Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Today's Diagnosis, Osteopenia

I saw my rheumatologist yesterday to follow-up on my bone density tests and general well being. Overall, I feel a bit better. I like this doctor. Whenever you come in for a check-up, you fill out this form listing out what you want to discuss. She's very orderly. I'm orderly too. I like that she asks for a written list because I usually have one, and doctors don't care to see it. As we discuss things, she writes down what we discuss and then gives me a copy. That way when my husband asks how did it go, I can just refer to the list.

Anyway, back to my bone density tests. It turns out that I have osteopenia. Osteopenia occurs when your bone mineral density is lower than what it should be, but it is not low enough to be considered osteoporosis. My bone density is only slightly low, so my doctor thinks that if I take calcium supplements (which I have been) and Vitamin D supplements, it should help. She'll run blood tests in about eight weeks to see how that's working out.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but lupus patients seem to be at a higher risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia. There are several reasons. Lupus in general seems to cause it. Many people with lupus tend to excercise less frequently. Also, prolonged use of steroids increase the risk of bone loss.

We can do a few things to help slow down our bone density loss. We can talk to our doctors about the use of calcium and Vitamin D supplements. We should also discuss what allowable exercises we can do. We should do what we can to manage flares and keep down inflammation. All of these will help lessen bone mineral density loss.

Well that's it for yesterday's doctor's appointment. Today, I go to the gynecologist. Woohoo! Come back tomorrow as I describe every last detail of that appointment! Just kidding.

Have a lupie day.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lupie Holiday Shopping

Even before my lupus symptoms got bad, I hated holiday shopping. Now with lupus, shopping in a mall is unbearable. Thanks to the Internet, I now do the majority of my shopping online. There are plenty of great places to shop inexpensively that even provide free shipping. Many also provide gift wrapping. Today, I got free shipping from RedEnvelope, Drugstore.com, Beauty.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Toys R Us was offering free shipping if I were willing to appropriately compliment toy items with a $40 purchase, but a purchase like that for one of my nieces and nephews would be out of budget. I have lots of nieces and nephews and if I spent $50 on one, I'd have to spend $50 on all of them, and I'm not rich, and I'll never be if I do that.

A great place to do shopping is with the company I work for, PriceGrabber.com. At PriceGrabber, you can use the Personal Shopper feature to shop by price, relationship, or personality. I know many people worry about shopping online. I often use companies that have a longstanding reputation, such as, RedEnvelope, Target, Amazon, or ToysRUs. Another great thing about PriceGrabber is that you can read the Merchant reviews and see what sort of experience other customers have had with a particular company. With a company like PriceGrabber, the online shopping experience is a lot safer, and I don't just say that because I work there. I say that because I believe in the company I work for. If I didn't, I wouldn't be there.

Since I want to try to be unbiased, another great shopping site is Yahoo Shopping. It also has shopping guides, and many of their Companies are well known, reputable dealers. I've used them for several years, and I've never had a problem with any of the companies I shop from, but as I said before, I always choose reputable and well known companies.

I have to say that shopping online is great for someone with lupus. This morning, I purchased, wrapped, and shipped presents for fourteen people without even standing up. It took me about two hours to shop for my relatives online, when usually something like that takes me days and loads of stress.

My lupie advice for the month is not to let holiday shopping send you into a flare. Go online and get it all done without running around and tiring yourself out.

Take care and live lupie!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving, Lupie Style

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love to cook. Before I went back to work full-time, I used to put out a spectacular meal for my family practically every night, and when it came to Thanksgiving, there was no stopping me. I'd do up a turkey and traditional sides with a side of gumbo. My mother never let a holiday go by without gumbo, and as her daughter, I wanted to keep to that tradition.

I think two years ago was the last time I cooked a true Thanksgiving dinner. Last year we spent it with relatives, and they cooked. This year, we're not flying because Geoff has grounded me since I got so sick flying to my niece's wedding last month. This year, I honestly didn't want to cook. I'm a bit tired. Also, because of Geoff's recent cancer diagnosis, I'm just drained. Geoff and I discussed going to a restaurant, but that concept drained him.

In the end, we decided to let the good people of Honeybaked prepare our Thanksgiving meal. We picked it all up last night, ham, cranberry salad, scalloped potatoes and cheesecake. All we have to do is heat it up. The sum cost of this meal for a family of four turned out to be under $60.00, which is much cheaper than anything I put together on my own. I can't even put together gumbo ingredients for under $60.00! I think this meal will make us relatively happy. If we start aching for gumbo, tomorrow we can all go to the Farmers' Market near the Grove and grab bignets and gumbo from this little food stand over there.

Aside from that, I think we'll spend the day appreciating the fact that we're all still here, and that we're one happy if not healthy, family.

Take care and live lupie!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Complimentary Doctor's Appointments

My husband and I both had doctor's appointments. I went to see my GP because it doesn't appear that my ear infection will go away, and my husband had an appointment with his urologist to discuss his options.

