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!
Glad you’re on the mend Robyn! I used to have stomach problems, reflux, etc, and did the helicobacter test which was positive. After taking the course of antibiotics which made me feel faint every time, I felt slightly better, but only lasted a few months, then it all came back! Then I decided to go to a nutritionist who put me on a gluten free diet and a few days later I felt a change for the better and a lot of other small health problems seemed to resolve too…
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The more I read, the more I become convinced these researchers might be onto something. I stocked up on my Yakult today. I might see a nutritionist after I’ve had my next round of doctor trips.
We are what we eat, maybe more so than we think.
In my experience, it was 3 weeks, too. When I said that to my Endocrinologist, she told me that 3 weeks was “exactly by the book”, though it took longer for some people.
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Nice to be text book for something for once! 🙂
Glad you’re on the mend/feeling better. Here’s hoping you keep improving. Nothing worse than not knowing what the matter is.
When I had helicobacter pylori I told the specialist that I was eating yoghurt and yakult to which he floored me with “I don’t think you should be taking that. I don’t trust these foreign bacteria”, referring to the added bacteria in yoghurt and yakult. I was left with a nagging doubt about his ability as a gastroenterologist.
I had to take a breath test too, but after to see if the helicobacter was gone. This is in the 90s. The Helidac Treatment I got which consisted of three medications, one of them was Bismuth which turned my mouth all black inside and nearly gave me a heart attack when I first opened my mouth to wash my teeth. The three medications which were the most potent in use in those days (17 tablets a day for two weeks) made me sicker than the actual bacteria and it really wrecked my stomach. I get severe reflux up to today, some days worse than others, although I have periods when I am free of reflux. Maybe that is what has caused my painful thighs. Must see my quack soon as I haven’t been in 12 months. Don’t need Tony Abbott to keep me away from the quack, very good at doing it all on my own.
Hope you take it easy and not push yourself too much.
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I don’t have the helicobacter – been tested for that umpteen times over the years (history of stomach ulcers). From your description of your experience, very glad I didn’t! How horrible!
The breath test is really an elimination test in my case. I think my thyroid was confusing the issue by causing gastrointestinal symptoms as well, but Dr wants to be sure he doesn’t overlook anything.
My painful right thigh was frayed and inflammed tendons. Common in people my age, he said! I’m over hearing that sentence! 🙂
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