The date is set….for Tikosyn

Living On Oxygen for Life

The date is confirmed for going to the hospital to try Tikosyn. Sometime during April 26, I enter the hospital and supposedly walk out on the 28th as a new and improved heart patient.

My last stay at the hospital was in 2014 when the PH medicine, Opsumit and my heart medicine, Cordarone (which is what I’m currently getting off from), clashed inside my body causing it to become hyperthyroid. That was no fun.

I documented that hospital stay on my blog and you can find it here: Life’s little emergencies. I’ll try to document this stay as well.

I hope everything goes well in that my body can tolerate Tikosyn without causing me breathing problems. I have a lot to take to the hospital but I’m going to narrow it down to my Bipap and mask, some comfy clothes & toiletries, my phone & iPad and hope I can use both in the hospital room to watch movies and communicate with the world. I’m even thinking about taking a small stash of yarn. you knew that was coming, right?

My heart is starting to act up. I stopped taking Cordarone on March 28 and before that, I was already tapering it down slowly over a 2 1/2 week period. Right now it skips and aches often. I hope it doesn’t feel any worse than this because I still have 13 days to go.

It’s time to go find my Wonder Woman underwear because I feel like I’m going to need a little bravery in the hospital. *fingers crossed*

Hey, just to let you know, I have a Need a Hug afghan ready to give away if you want it. It will go to the first person who emails me at goredrider@gmail.com and tells me their breathing problem diagnosis. It’s totally free to you! Lots of love to you all!!

We bring you a Medical Update…

Living On Oxygen for Life

IMG_3990 Oh the joys of hospital gowns. I never have been given a gown that actually fits. They’re sizes range from Large to Extra Large. Yeah, I asked. A lot of times I can just wrap the gown around my front, back and then to front again to tie it. However, the gown I got today was the kind that had short ties. So no wrap-around action for me and of course the opening had to be in front. What a fashion statement I made today!

Today’s appointment was with my cardiologist who I’ve seen for the past 20+ years. He’s AWESOME! He always asks me how I’m doing, what I’ve been up to, and if I’m still doing whatever it was that I was doing the last time I saw him which was a year ago. After all the pleasantries were out of the way, we started in with my questions. First I asked him what he has diagnosed my cardiac problems to be. His answer was, “Which one?” Haha! We laughed. Nothing with my health problems is ever easy or simple. In fact, my body is very complex. One organ’s problems affects another organ’s problems and etc.. It’s very frustrating because my body doesn’t want to do what doctors seem to think it should do. I think there’s a Murphy’s Law for that somewhere.

My Cardiologist told me that I have Supraventricular Arrythmias as well as Ventricular Arrythmias and when I first went to see him 20+ years ago, I had premature ventricular contractions really badly. Thus, the reason why I’m on Cordarone because it was the only medicine at the time that didn’t cripple my breathing ability. Now that we got that straightened out, I told him what the Cardiac Electrophysiologist (maybe I got that backwards) that my Cardiologist sent me to suggested Tikosyn for my heart problems. You see, I was looking for a replacement for Cordarone. Being on Cordarone is not a very safe thing for my body. It can lead to Thyroid problems as well as scarring of the lungs which is called Pulmonary Fibrosis. Tikosyn is used for both A-fib and my problems. However, after reading about Tikosyn, I felt the risks of taking Tikosyn for my actual cardiac problems were too high to make me comfortable to trying it. Beside, you have to stay in the hospital for 3 days to start Tikosyn. So, my Cardiologist and I are in agreement for me to stay on Cordarone, since I have yet to have any problems relating to Cordarone in 20 years.

Now wait a minute, you say. Don’t the PH doctors think this current thyroid problem that I currently have occurred because of Cordarone? Funny that you asked that because I brought this up with my Cardiologist. I explained what happened when I tried Opsumit for 3 months last year which ended with me being hospitalized for 3 days. I told him how I was diagnosed with Hyperthyroid and that the PH doctors were saying it was only because of me taking Cordarone. They wanted me off of it. I told my Cardiologist the status of my thyroid now that I’m slowly decreasing the thyroid medicine I’m taking. His thoughts are that it could’ve been Opsumit interacting with the Cordarone. It wasn’t technically Cordarone giving me thyroid problems, it could be that Opsumit in conjunction with Cordarone, triggered a thyroid problem in me. It actually makes sense to me!

According to the ECHO I did today, my heart looks good, pressures ok, blood flow is good. Then there is the not-so-good news. My aorta. For some mysterious reason, my aorta measured at 5.1cm. I don’t have high blood pressure. So who knows why this is occurring. Now I have to go get a CT Scan to more accurately measure my ascending aorta. My Cardiologist says that if it gets to 5.5cm, he will want me to go to the hospital where my PH doctors are so that I can get medical intervention. Sounds like some sort of surgery to me. *pout* He said that there are ways to not have to cut me open to put in a stint. I’m not sure if that’s makes me feel more reassured or not. Either way, it’s gonna hurt somehow. haha! I shouldn’t put the cart before the mule, so to speak. Why worry over it too much. I’ll wait to see what the CT Scan says first.

