mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I worked earlier than usual today so I could travel through rush hour traffic and still attend a Doctor appointment at 4pm. The good news is that I get to stop taking my blood thinner medication, so I can also stop the recurring visits to the lab where they test my blood for the effectiveness of that medication.  The bad news is that having one clot means the odds of developing another clot are higher. Even though mine was obviously caused by a physical injury, I know that my blood can clot inappropriately. I'm willing to take my chances. At least this time I have health insurance, so I can visit a hospital immediately instead of waiting nearly a month for the pain to become unbearable.

I celebrated by buying groceries to make my homemade spinach dip for dinner.  Before I run out of medication, I'm going feast on all of the yummy foods high in vitamin K that I've been avoiding for most of the year.  Then when I'm out of warfarin, my vitamin K levels will still not be high enough to cause any immediate clots.  It's a win-win situation for me.

Unfortunately, I still have leg problems because of that baker's cyst.  I asked the doctor today about a cortisone injection in my knee to reduce the swelling.  He explained that it doesn't always work, it sometimes requires recurring injections, and it sounded painful sticking needles under my kneecap.  Instead, he gave me contact info for an orthopaedist clinic, so I'm going to visit them for a specialist's opinion.

Still, though, it's good to get the green light for discontinuing my medication.  As soon as I stop taking my pills, I'll hang up that Medic Alert necklace that I bought.
mellowtigger: (brain)
Good news, I have a baker's cyst!

I recently had an ultrasound examination which confirmed that the blood flow in my leg is back to normal, meaning that the blood clot is gone.  I still had persistent knee problems, though, that the ultrasound could not find.  The doctor sent me for an MRI, and it was able to detect a tiny baker's cyst inside my leg.  This herniated sac explains why I've continued to experience minor pain in my left leg while walking.

There's not really anything to do for it besides wait it out.  If it never gets better and continues to bother me, then they will inject steroids into that sac through the front of my knee.  The steroids will reduce inflammation and give that bulge a better chance to subside naturally.

I'm glad that this continuing problem is nothing serious.  I should be able to discontinue my blood thinner medication in a few months, and this medically complicated year will finally be behind me.


Aug. 10th, 2013 05:32 am
mellowtigger: (twitch)
It's been a while since my last cramp, but another one woke me up this morning.  Thankfully it was in my right calf instead of my left (where the leg injury was).  I haven't been taking my vitamin supplements because I know at least one of them includes vitamin K which I'm supposed to avoid until I'm finally done with the anticoagulant in a few more months.  Judging by my concentration and energy level, my B12 is bottoming out again.  It will be good to boost it again later when I'm done with the medicine.

So for this weekend, thanks to the cramp overexertion, it now hurts both of my legs to walk around.  I've got a 7:30am appointment to see the doctor on Monday.  The ultrasound showed no evidence of blood flow problems in my left leg, which is great news.  It means the clot is gone now.  It still begs the question, though, of why I still have pain behind my left knee when I walk.  The doctor felt swelling there two weeks ago, so now I'm going to ask what we do next to solve the mystery of my left leg.  I'd like to have my leg back at 100% before snow season arrives.


Jun. 21st, 2013 05:59 pm
mellowtigger: (Daria)
Well, that didn't last long. I got one reprieve just in time for the next crisis.

I woke up Thursday morning with what what I hesitantly guessed was an ingrown hair on my left leg, high up on the inner thigh. I thought it was strange that it showed up so suddenly and already so swollen, but I went off to work without worrying about it. I noticed mild pain several times during the day as my denim jeans rubbed against the sensitive skin.

When I got home Thursday evening, I took another look. It definitely did not look normal. Whatever it was just looked "wrong" somehow.  Wrong color, wrong density, just wrong. I pulled out the prescription information for my warfarin medication to see if it listed anything relevant. Yes, it did.  In the "Serious side effects" section, the first thing it listed was (emphasis also in the original text):

"* death of skin tissue (skin necrosis or gangrene). This can happen soon after starting warfarin. It happens because blood clots form and block blood flow to an area of your body. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have pain, color, or temperature change to any area of your body. You may need medical care right away to prevent death or loss (amputation) of your affected body part."

