Friday, July 31, 2015

So hungry

I did it again. Got sick once more. This must get boring for you guys? What illness will Jane come down with next?

The last real meal I had this month was on 13th July which is 18 days ago. I had 4 Fingers fried chicken with carrots, egg and white rice for dinner that day. Hmmm, memories... For dessert, greedy me had a bunch of lychees. After dinner, I noticed my stomach was quite bloated. Around 10pm that night I had the biggest migraine of my life. And that was the last good day I remember. Since then, anything I ate made my stomach bloated and gave me an incredible headache.

At first I did the self-diagnosis route. I took ENO and panadol. Did not work. I took Hydrosil and panadol. Did not work. I took Alka-Seltzer. Did not work. My headaches never went away. I had them all the time. So I went to see my long-time private GP, Dr TingTing. After my last few experiences with public doctors, I thought it was best not to go back to the polyclinic. 

Dr TingTing's diagnosis? I have GERD or acid reflux. She put me on a strict diet and gave me a list of food to avoid:
Citrus fruits - goodbye my lovely oranges
Chocolate - no big deal
Coffee - I don't drink coffee
Tea - Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo <echo>
Fatty and fried foods - Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo<echo>
Garlic and onions - no problem, i'll just eat everything bland
Mint flavouring - I don't really care for mint
Highly spiced foods - sigh
Tomato-based foods - I can live with it

I followed this diet very stictly. I only ate multi-grain or whole grain bread. I ate fish. I ate vegetables. I ate oatmeal. I ate tuna (in water) sandwiches. Basically, all the bland non-tasty food. I didn't eat any fried food. Ok, just one time I had one nugget. But my new diet didn't help. Made zero difference.

Dr TT had prescribed a PPI - proton pump inhibitor which slows down the production of acid in the stomach. She also gave me another medication which allows me to eat as it breaks up stomach bubbles.

I took Dr TT's medication for two weeks and nothing changed. The bloating and the headaches - they kept coming every time I ate. It got to a point where I hated to eat. And you know how much I love to eat. What did change was I stopped taking panadols for my headaches since they did not work. I started to do Pilates and go for walks thinking that exercising might help. It did. I discovered that some of the time I could make my headaches go away by doing stretching exercises. These exercises kinda forced the wind in my stomach to get expelled. Unfortunately, it's usually through my mouth. So I've had to burp, belch like a freaking machine. I wish the wind would come out of my ASS instead. Since I eat 3 times a day, it means 3 times a day I have to do the stretching and walking. When exercising couldn't completely get rid of my headaches, I just kept busy around the flat and tried to do stuff that required me to move around. That usually helps. The important thing was not to lie down and sleep! Anyway, it was a relief to stop taking panadols. They were probably making me worse.

Dr TT had also talked me into doing a blood test. My last blood test was done in 2008! The results came back and it was quite shocking to me. Despite years of not really taking care of my health, I have come away unscathed. I don't have any illness (that you can tell via the blood test) save for my bad cholestral being a tiny bit above the range. Dr TT says if I were to cut down the number of egg yolks I eat per week, the bad cholestral should go into the safe range easily.

I couldn't possibly carry on with the headaches and belching every day. I was cooking every single meal and it was exhausting. Also, I'm a terrible cook. I tried not to eat simple carbo because the bloating and headaches were worse and harder to get rid of. Once my 2 week medication ran out, I went back to Dr TT who says she won't give me anymore medication unless I go for a OGD or gastroscopy. She said taking the same medication would not make any difference and she had medication for a bacteria that could be present in my digestive tract but she couldn't give them to me unless the OGD results says I have the bacteria.

Do you know what a OGD entails? A flexible tube around the size of your little finger is inserted into the upper digestive tract. At the end of the tube there is a tiny video camera and a light source. At first the idea of anything entering my throat gives me the creeps. (I blame Alien movies) But it turned out that the surgeon Dr TT is sending me to does OGD with the patient asleep. Some doctors do it with the patient AWAKE. After I was assured that I would not remember any details of the tube entering my throat, I agreed to go for the procedure.

