Hooray For Clean Blood

I don’t have to go live in the hospital after all – my blood came back clean, so oral antibiotics will finish the job nicely. In fact, I’d be feeling almost myself again if it wasn’t for 8 liters of IV fluid swelling me like sausage. Oy.

I visited our UW Urgent Care down the road so they could make sure I wasn’t gonna die of pulmonary edema, and get advice on how to make this wretched fluid leave me. It was gratifying to hear the doctor talking to the nurse in the hall before he came in, incredulously repeating, “Eight liters?”, which words have been my mantra whenever I look at my incredibly ballooned abdomen, my bulging ankles, my bratwurst legs, and my lil smokie fingers. He determined that my lungs and heart were holding their own despite the reduced room, so all we need to do now is let nature take its course. We’re not trying drugs because my poor kidneys are already unhappy enough, so it’s best not to antagonize them. We’re going to check them again on Friday, and if they’re recovered but I’m still Water Balloon Woman, we can drug the fluids out then.

Good thing I don’t love salt, because he recommended I keep my sodium low. I’ve already cut back drastically, because carbonated sodas and I aren’t currently on speaking terms. And I don’t salt my food, so I’m basically free to eat what I want. Now if I can only free up enough abdominal space to eat lots of it…

I managed a trip to Target all by my lonesome, and was able to haul everything upstairs without total collapse, so it’s Dana’s Independence Day. B would’ve done all that, but he’d been awake all night worrying after I sent him home for rest and didn’t sleep until I emailed at 4am to let him know mild fever all gone. Then he slept through the morning, and his brother took the car, leaving him stranded. It was a nice, sneaky way to force him to take the day off, really, and he needed it. If I’d needed help, there are other people I can tap, but I don’t think he quite believes that. That poor kid is getting so much TLC from me when I’m fully functional again.

So now, it’s just a matter of tottering around on swollen pins, and grazing throughout the day rather than having meals, and trying to be patient while the last of the infection is murdered and the excess fluid goes away. I anticipate long periods of napping. I’ll probably take several days off from the blog now, unless one of those suddenly-better events happens, in which case we’ll get right back to it. And, of course, either B or I will update you if anything goes wrong. So don’t fret at radio silence.

I love you, my darlings, and can’t wait to be really-for-reals back!

Image shows a cat face-planted on a bed. Caption says, "I will nap... HERE."

 

 

 

Home for Now

Writing from me own bed, yay! I checked out against medical advice because my body was telling me it would conspire with the bacteria to murder me if I didn’t get real sleep. You cannot do that in a hospital, especially when they spend half the night fast-pushing fluids to try to raise your blood pressure. I’m not kidding when I tell you I’m carrying an extra 20 pounds or so of liquid under my skin. I’m swollen all over and my poor lungs have limited room to work, so I sound like a Victorian woman in an extra-tight corset when I talk or breathe. I can’t crouch down to get thing without my legs feeling like they’re gonna pop like water balloons. Luckily, my kidneys are functioning fine and doing their best to deal with the situation. [Read more…]

The Joye of Sepsis

Greetings from my hospital prison! Turns out this wretched little illness wasn’t just a kidney infection. No, the little bastard bacteria escaped into my bloodstream, after pretending they’d gone. I went to urgent care, and they pumped me so full of fluids I nearly popped, topped me off with antibiotics, and shipped me over to the hospital next door. Fun times. At least my female nurses have been unrelently awesome, my one male nurse was hawt, and all of the doctors so far rock, even though they won’t let me return to my memory foam mattress and cat.

B’s got me covered for fetching things and transport. He’ll also watch over my very upset felid. If all goes well, I’ll be going home tomorrow sometime. Probably will not be back to full Dana for a few days, though. Sepsis is srs bidness. However, I already feel miles better and am happily sucking down fluids, so I’m hoping recovery won’t take forever.

We shall see…

Thanks for your patience and well-wishes!

Gray kitten in scrubs walking toward right, caption says, "Dr. Tinycat to the OR, STAT!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currently Ill. Back Soon!

