Health Update April 2024

Hello Friends, Family, and Fans;

I haven’t written an update since January because I’m still waiting on some results. However, there are some things I can tell you.

How’s my body doing

Heart

I wore a heart monitor for three days and despite what the RSV did while I was sick, my heart is back to normal. My heart rate is still a little high but within normal ranges.

Arms

My arms still hurt, pretty much all the time, but it’s manageable with exercise and stretching. I’ve only needed to put muscle cream on my arms once this year.

Face and left eye

Still numb and still having vision issues. It gets worse if I spend a lot of time concentrating or sitting in a computer chair.

Tests

MRI

I did an MRI of my head, neck, and back. I have an appointment with the neuro-etymologist in June. He might talk to me about it or I might have to wait for the MS doctor in July.

I saw the results but it’s in Medical-jargon and I’m not sure. It seems that there’s a UBO (Unidentified bright object) behind my left eye but according to the internet that could be a bug in the test.

It also say that I have no sign of, “demyelinating disease”.

Lastly it says that I have, “Multilevel degenerative changes within the cervical spine causing various degrees of spinal canal foraminal stenosis, worse at the c5-c6.” Which the internet tells me is a “narrowing that happens in certain places around the nerves that come out of your spinal cord”.

But again, this is my quick googling and not anything official from a doctor.

Vision Tests

I have a few repeat tests for eyes in June and a few to test for MS (unscheduled – doctor wanted to see MRI first).

Allergies

I have bad allergies. In 2007 I woke up feeling super weak and forced myself out of bed. The exertion burst the veins in my eyes. I got an appointment with an allergist and was tested and put on shots. They really helped.

After 5 years, I was told that they wouldn’t help me more and that if my symptoms worsened after 5 years to come see the allergist again.

In 2019, my allergies got really bad and I started getting what I call Allergy Attacks. My bowels cramp, and I get weak, and it takes about a week to recover. I didn’t realize it was allergies that caused it until last year.

I really felt it in 2020 but pushed it off.

I finally broke two weeks ago and contacted my allergist. Unfortunately after 10 years you need a new referral.

Long story short, I have an appointment with my family doctor on Wednesday to talk about allergies.

Colds

Last, and certainly most frustrating, are head colds. I’ve now had 4 since January and I’m pretty tired of blowing my nose and coughing.

I feel better today then I have in a while but I’m still sniffling and coughing. The whole thing is made worse combined with allergies. (And no, going outside and eating dirt will not help strengthen my immune system.)

Conclusion

I’m doing okay and I have leads to what might be wrong with me. Hopefully the doctors can narrow it down and I can start treating whatever it is to make sure it doesn’t get worse.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Health Update November 2023

Hello,

It’s been a year now since I returned to work and a year and a half since I hurt my arms.

Good News

My arms are staying steady. They almost always hurt, but not enough to affect my quality of life much. I’m mostly doing my exercises and massages and it’s helping. Some days are worse than others, but overall significantly better than I was this time last year. Maybe it was muscle strain and stress.

My doctor sent me to get an MRI. The MRI showed no signs of brain cancer or Multiple Sclerosis. Which is a good thing.

Bad News

The MRI did show something on my left ocular nerve. Combined with the numbness in my face, loss of vision in my left eye, left temple migraine, and vertigo; the doctor made a referral to a neuro-opthamologist with the eye institute.

I had my first set of tests today and will have more in the coming months. They also want to do a targeted MRI for the ocular nerve.


At least they believe me and are trying to figure out what’s wrong.

That’s about all I have, I hope your health improves or stays awesome!

Éric

Health Update April 2023

Hello Friends, family, and fans;

As I mentioned in March, I did the nerve conduction test with a very condescending neurologist.

Yesterday I had an appointment at the speciality clinic. My very nice occupational therapist (OT) went through a bunch of questions and asked me about a bunch of things. She then did some physical tests and went off to talk to the doctor.

I told her I was worried about the vision problems and the numbness in my face and my worries about MS. She said she’d talk to the doctor. She also said that that was normally something a family doctor dealt with and not them. They are concentrating on the neurologist’s conclusion that it’s muscular.