I’m just a little disgusted with not getting a clean bill of health with my heart today. It’s always hard for me when new things pop up unexpectedly with my health. It takes me a couple of days to accept the news and to begin to move forward again. I did show him a copy of my heart cath that I had last December. He thought it looked great! Hooray! Sometimes I feel like my PH doctors are all about doom and gloom. It’s nice to get a little optimism from my cardiologist!

I hope you enjoyed this Medical Update! *wink*

Stay in touch and be well. *HUGS*

Random Picture Day #13

Living On Oxygen for Life

Hello everyone! Wow… time sure does fly quickly. Doesn’t it? Well, I guess it seems kind of slow if you are snowed under. I hope you have sunshine by now. It’s starting to peek out more and more here in Texas. It is amazing how much a little bit of sunshine can change a person’s mood… from rainy-gloomy-cabin-fever blues to rip-the-doors-off-the-house-and-let-me-at-the-glorious-sunshine happiness. This Winter has been a heck of a roller coaster. So, I guess Spring has sprung and all that sweet sunshine has brought our daffodils up and blooming. That is until someone came by and cut and stole them from our front lawn. K was crushed. All that work and now it’s like he has nothing to show for it. The thing is.. he told me that he would have been happy to give them to whomever wanted a few if he’d just ask for them. K would have felt like someone sweet, other than me… of course *wink*, was going to enjoy them and appreciate his effort. But no… someone stole them. I’m a little worried about the tulips that are starting to come up. As you know, daffodils and tulips, make their appearance once a year in the Spring and they are beautiful. Majestic, really, which makes our next outing plans super exciting. It’s a wheelchair adventure with my new camera I got for Christmas! Thank you Santa!

We are going to a place that is GLORIOUSLY filled with tulips, daffodils, and so many more types of flowers. The last time we went to appreciate the flowers was about 5 years ago. Here’s two pictures that I took there.

tulips

cottage

Taking pictures with my Nikon dslr 5200 camera is something I LOVE doing. It’s something that is easy to do while having to use oxygen. It doesn’t take a lot of energy unless I am having to move about a room like at a wedding reception. I like taking candid, spontaneous pictures of people in the moment instead of posed people in a group picture. But nature, by far, is my favorite to photograph. K has really developed an eye for photography. Sometimes my hands are too shaky because I get tired or my oxygen saturation drops and that gets me frustrated because pictures can blur. So, K will drag the tripod around with us if I end up needing it, we’ll have it handy.

So, what am I really like? You read my blog. Do you wonder… what is she really like in person? Here’s a bit of a weird bio.. I’ll try to add a little bio each time I remember!:

  • I have to say that I am pretty goofy.
  • I’m afraid to tell you that I can be a bit cranky or fussy when I’m tired but who isn’t, right?
  • I read a LOT! I should list the books I’m currently reading or at least, the books I’ve read that I think are good. I get most of my books through Amazon and read them on my Kindle app on my cellphone. Did you know that they have a boat load of free books? Just use the filter to look at the LOWEST cost books first. (you’re welcome for that tip!).. Thank you Thomas K., my Scottish friend! *wink*
  • I’ll only eat spinach in a salad. I love it raw/uncooked!
  • I’ve never been to college but I’ve been to a trade school. (Travel Academy)
  • Daisies are my favorite flowers. There’s something about them with their simple, innocent look.
  • I love my wheelchair and it’s driver (aka: my husband)
  • I believe in training a dog with the reward system versus punishment system.
  • To motivate myself in getting things done that I really DON’T want to do is by rewards (no I’m not a dog! *wink*). Those rewards can be ice cream, ice cream, and maybe some more ice cream.. but if I’m out of the ice cream (watch out!) then I’ll take whatever it takes to make me smile and moving with a pep in my step.

 

Now finally, here’s the part you are waiting for… Ready? My health update… YAY!!!: I did some lab work last week because my Endocrinologist asked me to. Instead of my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) being too low, it’s flipped out and gone the other way. Needless to say, since I switched back to Tracleer (bosentan) from Opsumit (macitentan) and started taking Methimazole, it has worked especially well. Unfortunately, it worked too well and I have had to cut back on the Methimazole two weeks ago. I’m thinking that I’ll be off the medicine all together after my next Endocrine appointment at the end of this month. The weird thing is… I asked my Pulmonary Hypertension doctor if they have heard of any other PH patients on Opsumit having the same TSH problems. She said no. That’s why they keep telling me that they think it’s my Cordarone (Amiodarone). Though, Amiodarone, is not a good medicine to be on, it’s the one medicine that I could tolerate when my heart started it’s arrhythmia problems back in 1993. I’ll be going to see my Cardiologist for an Echo and to discuss this more and maybe see what else is out there that can replace Amiodarone. I mean it’s been 20 years. Surely, something better and MUCH more expensive is available by now. Though, Tikosyn was recommended to me as my first option last April but I’m not too thrilled with it. I don’t have A-fib and I’m not ready to subject myself to a new medicine that I’m not at least 75% sure that it’s something that will do more good than harm. I’m just not one of those patients that blindly go where doctors lead me. I read up on everything they suggest.

