I’ve driven or been a passenger since the accident, but I’m definitely uber cautious and aware that anything can happen.

My husband went to the orthopedic Dr. this morning and will begin his physical therapy routine this week.  He mentioned how much time all of these appointments are consuming and the fact that we have to get back to living our normal lives!  I couldn’t agree more.  I got to thinking how the actions of one person affected ten other people that night!  Because one man decided to consume entirely too much alcohol and get behind the wheel, he and his passenger were flown by helicopter to a shock and trauma unit.  The remaining nine of us were taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.  He even still had alcohol in his vehicle, which I’m sure is one reason he attempted to flee the scene of the accident.  He received five citations.

This week alone I will have had six medical appointments, two on Mon. and Wed. and will have two more on Fri.  There have been no quiet moments since the accident.  The phrase, “No rest for the weary” comes to mind.  We just want normal life to resume.  Now.  Isn’t that our way?  We want everything instantly.  Apparently part of the reason for much of my pain is inflammation.  The Dr. advised to limit wheat and take fish oil (which I already do) to help.  I also came home and researched this a little and found out green tea, spices, almonds and many fruits can also help.

And, so my pep talk to myself today is that I will continue to take this healing journey one day at a time.  I will resist the urge to complain (too much anyway!).  I will count my blessings every day!  I will look to the hills from whence comes my help.  My help comes from the Lord!  I will do my part to help the healing process and trust God to do the rest.  And I will continually seek out the good that will come from this accident.  I know there’s more good that hasn’t been revealed just yet.  I don’t believe God wastes pain, so I believe there’s a purpose even in this.  And I will yet praise Him!

Signed,

Just Me Being Real

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Doctors, doctors, and more doctors…

If I had a dollar for every doctor’s appointment our family will endure over the next stretch, I’d have a nice little stockpile of cash!  There … That’s my complaint for the day.  Now, that I’ve expressed my disdain for my suddenly busy schedule, I must add that I’m very happy that our family is on the road to recovery from our recent auto accident…however slow that recovery may seem at the moment.

This morning, I took my darling daughter to the ear, nose and throat Dr. as she’s had an ear infection (not related to the accident) and the antibiotic ear drops she was using were affecting her hearing.  Thankfully, the Dr. said the infection has cleared up and he suctioned out some build up. (yuck!)  The good news is that she can hear perfectly once again… especially when I tell her to do her school work!  Haha.  Yes, we’re attempting to get back on track with our school work this week to finish the school year strong!  Last week, we all were in such pain and on meds that nothing got done.

This afternoon, my son, daughter and I have our first round of physical therapy.  So, we’ll see how that goes.  We met with the orthopedic Dr. on Tuesday and he referred us to physical therapy three times a week.  I bought this gel called Biofreeze on Amazon and my husband and I used it for the first time last night.  It works wonders!!  It’s my new best friend!  It is strong so you only need a dab.  (We learned that the hard way! Haha!)  It really helps sore muscles and joint pain.  I also recently bought an all natural muscle relaxer called Formula 303.  We haven’t tried it yet, but I plan on it soon.  We all detest the way the prescription muscle relaxers make us feel so groggy and out of it.  It feels like someone hit you over the head and then you’re supposed to be able to function?  I don’t think so.  🙂

Yesterday, my husband and I went to see our primary care Dr.  I am happy to say that she was compassionate and kind this time, which is my biggest complaint about her.  I’ve had the worst experiences with female doctors.  They just seem to either have a condescending attitude or no feelings at all.  Just treat me like a human being, please.  That’s all I ask.  Not a number.  Not a file.  Just a fellow human being, please.  Anyway, I digress… She’s sending me for three x-rays, plus a referral for my annual mammogram.  Oh, joy!  It is that time of year.  (My mother died of breast cancer at age 53, so it is especially imperative.  Of course, every woman over the age of 40 should have mammograms annually.  Even the orthopedic Dr. reminded me of such, which I’m grateful he did.  Because with everything else aching and such, it did slip my mind.)

