Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How are you today?

I'm just a little left of normal for my "typical fibro" self today. I'm waiting to see if my daily abdominal pains will come on this afternoon. It's just about that time, but I'm changing factors to see if any of them help. Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fright Morning

I just survived a harrowing ordeal.  It has nothing to do with Halloween or the various seasonal pranks or visions of ghosts or demons or anything like that.  I just experienced an awful episode of sleep paralysis.

The Real World:
Here's what happened.  I got up just before 6am today to go to the bathroom.  This is not unusual for me, but getting up does frequently interrupt some of the best possible sleep I get, which occurs in the morning hours.  This is why I tend to get up for work around 8am and usually still feel a bit like a zombie for several hours while my stiff muscles thaw out a bit.  

Anyway, after the pee break, I got back into bed and tried to get comfortable.  It has been raining all night, but softly.  The wind, however, was still howling wildly outside in frequent gusts.  Today is also garbage day in my neighborhood, so the trucks' brakes can be heard in the distance.  

I woke Don up with my pee break, so he decided to start his day.  After a half-hour or so, I finally fell into a very light sleep, waking up periodically with Don's moving around the house and showering and such.  At 7:30, Don gave me a kiss good-bye and went off to work.

My World:
Sometime after the kiss, I fell asleep again, knowing that I only had a few minutes before having to get up for work myself.  I dreamt some usual nonsense, then "awoke" to realize I was in bed, looking at the door, the ceiling, my own outstretched arm.  

I tried to move but noticed that I was not only numb, but tingling.  My ears picked up sounds that I knew couldn't be Don's voice, but somehow sounded a bit like it - like he was talking to someone on the phone, from another room.  I tried to call out to him to help me and heard myself struggle to get sounds out.  I recognized this as sleep paralysis, but felt unable to shake free of it.  I fought and fought to move my arm, only to see it lying there in its original position, despite my firm belief that I had managed to move it just a bit.  My ears screamed with tinnitus and I felt the cold numbness and tingling in my entire body.  I looked around the room, seeing changing spots on the walls, shapes that weren't what they should be, and knew these were signs that I was not fully conscious.  Nonetheless, I fought and fought to move and scream.  

The strong winds worried me, as I thought our patio furniture might break a window.   I worried that I would not wake up in time to go to work or at least notify someone that I'd be late.  I worried that I might choke myself on a heating pad cord that was not even in the bed, but that I "saw" and "grabbed" with my hand.  I tried using the smell of a hallucinated lotion bottle to wake me up.  I tried waiting patiently for the paralysis to end while my ears and eyes experienced things I knew to be false.  I kept drifting off and coming back into what I thought was consciousness, only to realize each time that I was still trapped in my own corpse-like body .  

My patience wore out after a few times and I struggled again, determined to break through the paralysis and get myself out of bed, to no avail.  This went on for what seemed like ages, but could not have been more than an hour, as my release finally arrived at 8:20am.  There was no mistaking this for paralysis.  The tinnitus was gone, the tingling, cold numbness was gone, and the room looked a lot less surprising.  It was almost like the end of a violent storm.  I was finally awake.  What a relief!  If there was a way to kiss the ground of consciousness, I am going to be doing that soon.

Have you dealt with episodes like this?  What do you think is the cause of it?  I was sleeping on my back at the time.  The amount and quality of my sleep varies from night to night, and I have plenty of stress with all the pains, fatigue, responsibilities at work and home, weight gain struggles, and new, yet-undiagnosed symptoms for which I will soon have more "fun" tests to go through.  I've had a concussion, too.  I'm also on plenty of prescriptions to try to treat my many symptoms of Fibromyalgia.  

Some or all of these could be contributing to this.  Or it could just be a fluke thing.  Whatever it is, I'm not looking forward to the next one.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Erythema Nodosum

What's Erythema Nodosum (EN), you ask?  It's basically slightly reddish, very tender nodules, occurring just under the skin, usually occurring on the lower legs.  I've got them.  This is new to me, and is occurring at a time overlapping some other new and troubling symptoms, specifically, intermittent mild to severe abdominal pain with nausea and fatigue.  I've spent many couchant days with Wellington, just hurting and trying to feel better.  I've had several days when sudden onset of pain and/or nausea hit me just before or at work.  

The most recent episode occurred in the office last Wednesday around 1:45pm.  My belly was wrenched with cramping pain, so I headed right to the rest room, hoping for relief.  I broke out in a cold, dripping sweat while a terrible nausea came over me, all the while, still doubled over in pain.  I had a meeting scheduled with my boss for 2pm, but ended up having to reschedule it, due to my unavailability.  I had to text him about my emergency.  I was stuck in that stall for about an hour before I felt stable enough to get my purse to leave work and drive home.  My pain continued for several hours until it slowly began to dissipate to a milder version that would continue for about two more days.  The heating pad on my belly helped with the discomfort as I watched episodes of Dr. G: Medical Examiner and Mystery Diagnosis, my newest favorite sick day shows.

There are several causes indicated for the occurrence of EN, including various infections and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases like Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn's Disease.  The last visit to the doctor for the abdominal pain was on Aug. 27th with a new gastroenterologist, who suggested I try stopping the daily probiotics, in case my guts have too many bacteria in them.  I have been off the probiotics since late August now, yet I still continue to have the episodes.  All blood and urine tests done thus far have been "normal" so I'm not sure what is behind all this.  I just know the abdominal pains and EN are linked.  It's too coincidental for these to occur for independent reasons, right?

I have had a few days of a mild sore throat in mid-August, before all of this started, but I find it hard to believe that I could have had strep, a common cause of EN.  Strep also doesn't explain the abdominal stuff going on.  

At any rate, my research on this is definitely continuing until I can at least determine my next plan of action.  With the way my last few doctor visits went, I feel like I need to present them with plausible ideas.  The lack of thoroughness is very disheartening to me.  My dermatologist was actually the one who diagnosed the EN, with just a quick glance and touch.  He prescribed a topical steroid that I've been applying religiously since my diagnosis on Sep. 24th.  He also gave me no reason to dig deeper for an underlying cause, which makes me a bit sad.  Thus far, all the info I've dug up on EN has been on my own.  He didn't even write the name down - I had to find it based on something that sounded like what he said, which I remembered as "ereth-- something".  

On the bright side, last Saturday and Sunday were a breath of fresh air.  I felt lots better than I had been lately, even as recently as Friday.  I got outside, did some walking, and enjoyed some quality time with Don.  I don't want to speak too soon, but today is going pretty well so far, too.  However, both Don and I noticed that I've been having sick time on Wednesdays lately.  We are wondering if there is something in the air or water in my work building (the water is not great, but we have a filter for drinking water which I use), or if there is some other thing in my routine, perhaps, that is contributing to my deterioration after a couple of days of the work week.  

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to see if I can find out what helps.  The first thing I'm trying is not taking my morning vitamins and supplements, since I noticed that I forgot to take them both Saturday and Sunday.  I skipped them purposely this morning, to see if I can make it to Wednesday a little more easily this week.  If that doesn't work, perhaps I'll try avoiding drinking the building's water and bring in my own.  If that doesn't help, maybe I can try to get more sleep, like I definitely did last weekend.  

I'm thinking something in my genetic makeup or somewhere in my body is at odds with something I'm exposing to it.  Maybe I can narrow it down and avoid it.  Wish me luck!