MicroblogMondays: Heart Palpitations

I had my cardiological appointment last Wednesday virtually.  The cardiologist asked many many questions.  His conclusion was that he didn’t think my heart has any problems.  However, he was a bit concerned about my blood pressure.  On the screen, he showed me the chart of my in-clinic blood pressure records.  They were consistently high in the last two years.  He wasn’t too worried about the systolic number, although that wasn’t too healthy.  He was more concerned about the diastolic because they were consistently in the 80s to 90s range.  He said that my medical team (meaning my primary doctor) has been a little bit too permissive in allowing my blood pressure to be a bit high without doing anything about it.  He said he doesn’t often prescribe medication for people with heart palpitations but he thinks that in my case, it could help to reduce the blood pressure to a range where he feels comfortable with the numbers.  He chose this beta blocker for me and prescribed the lowest dose. He’d talk to me in a couple of weeks to see how I am doing.  In the mean time, he wants me to check my blood pressure occasionally at home.

I am okay with taking meds for the short term just to get things moving.  I was a bit concerned about my blood pressure for a while now but my primary doctor thought that it was still in the good range.  According to my cardiologist, my numbers are a bit high for my age, and he wants to get it under control earlier than later.  I am still going to modify my diet (to low salt and low caffeine) and do a more consistent job of exercising regularly.

I started medication on Thursday morning.  Friday evening, I was doing the advent calendar with the kids at 7:30pm.  I felt a tiny bit light headed and suddenly could feel my heart pounding.  It almost felt like it was jumping out of my chest.  It bothered me so much that I had to go lie down after the kids went down for the night.  I couldn’t do anything and could just lie there and distract myself with a show.  Sleep that night was horrible and my heart was beating fast.  I felt bad on and off the whole day on Saturday and I even considered going to the ER again, but decided against it.  I started to wonder if it could be the side effects of the new medication.  I also experienced restlessness several times as I couldn’t shake the muscle tensions throughout my body.

I spoke to my brother who told me that he was actually diagnosed at age 41 with PVC and PAC, which feel like skipped beats, and very occasional SVT, which is fast heartbeats (double the normal, at around 130).  He said that these are non life threatening and are more like annoyances in life.  My brother wore a portable ECG patch for two weeks to measure his heart activities.  He said that when he was going through some health scares (lump on his leg that he didn’t know if it was cancer), he said his heart was a mess.  He said that cortisol is a powerful hormone that could do crazy things to the body.  He was asking if I feel anxious in general.  Maybe?

I sent my cardiologist a message.  He responded saying that my brother’s condition is quite common and could happen to anybody, so it is not necessarily familial.  He told me to give myself some time to get used to the medication, which I will.  As for the ECG patch, my doctor said that he doesn’t think it is necessary right now.  So there is that.

Oh and I am going to find myself some help in regards to my panic attacks and general anxiety.  Bob’s work has an employee assistance program that provides 15 visits to him and each of his dependents at no cost to us.  I contact the EAP and got a list of therapists I can contact in order to get some help to better manage my symptoms.

It has been one health scare after another.  Hopefully after finding the right help, I will be on my way to be healthier again.  Maybe this is my wake up call to treat eating healthy and exercising regularly more seriously.

MicroblogMondays: Thanksgiving

This year’s Thanksgiving was so different from past year’s.  Instead of enjoying prime rib at my brother’s house and hanging out with his family, we were all home this year.  What was also weird was that I started experiencing some discomfort during breakfast time: lightheadedness at first, then fast heart rate as well as a tight squeeze of my right ribcage.  The more I wondered about whether or not I was experiencing a heart problem, the more uneasy I felt.  I could well be having another panic attack, but it was really hard to tell.  We had ordered food from this catering company this year, and I was supposed to go pick it up myself.  Bob ended up driving me there, and on the way there I was feeling my heart rate go up that I almost wanted him to take me to the emergency room.  We didn’t end up going and we did pick up the food, but I felt off for the rest of the afternoon.  Dinner was lovely: turkey, green bean casserole, mushroom and asparagus risotto, corn chowder, corn bread stuffing, a lovely salad and pecan pie.

I felt relieved that I didn’t have to cook.  We had a wonderful time together despite not spending it with extended family like usual.  The kids ate dinner rolls and of all things, salad greens!  Nobody touched the turkey, and they were a fan of the pecan pie as this was the first time they had it.  Hopefully next year we will be able to spend quality time with our extended family again.

