Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Migraine cure - I hope

My headache would not go away. It didn't hurt a ton - but it nagged. I finally went to see my sinus doc in Vancouver to see if it was caused by my sinuses. It wasn't. Due to the prednisone, my sinuses were as perfect  as my lungs. The migraine may have been caused by the prednisone itself or just by the stress my body has gone through for past few weeks.

My sinus guy gave me a prescription for Axert. You take one pill with an Advil and see what happens. If it doesn't work, you take another. Axert raised the serotonin level in your brain and opens your blood vessels. (Of course, the pharmacist said that isn't actually the way it works - if the first pill doesn't stop the pain the second one won't either.) Anyway I took a pill in the parking lot waiting for the ferry and another one on the ferry. it didn't really go away but seemed much better when I got up this morning. But something is still up because I can still feel a bit of pain behind my right eye. Is it a nother migraine? I don't know. I didn't have an aura so I won't take an Axert.

My latest theory - it could be poor eyesight cause by a cataract that has got worse. Why? Because prednisone also causes cataracts and can make them worse. I will go to see my optometrist tomorrow to see if that is the case. In the meantime, if it gets worse I will take an Advil. Well, I will take one anyway - just to see if it makes a difference.

I got pretty "loopey-canoopey" today about my two recent paintings. I think they are done. Here they are:

They are called 'Troubling Waters" #1 and #2.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Asthma and Migraine

The migraine aura faded away after about half an hour but then a headache slowly crept in. Behind my right eye hurt; the right side of my head hurt; when I coughed a bit, my head hurt even more. I took some advil. The headache didn't really go away. In fact I'm not sure it has completely gone yet - two days later. Since it was never excruciating, I wouldn't have thought it was a migraine if it hadn't been for the aura. It seemed to spread to my back and shoulders so maybe it turned into a regular tension headache.

I did discover that there is a connection between migraines and asthma. I had never heard that before. Not good news. I have had migraines and auras in the past - but not for at least 10 years.  Also, I never had a headache after an aura and I never had an aura before a severe vomiting migraine. Both events were pretty rare.

According to WebMD many people including children have both. "Both disorders... involve similar changes inside the body. In asthma, the airways narrow and restrict airflow, and there is inflammation of the airway linings. During migraines, there is inflammation along with narrowing and widening of blood vessels." 

The worst news - a sure sign one should not consult the Internet with medical questions - is that if you have asthma and rare migraines, you have an increased risk statistically of getting a lot of migraines - 15 a month.  Apparently the medications for each condition  can make the other condition worse so there is no easy solution.

This I do not need! Asthma is bad enough when its painless but this time, with the whatever happened to my ribcage causing really bad pain when I coughed for the first week and now maybe a related migraine, it has been quite painful. I did email my sinus doc and told him the whole story - but he doesn't usually reply to emails (except when he prescribed the prednisone from Saigon) so I'm not sure what to do as far as doctors go. Wait and see - I guess.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Really sick friend

I got an email today from a friend from boating who has COPD and who just had a really terrible episode. He ended up in the ICU in Duncan for 4 days. He took 2 weeks of prednisone and morphine. He is now tapering off for a month and hoping to get back to his version of normal - which not nearly as good as mine. He uses a scooter to get around and is very thin.  He said he lost the sense of various parts of his body and feels pretty wobbly.

Well I'm going to quit now because I am having a migraine aura and can't see the keyboard. Haven't had one of those in years. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Breathing back to normal - now working on strength

Today I am OK - more than OK - I'm almost normal! I have virtually no coughing or phlegm  and my peak flow, both  this morning and this afternoon, is 370. I'm hoping for 400+ later this afternoon - but no longer obsessing about it because I did hit 400 a couple of days ago. My side hardly hurts and I actually cancelled the appointment this morning with my GP because I can no longer pinpoint the pain.

However, my proprioception is still not good enough - meaning I am somewhat unsteady and weak. But my brain seems to be back - and that's a very good feeling.

Mike told me this morning that he was really worried by my apparent disconnection from reality after I finished the prednisone. He said I seemed not to be able to make sense out of what he was saying. I could hear him but my responses were way off. He said I seemed not to have any awareness of traffic when we went out walking. I do remember - it was worst last Wednesday after I got my Xolair shot and picked up my new progressive glasses. I felt I did not know where my body was. My lower body felt disconnected and mildly numb - kind of useless like a mermaid's tail. My feet felt like flippers. I couldn't tell where my feet were or where to put them.

I experienced this last spring when I was having dizziness from inner ear infection and poor eyesight from an eye infection and having to wear those nasty progressive glasses. It's called loss of proprioception. My audiologist told me that if I worked at it, I could get it back. For me working at it is taking the risk of putting my foot down without looking where I'm putting it and, instead, paying attention to the feeling inside. I think doing that reconnects sensory nerves that have become weakened by reduced sensory input. Before I got the bacteria last month I was really good - I was doing lots of weight training and skating as long and hard as I could a couple of times a week. My balance came back, I had strong shoulders and I could almost sense where the blades of my iceskates were. I have to get back to that again - because when your body feels week and your balance is off - being able to breath is not good enough.

