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Archive for the ‘Medical’ Category

Nora Snoring Device an independent review

25 Feb

Snoring was really becoming a problem for my husband and I.  I was not sleeping but we did not want to go to separate beds.  We tried a sleep study and he was borderline for a Cpap and that seemed expensive and like a lot f work.  We tried the nose strips, the xhim straps, and he saw several ENTs.   Some nose sprays helped but would give him bloody noses after a week.

When I would get frustrated while sleeping, I would try moving his s pillow and that would “adjust” him and sometimes stop the snoring for a bit which is why Nora applied to me. It was doing what I was intuitively trying too do.  It was expensive though, still it had a mney back guarantee and I had to try.  I looked for reviews but they were all reviews from biased sources trying to sell the product so I couldn’t trust them. I have no affiliation, just a customer.

Ths smday 2, so the jury s still out too.  But, so far, i will report what we have seen.  It took a long time to get here, was back ordered.  It was easy to set up.  The pad under the pillow surprised me with how much it inflates.  As f now, hubby will start to snore and just get into a light snore and then it triggers and he stops.  Before, his light snore would get louder and louder until we were both awake. He says he has been woken up from it but didn’t elaborate but seems to fall right back to sleep and the great news is that I am not waking up all night long. So, on day 2, I am pleased, I will let you know if anything changes.

 
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What to know before you consider a tummy tuck / Adominoplasty

22 Feb
  •  This is a very difficult surgery.
  • Don’t compare it and how well you did in other surgeries.
  • Don’t listen to your friend , Sally, who was at work in one week and running in 5 weeks. Everyone is different.
  • Know the different ways the surgery can be done, drainless, drains, or quilted with small drains.
  • Know the doctor really well, make sure you are comfortable with his practices if the worst happens. Ask him, if I have complications, how often will you see during those times.  how will I know what complications to look for? How often can I call or text or see you if I am having problems?
  • Ask about scar revisions and how those work.
  • Read all paperwork and make sure you know the risks, what they mean, what to look for, what will happen, how they fix them, etc.
  • After your surgery, your surgeon can have very different ideas of care than other doctors.  It is wise to trust your gut and get second options if needed.  RealSelf is a great resource.
  • Understand what is being done.  How long is the surgery.  What other procedures will be done, for example, lipo and where?
  • Know what to expect after surgery.  Will the lipo areas hurt and be bruised.nnhow how long does that last?  Should it swell?  How long?  What happens if I fell a lumpy area or squishy area or a really hard area?  What if I have certain types of pain that are different from the regular pains.
  • If I need wound care, how often are you going to see me?  Can I text whenever something worries me?

Before re getting a TT know that this is a BIG surgery.  Expect 2-4 weeks down and then slowly building recovery from there.  Everyone is different, some heal faster, some even slower.  You also don’t know who will have wound issues.  You need good home care and support.

Things to buy are:

  1.  A walker, it will save your back
  2. lip balm
  3. books or music or movies but stuff to do while hanging out bored
  4. eventaully need scar cream, I like Mederma advanced scar gel.
  5. you also should have a shower chair
  6. you also might like coconut oil to massage stomach with and can use on the scar.
  7. throat lozenges (you don’t want to cough)
  8. protein for healing
  9. zinc, vit c, and bromelein for supplements

 

Know now things like that you are most likely getting a vag lift … This means, your pubic hair line goes up to your scar now and you have a lot more hair than before.  It also repositions the vaginal opening so sex feels different.  The angles are off, it takes some getting used to.

Know that your mons pubis area can get quite swollen and look distirbing.

Know that many people have belly button problems.  Swelling can last for a long time.  It gets the worst between weeks 3 and 8 and then starts to get better but you still get swelling at the end of the day or after exercise,

Read my post on wound care, look at the photos, this happens to people, could you deal with it if it was you?  I liked drainless but drains may have saved me from all my wound problems, so I don’t know. Ideally, I would want a quilted approach with 1 small drains at the flap.

There is tightness, numbness, healing, etc issues to think about.  It really take at least one year to recover, that is a long time.  At 2 months now, I still have some swelling, lots of swelling at my open wound, I have one wound still open and another closed, I have a belly button trying to heal, and I have a ton of tightness in my lower stomach.  I also have hard scar tissue forming in large areas near the scars that are painful.  It is less flexible and will throbb.

It it is a big surgery. More than just, yeah, let’s go get my stomach flat today.  Good luck with your choice.  Most women don’t regret it but do wish they were better informed about what to expect.

 

 

 

 
 

Caring for and packing an open wound

22 Feb

Wound Healing Tips:  Photos / Images of wound healing over time

 

You can get an open wound from many different reasons, in the end however, we are all dealing with the issue of how to get it to heal quickly.  Many wounds come from surgery when an incision does not stay close or there is tissue death, necrosis, that must be managed. It can also come from an infection.  My wound came from a seroma of fluid putting pressure on my incision and therefore, causing it to open.