(I am late in writing this post because yesterday I experienced more tightness on my chest which led to the feeling of not being able to breathe deeply.  My heart rate went up and I was not feeling the best.  I thought it was another panic attack but was also concerned that it was a heart problem. Out of an abundance of caution, Bob took me to the emergency room.  We got lucky that nobody was there and I was the next person to be seen.  After the doctor saw me and the EKG, things checked out fine.  He went onto do a test called D-dimer to check for the chances of blood clot in my body.  The test was also negative. He said that it could well be another panic attack and asked that I speak with my primary care physician to discuss the next steps for treatment.  I had already made an appointment with my doctor for today after my Thanksgiving day episode.  At that visit, my doctor also didn’t think that it was really a heart problem, and said it could be the withdrawal effect of stopping estrogen a couple of months ago when the menopausal symptoms return.  But as a reassurance, he referred me to cardiology for a full workup, and said that speaking with a therapist about these symptoms is also a wise next step.  Bob’s company offers free counseling for emotional and mental health so I will most likely utilize the services there.  Tomorrow I will schedule an appointment with cardiology and go from there.  It seems like aging/being in one’s 40 comes with a bunch of health concerns.  I would really love to live for a long time so I can watch my kids grow.  As a first step, I am motivated to go back to consistently exercising.  It is not an option not to do it anymore.)

Relief

I was going to write an update much earlier but life got in the way.  After I published the last blog post, I emailed my surgeon at around 4pm Monday to get an update.  She replied promptly saying that the doctor at the MRI facility wouldn’t send results on that day.  She said, “Maybe tomorrow.”  I am glad I wrote because at least I knew I wouldn’t be left hanging on Monday wondering if the phone would ring any moment.  Thank the Lord that my sleep wasn’t affected that night as I woke up feeling at peace and refreshed.  Waiting is difficult but the peace from God that transcends all understanding really truly did guard my heart and my mind.  I went about my business that day without feeling anxious or nervous.  A bit after 2:30pm, my phone rang.  I looked and it said no caller ID.  It was my surgeon.  She said that the fibroids looked cellular so they didn’t look cancerous according to the report.  The size of the biggest one was smaller than what we had originally thought.  It was 14cm x 11cm x 11cm.  Maybe my body did respond to the short duration of the medication that I was on, that was making me feel some unusual symptoms.  Maybe since I did stop the estrogen cream in September, my body is finally catching up and stopping the fibroid from growing due to the lack of estrogen.  What is next then?  There are a few options.  One is to do nothing, which may not be the best choice because of the discomfort that I have been feeling, as well as the other organs that the fibroids are pressing into.  The next one is to attempt robotic hysterectomy.  The surgeon went on to explain that it isn’t too much the size of the fibroids that makes it difficult for robotic surgery.  It is the location of the big fibroid.  It is on the left side of my uterus, which is pressing on the urethra.  It is pushing my uterus to the right of my body.  Because the space is so crammed in there, she would have to do something (I forgot what she said) to make room for the arteries and urethra so that she won’t injure the other parts accidentally.  The risk is, if that isn’t successful or easily done, she may have to convert the robotic surgery to an open surgery. Then the risks for complication are higher, and the recovery time would no longer be 2 to 4 weeks anymore.  It would be more like 4 to 8 weeks.  She is now scheduling into early January if I am interested in robotic hysterectomy.  The last option is something called “uterine artery embolization” (UAE) done by a vascular surgeon.  It is a minimally invasive procedure to cut the blood supply to the fibroids making them die.  If I am interested, my surgeon will make a referral and I can get a consultation to ask about the pros and the cons.  What a relief that it is not cancer as of now.  With the increased cases of COVID, I would like to avoid a complicated surgery for at least the next few months, so the UAE procedure sounds like a good option for now, so that the urethra can be freed up and not be inflamed anymore.  Definitely something to pray about, but at least for now time is not as pressing and I can spend some time thinking about it.  Life is so much better now when the shadow of potential cancer scare is no longer hanging over me.

