24 March 2016

Solving the drought one dog at a time

While Matt and I were recently dying, Zero decided to further diminish Southern California's dwindling water supply by drinking all of it. Due to our lack of situational awareness, we didn't realize the severity of the situation until Zero woke us up by peeing on the rug two mornings in a row. Then we started noticing the hidden puddles of pee all over the house. Clearly something was wrong with the dog and not just us.

We dragged ourselves, a very excited Reese, and a wary Zero to the vet for a visit with Zero's internal medicine doctor. Based on his symptoms of drinking and peeing twenty-seven gallons per day, she had a diagnosis in mind, which she confirmed with blood tests. His blood glucose level was 527. Like humans, dogs are supposed to have levels in the low 100s. Uhhh, fuck.

Zero officially has type 1 diabetes, also known as "dogabetes." It was most likely caused by years of taking steroids for his IBD (irritable bowel disease). Unfortunately, he needs to take his current steroids as only they successfully control his IBD.

Just for fun, he now gets twice daily insulin injections, one after each meal. Getting his dose of insulin straightened out required glucose curves and more visits to the vet than we were physically capable of at the time. He started out at four units, then it was increased to six, then again to eight. Zero seemed stable at eight, but then his urine tested positive for ketones, which are a precursor to DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis).

The vet lowered Zero's insulin dose to seven units. Guess who started drinking and peeing constantly? Hint, it wasn't Matt. The vet raised his dose, somewhat reluctantly, to 7.5 units, and he seems to have finally stabilized.

Sadly, it is very common for dogs with type 1 diabetes to develop cataracts within about six months of diagnosis. They usually require surgery to restore the dog's vision. Zero's eyes are already starting to look a bit cloudy, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

19 March 2016

The Hidden Danger of Disneyland

In early December (yes, I'm well aware that it's now the end of March), Matt thought it would be fun to get food poisoning the night before a scavenger hunt at Disneyland. I ended up going with our only other teammate, so we had to make due with second place. Matt's map reading skills would have assured us first.

A few days later, I suddenly got very sick, complete with explosions out both ends. Because Matt was still weak from his bout of food poisoning, he caught whatever delightful bug that I presumably brought home from Disneyland. For about two weeks, we laid on the couch occasionally ordering delivery food when one of us could muster the energy to use the computer. It got to the point where we admitted we had to cancel our trip to Las Vegas.

Since we weren't going on our trip, we decided that we were damn well going to the doctor that day. Being a Sunday, the only places open were various Doc-in-a-Box™ clinics. Matt selected the nearest and least skeevy one, and off we went for proper medical advice. The clinician we saw, who shall henceforth be known as Dr. Idiot, did not give me any antibiotics because he was worried they would further disrupt my already impaired digestive tract. Dr. Idiot gave Matt cough medicine with codeine and prednisone and no antibiotics either because reasons. He also suggested that Matt stop coughing. Shockingly, neither of us got any better. In fact, we got worse.

A few days later, Matt was coughing so badly he literally couldn't drive. After Matt pulled over, I called our real doctor, Dr. Internist, from the car. He had some choice words with which to describe Dr. Idiot. He also had a proper prescription pad and order forms for chest X-rays. He determined that, from lack of proper intervention, our weakened immune systems had allowed us to both develop secondary bacterial infections. I was "lucky" to only have bronchitis, whereas Matt had full-blown pneumonia. Dr. Internist gave us proper medication, which thankfully kept Matt out of the emergency room. After a few more days, we finally started feeling better.

Then I started to go crazy. Literally.

As it turns out, methylprednisolone has a possible side effect of mood and behavior changes, especially when combined with an SSRI. Let's just say things did not go well, and Matt ended up calling both Dr. Psychiatrist and Dr. Internist. For future reference, I will not be taking that medicine ever again. Dr. Internist switched me to a different medicine with less crazy involved. A few weeks later, I was finally better. Oh yeah, Matt recovered too, though he had a lingering cough for nearly a month afterwards.

04 March 2015

Intensive treatment

The past few months officially win for the worst bout of OCD, so I decided to take a leave of absence from work and go to a full-time OCD treatment facility. There was much discussion with both Dr. Psychiatrist and Dr. Psychologist about where to go, after which they agreed that the UCLA program was the best for me. It turned out that I wouldn't be able to start immediately (the wait list was 3-5 weeks for an intake appointment, followed by 3-5 months to actually start), so they came up with some other choices. I ended up picking a place that a) is local, b) has an outpatient program, and c) I could start immediately.

