Cooties, Stress Test and Frustration

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Dizzy, Health

Yesterday was the long awaited cardio treadmill stress test, which my cardiologist ordered because of my tilt table test excitement.  Poor Chooch had to take the day off and drive me, which worked out fine for him since he was still feeling the effects of the cooties we picked up over last weekend. Luckily, I was feeling vastly improved in time for the stress test.

I had a 7 am appointment at the hospital, and they took me back almost immediately to begin the test. I was sad that they wouldn’t allow Chooch to come back, as it turned out I got to see some cool stuff. They hooked me up with electrodes all over my chest. This was unpleasant for many reasons, but mainly because they used a scouring pad type thing where the attached them and my sensitive skin was NOT amused. Have I mentioned that I’m a wuss? Well, I am.

All sorts of readings were taken: EKG, pulse, blood pressure and then a different tech came in and this is where I wish Chooch had been there with his phone’s video camera. The tech used what seemed to me to be a sonogram device and I got to watch my heart in action. I didn’t think to ask what it was, but it was the same type of image I saw of my babies during sonograms. I was mesmerized as he pointed out different parts of MY heart, showing MY valves opening and closing, measuring pressure and who knows what else. Dude, it was amazing. I asked him if everything looked normal, and he said to his eyes everything was working as it should and he saw nothing abnormal in my heart, with the usual disclaimers. This was a big relief since I have inherited a horrific genetic heart disease history on my dad’s side of the family.

After instruction, I was put on the treadmill at a steep incline and a slow pace. This was heavenly for me, since I’ve had to give up my rigorous training for 5k races in October and have been unable or afraid to exercise on my own due to the severe vertigo. Every time I’ve tried to exercise, I’ve had to stop and the sedentary lifestyle I’m now stuck in has been a major source of depression. They increased the pace over time, monitoring everything and I actually had an enjoyable time with the three nurse/technicians in the room. We talked about movies, actors (Denzel! /swoon), financial horrors for the medically uninsured, and the coming snow apocalypse. At the max, the pace made it difficult for me to talk as I was pushed to the necessary HR limit for the test. I was able to do the entire test as they needed for maximum data to be attained, and I was dizzy but exhilarated. It made my craving for regular exercise excruciating, and I’m more jazzed than ever to get back to work with my trainer and to hit the track again.  Someday.

I had a heinous twenty minute coughing fit after the test, and most of my cootie symptoms returned from earlier in the week. Small price to pay, as I’m having the always-enjoyable-to-no-one-but-me soreness in my calves after having pushed myself to the max. I don’t have any real news for now, since I don’t expect to meet with the cardiologist until after the thirty day heart monitor study is complete in about two more weeks.

Afterward, Chooch and I had breakfast and ran some errands to avoid leaving the house during the forecasted snow storm. After returning home, I was able to find a walk-in clinic to do the Lyme disease blood test ordered by my doctor. This should have come earlier, to be truthful. I embarrassingly forgot about a tick that I pulled off my back sometime in the late summer/early fall of 2009. I didn’t even think about it until after the cardiologist asked if the test had been run yet, but when I did remember my doctor immediately ordered it. If I end up having Lyme disease this whole time, I’m going to feel pretty stupid. It’s the sort of thing that I would have never forgotten if I had found one on my kids. Self awareness FAIL.

Early last night I became extremely frustrated due to my inability to drive. I found a knitting project that I wanted to try, a quick knit scarf, but I could not drive to the craft store for the necessary supplies. It was clear that Chooch wasn’t feeling well so I didn’t ask him to go out for a third time, and instead hit Amazon to buy them since we have the prime shipping membership. They didn’t have what I needed available for the free shipping and my frustration grew exponentially.