I will give advice in general and in story mode based on what happened to me.  Your wound could be any size.  It will have a length, width, and depth.   It also might tunnel through closed layers of the skin and have a width with in the tunnel.  What matters most is knowing the dimensions so you can measure progress.  My wound was about 2 inches long, 1 inch wide, and 6 inches deep in a tunnel that had a diameter of about an inch.  It was pretty big.   Suggestion: Measure and record your wound size.

Initially, my wound looked terrible, it had black stuff in it (pic 1) and it was unhealthy looking.  It actually needed something called debridement.  This gets rid of unhealthy tissue so new tissue can grow.  The doctor felt around with a long Qtip and packed with wet gauze and saline.  Later, I had to replace the gauze and do this twice per day.  This action does help slowly debride the wound but better and faster methods can be used such as lightly scraping with a scalpel or using Medihoney, which I eventually used and this helped debride the wound very well.

image

Wound needs debridement – pic 1

Wet to dry dressings

Wet to dry dressings pic 2

 

I have a video link on YouTube that shows me doing the wet to dry packing of the wound.  Remember that this is a deep hole, so it is like a magic trick of disappearing scarves. The link is at http://youtu.be/Q354L0Vvd5c

When doing these wet to dry dressings, I would have to cover the wound up with something (the dry part of wet to dry dressings) to catch all the fluid.  It was a mix of exudate and serous fluid.  In the beginning, there was a lot of it.  I would cover it with a maxi pad or even two at night and stick them to the side of my underwear to hold them in place.

image

First two weeks not doing much, pic 3

For the first two weeks, the wound only got bigger.  It was looking healthier but it did not get smaller at all.  You see in pic 3 that it didn’t do much but by pic 4, the skin is pinker and healthier but the size looks a little bigger.

Once we saw the healthy smooth, red granulation tissue, we knew that healing could start taking place.  I would intermittently use regular saline gauze and the gauze with the Medihoney on it as you saw me do in the video.  I also purchased Medihoney  rope so I could completely pack it with Medhoney.  It was about $60 for the rope,and about $16 for each tube of the paste.  I bought on Amazon.  They sell all kinds of Medihoney products.  The gel and paste are similar but the gel is thicker, I found the paste worked best for putting on a gauze before packing.  The rope is long sheets of honey on a gauze-like alginate that you pack directly with and the honey melts into the wound and then you pull out the gel piece after a day or two.  Read all the benefits of Medihoney and you will be impressed.  It speeds healing, decreases pains, gets rid of infection, and helps keep you from getting an infection.  After 2 weeks of wet dry packing and Medihoney, I started feeling the wound tighten on the inside. Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Can a tummy tuck help my back pain?

20 Feb

Photos from before and after at end of post.

There are a few studies that show an Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck has helped improve back pack in some patients but most evidence is subjective.  If you ask a plastic surgeon, they will tell you it might happen but not to count on it.  I felt strongly that a tummy tuck, specifically the muscle repair was going to provide me relief.  The reason was based on my specific back pain issues.

As I began searching for the causes of my back pain, I kept coming back to a couple of things.  My pain was a lot of musculoskeletal pain from being out of alignment. I would joke that I was a car that just needed a front end alignment, you know what, I was right and didn’t even realized it for a long time.  My legs were off so I walked with a wobble, this set everything else off and my hips were off, my knees hurt, my legs hurt, and most of all my back hurt.  Doctors would tell me that I had to use my core more to hold up my back.  One PT had me tighten my core, to be honest, I couldn’t find my core.  There was nothing to tighten because the muscles were so separated that they didn’t work.  I don’t know why any of these doctors or specialists couldn’t see the big picture and say, hey, your abdominal muscle separation is causing you a huge problem or at least, if your muscles were repaired, your core would be able to support your back so much better. I really had almost no core support and on top of that I was forward heavy.  You know how women with very large breasts get breast reductions to help with back pain, well, all my insides were essentially herniating between my separated abdominal muscles and pushing out giving me this giant belly that caused all this forward weight on me and ruined my posture, hurting my back.  I may have looked like I had a fat stomach but my weight told a different story.  I wasn’t that overweight.  And after I had the surgery, if it had been fat, my stomach would have remained rounded and it didn’t. It just needed everything pulled back behind the abdominal wall.

After looking at my situation:

  • Posture is terrible, leads to pain
  • Posture can be fixed with less weight pushing forward from belly
  • Weight is reasonable so bulge is most likely from ab muscles not holding organs back
  • Cant get any contraction of core muscles now
  • Doctors stress tight core will really help my pain

It seemed to me that I could medically benefit from a tummy tuck / admomhinoplasty with muscle repair.  Could I get insurance to cover it?  Maybe but doubtful.  It would take so much work and effort and even if they found it medically necessary for me they don’t want to,set a precedent so they would probably deny for that reason alone.  I cared more about my health than fighting an insurance company so we just paid out of pocket.