Wow. I'm really sure that nobody mentioned necrotizing flesh as a side effect of my therapy.  Moreover, this blob of whatever-it-is just happened to be located where I would expect the vein to flow if the clot beneath my knee had moved and got stuck higher up in my leg.  I was beginning to worry at this point.  I rushed to my healthcare clinic for a walk-in visit at 6pm.  If they suggested it, I would immediately drive myself to the hospital for an emergency examination.  The attending physician, though, soothed my worry by pointing out that the whatever-it-is seemed contained at the surface.  The vein leading from my blood clot would be located much deeper in the flesh.  Whew!  I was relieved.

The whatever-it-is, though, was infected.  She wanted me on medication to clear it up right away.  Unfortunately, antibiotics will also wreak havoc on my blood clotting, so I have to come in more often to test my clotting speed.  She put me on Cephalexin (500 mg capsules) for a week.  I've never heard of this medication before, but she said it was especially good for skin infections.

So, necrotizing flesh incident averted.  Yay!

I have such low standards now for what constitutes a good day.


Jun. 13th, 2013 11:03 pm
mellowtigger: (possum)
I've been forgetful lately. I haven't been eating my rat poison like I'm supposed to do.

I'm taking warfarin (aka coumadin) on prescription. It's named after the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation which funded the research into what substance was causing some cows in northern farms to bleed to death in the 1920s after having their horns or testicles cut off. It turns out that ranchers in areas like Wisconsin were using sweet clover to make food for their cattle. Sweet clover (like sweet grass and sweet woodruff) produces large amounts of coumarin which gives off a sweet smell when the plant is cut. Coumarin also happens to be an anticoagulant. The cattle were eating lots of it, and it prevented normal clotting of their blood. They bled out when injured, and if they ate enough of it then they died spontaneously of internal hemorrhaging.

Vitamin K cycleWarfarin does not dissolve existing clots; it just helps to prevent the body from growing a clot. It is prescribed by doctors to people like me for many months while we wait for our body's immune system to naturally (but very slowly) disassemble the clot. It's also used in larger quantities as a poison to induce internal hemorrhaging in animals like rats. So, yes, I am technically eating rat poison. Or, at least I'm supposed to be.

I've mentioned before that my memory and concentration do not work nearly as well when I'm stressed out. I've already had to change my diet suddenly to eliminate all of those healthy green leafy vegetables that I was training myself to eat more of. Those foods happen to be high in Vitamin K1. The human body uses that vitamin in the production of molecules that promote blood clotting, then those molecules are later recycled back into Vitamin K which can be used for additional clotting. Warfarin works by stopping that recycle process, slowly draining the body of its vitamin supply. By adding more vitamin K to my blood stream, those foods would negate the usefulness of warfarin. So I have to avoid them. I saw a salad at work today, and I started to crave it. I keep wondering if it would it be okay to add greens back to my diet if those greens were sweet clover.  Wait... I was talking about stress, wasn't I?

In addition to diet change due to health problems, I've also had medical debt, car loss, and the joys of public transit to contend with. Then on Tuesday last week, my employer fired a coworker so now I've also been working longer hours on no-longer-familiar tasks. My sleep and eat schedule have changed a lot in response to these new demands. I'm not surprised that I forgot my medication on 3 out of 7 days. Bad mistake, it turns out.

I can tell when my rat poison levels have dropped. I suddenly can feel the clots again. I say clots, plural, because I can feel both the original muscle injury site in my calf (a sharp knife sensation) and the spot underneath my knee (the broader press-on-nerve sensation where the pain got so bad that it motivated me to visit the hospital emergency room back on April 18th). I'm guessing that the clot in my calf broke off and floated up the vein where it got caught in the joint under my knee. It was lucky for me that it stuck there, since it didn't flow higher to reach my lungs, heart, or brain. In theory, it still could break off again, but assuming that I stay properly medicated and don't easily permit additional clotting, then I might be off of my warfarin medication in October.

I need a vehicle. It would make my life a lot easier right now, and I could use a good break in what has been a not-so-great year.  I think I've had enough of "change" for a while.