Stay in touch because I love to hear from you. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram or email: goredrider@gmail.com *HUGS* to you all!

Update about this and that…

Living On Oxygen for Life

I am so excited! I finally finished my Shutterfly Christmas Family photo book and I’m eagerly awaiting for it to come in the mail. I thought it would be here today. I actually had K leave his mailbox key for me so that I can check the mail myself. That’s how excited I am. I don’t check the mail normally. To do so would mean for me to fill up my portable and walk across the street in the rain and freezing cold weather. Don’t call me lazy! I’m preserving my health and conserving my liquid oxygen. And no, I can not walk across the street and back without using my oxygen. Just not safe or wise or logical. Unfortunately, it did NOT show up today. I am sad. I’ll just be that much more excited tomorrow when it BETTER show up! Grrr! Even my Amazon order didn’t show up today. It must be all that “inclement” weather we’re about to have… or at least that’s what was texted to my phone. *sigh* I’m so impatient. hehe!

In other news, I got my second Vericella shot. So maybe now I am safe or safer from getting Chickenpox in the future. *shrug* We shall see! I also got back my lab results for my Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and was SHOCKED by what I read. (More about that in a minute…) Remember back in August of 2014 when I was admitted into the hospital because I was super short of breath? They tried to tell me that my heart medicine was causing me to become Hyperthyroid but I didn’t believe them. You see, my heart medicine has the possibility to make me HYPOTHYROID not HYPER… thyroid. I do believe, and I told the doctors this, that the cause of my Hyperthyroid was from taking Opsumit. I had been taking and still was taking Opsumit, the newest Pulmonary Hypertension medication available, for 3 months prior to landing in the hospital. It’s the only thing that had changed in my health care. Over the course of those 3 months, I had slowly developed worsening shortness of breath to the point where I could hardly talk without getting short of breath. Since leaving the hospital, I had switched back to taking Tracleer and started to see an Endocrine doctor to straighten out my thyroid problem.

Back to my lab results… The normal range for my TSH should be: 0.40-4.50 However, since I’ve been on Thyroid medicine and off of Opsumit, my TSH levels have definitely changed. Now my levels are: 14.75 I was like, what the flimm-flamm is going on?!?!? *throwing my hands in the air* I know you’re picturing that. *wink* It all becomes a little clearer to me now. For the past week or so, my breathing has been way off and my heart has been racing when I do mild activity. Ugh! I’m ready for this problem to be under control.

I know there are people out there who use oxygen and struggle with it. By writing this blog, my hopes are that when you find it and read it, I can help you in some way. If you know of someone who does use oxygen, let them know about my blog or my Facebook page. Y’all are NOT alone and you shouldn’t feel like you’re alone just because you have to use oxygen. *hugs* I enjoy your emails! Keep them coming! goredrider@gmail.com

[2015]

A Hodge Podge of Topics to Talk About…

Living On Oxygen for Life

First, let me state that I met a wonderfully sweet lady Wednesday evening. She stopped me to ask about my oxygen and we got to talking about health issues. You all know that I will always stop to talk if anyone asks me questions. In fact, K went on shopping while us ladies talked oxygen. Being that it’s the Christmas season, K gets a little gung-ho in Michaels, Hobby Lobby and even Lowe’s or Home Depot where decorations are concerned. I dare not set him loose in these stores for too long because he will go hog wild wanting whatever he sees. But you know, he does a darn good job decorating. He just has an eye for what looks good. I, do not. It’s a shame because I like being creative. I have a hard time visualizing his ideas.

Anyhoo… before I get too carried away on strange topics, I’ll reign myself in and try to focus for, you, my reader’s sake. You’re welcome! *wink* Ugh.. where was I? Ok, first, the important thing. Opsumit. My PH doctor did some checking and Opsumit causes some people increased difficult breathing during the first month of taking the medicine. However, this problem, the doctor told me, is suppose to go away after the first month. Remember, this is a NEW drug. So the severe shortness of breath that happened while on Opsumit was not normal because I tried this medicine for 3 months. I don’t know why it affected me this way. It has all the good benefits. It’s not suppose to damage my liver, I only had to get lab work every 3 months, I took it once a day, and it’s in the same class of medicine as Tracleer. I really, really wanted this medicine to work for me but it didn’t. I’m not saying this will happen to you if you try it. Everyone reacts differently to different medication. I have a strange body that doesn’t tolerate cardiac and PH medicine very well. For that matter, I don’t tolerate most prescription pain medicine very well either. Lucky me! I can’t even drink alcohol.