Results?  It has only been two months so the jury is still out.  I have noticed a significant difference in my posture. I have core strength that I did not have before.   My body is adjusting to the new posture and I feel changes.  My right knee used to hurt, now my left knee hurts, but hopefully that means I am putting more even pressure on my joints.  My hip pain and back pain is currently down 40%.  That might change as I am dealing with complications from the surgery and have open wounds and scar pain right that hurt more than the back, so I haven’t been able to fully cut back on meds to see if I can go lower because I need them for the wound pain right now.  In another 6 months (or a year at most) I hope to have this wound and scar stuff fixed and can better evaluate the original pain.  However, so far I am very encouraged.  I also look much nicer now that my abs hold back my other organs.

stomach protrudes

stomach protrudes

 

abs now hold in all organs, only a little fat, lost 10 pounds after surgery

abs now hold in all organs, only a little fat, lost 10 pounds after surgery

 
 

Abdominoplasty / Tummy tuck for core strength to help back pain patients

30 Dec

Living with severe chronic back pain is very difficult but there are many of us out there. The problems I have found comes from a small checklist of known items that can be seen on a scan the hat cause pain and if you see a doctor and your scan does not show one of those known items such as a slipped disc or stenosis, then you are out of luck. No one has the ability to go beyond that list, after that you get shots and physical therapy, and in many people those are also ineffective.

Personally, I find it frustrating as I have begun to piece together my problems but there is no doctor who treats my issues…. I am structurally out of alignment and each out of alignment piece causes wear and tear and then pain on other pieces. A chiropractic is the closest person who figured me out, only they can only pop me into place for a day and then I pop back out… I need a permanent fix. I tried physical therapists but they are so by the manual, no one can look at my pain and issues individually rather than look at a “back pain” means this treatment. That doesn’t work when my back pain is stemming from overall skeletal misalignment.

So, I continue to be my own best doctor and research to try and put the puzzle pieces together for myself. I have a misaligned pelvis and this gives me one leg shorter than another. I have problems with my hip stability and si joints and my psoas muscle. I have no core stability and overwork my surrounding muscles to try and offset my weak core. Yet efforts to improve core strength have not gone well and are hindered by my overall misalignment and pain.

If only I could rebuild myself somehow, I thought. Well, then I started reading about the diasastis recti, the abdominal muscles that get pulled apart, often by childbirth. My internal organs poke through terribly and clearly set my back off balance just from my posture alone with my large chest and my big tummy. I tightened my muscles (the best I could) and sucked it in and realized it didn’t take much for a big change.

So, I took my hypothesis to the internet. Do people with back pain get relief after muscle retightening in a tummy tuck procedure? The answer was, anecdotally,”yes.” No doctor would make that promise because in part it depends on what is causing your back pain but in my case, it seemed logical that starting that alignment process with something we can fix, align, and rebuild, it would bring me things that my back were lacking and could provide some relief. I was not expecting to be cured but a reduction of 10-40% would be a success in my opinion.

I also knew that worst case and I don’t get relief, at least, I will get a better looking body so there was no downside. If I felt I had a chance to fight the insurance for payment for the medical necessity because of my back, I would have but after losing another fight that was clear cut that we should have won, I learned it isn’t about showing you can prove this or that, they will just say no and don’t have to have a good reason. So I just paid for my procedure with money we had saved for medical expenses.

The typical tummy tuck patient (news to me) is a thin woman who has an area on her tummy that is no longer perfectly flat after having children. In my eyes, these ladies all still had great bodies, especially compared to what I saw when I looked in the mirror but everyone has the right to have their bodies exactly as they want them and so they want to get back that perfect flat tummy and a tummy tuck will do that for them. Most plastic surgeons want you at your ideal weight before surgery and want to know you can hold that weight. I didn’t know much about the procedure but I did learn it is not a weight loss procedure. The doctor may cut off 1-5 pounds of skin but 5 is actually on the high side. You can request extra lipo if you want, some doctors don’t think it is safe to do much lipo during a tummy tuck.

So, I met with a PS and told him I wanted a TT with muscle repair, in hopes of helping my back. He scheduled me for a drainless tummy tuck with a shot of Experal. The Experal was supposed to make the first few days easier. They still hurt like hell so I don’t know, I guess it would have been worse. I needed a walker to walk for the first week. I had to wear a compression garment for two weeks. I didn’t have much swelling the first week but by week two, the swelling doubled and lasted for 10 weeks.

I normally take oxycontin for back pain and I was taking a higher dose for the first week but after that I was able to drop to my old dose with ibuprofen in the middle.

My back pain is currently down about 40% but I am still numb, dealing with other pain, not on my regular movement and exercise schedule so I am waiting to see how things change as time goes on.

Physically, I was very shocked to see how much my body was impacted by that 3 cm gap in my muscles. It is a shame that insurance doesn’t care that this muscle repair is a huge medical issue for some women, not just cosmetic. Even my bowel habits seem better. You also feel full sooner and now my weight matches how I look.

There are going to be many more benefits that I am going to discover from this adventure that I didn’t even realize. I have a whole new respect for this surgery and women who want to do it for whatever the reason.

