Monthly Archives: September 2011

90 Year Old Syndrome?

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As you are aware, the previous three posts have all been in regards to my joint and overall body issues, particularly the flare ups I’ve been having in my SI joints (located in your hips). Anyway, my appointment with the Rheumatologist went well and if you’re interested in the tests being done you can read about it here. I’m going to spend a few moments discussing medications. My orthopedist and general doctor had me on Flexeral for a good chunk of time.

Flexeral is a muscle relaxant. While I appreciated the ability to fall asleep in a matter of seconds after I took it, it wasn’t helping with anything. What made it worse was that if I didn’t get to wake up naturally (aka I ALWAYS wake up to an alarm or to Andrew waking me up), it made me a well, bitch. There is really no other word for it. I would wake up in an angry, pissy mood, and nothing or no one could help improve that situation. At first, I thought perhaps I was being a bitch because I was hungry? But no, that didn’t help at all. Only after I had slept for a long period of time did I come back to my “normal” state.

Then there was Percoset. Percoset is a narcotic. You would think it would help, right? Wrong. Percoset did not do anything. I took two at a time and again, while it helped me sleep, it didn’t help with the pain. It simply masked it until the morning. Upside: no bitchy Meghan. Downside: very very sleepy Meghan. Percoset is easy to become addicted to and after going through some of those issues with Percoset and Vicodin and Oxycontin as a result of ankle surgery, I don’t want to go through it again (don’t mistake me, I was never really an addict, it’s just that once I stopped taking them, my body would feel like my skin was crawling). Better not to test it. If it’s not helping at all, why keep taking it?
After seeing my Rheumatologist on Monday, he prescribed Meloxicam for me. Meloxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID for short). It’s used to help with pain, tenderness, stiffness, and swelling caused by a variety of things. It has a decent list of nasty side effects, including heartburn, which is why I was told to also buy some Prilosec. The doc told me that I should take the Meloxicam and have the tests done and then come back in once all the results were put together so we could discuss next steps. Fair enough. So, I left and went about my day. Well over the proceeding two days, the pain that I experienced was indescribable. I don’t know what it was; the medicine (I doubt it), the fear of having dye injected for my MRIs (probably not), or just a really bad flare up (YES!) but I was miserable. Absolutely miserable. So, on Wednesday, I called my Rheumatologist and explained that the best way to describe was by saying when I try to stand up, I feel like a 90 year old; knees and ankles in pain and swollen, my hips felt like knives were in them, and my lower back and SI area— hurt so bad it took me a few seconds until I could stand up straight. Not. Good.
I knew that the Meloxicam would need to build up in my body, but I asked if there was anything else he could suggest that would be ok to take with the Meloxicam. I was thinking he’d tell me ibprofen or something like that. No such luck. He prescribed a short course of Prednisone.
Prednisone is a steroid used to help with inflammation. It has horrendous side effects including fat face (moon face), weight gain, congestive heart failure, and shortness of breath. Seriously, check out this list of side effects. Anyway, lucky for me it was just a short course. I wasn’t thrilled about it but I asked him what he thought; he said that the short course would help us figure out if it is inflammation.
I have been on prednisone for a day. The first day you take 6 pills throughout the day, the second day, 5; and so on and so forth until the 6th day with one. While I have no experienced any side effects (nock on wood; fingers crossed) and while the pain isn’t completely gone, I feel like this is actually helping. I do not feel anywhere near as bad as I did on Tuesday when I walked onto the metro train and fell into Andrew, crying because I hurt so bad. My mood has actually been better today. So, here’s hoping that I keep NOT experiencing side effects and I keep experiencing increased pain relief!
So, that’s my recap of drugs that I’ve been on so far for my body aches. Hopefully we’re headed in a good direction; I am staying optimistic!
My question to you all is have you ever spent a lot of time trying to get a diagnosis? Have you had to go through a variety of medications? Did you ever find one that helped you out?

It’s Apple Season, Y’All!

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Andrew and I are going apple picking this weekend at Marker Miller Orchard. It’s pretty far away from our apartment, but we like it for two reasons; 1) it is near to where Bridget moved, so we may get to see her (!) and 2) they allow dogs (yay for canine friends).

In light of our trip to apple land, I wanted to share a few recipes that I think sound delicious and could be potential recipes that I will make in the upcoming weeks… feel free to share your ideas too! I’m always willing to try new things out :0)

 

Dried Apples: Simple and Delicious This recipe is as simple as it sounds. You basically core fresh apples, slice them thinly and bake them at 200 degrees on a lightly greased pan for 2-3 hours. YUM!