If you follow me in Facebook, you will know that I’ve been crocheting to keep myself calm before my heart cath. Crocheting is so soothing.. don’t you think? Well, it is to me. Though, K calls it knitting but it’s not and he only calls it that just to poke fun at me. I love creating things. So, below are a few Christmas things I’ve created. I hope you have a great day (Thursday). Ohmygosh! I just realized it’s past 2am. Yikes! *hugs* to you all!

petstockings penguin

gingerbread FullSizeRender-4

Heart Cath Results!

Living On Oxygen for Life

Many of you want to know the results of the Right Side Heart Cath that I had on December 1, 2014. I always schedule the heart cath with the same doctor. I trust her and she has performed all but one of them here in Texas. I say “in Texas” because I’ve had numerous other heart caths as a child (all right side heart caths) in the great state of Indiana where I was born. Though, those childhood heart caths were performed while under anesthesia. Now, my heart and lungs do not tolerate sedation. As an adult, I have all my heart caths without taking any kind of medication. Plus, I don’t have an IV. I know… brave.. aren’t I? *wink* At first, I was a little scare because I’d never had one without being asleep. But now, it’s something I’ve grown use to, except the numbing of the neck part. I will not lie to you…that freaking hurts. I hope I’m not scaring anyone.

This year was a very important heart cath. I was out to prove something to the doctor… or at least I was hoping to prove my hypothesis..? theory? Whatever the word is.. I was out to prove my point. Since 2006, I have been taking Tracleer, though, throughout the years until now, I’ve tried numerous other PH medicines. I’ve tried Revatio (Viagra), Adcirca (Cialis), Letairis, Tyvaso, Opsumit and even Flolan during my first heart cath. The only PH medicine that my body can tolerate to a degree is Tracleer. I say to a degree because I do well on a half dose (62.5mg twice a day) but when I up the dose to the full adult therapeutic 125mg, I start having problems.

I have been taking Tracleer for the past 8 years. Over those years, I’ve come to know how my body performs while on this medicine. K and I both repeatedly told my doctor that when I took the half dose of Tracleer, I did well. But when I took the full dose, my breathing started having problems with more shortness of breath, lack of motivation, and tightness of my chest when I exerted myself. I got frustrated with the doctor and then I got mad. So, I switched to Opsumit, the newest PH medicine available. That turned into a fiasco. So, back on Tracleer I went but the doctor finally started to really listen to what I was saying. She looked up the weight cutoff for a pediatric dose and found I was very close to the 40 kilograms. All this time over the past 8 years my doctor told me that the clinical trials shows that Tracleer only works for adults on a full 125mg dose. But in the doctor’s office, in August 2014, we came to a meeting of the minds decision that I was going to try Tracleer at the pediatric dose of 62.5mg twice a day for the next 3 months. At that time, I will agree to have a heart cath to see if the lower dose will work for me since I’m only 100lbs.

On December 1, 2014 I finally had the heart cath. I wasn’t very excited and I sure was nervous. I really wanted the half dose of Tracleer to work. I wanted to be right because if I wasn’t, I’d be going back to full dose. After all, the full dose lowered my pressures. It helped my heart but hurt my breathing. Grr… It seems like I can never win! The doctor comes into my room to talk about the paperwork and to mention she will have a Resident working with her but she reassured me that if he has trouble then she’ll step in. I was a little nervous but it was nothing new to me. So, I told her… “Go Team!” haha! She laughed and then told the Resident in the OR what I said. If anything, I’m very silly. I am finally chauffeured back to the OR room while chatting it up with the driver of the bed. I mean, pushing those beds looks hard! But the woman said the bed has a steering gear. Who knew?? That’s pretty awesome! Once I’m in the OR, I get through the heart cath after being brutally (*wink*) being stabbed in the neck repeatedly to numb the area. Once I’m wheeled back to the recovery where where I started out before the cath, I was lucky enough to have my followup appointment in the room so that I wouldn’t have to go upstairs to the clinic. My doctor is one of the very few who does this for her patients. YAY!

The staff gave me a printout of the results from my heart cath, but seriously, it isn’t something that I can figure out very easily. So, I had the doctor explain some of it. Here’s mine compared to a normal heart.

heartcathresults

Picture from The Merck Manual.

Picture from The Merck Manual.

Representative right heart O2 saturation =75%
Representative left heart O2 saturation = 95%.
Atrial pressures are mean pressures.
AO = aorta; IVC = inferior vena cava
LA = left atrium; LV =left ventricle
PA = pulmonary artery; PV = pulmonary veins
RA = right atrium; RV =right ventricle
SVC = superior vena cava.