Four out of five days next week will be consumed with medical appointments.  I also have a follow-up appt. previously scheduled with the dermatologist about the precancerous cells they found on the mole I had removed from my cheek in March.

We’re all still very achy, especially our necks and backs from the auto accident.  I’m very hopeful that the physical therapy will help a great deal with that.

The police report was finally available from the accident.  It was an interesting read, for sure.  The driver of the SUV, who plowed into a sedan that then hit our SUV and sent us into a mini van (and pushed it through the intersection), was, in fact, drunk, as we’d heard.  He received five citations.  He and his passenger were air lifted to a shock and trauma unit hospital.  The remaining nine of us were carried by ambulance to a local hospital.  Quite an ordeal.  I’ve only had one other car accident in my life and it was nearly 20 years ago, with mere scratches on a bumper.  But, back to those injured in this four car collision… I’ve been praying for their healing…even the drunk driver.  I’ve been praying that they will accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, if they don’t already know Him.

I’ve also searched for the good that could possibly come out of something so devastating.  So far, I’ve come up with three definites:

One – Twenty minutes before the accident, we stopped for some groceries after being away from home for nine days, and moved our daughter from the right side of the third row of the SUV to the second row.  We put all the groceries in the third row where she was.  Had our daughter still been riding in the third row seat at the time of impact, she would’ve been severely injured.  (She’d been riding in the third row for nearly nine hours!)  We were hit directly in the tail gate as well as the right corner bumper.  It’s just one demonstration of the mercy of God and His hand over our lives concerning this accident!

Two – We were not hit directly by the drunk driver, even though the impact was still severe and at highway speed.  The small car behind us was totaled and completely sandwiched.  Thankfully, the driver and his passenger are okay.  (at least as far as we know)

Three – We will recover from our injuries.  We know that it could have been far worse.  Despite the pain we feel today, we will move beyond our aches and pains.  We definitely feel like God protected and shielded us from what could have been catastrophic injuries.

And, so, despite all of our appointments, we are grateful for good medical care and the beginning of the road to recovery.  I’m thankful for the peace that surpasses all human understanding… that no matter how difficult the path, God still walks with us.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28

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Excellent News!!!

The sun is shining and this caregiver’s heart is elated that my dad is nearly ready to return to his home!!!  It’s been quite a couple of weeks but my dad is gaining strength daily and is determined to make a full recovery!  Praise the Lord for answered prayer!!

I laid out a fresh change of clothing for my dad early this morning.  So, he washed up, shaved and changed.  He tried to tell me that he’d change after the nurse and therapist left, but I told him that defeated the whole purpose.  He conceded my point… (He likely will be glad when he doesn’t have “Nurse Meanie Pants” to boss him around once he gets back home!  … I can’t help it – Personal hygiene is important.)  Then I fixed him a bowl of oatmeal and gave him a glass of orange juice for breakfast.

The visiting nurse came out this morning.  More than anything, they talked baseball!  She shares my father’s affection for his favorite team, so she didn’t mind their lengthy discussion.  She did take his blood pressure and listened to his lungs and heart.  That’s about the only medical function she performed.  I’m hopeful that, given my dad’s good lab report from last week, he can go to a 2-3 week re-check schedule.  Next week begins a seemingly continuous cycle of doctor visits, so I don’t think we will require the visiting nurse’s services after that point.

The physical therapist arrived just minutes after the nurse left.  She had my dad go down the front steps and walk to the driveway and back into the house.  We all were impressed with how well he did.  I think he may have even surprised himself!  He can nearly walk normally now.  I tell you, each day we are seeing great improvement in many regards!  What a testimony of God’s goodness, healing power and mercy!!  He is ever faithful.  I know my dad was glad to get outside and absorb some of the gorgeous sunshine!  I noticed my hyacinths are beginning to bloom and a couple of my daffodils have bloomed.  Spring, how we love thee!!