I’m so sorry, my darlings, but my body has gone into full rebellion. First, Aunty Flow showed up, then I developed what’s probably a kidney infection. Alas, of course, it didn’t make its wretched self obvious until after every Urgent Care clinic closed. Sigh. B is a complete angel and rushed over with necessary drugs and fluids, so I’m feeling much better and the fever’s going down. If it’s still a thing in the morning, or worsens unexpectedly, he’ll whisk me off to brave the indignities of the American health care system. Whee.

I’ll be posting again ASAP, but it might take a few days. Apologies to those who are languishing in moderation – I am definitely not up for admin duties, but hopefully tomorrow! I’m now going to drink a gallon of green tea and pass out.

Gray kitten in scrubs walking toward right, caption says, "Dr. Tinycat to the OR, STAT!"

 

 

Adventures in Mental Health Care

You may have noticed from the fact I’ve flaked recently, but Wellbutrin stopped working in a big way. It did a great job removing depression at first – which unmasked an underlying anxiety that increased and increased and increased. Then it stopped working on the depression. Sigh.

My day job has spent the past several months jabbing the rage, depression, and anxiety buttons nearly constantly. It’s got to the point where I have nightmares about it, which added insomnia to the list. Double sigh.

And my doctor is on sabbatical so she can spend time with her kids. Triple sigh.

Image is a cat collapsed face-down on the back of a sofa. Caption says, "I love you, couch. You understand me."

It’s really hard to cope with change when you’re super-depressed and anxious, so it took me a while to work up the courage to go through the process of getting a new doctor. Luckily, a friend at work went from all storm clouds all the time to near-blissful happiness, and her doctor was accepting new patients. I saw her Tuesday. I bloody love both her and the new clinic. She was a lot more prompt and thorough than my previous doctor. She found me something that will, with any luck, destroy both the anxiety and the depression in one go. We’re phasing out Wellbutrin. I’ve got some Xanax to fill in the gaps while the new stuff gears up to full effect. She listened to me when I told her my tiny little body burns through ordinary doses of drugs in a flash, and dosed accordingly. And she also sent me down the hall to the lab to get my thyroid tested, which I’d meant to ask for and completely forgotten. I love docs who actually look for other underlying causes rather than just assuming you’re mental. [Read more…]

To The People Who Love to Opinionate on Not Medicating a Mental Illness

Fuck you.

Fuck you and your sanctimonious crap about how you believe psychiatric drugs aren’t good for us, and we shouldn’t take them, because we’ll be oh-so-much-better.

Bullshit.

You know, I really wish more people cheered for the medicine, and fewer acted like it was a personal failure and a potential death sentence to take psychiatric meds. Because I’d still have a mother if she’d listened to her first and best psychiatrists, rather than the assholes who told her she could and should do without the drugs.

As it stands, I have a shell of what used to be my mom, living in residential care and never able to leave it. There’s nothing left of the person I adored. Just an echo. Her mind would still be intact if she’d stayed on her drugs. She didn’t, and now she’s gone.

So fuck you, assholes who burble about how the drugs are harming us. Fuck you, people who shake their heads and cluck their tongues and judge. I will be flipping you off with one hand while happily taking my medication with the other. I don’t want to end up like her.

I know our current drugs aren’t a perfect solution, and that they sometimes lose their effectiveness as our bodies change, and we need to adjust them. I know they won’t always keep the depression and anxiety away. But they mitigate it. I’ve reached the stage where I’ll have to be on them for the rest of my life if I want to live with my mind mostly intact, and I’m good with that. I’ve watched them help other people I love, watched them return people to life who had nearly left it, and I love them for that. I’m glad we have something. Because I know what unmedicated serious mental illness looks like, and it’s horrific.

So fuck you, with your “I stopped taking meds and now I feel so much better!” My mother fell for your schtick, and she felt great – right up until the last of her lithium and antipsychotics cleared her system, and the suicidal depression and nasty voices came back, until paranoia paralyzed her and made her terrified of everyone and everything. My mother kept falling for your bullshit, and each time, a bit more of her slipped away until she couldn’t come back. You might have a mild enough case of whatever it is you were taking pills for that you just needed the temporary boost and can now do without. Or you may be in that honeymoon period before your mind collapses in on itself again. I don’t care, to be honest. I just want you to fuck off, and leave those of us who have decided we don’t want to risk going on a one-way trip down the wrong road the hell alone.

