Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lab Battles

Like many others with GI issues, I have to constantly fight my electrolyte levels to keep them balanced. I've touched on the chronic fight and about the severe all out war I had with my electrolytes in the past that have since stabilized with diet and medication alone.

I experience cramping in my hands and feet on a daily basis, usually beginning in late afternoon so I decided I probably needed to read my last lab results. I was shocked by how little I'm able to maintain my electrolytes just in the low normal ranges. I shouldn't be surprised but I was. I knew that my hemoglobin remains below normal to just barely normal but I was surprised by my sodium and potassium levels and the ongoing difficulty I have to keep them in the normal ranges. I hadn't paid any attention as my doctor reviews them as normal and focuses on areas I need to improve, i.e. Hemoglobin.

I don't think I'll ever have a healthy hemoglobin. I take anywhere from 2-5 iron tablets a day just to keep my hemoglobin where it's at. It's hard to tell when my hemoglobin has dropped more or what just feels like normal to me. I try to notice though if I seem to be taking more naps and if so to try to take more iron, just in case. I eat a lot of salt compared to the typical person and it's a good thing because my sodium stays just above normal! I have potassium pills if I need to take them but I rely primarily on diet alone for potassium. Although, perhaps I should start taking them to prevent the daily cramping!

My B12 has been above average and increasing with my daily B12 microlozenge. I discovered to really have to let the microlozenge dissolve under your tongue without swallowing, as directed, versus just chewing it or it really won't absorb as well. I discussed before how I truly require a B12 in the 1000s, far above normal, in order to feel the benefits of a normal B12.
I have a theory on why the microlozenge works better for me than the injections, contrary to what my doctor expected. Because of my SBS and increased difficulty with absorption, I require a steady supply of nutrients in order to maintain whereas four shots a week isn't as steady as daily and there seems to be a short life to B12 anyway.
Fortunately my albumin is also well within normal as I'm able to eat enough protein to keep it safely maintained.

We all have ongoing battles with keeping everything balanced for our overall health. The first key is to be aware of where we are presently so we can know how much further we need to go. Don't assume your labs are alright just because your doctor doesn't point them out as an area of concern. You may need to be altering your diet and supplements on occasion to keep you out of concerning levels. It's just a good idea in general to be aware in order to be proactive and healthy. Let's keep fighting the good fight!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Taking the Personal Non-Personally

I think we've all had encounters with others that really peeved us off and even hurt our feelings, even though that likely wasn't the other person's intention. We take what seem like everyday normal comments personally, because for us they aren't everyday normal things.

For example, I work in the medical field with very ill patients who don't realize I have my own health issues that can be life threatening. So on a regular basis I hear about how I don't understand what it's like to be chronically ill and the difficulties in life a life threatening chronic illness brings. But only I do, I just look healthy.
Another common encounter is when I have to take time off work or leave work early because I'm sick. Others make comments about how nice it must be to leave early or take a day off, even asking if I'm just saying I'm sick in order to leave. Again, I look healthy and they're probably just trying to be funny.

But it's not always funny. Sometimes I just want to scream "You have no idea just how ill I am, how much I struggle." But I don't, usually I just shrug it off but sometimes it's really hard to make that shrug. Sometimes it's painful. And after I've vented to a trusted friend about how others shouldn't make assumptions about others, I feel better. And I remember that others don't always know nor are they usually meaning to offend. They may even be going through their own struggles I'm not aware of so I shouldn't make assumptions others.

Perhaps it's asking too much of society to place more thought into what they say because they don't know what others struggle with. It's certainly frustrating listening to others make non-personal, personal comments with no clue that they're talking about us. We have a choice at that moment. I choose to pick my battles, not everyone needs to know my health details and other battles are more deserving of my energy and focus.

 Try to shrug off the little ones, let's focus on the big battles that can be life changing. Lean on trusted friends for support when we need a shoulder and perhaps even band together for change.