Yes, I did eat my rat poison this evening.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I giggled this morning.  I discovered that I could stand on one leg without pain, and it made me stupidly happy. I did it several times to prove to myself that it wasn't a fluke. I celebrated by washing my right foot in the shower.  It hadn't been scrubbed in 2 months.  It's been that long since I could put weight on my left leg without pain. I have to shift weight to my left leg slowly, but it's consistently painless that way.

I look forward to my leg not hurting when I move it farther, faster, and with the jostling that's part of a normal gait.  Cheers for progress.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I've had plenty to complain about lately, but I guess it's time for a little good news.

Minnesota marriage equalityFirst, Minnesota is officially changing its laws today to recognize gay marriages. Our state governor signs the legislation into law today. It's a good change brought to us through the hard work of many gay people coming out of the closet and even more straight people who listened to the pleas of gay couples who wanted their government to grant them the same benefits as other couples. The Saint Paul mayor even renamed the "Wabasha Street Freedom Bridge" to the "Wabasha Street Freedom To Marry Bridge" for the week, and pride flags line the bridge.  They're expecting a huge celebration in Saint Paul tonight.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of straight allies like Chris Kluwe.  It matters who speaks because it changes who will listen. It shouldn't matter, but it does. Ideas should be sufficient on their own merits, but they aren't. America abolished slavery because the free fought to share their rights. America allowed women to vote because the voting men agreed to share their privilege. America is slowly granting homosexuals equal protection under the law because heterosexuals are voting to share their benefits.

Second, T'Reese is doing much better. The veterinarian found no evidence of problems in the stool sample. Apparently old cats are prone to constipation, and it happens to cause great pain for T'Reese when that happens. I'm adding wet cat food to her diet to help avoid this problem in the future.

Third, I'm back to using a cane for mobility rather than crutches. I can even walk very slowly around my bedroom without the cane. I'm still prone to painful muscle cramps when I use my left leg, and I get electric shocks down the length of my leg, and my left knee hurts a lot when I put too much weight on it. Progress is progress, though. I'll take it.

Fourth, I estimate that I can have all of my medical bills paid off by the end of this year. It depends entirely, though, on not having any car problems in 2013. That condition seems unlikely, though, since I spend almost $1500/year on car repairs. It's been pretty consistent over the last decade. Car repairs are the big unnecessary drain on my finances. I wish I could live and work someplace where I could ditch the car altogether. I think I'll have to move to a larger metropolitan area, though, to succeed at that kind of lifestyle change.

Anyway... celebrate the good news while it's happening, right?

There's a local paper rolled up in a rubber band.
One more sad story's one more than I can stand.
Just once how I'd like to see the headline say,
"Not much to print today, can't find nothin' bad to say" because

Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town.
Nobody OD'ed, nobody burned a single buildin' down.
Nobody fired a shot in anger. Nobody had to die in vain.
We sure could use a little good news today...

How I want to hear the anchor man talk about a county fair;
And how we cleaned up the air, how everybody learned to care.
Whoa, tell me,

Nobody was assassinated in the whole Third World today;
And in the streets of Ireland, all the children had to do was play;
And everybody loves everybody in the good old USA.
We sure could use a little good news today.

So today's theme song is this country music chart topper by Anne Murray from 1983: A Little Good News.
mellowtigger: (snow)
snow 2013.05.03It's snowing again in Minneapolis today. It won't accumulate, but it's surprising to see snowfall this late in the year.  We have our annual fundraiser tomorrow to raise money for the animal shelter where I work.  Bad weather decreases turnout and fundraising, unfortunately.  Freezing precipitation today does not bode well for tomorrow morning.

I keep experiencing electric jolts in my foot and leg.  They are painful reminders that I'm not ready to put weight on my left leg yet.  At least the nerves haven't suffocated and died. There's enough circulation to keep them registering pain.  That's a good sign, at least.

If the swelling and electric shocks keep getting worse over the weekend, though, I'll call Monday and schedule a doctor appointment to get checked out.  I expected the clot to have withered sufficiently to have decent blood circulation in my leg by now.

Today marks 6 weeks since my leg injury, and I'm still on crutches.  I'm starting to get pessimistic about my long-term prospects.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
left leg 2013.04.30I'm still on crutches. I injured myself on 3/23, so it's been about 6 weeks now.

