Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Little Bit Of History

Remember that time that I was going to blog throughout my whole ACL/meniscus surgery recovery? Me too. Those were good times.

It's not New Year's yet, but it's my resolution to keep up with this blog more. (I know I said this before.) Not only do I want to inspire, but I want to update people with my health, spread awareness about chronic and invisible illness, and just share my story with the world. You're welcome to join me in my crazy journey of life.

My ACL recovery has gone AMAZING! 4 1/2 months ago, I would have probably cried my eyes out to you saying that I wouldn't be able to get through it. I will tell you that it hasn't been easy, but it's been so worth it. With the help of my amazing orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Rockett, my physical therapist, my caring family, my loyal friends, patient co-workers and everyone else in my life.. I made it through one of the toughest situations that was handed to me. I can't wait for that moment where my skates touch the ice again. In that moment, I will realize that every tear and every ounce of pain will have been worth it. That first puck that I stop again, I will flash back to the setbacks of this injury, and realize in that moment that I bounced back from them all. I can't wait for those moments. I still can't thank everyone enough for their continued love, support, cheering, prayers and good vibes. It means the world to me. 

Now that the worst is over with my knee, I can focus on my other health issues. It was a heavy burden when I got hurt, because it did take the focus away from what I have been trying to work on for almost two years. It's funny, actually... because Friday will mark exactly two years since the madness began. I've come a long way, and I still have a long way to go.

It all started with that ER visit. I thought I had the "stomach bug".. all I needed was a doctor's note so that I wouldn't get fired from Panera Bread. In a nutshell, I didn't have the stomach bug. I had a rare, multi-septated gallbladder. Only about 60 or so cases ever diagnosed. Great. So what next? Follow up with a gastroenterologist.  That's when Dr. Levitzky came into the picture.

He's a pretty conservative doctor and I was 19 years old at the time. He didn't want a surgeon to cut into me right away, so he ruled out everything he could before he considered surgery for this "crazy" gallbladder. I went through all kinds of tests, scans, medication trials and scopes.. was treated for different conditions.. I had relief in some ways, but was still sick with a lot of pain. Fast forward to the spring of 2013.. I was in the hospital for 4 days and a surgeon finally took out my gallbladder. 

Wow! I felt instant relief. Not only was it multi-septated, but it was chronically inflamed for who knows how long. Never showed up on any of the tests. Weird.

Boom. May 2013. Two months later, I'm in the hospital again. This time with severe pain on my right side (again) and my liver function tests were through the roof. I was in the hospital for 4 days and followed up right away with Dr. Levitzky. He suspected Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction, which is usually a result of a gallbladder removal. He wanted to follow up with liver function tests next time I was in pain. So we did, and they were normal. Yay.

July of 2013. Another endoscopy. Stomach is filled with bile and chronically inflamed. The diagnosis is chronic bile gastritis. Which could or could not be a result of the gallbladder removal. Meds will help treat it. It mostly causes me a lot of pain and nausea. Sometimes it makes me really sick.. it usually just depends on the day. Usually a raw, gnawing pain in the pit of my stomach. After that diagnosis, I was diagnosed with IBS... that's a whole other ball game. We won't get into that.

This past year has just been a cluster of craziness with my stomach. I was recently diagnosed with gastroparesis. Gastroparesis translates to a partially paralyzed stomach. When I eat, food stays in my stomach for hours or days. It just sits there. My stomach just doesn't digest it. When I eat, I either get sick, am really nauseous or am in a lot of pain.. it causes a lot of bloating too.. just not a good feeling. So I don't eat meals anymore. Mostly just liquids, applesauce, broth, yogurt, Ensure shakes (half at a time), baby food puffs (because they dissolve really easily) jello, pudding, white rice, instant oat meal, cream of wheat and freeze pops. I live off of nausea medicine. It really helps though. Anyways, this disease effects a LOT of people and I just want to spread awareness about it. There currently isn't a cure and there are very little treatment options. There are very few medications that help relieve gastroparesis and one of them isn't even FDA approved in the United States. I'm currently prescribed Reglan for it, but it's a very risky medication as it can cause tardive dyskinesia. 

Along with the gastroparesis, I've still had problems with the site of my gallbladder surgery. I recently saw a neurologist again, because I'm still having severe pain on my right side.. similar to the pain before I had my gallbladder out. I see Dr. Kahan (my general surgeon) next week to hopefully get some answers as to why I might still be having this pain. He's a great doctor, so I am hopeful that I will get some answers.

I also have been working with a nurse practitioner at the Benson-Henry Institute of Mind-Body Medicine at Mass General Hospital. They focus on mindfulness, meditation and relaxation techniques. Sometimes all of this is too much for me to handle, and focusing on my relaxation has been really beneficial for me. I have a lot of work to do.. but hey, that's why I'm going :)

I just wanted to give everyone my "story".. sometimes I am unclear with what I am going through, so it may not make sense to anyone. Clarity is a very helpful thing, and I wanted to be clear :) 

As difficult as all of this is sometimes.. I truly feel blessed. My gastroenterologist, my pain doctor, my neurologist, my orthopedic surgeon, my general surgeon and the NP at the Benson-Henry have all inspired me in so many ways. They have gone above and beyond to give me the best care around and I truly feel lucky. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for them. 

If you know someone who has a chronic illness, the best thing you can do is to just be there for them! You don't have to understand it.. it's okay.. because the truth is.. is that you probably won't.. and that's okay. Someone who is battling an illness (whether physical or mental) just needs love, support, a shoulder to lean on and someone to listen to them.. to believe them. It will mean the world.

I hope everyone has a wonderful night. I enjoyed writing tonight and I hope that everything I said made sense! I will update y'all with my upcoming appointments. (I see Dr. Rockett on Monday too.. I'm hoping to get cleared for skating!) Have a great night! :)