MicroblogMondays: Waiting

I had my MRI last Thursday, and I was told that the doctor at that facility would read the scans and communicate with my OB surgeon today.  So I have been waiting for my OB surgeon’s phone call.  And I am still waiting.  I have been doing relatively well, and been feeling relatively calm, although it didn’t help that my kids were at times rambunctious this morning, so dealing with that while waiting for a phone call wasn’t fun.  I had a good night sleep and didn’t feel overly anxious or worried, although I really don’t know what the MRI results would show.  I just know that the Lord is with me regardless of the outcome.  Of course I am hoping for my scan to show a good ol’ fibroid (or adenomyosis) instead of cancer.  So much is out of my control that worrying about it won’t help one bit.  While I am waiting, I can’t help but think that this feels so much like all the waiting during my fertility journey.  The whole five years up until the kids’ birth was a lot of waiting.  Sometimes for weeks.  Sometimes for months.  Sometimes for hours.  So this is all a familiar feeling.  The difference is, the waiting then determined if I would have a child or not.  The waiting now is about my own health.  Either way it is a bit nerve wracking.  So I am going to go take a nap while the kids are napping and see if the doctor will call.  Will update here when I know more.

MicroblogMondays: Side Effects

I am late this week for my Monday post. There is a reason.

I had a panic attack end of September in the middle of the night when I thought I had COVID with my sore throat and started experiencing shortness of breath.  911 was called.  Paramedics came.  Everything was fine in the end.

Fast forward to end of October.  I am not going to get into all the details now but I returned to an OB surgeon for the second time since end of July because the fibroid/adenomyoma in the back of my uterus felt much bigger to the touch with more pressure, discomfort, and frequent urination.  I had stopped my hormone creams so that the fibroid wouldn’t grow bigger.  The surgeon felt my uterus and confirmed that it felt bigger.  She wanted to rule out cancer on the endometrial lining so she asked me to return for an endometrial biopsy in a few days.  (Although the lack of cancer cells on the lining does not rule out cancer in the fibroid.) (For my age group, there is a 1 in 700 chance when a fibroid is not a fibroid, but is cancer.) In order to safely perform a robotic hysterectomy, she would like to keep the uterus smaller, so she put me on this medication called Ori.lissa to shrink the fibroid/adenomyoma.  Depot Lupron is the usual medication that would do the job but the surgeon felt that the side effects would be too much.  She told me to take one 150mg pill a day for 7 days and we would reevaluate.  If it’s not cancer, the mass should shrink in two weeks.  If it is cancer, the mass won’t shrink.

The end results of the biopsy was that the cells she got were not sufficient for diagnostic purposes because the fibroid is blocking the entry way to the endometrial lining.  The next step is for me to get a pelvic MRI.  One has been scheduled for this coming Thursday.  I am not a big fan of MRI because the noises really bothered me last time.  This time I will bring my own noise cancelling headphones.

What about the meds?  I took it the first day right before bed time.  I felt fine.  I took it the second night.  I woke up in the middle of the night having to go to the bathroom.  When I got up from the toilet, my whole world was spinning.  I lay down and my heart was racing really fast.  I was getting anxious and I eventually had to push my husband awake to keep me company.  We watched a show online and I finally went back to sleep with Psalms playing in the background.  It was the craziest thing.  Given my panic attack the previous month, the surgeon told me to take a half dose for a week and see how I react to it.  If I am fine, go back to a full dose of 150mg.

So I did that for a week.  Once I was on half dose, I was totally fine.  Slept fine and didn’t have any reactions.  I went back to the full dose this past Wednesday.  For three nights I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and had a really difficult time falling back asleep again. My heart was beating faster than usual.  I had such shallow sleep that I felt kind of like a zombie and had to take a solid nap every day.  The fourth night I took a pill at 11pm.  I woke up at 1am to go to the bathroom.  I found that my throat felt lumpy and I had a really difficult time swallowing.  My heart was racing again.  Then I felt the chills.  I didn’t want to wake Bob up so I lay there trying to make sure that I could swallow my saliva.  I turned on a show on my iPad and that woke Bob up.  I urged him to go back to sleep.  After I finished my show, I turned on Psalms again on my bible app and just listened.  That night I again didn’t sleep well at all.  I woke up and that lump in my throat was still there, which felt really odd because I had never had that sensation before.  Swallowing food and drinks was fine.  Overall, I felt anxious and jittery.  I checked the side effects of this meds. Apparently, it is not very common but some people (less than 10%) did experience anxiety or depression while on the meds.  I emailed the surgeon.  Thank God for independent doctors who check their emails on a Sunday and respond right away.  She told me to stop the medication all together and just wait for the MRI results, as these side effects are very unusual.