Don’t start that bullshit with me unless you have overwhelming scientific evidence of a better way to treat mental illness. You don’t have it now. And if you try to wave some fuckwad’s pop psychology book of bullshit in my face as proof, I may do something very Not Nice.

Then again, I might be able to contain myself. As long as I’m on my medication, it’s easier to keep my temper around sanctimonious assholes like you.

Image is a finger touching a cat's nose. Caption says, "My grumpy button. Ur pushin it."

I Wish I’d Had These Words

Back when my best friend and I had our final falling-out over his utter lack of concern about the lives of young women, I wish I’d had this post to send him. It might have gotten through. He might have understood why I was raging.

When you express opposition to abortion on demand, your words mean that you view all of this as perfectly fine: My death. Their deaths. Their poverty. Their children’s poverty. You would condemn real people to death, to a life of misery and suffering. And for what? For this:

Image shows an embryo. Image courtesy UNSW Embryology, via Iris Vander Pluym.

Image courtesy UNSW Embryology, via Iris Vander Pluym.

OH WAIT, I’m sorry. I got mixed up. That’s ^ a mouse embryo up there, not a human embryo. Sure looks a lot like that human embryo, though. And yet, nothing like a mouse. Weird.

Read the whole thing, and bookmark it, and send it on to that person in your life who either cares more about little globs than they do actual women, or those who are so indifferent to women that their health and safety doesn’t matter as much as voting the way their church wants them to vote.

What Secular Anti-Choicers Are Really Saying

Giliell,  professional cynic, -Ilk-, has decoded the language of those secular people who think women (or trans men) who had the temerity to have sex (or get raped) should carry the resulting pregnancy to term:

Secular arguments against abortion I’ve heard are usually:
-She had sex, so she should bear the consequences*
-Bäbeeeeez!
-She had sex, so she should bear the consequences**
-Adoption!
-She had sex, she should bear the consequences
-It’s a continuum and I’m going to dismiss the one actual clear-cut point that we have which is birth
-She had sex, she should bear the consequences
-There aren’t enough healthy white babies for us to adopt
-She had sex, she should bear the consequences
-The straw-abortion of a healthy, almost-term fetus because the woman has suddenly decided she’d like to go clubbing at the weekend
-She had sex, she should bear the consequences
-I don’t know anything about pregnancy, HELLP, Potter syndrome, childbirth, ectopic pregnancies, post-partum depression, but I held a baby once and handed them back to their loving mother when they cried/pooped.
*Fuck them for thinking of children as “consequences”
**Quite often combined with the idea that men shouldn’t have to pay child-support for the offspring of their one-night stand, because consequences are for women only

I think that explains matters clearly enough. I encourage you to read the rest of that comment, which is an education for anyone who thinks they can decide when a pregnant person can no longer choose to become not pregnant. If you have time, read that entire thread. And for those hot and heavy about the “it’s fine until 20 weeks” bullshit, read this right now.

Oh, and Dave? You can fuck right off. You don’t get to throw my reproductive rights under the bus to attract more assholes to the movement. American Atheists won’t have my support unless and until your organization makes a woman’s right to abortion non-negotiable. Think about what’s more important: trying to win the support of a tiny number of conservatives who are probably going to tell you to piss up a rope regardless, or keeping the support of the much larger number of atheist women who are already here – but won’t be for long if leaders in this movement keep throwing us away.

Man-and-Horse-that-Built-Civilization-71449154125

 

A (Metaphorically) Magical Review of Dr. Offit’s Magnum Opus on Woo

Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine by Dr. Paul Offit.

Cover of Do You Believe in Magic. It has got all sorts of herbs emerging from a top hat. Very cute and clever.I have friends who drive me mad with alt med crapola. People who shun vaccines, people who chug mega-doses of Emergen-C (and catch colds regularly anyway – but still swear it worked!), who go on and on about natural this and herbal that, until I wish to scream. There aren’t enough links to enough studies to explain why I get heartily sick of this bullshit.