The PA (shown in my cath results) pressure is 52 which has stabilized over the past 5 years. So the doctor isn’t too concerned about it. She was happy that the blood coming back from my body has a 71% oxygen saturation. It is suppose to be above 70%. It is considered my “reserve” oxygen in case I have trouble. The FA, which is the blood that comes from the lungs and goes out to the body and it is showing 100% which is good because I am wearing 6LPM of oxygen during the heart cath even though it shows on my results paper as ROOM AIR. As you can see, my heart has some problems but I’m managing. I rest when I need to and play when I want to. *wink* Now that I’m older and supposedly wiser, I don’t do as many stupid, reckless things anymore. I don’t touch alcohol unless I want to try a sip of K’s cocktail at a restaurant, I don’t let myself get overly tired often by staying up past 3am, and I, for sure, am careful about what I eat. Although, I did eat pizza last night. I already feel the sodium at work. Darnit!

With these heart cath results, I feel relieved. The doctor agreed to continue the Tracleer at the half dose of 62.5 because of my weight and the fact that my pressures show that my heart is stable even at the lower dose. I did agree that at anytime I find myself starting to have more problems, I can always up the dose back to the full amount. I may be a rebel but I am NOT stupid with my health. My doctor was ok with this and K and I left happy and I felt this battle was worth it.

I can’t wait to show you what K and I have been up to with Christmas decorations! Next post… I promise! Stay warm everyone. You can always email me at goredrider@gmail.com Be sure to FOLLOW MY BLOG so you don’t miss a thing. THEO… I have NOT forgotten you. *wink*

The evil that I know… Tracleer!

Living On Oxygen for Life

I bet you were wondering what happened to me? Well, you know I had that doctor appointment with the Pulmonary Hypertension doctor, right? That was on September 5th. I wrote the September 5th blog post before I went to see the doctor. Did you know that the pediatric dosage weight limit for Tracleer is at 40kg? My doctor didn’t even see a pediatric dosing weight for Opsumit. You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this, right? Well, it’s because I only weigh 98lbs which converted to Kilograms turns out to be nearly 45kg. So I’m pretty close to 40kg.

The whole time I’ve been on Tracleer, K and I have told my PH doctor that during the first month of taking Tracleer, I did and felt really great. Tracleer is started on half dose… IE: 62.5mg twice a day for a month. After the first month, the dosage goes up to 125mg twice a day. When I went up to full dose and after a few months, I started to feel bad. I lost endurance and my shortness of breath became worse over time. I even lost interest in a lot of things. Opsumit was much worse for me and I ended up in the hospital (August 5th of this year). I know, it’s crazy! Why aren’t the doctors listening to me and K?

Finally, during and after the hospital stay in August, K and I were at our limits with the whole PH medication thing. I actually told the hospital PH doctor (the partner to my doctor) that… “With me and the way my body reacts to certain medications, you have to start thinking outside the box to treat me.” I told her, “I want to be a part of the decision making for the treatment care to my body.” Not that I felt that I wasn’t on the team but I just wanted to remind them that I’m not stupid or gullible or even a non-active participant in this whole hospital situation. Shoot, I was on a roll! I told her that I wanted off of Opsumit and back on Tracleer. Heck, it was the evil that I knew.

So, at the doctor appointment on September 5th, we saw my PH doctor. K and I laid it all out there about how very frustrated we were. I think we finally got her to see the light. I do not have primary pulmonary hypertension. My pulmonary hypertension is something that I was born with and is due to malformation of my ribs that decrease my lung volume and due to the heart problems that I was also born with. They tried a lot of PH medication to treat the Pulmonary Hypertension and Tracleer does bring my PH pressures down but it costs me my breathing ability and the quality of life I would like to have. I didn’t start having my Pulmonary Hypertension treated until year 2006.

I bet you’re thinking: Now what? Right? Well don’t fret, y’all! We got a plan. It’s pretty shady but I finally got the doctor to agree to let me try it. The doctor, K and I all agreed that I could either come off of PH medicines all together or take Tracleer at half dose for the next 3 months and then do a heart cath in December. The way I see it is that however much the medicine brings down the pressure, if it’s bringing it down, it’s still considered HELPING whether at full or half dose. Of course, it could just not work at all like the PH doctors think will happen because according to all the clinical trials, Tracleer doesn’t work at half dose. I wonder how many lightweight people they did the Tracleer clinical trial on. I can’t even take long-acting type of medicine for this reason.

I’m thankful I still have a whole bottle of Tracleer leftover from switching to Opsumit. That way the doctor doesn’t have to do the paperwork yet for Tracleer full dose.. just for the half dose. It’s a little complicated. Technically, I’m not suppose to break the 125mg pill in half myself. The doctor said it shouldn’t be done. K and I looked at each other in the office and rolled our eyes. I’m breaking my own darn pills! Why get MORE Tracleer when I have pills I can break in half?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Summer! You know what season it is, right? It’s FLU SHOT season! Get yours this month! I’m getting mine early next month at my doctor appointment for my annual physical. I’m still battling to get my thyroid under control but I have hope that since I’m back on Tracleer…all will be well again!

Stay well! FOLLOW my blog!!! Lots of love to you all!

