The beast has awoken.

I ran out of letrozole and norethindrone on Thursday, and my new insurance won’t cover anymore of the letrozole. It didn’t take too long for my uterus to take advantage of the lack of regulation. The beast is back.

Waiting.

I was going to write a post about my worsening depression. How being unable to feel productive and capable of doing the things I need to be able to do, and once could do so easily, was driving me into a deeper pit of melancholy and despair. But I didn’t. Because the depression robs me of my ability to get things done just as much as my other ailments.

And then I had a [mildly] productive week. I called Dr. S’ office to check on the neurology referral… which I am still waiting on. They were apparently playing fax-tag with my medical records when I called early last week, and I haven’t heard anything since.

I even worked on submitting an abstract and summary for a poster at an academic conference, with a co-worker. I hadn’t felt that academically capable in a long time. Unfortunately, it didn’t last, and as soon as I tried to read the literature for my own scholarly interests again, my brain went back to sluggish understanding and struggling to make critical connections. I did manage to get three chapters read last week. That’s nothing really; I should be reading more at least 5 or 6 chapters or articles a day, and doing a lot of writing. But I’m trying to stay positive, and take some joy and accomplishment from what I am currently capable of doing.

And I crocheted up a couple of drink cozies as part of an ongoing project I’m working on. They’re for a fundraiser the greyhound adoption group I volunteer with has been invited to participate in, in October. I’m getting a head-start now, before classes start again. I’m making drink cozies, some clutches, and a houndstooth scarf. I’m hoping they will go over well and bring in some nice donations.

Unfortunately, over the past few days I’ve also had a worsening of, what I assume is, gallbladder symptoms. Mainly right sided pain- under my ribs, but some upper left sided pain too. And an increasing feeling of heart burn… but not really heart burn. Plus some right shoulder pain. It’s not just after I eat though. Its starting to be pretty prevalent throughout the entire day.

I’m also having more pelvic pain. That lower right side pain that never went away after surgery is still there. It isn’t nearly as bad as it was before, but it likes to pop in and remind me it’s still there.

I’m exhausted, and I don’t know what to do next. Do I try to go back and see Dr. S and have the gallbladder out? Can I even afford to do that this summer? Will I ever get an appointment with the neurologist? Will it even tell me something? Will I be able to make it through the next semester? Through my PhD program in a timely manner? What do I do if I can’t?

I don’t have the answer to any of these questions. I feel like I’m stuck in a holding-pattern when I desperately want to make some progress and move forwards. But I’m just waiting. waiting. waiting.

Update

The ultrasound with a fatty meal revealed no stones, no obstructions, no thickening of the gallbladder wall, no sludge, bile ducts within normal diameter, and an ejection factor of 75% 20 minutes after consuming the fatty meal.

So, now I have no idea what to think about my gallbladder. The HIDA was low, the ultrasound was on the high end of normal. Nothing consistently reproduces my symptoms.

It’s been a week since the ultrasound and blood work, and I still haven’t gotten the blood work report yet. Which I find strange. I got the ultrasound report on Monday. And a liver panel and lipase and amylase don’t usually take that long to run, as far as I’m aware.

I haven’t heard from Dr. S about either test. Or the referral to the neurologist, and I’ve had numbness whenever anything presses on my middle finger for about three weeks now. The involuntary leg spasms have been more frequent the past couple of weeks. And the ocular flashes are getting more frequent again. Its something I would like to get checked out before classes start in fall. I’m already behind enough on my own research and academic progress, I really don’t like being behind in classes too.

Hello Uterus. (And low FODMAP Day 8: Chicken with Green Chili Currry and Roasted Veggies)

I missed my low FODMAP entry yesterday because I felt awful. I’ll give you a warning here, if you’re just here for the low FODMAP recipes, and are uncomfortable with menstrual related talk,  then you’re going to want to skip to the bottom of this post.

Continue reading

CT scan, and low FODMAP Day 6: Chicken Biryani

This morning I had my CT scan.

I had to be at the imaging center at 10:00 AM for the 11:00 AM scan, and couldn’t have anything by mouth for at least 2 hours before. So I woke up around 7:30 to take my morning pills, but was otherwise completely fasted. I arrived at the imaging center early, after dropping A off at work. Shortly after checking in, the technician came out with two cups full of the oral contrast, and a straw. I had twenty minutes to drink it all, and then an hour later I’d be ready for my scan.

Drinking it down was a bit of a challenge. It was thick, and had an odd taste I couldn’t place. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the magnesium citrate for bowel prep, but it was certainly a challenge getting to the bottom of each up. Another patient in the waiting room was also getting an abdominal CT, and had just finished drinking his dose when I got mine. We joked a bit about the taste.

Twenty minutes or so after finishing my two cups of contrast it hit me. The last time I had a CT, the oral contrast was different- it was clear, and mixed with saline and ice, and I didn’t find it bad at all; the stuff I had today was white and completely different, and apparently does not agree with me as well.

I made a couple of bathroom runs before the technician came and got me for the scan. Once in the CT room the technician had me lay on the machine, placed and IV in my right arm, and had me put my hands above my head. We did a set of scans, then the technician added the IV contrast. If you’ve never had IV contrast, it’s a weird sensation; you get a warm, burning feeling that starts at the top of your head and travels down your body. It also makes you feel like you’re going to pee. We did another set of scans with the IV contrast, then the technician came and took the IV out. I needed one more set of scans, 7 minutes later, so I just waited for a while on the machine. After the last set of scans, I was done. The technician made me a copy of the scans (at my request), and told me how to sign up for the patient portal. I finished up around 11:50 AM.

Since I knew I wouldn’t have eaten all morning, I brought one of the peanut butter protein bars to eat in the car.