Update:  I added two new posts to this series, another where I talk about back pain.  Another one is about the wound issues that I had after the surgery.  Not everyone has complications but I did (as did a few others who were having surgery the same time as I did).  It took over 2 months to get through most of the wound issues and I am still not “done” with it but hopefully, I am on the road to being better.  I would still do it, however, as the impact on my back pain was worth it.

My weight now falls in the normal BMI range, I lost 14 pounds since before I went into surgery (5 was skin) and I like how I look (minus the scars) and once the wound pain ends, I am anxious to fully assess my back pain but right now, my guess is about 40% better.

Here are some photos:

stomach protrudes

stomach protrudes

abs now hold in all organs, only a little fat, lost 10 pounds after surgery

abs now hold in all organs, only a little fat, lost 10 pounds after surgery

 
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How to lose weight without exercise and still eating your favorite foods

09 Aug

Do you want to lose weight but hate exercise?  Do love sugar or carbs and have low will power?  Maybe you have tried all sorts of diets before and failed.  Well, I am going to share with you what I think works best.  There are some reasons why I feel this works – first, it doesn’t require cold turkey dieting and your progress reinforces good behavior.

Things you need:

1.  A digital scale

2.  A note pad / pen

3.  A water infusion bottle or pitcher (not required but helpful)

4.  People around you who are supportive

 

First, step on the scale.  Your starting weight may indicate that you are overweight by a little or a lot, although most people that struggle with sugar and carb issues are overweight by more than a little.  Write down the time and your weight.  I suggest you weigh yourself without clothes, first thing in the morning every day so your weight is consistent.  If that is not possible, try to find a time of day that is consistent and it at least be in your undergarments.  You may weigh yourself more than once a day if you like but you need only write down the time that matches the time you choose for consistency.

Second, spend you first few days eating normally, continue to weigh yourself and write it down each day but be mindful of what you eat, every time you eat.  If you are really dedicated, write it down but that might be too hard for busy people so at least be mindful.  For me, I had realized I was having desserts like 4 times a day in the beginning because of my sweet tooth on top of my regular food, some days even more if it was a really bad day!

After you have made note of some of your bad habits, think about ONE habit you can reduce and change for the better, just one thing.  Can you eat a smaller portion at a meal, can you cut down to just 4 desserts a day and NEVER go over that mark if you find you do 4 but sometimes go over that?  Can you cut down to 3 desserts a day on weekends and have your 4 desserts on weekdays – replace the extra dessert with a yummy healthy snack you like instead – like fruit or if the dessert has a lot of calories find a dessert to replace it with that has much less calories like a sugar free chocolate pudding.  But, make ONE change.  Do this for a week.  Keep writing down your weight, it may or may not change.  You may have been eating so that you were in a weight gaining pattern, so we may first be having to stop that before we can move to weight loss.

So, now you have survived a week with your ONE change, make another change – again, do what you can handle, some people can make bigger changes, others can only handle small changes at a time.  However, if you do too much too soon, you will get too hungry, cravings will get too strong and you will give up, so go as slow as you need to so that you don’t break your new rules.

Here are some changes you make:

  • Instead regular soda, have diet
  • Eat less bread
  • Gradually decrease meal size, your stomach will adjust and you will feel full
  • Suck on lollipops or chew gum when you need sugar – Double “sweet tart” type Lollipops are great for those who really like a sugar fix, they last a long time, are very sweet and you can buy 200 for $12 on Amazon
  • Have dinner on the early side
  • Drink lots of water, use the infusion bottle to make water more appealing and tasty, you will drink more of it
  • Drink water before a meal, it will help fill you up
  • Find replacement treats with less calories and eat those in place of the treats with more calories
  • Always worry about calories, not fat grams

You should continue to gradually adjust your eating habits until you reach a point with the following goals:

Breakfast:  You can eat whatever you like – it can tasty and good but it has to be only 200 calories!  You can have a bowl of kiddie cereal for that, a tasty chocolate chip cookie dough protein bar, a couple waffles (no syrup), etc.  There are lots of great foods that you can eat but keep it 200 calories for women, men get to have a little more, maybe 280.

Between breakfast and lunch – if you need to snack, have something like berries, they are great for you, you can even put some whip cream on top.  You can have some peanuts or if you really need a dessert, have a sugar free pudding, that is only 60 more calories.  You can also eat some cheese or a couple slices of bacon.

Lunch – Your lunch should be about 400 calories for women, again men can have a little more, maybe 500.  You should think about things you like that are protein based and add calories around the protein, a deli sandwhich where most of the calories come from the bread, a salad of course always works, a philly cheesesteak is even fine, just don’t eat too much and no chips or sugar drinks with it.

Afternoon snack – rather than eat anything sweet after lunch, if you are a sweet tooth, save it for your mid afternoon snack.  Have your sweet  snack here but only 160 calories.  Something like an ice cream sandwich, another pudding is fine, a bag of chips is fine (individual size), one small brownie, even a donut is okay.  A giant slice of cake is not.