A lot of catching up to do…

Living On Oxygen for Life

I can’t express to you enough how crazy the month of August had been and it seems to be overflowing into September. I had a LOT of doctor appointments last month and there wasn’t a week where I didn’t have at least one appointment. This month has been a little better but the doctors now think it’s ok to call to tell me that they have to reschedule my appointment because they need to be out of town or whatever. I don’t know if they even realize that K has to take off from work to be able to drive me to these appointments. It’s not like he can take off willy-nilly at a spur of the moment. Unless it’s an emergency (like really an EMERGENCY), he needs to give his job a two weeks heads-up. These Dallas appointments and the actual emergency trip to the ER and my admittance to the hospital in Dallas last month is starting to really burn up K’s sick leave.

Now, that’s not to say that I can’t drive myself to the local doctor appointments except for the one’s where I’m having the nerves in my neck cauterized to help with migraine headaches. I’m not allowed to drive myself for those. In fact, until I get my breathing and my thyroid problems under control, I’m postponing the final cauterizing appointment. I just don’t need the added stress of the procedure.

The thyroid medicine that I’m taking has still not stabilized my thyroid level yet. It’s getting me really frustrated. We still don’t know for sure what caused my thyroid to act up. I had all sorts of tests in the hospital. I’m hoping it’s going to be a temporary thing and then go back to being at a normal level. The sooner the better! haha!

Today I have a Pulmonary Hypertension doctor appointment. I’m back on Tracleer; still on the half dose for the next 2 weeks. Then I get bumped up to full dose at 125mg twice a day. I chose to switch back to Tracleer because it’s the evil I know whereas I think (my personal opinion) that the Opsumit was the culprit causing the breathing, low potassium, body pain and thyroid problems. That is too many things happening out of the blue, in such a short time span, to make me think that Opsumit is doing something to me. However, I could be wrong. I’m pretty frustrated that I left the hospital with just the diagnosis of being Hyperthyroid. They wanted to blame it on my heart medicine (Cordarone) which is understandable but my Primary Care doctor was saying that he thinks Cordarone can cause “Hypothyroid” not “hyperthyroid.” So, he’s going to look that up. He’s on the case! Though, he doesn’t want to step on the toes of the Dallas doctors.

Another thing that bothers me is that while I was in the ER they drew labs and the results showed the ALT and AST functions were high which have never been that way for me in the past. These show how your liver is doing. Not once did they tell me this. I had to find out by requesting a copy of my labs. When I brought it up with them via email, they said they weren’t worried about it because the labs I took 3 weeks later were normal. My question is: Why were they abnormal in the hospital? and How long had they been abnormal before that?

Ok, I’ll calm down now and tell you how my week went with my mom since she came for a visit this week. I had a really good time with her. She doesn’t move very fast. So we could relate to each other really well. She transplanted the flowers I brought home from the hospital for me. She’s a great gardener! We had a fun competition of doing Sudoku puzzles. She is definitely better than I am. I guess she thinks faster than me. haha! It’s ok… we had fun. K and I are going to have her come down often because she can ride on the train now. YEA!

I do want to mention that there is a “Need a Hug” giveaway going on right now! The deadline is September 12th! Go here: Read how you can enter to win a Need a Hug afghan!

FOLLOW MY BLOG via email. I don’t want you to miss out of all the fun adventures I have while living on oxygen! Stay well!

Life’s little emergencies…

Living On Oxygen for Life

For the past 3 1/2 months, I’ve been taking the new PH drug called Opsumit. The first month of taking this medicine, I did feel better, like I had more endurance. It was very much similar to the feeling I had the first month of taking Tracleer. Then as time went on with Opsumit, that endurance slowly went away and the increase of shortness of breath creeped in. I was like… what is going on???

About a month ago, instead of carrying the laundry basket filled with clothes to my bedroom on my own, I was starting to ask K to carry it for me. I was getting pretty short of breath from carrying a laundry basket filled with clothes??? Yes I was. And it was getting worse. When I was helping K clean the house for my sister’s arrival, and a while doing a number of things that week, I was nearly hyperventilating and my heart was racing when I exerted myself . Things like swiffing the wood floor or unloading the dishwasher was wiping me out.

K was really worried about this. And for the first time, he took action for me. He picked up the ball and ran with it becoming my champion. From his job, he called my PH doctor and told them what was happening to me. Their suggestion was to bring me into the Emergency Room because that’s the best way for me to get all the tests I needed to find out what the problem was.

Now, you know I’m never thrilled with having to go to the hospital but the next morning when K took me, I couldn’t even talk without becoming short of breath. It was progressing. If you don’t follow me on Facebook or read the little Facebook column on my blog here, you don’t know my hospital adventure’s details. So, I’ll share them here for you to read. You know, copy and paste style! šŸ˜‰ (BTW: I took my own bipap machine up to the ER/Hospital knowing that it takes a long while for the Respiratory to get the order for one and to bring it to me. So, when I take my own, I can use it immediately even in the ER.

August 5th Well, poop. I’ve been admitted into the hospital. I am breathless while talking this morning. They already took X-rays and hopefully they’ll figure out what’s going on.

