Wednesday, April 18, 2012

812 Reasons I haven't been posting.

So, as I'm sure you noticed, it's been 6 months since my last post.  I apologize for the delay, but it was unavoidable.

Cliffs' Notes:

1. The day after the last post my cousin died. He was only 22, just bought a house and graduated college, and was really blossoming into an exceptional guy.  That hit the family HARD.
2. Medicare Season.  It's like the crazy Christmas retail shopping season of health insurance.  It's also my specialty.
3. I got crazy sick and we were all pretty convinced I was going to die. 

The third warrants a bit more explanation - for 3 years I've been having terrible, extreme, intense back pain - the kind that makes you go from being afraid you're going to die to being afraid you WON'T.  My doctor told me it was muscle spasms and gave me muscle relaxers for them.  I spent about 6 months on the couch in 2009 and gained a bunch of weight and eventually they cleared up on their own.  Well, what we didn't know was that the muscle spasms were just a symptom, not a diagnosis.

Late last year I began an ambitious diet and exercise program.  By January I was down almost 50lbs and in the best shape I'd been in in years.  Then, the muscle spasms came back, this time with a vengeance.  It started the 2nd week of January and I saw my doctor right away - I wasn't going to go through the months of agony and weight gain I did before.  So, she once again gave me muscle relaxers and this time put me in physical therapy.

I was diligent about my meds and my therapy - got a medical hold on my gym membership so as not to exacerbate my condition but followed my course of treatment with all alacrity and fervor.  But, things continued to worsen and eventually I ended up in the ER. Now, those of you that know me know that the only times I've ever been in the ER were once for a worker's comp claim after a fall at work, and twice because of being hit by a car.  I don't seek medical treatment unless I'm convinced I'm dying.  The pain was akin to what I imagine it would feel like to being actively impaled with a pitchfork.

So, the ER did a set of X-rays and they were normal.  They loaded me up with meds by injection and sent me home with scripts for more muscle relaxers and additional pain medication - they also felt it was a muscle spasm. So, armed with new meds I was back to square 1.  But things kept getting worse.

Not only was the pain unbearable, but I started getting new symptoms - mostly itchiness but with other unpleasantries I won't subject you to. They did more X-rays, all negative.  I thought it was a reaction to my pain meds so I went off anything to help with the pain.  No improvement.  They put me on steroids. No improvement.  Then I started turning yellow.

They did an abdominal CT scan - negative.  We ruled out acetaminophen toxicity as I was never on a high enough dose to cause a reaction, and my gallbladder didn't hurt and with the X rays and CT scan all being clear that left us with the 2 remaining causes of "painless" jaundice - primary biliary cirrhosis and pancreatic cancer.   I couldn't sleep or even relax from the itching.  I was sitting up all night, I couldn't focus at work, my entire life consisted of the itch that couldn't be scratched.  I got a phone call from my doctor's office asking me to come in ASAP - my labs came back with my biliruben levels >25x the normal range.  The next day I was hospitalized directly from the doctor's office.

At that point they couldn't give me anything for the pain and itching, just fluids to try to flush the excess bilirubin out of my bloodstream.  I was on an all liquid diet because there were all sorts of tests being ordered, I couldn't even go home first to pick up a change of underwear because the doctors were desperate to try to get this diagnosed before the kidney and liver damage was permanent.  That was the longest night of my life.

The next day started with an MRI.  There, they finally saw it - my gallbladder was full of gallstones.  Ninja gallstones that had been hiding from every other test and scan and were causing muscle spasms instead of just hurting like they were supposed to.  They ordered an endoscopy to try to clear them out - there was one the size of a small marble blocking my bile duct.  The endoscopy was not only unsuccessful, but I woke up while still scoped, and ended up being forcibly held down by the hands and head face down in my own vomit while they finished.  That's when the surgery was ordered.

It was 8:30 on a Friday night when they finally took me in, they tried to remove my gallbladder laproscopically but the damage and inflammation were too severe so they had to remove it the old fashioned slice you open sort of way.  I woke up with my entire stomach covered in gauze with all these tubes hanging out from under the bandage filled with blood and black bile.  I couldn't move, I couldn't breathe, I kept getting hiccups - I felt like I'd been eviscerated.

They kept me in the hospital through the weekend but my recovery was far from over.  There were multiple setbacks in the healing, mostly pertaining to the external drains I was still wearing.  My poor liver was so backed up trying to filter everything out I felt hungover constantly.  It was about 3 weeks before I was able to get back to the office, and another 3 after that before I was healed.  I celebrated by jumping out of a plane: . 

So, I'm still recovering - it'll be months before my body is back to normal, I'm still numb and without muscle control on a good section of my gut and my hopes of a bikini body are all shot to hell, but I've taken off another 15lbs and am still well on the road to a happy, healthy lifestyle.

So, that's why I haven't been blogging.  Between family traumas, bodily traumas, and downright being busy; there hasn't been much time for putting my thoughts in order.  But, work is going great, I just started my first company, my love life is going exceedingly well, and I just turned 30 being well on the road toward health, wealth, and happiness.