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What is wrong with her?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Still no diagnosis on my sister. Heart disease, atherosclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis have been ruled out.

Her symptoms include:

- burning sensation on skin that comes and goes quickly
- tingly limbs (arms and legs)
- crickets in the head (she says it sounds like crickets in her head) - newest symptom
- she's had a headache for 8 weeks but a sinus infection has been ruled out
- vision problems in one eye (blurriness and//or blindness)
- dizziness
- extreme tiredness
- joint pain

She now thinks it's unlikely she had a stroke and believes it to be a virus of some sort or a disease like MS. She believes she's going to have to diagnose herself the way she did when she first had endometriosis. Everyone she sees says she looks good and so she thinks that the doctors office saw this too and doesn't think she's as urgent as they once thought.

When she was at the doctor's on Tuesday, she was a #2 on the waiting list for an MRI but apparently she's been bumped to a #4. He's also supposed to be referring her to an infectious disease doctor but so far no appointment.

She's feeling very frustrated and stressed the longer this goes on as we all are. If any of my medical friends here on SP has any idea what this could possibly be, I'd be more than happy to know.



My sister

Saturday, February 14, 2009

So, my sister isn't doing great and she's quite stressed because she's worried about herself and she's almost convinced herself that she has MS even though there has been no medical proof of this but she's been researching her symptoms (tingly and achy limbs and vision troubles) on the internet and this is what she's come up with.

She had an appointment with a neurologist last Friday who scared the hell out of her by telling her unequivocally that she'd had a stroke (not a TIA/minor stroke) as the doctors at the hospital told her but a stroke and that the stroke had been in the right brain stem, resulting in a temporary minor loss of sensory ability in her right side.

He speculates that she has a hole in her heart wall between the heart and the lungs, through which a clot has gone to the brain stem causing a temporary blockage. We all have such a hole at birth but in a minority of people it doesn’t close up. Monika was born a month prematurely. He took five vials of blood for tests. His manner through most of the interview was brusque and cold. He gave her hell for driving the car, to which she replied that no one had told her not to. He said he was supposed to report her to the Ministry of Transport so that she’d be barred from driving for a year, but he wasn’t going to. Towards the end of the interview, when he asked her her occupation and she answered that she is a tenured professor at the University of Western Ontario, he began to treat her as an intelligent human being, and actually discussed a few things with her. He ended by requisitioning a test to see if the hole in the heart wall hypothesis is right. He gave the opinion that she is at high risk for another stroke and that she is to reduce all pressures in any way possible while waiting for laboratory results and further advice.

He also confirmed the preliminary diagnosis that she does not have atherosclerosis or cardiovascular disease. Her arteries are clear, her cholesterol is fine, and so is her blood pressure. She exercises regularly, does yoga, and along with her family eats a vegetarian diet. There is lots of stress in her life: the responsibilities of a wife and the mother of two daughters; a full-time professorship at Western, including substantial teaching, publication, conferences, and endless committee responsibilities; the work of a publishing poet who is serious about her writing.

The neurologist did see the possibility, when Monika raised it, based on her reading and web searches, of an autoimmune disease (she has had endometriosis for years) or of lyme disease; also of a bacteria or a virus. This last would probably be the most palatable of all these possibilities.

So she tries to take it easy at home, does some quiet marking of student papers, and talks with family and friends, while waiting for some light on her situation. My dad gave her money for taxis since the logistics of her family’s vehicular movements are complex even in good times. They live out in the country, they work in the city, Anna (16 this month) goes to high school in London and is driven there daily by her father or mother, Natasha (12) goes by bus to an elementary school 10 k from home, and both girls have a bunch of lessons and other things they get driven to. Monika has agreed to call taxis even when the cost seems exorbitant.

And, I'm worried about her home life, too. She called me a week ago Thursday in tears because her husband won't leave her alone. He follows her around the house constantly asking her if she's okay. She told me that she screamed at him to leave her alone because he ignored her. When she was talking to me on the phone, she had locked herself in the bedroom and while we were talking, he was jimmying the lock.

I sent him an email asking him not to stress her out like this but he told her about my email and she asked me to cease stressing "him" out because in turn, it stresses her out and she loves him very much and says that he's just like this because he's worried about her.

So I sent him an apology email saying that it's my concern for her that made me send the original email but I'm still ticked at him. I'm thinking that her "screaming" at him to leave her alone isn't very stress-free...

So, I going to see her tomorrow (it's about an 1½ hours away). I'm determined to keep our visit light hearted and not stressful. I'm bringing homemade minestrone soup for lunch and I bought her two humourous books (Nora Ephron's "I Feel Bad About My Neck" and Rick Mercer's "Rick Mercer Report: The Book"), both of which I hope she'll like. Although after I bought them, I started worrying that maybe books weren't a great present if she's having vision problems.

I also bought her a small teddy bear with an "I Love You" heart on it. I'm also giving her this really nice bath set that I got for Christmas that I can't use because I'm sensitive to perfumed stuff but I know she loves that kind of stuff.

And, I went to the dollar store in hopes of finding something goofy to wear so that I could amuse her right off the bat when I got there. I was thinking something like a red nose or heart-shaped antlers or something like that but they didn't have anything like that so I ended up buying 5 flowered leis instead (one for me and one for each member of her family) to wear.

And, I hope that our visit goes well and I really, really hope she is going to be okay because I love her a lot and I would give anything to have this be happening to me instead of her. At least if it was happening to me, it would be more understandable since I'm overweight and don't eat properly all the time and smoked for 13 years!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    I wish you the best on your visit. I think that's a great idea. Hopefully the doctor's can do more test and find out exactly what's going on. I know it's hard to play the waiting game.