August 5th (a little later) Good grief! So much traffic in my room here at the Chateau de Hospital! Ok here’s what I know which really isn’t much more than what I already knew. After getting 2 sets of chest X-rays (because my doctor wanted her own set, apparently), multiple lab tests, and an Echocardiogram… No conclusions have been drawn on any kind of diagnosis. I have been given plenty of diuretics (without my usual potassium supplements, I might add), an antibiotic pill (just in case of an infection is happening) and a triple dose of albuterol (my least favorite medicine!) through a nebulizer down in the the ER. I did, however, go on a nice walk with K up & down the hall before he went home. I did ok but I was a bit breathless when I got back. I can’t wait to see what they have planned for tomorrow’s adventure.

August 5th (later that night) Well, the Saga continues …and I thought I was going to be able to read a little and then lights out. Oh but we have to flush the IV and that lead to the dead IV because it wouldn’t flush the saline into the vein. That means I had to get a new IV. I thought.. Ok all is well. I can just read a little and then fall asleep. *knock on the door* “I’m here to draw labs.” This at 10:30 at night. So I’m thinking… Of course you are!! Come on in! It turns out I’m to be stuck twice, once in each arm for cultures. I soldier through it, then pick up my iPad which has my Kindle app and *knock knock* My nurse walks in and wants to check my vitals and I casually mention that someone was in here earlier wanting to check my blood sugar. (I’m not even diabetic!) Yes I told that person to check my records. Sure enough that person had the wrong orders. Wow! And this is just the first day of this grand adventure. My arms are pin cushions and my sister asks me why I don’t ask for a central line? Then she explains they can put in central lines or pic line for blood draws and give IV meds if you’re going to be in the hospital a while and will need labs done often. I’ve been told I’ll be having more labs done tomorrow morning. Ugh!

August 7th (early that morning) Update! I’m still here in the hospital. *sigh* The first night was awful because I only got an 1 1/2 hours of sleep and I was lucky to get that. I hate the feeling of being tired but not sleepy. My room was a really popular destination for the hospital staff yesterday from the OT lady, the PT man, a transport lady to wheel me down for a VQ scan in Nuclear Medicine, all the nurses, vitals tech, respiratory man and lady to give me my Symbicort treatments, lab people, the doctors (3 sets), and finally the people who brought the food (the food is horrible but I can order it like room service anytime from 7a-7p like a hotel) unfortunately I’m on a low sodium diet which leaves off all the good food. I made the mistake of ordering meatloaf the first night which normally I love but this was like faux meat or something like that. Yuck! My sister and my niece came to the hospital which was the highlight of this whole adventurous experience. My niece asked about my IV. I told her that it goes inside by body to give me medicine. She sounded amazed when she said, “It goes inside your body?” She is such a doll. Basically the doctors aren’t sure what’s going on but they are trying to eliminate things by doing lots of labs and some tests. I hope, hope to get out of here today. I’ve been told that I have to have at heart cath via outpatient. Boo! No fun! I’ve been walking up and down the hall with K 3 times a day but it still tires me and makes me short of breath. I know I’ll get there but it will be a really slow bounce back. I only hope I can bounce back to how well I was before all this mess started. *fingers crossed and toes and eyes too!*

Thank you for all your prayers and thoughts. It has help me tremendously. *hugs* to you all!

August 7th (around noon) Update coming soon! Just know that I’m Free!!!!! Even though I’ve been discharged, it doesn’t mean I’m done with the doctor visits. *groan*

Let’s see how many doctor appointments I can squeeze in for next month!?!? I feel a challenge coming on! haha! Who’s with me???

At least I will see my sister and niece this whole evening before they go home tomorrow. Yea me!

August 7th (really late last night) My bed is the most glorious bed ever! I sure missed you, bed. *sigh* Goodnight everyone!

Basically, they only found out that I’m currently Hyperthyroid. So, they started me with some medicine for that. I switched back to Tracleer (my choice). It’s the only thing that I’ve changed in the last 3 1/2 months. I feel like I can get a deep breath now thankfully but they truly couldn’t give me a definite answer as to what was causing my problem. That’s very frustrating for K and me. I’ll keep you posted. Lots of prayers went out for my recovery and that was so appreciated! It worked and I’m home! YEA! Love to you all. Stay well and treat your lungs like they are the most valuable thing you own.

Doctor appointment & medicine update!

Living On Oxygen for Life

I’ve been keeping myself busy with my fun garden which I’m growing in pots near the back door of my house. I’ve added more herbs and I’ve attempted strawberries but I think only one strawberry plant has survived. My raspberries tastes awesome! I’ve not given up hope yet! The day is so beautiful outside. So, my windows and back door are open until it starts heating up to the point I can no longer stand the heat. I’m sure it won’t be long. After all, I live in Texas. But all that aside, I wanted to tell you that yesterday I went to a new doctor. He’s a cardiac electrophysiologist. I sure hope I got his title right! His title takes up the whole left side of his doctor coat with the MD and PhD added to it.