I was unsure when my dad would be able to return home, but when the physical therapist mentioned that she thought it would be soon, I was blown away!  She suggested that we’ll take a field trip to his house to see how he does, which is a great idea.  The therapist asked my dad if he’d been home to visit yet.  To which he replied, “She won’t let me!”  He was joking, but it’s true.  One day early last week he asked if he could ride with me, and, at that point, he had not regained the strength he has now.  The therapist doesn’t think her services will be required much longer, which is great news too.  I tend to agree.

Tomorrow we’ll see how my dad navigates the steps at his house.  If all goes well, he should be able to return home this week.  I know he’ll be thrilled.  And, I have to say, it’ll be good to have a break from the almost constant care of the last two weeks.  Not to mention, we’ll be able to return to a more functional school schedule!  Our lives and schedules have been completely turned upside down due to his illness.  The Lord truly knows how much we can bear and I’m ever grateful that my dad is recovering so well!  It’s really miraculous considering he was at death’s door two weeks ago!  He is very stubborn and has a real determination to be independent, which serves him well.  I’m sure the ER doctor would be amazed at his progress.

To God be the glory!!  Great things He hath done!!

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Actinic Keratoses

Well, I learned a new medical term today…one that I could have spent the remainder of my life not knowing.  I had a mole removed from under my left eye last week, and the lab results came back today that there are pre-cancerous cells.  The nurse explained that I need to return for a procedure where they spray the area with liquid nitrogen to freeze the bad cells. (which will burn)  Oh, joy!  Because last Monday’s procedure and subsequent nearly passing out wasn’t enough!   😉

She wanted to know if I’d like to come in next week!  I asked if it was okay to wait a couple of weeks to give my open wound time to heal a little, which she said was fine, thankfully!  What a week!

Let me begin by saying, I have a very weak stomach!  I just can’t stand the sight of “unsightly” things!  Can’t help it.  So, the first few days after the procedure, my dear husband helped change the band-aid so I wouldn’t have to look at the area.  This made such a difference for me!  But, when I did look, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps the dermatologist was a little too “happy” with the scalpel.  The surrounding area was still swollen, so it looked worse than it actually was.  I’m finally at the place where I think, given sufficient time, I will be able to mask the area with a quality concealer and foundation.  But, that will have to wait until this liquid nitrogen procedure does its thing.

From the description I read online about it, I think I may be staying indoors for a couple of weeks afterward…Good thing the kids have their dental appointments next week and I have to take my dad to get his echocardiogram the following week.  And, I’d really hate to go on my birthday!  Hopefully, my dad’s routine lab appointments revert back to the monthly schedule to give me a little breather.

When the mom is out of commission, it is never a good thing!  And, in this case, when the mom, wife and daughter… I hurt my elbow yesterday and had it wrapped in an ace bandage all day.  My husband bought some ginger root, mashed it with a hammer and wrapped it inside the ace bandage.  I must admit that I was skeptical of this Chinese medicine, but it really helped a lot!  I’m a believer now!  haha  The prayer and Advil also helped a great deal! …

I prefaced the story with the “why” I was out of commission, but the story to illustrate my point of the challenges when mom is down is:

I loaded the dishwasher with my left hand, which was very interesting since I’m right handed!  Then, asked my darling husband to load the rest, including his dinner plate.  He loaded it, added the detergent pod, and shut the dishwasher.  End of story.

I returned to the kitchen later to find that he never hit the “Start” button!  🙂  I love my husband!  Ya gotta give him an A for Effort!

…While today’s lab results were totally unexpected, God overshadowed me with tremendous peace.   The thing that I love about God is that He is in total control of all things.  I have placed my faith and life in His strong and loving hands, and He is more than able to take care of me.  I’m often reminded of the passage that says:

 “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?”  ~ Matthew 6:26 

I am believing for total and complete healing in Jesus’ Name, the Name that is above every other name!

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”  ~ Isaiah 53:1-5

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