The doctor came in and asked me more questions and then asked, “What is bothering you more.” I told him it was the pain that bothered me more, but the face that scared me more. His reply was, “Okay then. Let’s focus on the pain.”

So the plan now is to have me see a doctor that specializes in pain and put me with a group consisting of a physiotherapist, a therapist, and my OT. They’ll run special rehab and physio for me two or three times a week. I’m kinda happy about that, since it’ll save us some money on physio that is only covered 80% usually.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little underwhelmed. It’s been 10 months of this and I haven’t had an x-ray or any other tests on the part of my arms that hurt. I’ve had one type of test, no imaging, and this feels very flimsy as a diagnosis. (Is it wrong that I want something definitive?)

The clinic people are really nice and I think they have my best interests at heart, but I feel like they’re focussed on getting me back to work and not really figuring out what’s wrong with me.

I asked again about MS and the OT said that if there had been any signs, the neurologist would have noticed and that the doctor is trusting that. It’s not very comforting, but I’ll have to trust them for now.

I doubt the balance issues, clumsiness, brain fog, trouble sleeping, numbness in my face, and vision issues are due to muscular issues in my arms. I’ll do what they say (I don’t have much choice) and hope it helps, but I’m not convinced. If this doesn’t help, I’ll have to try and see if my family doctor is willing to run a parallel investigation (if he hasn’t fully retired by then).

It’s been a hard week. Glad it’s over and now I can enjoy spending time with my family over the long weekend.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Health Update March 2023

Hello,

It’s been almost two months since I updated you. It hasn’t been a particularly enlightening two months.

I did finally get an appointment for the specialty clinic. That appointment went well; I have an awesome occupational therapist and doctor who are in charge of my case. The doctor, unfortunately, is an elbow surgeon who’s not quite sure why WSIB has referred me to him, but he’s willing to send me to specialists and tests.

They sent me to a Neurologist. I was really excited to finally see one. He did the exact same test that the carpal tunnel doctor did back in August. He says I have a little bit of carpel tunnel in my wrists, but that shouldn’t be bothering me. There’s no indication that my nerves are damaged or that they’ve had any issues at all.

He ended the exam saying that I was too young to worry about it and that if it were up to him he’d say to forget all this WSIB stuff and just go back to my normal routine and then added that the whole thing was ridiculous.

When I asked him about the numbness in my face he said, “That’s nothing. Ignore it.”

I was disheartened and angry. I’m not sure if he thought I was faking or that I was exaggerating my pain, but it was really condescending.

The nice elbow doctor and occupational therapist had scheduled an MRI for my neck, but with the Neurologist saying that I don’t have any nerve damage, they canceled it.

The downside to the clinic is that I only get appointments every 6 weeks. My next one is early April and hopefully they won’t be as dismissive as the Neurologist.

Unfortunately, I’m still in a lot of pain and it’s not getting better. My face is still numb and it aches a little when I work too long. I also find the vision in my left eye gets worse when I overdo it.

Between the pain, the clumsiness, and the numbness in my face, I’m starting to suspect MS. When I had an optometrist appointment in December, he said he couldn’t get my left eye to be as clear. I asked him about the numbness and that I sometimes got blurry vision in my left eye. He said that it couldn’t be nerves and that it’s possibly a side effect of fatigue. He said the only thing he knew that would affect my eye and not be seen in his tests was MS.

I’d hoped the Neurologist would have been able to test for that, but he didn’t.

MS is a scary prospect, but I’d rather find out than not know. There are plenty of other options; Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, and some much scarier, like ALS or cancer.

So a lot happened, but nothing new was discovered. Let’s hope this is just another step to figuring it out.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Yes, I’m still wearing a mask

Hello Readers,

My workplace has decided that masks are no longer needed in the workplace. They were previously only mandatory in shared locations and not in our cubicles (cubicles which had three-foot high walls and we share with 3 other people.)

The policy was announced on Tuesday and when I went into work on Thursday I was in an elevator with several other people. An older man leaned over to one of the others and stage whispered, “I guess we know who reads the office emails.”

From my experience, 1 in 10 people are still wearing masks and I expect that to lower significantly next week.

