Friday, July 24, 2015

More July News

Yes, July certainly has had its moments.
Some have been so awesome.
Others, not so much.

The awesome part has been time with family and friends.

While my children and grandchildren were here visiting, we were able to also spend some time with my cousin Diana.  She is the daughter of my father's sister.  When we were children, her family and my family were always together for family get togethers that included holiday celebrations, picnics, camping, and just playing together on a summer afternoon.  Her sister Donna is my age, just ten days younger, so Diana is the younger sister we always tried to stay away from.  We were just too cool to play with the younger siblings.

Now, my younger cousin Diana is also known as Dian Curtis Regan.  She is a children's books author.  She and her husband had dinner with all of us on the Fourth of July, but she wanted Keicha to come over and see her home. I also wanted to inspire my granddaughters (and myself) by seeing her office.  

In the collage above, I have included a photo of Dian at her desk.  Top right photo is of my granddaughters and daughter with Dian, a photo of Dian's sister Donna and me with Dian, the girls looking at the books Dian has authored, Dian in front of the books she has published, and finally, a photo of Regan writing on Dian's window.  

My grandchildren grew up reading their famous cousin's books, so it was a thrill for them to see the place where she "works her magic."  Dian's latest book is Space Boy.  I love this photo of my granddaughter Gillian reading Dian's book, Princess Nevermore.  It was taken a few years back.  

Doctor Appointments and Health Problems

I've spent much time over the past few months up in Denver at National Jewish Health involved in health test and consults.  I've had the good fortune of going up to this renowned hospital for the past nineteen years.  I started going up there after a chemical exposure I experienced on the job.  They have always taken such good care of me.  

I so appreciate my GI doctor.  Lately, she has put me through some tests that haven't been pleasant, but she is doing all she can to solve my GI issues.  Sometimes, I have to remind myself of this message as I am walking into the hospital for yet another test.  "We never say never."

I have recently been diagnosed with hypercontractile esophagus or jackhammer esophagus.  Not fun!  The days of having symptoms have been more numerous than I'd like to have experienced.  Attacks are very painful and can sure ruin a day.  My doctor has treated the condition by giving me a BOTOX injection in the esophagus about a month ago. (No, I couldn't talk her into giving me any BOTOX injections in my wrinkles on my face!)  The next day, the injection or the endoscopy caused me to experience the worst attack of esophageal spasms I've had yet.  The spasms lasted several days.  You'd think I'd lose weight since I hate to eat and experience pain so often when I do.  

I've had more than one barium test to see how my system is working in the last month or six weeks.  I was scheduled to have a pillcam test yesterday, but then I was hit with a new challenge.


I could barely believe what I was hearing on Tuesday when I went to my allergy doctor to see if he could diagnosis a strange rash.  

I had driven to Denver on Monday for a doctor's appointment.  After the appointment, I was able to spend time with a girlfriend whom has recently moved back to Colorado from California.  We had such a wonderful time catching up.  Marilyn is one of those friends that you can not see for years and then when you do see those types of friends again, you pick up where you left off.  I'm so glad she is back in Colorado again.  I look forward to more times together.

As I drove to Denver, spent time with Marilyn, and drove home again, I marveled at how good I felt.  It was just so nice to feel good and have energy.  I did have a nagging pain right over the area where my pacemaker was inserted, and my left shoulder hurt, and it was a bit painful in my back on my left side, but I didn't think much about it.  "The driving is aggravating my shoulder," I thought.

That night, I notice that I had a strange looking rash that I had not seen earlier in the day right on top of the pacemaker site.  "Weird," I thought.

The next morning, the rash was more pronounced.  I could not decide what on earth it was, so I called the allergy doctor since he is familiar with my rash personality.  (Pun intended!  I am always getting weird rashes.)

His PA looked it over and said she really thought it was shingles.  I nearly fell out of the chair!  She said she wanted me to follow-up with my primary care and the cardiologist because of where the rash was located.  Quite honestly, I wasn't sure I believed her diagnosis.  I didn't think I had enough pain for my problem to be shingles.  I decided not to take the valtrex she prescribed until I knew for sure that I was dealing with shingles.  I honestly didn't feel bad.  I was in denial that I had shingles.

The next day, I felt worse and was able to see my primary care.  He said he'd never seen shingles on a pacemaker site.  He doubted it was shingles.  Then, he looked at the rash and said, "You have shingles.  Why didn't you start the valtrex?  We need to get you on this anti-viral right away."  The nurse in the pacemaker clinic was equally surprised.

Leave it to me.  I seem to get those things others don't get.  I did get the shingles vaccine.  I got it in December of 2011.  I had a terrible reaction to it.  My arm was swollen like you would not believe.  I have read that the vaccine is only effective in 50% of the population over 60.  

I did not have chickenpox until I was an adult.  I broke out with them when I was in my late 30's on the same day as four of my five children broke out.  Three of the five were not even in school yet.  That was a bad day!  

