A Slow Decline

Posted under: health, nursing, philosophy, psychology.
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Brent has done a wonderful and thorough job recounting my health problems this past year through his blog. However, I wanted to share my experience from my own perspective, so here it is.

In early June of last year my endocrinologist diagnosed me with diabetes insipidus, in which the body doesn’t hold onto water as it should. Later that month I saw my primary care doctor for a gash on my shin that wasn’t healing.Zebra After taking my blood sugar, doing some lab tests, and consulting with my endocrinologist, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I went through the entire gamete of keeping close track of what I ate, counting my carbs, recognizing the symptoms of hyper- and hypoglycemia, checking by glucose levels, and giving myself insulin shots.

This was not the end of it. I was experiencing an onslaught of symptoms: problems with cognitive function (thought process/memory/concentration), lethargy, fatigue, muscle weakness and atrophy, abdominal fat accumulation, mood swings, anxiety, dizziness, loss of balance and coordination, easy bruising, slow healing wounds, weight loss, and increased blood pressure. Finally a state of severe confusion and disorientation in mid-August prompted my doctor to call an ambulance to take me to the emergency room. Apparently my ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) levels were excessively high, causing high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. This resulted in a diagnosis of severe cushing’s syndrome. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17) May 14 2013

Open Heart Surgery

Posted under: school.
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Me in my operating room attire

Me in my operating room attire

As part of my med-surg clinical this semester I had the opportunity to watch a surgery in the operating room. This OR (operating room) observation day replaces my regular clinical that week. Today was my OR day. I was thrilled when I learned that I would be observing open heart surgery–more specifically, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). It seemed appropriate, as I am a nursing unit secretary in the cardiology unit and we are often sending patients down for this procedure. I was excited to witness this complicated and invasive operation.

In a CABG, arteries or veins from elsewhere in the patient’s body are used to graft to the coronary arteries to bypass atherosclerotic narrowings and improve the blood supply to the coronary circulation supplying the myocardium (heart muscle). I watched the PA (physician assistant) cut open the patient’s legs and use a scope to locate and harvest the veins that would be used for grafting. Meanwhile, the cardiothoracic surgeon made an incision in the patient’s chest, cut apart his sternum (breast bone) with a saw, and proceeded to dissect the internal mammary artery from the chest wall to use as a bypass conduit. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5) Mar 30 2011

Stitched, Screwed, and Glued

Posted under: health.
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Ready to roam the hospital corridor

Ready to roam the hospital corridor

Now that my neurosurgeon has removed a significant amount of my pituitary tumor, screwed the front of my skull back into place, and properly stitched the skin around the side of my face together; I feel like a new woman. Either that, or Frankenstein. I think it merits super powers or something. So far though, I haven’t noticed anything extraordinary.

On August 25th I went in for my supra orbital craniotomy. The operation lasted three hours. Amelia, who went through the CNA training course with me, was my CNA again. She took care of me when I was admitted for my transsphenoidal surgery in May. Brent was great at keeping me company. Dr. Florman suggested he bring the girls to see me before my face started bruising up. I guess he thought it might scare them. It was nice to have them there, and they were great, as usual. My friend Maggie came to visit me several times. She helped teach my CNA training course, and she also works with me in the cardiology unit. She made me a delicious strawberry shake and got the girls treats as well. She is awesome! Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (12) Sep 23 2009

Supra-Orbital Craniotomy

Posted under: health.
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The transsphenoidal operation I had this past May was unsuccessful in removing the tumor (a macroadenoma) from my pituitary gland. According to my MRI, the tumor had moved up, and Dr. Florman, my neurosurgeon, wasn’t able to get to it through the nose.

We previously discussed having radiation therapy to slow down the tumor growth. However there is a risk of damaging the surrounding healthy cells and nerves. The optic nerves in front of it are especially sensitive. Dr. Florman strongly recommended that I have a supra-orbital craniotomy so that he could effectively remove enough of the tumor to allow for safer radiation therapy. Before agreeing to this type of surgery, I decided to get at least one other opinion. I saw Dr. Christensen, a neurosurgeon in Lewiston, Maine, who concurred with Dr. Florman. He held high regard for Dr. Florman and believed him to be the best for this particular surgery. I was discouraged that I really do need to undergo the surgery, yet I felt reassured that I am in good hands.

Dr. Florman explained to me the operation process, complete with the drilling, and insertion of plates and screws. It made me a little apprehensive, I admit. I am scheduled for surgery this Tuesday, August 25. This particular type of craniotomy is a subfrontal approach, so no (or very little) head shaving necessary. :-) Oh, and if someone asks me if I have a screw loose, I’ll simply say, “Uh, maybe.”

Comments (9) Aug 23 2009

The Problem with Health Care

Posted under: politics.
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The problem with health care

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Try Not to Get Sick
November 30, 2008

Comments (2) Dec 12 2008