Category Archives: Health

Miserable

I had a headache most of yesterday, but it was mostly tolerable until last night. My headache intensified and I ended up going to bed at about 6:30 last night. I hate having headaches, but usually they are manageable. Last night’s wasn’t. I hope today is better.


I Hate Snow!

Early yesterday morning before I got ready for work, I went out to shovel the snow off my deck and the steps. Everything went fine clearing off the deck, but as I was cleaning the steps, I took one step down and there must have been a patch of ice underneath the snow because I lost my footing and fell down the stairs. I am bruised and sore all down the right side of my body. Needless to say, I was moving kind of slow yesterday, and as the day went on, I became more and more sore. I suspect I will wake up even more sore today. Sadly, it snowed more last night, so I have even more snow I need to clear off. Shoveling snow is a never ending chore this time of year in Vermont.

I love looking at snow and watching it drift down when it’s those big fluffy flakes, but I hate shoveling it off my porch and cleaning it off my car. It can be backbreaking work sometimes.


Headache

I had a really bad migraine last night. It was one of the worst I’ve had in a while. I wasn’t up for writing anything for today.


A Bit of Hope 🤞

I mentioned the results of my sleep study in Friday’s post. Sleep specialists use the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), a scale that tells whether you have sleep apnea and how serious it is. When I was given the results by the doctor who read the sleep study, she gave me the score based on the criteria set by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

Late Friday afternoon, my sleep medicine provider called me to discuss my results. She explained to me that there are actually two scales used. The one the doctor had sent me a message about was the one determined by the AASM, which is accepted by most insurance companies, and according to that scale, I am above the limit for the Inspire therapy implant. However, there is a second scale used by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). This is the scale used by Medicare and Medicaid to determine AHI.

I know all of this may sound technical, God knows it does for me. But the important thing my sleep medicine provider told me was that according to the AHI scale used by CMS, I qualify for the Inspire therapy implant. In other words, if I had Medicare or Medicaid, I’d qualify, but most other insurances don’t recognize the CMS AHI as a valid criteria.

Now, just because my insurance Cigna doesn’t normally recognize the CMS AHI score doesn’t mean they can’t be convinced otherwise. So, because I meet all of the other criteria, especially intolerance for the CPAP, she is referring me to the ENT specialist that does consultations for the Inspire therapy at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital. She believes there may still be some hope.

The ENT would still have to do an endoscopy to see if my throat is round enough to meet the last criteria. I will have to consult with the ENT though before she will agree to go forward with qualifications for the procedure and getting it approved by Cigna. I suspect, I will not be able to see the ENT until the new year, but I’m hoping to hear from her office at some point this week.

Fingers crossed!

Quick Update: The ENT doctor’s office called and I have a consultation on Jan. 10.


Painting and Exhibits

I took a sick day yesterday and stayed home. We are getting the museum ready to install a new exhibit, so we have someone there painting the gallery where the new exhibit is going. Normally, it doesn’t bother me too much, but he’s also painting the two offices on either side of me and the hallway outside my office. (My office did not need to be painted, for which I am very thankful.) With that being said, the paint fumes got to me on Tuesday and caused me to have a headache and get a bit nauseated. Even though I kept the door shut to my office, I do occasionally have to leave my office, so I could not completely avoid the paint fumes. When I woke up yesterday with a bad headache and still slightly nauseated, I just called in sick and stayed home. I knew it would get worse if I’d gone into work.

The new exhibit will be interesting. I usually only help when needed for exhibits, but because our exhibits person left and the new one does not start until January 3, I have been the one who has mostly curated this exhibit. With some help from my colleagues, I chose what paintings and objects we would use. I have also designed the exhibit layout. I hope it all comes together as I have it planned. Most of the times, exhibits are planned, but for various reasons things change here and there. Rarely do they look like what they were originally envisioned to be. I don’t think that will be the case with this one. It’s largely my vision, so I hope I get to implement it the way I want. Technically, it’s going to be two exhibits in one gallery, something else that was my idea. One of the exhibit and a small part of the other correspond to my dissertation research. I am excited to put that research to good use. I’ll even be presenting a lecture on part of my research in February.

If all of this comes together as planned and is not changed by my coworkers, then I’ll be taking pictures of it and creating a portfolio of my work. I need to do that anyway with the classes I’ve taught for the museum and the public programs I have organized. Now, I can add exhibit preparation to my skill set.

By the way, our painter is nowhere near as cute as the one above. He’s a nice guy, but he’s not much to look at.


Sleep

Wednesday night, I had a new sleep study done. This time, instead of a home sleep study, I had to go down to New Hampshire for an in-clinic sleep study. The in-clinic sleep studies are more accurate. When I did the home sleep study, my sleep apnea was pretty severe, but with weight loss, I was hoping to improve enough to qualify for the Inspire implant that treats sleep apnea instead of wearing a CPAP every night. Because of the nerve damage that resulted in me having trigeminal neuralgia, it is very difficult and painful to wear the CPAP at night.

To qualify for the Inspire therapy, you have to prove that the you cannot use the CPAP, which was difficult to convince the Sleep Clinic of in the first place. I had to get my neurologist from the Headache Clinic to contact them. Finally, the Sleep Clinic understood the pain the CPAP caused and ordered a new sleep study to see if my sleep apnea had improved enough to qualify for the Inspire therapy. It had to improve enough to be considered moderate sleep apnea not severe.