The surgeon is Dr Heah and he is in private practice. This means it's expensive. The total cost was $950 before GST 7%.  The procedure itself cost $650 but there was a $300 charge for "room & board" because I had to sleep for ONE HOUR. That's like 5 bucks per minute. I could use $650 from my Medisave account but the rest was cash payment.

The procedure was pretty simple on my part. I lay down on the bed. The doctor goes through my symptoms with me to verify that I do indeed need a OGD. He tells me a little bit what he will do. Next he gave me an IV injection of a sleeping drug. A nurse asked me to bite on a plastic. The doctor said, turn to your left and I was out. When I woke up, a nurse told me it was over. Then I went back to sleep. One time, the doctor came to talk me to. For whatever reason, he spoke to me in Mandarin. I tried to tell him to speak in English. Then I must have fallen asleep again. Then I awoke to hub's voice (it was damn loud) arguing with the doctor. Then I fell asleep again. Finally I was fully awake. Later I asked hubs and he said he wasn't arguing with the doctor. He was talking. But maybe in an aggressive way.

Anyhoo, the gastroscopy confirms I do have gastritis. (which we already know) However, Clo test was negative for H. Pylori.  This means I do not have the bacteria. In a way, it is good news. On the other hand, this means we're back to square one. What the hell is wrong with me? Dr Heah suggested I take 2 alternative medication for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, if there is no progress, there is a list of alternative tests I can go for.

Oh you guys probably don't want to see this but I insist. Here's a pic of my upper digestive tract.

The OGD gave me a soreness in my throat. Other than that, I'm fine. This morning I took the first dosage of the new medication. It hasn't worked yet. I'm not going to place too much hope on the new medication or stress over it. I read that stress can worsen my condition. Instead, I will do my exercises and carry on as best as I can, headache or no headache. Okay, I will mostly be thinking of all the food I will eat once I have fully recovered. Oh, I've started working on a bag pattern - in between headaches. It will probably take months to complete.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pocari Sweat Run 2015

This morning, hubs and I woke up at 5am. Yep, we signed up for a run and it's one of those runs which involved closing of roads so it was very early. Hubs was doing the 10km run while I opted for the 5km run. His flagoff was 6:30am while mine was 7am. The starting point of the run was somewhere near the Sports Hub which is in Kallang, somewhere in the south eastern part of Singapore.

Last year I had the ambition to participate in a 10km run and was building up my stamina and fitness. But along the way, I gave up. One of my excuses was my medical issues kept surfacing. The real reason is I found it too hard. I managed to run 7km once but I felt so tired afterwards. It felt so pointless to go after this goal. So I decided once and for all, 5km is my limit. I think it's a wise decision.

This year, I was very sluggish and barely made any effort to run. I always managed to find a reason why I could not go for a run. The result? My fitness and energy is at an all time low. Not to mention the massive weight gain. Last week, hubs reminded me to train for the Porari run. Fortunately, hubs is quite naggy and managed to nag me into going for 2 training runs. Both times, I felt like death visited me.

Before I knew it, the day of the run arrived.

This is what our faces look like after a 3 hour sleep and waking up at 5am.

Hubs wanted to be at the back of the pack. So we hung around until most of the 10km runners had left. Also, he was wondering if he needed to poop.

The organisers lost control of the crowd. Many 5km runners ran together with the 10km runners. Despite lots of appeals, majority of the 5km runners refused to wait for their flagoff. I guess it's not a competitive run for 5km, so the runners didn't care. Of course I waited for the flagoff. I figure why go to all the trouble and ruin the run by not waiting a couple of minutes.

For this run, I did a few things differently. Firstly, see the towel around my neck? That's a cooling towel. I don't know how it's different. It's like a regular towel except it's very light. Hubs bought it for me. I'm not sure why he thought it would be a good idea but it was! I used it to wipe my face and neck 3 times during the run and I felt so refreshed afterwards that I had renewed energy to run. I also had a fanny pack around my waist. It's the light weight kind for travelling and with that, I need not carry anything on my hands. This was the smartest thing I did. With my hands free, I ran better and I did not have any shoulder pain afterwards. Can you imagine? I've suffered shoulder pains every single time I ran in the past and it was all due to holding something in my hand. I'm so stupid.