It’s a small disappointment, and I truly understand that. But I had spent the day going over the expenses since my weird illness started and working on our budget, and the sacrifices we’ve had to make because of it. Trust that I know how lucky I am that I’ve had so many terrible diseases ruled out. I give thanks every day for that and for having a loving and patient husband that is willing to help me through this hopefully brief time. But dammit, I was once again thwarted on a very simple thing. Not a toy, or a video game but rather crafting supplies to make a mangled and poorly knit scarf for a loved one.  I know what you’re thinking: “Suck it up, cupcake.”, and you’re right. But I also feel completely justified in my frustration on this point, and until you lose the ability to drive for 2+ months you really don’t know how useless it makes you feel. I can’t work, I can’t do the needed household repairs, and I have to ask people to drive me everywhere. It’s the tantamount neediness that I despise and here I am in the thick of it.

There, I feel better for having whined. Thanks to those of you that tolerated it for so long.

In other news, I found out that the monitor I am wearing is not a ‘halter monitor’ as we thought the doctor said, which led me to believe it would be a cumbersome vest-like device.  It is instead a Holter monitor. Spelling is where it’s at, eh kittens? It is formally described as an ambulatory electrocardiography device, and I posted a picture in a previous post. It’s teensy and causes only a mild inconvenience due to the wires and the skin reaction I’m having to the little skin tab thingies.

I’m not looking forward to Monday, since it seems I have to do the 24 hour EEG monitoring. I’ll have electrodes stuck to my head, be given another monitor and sent home until I return 24 hours later to have it all removed. Yes, there will be pictures. After all, if you can’t laugh at yourself then you are taking yourself FAR too seriously and life is WAY too short for that.

The End of CoHPodcast

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Podcast

Chooch released the first episode of CoHPodcast in October of 2007. He was doing this as a solo podcast, essentially because I was being a big chicken. After a few episodes, I joined the podcast and around that same time we also started the Into the Blender podcast.

At the time, we were playing several times a week and were very much addicted to the game. We have always considered ourselves casual players, since we enjoyed playing through the content rather than the min/maxing and hardcore studying of stats in order to squeeze out every bit of effectiveness from our toon possible. I have great respect for those players that find enjoyment in this aspect, I’m just not one of them.  My preference is to grab a toon and jump into the fray with my healing, tanking or damage dealing.

Since then, our lives have become more complex through several different changes. I would credit podcasting itself with the greatest change, expanding our circle of friends and therefore the number of social engagements that we attend. We continued the podcast with our regular schedule until some other issues came into play.

Last year, we considered ending the podcast due to time constraints and guilt at our irregular podcast release schedule. We discussed it at length, sometimes quite passionately. We decided to continue for only one reason: the community. We were literally unable to walk away from the amazing people that we had found through the podcast. We decided to eliminate one aspect that we adored, the feedback segment, in an effort to continue the podcast by lessening the time investment necessary as we found that approximately half of the episode length was relaying the various forms of feedback we had received. Also, this started to feel like a ‘pat ourselves on the back’ segment and although we had it at the end to allow folks to skip it without penalty, it still seemed self-congratulatory since they were overwhelmingly flattering.

We were still unable to keep the schedule, and even our City of Heroes playtime dwindled. I really believe that the lack of time in game led to our reluctance to put out podcasts on a game we were no longer playing on any regular schedule. We started to feel like frauds, but decided to continue because we could at least relay the news items for our listeners.

We finally decided to end the podcast in the fall of last year. We felt we could not end it until we released the long-promised Transcendence Trial vidcast, so we went to work putting that together. We didn’t realize the time investment, so that took longer to release than planned but we finally got it out thanks to the help of friends.  The only thing left was to record the last episode. To be honest, we dragged our feet on this, again because we so love the community. While sitting in front of the mic, I suggested we finally do the blooper episode we had been talking about for ages. And maybe give the listeners one last opportunity to give feedback, if they are so inclined.

So it’s done. Episode 50 (Ding!) is recorded and in the wild. We really like that our 50th episode is our last, as it’s currently the highest level attainable in the game. Our end-game content will be at least one more episode, and also anything we find in the future that would be of interest to our gaming-minded listeners will be dropped into the feed. This will include coverage of any gaming panels we attend at upcoming cons.

