Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The motorcycle crash I saw a couple days ago was tragic. An idiot with a reflective cover over his license plate slammed his car into a motorcycle. The motorcyclists helmet flew off his head. When he hit the pavement his skull cracked.
I saw cerebral fluid leak from his head and form a pink puddle on the asphalt. I saw his useless helmet up the road from his limp body.
Please, strap your helmet.
Please strap your helmet.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
A Subarachnoid hemorrhage is bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain. This area is called the subarachnoid space. A Subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs in approximately 10-15 out of 10,000 people. It is more common in women between the ages of 20 and 60. (Definition from Google Health).
My only symptom was a sudden, very severe headache. My husband and I were having a late night conversation when I suddenly felt as if I had been kicked in the side of my head. There were no warning signs.
I went from feeling fine to having a terrible headache, severe muscle aches in my neck and shoulder, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. When it became obvious that I was getting worse, my husband raced me to the nearest hospital which was, luckily, a stroke center. A subarachnoid hemorrhage is considered a stroke, but is often misdiagnosed as a migraine. Once I described the sudden kicked feeling, the triage nurse called for a neurosurgeon to evaluate my condition.
Within minutes, I was given medicine to stop the vomiting, a pain killer, and medicine to prevent blood vessel spasms. The danger of a subarachnoid hemorrhage is the damage that the spilled blood can cause in the brain. Even a little blood can create terrible complications and even cause death. It is terribly important that the bleeding be stopped. Sometimes a shunt is used to draw off the blood. My neurosurgeon’s first concern was to find and stop the bleeding. I was given a head CT scan, spinal tap and a cerebral angiography to determine what needed to be done to stop any bleeding. I was extremely lucky. My bleeding stopped on its own so I did not need surgery.I spent 2 days in the ICU, 4 more days in the hospital, and had another CT scan and cerebral angiography along with several transcranial doppler ultrasounds to make sure the bleeding had stopped. I was on a pain killer because I still had a killer of a headache and a calcium channel blocker to prevent blood vessel spasms the entire 6 days.
Because of the initial bleed, there was blood in the subarachnoid layer that my body had to absorb. Blood is an irritant when outside of the blood vessels. As far as I can tell, blood does not get absorbed quickly. I was in a lot of pain even though I was on pain medicine. Even sitting was uncomfortable. The best I could do was lay on an angle.The neurosurgeons (at this point, three had looked in on me) were wonderful and took the time to explain what had happened to me. I never thought to ask about recovery - like how long I would have a head ache. I could not sit up for several weeks - the pain and pressure were too great - and I needed to rest a lot.
A year after the event, I was still dealing with headaches that would worsen for a few days, then lessen. I had no energy and standing for any length of time was very uncomfortable. I needed to lean my head on something to be comfortable. I leaned on walIs, slouched in chairs to lean my head back, and used pillows to support my neck and head whenever possible. I also had another CT scan to be sure there was not any more bleeding. I resumed a few hours of work in 6 weeks, and full-time after 6 months. I still needed to rest and was not able to get too excited without getting a headache and feeling exhausted.
On a particularly bad day, I was able to get in to see my doctor (not any of the neurosurgeons) who noticed that I was still cringing at light. He told me that sometimes after an injury or bleed, a person could develop migraines. I was prescribed Nortriptyline, an anti-depressant that is used in low dosage for migraine treatment. Within a few weeks, the headaches were gone and my energy had returned as well.
It has been 3 years. About a year ago, I tried to go off of the Nortriptyline, but my headaches returned so I resumed my dosage. When I get tired, I still am less comfortable standing, and I still get headaches and neck-shoulder aches that break through the medication, but I feel extremely lucky to have gotten through a subarachnoid hemorrhage with just a minor headache.
...submitted by a reader from Buffalo, NY. you too can submit your story to Health Gone Ow!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Over the next few weeks I had four more fainting spells. One even brought with it a little seizure. They came without warning and always when I was standing up. Tests afterward came back normal-normal-normal. Doctors thought I was dehydrated, they couldn't figure out what was wrong because in between episodes I was perfectly fine.