My GP gave me stronger ear infection medicine. He said that if the new drops don't work, he'll send me to a specialist. He also was able to run down the tests from my last visit to the rheumatologist. My GP keeps an eye on all my specialists. I like that. He told me that he was going to send my pulmonologist an e-mail because he didn't understand the reasoning behind a treatment that was recently prescribed.

I went many years without a GP, but now I realize I did myself a disservice. A good GP is vital to proper lupus care. I definitely need someone who can keep track of all my specialists and follow my course of treatment.

After my appointment, we went to my husband's urologist. We discussed the stage and extent of his cancer and discussed treatment options. My husband wants surgery to have his prostate removed. I'm having a hard time getting used to this all. I want to question the viability of the results and diagnosis. I'll support what my husband wants. I guess I'm just still in shock.

You all have a lupie day.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Don't Forget About Yourself

Usually when I go without writing, it's because I don't feel well. This time it was because my husband wasn't feeling well, and I couldn't write about it. My daughter reads my blog, and we didn't want to worry the kids before we had all the facts. I tried to think about other things, but all I could think about is that my husband could possibly have prostate cancer. He was going through tests, and all I could do was wait and worry.

Well, the waiting is over, and my husband does have prostate cancer. We go in to meet with his doctor tomorrow to discuss options. Fortunately, it was caught early, and his prognosis is likely good.

When I'm stressed like this, I often just want to think about the thing that's stressing me. Right now, all I can think of are ways to take care of my husband. I've researched different treatments for prostate cancer. I have put together questions for his doctor, and I've come up with a new diet I'm hoping to convince my husband to eat.

On top of this all, I have to remember to take care of myself because the last thing we need right now is for me to feel worse than I usually do, so I'm trying really hard to sleep when I'm supposed to sleep, eat when I'm supposed to eat, and take meds when I'm supposed to take meds.

So, I guess that's my advice today. It's so easy to say, "I don't have time for that. I've more important things to do." Don't do that. Take care of yourself, so that you can take care of the ones you love.

On that note, it's past bedtime. I need to practice what I type.

Take care all and Live Lupie!


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fibromyalgia, Lupus, or Both?

Okay, I just noticed that the link on my last post didn't work. I think Blogger and I aren't getting along right now. Sorry about that.

My new rheumatologist told me that most of my pain was being caused by fibromyalgia. This is not unusual for lupus patients. Actually about 25% of patients with lupus will have fibromyalgia on the side.

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome wherein you have pain in your muscles, joints and bones. It can also cause fatigue and insomnia. With these symptoms, you can see why it can be confused with lupus symptoms. Sometimes fibromyalgia patients may be misdiagnosed with lupus. Another common issue is that lupus patients who have fibromyalgia often don't get treatment for the fibromyalgia. This has been my issue.

Fortunately, I now have a pretty aggressive rheumatologist who has worked to treat the fibromyalgia. She told me to go back to my pain management treatments. She's also started me on a new drug called Lyrica. Since I've been taking Lyrica, I've noticed a tremendous decrease in my symptoms. It has also made me terribly sleepy. I couldn't keep my eyes open when I got home from work last night. I passed out at something like 7:30. This explains why I'm awake at 4:00 a.m. typing my blog.

The lessening of pain symptoms has been nice. I won't say that the pain is completely gone, but it definitely is more manageable.

Take care and have a lupie day.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Before Diagnosis... After Diagnosis

I just finished reading a story about Crystal McKinnis. She was sharing her experience of what it's like to deal with lupus before and after diagnosis.

Remember how it felt before you were diagnosed with lupus? I do. I thought I was going crazy. I felt so bad, and my doctor couldn't find a single problem with me. I had a high SED rate, but that was it. I even stopped my part-time job because I was getting sick so much, and my boss couldn't cover for my sick days.

When I was diagnosed with lupus, it was actually a relief. I remember saying to my doctor, "You mean I'm not crazy?"

However, that relief feeling has passed. I'm just ready to figure out a way to get over this now.

If you're interested in reading about Crystal McKinnis, here's the link:

Monday, November 5, 2007

Okay, I did it again

I've been away for a while. I know I said that I'd try to write even when I feel crappy, but apparently, I just suck at that. My niece got married on October 13th, and I flew across the country to be there. It was a quick turnaround. Usually when I travel, I take a day or two to recover before I get on the plane again. I didn't do that this time, and it cost me. I spun myself out into a full blown flare. I felt so bad. I would go to work, but other than that, I did nothing but sleep. My doctor shot me up with steroids and told me to go to bed for a week, but I didn't do that because my boss has a broken hand and I didn't want to abandon him.

I've been doing a lot of sleeping, but I'm hoping to get back on a reasonable blogging schedule soon here. If you don't see me for a while, I hope you understand. Working is taking a lot of energy these days.

Have a lupie day.