The anti-coagulant medications have definitely helped with the pain.  If I don't use my left leg, the pain is gone altogether.  When I use my leg, though, it's immediately obvious that the circulation in my leg still isn't normal yet.  You can see it in this photo that I took at 9pm last night.

The calf and foot are still swollen, and the coloration is still just slightly off in my left foot.  When I suddenly go upright, I feel sharp pains throughout my lower leg.  Similar sensations follow (with bonus pains) when I try to support my weight on it.

I'm beginning to wonder if the circulation was permanently damaged by the blood clot.  I'll hold out hope for another week or two.  Meanwhile, medical bills are starting to roll in.  I paid off 3 of them today and made a small payment to my landlord for the loan to buy prescription injections.  The really big bill is still looming, though.  I expect it to arrive soon.

I've asked my boss if I can work 5 hours per day instead of 4 hours.  That's a 25% increase in costs to my employer, so I'm not sure if they'll accept that change.  I'm not thrilled (where my mental health is concerned) about the change either.  I can easily take additional stress for a few weeks or months, but permanent stress is a bad thing.  We'll see how this change works out, if it's approved.

genetic resultsAt least my Minnesota Care coverage is approved.  I made an online payment yesterday morning, so in theory my coverage should begin today since it's the 1st day of the month.  Monthly costs have more than doubled since I was last insured by them, but this taxpayer-subsidized coverage is still cheaper than buying insurance elsewhere.  Unfortunately, they do not help with any payment of previous medical bills.  The hospital basically lied to me by saying that MN Care would help for up to 90 days previous.

My mother says that I don't have a family history of blood clot issues, which is good.  My genetic testing (done years ago) also shows little genetic influence, only a very slight increased predisposition for venous thromboembolism.  Newer tests might show different results.  I'm sure that new genetic markers have been found since then, markers that my old test never checked.  Hopefully, though, I won't need to stay on my cheap anti-coagulant medication for the rest of my life.

One day at a time, I guess.  And would you believe that we have snow forecast for tomorrow morning?  Crutches make navigation fun and exciting!
mellowtigger: (possum)
People are possum, coon, or some mixture of the two. I'm all possum.

The opossum is a marsupial with three effective methods of deterring predators. They can drop like a corpse, empty their stomach, and empty their bowels. All three behaviors are meant to change their appearance from appetizing meal to unclean filth. Marsupials are very distantly related to apes, and I think the only one of those instincts we share (and not all of us, at that) is the sudden drop in blood pressure that shuts down the central nervous system. In other words, we faint when we detect a threat to our bodies.

injections.20130432My enoxaparin medication needs to be injected into belly fat twice a day. I gave it a good attempt. I laid back in the bathroom so the cool tub on my back and legs could help keep my mind focused. As soon as I smelled a whiff of that sterilizing alcohol, though, the panic immediately set in. I broke out in sweat, got jittery, and probably would have fainted if I wasn't already in a reclining position to help keep blood in my skull. I couldn't bring myself to break my own skin with the very small needle.  I don't remember any nausea or diarrhea (such as an actual opposum would feel) from medical procedures, but I have fainted before... and I've come close to fainting many times.

Luckily, one of my landlords, Michael Vieths, has been able to inject me with my medication each morning and night. We've been following a circle around my belly button with each dose.  I scheduled a visit at a nearby clinic and they showed him how to do it. It's worked out fine. He happens to be studying for a Master's in bioinformatics, so this real-world lab practice might even make him stand out from other students in his field, I don't know.  I lay flat on the sofa, I lightly pinch my belly fat to make a tall enough target to accept the length of the short needle, then he inserts the needle and presses the plunger.  It's gone rather well.  There's far less bruising at the sites than I was expecting.

I also needed his help to pay for the initial batch of syringes.  This one medication costs just shy of $1000 for a 7-day supply.  The hospital mentioned nothing of this cost when they prescribed it (nor did they heed my doubts that I could inject myself).  Now, because my blood serum levels of blood thinner medication suddenly spiked, I'm no longer taking the injections as of this afternoon.  I've got $350 of medication left over that I must not use any more.  That's nearly a month's rent for me... wasted.  Gotta love the American medical system, right?  :(

snow.20130432On the plus side, though, the medication helped.  My pain levels have gone down a lot.  The swelling has gone down almost completely.  I can easily sit upright at this computer terminal for 30 minutes at a time now.  The increased blood pressure in my leg eventually causes enough pain that I move back to my horizontal position on the couch.