Although I fully understand the annoyance with masks and not wanting to wear them, I will continue to wear a mask for the foreseeable future. I’m not going to judge those who choose not to wear them.

I don’t like being sick. I have never liked it. I will never like it.

I caught COVID back in February 2020 and I’m still having trouble breathing and have low energy. It was one of the hardest weeks of my life. The week was bad enough, but I lost taste for a few months, had constant headaches, pain, and weakness for almost a year. I worry about what will happen to me if/when I get it again.

So, yes, I will wear my mask. It might not protect me completely, but it’s all I have.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Things I Didn’t Know About Pain

Hello,

I thought I understood what pain does. I mean I have two tattoos, been scratched by a baby, and am really clumsy. Joking aside, I’ve had pain before. I’ve broken my ankle, sprained both several times, pulled a muscle in my leg, and have had a neck injury.

However, there are things I didn’t understand about long term pain and how it eats at your mental health and quality of life. Three things have really surprised me.

First, I’ve noticed that my anxiety, executive dysfunction, agoraphobia, RSD, and aversion to change have all been really hard to deal with the past few months. It wasn’t until last week after a stressful work day (that shouldn’t have been that bad) that I realized that the constant pain is amplifying the rest of my issues.

Second, I’ve found the oscillation between hope and despair to be really exhausting mentally and physically. From worrying that the pain and loss of mobility in my arms is permanent and only going to get worse to making plans for when this will be over and I’m back to normal. Hopefully this will get better once I’m allowed to see a doctor.

Third, I had never thought of how the pain would lead to a lack of sleep. It wakes me up two to five times a night and I don’t sleep well when I do. On really bad nights, despite the Voltaren and Advil, I lie awake and barely sleep. I don’t think I’ve slept more than 2-3 hours straight since last June.

The combination of the three means that I’m constantly tired, everything feels like a large task, and life feels more dramatic.

The worst part is feeling like I’m failing myself and my family.

I’m supposed to hear from WSIB this week with a decision on my care. Hopefully, things will get better after that.

Sorry for the sad post. No help needed, just love.

Stay Safe and Be Kind,

Éric

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Stress

***TL:DR I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Posts will be shorter and I might be doing some repeats. Guest Posts appreciated.***

Hello,

I’ve been a fool. Since February, my work has been fairly busy and regular. It’s a lot of short keys, typing, and mouse work. I’ve been having pain in my hands for a while now.

I wrote about it for the Spoonie Author’s Network. At the time, the Doctor thought it was the same arthritis that was in my big toes. After a year of tests he eliminated that option. We thought it was maybe tendinitis and he sent me to physio.

My prescription for physio was written in February 2020. I didn’t make it. I didn’t want to risk getting my children sick and was experiencing long covid. A few weeks turned into a few months and then a few years.

The pain came and went, but was usually worse when my hands were cold. So I didn’t worry. I kept thinking, “I’ll see my doctor about it when the pandemic is over.”

Fast forward to last November and I noticed my arms getting numb when I slept. (I sleep on my sides and it was the ones that I didn’t sleep on that went numb.) The pain got worse around Christmas, but got better after 2 weeks off.

Then we went into report season at work and I started writing a new book. So my days looked like this: Work 8 hours, Ukulele practice 15-45 minutes, and then 1-2 hours writing, formatting, etc. I’m also the primary diaper changer in the family… so… yeah.

The pain got worse and worse and I just kept thinking, “I’ll see my doctor about it when the pandemic is over.” and, “It’ll get better when I have less clicky work.”

Then Monday, I was told by my bosses that I had to come into the physical building of work. The meeting was tense and I won’t lie, I felt attacked. We’re so close to an infant vaccine for Pegasus… I asked if I could wait until September and they refused. “Isolating is a choice we made. Coming in to work is my responsibility.” That’s a paraphrase, but arg. I’m still angry.

I’m not sure what I did during that meeting to myself, but after, my pain in my arms and hands went from a 5 (Interrupts some activities) to 8 (Hard to do anything) the pain has been fluctuating from 6-8 since.