Dinner – Now look back on what you ate today, was your intake on the lighter side or heavier side today?  If it was lighter, you get to have more for dinner, if heavier, you might want to plan your dinner with less calories.  Dinner should be focused on lots of protein and vegetables in general.  Eating pasta and bread should only be on the menu if you planned for it by being good earlier in the day.  Avoid the starches, it is meat and potatoes, it is meat and vegetables!  If bread and potatoes are served and you want some, you have two choices, take a small taste if you think you can do that without going in for more or if tasting them will just fuel your cravings, then leave it all alone!

After dinner- This is the most difficult time for many, this is where I dive into my lollipops!!!  They are 30 calories and keep my sweet tooth satisfied and my mouth busy!!  I might even have 2!!!  However, they keep me from eating so many other things.  Your goal as a woman if you are losing weight is to eat close to 1200 calories if you are getting close to your goal weight, if you are still very far from your goal weight, you should use one of those calculators to see how many calories you can still eat and lose weight.  For men, I believe the number is 1500.  Remember, we were eating 600 calories by lunch and leaving 600 calories for the second half of the day but most our dinner was supposed to be meat and veggies which doesn’t have too many calories.  You also don’t need to “count” all your calories but look at the packages of the food you eat so you are aware of how many calories are in the food you are eating, you might be surprised.  I was shocked to see a side of mac and cheese at outback had 835 calories!   I chose not to eat my left overs!  Also remember to include drinks too.

If you continue to write down your weight every day (don’t listen to these people who say only check once a week!), you will see the numbers go up and down.  Don’t let an up day discourage you.  The reason people tell you to only check once a week is because they think people cannot handle the fluctuations – and there is probably some validity to that, however, that is something you have to be aware of.  Even on a GOOD eating day, you may see your weight go UP, that does not mean you get discouraged, it just means that you may need to poop! 🙂  Or your weight is redistributing and it went down too much the day before and is readjusting to an average.  It will move up and down but the overall pattern with this plan is that you will see an overall down pattern.  Here is an example:

Day 1:  176.6

Day 2:  176.4

Day 3:  175.8

Day 4:  176.0

Day 5:  175.6

Day 6:  175.2

Day 7:  175.6

Day 8:   174.8

Day 9: 175.4

Day 10: 175.0

You can see here, I started at 176. 6 as my high, my low hit 174.8, I have not yet gone back into the 174’s, I expect that tomorrow (I hope) but the overall trend shows that I have lost about 1.5 pounds in 10 days.  Generally, they say that you should lose about 1 pound per week if you are relatively close to your normal weight and more if you are very over weight.  I am only 15-20 pounds overweight.  I was 55 pounds overweight before but I lost 40 pounds and then put a little bit back on so I want to get back down 10 pounds so 1 pound per week is a good pace for me but when I was much more overweight, my weight loss was much faster and I used a similar approach to this although I was pretty dedicated so I set high expectations to my rule changes as I went but I didn’t deprive myself at any point.  Tomorrow, will be a bad eating day since it is a special occasion, and that will happen and you see yourself lose a lot of ground on any days you make bad choices or decide that the special day overrides the diet, however, new weight put on comes back off very quickly, so just get back on track.  I lost my 40 pounds before in just 6 months and then my weight adjusted to the new me.  Granted I made some changes to my eating but it was easy and I still indulged and managed to retain 30 pounds of weight loss for the last 3 years.

One more thing that women should know that I was not aware of – if you have a poochy stomach, especially if you have had children, it is possible that a lot of your “fat” look isn’t even from fat but from muscles that are disconnected from carrying a baby / giving birth.  It is called diastasis recti.  All this time I thought my fat abdomen was all fat but it turns out a part of it are from loose muscles.  You can do exercises to help but the best way to fix it is with surgery.  Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t consider the surgery medically necessary so it is cosmetic and is usually done with a tummy tuck.  For me, it worth considering since the lack of muscles has lead to back pain issues as well.

I hope this approach is helpful, good luck!!

 
 

My Daily Flu Log – what does it feel like to have the Flu (Influenza B) – getting the flu after you have had the shot

15 Apr

As I sit here, a little in disbelief that I have the flu, I thought I would document the experience for readers.  Many times, you get ill and wonder what do I have?  Bronchitis?  Pneumonia?  Cold?  Strep Throat?  Flu?  All have so many overlapping symptoms.  I thought I was pretty good at detecting the difference between cold and flu, but when I got sick a few days ago in mid-April, the flu was not on my radar as a diagnosis.  First, it is too late the flu (I know it isn’t but there much less flu circulating so the probability that a single person with symptoms has the flu is much lower since there is less virus going around.)  Second, I had my flu shot!  I know there is a lot of controversy about the shot and I am a pro-flu shot person because I know flu can kill and I don’t want myself saying, could I have done more if my child were to die of the flu.  However, to each his own and this is not an article to debate whether to get the flu shot or not.  So, even if you HAD the shot or if not and you are questioning symptoms, I hope my experience might help you answer questions about, “could it be the flu?”

Exposure:  I have no memory of being exposed to anyone with symptoms.  I do remember being around people in public who were coughing a lot in public a few days ago, so maybe that was it.  With allergy season abound, there are LOTS of people coughing right now.

