Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Adventures in Medicine

I am self-proclaimed OCD when it comes to an obsession with words and spending hours-days-weeks typing them up in the correct order so everything makes sense--rereading what I wrote many many times because I can’t remember what I wrote. I have self-published many books that few people read but maybe they will one day. In the meantime, I like having them like an artist has their art.

I now have an Amerigroup Medicare Advantage HMO plan that gives me access to much more than I had access to on Traditional Medicare. The first thing I did was look into switching over to the Seton Clinic and their network of providers.

And each time I have an appointment with a doctor or other practitioner, especially a new one, knowing I don’t have much time for the visit, I hand them a typewritten report. If I have multiple visits with different doctors/practitioners, I type a different report for each one of them. Some people just write down the questions they want to ask on paper, I type a report that includes known conditions, my symptoms, the purpose of the visit, and my specific requests.

I will report to you on the appointment I had with my new PCP last Tuesday--who I think is amazing. The first thing he did was walk up to me, shake my hand, smile, and say, “Hi, I’m Corey, it’s nice to meet you.” I’ve never had a doctor do that. But he’s not a doctor, he’s a nurse practitioner. The best doctor I ever had when I lived in California was an NP. Corey spent over 30 minutes with me. When my blood pressure was taken with him in the room (and shot up to 200--IKES!), he asked if I had white coat fever--YES--and apologized for not taking off his white coat.

First, I complained that my left ear and left side of my face had been feeling congested, and the sound of my own voice was muffled. He identified my left ear had so much impacted wax, he couldn’t see my eardrum. I was instructed to soften it up and return in two days to get it cleaned out... which I did... and I feel much better.

Second, I’d been dealing with wicked sore throats for longer than I can remember and difficulty swallowing for over two months. I thought maybe I had mono again or it was allergies, but he asked me if I ever was diagnosed with esophagitis. He said the esophagus goes all the way up the throat. My eyes went wide as I remember that in 2006, I was diagnosed with an eroded esophagus. He asked if I ever had a 5-year follow up. Didn’t know I was supposed to and didn’t realize I’d have to keep babying it. I am getting a referral to a gastroenterologist to get a current endoscopy.

Third, I have really dry eyes, dry mouth, and dry throat which I had been previously blaming on the medications used to take, followed by my CPAP machine. He asked me if I had been tested for Sjogren’s. Nope.

Fourth, just the same, I had found out I could continue to go the same sleep specialist/cardiologist if I get a referral for a continuation of care. When I got home, because I now know I have esophagitis, I Googled CPAP and esophagitis. Lo and behold, CPAP machines can blow air down the esophagus if there is something dysfunctional which is called aerophagia. It was obvious during my first year when the air pressure was set too high... but apparently, additional adjustments need to be made.

Fifth, I filled him in on the situation with my spine and asked if I can get referred to the right doctor who can refer me to the right physical therapist. I also asked if I could get referred for a home health aide (covered by my new plan) and hopefully a physical therapist that will come to my home.

I went for blood work yesterday (Corey ordered tests for just about everything--watch it all come back normal), and I will have several appointments with specialists who are up to 60 miles away. This involves taking my mobility scooter with The HOP van transportation which my new insurance will pay for. I’ll have to pack food to take with me... something to do to keep me busy... and navigate the scooter in and out of restrooms and new environments. Note to self: bring a blanket. I froze in the lab.

In the meantime, I’ve been slowly digesting everything I’ve read and know about how suppressed emotions manifest as physiological symptoms and have concluded that my repressed emotions are suffocating me.
  • Sleep apnea
  • Inflammation of my esophagus, so it is hard to swallow.
  • Sometimes, it’s hard to breathe.
I wonder if I am choking on all the things I’ve never had the courage to say.

I also had with this new insurance two online virtual psychological counseling sessions so far and will be able to continue as long as I want to. I had been worried about zoning and dissociating from the part of me that felt good when I feel bad and vice versa when I don’t feel good, I can't relate to the part of me that felt good. 

My counselor began to tell me about the trauma a woman has when she is giving birth to a baby, yet she won't remember it and will have one or more children due to what is called 'containment.' I have to do more reading/research on this, but all I can say is it is something the brain does to protect you. Ahhh... my brain is protecting me.

I will be thinking about how traumatic memories of giving birth to my son no longer affect me, yet many other incidents of traumas still do. I am asking myself what MEANING did I put on those other experiences that were different than giving birth? My homework is to look into EMDR therapy and call to see if a therapist with this specialty is available.