Have any of you ever had a sleep study? The home sleep study was bad enough. It involved straps around my abdomen and chest, an oxygen tube in my nose, and a small machine strapped to me. However, at least I was able to sleep in my own bed. The in-clinic sleep study was much more elaborate. I was hooked up to about a dozen electrodes from my calves to the top of my head, tight straps around my abdomen and chest, and a censor in my nose that was taped to my face. In addition, the bed was very firm, which I hate, I had a camera on me all night long with people watching me, and only two flat pillows under my head.

I was able to sleep fitfully through the night, but it was not a restful night of sleep, not because of the sleep apnea as much as the very uncomfortable situation and bed. The woman administering the test was very nice. We chatted for quite a bit as she hooked me up to the equipment and then as she unhooked me in the morning. When I looked in the mirror I had red marks and goo all over my face and in my hair. The sleep study is now over, and I have to wait a week to see what the results will be. The whole thing is very anxiety inducing.

I asked the woman who administered the test if she could tell me anything about the results, but she couldn’t. She knows the answer but can’t tell me because only a doctor is allowed to do that because it would be giving a diagnosis. All she could tell me was that my test went pretty flawlessly. I slept on my back and side like they wanted, I reached REM sleep, and I slept the required length of time. I suspect by the way she discussed things with me (her tone and actions), my sleep apnea is still too severe to qualify for Inspire, but I won’t know for sure until I hear from the doctor about the results. Wish me luck, but I refuse to be optimistic. I don’t want to get my hopes up, just in case they are dashed after the results.


TGIF

Today is supposed to be a rather messy weather day. I wish I could stay in and just curl up on the couch and watch television, but alas, I have an appointment at the Headache Clinic this morning. I’ll have to be very careful driving down there. The National Weather Service issued the following warning (edited for brevity and clarity):

From 1 pm today to 1 pm Saturday, snow is expected with a total accumulations of 3 to 7 inches and wind gusts as high as 35 mph. The mix of snow and rain is expected develop this morning before transitioning to all snow in the afternoon and continuing through tonight. The snow is expected to taper off Saturday morning. It is advised that drivers slow down and use caution while traveling and allow extra time if travel is necessary.

My travel this morning is necessary. This appointment is my quarterly Botox treatment for my migraines. I am so grateful for these treatments as it seems to be working, but they are a pain, literally. If my headaches had not been increasing over the last two weeks, I might attempt to postpone my appointment, but I feel that this is something that cannot wait. As I wrote this last night, I had a bad headache. With the increased frequency and intensity over the past two weeks, I desperately need some relief.

On a totally different note, my Thanksgiving meal turned out pretty well, especially the cornbread dressing and the dessert I made. Here’s the recipe for the dessert I came up with (I haven’t thought of a name for it yet. Any suggestions?):

Ingredients

  • 12 oz bag of cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple (cored, peeled, and diced)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple
  • 2 oz. good vodka (I prefer Grey Goose)
  • 4 Philadelphia Cheesecake Crumbles
  • 1 can whipped cream (or make your own)

Preparation Steps

  1. Empty a 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries into a saucepan.
  2. Add 1 cup sugar, 1 strip orange or lemon zest and 1/2 cup water to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.
  4. With 5 minutes left, add diced apples and pineapple and stir to combine.
  5. Add 2 oz. vodka and cool to room temperature.
  6. According to what consistency you would like the cranberry mixture, either leave as is or place in a food processor or blender and pulse to your desired consistency.
  7. Divide the mixture between 4 parfait glasses (or I used martini glasses). Top with one package of cheesecake, spreading evenly over cranberry mixture.
  8. Top with graham cracker crumbles and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  9. Just before serving, top with whipped cream.

A Perfect Storm

Combine stress, rain, and that it’s nearly time for another Botox treatment and you have the perfect storm for intense bouts of pain from my trigeminal neuralgia and migraines. I had to leave work early the past two days. I’d consider calling in sick today, but I’m the only one available to work. However, I’m hoping today will be better. I’m supposed to go to dinner with friends tonight, and I really don’t want to miss that. I haven’t been able to spend time with these two ladies in months, and I’ve really missed them. Here’s to praying that my headache is better today.


Headache

When I went to write this last night, I still had a headache. This one has lasted since I had my COVID booster around 1 pm on Sunday. I’m hoping it will end soon. It looks like all of the other side effects have subsided. Anyway, I didn’t feel like writing much for today.


Boosted, Part II 💉💉

This Pfizer COVID vaccine booster has kicked my ass for the past two days. I developed a headache that continued to worsen from the time I got the shot. I had hoped all I’d have was a bad headache, but roughly 24 hours after I received my booster shot, I developed body aches, joint pain, fatigue, chills, and a fever. The fever only lasted a few hours, but I was miserable Monday afternoon. The side effects lasted for roughly 24 hours and then began to subside, all except the headache. I still had the headache when I went to bed last night, although it could have had as much to do with the nor’easter over the Northeast as the booster shot.

When I had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, I only had a sore arm. With the second dose, I had pretty bad body aches that lasted roughly 24 hours. This booster was a doozy. I say all of this because I’ve been out of commission and out of work for the past two days. Also, this was my experience and does not represent what most people seem to be experiencing. My friend Susan had no effects at all. Her arm wasn’t even sore. My arm has been sore and there is a dime sized bruise around the injection site (when I received the shot I barely felt it). I was also told by one of my healthcare providers that she had not heard of anyone having an adverse reaction to the booster shot. I only know of one person who’s had a reaction besides me.

If you’re eligible, I’d say to please get your booster. If you have not received a vaccine at all, please do so. We need this pandemic to end, and it will only end if we all get vaccinated.