Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Guinea Pig Me!

I am now a participant in a research study on a new med for Fibromyalgia, called Reboxetine. It’s supposed to help not only with the pain, but also primarily with energy, FibroFog, and even sleep. I’m excited about both the med and the chance to be able to help other with Fibro by being a part of the study. I have a 75% chance of getting the real deal rather than a placebo.

I finally had my first appointment today with OHSU, whom I’m doing the study through. The snow and ice kept causing my appointment to be postponed and today was the last possible day to join, so I’m happy it worked out. I was there three hours, full of paperwork, lab tests, and a physical exam. Besides the appointments, I’ll have to phone in every day and enter a pain level number for the day.

During the exam, this doctor had me assign a pain level number to each pressure point. o_0 I hate having to pick a number and here I am signing up for 17 weeks of it, ha. As the doctor pushed on the first place on my back, I took a deep breath and said, “Five.” The doctor, standing behind me, commented (in his charming English accent), “You aren’t very remonstrative, are you? Most people say, ‘ouch!’ or cry out.” He didn’t get a gasp from me until a spot where the pain was 8. :-p

I guess I just don’t show my pain much. I’ve always wondered why people around me don’t seem to respond with “are you okay?” or such more often when I’m in a lot of pain. But even my family says they have a hard time telling how much pain I’m in. I guess I have a more internal reaction and hold my breath through severe pain.

One of the routine tests they did today was an ECG. For a while now I’ve been having heart palpitations and thought something seemed a little off, but my doctors just dismissed it so this is the first time anyone has ever tested my heart. Whaddya know, I was right! Turns out I do have an irregular heart beat, though that usually doesn’t cause problems. However, the test also showed a possibility of an enlargement of my right atrial. He said something about it being connected to my Raynaud’s*, but I’ve never heard of Raynaud’s affecting the heart, so I’ll have to find out more about that. I’m going in to my new primary care doctor in two weeks, and they should do an echogram.

I’m excited about being seen by this research doctor who not only is familiar with Fibro but has done extensive research on it. I’m hoping my new regular doctor will be good, too.

*Raynaud’s is a circulation problem in the extremities--mostly the hands. Blood vessels overreact to cold and constrict too much. Typically it only causes minor discomfort and slightly slower healing in that area.

Monday, December 15, 2008

And the wall came a tumblin' down!

The first term of this year is over and I made it through! Health-wise it was a difficult journey, many days finding me in tears because I was so tired or in so much pain with still too much homework to do. One weekend I went on a short hike with my HomeschoolAlumni.org friends and about landed myself in the urgent care from the pain. Then for about three weeks in the middle of the term I got hit with bad FibroFog (kinda hard to interpret when you can’t remember a word for more than 0.1 second…, and hard to get around when you’re not quite sure what one is suppose to do with the elevator buttons, much less what floor you’re on ;-p ).

BUT! God is so faithful and gave me just enough strength to get through. Thanks for all your prayers. My family and friends were encouraging (and sister-in-Christ classmate Breezy was always ready with a helpful “Amy, you won’t go to hell if you don’t finish your homework.”). My tutor has been so patient, too--he’s a huge part of the reason I’ve made it this far.

As many of you know, I’ve been struggling with my interpreting skills for a few years now. Because of my vision-related learning disabilities and my Fibro, it’s often seemed foolish to keep pushing on against what felt like an unmovable wall. I added a year to the program and voluntarily repeated a few classes in hopes that it would help, but last year it didn’t seem to have made that much difference. Yet I still felt God telling me to keep walking. So I did…just kept marching in silly circles around that Jericho wall, staring at those solid stones, knowing only God could knock them down, and trusting that somehow He would.

And He did!

The end of last term and over the summer I started seeing little cracks in that wall. This year it’s come a tumbling down! My health issues have still been big chunks of rock littering my path, but my interpreting skills have grown in leaps and bounds. Last month we took our first try at the big Qualifying Exam. Most people don’t pass it the first time and I passed the voice part and was fairly close to passing the signing part. I didn’t qualify for the internship yet, but I’m so happy with my score and am confident that I can pass the next one. Just today I got my grades back from all my classes this term and I got all Bs and As. For me that’s particularly amazing.
Now I’ve got three blessed weeks off. I’ll be spending them continuing to practice interpreting, working a little, resting a lot, and finally writing! I’ve so missed writing this term. I’ll be wrapping up the last few details of the latest Peculiar People book, Delivered, and then hopefully getting back to the Heirloom Chronicles.

This month I’m also joining a study at OHSU for a new med for Fibromyalgia. It’s suppose to help with both pain and the FibroFog, so I’m excited about it and am praying I’ll get the real med and not a placebo. I was suppose to have my initial four-hour-long appointment today, but icy roads nixed that plan. Hopefully the roads will clear up sooner than the weather people think, as the longer I wait for my appointment, the longer I’m off pain meds. My family is suppose to head to the beach on Friday, too, and right now the pass is pretty much impassible. At least the snow is pretty on the foothills!