Heap Big Medicine

Had a whole series of little (little??) posts in mind, did a couple and promptly forgot the rest. Not counting the allergy post still sitting and waiting for editing and extension on the other computer. One of them is maybe a little commentary about my health.

Which I suppose ought to start with the weight thing. My peak weight was 308 in December 2007, and by January 2008 was 298, then dropped to a lowest low of 248 during last year. The job didn’t so much reduce it as make it go haywire initially, and make me shrink while adding muscle. My weight could fluctuate 10-15 lbs in a day those first weeks slinging packages.

It finally went down markedly again. A while back I did hit as low as 245, passingly. The new absolute low, as of this morning, was 241, with the more stable low being 242 for a couple days before that.

When I started losing, I was wearing size 42 pants. Now size 38 don’t want to stay up, and I have had to abuse my belt with a bunch of extra holes to cinch it tight enough. No danger of being a 36 soon, as I am not fundamentally built small enough without going anorexic, but I am thinner even than my weight implies. This is probably about where I was in 1994.

My body has fundamentally changed shape, which has implications like not being able to sleep comfortably in the same position or on the same surface. I’d developed a habit and preference for sleeping on my belly, which killed the snoring and, with all the fat, was comfortable even, maybe especially, sleeping on the floor, where I have long slept primarily for various reasons. I’ve had to relearn sleeping on my side, but that bothers my back, except so does sleeping on my belly, just differently. I’m having to plan on doing something about a sleep surface, as the bed or something like it makes a dramatic difference, allowing me to sleep some on my back, or more comfortably on my side. Heck, more comfortably on my belly, since the bed counters the complete lack of fat cushion.

So I’ve had this great diet and exercise. Well, mostly the exercise. Diet has slipped some, but still is neither as bad nor as extensive as at times in the past. There is nothing about it that would make me seriously gain weight in the absence of massive exercise, or would make my blood pressure be high more than it would want to regardless.

Which it apparently does.

Which vindicates my tale of the first time a doctor wanted me to get it treated, when I weighed 205, walked several miles a day and did active, physical receiving work for a “living.” I don’t know how high it was. Went to a local doctor for a sinus infection, was invited back after antibiotics were done to look at treating blood pressure, got laid off a couple days later, obviously never pursued it.

I’d been having people take my blood pressure and idly remark about it being “a little on the high side” from sometime in my teens onward, but nobody had ever threatened to drug me for it, or at least monitor it closely. And so far there has never been any rhyme or reason. It does seem worse if I gain more weight and get in worse shape, but in general it’s not affected by food and just wants to be high. I do have a white coat effect, but that isn’t enough to account for all of it, and has been factored out enough to have an idea how far it goes. It will be higher if I am in pain or sick at the time, and I fear when I returned to medical care recently I was in enough pain to have spiked it some. It just can’t explain all of it. I think I am susceptible to stress elevating it, ye olde fight or flight reflex and my tendency to be passive and internalize rather than do either. That may be the single most “controllable” factor, or I wouldn’t be surprised anyway. I’m something of a type A in sheep’s clothing, more than many people would ever suspect. I’ve learned to wear the wool well.

As you will have guessed, returning to the doctor, having been off BP meds over a year, it was indeed high. The lowest reading was 190/128, and the highest started at 220. Which at least isn’t higher than I’ve ever seen before, but I was hopelessly fat and out of shape then. Well, okay, I was probably not that much heavier, but not remotely as quality-fed or healthily-exercised.

This started the blood pressure pills. It’s getting annoying leaving the doctor’s office with his having said he would prescribe X and Y but not Z, avoiding the one that would make me feel crappiest. Then the prescriptions didn’t get put in and when that was straightened out he was like, no, of course you have to take all three. Odd.

Same thing with the MRI. When I was in his office, he said he would order an MRI of the brain and cervical spine. Getting an MRI approved is a tricksy business and has to be written up just so, but I know he said the brain, because he was thinking wouldn’t it be something if I had MS like my sister and, I presume, he may have wanted to look for stroke indications. If not, well, he changed his mind on reconsidering what we discussed and what he thought he saw and heard.

I’ve been having my legs, right especially, go numb/tingly, essentially the same feeling you get when a limb goes to sleep. Sometimes no relation to anything. Sometimes I can make it happen. Laying on my belly to sleep, for instance, and getting on my leg the wrong way, or leaning at a certain angle forward will be like flipping a switch. Recently it’s more ubiquitous and feels a little creepier. But wait! This applies to the arms, too.

More recently, such that I wasn’t able to report as much, it’s happening in my face. There was one episode where it was in my chest, but that coincided with getting a cold and can apparently be a symptom of same. I understated the degree

(It is now three days later. Stopped in mid-sentence and never got back to this. For all I know, there was more text and I’d not hit save before Henry rebooted the computer for me, but probably that was where I stopped. Now what was I on about…?)

Guess I was going to say I had understated the degree of it when I described it to the doctor, or maybe the degree to which it goes beyond feeling creepy into not being sure I can carry myself fully. I dunno. It’s disturbing to have Henry sit on my lap and have my whole leg go numb.


Where was I?

Anyway, so BP, back on meds, yuck and they are as bad as expected with maybe a bit of worse for good measure.

There were blood tests. Did I mention the blood tests? Had to do a 12 hour fasting, which I ended up doing on a Saturday night to go get it drawn Sunday morning when the lab is open for convenience. Blood sugar, kidney function, all the normal cholesterol and such, uric acid, whatever else.