I have often wondered if the reason pain medication has never worked for me is because if the pain is emotional vs. physical, it wouldn’t. If the pain is in my brain and not my body, it wouldn’t. Analysis paralysis. While some people drink or eat or take illegal drugs or have other addictions, maybe I am addicted to figuring myself out... and everyone else, too.

I’ve read lots of books, subscribed to The Mighty and NICABM, and listened to lots of videos and webinars by Teal Swan, Abraham Hicks, Dr. David Burns, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Rebecca Hintze, Bruce Lipton, Dr. Keesha Ewers, Dr. Mark Hyman, and more.

Between fatigue, brain fog, ADHD, and a brain that won’t do what I want it to do because thoughts keep vanishing which is frustrating when I am trying to do self-care tasks, I suffer from information overload.

According to all the following people, I should be able to get better if I do what they have been able to do. It could be an unreasonable expectation, but what if it isn’t? Overall, I am not experiencing as much physical pain as I did in past years.

Dr. Keesha Ewers had autoimmune diseases until she freed herself of repressed emotions--then became an integrative medicine expert. (Solving the Autoimmune Puzzle: The Woman’s Guide to Reclaiming Emotional Freedom and Vibrant Health

This morning I had a flashback of going on two 3-day mountain climbing trips when I was 16-17 years old... in the White Mountains... New Hampshire... where ticks carrying Lyme Disease populate. I looked it up and saw in addition to swollen lymph glands and fever, one of the symptoms is Bell's Palsy type paralysis on one side of the face and another an enlarged Spleen. 

Wait! I developed all this! Is it possible I was misdiagnosed as having mono when I actually had Lyme? I don't remember getting blood tests--only being diagnosed with the symptoms. If so, Dr. Keesha and other doctors have solutions for dealing with autoimmune diseases.

Teal Swan overcame much worse childhood abuse and torture than I dealt with. She now travels all over the world doing seminars. She says depression happens when we resist our emotions and the futility of life situations. (The Sculptor in the Sky and The Completion Process)

Abraham Hicks talked about contrast--with emotions being your compass vs. your enemy. And she says we incarnated because Earth is the only place we can create and manifest--that we’re supposed to have fun doing it. And if we commit suicide, we’d just come right back again for the same reason. (The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent: Living the Art of Allowing)

Dr. Joe Dispenza says we create our future from our past emotions and memories, and unless we figure out how to break this cycle, we’ll stay sick and in pain. We must learn to set a new intention with an elevated emotion and our body/brain will follow. (Becoming Supernatural)

Rebecca Hintze is a life coach and emotional-wellness counselor who promotes essential oils to create new neural pathways in the brain, and yes, I have some essential oils. (Essential Oils for Happy Living and Healing Your Family History)

Nick Ortner promotes tapping, and I’ve tried that, too. (The Tapping Solution)

Dr. Mark Hyman, a doctor of functional medicine, said his brain broke twice--first from mercury toxicity while he was in medical school and the second time two years ago from black mold he didn’t realize was in his house. He went from one doctor to the next with undiagnosed mercury toxicity until he found a functional medicine doctor who identified it and treated it. He then went back to medical school and changed his focus to functional medicine. I watched his two documentary series: Broken Brain and Broken Brain 2.

Bri, my holistic nutritionist, did a presentation that included her background and how she recovered from numerous health issues after she got a job with a functional medicine doctor who treated her. When she got well, he trained her to do what he does. She strongly suggests I get all my mercury fillings taken out. (And Dr. Hyman says some people do not have the ability to handle the load.) She says it's the mercury aggravating my throat.

Information overload. Can you relate?

I just want technology I can plug into that runs an analysis and comes up with the current state of my physical, mental, and emotional state as well as suggested solutions. Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Continued Education

I've been very busy! Even if one is sick one is busy... taking care of yourself and resting.

First, there was a week of figuring out how to overcome my own PTSD to figure out how to help someone else who was dealing with their own mental health crisis. Once I had the initial adrenaline rush when my neighbor banged on my door at 2:30 in the morning on Monday, March 11, just as it has done in the past, my sympathetic nervous system wouldn't calm back down. I felt the ongoing survival stress response all during the week... hoping that improved self-talk would calm me back down. I had to search my subconscious mind to figure out what exactly 'triggered' me. A memory? Or just an adrenaline rush? What was I telling myself? (Why can't you act like a grown-up?)