So that was yesterday.  Well, it didn’t help that we are also potty training the twins.  They have been doing great while being bottomless but there sometimes are some accidents and resistance from both kids.  Needless to say, it was a tiring day, and my residual anxiety and the lump in my throat didn’t help.  Towards bed time, spots on the left side of my body started hurting, such as my eye brows, my cheek bones, my head, and my back.  I knew that I needed to go to bed early.  So I just went to bed without writing a post.  And I am happy to report that since I didn’t take the medication, I had a full night of sleep and woke up feeling refreshed for the first time in a few days.  The lump in my throat was gone.  No more anxious feelings.  I just feel like a normal person all over again.  Rest is so important especially when I have been dealing with a few pee and poo accidents today.  I just never had an experience of such a strong reaction to a medication it makes me weary to think about whatever medications that I may have to take in the future.

As for my uterus, after feeling bloated and being anxious about cancer for a few days, the last couple of days it feels like my abdominal area is feeling smaller and the pressure is not as strong.  I hope that on Thursday the MRI will show a uterus that has shrunk so we can move forward with robotic hysterectomy.

MicroblogMondays: Mom’s Health Scare

My mother usually helps with the babies’ morning routines.  The morning after Bob left for Europe, she couldn’t come upstairs because of a huge headache she had overnight.  My dad and I took care of the kids.  Right before the babies’ first nap at 9am, she came upstairs to ask for some Ty.lenol.  Because she complained to me before that Ty.lenol didn’t help with her headaches, I gave her two tablets of Exce.drin.  After that my dad and I brought the kids upstairs to get ready for their nap.  Suddenly I heard my mother yelling out loud in the dining room.  It was this really loud yelling that was so uncharacteristic of her.  I quickly put one baby in the crib and rushed downstairs.  She was sitting at the dining table looking scared and yelling loudly “Get away from me!  I have kids and grandkids! Don’t come take me away!”  I was stunned by this scene.  I hugged her and she refocused her eyesight on me, called my name, and started crying hysterically.  I was telling her that it was okay, that nobody was going to take her away.  She continued to mumble while crying, “Don’t take me away.  You go away….” At that point I realized that she was hallucinating.  My dad, with Okra in his arms, came next to us and said, “It might be her headache.”  At that point, I just wanted to put the babies down for their nap so I could tend to my mom.  I took Okra from my dad, went to the nursery, and did a quick nap routine with the babies.  After that, I found my mom in bed and my dad by her side.  She was still saying things that did not make any sense.  When I told her that nobody was coming to get her, she scolded me harshly for not believing in what she said.  Then she complained of her heart beating really fast.  I was very worried about the state of her mind at that point.  I didn’t know what could cause this hallucination all of a sudden and wondered if she was having a panic attack.  I was also afraid of a stroke and didn’t know enough to know if it looked anything like a stroke.  I called my brother up.  (It is great to have a sibling for things like these.)  He was at work and told me to call her primary care doctor to ask for her advice.  I hung up and called the clinic.  The receptionist was so nice.  She tried to find the doctor who was at that time busy.  She jotted down my number and promised me that the doctor would return my call shortly.  Not even two minutes later, my mom’s doctor called back.  After understanding the situation, she said that it didn’t sound like a stroke but sounded more like the effect of Exce.drin on my mom.  I was like, she started acting strangely only about ten minutes after she took the pills.  The doctor said that this medication could have an effect on older adults like that sometimes.  We went over what to watch for and when it would be a good time to go to the emergency room.  While I was speaking to the doctor, my mom walked upstairs to see who I was talking to.  When I told her it was her doctor, she again scolded me for calling the doctor.  I pushed her out the door and continued the phone call.  I was telling the doctor that this was so uncharacteristic of my mom to be speaking so harshly to me.  My doctor said, “Since she could speak so well and walk so well, it definitely doesn’t sound like a stroke.”  She said the effect of the meds should pass soon, but if we wanted to have her checked out, make an appointment at the clinic on that day.  I updated my brother who was actually already on the train to come back to see my mom.

My mom at that point looked super alert and hyper.  She was talking excessively.  She was washing dishes and doing chores at a high speed.  She continued to claim that there were a lot of people coming to get her.  She was highly irritable.  I didn’t realize that she had already taken two pills of Ty.lenol at 5am.  So within 4 hours, she took four pills of two different medications.  My brother arrived and examined the pills.  The Ex.cedrin has a lot of caffeine in it.  My mom loves the smell of coffee and tea but can’t drink any because of the caffeine.  So it was most likely the caffeine that made her act so strangely.  Nevertheless we made an appointment for her to see her doctor that same afternoon.  Slowly she started to act more normally and started to feel tired and sleepy.  Her doctor’s visit allowed us to know that it was most likely the headache medication that caused that extreme side effect of hallucination and she was prescribed Ibu.profen instead.  Other than that, her vitals were good and everything was back to normal.  The interesting thing was, after all of that, she didn’t remember the episode of her hallucination.  I asked her if she was scared of what happened, she said no because she didn’t remember a thing.

