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Atrovent Made My Best ENT Visit Ever

Atrovent - ipratropium bromideMy now bi-monthly ENT visit Friday was a pretty cool one due to Atrovent nasal spray. I just didn’t know it until now. Just a tiny back story for the new readers: I had my 9th sinus surgery in October 2010 and didn’t feel any relief, CT scan showed my sinuses worse off than September by mid-December, so I switched ENTs and had surgery #10 in January 2011. I’ve continually gotten better all year, most especially after May because I was still having massive sinus headaches up until then but have since decided it’s “just” migraines.

For about 3 months now, I’ve had a severe runny nose. But wait, it’s not just any runny nose. It’s just on my left side. It’s always clear as water and the consistency of hand sanitizer. That’s it! It’s like a hand sanitizer factory. Want some? I’m far from exaggerating to say that I went through more than a box of Kleenex per week – every week. I’d blow my nose in the bathroom in the morning, come downstairs to get my neb stuff, and immediately blow again when I sat down on the couch to start. Then I’d head upstairs and blow again. Every time I moved my head or coughed, I had a mess to consider stopping.

I mentioned it (obviously too passingly) in November because he wasn’t concerned because everything looked good. This time I marked on my sheet that it had to be resolved in a “we need to talk’ manner. [Read more…]

Post-Clinic Update

What a day! What a night!

We got to clinic to another empty waiting room and got back for PFTs before too long at all, as usual. You’ve probably guessed by now that I have very little tolerance for being scheduled when I have to sit around and wait for other people, so the first appointment is the way to go. It meant getting up at 4:30, but it’s worth it.

I got my first look at my FEV1 after my first blow: 38% (last clinic was 35%)! I went again with even more force and got a 35%. Remembering our long PFT in the Spring when we determined that I was collapsing my airways by blowing too hard, I backed off for my 3rd attempt: 39%! Boo, yeah! That sent me to rockstar status, as it was my highest number on the computer’s history visible on the printout. My lowest was 27% when I was on a placebo for a drug trial that required stopping my AZLI study drug. Bad move!

Since last clinic, I’ve gained over 200mL of volume, but I still feel like crap. Our only guesses are that I was coming off fighting off a cold last weekend when I had a fever or else I’m getting so much gunk loose, it’s making me feel worse than my numbers show. Sue thinks I’m pretty funny to feel bad and then post numbers like that. It seems like when I put weight on how I feel, they’re interested in the numbers and when I concentrate on how my numbers are, they’re interested in how I feel. Whatever, my IV streak continues (see the sidebar counter).

I also asked for a t-shot blood level, flu shot, and my quarterly Boniva shot. Anyone else getting the Boniva shot? [Read more…]

Surgery Day Has Been Canceled

Jesse chowingToday was my last-ditch appointment with my ENT before my scheduled pre-op on Tuesday. To say things went great would be the understatement of 2011. I’d like to celebrate with another one of those Pink’s hot dogs.

He started off by asking me how my symptoms have been and I had to admit that, though I have a headache nearly every day still, they are not debilitating like they were before Christmas. It’s definitely controllable with my Ultram and I’m very able to function with that, even more so than I was with Vicodin, as that at least made me a bit sleepy and has a distinctly more narcotic effect. He reminded me that the surgery he had scheduled was going to have a “prolonged recovery” compared to the one in January, too.

So, up my nose he went (after numbing, of course) to take a closer look at how things had been since I got the PARI Sinus (note I didn’t say SinusStar) and vancomycin to see how that took care of my infection. Last time, he immediately mentioned a polyp. This time, he went in both sides twice with no mention, so I asked, “how’s the polyp look?” “I don’t see one,” he replied. He checked his dictation notes from my last visit and saw the mention of a polyp, but let me know it was gone!

He kept saying how great things looked, too. I had quite a bit of crusting, and the smell burst forth as he dislodged one. Both sides were pretty crusty, even by my standards, but he insisted that my tissue was looking much healthier and he wasn’t at all enthusiastic about operating on me in this condition.

We decided then and there to cancel surgery and keep me on a 3-week on, 3-week off schedule of vancomycin and go back in a month to see if things have improved even more.

In an effort to shame Tampa General Hospital (TGH), they have instituted a campus-wide “no free valet parking” for patients. What was once a pleasure to be treated with such respect as a patient who was often there 2, 3, 4 times per month, we now have the privilege of being charged $5 to use valet or $3 to park in the garage and walk to the building through the hot, muggy Florida air. Thanks a lot, suits. You suck. Needless to say, the valet did not get a tip from me, as they usually do.

Just As Things Go Up, They Also Go Down

ThermometerMost of you know that starting on February 1st, Beautiful started working from home with me. Things were really tight because February absolutely sucked on the income front. We had to take out of savings to pay our obligations and I was feeling like a one-income failure, mainly because January rocked so hard that I was sure we could do this on one income.


March started out okay, but just okay. Beautiful was still quite concerned about how it was going to work because it wasn’t going to just be enough to make our bills for the month, we also needed to put money back into savings. We had a $3,000 hospital bill  (for our annual out-of-pocket max) from my surgery to pay and both taxes for 2010 and our 1st quarter estimated taxes were looming. This is why a $1,000 emergency fund is laughable for us – we really need to be on top of things to not sink, and she does an absolutely fabulous job keeping us afloat. She is succeeding where I failed for many years. She is my better half.

We started getting testy with each other because we were both stressing out, and I was beginning to consider her working part-time to create a buffer just to reduce the stress, even if we didn’t need the money from here on out. I was really torn because her allergies would make most jobs so difficult, she’d be more tired because just the housework is a fair amount of labor, and all of that would be risking having the same thing: a stressed and cranky wife. It would be a method of last resort.

After our 2nd or 3rd week of having a tense lunch, we finally worked it all out. The issue for me was that she was bringing it up at almost every meal. Sometimes we were spending precious work time just endlessly discussing our situation and never doing anything to improve it. That is a big red flag to anyone who is doing it. Stop it and start looking for ways to actually make things better. Here is how we did it.

[Read more…]