Symptoms:  What I noticed about getting sick this time was how suddenly I got ill.  With colds, it is usually gradual and I can take zinc and other things to help boost my immune system, allowing me to escape getting sick.  In fact, I haven’t had a respiratory virus take hold in 2 years now! Now I will post day by day my symptoms and unique things that stood out to me.

Sunday:  I went horseback riding all morning and had a great time, felt perfect!  I went to a friends house after and started to feel a little bit of a sore throat and runny nose.  Within a couple hours, my cold symptoms came on really strong and I had a very bad sore throat and lots of mucus in my chest and was coughing.

Monday:  I didn’t feel great and considered myself, “sick” but my son had a doctors appointment so I had to take him to that.  When I got home I really felt the cold symptoms kicking in like I was at the worst day of my cold rather than the usual “ramping” up I experience.  I had a ton of congestion, headache, sore throat, runny nose, etc.  I rested and thought I could go to work, it was only for 2 hours and I have pushed through working with cold symptoms before.  I got 10 minutes into my first client and cancelled my second.  I was feeling even worse!  That night, I had really watery eyes – again making me think allergies but it turns out that watery eyes are a symptom of the flu.  I was totally exhausted.  I took lots of different medicines as my cough was terrible and hurt like hell in my chest when I coughed.  It was a dry hacking cough.  I worked hard at trying not to cough as much as I could.  I went to bed very early.

Monday night:  I fell asleep easily since I was so tired but around 4 am, I woke up literally shivering with chattering teeth and everything.  I took my temperature and it was 101.  I took more medicine and a bath to try and lower the fever and because I had a terrible headache.  I also became very short of breath and felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen.  I knew then that I was going to see a doctor in the morning.

Tuesday:  I went to the doctor with my symptoms – I was like a walking zombie which the nurse and doctor noted.  BTW, I wasn’t even well enough to drive myself and had my husband take me.  I said things had come on rather suddenly, I had a sore throat, headache, runny nose, dizzy, shortness of breath, fever, congestion, dry hacking cough that caused a lot of pain in my chest.  She immediately thought I was describing the flu perfectly.  I didn’t want to agree since I didn’t have full body aches like I usually do with the flu.  She said with how fast it came on, the high fever, and the type of cough, she wanted to test for the flu.  I was somewhat resistant because I had a doctor scope my nose before and it was a really bad experience but finally gave in to the flu test.  Thankfully she did it quickly and the worst part wasn’t the moment she did it but how sore it felt afterwards and it still feels sore back there.  The test came back positive with Influenza B!  Wow!

Medications:  She prescribed tamiflu for me since I was still in the 48 hour window and also gave it to my husband and 18 year old son as a preventative.  I take 2 pills a day, they take only 1 unless they start getting a fever.  She could have given me some cough meds with narcotics in it but since I already take narcotic pain pills daily for back pain, she said to just use those to help with my cough.

My fever remains at 101 even with medication but I always believed that one should not rush to bring down a fever if they are able to handle it because the fever stops the reproduction of the virus or at least slows it down.  So, I will let my fever help battle the virus, take my tamiflu, and remain quarantined from my family, hoping they don’t come down with this.  Maybe their flu shot is still in their system more than mine was!

Wednesday:  My fever broke which is nice but my congestion, coughing, and sinus pain is still a big issue for me.  I was quite fatigued and slept a lot more today and also felt a bit more achy.  I certainly did not feel good but compared to yesterday and Monday night, I feel a lot better.  I know I am still contagious so I am still quarantined.  It is a pet peeve of mine when people go out in public when they are sick and pass it on to others!  It isn’t your fever that determines when you are still contagious even though a few random sites will state that.  In fact, most people shed the virus for a week and kids for 2 weeks after they get sick.  I continue to take Tamiflu and feel like it does seem to be helping.  This flu is definitely not as bad as the first time I had the flu about 16 years ago when I had 104 fever and 2 young kids who had the flu with me!  If this damn sinus pressure and headaches would ease up, I would be in much better shape.  Also tempted to use Afrin but I know how that has rebound effects so I don’t know if it is worth it!

Thursday:  I can’t say there was too much change today.  My sinus pain is a little less which is nice but I am still very congested, very weak and tired, coughing, and my head is still “in the clouds.”  I didn’t sleep well last night at all.  I did finally give in and use Afrin since my nasal congestion was so bad that the neti pot wouldn’t even flush fluid though my sinuses.  Boredom is really setting in and I wish I could concentrate enough to read or do work.  I know it will still be days before I have enough energy to do much, ugh!  Later Thursday evening, my ears popped and I could hear, yay!  I also felt like I had a little bit of energy.  I actually felt like I was healing some.

Thursday night:  I still had trouble sleeping.  My nasal passages continue to be dry and I continue to have sinus pain.  I flush with a neti pot often.  It helps relieve the pain a lot.  Each time I take my Tamiflu, I feel better.  I awoke at 5:30, however, feeling sick to my stomach.  Too much phlegm and am taking an anti-nausea pill for it.  I am also feeling very dehydrated and drinking water.  I am ready to feel a lot better tomorrow… I hope so!