Finally an angiogram and electrocardiogram verified an irregular heartbeat. I needed a pacemaker. In retrospect I realized that I had felt the irregular heartbeat for 6 months but I didn't know what it was. The doctor called it palpitations but to me it felt like a car engine revving in my chest. My heart was fibrillating. The upper two chambers quivered instead of pumping so they were out of sync with the two lower ventrical's pumping.
A technician from the pacemaker manufacturer, in my case St. Jude Medical, was present in the surgery room and opened the case containing the pacemaker to be sure that it had not been tampered with in any way before they put it in my body. That was nice.
When they sent me home the hospital supplied me with with oxygen and nurses visits. For six weeks I could not raise my arm above my head. This was to give the wires implanted in my heart time to "set" with scar tissue.
The pacemaker they implaneted is also a defibrillator. Yu've probably seen movies where the paramedics put two paddles on someones chest and give them a jolt of electricity when they go into cardiac arrest.
This is what I have built into my pacemaker! So far it has gone off twice. Once when I was with my doctor and my wife and it was quite scary. My body stiffened and lurched a couple times. it felt as if I'd been kicked in the chest by a jackass. The next time I was dancing in a crowded room and I stiffened and wobbled but was able to keep my feet under me.
So my life has been saved twice by the difibrillator and the little lump under my skin seems a small price to pay.by a Reader, you too can submit your story to Health Gone OW
Saturday, August 15, 2009
First there’s denial. Having my daughter labeled with “behavioral and disciplinary problems” by her pre-school teachers offended me. It was painful and shaming when they called me in for parent/teacher conferences where they peppered me with questions about my parenting. I clung to the fact that my daughter was fine. I didn’t want to label her with something as defective sounding as ADHD.
Then I dated a man who gently pointed out that he couldn’t date me anymore if I didn’t take her for a professional assessment. “Excuse me!” When I looked in his eyes I saw love and concern instead of the judgment and blame I had become used to defending against.
Her social skills were poor, she was a worried and argumentative child. Smart but lacking in common sense and unable to focus.
The psychiatrist diagnosed her with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. She was put on Concerta, which is in the Ritalin family (the meth family if you want to get all street about it). If you or I took this we’d be cleaning the house with a Q-tip, but the effect on my daughter was that her mind slowed down enough that she was able to concentrate and focus.
I coupled the treatment with weekly therapy, behavior modification that I learned from the therapist and dietary changes.
One symptom of ADHD, is that everything is a conflict. These are very argumentative people, I had to learn to pick my battles. Trying to get her not to bite her fingernails incessantly is not even worth it.
My daughter is SMART. Her social skills are a bit stunted and she would walk into a pot hole if it was in her path, but she has a terrifically high IQ. I’ve learned this is common with ADHD kids.
The medication allows my daughter to focus and pursue her interests. She taught herself to pirouette from watching a youtube video. She has the same self-discipline about teaching herself to knit. She loves math and numbers. She likes precision.
Our hope and the hope of her doctors is that she will be able to implement her own behavior modifications and eventually be weened from medication.
We have had TERRIFIC results with the Concerta. The only downside is that the medication reduces her appetite and my daughter has always been slight. She will go for days not wanting anything and then suddenly eat a huge meal. Even her appetite is impulsive! There she is above in a size 4T bathing suit. She's 8!
All’s well that ends well. The guy I was dating, by the way, is now my husband and is in the process of adopting our beloved little ADHD girl.
--- submitted by a Reader, you too can share your story on Health Gone OW
[note: I had eaten popcorn for dinner 3 nights in a row just a few days prior to following events-in retrospect, I believe the hard, rough, indigestible kernels were my downfall]
I had pain in my abdominal area.
It was dull at first. But it did not go away. My lower, left abdomen.
And then at night,
That lasted all night long.
I thought that getting up and going to the bathroom in the morning would help. But it didn't, the lower abdominal area hurt more each day, making it difficult to raise my legs to step into pants.
I made an appointment with the doctor.
She felt around my abdomen, pressing and releasing, asking me if this or that hurt. She diagnosed me quite quickly, but wanted to be certain, so she sent me in for a CAT scan.
At this point, I was so relieved that I probably did not have some dread disease, or, wanted to make sure that I didn't, I went immediately to the hospital and agreed to a large out-of-pocket sum for the procedure.