The last thing I did different was I wore a pair of very light running shoes with absolutely no cushioning. I had already tested them out twice and despite the lack of cushioning, my feet are fine. I think these shoes may not be a good idea for longer runs. Oh, we had to wear the time thingy on our shoes. I didn't like that at all. I wonder why we couldn't wear a wrist band or anklet or have it on our bib.

Hub's route was more scenic. He ran past Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands (the building on the left), Gardens by the Bay and Marina Barrage.

Mine? I ran past a smelly canal that smelled like a thousand farts. Also, a highway then we U-turned back. I noticed at the U-turn, some of the 10km runners did not separate from the 5km runners to go on their route. Instead, they U-turned with the 5km runners. I wonder why they do that. Was it a mistake? Or maybe they only care about collecting the Finisher T-shirt.

I was very surprised to receive a finisher tee-shirt and a medal. In addition, I was given a banana and one bottle of pocari sweat. Pocari sweat has no fizz which I like and it doesn't taste sweet which is even better. I felt very good after the run. Did not feel tired at all.

Hubs on the other hand said "he was broken". He was thirsty, dripping with sweat and very, very tired.

I don't know my official timing for the run. I forgot to look at the clock when I crossed the finishing line. But I used MapMyRun app and it recorded 42:47 mins.

Would you believe I have another run coming up?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The worst thing about June was not the heat

Hey folks,

June sucked. Not the regular kind of suck. The big time suck. June is usually a good month because of the 4 glorious weeks of school break. This time around, my son's school stole 2 weeks of the school break insisting on conducting regular school hours for those 2 weeks. Thieves! Still I had 2 glorious weeks of school break aka sleeping in.

But that wasn't the real problem. You might remember from my post here that I have tennis elbow. The first polyclinic GP (I call her the googling doctor because she had to google "tennis elbow" to find out how to treat me) prescribed me NSAIDS. These meds were really good. When I took them, the tenderness and soreness were reduced. Unfortunately, it was not permanent. Once my meds ran out, EVERY bit of pain returned.

The googling doctor had referred me to a polyclinic physiotherapist. Now this physiotherapist is a very stubborn man. When I first saw him, he told me I did not have tennis elbow. He was sure my shoulders were the cause. At the time I first saw him, I was in pretty bad shape. I couldn't bend or straighten my arm anymore. The arm rotations he helped me do did loosen up my joints. His "cure" for me was to do 2 very simple shoulder exercises.

Weeks later, I saw no improvement in my elbow. I could bend and straighten but there was still a lot of pain. I went back to the polyclinic for more medication and also to confirm if indeed I did have tennis elbow. This time I was assigned to another GP, someone older and more experienced. This GP confirmed I did have tennis elbow and she said the physiotherapist needs to treat my case as tennis elbow. She believed the shoulder issues were secondary. Anyway, I asked for more NSAIDS and that's when the GP became very angry - the scary angry. She wanted to know why I wanted more NSAIDS and I told her the pain and tenderness came back once the meds ran out. She GRABBED me by the good arm and shook me a little asking very loudly and severely: Do you want to destroy your kidneys? Do you?

I was petrified. No doctor has ever shaken me before. In my fear and confusion, I answered YES.

The doctor was shocked by my answer. She shook me again and said, You want to destroy your kidneys? These medication aren't good for you. You can't take them all the time.

I quickly corrected myself and assured her I don't want to harm my kidneys. Despite all her warning and shaking, she prescribed me the NSAIDS anyway . But I promised her I would take them only if I felt like dying.

I thought about it and I wonder why doctors prescribe kidneys destroying medication? Plus, the googling doctor made no mention of the kidneys destroying side effects. As promised, I only took one tablet because on that day, I did indeed feel like dying. Since then, I haven't touched the medication. (too scared of losing my kidneys; we have two, right?)