Feel free to comment at the website, in iTunes, via email to cohpodcast@gmail.com or by voicemail at the Into the Blender number – (413) 669-4720. We have no idea how long it will take to cull through the fifty-plus episodes (including special episodes) to pull out bloopers, and post it to the feed. I think I’ll steal from the CoH devs for this estimate.  Soon™.

Good hunting, Heroes!

Awesome in Action

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Friends

I had an EEG yesterday, and afterward we headed to Manassas to help Tee Morris do some work at the home he shares with Sonic Boom after the passing of her mother, Natalie Morris. It was a huge effort, and luckily Tee had many people that were willing to put their own schedules to the side to help him with the physical and psychological necessary changes to the home.

I don’t know the final head count, but I would easily put it at over 25 people that showed to move, clean, unpack, and wrangle kids. This is in no way a complete listing of things accomplished, as that is too long to list. And while there are still things that must be finished, vast improvement was made and there was gratitude and relief on Tee’s face as we left sometime after midnight last night.

While I’ve never been one to call my circle of friends ‘Tribe’ as many others do, I can say that it was overwhelming to see all the help provided by those that Tee calls his ‘Tribe’, and the outpouring of tangible and intangible support he was given yesterday was a beautiful thing to behold.

Some people only traveled a few miles, while others drove hundreds of miles. Some had only known Tee for a year or two and others had known him since childhood.  While the improvement to his environment was in no way small, my hope is that Tee will instead carry with him the spirit of love in which it was done.

Tee stated countless times how appreciative he was for all the help, but I also think that Natalie is also very grateful in the knowledge that the man raising her precious daughter is surrounded and supported by so many.

The Heart Monitor Study Begins

Author: Chooch  //  Category: Dizzy, Health

I received the heart monitor on Thursday night, but due to having mild dizziness I didn’t fire it up until Friday morning. I still had symptoms, but didn’t want to delay the start any longer. I should have started with a baseline reading, but again, the dizziness prevented that. I did provide recordings with those symptoms, and on Sunday morning was finally clear enough to send a baseline.

As you can see by the photo, it’s teensy and not cumbersome at all.  I connect the two electrodes as directed, and then plug in the monitor and clip it to my waistband. I have the wires all under my clothing, so I don’t get caught on things. For size comparison, those are AAA batteries in the box.

Ironically, the monitor seems to be the magic cure for the dizziness since I’ve had very light or no symptoms since I attached it. At this point, I’m actually drinking caffeinated sodas at this point to try and trigger stronger dizziness. I figure I may as well try and get as much data as possible for the doctors to review, and since I’m stuck at home it doesn’t matter if my symptoms are really bad or not.

The improvement in my symptoms also leads me to believe that the first migraine medication they had prescribed for me was causing carm and providing no relief. All my symptoms were pretty severe when I was on the full dosage, and since the last week of the gradual cessation I’ve been feeling much better by comparison. The migraines themselves were so intense that I was completely debilitated. So much so that I occasionally forget that I still HAVE the symptoms and have to remind myself not to push myself too far. Again, trying to replicate that now for more hard data for the doctors.

I have an EEG on Saturday morning. We will be trying very hard to trigger symptoms for the 30 minute test. If I don’t, I will have to have electrodes cemented to my scalp for 24 hour monitoring. That cement is really itchy, just in 20 minutes. I may lose my mind if I have to do it for 24 hours…

I’m so grateful to my husband, friends and family for all the kind and supportive words and gestures. I’m embarrassed by the attention and frustrated at the reason for it, but it truly does mean so much.

Health update following last appointment

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Dizzy, Health

Posted in Facebook on January 14, 2009

Neurologist(Neuro) had not yet met with the cardiologist (Cardio), so is not starting me on any new treatment meds, save for something that should break the migraine when it hits, instead of taking excedrin since the Cardio wants me to minimize that.