Honestly, my mind was racing when I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my mom.  I know that looking back it didn’t seem like a big deal but during that time, I was so scared.  My mind went really far.  I was scared of losing my mom and started thinking about all the what ifs.  I was wondering what the ramification would be for us if mom was suddenly mentally unstable.  I was afraid that her life was in danger and didn’t know how to react to it.  I was so tense.  I know that we eventually have to face our parents’ morbidity but I was just not ready for that.  I know I am blessed to have parents who are healthy.  My kids are still so young and I am not prepared to think about my parents being old and sick.  My mom’s episode prompts me to think about sitting down with my parents to talk about their wishes in regards to their health should anything happens to them in the future.  It also makes me realize that I or anyone else should not pop over-the-counter medications like it’s nothing.  Everything carries a risk, and we have to be vigilant about even OTC meds’ effects.  This episode also makes me realize how much I love and need my mom.  She is the best mom, mom-in-law, and grandmother for us.  I just can’t imagine my life without her, and hopefully I will continue to cherish her and never take her for granted.

MicroblogMondays: Blood Test Results that Scared Me

The babies saw Dr. Easygoing for their 9-month check up last Thursday.  Can you believe that they are 9 months already?  I’ll have to plan for their first birthday which will be here in less than three months.

The twins are doing very well health-wise.  To my surprise, both of them went up on their percentile for weight.  Okra is now at the 36th %ile, and Bunny is at 23rd.  Ever since they have become more mobile and their formula intake has been inconsistent, I kept thinking that they must have been lagging behind in their weight gain.  Dr. Easygoing reassured me that they are well.  He said some babies’ weight gain flatline when mobility increases.  Okra is 29 1/4 inches and Bunny is 28 3/4.  They are long and lean babies.  Dr. Easygoing commented on how social, interactive, happy, and healthy they are.

Shots were not part of the schedule for the 9-month check up, but blood work was.  I didn’t realize it but Dr. Easygoing usually orders lab test for a complete blood cell count, food allergy panel, and lead for 9 months.  Since Okra threw up twice after he had avocado in the past, Dr. Easygoing also threw in an order for avocado allergy.  Fortunately the clinic has a lab there so we didn’t have to go anywhere else.  Okra was the first one to be poked.  He already started crying while being held down prior to any needle going in his arm.  Bunny started pouting and crying when she heard her brother.  She also screamed when it was her turn not because she was poked but because she was restrained.  The good news is, they got over it quickly and stopped crying once we were out of the lab.

The lab results for the allergy panel came back the next day.  Both babies’ blood did not show elevated value for the common items for food allergies.  Right after lunch, I checked my email and found this from Dr. Easygoing.  It was regarding Bunny’s blood test results: “Her blood test to check for anemia was inconclusive and she had some cells not typically seen on a normal blood smear.  I want to recheck her blood test at our office and be certain everything is normal.”  My heart was about to jump out of my chest when I saw it.  What did that all mean?  I took my phone out of my purse and found a missed call and a voicemail from Dr. Easygoing.  He was asking me to call him when I had a chance as he wanted to talk to me about the kids’ lab.  He said there was nothing to worry about but he just wanted to repeat the lab test for Bunny to make sure that everything was okay.  He ordered another blood test and if I could bring Bunny in for it it’d be great.  At that point, I was truly worried.  So I called him back several times but he didn’t pick up.  I paced the living room and was trying to think what it could mean to have “some cells not typical seen on a normal blood smear”.  I was trying not to freak out.  Finally, Dr. Easygoing called back and spoke to me.  He said that the machine that ran the blood picked up on some atypical cells but because the machine doesn’t classify what kind of cell, it often marked it abnormal.  The machine does it about once a week, and 99 out of 100 times it’s nothing.  But to be safe and to rule out anything abnormal, he would like me to take Bunny in the same afternoon so we could get the results on the weekend.  He said something about white blood cells and such.  Honestly, I did feel a sense of urgency from his voice but I trusted that Bunny was in good hands.  I canceled a visit from an out of town friend and drove Bunny to the clinic when she woke up from her nap.

