Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Spoonie Nightstand

What is a Spoonie?

For those with chronic illnesses, we have a general way to describe our energy levels and fatigue: the spoon theory. We get 12 spoons per day, which is a metaphor in which those with disabilities understand or use to explain how they feel. Each spoon signifies a measurement of energy. Going to the store costs 2 spoons, and on a rough day, taking a shower may cost 4 spoons. Cleaning the bathroom is another 3 spoons. That leaves us with 3 spoons left for the rest of the day. We may have to borrow spoons from tomorrow, leaving us bed-bound.

Spoonies are people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, chronic fatigue and anyone with medical conditions that limit their activity.

My nightstand essentials:

Some of my favorite necessities are found on my Spoonie Amazon List and others are from Wildling Apothecary.

  • Enchanted forest essential oil scented CBD and magnesium lotion, for aches and pains, from Wildling Apothecary

  • Salt lamp for purifying the air and of course to shed some light while I eat in bed… yes, I eat in bed.
  • A mini Buddha that was my grandmother’s. She was my favorite person and we had such a special bond. She lived to be 96 years old and I still think about her every day.
  • Lip balm is something I always need on my nightstand because I am often dehydrated, despite how much water I drink. I can’t stand the feeling of dry lips so they are always moisturized.
  • I always have water on my nightstand but since I just tidied up and added a little shelf, only herbal tea is pictured. I have herbal tea several times per day. I love peppermint and ginger for an upset stomach, kava or chamomile to relax and elderberry for immune boosting. I have quite a collection and also make my own blends.
  • Books! I won’t lie, it takes me forever to get through books because I flip through many and with a hectic schedule, it is hard to squeeze in the time. Really, I just need to make the time. My current favorite reads are The Dysautonomia Project and Dirty Genes.
  • My necklace from AWARECauses and labradorite earrings from Do Designs find their happy homes next to the bed because I can’t sleep with jewelry on.
  • My nightstand and granite heart dish were both handmade by my husband. He is pretty damn awesome.
  • I have my tiny (Walmart) heater year round. Dysautonomia is the dysfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System and can affect the automatic things that your body does, like breathing, body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rhythm. When my body temperature drops I feel freezing; my hands turn white and I have a hard time breathing due to shivering. This little heater keeps me warm without making my husband hot. I mean, he is hot though!
    I love my diffuser and use many different blends depending on how I feel, my mood, or the time of day. Certain oils also keep the air clean and act as antiseptics. Not shown, under my nightstand, is a box of things like a blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, thermometer, hot packs for stiff muscles, wrist braces, compression socks, and other necessities. I try to keep them organized so I can find them easily. Monitoring my health is important so having access to a blood pressure cuff, for example, is needed to make sure my bp doesn’t get too low. It’s like being my own nurse and helps prevent ER visits because I can manage my care to an extent.
    I keep a collapsible walking aid next to my bed because some days I overdo it and can’t get up on my own. Other times, my blood pressure drops and I nearly pass out. There are also times when my joints just give out and I fall. Some days are better than others and some days are worse.
    Also not pictured but under my bed, is my Biotronik pacemaker transmitter. It transmits a report to my doctor each night. Technology is pretty amazing! I have an apnea machine under my nightstand too, but I don’t have insurance so I am still working out the kinks on finding the right mask. I absolutely hate it but not breathing is worse and my heart has enough damage as it is. Sleep apnea is another common form of dysautonomia. I have had it since I can remember but was dismissed at a young age and literally called a liar because I was not overweight or with swollen tonsils. Dysautonomia is not well known, especially fifteen years ago. Here I am at 34 and I am just now being listened to. This blog is my sole purpose to educate, advocate and raise awareness.
Health

Day 5 Postoperative Pacemaker Update 

The past couple of days have been rough.  I have had sugar the last two days when I felt worse so I am hoping eliminating sugar again will help. I usually don’t have sugar in my diet but caved and had some dairy free Ben & Jerry’s almond ice cream. Basically, I have been having PACs, which feel like extra heart beats and bouts of Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia. I have had these issues prior to the pacemaker that I just got on June 8th (2017) but was unable to take medication due to chronic Bradycardia, a slow heart rate. Now that I have the pacemaker as a safety net, I am able to take medication to help with the other issues. At this point, I have to wait 6 weeks to let the pacemaker fully heal and the meds to kick in and then we can re-evaluate the situation and discuss a possible Cardiac Ablation, which would be my 5th. I would then be 100% paced. I am trying to be positive and hope that avoiding sugar will help calm things down and that my heart is just angry and still needs to heal and adjust. In these last two days I have had PACs every single minute, sometimes more, sometimes less and about 5-10 episodes of Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia (IST) each day. The IST will kick in randomly, often when I lie down from sitting up. My heart rate goes from 60s to 140s in seconds and my chest feels tight and constricted while my lips get cold and tingle or go numb. It is VERY uncomfortable and annoying, to say the least. The PACs sometimes will feel so strong that they jolt me out of bed. 

 I saw the doctor today and am still paced in the 80 percentile and they were surprised to see how often it kicked in. When my heart rate was higher from walking or with activity, it would have dropped and I could have passed out had the pace maker not been there. That is called Neurocardiogenic Syncope, which was confirmed in a Tilt Table Test I had a few weeks back. I am suffering from Dysautonomia but have not found the right doctor to determine why. I am currently trying to find a good rheumatologist to look into a proper diagnosis. Most signs point to Lupus (SLE) but nothing is set in stone. I definitely can tell how beneficial this pacemaker is and a life changer at that, I just really need to get the the bottom of what is causing my body to suffer. 

I guess I just get worried because I also have had open heart surgery in 2011 for severe Aortic Insufficiency. I had my valve repaired and currently all 4 valves have mild insufficiency. I also have thickening on my aortic valve and a thickened heart muscle with slight left ventricular enlargement. With all of this and an undiagnosed auto immune disease, I sometimes have a hard time keeping my chin up. I also have recently discovered that I have multiple complex cysts on my thyroid, which will need to be biopsied for cancer. 

Never take your health for granted. It is really tough being patient and waiting AND WAITING for answers. In the mean time, I am home in bed and away from my salon. I would love to be back to work and travel and run around and feel free again. I am currently trying to get disability so that I can ensure medical coverage (since there will likely be billions of dollars in cuts for Medicaid) and qualify to go to the Mayo Clinic so that I can get the proper care and treatment that I have needed for a decade or so.

I think that is all for now. Rubix cube still being solved. To be continued….