I went back to the polyclinic physiotherapist and told him the GP was very sure I have tennis elbow. Much to my surprise, he dismissed what I said totally and told me straight up he would not treat my case as tennis elbow. He couldn't care less what the GP said and explained to me like I'm a very stupid person why I do not have tennis elbow. Maybe I'm a bit dumb because what he said made no sense to me. Firstly, according to him, if I didn't have a shoulder problem, my stiff arm would not have become flexible so easily. Secondly, if I really had tennis elbow, my condition would not have improved so quickly after taking the medication because tennis elbow takes a long time to fix. Finally, he gave me 2 new shoulder exercises and sent me off. Before that, he asked if I wanted to return for a couple more visits or :

I saw no point in continuing to pay and see this idiot. I did make another appointment but I cancelled it later on.

I felt so stranded. I cannot imagine in modern Singapore, a simple case of tennis elbow is impossible to heal.  I struggled for another week and one day I took the plunge and went to a private physiotherapy clinic. I was recommended shock wave therapy. At first I was hesitant because it costs a bomb. I repeat. IT COSTS A BOMB. The alternative was trigger point massage and after calculating the total amount it cost for the number of sessions required for the "cheaper alternative", I found there was only a small difference in savings. So I opted for shock wave therapy. I was told success rate for shock wave therapy was 97%. (notice it's not 100%) There were 6 sessions altogether spread over weeks. I had no idea if shock wave therapy would work. But I was really desperate.

Let me describe shock wave therapy in lay man term. It's like a mini jack hammer hammering at the most painful part of your joints. Bam, bam, bam, over and over, mercilously. I believe this is how soldiers are tortured to extract information. Each therapy (or should I say torture) doesn't last very long as you get 2,000 shots each time. But it feels like neverending. The pain from the jack hammer is much much worse than my elbow pain. One thousand times worse. Oh my god. I cried every single time. And you feel sore as hell afterwards for a day or two. I propose the treatment should be renamed shock wave torture.

So did it work? Yes and no. I feel I am 70% healed. That's a great improvement. But there's still some remnants that are unresolved. I am concerned about that. Everyday I ice my elbow and I do 2 exercises to improve my elbow joints but it's unlikely these exercises and icing will heal the remaining 30%.

So towards the end of June I was feeling quite good as my arm could function close to normal. I still can't use the big vacuum cleaner or scrub the floor but everything else I could do without pain. I finally felt my life was looking up again. Then on 27th June at 11pm, I lost some hearing in my good ear. If you remember, on 21st September last year, the same thing happened which I captured in a post here. That time, the hearing loss was pretty severe and took 3 days to return fully. I notice that on both occasions, my hearing chose to get lost on a weekend when clinics are closed. I remember I was listening to music when it happened. It's like one minute I could hear and the next minute a heatwave swept through my body and I couldn't hear so well anymore. Having experienced it before at a much worse level, I thought I could handle it better this time. I was wrong. I pretty much freaked out as I normally would. I panicked and panicked and was unable to do anything except stay panicked. I just wanted to scream and cry but I suppressed it. Hubs was at work and I didn't want to disturb him. Finally after pacing around for a while, I decided I would go to the A & E at the nearest hospital. My gut feeling was I had a sinus infection again and I wanted anti biotics right away. My girl came along in case my hearing got worse.

The A & E was not crowded but it took 2 hours for me to see a doctor. First thing, the doctor said I had a fever. I had no idea I was running a fever because June was freaking hot every day in Singapore. Feeling hot was the new normal. If sweat wasn't pouring down my neck, back, armpits, butt, chest, okay, every part of my body, then I would have thought I was sick. Anyway, the doctor checked my ear and said my ear drums looked bulging. My ear and face hurt as well. She suspected I had sinus infection and prescribed anti biotics plus something to clear my blocked nose. I reached home at 3am and by then hubs had finished work and was waiting at home for us. I felt really sad and wanted to cry again but I couldn't give myself permission to cry. I was afraid crying would worsen my sinus and make everything worse. So I held it all in and went to sleep. When I woke up, my hearing returned to normal again. Hallelujah!