I plan to go to work on Wednesday.  Here's the view outside my bedroom window this morning.  We got some more snow last night.  Thankfully, temperatures are rising extraordinarily fast, and almost all the snow has already melted from sidewalks everywhere.  It should be safe for me to use my crutches tomorrow.

Oh, before I forget... I noticed in the bathtub during my attempt to self-inject that merely the whiff of isopropyl alcohol prompts an immediate panic reaction.  Apparently the lifelong experience of clinic injections since infancy has trained my nervous system to recognize that scent as a threat.  I tried on Saturday to do some Pavlovian conditioning on myself.  I took a whiff of the alcohol, ate a spicy dorito, and then repeated again after a few minutes.  I don't think it worked at all.  I still recognize the bloodstream rush of panic when I first scent the disinfectant.  It's a good theory, though.  Maybe it just needs more practice.  Still, though, it's the pain that my nervous system is trying to avoid.  If the process left no tactile sensation at all... I suspect that I could learn to inject myself.

As long as there's pain, though, then the proper autonomic response (for a possum like me) is to reduce blood pressure for an emergency shutdown of the nervous system.  I don't think you can train a possum to be a coon instead.
mellowtigger: (coprolite)
I've had a blood clot for the last 3 weeks. That little bugger would explain the increasing pain and swelling.  I couldn't wait any longer, so I stopped at the nearby North Memorial hospital emergency room on my way home from work today.

To fix it, I get to take two different blood thinners for a while. One I get to swallow in pill form, fine. The other I get to inject in my belly twice a day... not nearly fine.  No how. I had them inject the first one for me so I could watch them to learn how it should be done. I got feinty afterwards.

snow.2013-04-18I would make a great opossum. My nervous system tries to shut down at the first sign of trouble. That strategy is a good one if you're opossum, but not so wonderful if you're living the vastly more nuanced and complicated life of a human. I've feinted before during blood draws, and I've gotten close to feinting many times. I'm tactile sensitive and rip tags out of my clothes because I can't tolerate the sensation. I'll have to find the gumption somehow, though. Blood clotting is serious business.  I plan to sit on the bathroom floor to do it.  The cold tile on my legs and cold bathtub on my back will help keep me alert and focused.

(I'm dreading the first injection tomorrow morning.  Ugh.)

While on blood thinners, I will bruise easily. I'm supposed to be very careful to guard against falling down.  To make the situation even more fun, Mother Nature has delivered sleet and snow to us all day today. :/  I'll be skipping work tomorrow so I can avoid the slippery stuff, especially while I'm still stuck on crutches.

For the curious, my prescriptions that I have to get filled tonight are these:
enoxaparin (LOVENOX) 80 mg/0.8 mL SubQ Syringe
warfarin (COUMADIN) 5 mg Oral Tab

I have to stay away from all kinds of over the counter painkillers, including alcohol.  I've been using either whiskey or Nyquil to get to sleep at night this last week.  I'm hoping that the pharmacist tells me that Nyquil is okay to use with these drugs.

Tomorrow, I have to find a clinic with an actual doctor (who can prescribe) that's open on Saturday.  They need to measure my blood serum and adjust the pill dosage to my body.  Either too high or too low a concentration would not serve me well.

mellowtigger: (twitch)
It was just a matter of time (11:20pm last night, to be precise) until a muscle twitch directly affected the bad spot behind my knee. Thankfully, it only lasted about 20 minutes.

All of the progress I made by resting Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, however, is gone. Even after sleeping through the night.

Now it's a waiting game to see how soon my Minnesota Care application gets processed so I get access to health care for this increasingly painful injury. Will I give up and go to a hospital emergency room first? Either way, Minnesota taxpayers end up paying for my care (sorry, folks) but it would be a lot cheaper in a non-emergency setting.

The race is on.

(edit 2:45pm: I measured my left calf circumference and it's up to 44.5 cm now. The swelling is definitely worse.)