Honestly, I can't complain about this case of shingles.  So far, I have not been that sick.  I've been taking the valtrex and tylenol.  I have had some moments of pain, but nothing has been too severe.  I only have a few little spots, and so far, they have not given me too much pain or itching or burning.  The greatest pain is generalized in my left shoulder blade, and in the area of the pacemaker.   

Jim and I have tickets to see Lady Antebellum on Sunday in Denver.  I have been looking forward to this for so long.  I hope I keep getting better.  I don't want to miss this concert.  I'll keep you posted.  


Midlife Roadtripper said...

Geez, I'm so sorry for your ills this summer. Not fun. Cheers to feeling better.

Linda Reeder said...

Good grief! what's next for you?
I hope your case of shingles stays mild.

Margaret Adamson said...

Well you still sound quite cheery especially with having all that wrong with you. I hope you will be OK and try and have a pleasant weekend

DJan said...

The fact that you had the shingles vaccine probably is helping to keep it mild, but yes you certainly do seem to be able to get just about everything known to man (and woman). Hope you are able to go to that show! Keeping fingers crossed for you. :-)

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Oh, Sally, you've certainly had more than your share of health challenges this summer! I'm so sorry that you're currently battling shingles, though maybe that rough vaccination as well as early intervention is keeping the episode relatively mild. It's so great to see the pictures of you with your dear friend come back and also all the pictures of your famous, accomplished cousin! What an exciting experience for your grandkids to visit with her and see where and how she works!

Arkansas Patti said...

Bless you child, you really know how to keep the doctors in business. I agree with the others that the vaccine has probably kept the shingles relatively mild. Weird that it is at the pacemaker site.
I had abdominal problems after my pacemaker that wouldn't go away. Then after many tests and scans, I figured out that after 76 years, it seems I have developed lactose intolerance. No milk or ice cream-- no stomach distress. I sure am going to miss milk. Who knew. Hope yours is a simple solution also. Do take care and hope you feel much better soon.

troutbirder said...

When it rains it pours. Hang in there, Sally

Olga Hebert said...

Good grief. I nominate you for centerfold in one of the AMA publications.
Hope the good days start to out number the bad.

Barb said...

I can't believe this! I sure hope you got to go to the play. I've never gotten the shingles vaccine. I don't react well to vaccines/strong meds. However, I have heard that shingles can be quite painful. Why would it be at the pacemaker site, I wonder? Keep on top of it, Sally. If it gets worse at that site, perhaps a trip to the cardiologist will be necessary. Feel better soon!

Jeanie said...

Honestly, girl! What a July you have had! The good first -- your visit with your cousin sounds wonderful. And indeed, seeing an artist's/writer's studio is definitely something to inspire! I love her board on the wall!

But all this mixed in with your esophogeal issues, which sound very unpleasant and then the added insult of shingles! Oh Sally, not fair, is it? I'm glad your shingles appear to be less intense than some. (Mine were on my head and just terrible but Rick had a relatively mild case on his middle.) The valtrex is very effective in helping.

You are fortunate to have National Jewish so near. That was one of the places I was considering as a referral two years ago. They are considered one of the best hospitals in the country, as you know. If anyone can get you straightened out, I think they can! Just hang tight, my friend. We're all behind you.

Kay said...

How wonderful to have an author in the family. I shall have to mention her to my granddaughter.

Shingles!!! Oh gosh! I'm so sorry, Sally, not to mention the esophageal difficulties. It all sounds so horribly painful. It's very vexing that you got shingles despite the vaccine. My mother had a terrible case of it because she didn't mention it to my brother until it was too advanced. I was on the mainland. She still suffers from pain and cannot wear a bra. If I start getting a rash, I shall heed your warning.

Maggie May said...

I'm really sorry that you're been having such a rotten run of health and hope things start to get better very quickly.
It was most interesting to read that you have an authoress in the family! How wonderful.
Maggie x

Jean said...

I hope those miserable shingles have subsided by now. Not fun, I'm sure, and to have them in the summer has got to be even worse. I've had the shingles shot, but I guess that only prevents one from having a really severe case of shingles.

You're capturing some lovely family times in your photos. I always enjoy seeing them.

How as Lady Antebellum? Bet it was a great concert.

Larri said...

Catching up on what's going on in your world, and finding there's quite A LOT going on in your world! Hope you were able to make it to the concerts. Shingles are no fun whatsoever. DH has had them. Deep breaths, friend. Stress can cause a breakout.

Oh, my. I'm so sorry to learn of your esophagus issues. Has your condition improved? I know it's a long shot; however, have you considered using essential oils to help treat? My dad has something similar to this, and his throat spasms have been drastically reduced by placing 1 drop of Peppermint Essential Oil on the center of his tongue, followed by drinking 1 glass of water. He does this right after eating. He swears by it. Just thought I'd let you know about it.

((HUGS)) and fingers-crossed for a happier August!