Neurologist feels that they are close to sorting this out, that the tests the Cardio and he have ordered will nail this down once an for all. He has ordered an EEG and and a 24 hour monitoring EEG, since it will only really reveal anything if I have an episode Chooch and I are already figuring out what triggers to use to ensure I have one while being monitored. (Chooch said he would tell me he was leaving me. Funny guy, huh? I told him next time he makes that joke he better be wearing a cup. He didn’t think it was funny, but the receptionists sure did.)

Both the Neuro and Cardio feel that the abnormal tilt table test, which apparently approximately 70% of the population fails, is not the total problem, but that I definitely am dealing with neurocardiologic issues and believe they will be able to give me relief once the monitoring is done. They don’t want to give any possible solutions until after the monitoring concludes, since that will definitely skew the results and they want the fullest range of unfiltered information.

The Neuro also put me on ‘off work status’, which may escalate tension at work. They have been understanding so far, and if they believe what the Neuro is telling me then another month of testing should have us nailed down and ready for treatment. If they get nervous at the lack of an ‘until ____’ date, it could get interesting since I am still technically on probationary period. The doctor made it very clear that it’s not safe for me to drive, even if I’m feeling well since the symptoms come on without warning and usually hit pretty strong rather than easing in. The fun continues, but at least it appears that MS is no longer a concern. I call that a MAJOR win!

Other than all that, I am doing okay. I have plenty of stationary things to do to keep me occupied, and our puppy keeps me company during the day.

Spinny Viv is spinny

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Dizzy, Health, Work

Posted in Facebook on January 7, 2009

Since the last week of October, I’ve been dealing with an odd collection of health issues, and they’ve caused me to miss all but four days of work. My bosses have been understanding so far, but I don’t know how long this will last. I’ve been anxiously seeking answers, and here is the latest info.

Before Tuesday’s tilt table test, administered at the Cardiac wing of the hospital, I had the following: Brain MRI and CT Scans (tumors and hemorrhages ruled out), blood work for a myriad of things (including lupus), and multiple various auditory/visual tests for MS among other things. All had come back normal until Tuesday.

The tilt table test basically tries to push your body to recreate the symptoms and see how your heart behaves. Strapped to a table, I was positioned at a 70 degree angle while my heart rate and blood pressure were constantly monitored by nurse and cardiologist. After a period of time, they applied pressure to my carotid artery and then after that placed a nitro tablet under my tongue. Yes, nitro. Big badda boom.

Although the dizziness and migraine symptoms were not successfully recreated, I did pass out. Let me say this, it’s interesting to be awakened simultaneously wondering where you are and who’s the crazy woman poking you in the chest and calling your name. I swear, I think she bruised my sternum!

This showed a different abnormality, although the doctor that was present led us to believe that we had now the test result we needed to diagnose and treat all my ailments he was mistaken. They can treat the syncope (fainting) if deemed necessary (which it’s not), but this hasn’t helped with everything else. It appears that it is still good news, as there doesn’t seem to be a major malfunction with my heart. I was however, devastated as I thought we were walking out with a diagnosis and treatment. I was already planning my return to work and exercise and well, normal life. Major bummer.

As it stands my cardiologist will work with my neurologist on all the info

More than 140 characters? That's crazy talk!

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Uncategorized

Welcome, shiny people of the intarwebz!

I’m finally getting around to actually doing something with this site. We’ve had it for well over a year now, as it was a weight loss achievement reward that has been neglected.  Having never made use of a diary or journal, I didn’t think I had anything to say. Looking at the number of posts in Twitter has made me realize that is not exactly true.

I have no specific direction or plan for this, I’ll just be jotting down what is going on with me and/or my beloveds.  For those also interested in Chooch and his crazazay inner workings, he has his own site at chooch.us.

I will try to make entries regularly, but will easily fall short as shiny objects enter my line of sight. I admit this freely and up front, so consider yourself warned…