Apr. 13th, 2013 07:51 am
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I am not a fan of pain. I won't attend NTEN this morning, unfortunately.

I can't even straighten my leg today, regardless of any weight that I might put on it. The pain kept me awake until sometime after 3am this morning. My muscle injury seems to be much better, nearly healed. A secondary injury, however, keeps getting worse. It started about 4 days after I hurt my leg, and today it is at its worst condition yet. It feels like somebody is reaching behind my leg to jam their finger into the tender area underneath my knee.  Not in the kneecap itself, but in the knee joint area on the back of my leg.

On Monday, I will mail some additional documentation for my Minnesota Care medical application. After I'm approved, I'm definitely scheduling another doctor visit so he can refer me to an MRI clinic to see what's wrong with the soft tissue in my leg. He wanted to do that referral on both of my last visits, but he declined since I have no health insurance.

He wanted me to be off of my cane by today. Funny, funny guy. I may be switching back to crutches instead. It's not his fault, though. He's actually been quite thorough for a patient with no money. He has spent plenty of time feeling behind my knee to make sure he could account for tendon and ligament placement without noticing any unusual lumps where broken fibers might have curled up. I feel that he has been quite competent. I'm just poor in America is the only problem.

What a boring blog this has become of late, just me complaining about my leg. I'll try to find something more interesting to capture my attention and share. :)
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I've reached three milestones, sort of.

1) The weather here has been quite warm lately (read: mostly above freezing) only small patches of snow are still left on the landscape.  We have forecast for some snow on Thursday, but at least it will be sure to melt away quickly.

2) I had a muscle cramp last night around 10pm.  It was the first cramp in over a year of good luck. I'm somewhat bummed about it.  Luckily it was in my right foot instead of my left foot where it could have aggravated my injured leg. I got up early today so I can drive out to the Autism Society Of Minnesota and make sure I get registered for the annual autism conference in 2 weeks.  I want to visit other adults on the spectrum and ask which local neurologists they've used before.  I want to find a specialist that doesn't treat me like a hypochondriac when I report symptoms.  I mailed my Minnesota Care application yesterday.  We'll see how long the bureaucracy takes to get me into a program.

3) The local gay library, Quatrefoil, is moving to a new location.  The new development will also be providing housing for low-income, elderly GLBT folk.  I emailed my information to them (in a pdf linked to by Quatrefoil for their followers) so they should contact me about my possible eligibility when units open up.  If I qualify, it would be an awesome place to call "home" for the rest of my life.  It would mean commitment to continue working in the Twin Cities too, but I think it would be worth it to be part of that new little enclave.

The seasons are changing.  Into what, I don't yet know, but it seems worthwhile to keep looking forward.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I had another visit with the local doctor today.  I'm making progress.  He wants to wean me off of the cane this week so that tissue doesn't tighten up through lack of use.  I'm not as convinced that my leg is ready.

I can tell that the muscle is still slightly swollen.  I measure my calves, and the left shows 43cm while the right is just over 42cm.  Not much difference, but it's still there.  I have almost full range of motion of my calf again, which is good news.  Using my leg, though, causes a persistent pain underneath my knee, like somebody is pushing their thumb into the tender area there.  I'm skeptical of walking full-time, but I'll try more navigation without a cane this weekend.

Once again, lack of health insurance means "making do" with less.  As on the first visit, his inclination was to send me for an MRI to see exactly what was wrong with my soft tissue.  Since I can't pay for such services, though, he gave me some rubber straps that I can use at home for strengthening exercises.  He didn't schedule a third visit, leaving that to me to decide later.

He reminded me again that at some point I will feel normal, but I should be wary of stressing the muscle fibers too soon.  They could easily tear again if I go bicycling as soon as the weather is warm.


mellowtigger: (brain)
I already knew that there was a loose connection between autism and multiple sclerosis.  I gave up investigating that connection a year ago when I thought my health problems were related only to B12 absorption, cured by ridding my body of an unhelpful gut infection. My recent muscle injury while walking (a common multiple sclerosis complaint) has changed my mind. I am revisiting the issue... and it's fascinating.