That Wednesday afternoon, there was a continuation of Monday night's drama. I was feeling powerless. At least I had company at the time who offered support.

On Thursday, I decided to face (unrealistic) fears and report the incident so I could find out what action I needed to take should it happen again. After all, I did go to the one-day seminar on Mental Health First Aid, and I desperately wanted to 'feel' like a grownup! In the course, we were told if someone you know (or yourself) is having a mental health crisis, to call the police department. Many of them have been trained on how to handle this type of crisis. I did, indeed, get the answers I needed, but my sympathetic nervous system wouldn't calm back down. (I find it interesting that it is called sympathetic as it wasn't being sympathetic to my plight.)

The following Monday, I felt sick. My body hurt all over, especially with intensified sensations of sharp points sticking into my upper back. My chronic sore throat got worse--to the point I couldn't swallow (and I thought about my inability to speak up when I needed to). The fatigue was a literal killer, and I often found comfort in my bed throughout the day... for 10 days. I had to sum up the courage to miss a monthly meeting for one of the organizations I belong to. In the midst of making that decision, I had a flashback of not being allowed to miss school when I didn't feel good. But now I'm a grownup and can make that decision for myself. Yes? I requested that someone else take the minutes for the meeting.

I got some energy back just in time for the morning of March 28, when I attended the first of 5 sessions of Master of Memory--Am I Losing My Mind? facilitated by the County Extension Agent. Since we all seem to have memory issues, I am sharing what I am learning... which, of course, is filtered through my perspective (haha).

I found out I am not as bad as I thought I was memory wise. There are 3 basic types of memory: Sensory (momentary sensations and impressions), Short-term (holds information for several seconds while we decide what to do with it), and Long-term (can last forever--even if it takes time to retrieve info). We talked about how we go blank when trying to remember something then wake up in the middle of the night remembering or recalling the following day a piece of information we couldn't remember the day before. I'M NORMAL! Unless you LEARN what is being processed in short-term memory, you won't retain the information.

Three types of learners: Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic. I learned that I am mostly a kinesthetic learner--one who learns best by doing--needing to experience something "hands on" to learn how to do it. Visual? There was a sentence with six 'F's in it, and I only could find TWO. How trippy! The class had a good laugh because I am not the only one. It was to prove if you are not a visual learner, you wouldn't see them all.

Why can't I remember? All kinds of reasons. One of these is stress (overactive sympathetic nervous system), and one of these is habits. Losing your keys (or anything else) when you put them in a different place is not a memory problem... it is due to breaking a habit. I think my life runs mostly on auto-pilot based on habits... including where I 'file' physical pieces of information. When I go back to look for something, many times, it isn't where I thought I put it. This happens in your brain, too?

The best learner blends the three types to maximize performance. You must exercise the brain regularly just like you need to exercise the body. If you do the same brain exercises every day, you will lose other parts of the brain's ability as if you are only exercising your legs vs. your whole body. Suggestions: do things with the non-dominant hand, word games, brain teasers, trying new and different learning methods, conversation, and continuing education. I prefer the continuing education part. Use it or lose it! It's been a while since I've played my guitar or keyboard. Maybe it's time I start again... motivated or not... so that part of my brain won't atrophy. Subsequent modules will address other aspects of memory.

The fatigue lifted, but I still had pain and that awful sensation in my upper back and felt desperate for relief. On the afternoon of March 28, I went to see Bri (holistic nutritionist) and explained to her what happened with my dysregulated nervous system. (Feeling pleased that I now have the knowledge and terminology to understand and explain this concept.) I went home with instructions to increase a few of the homeopathic potions I already had along with a number of new ones, including supplements. I had to also 'allow' these to support my body's recovery.

I began to feel much better in a few days... just in time to get the energy I needed to listen to two new documentary series both of which launched on May 3: Broken Brain 2 and Eastern Medicine. So far, I've been able to watch all of them. My ears perked up each time the topic of the dysregulated nervous system was discussed as well as how chronic stress affects your overall health.

In between, I received an email from Rebecca Hintze on her newly released Emotions Mentor Podcasts. I listened to Key Steps to Developing Resilience, The Plague of Anxiety, and Mental Health & Where it Starts.

On May 4, I went to session 2 of Master of Memory--Memory Strategies. Strategies include Concentration, Association, Repetition, and Relaxation. I have some homework to do...