I had to go refill my amitriptyline prescription, so I swung by Kroger. While I was there I also picked up some low FODMAP friendly jelly, for my PB&J sandwiches- blackberry, with no added high fructose corn syrup. My tummy still wasn’t feeling well, at all, so as soon as my ‘script was filled I picked up my husband from work and headed home.

When I got home I I had a small amount of left over Cottage Pie, hoping it would help me feel a bit better. Slowly as the afternoon wore on, my tummy settled down. Then it started to hit me that my blood sugar was getting low, since I really hadn’t had much all day- and lost a lot of what I may have had in trips to the bathroom. I decided to have a handful of blueberries, raspberries, and a bit of maple syrup as a pick me up.

A little later I made dinner- Chicken Biryani from The FOODMAP Foodie. This recipe was delicious. We’ll definitely make this again, maybe with some stewed tomatoes.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1, thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
  • olive oil

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a medium sized Dutch oven,over medium heat.
  • Add the chicken, ginger, turmeric, and curry powder. Cook until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Pour in the rice, vegetables, and stock, and stir to mix.
  • Bring the pan to a simmer, then cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

.I totally forgot to take an Instagram photo of this one, sorry guys! I was too hungry, and it was too good.

low FODMAP Day 5: Peanut Butter Protein Bars & Cottage Pie

I went to bed last night feeling pretty bad- abdominal cramps, some nausea, and all over feeling unwell. I don’t know what caused it, maybe the liquid smoke?

I woke up feeling a little better, but not in a great mood. I had to run to the grocery store to pick up some tamari, and had a bit of a break down in the car on the way home. I just wanted a comfort food snack, and couldn’t have any of my usual choices. The toughness of this diet hit me again really hard.

When I got home I made myself a bowl of oatmeal, with berries, maple syrup, and chia seeds. Besides half of the oatmeal spilling in the microwave, it made me feel a bit better.

Around noon I decide to have some lunch. I had picked up some snack packs of Kalamata olives when I was at the grocery store, so had a pack of olives with some feta cheese, some sweet potato tortilla chips, and an all natural peanut butter and preserves sandwich on Udi. The preserves probably weren’t the best option for low FODMAP, it was fig, but all the other options we had in the fridge had high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. I figured a small amount of fig preserves would be safer than added high fructose corn syrup.

I started to feel better through out the afternoon, and late in the afternoon decided to have a peanut butter protein bar. I made these bars yesterday, so I would have something to get me through the days at school next week. I slightly modified the recipe from Kate Scarlatta.

Peanut Butter Protein Bar

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Line the bottom of an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper.
  • Beat together the butter and peanut butter until creamy.
  • Add in the eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla. Beat together.
  • Blend in the quinoa flour, brown rice flour, and baking powder.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Spread batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 25 minutes.Let cool for 1/2 hour, and then cut into squares.

The protein bars are pretty tasty.

As the afternoon wore on I started feeling pretty bad again. No stomach cramps, but a bit nauseous, dizzy, and flushed. Just all over not well.

For dinner I made Cottage Pie, using The FODMAP Foodie’s recipe as a base.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 1 parsnip, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon garlic-infused olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon tamari
  • glass of red wine
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 lb golden delicious potatoes
  • butter

Instructions

  • Wash the potatoes and add to a pot of salted water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Cook until fork tender, at least 45 minutes.
  •  While potatoes are cooking, heat garlic-infused olive oil in a stock pot or large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the ground beef to the stock pot, and brown.
  • Add the carrots, parsnip, wine, tamari, rosemary, paprika, oregano, celery seed, salt, and pepper. Simmer for ~15 minutes, until well cooked.
  • Drain the potatoes, then return the potatoes back to their pot- removed from heat. Add butter (I used 3 tablespoons, you should use an amount you’re comfortable with), salt, pepper, and paprika to taste. Mash until smooth.
  • Pour meat mixture into a 9in round oven-proof dish.
  • Top with mashed potatoes, spreading them evenly over the meat.
  • Add some slices of butter over the potatoes, then place in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

This is a delicious Cottage Pie recipe. It doesn’t quite have the richness of a Cottage Pie cooked with tomato paste, but does a pretty great job on flavors otherwise. We’ll certainly be having it again in the future.

Bloating – Update

The gluten sensitivity test (the tissue transglutaminase antibody test) came back negative. That rules out Celiac Disease.
We also did a blood test for H. pylori, which came back negative.
So now I’m being referred back to Dr.S, the gastroenterologist. And, somehow I got super lucky and managed to get a referral for tomorrow at 9:00AM! They had a cancellation, which I couldn’t be more thankful for.

I’m sure tomorrow’s appointment will be just another run through of the symptoms, but hopefully that will lead to scheduling the ‘scoping, and getting to the root of whats going on. Dr. B2 said to make sure I show Dr. S the CT results that showed my small bowel intussusception, which I certainly will be doing.

Here’s a picture of some bloating from this afternoon, before I headed to class.

20150414_152729

My belly is quite large. It doesn’t always stay that large- it is usually worse when my bladder is full–which makes sense if the full bladder taking up more space, making the bloating more noticeable. But, I also noticed that, boy, that amitriptyline and letrazole has made me chunky. I weighed 144 lbs at my visit to Dr. B2; I weighed 123 lbs at my surgery back in August. It is strange to me, gaining weight so quickly now, as took me foreeeever to break 100 lbs growing up…I think I broke 100 lbs my senior year in high school, and weighed a consistent 115 lbs all the way through my undergrad degree. I broke 120 lbs when these health things really started to snowball into what they are now.

But thinking of the past isn’t going to get me anywhere, I’m staying focused on the present as much as I can.