So it's obvious I need to get my sinus and allergies fixed. Otherwise I suspect I'm going to keep getting episodes of hearing loss. And how many times can you lose your hearing without damaging your hearing cells? The sound of 't' and 'zee' have already been damaged in my good ear from September's loss and I don't want to lose anymore alphabets.

This week, I went to see a ENT doctor and this time I got a subsidized rate. Last September I saw a private ENT doctor and the amount we had to pay was so much it physically hurt me to think about it. I could feed both my kids on that amount for a whole month. This time around, I went for a subsidized doctor because I think sinus and allergies shouldn't be a difficult case for a junior doctor to handle. I really did get assigned a very young doctor. Like a kid. She had very poor listening skills and was texting for a long time after I had sat down beside her. She was also quite clumsy. When she inserted the micro camera into my sinus, I felt for sure I would become the first person to be killed by a ENT doctor's micro camera. She somehow managed to not maim me in any way. Anyway, she suggested I use FLO Sinus & Allergy Relief to wash my sinus. This is something new to me. Has anyone used this? Please let me know if you have and are there any side effects? I'm scared to death of using it but I will give it a go. You're supposed to squeeze salt water through one nostril and have it come out the other nostril. Super gross. What if the water goes into my ear instead? Would that happen? With the haze and hungry ghost festival (lots of joss paper burning) coming up, I really need to protect my sinus.

In September, I will get a prick test. The doctor thinks it's a good idea to know exactly what I'm allergic to. Again, I have some fears. Since I am so super sensitive, I fear I may end up getting hives or other worse reactions. Can you tell I am paranoid?

After June ended I hoped July would be less terrifying. July meant back to school and back to routine. Then last Friday evening my daughter informed me her hearing was blocked. I felt like fainting. My daughter? Hearing loss? I felt I was going insane. Some time later, she confessed her hearing only became blocked after  she had stuck a finger in her ear. What a relief. I immediately shone a torchlight in her bad ear and I could see some weird gooey stuff inside. My first instinct was to get her an appointment with a ENT doctor because based on my years of experience with ear problems, a GP is no bloody good with ears. They have no specialized equipment. She had no pain, no fever, no blocked nose. So I wasn't frightened, just concerned. When my kids were little, both had blocked hearing from time to time. Anyway, I had to wait for Monday when the appointment lines were open. It turned out getting a ENT doctor for a 15 year old is not easy. Only 2 hospitals were willing to take her. One hospital was totally booked but I managed to get her an appointment with a children's hospital ENT clinic. Originally my priorities were screwed. My daughter had to sit for her GCE 'O' levels Oral exam on Tuesday. Since she could still hear, we all decided it was better for her to see the doctor after her exams. So the earliest appointment was on Thursday. On Monday evening, she came home from school and suddenly experienced ringing in her ear. I got so scared because ringing is not a good sign. Sometimes the ringing never goes away. I immediately called the children's hospital to beg for an appointment on Tuesday. With 10 minutes to closing time, I had difficulty getting through. Either I was on hold or my line was dropped. I kept on trying and trying and at 5:58pm, I got a human on the line. The human was sympathethic and got me an appointment the next morning.

Early next morning we went to the ENT clinic and much to our relief, the doctor said my daughter had massive ear shit in both ears. Like epic. Apparently, sticking a finger in the ear pushed the gunk deeper and blocked her hearing. The doctor used a vacuum to suck all the shit out. There was a monitor which showed insde her ear and we could watch the process It was very hard to watch. I shut my eyes. Hubs had no problems watching. Hubs even kept the gunk from the good ear. Originally I wanted to show a photo of it but I think some of you might unfollow me... Anyway, it's BLACK colour, in a ball and quite hardened and there was a lot of it. I may never be able to eat black pearls again. (you get these in bubble tea) Thankfully her hearing was not damaged and the ringing went away. It took a couple of days for her senses to feel normal again. It was quite cute to watch her getting used to hearing normal again. I can hear my footsteps, she would announce. And she didn't even have to postpone her GCE 'O' levels oral exam. By the way, it cost a small bomb for the ENT visit. It's a fraction of my shock wave therapy because that one was a big bomb. Hubs says he hopes no one gets sick anymore.
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