Roasted Apple and Cheddar Salad This recipe is a “healthy” one; ie, it’s salad. But the dressing sounds very similar to one that Andrew’s mom uses and has shared the recipe with me for… it’s dijon mustard, olive oil, salt, and pepper with some added twists; apple juice, honey, and red wine vinegar. Mmmm!

Baked Apple Cider Donuts  DELICIOUS! I love apple cider donuts and here’s a recipe to make them baked! Yes, it calls for a donut pan, but who wouldn’t want an excuse to buy a donut pan!?!

Ok, that’s all I’ll share for now. Hopefully we’ll do some cooking/baking this weekend and I’ll have pictures and posts and full recipes to share!

Things That Go Bump in the Night

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As a recap to my travel post here, I have now completed my recent work travel binge because of Recovery Act oversight dollars. Between July 15th, 2011 and September 26, 2011, I have traveled approximately 23, 100 miles. I have spent at least one night in 16 states. Eeks!

But onto other things… this morning I had my appointment with the Rheumatologist. He was super friendly and listened to me as I recounted my stories and sagas of aches and pains and creeks and cracks. I always feel bad complaining to doctors, but I guess that’s the point, right? Anyway, he moved a bunch of my joints and asked a bazillion questions and reviewed my SI joint xrays and then excused himself from the room.

He returned a little while later to tell me that it appears that I have at least sacroiliitis. It basically means inflamed SI joints. This could be tied to a variety of other issues including auto-immune diseases, issues with my spine, etc. So, he prescribed an anti-inflammatory that he says will be better than Nabumetone (one I was on before). This one is something with an M… can’t think of the name right now. He also told me I was to get xrays of my knees, MRIs of my hips and spine/lower back, and then bloodwork to see if it is an auto-immune issue.

I got my xrays and my bloodwork done at the office. I passed out from giving blood, per usual. I’m not sure what my issue is, but I just pass out… the nurse was super nice and helped me come back to with some smelling salts. Yay! Anyway, at least I have a portion of an answer– yayyy Rheumatologists!

So now it’s on to bigger and better things— and I’ll be back to go over all my test results in two weeks. For now I’m off to go home and make some dinner, do some work, and hang out with Andrew and Franklin. Perfect evening!

What Do Doctors Really Know?

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Do you ever feel like you go to the doctor’s office only to walk out 45mins later even more confused than when you first walked in? Recently, I’ve experienced this first-hand. I went to see an orthopedist for pain in a pain in my butt. No, really. I’ve been getting a super sharp pain on the right side of my tailbone. It is especially increased after I exercise or walk for more than 1/2 mile or run at all… It’s been coming and going over the past 6 months or so– but the past month has been horrific. It is always sore. There are days when I can hardly walk. My orthopedist had me do some tests and told me it was an issue with my SI joint. The SI joint is located in your pelvis…

He prescribed Physical Therapy and X-rays. My visit to the PT was alright; people were super friendly and told me my leg was dislocated and had to be popped back in.. whatever that means. So we took care of that and then I proceeded to work on some exercises and stretches, followed by 15minutes of electro-shock therapy coupled with massive heating pad. Great. fine. whatever. Although the stretching felt great, it did nothing. I went back to my ortho and he told me that it was weird because my SI joint resembled one of an old woman who has popped out a few kids. Thanks for that, ortho-man. That’s all he said. He followed it up with, “here’s a prescription for percoset. Take 2 at a time and let’s see you back in 2 weeks.” Fine. I continued with PT twice a week and nothing changed. The percoset didn’t do anything and were a big waste of time.

This morning I went back and the orthopedist told me hmmmm still have pain, eh? Ummm, yes. I didn’t just make it up and I’ve been having it for 6 months, did you really think percoset and a pat on the back from you would fix it? He told me that I needed to see a Rheumotologist because they would better be able to tell me what was going on. So, $75 later (thank god my copay is only $25/pop) + $200 (8 PT sessions) and a month later, I was told to go see another doctor. Isn’t that why I skipped seeing my general doctor to begin with… to cut out pointless appointments? Now I have to wait another 2 weeks for an appointment with the Rheumatologist… but at least I have percoset, right?

This makes me wonder… will the Rheumatologist actually be able to help more or will he suggest that I go see someone else? Doctors aggravate me. Sorry to all you awesome doctors out there ;0)

Update: Traveling the Country and Seeing the Sites

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On August 19th, I decided to sit down and take a look at all the places that I’ve traveled since July 1st of this year. I recently updated this information and details can be found here!

The purpose of this post is to share with you my most recent stats. These stats cover travel between July 1st, 2011 and September 14th, 2011. They do not include things like commuting to work, going to the grocery store, visiting friends in the city, etc. These include travels leaving the 30 mile radius around my home in Alexandria, VA. At the time of this posting, all travel recorded has involved leaving the state but not the country.