Fortunately, I can now direct them to download this quite-reasonably priced ($1.99 for Kindle, last I checked – yowza!) book by a man who 1. knows his shit, 2. thoroughly mucks out the bullshit, and 3. is just kind enough to the placebo effect of some alt med treatments to placate these people.

Those of you who’ve been in the trenches of the vaccine wars probably know Paul as one of the despised enemies of anti-vaxxers. This book is an excellent example of why they hate him: it’s clear, concise, and full of citations to studies that make it very, very difficult to counter him. Also, he’s fair almost to a fault. Alt-med? He’s tried it himself. He’s given things like glucosamine a spin. He’s had less-than-satisfactory experiences with conventional medicine, so he gets why you might like something different. Sure. But then he says, let’s look at the studies – and there we have bad news. No better than placebo. Oh, dear. Better stick with the stodgy stuff, then, unless your condition is amenable to treatment by placebo, in which case, alt-med yourself out (on the safe stuff, anyway).

That’s the book in a nutshell.

Within these pages, many darlings of the alt-med scene are given a harsh dose of reality. Fans of Dr. Mehmet Oz, Depak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil, Suzanne Somers, Stanislaw Burzynsky, Jenny McCarthy, Joe Mercola, and other such purveyors of woo will become distressed as their darlings are demolished. People who pop vitamins are in for some very severe shocks. Supplement sectarians are about to get a rude awakening. Most of the book is merciless, and rightly so.

Most of these fatal blows are delivered with calm precision and gentle reliance on the facts, but the message is driven home with the occasional zinger, like this (my favorite line in the book): “Unfortunately, Vitamin O [oxygen] users lacked the one thing necessary to extract oxygen from water: gills.” Beauty.

I felt he went a little – perhaps a lot – too easy on the purveyors of placebos at the end (a trait he shares, interestingly enough, with Mark Twain, who had a big softy for Christian Science for just that reason: the placebo effect). I’m afraid those prone to such things will seize upon this and shriek that their pet nostrum really and truly works. I would guide their attention to the paragraphs in the final section that throw a bucket of cold water over the love fest. These are the four ways Paul divides practitioners of placebo medicine from outright quacks. For those who are curious, or need the crash course as an immediate inoculation against woo for self or others, they are these:

“First, by recommending against conventional therapies that are helpful.” If it quacks that you don’t need that chemo, it’s a quack. Run.

Second, “by promoting potentially harmful therapies without adequate warning.” If it quacks that its horrid green goo is 1000% safe despite being full of arsenic, it’s a quack. Run.

Third, “by draining patients’ bank accounts.” If it quacks it can heal you, but needs extravagant amounts of money to do so, it’s a quack. Run.

Fourth, “by promoting magical thinking.” You know the drill by now.

After reading this book, I feel much better prepared for the next dissertation on the wonders of alt-med I’m subjected to. And I have a handy tome to hand them that may, just possibly, save their lives. At the very least, it should make them wiser about their medical choices, save them some coin, and promote some harmony between them and the skeptics in their lives. Not bad for one little book, eh?

Dr. Paul Offit is a gray-haired man with brainy-specs and a suit, posing at a podium, smiling the smile of a man who's quite famous and just a bit embarassed about it.

Dr. Paul Offit, bane of woo-meisters everywhere. Image courtesy Michael Spencer for the National Institutes of Health Record via Wikimedia Commons.

The Saga of the Salivary Gland

Look, it’s not a tumor.

Image of white kitten on top of a larger white cat that is grumpily saying

Not that you’d know that from the reaction. You know how they tell you to see your doctor if your sore throat doesn’t go away or worsens? Well, going in to week three of this wretched illness, everything was improving except my throat, which was busily getting worse. My regular doctor has taken a sabbatical to be with her kids, and it seemed rather asinine anyway to drive all the way to Totem Lake and see a real doctor over a silly little illness like this, so I went to our on-site clinic. One torture session with a cotton swab and a needle-stick later, we’d decided it wasn’t mono or strep, just a persistent virus. No worries. Come back if it gets worse.

Later that night, I got a sharp pain in the roof of my mouth where the hard palette meets the soft, near where all that crap drains from your sinuses down your throat. Felt like a canker sore, and there was a little bump that night that was a large painful bump in the morning. [Read more…]