 

Bottom line – if your systems come on fast, you have watery eyes, and the other systems I mentioned, even if it is April and you have had your flu shot, you might find out that you have the flu!

 
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Developmentally Disabled / Handicapped Services at 18 in North Carolina

07 Mar

My developmentally disabled son turned 18 in January 2014!  What a wonderful milestone.  He joined the “system” of services in North Carolina at the age of 4 months when he started with an IFSP plan.  He went to “early” preschool because of his disability and then had an IEP.  He received speech, OT, and PT services in school as well as pull out and accommodations for his specific learning needs from K-12.  However as he got ready to turn 18, we were at a loss to what were the next steps! We were disappointed that our school provided little to no information about what we were to do “after” school and did not give us any resources.  I tried researching things on the internet but there was no one place where it was all spelled out for me.  Everything I found was for the elderly not for an 18 year old with DD.  So, as I walk down this path alone, trying to figure out what is available, I am blogging our experience in hopes that I can save some other parents the troubles that we went through to find out what is available.  I hope that perhaps other schools do a better job with helping families with these connections but we were only connected with Vocational Rehabilitation and they were not able to connect us with anyone else!

To begin… I would start this process at 17.5 at the latest so that things are in place for when your child turns 18.  Here is the to do list and my experience so far with each:

1.  Guardianship  – we chose to apply for guardianship since we felt that our son was not capable of making the right health decisions nor did we want to risk him entering into any contracts that he did not understand.  I wrote a separate blog on the steps to file for guardianship, so please read that for details.  http://www.zen5.me/a/489/how-to-get-guardianship-in-north-carolina-wake-county/

2.  Jobs – for jobs, there are several ways to get connected with jobs possibilities and job coaches to help your child on the job.  Vocational Rehabilitation is one resource.  Overall, we have not been impressed with them.  They had told us to make sure the job coach was the “right fit” but when we mentioned that she didn’t seem to be the right fit, we were discouraged from discussing it any further.  They only want to place him in a long term permanent job so they can close his case and informed me that it might take months or years (or if ever was even mentioned) to find that job.  They told me that they would work on carving out a job with employers that fit his needs and yet the job coach appears to just have my son send cold emails to companies.  My son’s job coach is not versed in the areas that my son has talent and strengths making it much more difficult for her to find him a good fit.  When asked about other resources, we were told they were “lousy” and not bother attending.  We were also not given any of the many other options that I found on my own.  We are not optimistic about the possibilities of work through North Carolina VR.  Job coaches, I believe, can also be provided through some other services such as personal care assistance.

3.  SSI – We applied for SSI disability at age 18.  We were told incorrect information so applied right at his birthday although you are supposed to wait until the start of the next month after the child turns 18 (if you don’t want to count parental resources).  We never received SSI for him as a child since we made too much money but now that he is an adult, he is able to apply on his own.  The process required an interview at the SSI office.  You must bring lots of ID!!!  We had to send off lots of paperwork and give the names of all doctors/therapists, etc. he worked with to document his disability.  We asked for quick consideration under two quick consideration classifications (cerebral palsy and schizencephaly).  I do not know if we got approved quickly because of that or if he was just approved quickly in general.  Yet, he was approved within 1 month and received his first check right on time.  We were told by VR to expect to go to court and delays of a year or more yet it was a quick process as he clearly qualified.  He also got Medicaid automatically after being approved for SSI.

4.  Alliance Behavioral Health – we were calling day programs to get information and they suggested we call Alliance.  I called them and they appear to be THE provider for all other services.  I had to apply and get my son approved in the same way we had to get approved for VR and SSI.  It required faxing a lot of paperwork showing his medical issues and disabilities.  He was approved in a couple of weeks and then we were referred for other services.  In order to get these other services, you must go through this process first.  ABH also put him on the NC innovations waiver list.  This list has a 10 year wait (or more) but provides a high level of service (up to $135,000 per year per client) for all types of service including day services.

5.  Personal Care Services – Universal – ABH referred us to Universal for Personal Care Services.  Here he can get 5-12 hours per week with someone working on independent living skills in our home or in the community.  I was impressed with their contact person and so far, it looks like a great service that will be very valuable for him.

6.  Community Guide – Community Partnerships – ABH referred us to Community Partnerships for the community guide program.  This is a 3 month program where the person gets to know the individual and then connects you with ALL the related services in the community that are appropriate for you.  We have a meeting coming up so I cannot comment yet but our phone conversation was good.  She is going to tell me about other waivers other than NC Innovations that my son might qualify for, social possibilities, day programs, college programs geared for developmentally disabled, etc.

7.  Respite – We have been referred if we need respite.  Right now, my son can stay alone for short periods so respite isn’t a huge need but I am trying to find out if any overnight respite is offered.  It might be that I can pay for overnight respite car using his SSI to hire a private personal care assistant if we need to be gone overnight but I am still looking into those options.