That, apparently, was all normal/good. I apparently still don’t have you’reafatuglypigandyyou’llgetdiabetesandDIE. Die die die! After first being miserable, but then you’ll DIE! And it will be your own fault because diabetes is caused by FOOD and you son are a PIG. Yeah, thanks mom. And you know, I was a fat ugly pig in my mind even when I was 178 lbs and looked almost anorexic. Thanks mom, and everyone. No wonder I still find it unfathomable anyone was willing to not only date me, but marry and have sex with me, even with the whole meeting online and being intellectually compatible and best friends first. And still kind of surprised that even with attractive people in my genome, the kids are so stunning and yet look like they came from me. But I digress.

The big fun was if anything it was even harder than normal to draw blood from me. If I’d been required to give, say, 17 tubes in a sitting, they never would have managed. Almost didn’t mange the two needed. It took a dry hole in my right elbow and then racing before the vein blew out in the back of my right hand. That was a good bruise.

There was an echocardiogram. Did I mention the echocardiogram? Because I am evil and let my blood pressure go all high, that may just mean I’m a redneck. Er, I mean a heart attack. A walking, talking one. Or a stroke. Or a

(Significantly later. Where the eff was I? What was I saying? This is why you get no posts. I can’t even get 30 coherent minutes. This is why I can’t work out of the house on anything but the most fleeting stuff, and should always have left, gone to work, done the work, and come home, no matter what.)

Or I don’t know what. Something bad to do with having arteries or heart chambers that may as well be rock rather than presenting still-living human tissue. So yeah. I’m a fat ugly pig with heart disease rampant, I tell you, rampant in my family, felling the menfolk in their thirties and forties as a matter of deadly course so I’d just better watch my “am what I eat how dare you not exercise and lose weight until you blow away in a stiff breeze” self.

Let’s see. Blood pressure mystically insane. Echocardiogram. Yay. Blood tests. Yay. MRI. When I started this post back a few days ago, there was no telling when I would get results. My scheduled return visits (original appointment having been January 30) were February 27 for a blood pressure check only, with the nurse, three weeks hence that was really four, and March 16 with the doctor for his followup and the other thing.

I have a vile looking mole on my back that Deb has wondered about for a while. I actually have some other skin stuff I meant to ask about and for which I thought I’d be referred to a dermatologist (which I should if only for a freckly/mole/etc. baseline map or whatever you call it), but that was the one I managed not to feel rushed or intimidated into discarding as a topic. Well, that and what I wanted to ask about was right on my face and may have been obvious if it were anything to wonder about about. Then again, things aren’t always obvious to anyone but you, and you have to speak up or face the consequences or hope there aren’t any.

My appointment in March also includes an office procedure to remove that crusty mole. Before anyone else asks, I don’t know if it will be biopsied. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is standard operating procedure.


I had assumed the MRI wouldn’t show anything, or nothing of consequence, or nothing that would get past what I perceive as a tendency not to take any problem I might mention all that seriously. Blood pressure? That they take seriously, treating the outward symptom of ???? with all the drugs I can bear. And some. And having made some modest effort to determine a cause, though most of that was done by a prior doctor. Whose office never did turn over my records to my current practice. Go Compass! Anything else besides your ass being hypertensive? WhatEVAH!

(A little later again.)

I had also assumed I would be lucky to find out anything about what it failed to show for an extended time. It wouldn’t matter, because it would show nothing or be ambiguous, so easy enough to oh-by-the-way me next time I am there. Seriously, I really don’t expect to have them treat me seriously if I have some vague medical complaint. In my perception, the doctor examined me so cursorily when I reported it that I was almost surprised he ordered an MRI. They seem to have become routine since I had the one of my kidneys years ago, when prior doctor was looking for pheochromocytoma, but getting an MRI approved is still a tooth-pulling insurance encounter.

I’m still disappointed I didn’t get one of my brain. That I can see. “Right mind” jokes aside.

Oh, so right, results. Well, sort of, because why be less vague than you have to be?

I got a call yesterday from someone who makes calls on behalf of the reception/support staff in the doctor’s office, who then connected me to them because the doctor wanted me to consult a neurosurgeon in Boston, preferably a specific one attached to New England Medical Center, but they thought they might have to go through Boston Medical Center due to affiliation with my insurance.

A neurosurgeon!?

Yeah. Blah blah changes blah blah think more skeletal and probably not MS blah blah want it evaluated. Basically a secondhand relay of what the doctor had seen and decided to the extent that anyone would tell the actual, you know, patient.

Now, I take these things largely in stride and figured it must be a possibility of something serious enough to invoke an expert who could read the MRI, do an exam, whatever, and conclude far more, well, conclusively than even one of the top family practice doctors in the state. In the face of minds enquiring and beyond, I am trying to find out

(Yet again, later…)

I was saying I was trying to find out more exactly what the doctor is seeing and thinking to make him want an expert consultation. Since then, they called, managing to miss the interlude when Henry was sleeping, more or less, and I was with him for comfort.

They’ve gotten the MRI and my info to the neurosurgeon at BMC. He will review it and then they will call me directly to schedule an appointment. I should hear from them in a week or less. My doctor’s office will check on it if after a week I have not heard. Trying to resist the crying long enough to finish this. The reason is that the doctor saw a bit of disk protrusion, which would explain the pain (we didn’t really discuss pain), and he wants to see if anything should be done about it. Or something like that. And on that note I have hysterics here, from a kid, so that will have to do except if I review and edit later. About time it got posted.


Come to think of it, I find today’s explanation dramatically different from yesterday’s, and that’s kind of odd.  I don’t think I’ll really have any clue until I see the actual expert.  I’m not sure they shouldn’t also be looking at other parts of my spine, for that matter.  Oh well.

At least, I don’t think we discussed pain that day, not much, which is funny considering I’d skipped pain relievers and was dying of it, upper and lower back both.  I just wanted to understate per usual.

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