Nerve cells require myelin insulation for them to propagate a signal correctly. This insulation is NOT built by the nerve cell itself as I once assumed, but is instead built externally by glial cells (helper brain cells) called oligodendrocytes. There is some evidence of glial abnormalities among autistics, but the main link with multiple sclerosis may involve myelin antibodies.

Normally, a body shouldn't reject myelin as foreign material, but there is ample evidence that some autistics develop antibodies to myelin anyway. I repeatedly find recent studies (such as these from 2010 and 2011) that note prominent differences in these antibody levels between autistics and neurotypicals. Researchers are investigating possible factors such as serotonin and vitamin D, which also lead me back to ideas about membrane permeability in the brain and gut.

I'm rethinking multiple sclerosis as a self diagnosis. I'm rethinking Primal Diet as a helpful change for myself.

I may drop by the office of the local Autism Society of Minnesota to ask if they know any neurologists who are familiar with autism. I think I might like to pursue my health issues with doctors again, but only if I can avoid the ones I've dealt with previously. Of course, I'll have to sign up for taxpayer-subsidized Minnesota Care again, since I have no money of my own to spend on this stuff, even though an actual solution would help keep me employed for many years to come.

Edit (2013.04.08):  Well, I had a muscle cramp tonight around 10pm, breaking my year-long streak without them.  At least it was in my right foot and not my left (where it might have aggravated my injured leg muscles).

mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
It's been a week since my injury.  I'm still hobbling around.

I started my recovery last Saturday with crutches. I can cover a lot of ground quickly with crutches, but their main downside is that I cannot carry anything else. I was using my backpacking water container to sling the strap around my neck and carry drinking water while I traveled inside the house with crutches. For crutches to be really useful, somebody needs to invent a kind of baby carry harness modified to hold generic items on the chest instead of an infant.

Luckily, a roommate had a spare cane available, so I've been using it ever since. I can carry water or food in my right hand while using a cane in my left hand. A cane makes for slower travel, but I am much more maneuverable indoors with a cane. I can travel from point A to point B even without a cane, but using a cane ensures that I will move without continuously injuring my leg muscle.

The good news is that my injury is only a muscle tear, not damage to tendon or ligament. That difference should improve my healing time. It's also good that it happened after the packed ice melted from sidewalks everywhere, so I have fewer hazards to overcome outdoors. We still have lots of snow in the yard, but the weather here is warming up to the point that we've even had a few nights above freezing. I'm feeling even more cooped up than before.

What's weird about this injury, however, is that the muscle twitches resumed with a vengeance. Previously, twitches would appear in a single position and then continue in that spot persistently for a long time. This time, though, twitches happen all over my lower left leg, jumping position from one moment to the next. That short-term variety has never happened before. I can't imagine why it's connected to this muscle tear.

I have another doctor's appointment in a week. We'll see how the recovery is progressing then.


Mar. 23rd, 2013 06:01 pm
mellowtigger: (twitch)
Well, I'm stuck on crutches for a while.  :(

Three years ago, I attended the Wildlife Rehabilitators Conference here in Minnesota at the main shelter where I work for the Animal Humane Society.  I joined them again today for their weekend conference.  My attendance this year, though, is cut short because I won't be attending tomorrow.  Instead, I expect to stay home so I can nurse a torn ligament in my left leg.

The conference was going well today until our Volunteer department started their own meeting at 1pm in the auditorium nearby.  Their microphone started coming through our speakers too.  I was the only tech staff on site, so I was running around trying to solve the problem.  You'd think I would have snapped a ligament while I was bounding up and down the stairways in a hurry, but no.  After a few phone calls to other staff, I finally just cut power to the speakers in the Wildlife conference so we could continue in peace.  Problem solved.

But I'm a dork; I injure myself just by walking.  I closed a door, pivoted on my left leg, and began taking my first step back to my seat at the conference when *snap/PAIN* happened suddenly.  My first thought was muscle cramp (those used to be common for me), but I soon realized this problem was different.  I sat through the rest of the day fine, then I limped slowly and painfully to my car for the ride home. I discovered that it doesn't hurt nearly as bad if my left foot stays far in front of me at all times, preventing me from flexing my foot and stretching my calf muscle.  My movement was more like a zombie shuffle than a walking gait.