So this morning I did an easy version of my weight training routine - just one set of 15 repetitions using 5 lb weights. All were relatively easy except for shoulder press which is always the hardest. In a couple of days I will do my routine with 6 lb weights and try to work my way up to 10 lbs for at least some the exercises. I used to be a very fit person and even taught aerobics for a number of years when I was in my 50s so I know the theory and just have to do it. Mike and i also did a bit of Tai Chi which I think must be excellent for proprioception. I guess it's all part of managing your asthma when you are an older person.

Mike must think my brain is back because he has taken himself out in our boat to Newcastle Island with his scuba gear. He is going to test his buoyancy. He lost quite a bit of weight lately by following the FODMAP diet and needs to reorganize his equipment and weights. Once that is sorted, he is going to do a short dive in Mark Bay. He hasn't been diving for months (partly because he felt he couldn't leave me alone) and has never actually gone out completely by himself. It's a lovely day, the camelias are in bloom and it's what he wants to do - so I'm just enjoying the fact that he is doing it and absolutely not worrying.  I'm going to garden, walk the dog, and wash the kitchen floor. Yippee!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Better but not perfect

Yesterday I was a so much better day than Wednesday. I felt like my brain was working; I was hardly nauseated at all; my breathing was effortless with no coughing or sneezing (although my peak flow did not improve as much as I expected - still won't go above 330); my digestive system was operating as normal; my ribcage pain was greatly reduced; I had stopped shaking and could work on the painting that has been "tormenting" me for the past month. The other interesting thing was that part way through the prednisone burst, when I felt like a sausage, I weighed myself and I was about 4 lbs higher than normal. Then yesterday morning, I had dropped 7 lbs to a weight lower than normal. Today - back at 115 lbs - my regular weight for the last several years. I didn't think short bursts of prednisone affected weight.

I have to admit I was a bit grumpy yesterday - but a good kind of grumpiness that Elspeth says means you are getting better.

Today there is a phone meeting of the NAPA in person meeting committee. I'm sure the other members have ideas but I haven't heard anything so tried to put a few things down in writing as a start - although I am low person on the totem pole. Hope it is productive.

When I checked my my email, I  found another request from the ASC asking me to make a donation as soon as possible so that they could get matching funding from a grant they have received. Apparently they already have the grant - but can't get the funds unless they get matching donations from other donors. I understand the concept but found it is annoying and unprofessional. I already give on an automated  monthly basis though Canada Helps. Why would I want to stop that and start it again to activate the matching grant?  There must be a way they make it work behind the scenes. There was no mention in the request of "thanks for what you are already doing - could you do a bit more?" No mention of what the ASC spends it donations on. Just a cheery note to everyone asking the same thing. Having spent a fair bit of my life as director of the 9th largest public library in Canada, I know how fundraising is supposed to work. I know it costs money to set up a professional  fundraising program and I also know that unprofessional fundraising has negative outcomes. Fundraising is part and parcel of PR and should always be seen as such. It makes the ASC look mickey mouse to be sending out inappropriate messages. I feel sorry for the staff and board because they have great intentions and do good work despite obviously not having resources to compete with the big boys like the Lung Association.

On a more upbeat note and having only a little to do with asthma, I am finishing reading Hamefaub and Hamefaub's "tax is not a four letter word." (2014) It is one of the most informative books I have ever stumbled a cross. I describes how the Canadian tax system works - including the ongoing belief by all parties in recent years that  taxes are bad, the unrestrained market is the only way to guarantee a prosperous economy, and public services are just inefficient pork and gravy. Again, as a former public librarian, I know this is wrong. Throughout the 25 years I worked at VIRL, the library was constantly facing tax cuts despite population and membership growth. We did our best to change the way we did everything to give the maximum value. Everyone worked extremely hard and they also worked smart.

The way I think this book relates to NAPA is that it suggests that things may be changing. Some people are beginning to see themselves as citizens responsible for the whole country and for the future - not just taxpayers trying to hang on to their hard-earned money. There are possible new forms of taxation - including carbon tax and FTT (financial taxation tax) that could be used to change society. The carbon tax could help Canada take the necessary steps to reduce fossil fuel emissions and the tiny amounts charged on trading through the FTT could cool extreme risk-taking of the very wealthy who "game" the market.  Since Stephan Dion is one of the contributors, I think this gives insight into what the Federal Liberals are trying to do with their message of hope and sunny ways. Oh yes - I think this approach of building on hope and citizenship could be applied to the information being prepared for the fair pharmacare. Everything should not be about cutting taxes. Some things should be about making Canada a better place. BTW, would you believe that innocent little Canada actually collects almost the same taxes per capita as rapacious, tax-hating USA? All news to me.

Tomorrow - the final version - with collaged photos of water bottles interspersed with the abstract collage of this Kandinsky inspired 30x40 acrylic. Oh yeh - another crusade! Good grumpiness!