In the past 2 months and 13 days, I have:

– traveled more than 20,300 miles (eeks, talk about your carbon footprint…)

– spent at least one night in 15 states

– slept in 17 different beds/ 12 hotels, 5 houses

Join me next week for my trip to Jackson, MS!

Nashville, TN- Who Knew They Even Served Mexican Food?

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Back to my epic travels. I haven’t yet blogged about my adventures in ME, VT, and NH, but I’ll get to that down the line. This past Monday afternoon, I flew off to Nashville, TN for work. I was meeting with folks in the Department of Environment and Conservation. In case you’ve never been to Nashville, here it is…

Anyways, it was a pretty good trip. There weren’t any “site visits” involved per se, but I did get a nice walking tour of the city. I lucked out with my hotel choice, a Courtyard Marriott directly across the street from the state building (hello awesome commute)! It was a very informative discussion about the water quality management program and the nonpoint source program (604b and 319 for you wonks out there). I got to learn about the work they’ve doing and some of the challenges they’ve been facing in regards to dwindling resources, being force to cut staff, and frustrations with “the people of DC” as they put it.

With each additional state that I visit and program that I learn about, it always amazes me at the amount of work that states do, the amount of stress they are put through, and the types of obstacles they encounter. As I become more involved with the 604b program, I really think that these trips well assist me in making it a more directed and worthwhile program… and hopefully, someday, I’ll be able to answer some of those ever-elusive questions that states always pose to the people who are too far down the totem pole to be able to answer.

Between working, the good folks of the Department of Environment and Conservation so graciously “toured” me around downtown Nashville. I got to see a newly revitalized section of downtown that’s been changed into mixed use and made pedestrian-friendly (my grad school smart growth and urban revitalization prof would be so proud). I also walked across a massive pedestrian bridge and checked out the Titan’s NFL stadium… all while the paddle boat (in the picture above) passed underneath us. I also got to walk by CMT and share in the excitement as people cheered for Journey (in concert on Tuesday night… WHY DIDNT I KNOW UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE!??!). My last meal in Nashville was Mexican, yes, Mexican. I didn’t even know they served Mexican in Nashville. They do… and for the people who were born and raised and lived their whole lives in TN, it’s the best Mexican that ever existed.

I like people from TN, they have big ideas, big opinions, and a gentleman’s attitude. It was a quick and dirty 48 hour trip. I’m back in DC now until Sunday. Then it’s off to Jackson, MS.

The Climate Ride

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I know I have quite  a bit of updating to do, but you know, we’ve had earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes to deal with… not to mention the flooding that is Tropical Storm Lee (currently hitting DC in FULL FORCE). Plus, well, I just started grad school part time and quite frankly, I never have time to do anything anymore! I do however, have time to tell you all about an amazing opportunity that Andrew and I are taking advantage of… the Climate Ride!

The Climate Ride (http://www.climateride.org/) is a national non-profit organization that organizes fully supported, charitable bike rides to support sustainable solutions, bike advocacy, and environmental causes. The Climate Ride currently supports two annual rides, one on the west coast and one on the east coast. Andrew and I just signed up for the May 2012 East Coast Ride. This is no ordinary bike ride! We will be biking from New York City down to Washington, DC over a 5-day period in an effort to raise awareness on bike advocacy and environmental causes. Pretty cool, right?

While we pay a small registration fee, we also agree to raise $2400 in order to participate. The money goes to a variety of beneficiaries including groups such as the World Resources Institute Embarq program, Rails to Trails, and our particular team, Team School for Field Studies (SFS)! Andrew and I both participated in a study abroad program in college through SFS in Atenas, Costa Rica. While there we studied natural resources management, sustainability issues, and tropical ecology. We are proud to be a part of Team SFS as we work to raise money on important global issues.

I realize that the economy is rough and you are constantly hit up by someone to donate money to something, but I am asking for your help in supporting this amazing cause; any little bit you can offer would be greatly appreciated! If you break it down, it really isn’t THAT much money! All I need is 100 people to donate $24 or 240 people to donate $10! All you have to do is click here: http://climateride.donordrive.com/participant/mklasic to donate to my fund! I’d really appreciate it and I’ll send you a hand-written thank you note!

Andrew and I will be doing a lot of fundraising in the upcoming months, including the possibility of jarring our own pickles, canning our own salsa, and baking cakeballs in return for donations. I promise that if you donate now, you’ll have your choice of the lot because you were early into the game! So come on, click that little link (http://climateride.donordrive.com/participant/mklasic) and donate some money… plllleeeaaassseee!