Anyway, I have some new crutches now, so I am more easily mobile again.  Reading online about torn ligaments, I find suggestions for rest, ice, and vitamin B12 (my old friend). I have already finished a pdf for my most recent federal taxes, so I plan to take a copy to a nearby doctor's office that does sliding scale payments for the poor.  I'll see if they recommend anything different to help speed my recovery.


and now B9

Feb. 13th, 2013 09:58 am
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I heard part of the NPR story about folic acid cutting autism risk by 40%.  I searched online and found a lot of associations between folate and issues that I blog about regularly such as epigenetics, demyelination, effects on brain areas specifically associated with autism, and most importantly... low energy levels.

For now, I'll just say that I will finish my bottle of vitamin D supplements next week, and I will replace it with vitamin B9 instead.  There are upper limits on safety of folic acid (the common artificial form of folate), so I won't go with mega-doses of it.  B9 needs to be kept in near proportion to the other B-complex vitamins to be useful, so I'll continue with my multivitamin too.  My regimen now includes multivitamin, B12, and B9.

I'm amused that my body may have already known about a B9 problem.  I prepare few recipes regularly, but one of them is my homemade spinach dip.  Spinach apparently is exceeded in folate density only by beef liver.  I can't afford premade spinach dips or those expensive packets of flavor powders, so I experimented to make my own.  Here's the recipe that I have used for years.

Spinach Dip
1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted but still chilled (squeeze out all of the extra water)
1 package 16 ounce sour cream (low-fat version will work but tastes slightly less flavorful)
1 package water chestnuts (diced to small cubes)
1 T garlic powder (or more, depending on your taste)
1 T onion salt (or more, if you can safely have that much salt)

Mix the sour cream and spices, then the water chestnuts, then the spinach. Make sure all of the spinach is coated with sour cream.  Chill again when you're done.  I usually pack the mixture back into the sour cream container (as much as will fit) to store in the refridgerator, then pig out immediately with corn chips on what's left over in the bowl.  Yummy, cheap, and easy!
mellowtigger: (twitch)
Oh, I missed the date! I was intending to celebrate my metronidazole prescription on January 9th.

My health has improved a lot during the past year since this potent drug ended my decade-long infection by unknown critters, although I suspect it was amoebas since I ingested various bacterial antibiotics during the last decade and they had no effect on this infection.  Regardless, I clearly do not have Multiple Sclerosis, as I previously thought because my nerve damage progression over the years matched that of MS.  I'm still waiting for my general energy to get back to earlier levels.  I'm still taking mega-doses of B12 to encourage remyelination of my damaged nerve sheaths.  So far, it seems to be working great.
  • The muscle cramps haven't happened in so long, I can't even remember when the last one occurred.
  • The muscle twitches still exist, but they are greatly reduced in size, duration, and frequency.
  • I haven't nearly-tripped in ages while walking on flat surface.
I don't normally curse, since some words retain their importance only when used sparingly.  I am happy to take this opportunity, however, to give a very deep and heartfelt FUCK YOU to the following doctors:
  • The gastroenterologist ten years ago who joked "That's a lot of shit!" (and tried to argue with me that I couldn't possibly be autistic because I can speak normally) after receiving the test results when I shit into a plastic bottle for 3 days straight and the test results showed that it was basically all water with no "formation".  He never gave me any diagnosis, and nothing ever got solved.
  • The generalist who told me, "No, I wouldn't even know where to arrange such a very old test" after I went to him with a specific test from a CDC webpage that I wanted performed because it would have told me specifically that my problem was B12 absorption, therefore excluding multiple sclerosis as the likely cause of my progressing nerve damage.  He also told me "No, I don't like to give B12 injection to people just because they want an energy boost", when I asked for that too.  He said my serum B12 hadn't yet reached the clinical definition of low B12 (although it was close), so I didn't really need the B12 yet.
  • The neurologist who told me "Come back when you're falling down" because the nerve damage hadn't yet reached a point of irreversible damage and disability.
My thanks to the gastroenterologist who gave me the potent and toxic metronidazole as an afterthought.  It cured the infection that nobody else could identify.  I'm finally getting better instead of worse.


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