After an onsite interview and tour, I signed up. My morning now consist of an hour of exposures, an hour with my therapist, an hour of OCD group therapy, and another hour of exposures. Sometimes the hour with my therapist includes exposures as well. So, what exactly are exposures? By exposing myself to the things that make my anxiety spike, eventually I habituate and they don't make me as anxious. In other words, pure torture. Two to three hours of torture a day, five days a week. Fun.

In the mean time, they have their own Dr. Psychiatrist on staff. This Dr. Psychiatrist talked with my Dr. Psychiatrist, and they attempted to switch me from Lexapro to Clomipramine. I say attempted because the Clomipramine made me dizzy and wonky. 

I suspect the good doctors are cooking up their next experiment for me, but I won't find out what's in store until my next psychiatry appointment on Tuesday morning.

11 February 2015

More needles!

I'm now going full time to an OCD treatment place as an outpatient. There's lots to discuss there, but first I want to deal with a more prickly topic.

More than one qualified official suggested that I try acupuncture. More needles, that's just what I need, right? Well, the whole idea is to get better and if some extra poking makes me better, it can't hurt too much to give it a shot. Except, in this case, it literally could.

There is an acupuncture and massage business in the same building as the treatment facility, so it's set up for psych patients to easily get acupuncture and massage. 

I wandered over during lunch to ask about acupuncture, and the nice lady swore up and down that it doesn't hurt. Of course, I believed every word and immediately signed up for a series of treatments. Or maybe I asked if she could try just one needle on me to see what it felt like. Apparently that's an unusual request, but she thought it was reasonable.

She showed me how each needle comes individually wrapped and then stuck one in the webbing between my left thumb and index finger. I was shocked at how it was like a slight pinch, but nothing painful. I was even more shocked when she mentioned that the webbing is one of the most sensitive areas that they stick. If I could handle that, I could handle a real session, right?

Today was that real session. And I was very nervous. First we went over the standard paperwork, such as when was your last period (almost two years ago) and do you have any numbness or tingling (hello left arm). Then it was time for the main event.

I stripped to my bra and panties and laid down on the table, with only a towel for warmth. The first needle went in my forehead, followed by one in the sternum. Then came the webbing between my fingers and somewhere near my toes. I couldn't quite pinpoint the exact spots, but everything was going fine.

The next two needles went in the tops of my shoulders. Those hurt, the left significantly more than the right. The lady said this was normal for people with high levels of stress and tense backs. Yippee.

She turned on a space heater and left me to relax for thirty minutes. With some help from the sleep-inducing anti-anxiety meds, I fell asleep quite quickly, despite my fear of rolling over and poking myself to death. Apparently this is a good thing, according to the lady.

After she removed the needles and I got dressed (a very important order of operations), she rubbed my left shoulder, where it was still hurting. It was really weird as I could feel slight palpitations, another side effect that she declared normal.

Of course, acupuncture requires multiple sessions to see results. Nothing in life with sharp pointy things can be easy. I think I'll keep trying it and see what happens. The worst that happens is I get very expensive naps.

04 February 2015

When medicine goes wrong

Medicine for OCD is basically a fun game of guess and check. Some drugs did absolutely nothing for me (I'm looking at you Effexor), while others turned me into a narcoleptic. Matt left me alone in a restaurant for two minutes and returned to me passed out on the table, my hand still on my phone. Some of the other exciting side effects included the inability to pee in the morning and my left eye twitching to the point where I couldn't see straight.

Now you may think that isn't so bad, it is just one drug to figure out. But you would be wrong. So very wrong. Besides SSRIs, such as the Lexapro I currently take every morning, there are also anti-anxiety pills for when I get particularly, well, anxious. I used to take Ativan, until that stopped working. Now I take a metric buttload of Klonopin every day.

With all of that medicine, it'd be nice if I was a functioning human being. But that's not the case, or I wouldn't be mentioning it now, would I? Dr. Psychiatrist tried a few other drugs, like Risperidone, but nothing worked nearly as well as the twitchy Abilify. So for fun and giggles, I went back on Abilify. I expected it to end poorly, but the eye twitching didn't return. At the same time, the same dose that previously made me act more normal wasn't nearly as effective. Now I'm on a higher dose than ever and we'll see what happens.