Thursday, January 20, 2011

New medicine...

I got the Gabapentin in the mail today. So I'll be starting it tonight (she states, quite obviously). I sure hope it works. I'm not hating what I'm reading about it. I did a Google search for "Gabapentin for Fibromyalgia" and read some stuff from 2007 when it was declared a new medicine to help fibro pain. And this link.


The study included 150 participants, 90% of whom were women (there is a higher rate of incidence of fibromyalgia in women compared to in men). The study randomly assigned dosages of Gabapentin or placebo to participants for a 12-week period. The effectiveness of the drug was based on the following categories:

sleep
mood
life quality
fatigue
stiffness
tender point pain in the shoulders

Individuals taking daily drug dosages of 1200 to 2400 mg displayed significantly lower levels of widespread pain compared with those taking placebo, as well as improved sleep and reduced fatigue.

So, there you have it. I will definitely keep you posted. I'm supposed to start with one pill at night for a week, then go to two- one in the morning, one at night, and eventually to three a day. I hope I'm not too groggy or out of it. That's all we'd need. Me, loose on the Internet, out of my mind on pain meds.

I mean, uh... more than usual.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

One of these days, I'll just sit there, jaw-droppingly stunned.

Imagine my surprise at a few things that all happened during my follow-up with my fibro doctor.

Firstly, the elevators at the VA are notoriously slow. Back in the day, I could easily go up or down two flights of stairs and still beat the elevator with plenty of time. Obviously, I'm trying to get back into shape and if I can, I will take the stairs. The rheumatology clinic is on the sixth floor. I made it to the third floor before I decided to take the elevator. (when I left, I took the stairs all the way down).

Secondly, I was called in on time. Did you read that? On TIME! You may not know this, but about six months ago, I had an appointment with my GP at the VA (ooh, look at me and the fancy lingo) where my appointment was at 330. They were, of course, running behind because apparently, I'm the only person on the planet who is ever early for an appointment. The nurses came out every half hour or so to ask if I minded waiting. I have to drive for an hour to get there, so no, I don't mind waiting. I got back on the road for home at 630 PM.

Thirdly, not only did my doctor take into account how I've been feeling on these new muscle relaxers (which are now into their sixth month, so I suppose they're not new anymore), she said she wants to offer something different because the goal is to make me feel better.

Wait, what?

Did she not only want to help me, she wants to help me get better? She wants me to end up as pain-free as possible? SHE'S HELPING ME?

While I was still reeling from the whole concept of aggressive doctoring, she proceeded to check the VA protocol to make sure her plan of action would be accepted before she tried to prescribe something for me.

Hold on... hold ON!

She's not just petting me on the head and telling me to stay the course and "see what happens"? I'm not sure I can take this... this... caring.

The "VA protocol" is a standard they have set. You can't go from A to B to E without at least trying C or D- even if you know they won't work. The VA will refuse a jump from B to E unless there's a valid reason (like Patient is allergic to C and D told her she was ugly on prom night, so we need to avoid C and D and just go straight to E).

So, we're going to discontinue the Cyclobenzaprine (muscle relaxer) and start up with Gabapentin. Its an anticonvulsant but its approved in low doses for fibro pain. And its a very low dose, so we can adjust it a lot before we can call it a fail.

Also, as if the rest of this isn't a shock to me, I lost a little more weight. Over the holidays, even. I know, I'm as stunned as you are. And as a side note- despite trying to kill myself by going up three floors via the stairs, my blood pressure was fine. I thought for sure it'd be off the charts. My heart rate was elevated, but everything else was good.

One of these days, I'll just sit there, staring at the doctor, mouth agape and in shock. I won't be able to respond.

In other news, I took several photos at the VA. The receptionist in the office I have to check in with before I go to my appointment had a white and red poinsettia plant on her desk. While she was filling out my useless red card that I had to the clinic receptionist, I took several macro shots of the plant. Here are a few...

Poinsettia petal

Never saw a Poinsettia like this

Poinsettia stamen

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I have a follow-up appointment on Wednesday.

I've been keeping track of how often I take a pill and a half of the muscle relaxer (which is what the good doctor has told me I can do if I feel like I need it). Its been more often than not.

I'm ever-so-tired of feeling like I've been thrown from a horse, then trampled by the Budweiser Clydesdale team on their way to a commercial shoot. I try not to complain much in real life because if I do, I'm met with either being ignored or eye-rolling. Of course, that's a lot better than what I've had to deal with since last night.

I'm not going to say which family member has said this- but I will say it was not the disabled guy. He's the one who ignores it for the most part. He also says- in response to any complaint- "I know, you tell me you feel like shit all the time. I get it."

No, this was someone else. I was lamenting that I was tired of feeling like hell. I said, "I'd like to take the dogs out or go to the store, or hell, even walk up the stairs without feeling like I'd just crossed a goddamn desert."

And you know what I mean, right? You get that I mean worn out, exhausted. In pain and drained of any kind of energy or drive. You get that. No, what I've had to hear since I made that analogy is constant mocking.

I sighed while in the kitchen. "Oh, come on. Its like standing in the desert, you're not walking across it."

I was putting on my boots to leave the house and paused because the weather came on TV. "Jeez, you're only putting your boots on in the desert, you're not walking across it."

This afternoon, after doing laundry and going to the grocery store, I started to go upstairs. I stopped at the bottom to grab hold of the railing and take a deep breath before I tackled the stairs. "You can do it! You're only walking up the stairs to the desert, not crossing it!"

Those are just the ones I can remember. There are a lot more. And I'm tired of it. And I've voiced the fact that I'm tired of it. I repeated that I said I don't want to feel as if I've walked across a desert at the end of the day.

I'm tired. Worn completely out. I used to feel like this after working all day. Working, not sitting at a desk. When I was a kid, I used to go to the horse stables on the Army base and offer to trade work for horse-riding time. I did anything- I cleaned stalls and paddocks, I painted barns, I cleaned tack, I hauled feed buckets and hay. And if a horse owner was kind enough, I got to ride. I would fall into bed at the end of the day- exhausted. But with a reason.

Here I am now, worn out and drained from doing laundry and going to the store. I don't keep track of how often I take the dogs out or how many times I go upstairs, but its more than a few.

I try not to complain too much on my Facebook profile, because I know how irritating it can be for others to constantly read whiny updates and I much prefer to be in the good graces of my friends there. As it is, they have to put up with my psychotic photography addiction, link-spamming of upcoming novels or even awesome radio shows.

Of all the people in my life though, its my online friends who care the most. Mostly, I think, because I don't see their eye-rolling and if they're taking something I said out of context and beating it to death, I'm not hearing it. Or... maybe, just maybe, they actually do care. I know I don't tell them enough, but I appreciate knowing they care.

Before I start rolling my eyes at the mushy crap I'm typing, I'm going to point out that you can Shake Hands with Danger through podcasts now. You have no excuse not to listen because you can listen any time.