I made an appointment with my doctor, but he couldn’t see me until a week later. I was in tears as I tried to figure out what to do. I eventually decided to go to the after-hours clinic and saw a wonderful doctor. He diagnosed me with confidence after asking some insightful questions. He gave me two weeks off work, tests for my family doctor, and a prescription for splints to sleep with. Now it’s a waiting game. I’m seeing my doctor next week and so far, after 3-4 days, I’m still in a lot of pain. This post is taking forever to write, but I’m taking lots of breaks.

I’m worried that my reticence to see the doctor will result in permanent damage. It shouldn’t have taken a level 8 pain or my bosses showing how little they care about me to make me listen to my body and get help. The moment the pain started to increase, I should have made appointments.

I didn’t want to let my family down, I didn’t want to let myself down, and I didn’t want to let my work down. It was foolish! Work doesn’t care about me, they never really have, family only want me to be healthy, and I’m more disappointed now than if I had been treated earlier.

Expect this blog to have shorter posts (this took most of a day with breaks). I’ll let you know what happens.

At least I’m getting a lot of snuggles.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Blush: Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

One of the benefits of being the author of this blog is if I have a question about my own health, researching doesn’t feel like a waste of time because I can then write about it.

One of the negatives of being the author of this blog is that everyone knows what is going on with my health. (Not that every post is about me. I usually say if it is.)

Good thing I don’t mind sharing?

So I’m pregnant.

Is anyone surprised? I guess you haven’t seen me lately.

I’m 35 weeks and 6 days today.

Image of myself pregnant, with my daughter happily reaching up to my belly.

It’s also our ten year anniversary, but that’s irrelevant to my health. I’m just excited about it and want to share.

The thing about being so close to the end of the pregnancy is that, well, you’re close to the end. Very mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it’s so cool to feel movement from another being inside of you and you’re never alone (that doesn’t really go away if you have a clingy baby/toddler). On the other hand, you’re sore, it’s hard to move/roll over in bed, and the number of doctor’s appointments increases dramatically (a pain to get to and a pain to arrange around your schedule).

Today, I want to talk about soreness. Specifically the soreness that comes once hormones like relaxin kick in.

Relaxin is pretty great, to be perfectly honest. It’s the hormone that loosens the ligaments and muscles in the hips and pelvic region and allow for the human body to stretch enough to deliver a baby vaginally. Remember, the pelvic area, on a regular day, is only so big. The bones have to be able to accommodate the head and shoulders in order to push a baby out. Hence, relaxin.

However, relaxin starts its work in the third trimester (usually. Sometimes it’s early). So not only are you gaining extra weight from the baby gaining weight, but your ligaments and muscles are no longer supporting you the way that they did before. This can cause quite a lot of pain.

Enough that there’s a name for it.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).

I’d like to make a quick note here that although this is most often referred to as a symptom of pregnancy, you can have it and not be pregnant.

So how can I minimize the pain from SPD?

Avoid triggers like standing or sitting for too long, crossing your legs, and lifting or pushing.

Whew. That’s a lot.

But you do a lot with your hips without realizing it.

Physiotherapy is very helpful. Your physiotherapist can give you exercises that will help to minimize the pain and recommend other ways of improving muscle function and joint stability.

Personally, the things I find the most helpful are icing the outside of my hips and doing Kegels. Even if it hurts at the beginning of my Kegel reps, by the time I get to rep 5-6, I feel so much better. Sleeping with a pillow between my knees has helped immensely as well, especially since I don’t normally lie on my side – I much prefer sleeping on my stomach. Not exactly an option right now for some reason.

I hope this helps those of you who are feeling pain, and for those who know me, it helps you understand why I wince every time I move to stand up or try to get into a car. (Widening legs or taking a big step is rather painful for me, especially at the end of the day.)

If you’re not in pain and don’t know me, I hope you at least found this interesting.


References

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Blush: Pregnancy Physio

A friend of mine recently told me that she’s pregnant (woo!!!) and I asked her to let me know if she thought of anything that made her go “Wow! I didn’t know that!” about pregnancy.

She said this:

“In my second trimester, I’m going to get recommended to a physiotherapist. I didn’t do it for my first, but I really think I should for my second.”

That really made my day.

