Happy September!!

Living On Oxygen for Life

Happy September everyone! I’m super excited! First because it’s September! Second because it’s almost my birthday. Third because it’s almost my 25th wedding anniversary! And fourth because, well, it’s almost Christmas!!! haha! Here in Texas the heat of the summer is starting to cool down. Unfortunately, a hurricane hit. It’s very sad. People are struggling to clean up the mess after realizing everything they owned is ruined or washed away. It’s most likely going to go down in the books as the worst hurricane disaster in the United States’ history. Hurricane Harvey dumped 25 trillion gallons of rain on Houston and the Southeast area of Texas. Please donate to Red Cross Organization if you can. God bless Texas.

I have been away from blogging for a bit (2 months!) and for that, I’m super sorry. I have been going through some health changes that needed some “lifestyle” adjustments (again)… which blows… However, I’m here now, ready to entertain you once again with my exciting life of living on oxygen. So, let’s begin! YAY!

Today, I went to my doctor appointment. As the nurse weighed me, she asked if I wanted to get my flu shot today. I was like, “What? You have them already???” [insert confused, surprised look on my face] I normally get my flu shot in October. Not that I find it superstitious to wait until October, but it’s always been my thing. Ok, maybe it’s a little superstitious. hehe! I could get it now but I don’t want to feel tired and achy around my birthday and 25th wedding anniversary. So, I’ll wait until next month. I never miss getting my flu shot. It really helps!

If you can get a flu shot, do it, but I know some people have negative reactions to them. Be extra diligent about washing hands after touching things in public.

As I was driving home from the doctor’s office, I was looking at the gas stations. They still have no gas in them. Some have diesel fuel left but not unleaded. A lot of people panicked and ran out to get their gas tanks topped off, filled up and some even filled a gas can the last few days. Now, no one has gas left. I’m sitting on just under a quarter of tank of gas. K’s car had a quarter tank left this morning but I’m not sure if he’ll have enough to get to work tomorrow. I hope gas comes soon. It’s starting to freak me out.

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Day Two… It continues.. Tikosyn!

Living On Oxygen for Life

There is one thing I want to bring up about the first day that I failed to mentioned in my earlier post about Day One. I’m still pretty upset about it. In fact, at the time, K and I were both very upset and flabbergasted about the whole incident. You see… when I have to stay in the hospital, I naturally bring along my bipap machine so that I can immediately have it available to use and I also bring all of my medicine. All of my medicine includes my specialty medicine which I know that hospitals, even though they are hospitals with lots and lots of drugs, may not have a supply of my specialty medicine. When I went to the Dallas hospital in 2014, that hospital didn’t have my Opsumit, that I was taking (no longer taking now!), in their pharmacy.

On the 26th of May, my first day of hospital stay, the hospital realized that they didn’t have Tracleer in their pharmacy. The nurse came to tell us in my room and I said that’s no problem because this has happened to me before in 2014 in a Dallas hospital. I brought my Tracleer with me in it’s bottle. The pharmacist can inspect it, slap a patient label on it and put it in their pharmacy locker to dispense out to me. The nurse went to call the pharmacy to see if that was ok to do. She came back and told me the hospital pharmacy said they couldn’t do that, saying something about a law? *shrug* I told the nurse that I can not be without this medicine. The pharmacy looked around for a small supply of Tracleer 62.5mg and found some all the way in Dallas that they were going to have brought to Fort Worth for me that night. I was so mad. I was mad because I had my medicine not but one foot from me and they wouldn’t allow me to offer it to take. I was mad because the hospital had someone in Dallas drive in pouring down rain and hail to bring to it to me to use. AND I was mad because I knew this medicine costs $8500 for a month supply and I didn’t want an exorbitant charge for Tracleer on my bill when I have mine to take that the insurance has already paid for when all they had to do is inspect mine and put a patient label on it. Sorry, but I’m still really upset about this.

Ok…Day Two.. It was much better than day one…although, I didn’t get to sleep until 2am because the last vital check was at midnight and I couldn’t fall asleep until 2am. I’m a night person naturally but I was getting in that zone where if I get too tired, I can’t fall asleep. That’s a very bad thing for me to have happen. I will start to feel physically sick. At 4am, it was Tikosyn time! Then nearly 5am, they came in to take vitals and shortly afterwards, the lab lady came in to take blood. Do you see a pattern here? Anytime I would nearly fall back asleep, I’d get woken back up and by 6am it was time for the EKG. By then, I just decided to stay awake and wake for breakfast and K to arrive. And don’t forget the diuretics to begin. They had all my medicine split apart and coming to me at different times. It was crazy because I was so use to taking morning meds when I woke up and then evening medicines right around 5 or 6pm.

I drew this picture and stuck it on the bathroom door. You see me on the island?

I drew this picture and stuck it on the bathroom door. You see me on the island?

