Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Three months later

Three months ago this week, I had my hospital adventure. When I talked about this a month ago, I said that, at that point, it hadn’t really been a tale of progress. It is now, however, and things finally feel like they’re moving in the right direction.

The main problem I was dealing with at the time of my last update was recurring gout attacks caused by one of my medications. I’ve again been “in remission” for a week now, and if this continues for one more week, I can begin the allopurinol to prevent further attacks. Fingers crossed, and all that.

I did have that severe attack in my elbow, and that slowly went away, plus a couple very minor attacks after that, and then they stopped. I had to get a bit creative with my strategies, which seems to have worked. I’ll be writing about that in more detail soon (it’s a story in itself), the point is that my main complaint his, for the moment, under control.

My stamina has been returning, partly because I’ve been moving more. Nigel gave me his Apple Watch, which monitors my activity, telling me to stand every hour, for example, and tracking steps, calories consumed through movement, etc. This has been really useful.

However, I still haven’t started regular walking yet, as they wanted me to do. At first, it was because with all the severe gout attacks, I couldn’t walk at all. Then, when I could walk, I was in other pain and just didn’t feel like it. Now, I’m leery of any risk of injury, no matter how slight that risk may be, that might cause another attack and put off the allopurinol even longer.

So, what’ve been doing are more physical things around the house. Last week, for example, I swept up all the leaves and plant debris that accumulated on our deck over winter (partly as a way go get over the USA’s disastrous election the day before). It was the first time I’d done that since before my adventure, and it was fine—like I should have experienced all along. When I was done, I was a little physically tired, of course, but that went away. I had no other issues.

Gout issues aside, I would never have attempted that in the first month or so after my hospital stay, and right before that I couldn’t possibly have done it. This is a measure of how much better things are now than they used to be.

Still, it’s not perfect. I’m more tired than I should be, and I feel flat most of the time—not depressed, more like disengaged. I suspect the statin may be at fault. I haven’t had any of the muscle pains statins often cause, though, which is one good thing.

The other issue is that my memory has been affected. It was already affected by getting older, but I noticed more problems with remembering things, until my sister and I joked about it in some emails and she said I had A.D.D.—and, while not literally true, it’s a good way of describing it, because that’s really what’s been happening: I’ll be in the middle of something, suddenly lose focus and switch abruptly to something else. For example, I might be writing a blog post, then suddenly stop open up my browser and go to some web page that has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m writing about. It really is as if I can’t focus properly.

All of which I’ll be taking up with my doctor when I next see her. I’m due to see her in about a month to renew my prescriptions, but I hope to be able to see her sooner to get a prescription for allopurinol, so I may have the chance to talk with her about it then.

So, things have improved over the past month as I’ve pretty much become adjusted to my prescriptions, found a way (it seems) to control my gout for now, and I’m both able to move more and doing so.

I haven’t yet seen the cardiologist for the follow-up visit, for a variety of reasons (not the least a strike by junior doctors saw all non-essential services postponed). I haven’t pursued it because I decided that I really don’t want to go on steroids because of their severe and possibly fatal side effects. I have enough to deal with right now, I think, and I don’t want to add another layer of stress and worry.

Fortunately, so far that gamble is working out in my favour. With a bit of luck, which I’ve had rather a lot of in this saga, it’ll all work out. Either way, it’ll give me something to discuss next time.

In the meantime, things finally feel like they’re moving in the right direction.

Update – November 18: I forgot to mention my weight loss so far: As of today, I've lost 6.4kg (14.1 pounds) since my hospital stay. That’s happened mostly because I eat less/better, since it’s only been recently that I’ve been able to move around. Today I also published a post about me being reluctant to talk about this weight loss.

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