Because, while my pregnancy with Dragon was pretty mellow, I did have pain in my hips when my ligaments shifted to accommodate the pregnancy changes. And it never ONCE occurred to me to go to a physiotherapist for it.

It seems pretty obvious now.

I thought I should do some research into why it’s recommended, and if there are any risks.

Image from americanpregnancy.org.

Please note, I am not in the medical profession. If you have any questions about whether this is right for you, please see your doctor. I don’t know your medical history, whether you are considered high risk, or other factors.

Searching for resources on physiotherapy during pregnancy was difficult, to put it mildly. Most of the sources I found ended up being written by physiotherapists on how to exercise safely while pregnant. Since I thought that was also important information, here is the best article I found on that subject.

Physiotherapy is recommended to prevent and help lessen pain in the lower back and joints of people who are pregnant. It will also help prepare for labour.

A good physiotherapist will also give home exercises to do to keep mobility up and pain down.

Risks that I found seemed to be related only to exercise in general (if you’re bleeding, stop; if you feel increased pain, stop; etc). However, any physiotherapist will tailor their routine to your needs and that of your body.


References

https://physiotherapy.ca/pregnancy-related-pelvic-girdle-pain-words-can-hurt-susannah-britnell

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pregnancy-and-physical-therapy/

http://dynamicphysiotherapy.ca/blog/physiotherapy/is-it-safe-to-undergo-physiotherapy-during-pregnancy/


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Ouch my Brain!

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Last Tuesday I was attacked by alien shape-changing creatures. Don’t worry, like Dain Ironfoot, I head-butted them into submission.

Yeah, I’m lying… I wasn’t attacked. I bent over really quickly and hit my head on a table; giving me a concussion. I hit myself hard.

Bear

It’s one of the dumbest injuries I’ve ever given myself. It’s right up there with the time I tripped and sprained my ankle, while walking on flat carpet.

Like a dumbass I decided to walk it off. Went to Costco and then the next day I went to work. I had a headache, was dizzy, and had a hard time concentrating. I told my wife and she told me to call Telehealth Ontario. (If you live in Ontario, it’s a great free service where you can chat with a nurse. They’ve given me wonderful advice over the years.)

The nurse made it quite clear that I should go to the hospital. At this point, the nausea set in. I went to the hospital and the Doctor told me that I needed to go home a rest.

She gave me a list of things I shouldn’t do:

  • Go to work
  • Watch TV
  • Use a Computer
  • Read
  • Listen to loud music
  • Strenuous physical activity

When I got home I went to sleep. I slept 5 hours in the afternoon and then rested on the couch for another 3. I didn’t go back to work until Monday and I only turned on my computer to help film Silver Stag.

I’m supposed to follow that list for 7-10 days. I cheated on Thursday by reading. It made me feel better, not worse, and I took breaks whenever I felt bad. At work I’m taking frequent breaks and making sure I’m not over doing it.

My day job, my freelance clients, and Five Rivers; have all be extremely understanding. As have my family, wife, and friends. Thank you!

What does it mean?

For those lucky enough not to have given yourselves brain trauma, a concussion occurs when you get a blow to the head. Unfortunately, Hollywood has lied to you. A blow to the head isn’t a human off switch. It’s a road to brain damage.

In mild cases, like mine, people can experience:

  • confusion or feeling dazed
  • clumsiness
  • slurred speech
  • nausea or vomiting
  • headache
  • balance problems or dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • sensitivity to light
  • sensitivity to noise
  • sluggishness
  • ringing in ears
  • behavior or personality changes
  • concentration difficulties
  • memory loss

Thank you, Web MD.

As far as I’m aware I’ve only experienced:

  • confusion or feeling dazed
  • clumsiness
  • slurred speech
  • nausea
  • headache
  • balance problems or dizziness
  • sensitivity to light
  • sluggishness
  • concentration difficulties

Yay?

I’m Okay

Seriously, this has scared me, but the only issues that I’m still experiencing are headaches, light sensitivity, and concentration issues. (To be fair, I’ve always been clumsy, unbalanced, and sluggish.)

Hopefully with some rest and taking it easy, the remaining issues will pass.

 

Take care of yourselves and remember your brain is important.

Éric