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TRAINOF4 2/15/2009 12:51AM

    Do the doctors think she has a patent foramen ovale? This ususally closes at or very shortly after birth, but in some RARE cases it does not & later in life causes any number of issues.

Unless your sister is well trained in medicine I would suggest you try very hard to convince her to STOP readin up on her symptoms until she has a definitive diagnosis. Many, MANY things can have similar symptoms, a person could literally worry themselves ill looking at all of those things!

Is it possible she will see different doctors for her follow-ups? TIAs/Strokes/Minor strokes are all strokes of onekind or another. Scary, yet - irrepreable? Not always - if she's frantically reading up things on the internet, she's doing somewhat OK & certain can AND should be reading the light-hearted books you bought for her.

Hope she can find some rest & peace soon instead of making an unpleasant siutation so much worse. It isn't good for her karma! Sending waaarm hugs & heallling hugs your way --for both of you!

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Worried and stressed!

Monday, January 26, 2009

My sister, who is 2 years younger than me, had a mini-stroke on Saturday and I'm worried about her and feeling quite stressed. I always think of her as the healthy one because she isn't overweight (like me), she exercises every day, she eats properly every day (she's a vegetarian and doesn't eat any processed foods), she doesn't smoke and she doesn't drink (a glass of wine every so often but that's it). Yet, she's the one who had a stroke! Granted, her life is probably a lot more stressful than mine but still...

I have 4 sisters. I'm the eldest and this one (above) is second. Our 4th sister is sending a care package to her this afternoon and included in it is a plant. I was going to send her flowers and I still want to but since we're already sending her a plant maybe it's too much? What do you think?

I want to do something to help her but she lives 1½ hours away and it's not easy. I've already given her my work number in case she needs someone to talk to or in case she wants me to come to her house but she hasn't done either of these yet. I feel so helpless.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRAINOF4 2/2/2009 8:31PM

    First, I am sorry to hear about your sister's stroke. It's so hard when someone we love is sick and having troubles. Now, in terms of what to send ..I would also add ... balloons! There are some great balloons out there - some of them are even shaped like butterflies, or flowers, or turtles & so on.

Or perhaps once a month you can offer to drive to her place (I know it's a long drive) and offer to help her clean or do laundry or whatever. And bring casseroles or that sort of thing that she can just reheat. You didn't mention if she has anyone at home to help her or how badly the stroke affected her abilities to perform daily living tasks (cleaning, cooking, dressing, etc.)

I'm guessing you have many of the same items in stores ... there are great reusable plastics out there for foods that are cheap at the same time - they can be recycled when you're finished with them. They would be great for putting single servings in... HTH! And I'll be thinking positive & healing thoughts for your sister & hugs to you.

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1888MICHELLE 1/27/2009 7:32AM

    Plants are wonderful at helping to destress you, but there is nothing as happy and bright as a bunch of flowers...especially daisys...I've always thought that daisys (and their look-alikes) are happy flowers. They always look like they haven't got a care in the world!!

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    I'm so sorry to read about this. Is she home, can she eat well? Perhaps send her a fruit basket, or in America, we have a thing called "Edibiles". Its cut fruit to make arrangements, then you eat them. That would fit in with her diet. You could offer to clean her house one weekend, or hire a housekeeper. Send her something related to her hobby, if she has one., or a prepaid calling card.

The main thing is to let her know that you're there, and you've already done that. Just keep in contact with her, listen to everything she says and maybe she'll give you an idea of what she needs.

Take care of yourself too.

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R.I.P. - Cairo

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My sister's dog died last night. Although, I'm allergic to dogs, I loved Cairo. Cairo was a good dog and she had had him longer than she's been married. He was 14 years old.

R.I.P. Cairo

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRAINOF4 2/2/2009 8:33PM

    Sending you & your sister sympathy & hugs. It's always so hard to lose a family member - after all, our pets are part of our families. emoticon

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RESCUER 1/11/2009 5:32PM

    So sorry for the loss of this beautiful golden retriever. I have a 13 year old golden and an 11 week golden and dread the day I have to say goobye. My thoughts are with you, remember Cairo has gone over the rainbow bridge with all the other dogs.

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Home from Cuba...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

I have returned from Cuba, which was very, very wonderful. Great weather (sunny every day and high 20s (Celsius - in the low 80s Fahrenheit). The hotel was very nice. Good service, good food, nice people. There were two pools and that was also very nice since one was for activities and loud music and the other was quiet, which my dad and I preferred. I only swam in the ocean once because it was too choppy most of the week but that's okay.

It was a little dicey at the beginning of my vacation because on Christmas night/Boxing Day morning, I got a gastrointestinal upset and felt really awful and since I was leaving on the 27th, it was also a little worrisome but I didn't overdo on food and I stayed away from dairy and I felt pretty good overall. There was one day (the 30th) that wasn't great but I had had dairy that day so from then on, I drank my tea black for the remainder of the week and stayed away from cheese.

I exercised every day except the 30th. I had brought a portable DVD player and my exercise DVDs and I'm so glad I did. I gained 3.7 pounds but usually I gain about 10 so it's way better than normal. And, if I get back to my calorie range this week, I hope to get rid of the extra poundage by next Monday.

And, it's so cold here today. It's -13 Celsius (9 Fahrenheit)! Brrr!!!

But, I've caught up on my emails and Spark Mails and now, I'm doing laundry and just taking it easy until I go back to work tomorrow.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRAINOF4 1/10/2009 3:28PM

    Oh that sounds like it was very relaxing! What sort of food did you guys eat? How did that sun feel -- oooh, I am jealous! I could use a few days away from this cold & damp!! emoticon emoticon

I'm glad you had a nice time though & not too many traveler's troubles. LOL - Welcome home!

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