Again, in retrospect, a CAT scan was not necessary, in MY opinion. The cost (deductible) to me was 1,000 out of pocket, total cost, 6,000! The doctor could have just prescribed the treatment ; simple antibiotics. Amoxicillin. Which actually began to take effect in a couple of hours.
If the amoxicillin hadn't worked, THEN she should have been more investigatory and sent me for the scan. But to use it as a first resort was profligate, wasteful, expensive.
As it turns out, diverticulitis is quite common. There is chronic diverticulitis which I do not have. What I had was an infection in the "diverticula", a small pocket in my intestine where something got caught (popcorn?)
It has been many months and I have not had a flare up, ever. My diet is normal, plenty of fiber, vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, even seeds, which some say can be a culprit in a flare-up of diverticulitis. Some say you can't eat things with skin, like tomato or grape, but I don't seem to have that problem.
I haven't had corn, though. Popcorn or even cooked corn, just to be safe.
The doctor said she wanted to check my progress after the antibiotics with ANOTHER CAT scan, (!) but I told her how expensive they are and she was shocked! Doctors are not even aware that they are sending their patients in for these expensive treatments that are very useful tools for THEM; they can tell immediately and without a doubt what the problem is. But they do not know that they are possibly placing a huge financial burden on their patient, who is scared and thinks that this is absolutely called for and necessary.
...Sent in by a READER, you too can share your experience with others on Health Gone OW
Thursday, August 13, 2009
When I went to the orthopedic walk-in at Kaiser Panorama City, Dr. Ostrovski, and his assistant ignored my concern about the numbness and focused on the middle finger which had snapped in two. They diagnosed the ring finger as a sprain, when it was really a detached tendon that needed emergency surgery.
What that meant is that I waited 3 weeks to see the hand specialist . He immediately and correctly diagnosed my injury: JERSEY FINGER.
Now you might think Jersey Finger is named after the state and has something to do with the middle finger, but you'd be wrong. It's actually an injury common to football players who grab onto another players jersey and, as the opponent pulls away, their finger tendon tears away from the bone. It is an injury that happens to the ring finger. Sad.
Mine happened when I was riding on the back of the Sea-doo with my husband and he took off without warning me.
I grabbed onto the strap of his life vest to keep from being flipped into the water. Eventually when my tendon tore and my finger broke I got wet anyway. :-(
My hand surgeon, Dr. Esmail, who I came to love even though he rubbed me the wrong way at first, told me that because of the misdiagnosis and the delay I would probably never regain the use of my finger. WHAT!!!!????? Live the rest of my life with a numb, limp, lifeless finger!?!????
You have no idea how many people will tell you that losing a finger is no big deal. "You'll get used to it." Dontcha know if it was them they would NOT go through surgery and gruesome recovery when there is such a slim chance that the finger will work again anyway. "Write it off. Chalk it up. Your kinda old anyway."
So I tried that for a week and it was horrible. It felt like a part of my body was already dead but still hanging on waiting for the rest of me. Creepy. The fear of surgery, confusion and people pleasing cost me another week and a half and when Dr Esmail finally did the surgery it was 5 full weeks after the injury.I'm sure Kaiser would have been thrilled if I had learned to live with the dead finger. Everyone made the surgery sound like it was going to be painful as hell with 3 months of horrible recuperation (6 weeks in a cast). They couldn't tell until they cut the finger open how far down the tendon had retracted. They may have had to open up my whole hand down to the wrist, but turns out my tendon was balled up in the bottom of my finger.
So Dr. Esmail and his lovely assistant Maria Occulum carefully threaded that tendon up through the scarred sheath it used to inhabit and attached it to my bone with a thread that they poked up through my nail and secured with a button of all things!
The cast they put on my hand weighed about 6 pounds and was itchy as hell. You can't get it wet either. I was a big baby about it every step of the way. And the pain killers made me crankankanky.
But by the time we went to Australia six weeks later I was wearing a lighter removable cast and was way way happier. I still had to keep everything dry because of the button, so I didn't get to dive the great barrier reef. But so what! I have my finger back. Not all the way. But if you have this injury, get the operation. Get it right away.
That's my recommendation, based on my experience.