K scooted into the hospital right before the doctor showed up and I had my list of questions ready. I think he was impressed because I had them listed on a small notebook I brought in case I needed it. (I highly recommend this!) My doctor noticed that I had my yarn out and had asked if I crocheted. I was impressed that he knew what crocheting was and told him that K calls it knitting. The doctor said crocheting and knitting aren’t the same.. I felt like we had a bonding moment there. haha! He looked around the room and noticed my sign on the bathroom door. I’m so goofy!

This was the worse meal I had at the hospital. Plus it had pepper on it.

This was the worse meal I had at the hospital. Plus it had pepper on it.

The food here was something else. I was stuck choosing from the Heart Healthy diet on a paper menu but I started to get smart by penciling in requests like a bagel and a chocolate chip cookie. The bagel, I got! The extra chocolate chip cookie, I did not. *pout* However, K did go down to the in-house Starbucks and bought us some goodies. For him, he bought a couple of blueberry muffins.. the kind with crumble topping… and for me, 2 chocolate chip cookies of which he snagged one. By the way, all the vending machines in the hospital only had healthy selections..even the soda or other beverages were diet. Gross! After lunch, I couldn’t believe I was able to get a 2 hour nap. It was AWESOME! Then K was like, let’s get your butt up and walk the hall. We did this the first day and he won’t let me get lazy just because we’re in the hospital because he knows that the more time I spend in that bed, the more my lungs lose function and I can have a set back. So, staying active was our main goal. As long as I wasn’t dizzy or woozy, I walked twice a day with him.. or my nurse tech when K had to go home for the night to take care of some errands for his mom and take care of our dog.

K use to sing and act out this song by the Beatles (A Day in a Life) for me.

K use to sing and act out this song by the Beatles (A Day in a Life) for me.

After hanging my motivational picture on the bathroom door, I wrote on the patient information board. It’s a dry-erase board in my room. I wrote my Day’s Goal as to “Be A Ray of Sunshine.” Cute, huh? [Picture shown on Day Three post] I wrote it because I was so cranky the previous day. Before K left for home and while I was in the bathroom, he wrote me a goodbye motivational message on the board that he knew I would know what it meant. I came out of the bathroom and saw that he was guarding it so that I couldn’t see what it was that he wrote. I was thinking that he wrote something to the nurses to get me to walk that evening. I mean, he kissed me goodnight and made me pinkie-swear to walk that night no matter what. I thought it was so cute that he would pinkie-swear with me that I just went ahead and pinkie-sweared. Well, when I read what he wrote on the board, I almost cried. I know that to you it’s just lyrics to a Beatles song but to me, it’s a happy memory that makes me laugh out loud. He’s so good at writing the perfect thing that will touch my heart and lift me up.

On the second day of my hospital stay, the labs came back with an even higher than MY normal of CO2 (or bicarbonate) level. The doctor was concerned, thinking that he should adjust my diuretics but I told him that I have normally high bicarb and my kidney does a good job at balancing my pH level. I told him that I would prefer that he would consult with my PH doctor before changing any diuretic she prescribed. Personally, I don’t like one doctor messing with another doctor’s orders. He did say that he was ok with that and he agreed with not changing her orders but he was going to watch it. That doctor is my Pulmonary Hypertension doctor and there are good reasons why I’m on the medication that I am on. I brought a 15 page history of my major health history (with test results) just in case something went wrong and they’d need more information. I even gave it to my nurse, which she copied, but I don’t think the doctor even looked at. I don’t know for sure but I did it because I’ve never been to that hospital before. I do what I can not to only protect myself but also to protect K in the event that if something happened during this stay in the hospital, he’ll know what to do to get information he needs about me to make the right decisions.

Apparently, at the starting dose of Tikosyn, which is the higher dose, my QT Interval was too long on the second day. The doctor had to make an adjustment to my dose that evening. I was now taking the lowest dose.. 125mcg twice a day. He told me that by the last (5th dose) and after the EKG, he would know if they could send me home with or without the medicine. Remember, anything under 500 is good.

Problem? Fix it!

Living On Oxygen for Life

Stress..the final frontier..for which no man (or woman!) wants to experience. Did that even make sense because I can’t tell.. I’m too stressed out. Over the last three weeks, I have literally hit the maximum overload point in the amount of stress my little body can handle before I start feeling physically sick. Chest pain, heart beat skipping, and downright depression hit pretty hard. But, let’s not go there.

I played phone tag a lot last week trying to find out when my doctor can schedule me in his itinerary for trying Tikosyn. He finally got back in town last week. I called him last Monday to let them know… “Hey, I’m still here waiting on an answer..” I had to leave a message. I really hate phone tag. So I sent an email too. You know, just in case. I finally get a call back from the doctor’s staff saying they’ve been discussing my case and they think the doctor will have an opening to be available to the hospital for the 3-day stay requirement during the last week of April. I told her that I’ll be out of medicine soon and I’m already splitting the pills in half. Her answer was that I’d have to be off the medicine completely for 2 to 3 weeks anyway. Personally, I think we’re cutting it a little too close for my comfort. Between now and then, the doctor has other out of town conferences to attend. What will happen while I’m off Cordarone and I have a rhythm problem and he’s out of town??