8.  Day programs – I looked at one day program where adults did various “camp” classes such as art, yoga, science, music, etc.  We are not sure if it is a good fit for my son but hope to get more information from the community guide about programs that best fit his physical and intellectual strengths and challenges.  These programs are only “free’ if you have the waiver so it would be costly to do it on our own but we may need something for him to do after graduation at least part time.

I continue to learn more about what is offered and available in North Carolina.  One thing that would have been helpful would have been to get on the NC Innovations waitlist years ago but no one told us about it!  I hope this information provides others with some ideas of the resources available in NC.  If you have found others, please share in comments section.

 
 

Flu without a fever

15 Jan

Flu without a fever?

Do you feel like you have flu symptoms but don’t have a fever and wonder if it could still be the flu?  Well, they have found that people can get the flu without a fever although it is MUCH more common to have a fever with the flu.  In fact, one of the most common symptoms that differentiate a cold from a flu is that the flu tends to have a fever of 101+.  Here are the traditional flu symptoms:

  • Fever of 101+
  • Some type of respiratory symptoms
  • Cough is very common
  • Runny nose, sore throat are also common
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Sometimes (not that common though) – Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (or other gastrointestinal ailments) – these do then to be more common with the  H1N1 type flu

However, what if you have all of the above without the fever – could it be the flu?

They have found that people have tested positive for the flu without a fever, so the answer is YES, it is possible but remember that there are other virus that could have similar symptoms to the flu and the “stomach flu” with the main symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea actually don’t usually have fever associated with it.  “Stomach flu” is also not influenza despite the fact we often refer to it as a stomach flu, it has nothing to do with the true flu.

What if you got the flu shot?  Here is another case where it seems plausible and I believe they have proof of this via testing as well, that one can get a more “mild” version of the flu because you had the shot, have some immunity but not enough to keep you completely well.  So, you might find that you have body aches, headache, extreme fatigue, and respiratory symptoms but no fever and you have a mild version of the flu – you would have been much sicker had you not gotten your flu shot.

Without going in for a test (swab in your nose), it is impossible to know for sure but since others in the past HAVE tested positive for the flu without fever and after getting the flu shot, it is possible that you have the flu!

 
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How to get Guardianship in North Carolina (Wake County)

27 Sep

When it came time for me to apply for guardianship for my disabled son, I felt like I was going down a road no one had gone down before!  It was hard to find information on what was involved and what steps were needed to obtain guardianship.  We just completed the process today and in an effort to make things easier for others, I would like to write out how to get  Guardianship for your loved one!  This is a case for Wake County, North Carolina.  I am assuming it is true for all of North Carolina but can’t be sure, however, I would assume it would be very similar within the state if not the same.

 

Step 1:  Fill out the paperwork at the North Carolina Wake County Clerk of Courts Website for Guardianship.  (Click on the word paperwork to see the forms you need to fill out.)

Step 2:  Take filled out paperwork to Wake County Court house in downtown Raleigh and go to the 12th floor, go through the Clerk of Courts doors and look for the sign for Special Proceedings.

Step 3:  Give the paperwork to the people at the desk at Special Proceedings.  They will have an additional form for you to fill out.  Plan on being there for at least 30 minutes.

Step 4:  After you fill out the rest of the paperwork, they will make copies and schedule a court date (as soon as 2 weeks out possibly).  They will also give you the name of an attorney for the disabled person.

Step 5:  You will be given copies of the forms to deliver to all next of kin to make them aware of the hearing and give you a form that says that you have to sign (notarized or bring back to court) to prove you gave out all the copies to next of kin.  This includes siblings older than 18 years of age.

Step 6:  The sheriff will be given another copy of the notice that he has to serve in person to the disabled person prior to the hearing.

Step 7:  Once home, you wait for the sheriff to serve notice (if he hasn’t come before the court date, that could be a problem so call and check with them if you are a day or two out and the disabled person hasn’t been served yet).

Step 8:  You also need to wait until you get a call from the court appointed lawyer.  He will call and schedule an appointment with the proposed guardian and disabled person.

Step 9:  At the meeting with the lawyer, he will want to explain to the disabled person what their rights are, discuss the guardianship, types of guardianship, limitations of the disabled person, and make sure the guardian is fit to serve as guardian.  If all is well, the meeting will be short and he will prepare a report for the court.  There is no cost for any of this.

Step 10:  You arrive with your notice that says you served everyone, any proof showing disability (if needed, we didn’t need it but we did bring my son with us) and will meet with the lawyer and the clerk of court in a small room at the 12th floor on the day of your hearing.

Step 11:  The clerk of court will discuss with you the types of guardianship, ask about the limitations of the person needing guardianship, and make recommendations.  She will then share those with you, you all agree and you are sent to another room for the oath and letters.

Step 12:  Some other folks enter information into a computer, have you agree to an oath of office (sounds like you are taking oath for president of the United States), and they give you 5 stamped letters for you to provided anyone who needs proof that you are guardian.  You sign a couple forms and you are done.

 

You can apply for guardianship as soon as your disabled child is 17 1/2.  You don’t need to wait until they are 18.  This way there is no gap.  I hope this helps!