This is, as titled, a personal health update for those following the journey I am on to live a normal life and keep working! A little break from politics.
Quick recap. Just before Christmas I started on some medication, Carbimazol, to control my out of control thyroid nodules. Dr Endocrinologist said it would take about two weeks for me to feel better. He was close, it took three weeks. Today is the end of week four. While I struggled over Christmas and learnt a BIG lesson in early January about pacing myself, I’ve managed a week at work feeling pretty normal! I also managed an appearance on the ABC News, relating to the #IveBeenTargeted campaign to save our health system. If you’ve missed those articles, you can catch up from my open letter to Sussan Ley, Minister for Health.
Even last Sunday I wasn’t feeling wonderful and was a little worried about going back to work. The weekend was shopping weekend, but on Saturday I had part one of a Hydrogen/Methane breath test which took until midday, so I did the shopping on Sunday. I wanted to do it myself, to see how I coped with some activity. I have to say I was pretty “blah” when I finished.
Monday I managed the day pretty well, even if I did feel as if I’d started a whole new job! Three weeks away plus the period prior to Christmas when I’d had sick time as well meant I felt a bit out of the loop. I pulled up well and actually felt even better on Tuesday. I am a bit tired tonight, but it is the end of the week! I’m very relieved.
Interestingly, as Dr Rheumatologist indicated may be the case, getting my thyroid under control seems to have reduced the rheumatoid arthritis pains. Getting those very frayed tendons in my right hip zapped with a steroid shot was a pretty good move too.
I’m sleeping better, my hair has stopped falling out, the brain fog has receded, I have more energy and my pain levels are way down. It is all good so far. On reflection, I actually think I felt worse during the first week on the medication than I had previously, but that may not have been the medication, it may have just been the condition itself. To other newly diagnosed people wondering what to expect, my experience may not be your experience, but Dr said two weeks, my experience is three weeks: you know it shouldn’t be months!
I have another round of blood tests coming up (for all three specialists) so it will be interesting to compare this set of results with the December and prior results. That’s the science buff in me coming out!
The hydrogen/methane breath test occurs over three different days. I’ve got three Saturday mornings in a row so I don’t have to take time off work. Very intriguing process. There are some food restrictions the day before and some other restrictions for four weeks prior, such as no antibiotics or probiotic supplements (Yakult is OK though). The test subject fasts from 9 pm the night before and is only allowed water from that point on. Not even any toothpaste in the morning! Brush with water only! Icky. Once at the testing office, one is handed a personalised tube a bit bigger than those on the blood alcohol breathalysers and a base sample is taken. Clearly this video is not me!
Breathe in, hold, then blow into the machine. Then there is a drink which tastes OK but you are warned when leaving it may have a laxative effect (it didn’t for me). After that, six more times breathing into the machine through the personal tube at specified intervals. I finished at noon. Tomorrow and next week are the real tests, results compared to last week’s baseline. We are looking for lactose and fructose intolerance.
Each of the days costs $105, so total test cost $315. No insurance or Medicare cover as the tests are too new, or something.
So that’s my Saturday!
A co-worker found some interesting research too. Arthritis Tied to Gut Bacteria is a very interesting article!
Scientists are increasingly focusing on how gut bacteria influence the immune system. Studies show the rate of autoimmune diseases is rising, and some scientists believe that may be due, in part, to changes in gut bacteria tied to unhealthy diets, the explosion of antibiotic use, and even anti-bacteria products.
Dr Gastroenterologist has me taking Yakult and Inner Health Plus (the latter not while I’m having these breath tests) to balance my gut bacteria, so it may be it isn’t just controlling the thyroid that is improving my rheumatoid arthritis pain, it may be improving my gut bacteria is helping too. I have no way of knowing.
My co-worker is reading up on other research relating to local bacteria which indicates migrants (from anywhere to somewhere else) can suffer illness because they don’t have the local bacteria in their gut. I don’t know much about that yet, but I found our initial discussion very interesting. The advice is, I was told, eat food grown locally if you relocate from one country to another. When I find out more, I’ll share.
So despite the tablets for this and tablets for that, Yakult, Vit. D, Inner Health Plus and water, water and more water, I’m feeling HEAPS better than over Christmas. Let’s hope it continues for a while! The kids, on the other hand, are not so sure they like Mum being back “on the ball”. Back on the ball Mum is perhaps a little more strict that the tired, often resting Mum they’d been getting way too used to!