Meanwhile, K and I have decided to track down and purchase Cordarone from Turkey so that I’ll have something to fall back on if my body can’t tolerate Tikosyn. It hasn’t arrived yet but it’s been shipped. *fingers crossed * that it’s the same brand name Cordarone that I’m currently taking.

Right now, I’m not feeling any bad effects of being on just a half dose of Cordarone a day. My heart is skipping a little but I’m ok with that. As long as it doesn’t get worse or something doesn’t cause a lot of stress for me, we hope I’ll do ok.

I really wanted all this settled before the PH Conference in June because I’m super excited to be going with K. I’ll be hopefully giving away my favorite Need a Hug afghan that I just completed. It really is lovely!

This the Need a Hug afghan I wish to give away at the 2016 PH International Conference

This the Need a Hug afghan I wish to give away at the 2016 PH International Conference

I’m facing a decision that scares the heck out of me.

Living On Oxygen for Life

Let me set the scene for you, if you will allow me. *grin* You know I love a good story, yet this one is a hum-dinger! About a week ago, I put in a request for a refill of my heart medicine. It’s the heart medicine that helps with my Ventricular Arrhythmias and it’s called Cordarone. Now, mind you… I can take BRAND NAME only because the generic drug, Amiodarone and Pacerone, causes horrible headaches. I’ve tried a multitude of other heart medicines back in 1993 but they all affected my breathing causing severe shortness of breath.

So, I wondered why, when I got the email from my mail order pharmacy, which said that my Cordarone refill has been delayed. A few days later I called the pharmacy and asked wha’s up… you know? *raised eyebrow* This isn’t something I can go without. They told me that the medicine is no longer in stock and they didn’t have a date of when it would be arriving. That set off serious alarm bells in my head.

I went into my bathroom where my Cordarone bottle is and looked at the name of the manufacturer. Pfizer! Then I searched online to find their phone number to give them a jingle on my telephone. You know, just to ask them, wha’ up? I mean… seriously! I explained my situation about this is the only medicine my lungs can tolerate and I really need this drug. (Honestly, I was starting to freak out.) The people at Pfizer were super nice. They even put me on hold to find out what the problem was but they did NOT come back with good news. In fact, it was horrible news. Cordarone, they said, has been discontinued. But hey, there’s still the generic drug. UGH! I explained to them that I can NOT take that medicine.

After that call, I immediately called my doctor, who is a Cardiac Electrophysiology specialist, to tell them what happened and to beg them for an earliest doctor appointment available which was Monday. I went to the appointment but not only did I arrive to the wrong office (they have multiple offices!) but I had to beg them on the phone to allow me to still come in to see them instead of rescheduling. Can you imagine how stressed out I was? I had only 40 minutes to get to their office which was in a different city and there was major traffic but I made it and in one piece! Yay me!

Ok, so I’m in the doctor’s office talking it up with an older man about his mother needing oxygen. I guess when people see me they just naturally start talking with me or I’ll give them a friendly smile and they we’ll just start talking. I hate sitting in a quiet place waiting to be called. I naturally want to talk. *shrug*

I was able to talk with the Nurse Practitioner (because the doctor was out of country for the next week) for nearly an hour and it turns out that the only medicine that I could switch to is… That’s right… Tikosyn (I was offered that about 2 years ago and turned down but now I have no choice.) which requires a 3 day stay in a hospital to start it. To start this drug, I will have to stop Cordarone for 2 weeks prior to starting Tikosyn. If Tikosyn doesn’t work, I’m screwed. My other alternative is to try to buy Cordarone from Turkey through a Canadian pharmacy to fall back on in case Tikosyn doesn’t work. I’ve tried to buy it in the past from Canada, but they sent me Pacerone instead. I’m super, super stressed out… I need brand name. I have 28 Cordarone pills left. K took the news as well as expected. I’m going to call my doctor tomorrow and tell her I’m going to try Tikosyn.

K and I remember the experience I went through back in 1993 with my heart skipping constantly and it was not a good experience. We are going to try to make the 2 weeks without Cordarone as “low stress” as possible. Stress really effects my heart rhythm.

My only thought yesterday was … I really hope K brings home some ice cream for me. I could really use some. He did. He knew I needed it. I ate the whole pint last night. And it was delicious! Who knew Twix ice cream could taste so good??? Ok that’s my update.

Hey don’t forget to donate to my Need a Hug Project fund! I can’t wait to show you the afghan I’m nearly finished with. The donate button is on the right!

[March 2016]