The big reason I chose to go to this new doctor was because of the current cardiac medicine that I’m taking and have been taking for the past 20+ years. It’s called Cordarone (or amiodarone HCl). This medicine is used specifically for ventricular arrhythmias. It also has a pretty bad side effect of possible Pulmonary Fibrosis. I have been very lucky to not have developed this so far… but my ability to breathe has been getting worse over the years and really, I don’t want to be taking a medicine that could potentially be harming my lungs. That is why I went to see this doctor. I wanted to know if there were any new medications out that I could take for my arrhythmia problem.

Luckily for me, there is a new medicine out and of course, wouldn’t you know it… it’s a “Specialty” drug called Tikosyn. Not only that, to be able to start taking this medicine, I will have to stop taking my Cordarone for two weeks and then be admitted to the hospital for three days. It’s the only way the doctors allow patients to start this medicine. It’s because the patient has to be connected to an EKG to be monitored to determine the correct dose and to make sure the person’s body will tolerate the medication. The patient information packet that I was sent home with to study was geared towards people who are diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation/Atrial Flutter (AF/AFL). That confused me because I have what I’ve been told is called Ventricular Tachycardia. Once I figured out that Tikosyn is a general purpose Arrhythmias drug, it only made me feel a tiny bit more comfortable with the possibility of this drug. It’s all a little scary to me. I haven’t decided on if I will do it but I’m leaning towards it. K is letting me decide this but I think we are both playing this off as a possible mini-vacation for him. LOL! Don’t get me wrong! He will be worried about me. He’s a great man.

Right now, I’m trying not to think about it other than for this post on my blog. I just thought you’d like to know what’s going on. I’m also still on the new PH medication called Opsumit (macitentan). I am doing a lot better on this go around. I had taken this medicine for the first time only for a week when I must have developed a sinus infection and had to stop the medicine for a whole week. I’m now restarted on Opsumit and am on the 5th day with no serious sinus problems and only a twinge of a bad headache occasionally. I think I will be okay on this stuff. If it helps my aorta artery and my breathing ability, then it will be worth it. Plus, there is the bonus of only needing to get lab work done once every three months now. That rocks!

I’m so looking forward to heading to Oklahoma to see my family. That means if I decide to try Tikosyn, it won’t be until sometime in June, after having all the fun I can have with my family. Besides, I don’t want to be off Cordarone while away from home and away from my doctors. To me, that’s risking a little too much. I’ll play it safe!

Don’t forget to follow my blog so you won’t miss anything! I haven’t forgotten the “Need a Hug” giveaway! I’m making the afghan and it will be finished very soon! I will get a preview picture up soon. Here are the pictures I took of my garden this morning. What do you think?

Herb garden in a pot with: chives, lemon thyme, spearmint, lemon balm & peppermint.

Herb garden in a pot with: chives, lemon thyme, spearmint, lemon balm & peppermint.

Newest herbs in my 5-in-1 dwarf apple tree pot: basil, cilantro, & dill.

Newest herbs in my 5-in-1 dwarf apple tree pot: basil, cilantro, & dill.

Tomato plant and jalapeƱo plant (can't wait to make salsa!)

Tomato plant and jalapeƱo plant (can’t wait to make salsa!)

New PH Medication!

Living On Oxygen for Life

tiny pill

Opsumit

Opsumit is a new medication on the market that treats Pulmonary Hypertension. It’s in the same class of medication of Tracleer that I was told it may have less liver side effects. It also requires only once every 3 month liver lab testing. Awesome! Now, I think I told y’all that I recently went to see my Cardiologist because my PH doctors want him to keep track of my dilated ascending aorta (an aneurism). My cardiologist doesn’t think that I have any medical reason to have this aneurism. I’m wondering if Tracleer is what’s causing it. This is the only reason why I have subjected myself to trying Opsumit.

Based on other posts that I’ve written on my blog, you probably know that my body doesn’t tolerate most cardiac or most PH medicine. So, a week into taking Opsumit, I started getting serious sinus pain and congestion. Ugh! I contacted my PH doctors and they told me to stop taking Opsumit for a week to see if what I’m experiencing is either a Sinus infection (bacterial or viral) or if it is truly the new medicine. I was pretty desperate to have to contact the doctors. Knowing my track record with trying new medicine being unsuccessful, makes me try hard at giving the medicine a gung-ho and a heave-ho spirit of a try before I throw in the white towel…. if you know what I mean. So, yes, I was suffering.

I’ve been off Opsumit for almost 2 days and the sinus pain is gone but the congestion is still there a little bit. I’m still going to go back to Opsumit at the end of the week just to see for sure. It may suck but this is something I have to do for myself. I’ll at least know that I’m trying my best. It’s just so hard.

Anyone else out there trying this medicine? I’d love to know how you are doing.

*hugs* to you all! Be well and take care!

Christine