Baby girl did very well this time.  She struggled for a little when I held her down but she did not even make one peep when the needle went into her arm.  She just stared at the tiny tube that had her blood flowing through and was acting totally normal throughout the whole thing without being even upset for one second.  It was amazing to watch.

Then we waited.  During that time, my mind ran really far with all the possibilities of what this might mean.  I got scared at one point wondering what if she has cancer?  Do we have to contact the donor to request additional family medical history?  What will it mean for our family if she is sick?  What if I lose her?  I was freaking myself out and was trying not to freak out.  It was very difficult to wait.  But at the same time, I had to remember to pray for God’s peace that transcends all understanding.

Fortunately, Dr. Easygoing didn’t make us wait.  We had the blood work done at 1:45.  He called me at 5:20.  The first thing he said was, good news that everything turns out great.  Bunny is healthy.  Nothing is wrong with her blood.  Then he went on to explain what happened.  The lab’s machine picked up on some “abnormal” white blood cells on the first blood sample.  A hematologist looked at the blood and saw white blood cells that looked like cancerous cells (!?!?).  Dr. Easygoing got a call from the lab with those results.  He was alarmed and called up his trusted colleague who is a pediatric hematologist and showed her the results.  She told him to just tell the family (us) to return for an additional sample to rule out any problems.  He contacted me and tried to keep me as calm as possible but he himself was alarmed.  When the second blood sample got sent for analysis, the pediatric hematologist went to the lab to take a look at it herself.  This blood sample was totally normal.  It turned out that the first sample contained some white blood cells that were the results of the body created antibodies to fight out the cold virus that Bunny had in the last week.  Somehow the first hematologist (who apparently only looks at adult blood usually) mistook the cells as cancerous.  Dr. Easygoing apologized profusely for worrying us unnecessarily and burdening me to take the baby in for another unnecessary blood draw.  He said he’d talk to the clinic director about waiving billing for the second blood draw because it was the lab’s mistake and not ours.

I was just relieved that Bunny is still super healthy.  I am also glad that Dr. Easygoing didn’t mention the C word the first time.  I would have freaked big time.  I am also grateful that Dr. Easygoing was on top of things so we didn’t have to wait for the whole weekend to get the blood test results.  I hugged Bunny extra tight that day as we don’t have to worry about her healthy anymore.

MicroblogMondays: Tinnitus

It seems like my body is reacting to the stress that I may or may not feel.  I found myself with sore gums on a daily basis when I woke up in the morning a few months ago. That was around the time we initially got pregnant and I had to juggle going to the ultrasound appointment as well as to attend my grandma’s funeral in Asia.  It dawned on me that I was probably clenching or grinding my teeth during my sleep.  The logical next step is to get a mouth guard to wear in my sleep.  But since I will be getting Invisalign for a couple of misaligned teeth, I will be wearing that instead of a mouth guard at night.  That doesn’t solve my teeth grinding or clenching problems though.

The night before my trip to the 20 week ultrasound about 1.5 months ago, I took a shower and washed my hair.  When I was wiping my hair dry, my right ear felt plugged and full.  No amount of yawning and popping my ears would get rid of that feeling.  An air whooshing sound also returned.  I said “returned” because I had the same experience nine years ago right after I was at a concert and sat too close to the stage and the speakers.  I had vertigo back then and I heard air whooshing sound on my right ear constantly.  This is called tinnitus which is defined as hearing noises or ringing in the ears when no such external physical noise is present.  Luckily I work at a place with audiologists and one of my coworkers is a tinnitus expert.  She made sure that my hearing was fine, and told me that the sound in my ears should disappear in about nine months because my brain would get used to the sound.  And she was right.  The sound went away after 9 months.  That was so many years ago that I forgot how it felt.  Until now.

The increase in volume has been gradual.  In the beginning it was just a narrow band white noise like a hissing sound.  I didn’t really notice it that much unless the surrounding environment was really quiet.  As time progresses, it has become increasingly louder and much more noticeable.  The fullness in the ear started to disappear but the air sound has become stronger.  Two weeks ago at church during sermon I couldn’t hear Bob who whispered in my right ear because the air whooshing sound was so loud.  I had to turn my head towards him in order to understand what he was saying.  And then Last week one day I woke up in the morning by Bob’s alarm clock at 5:30am.  The quietness of the bedroom intensified the air whooshing sound.  The sound was so loud that I got scared for the first time ever since tinnitus came back.  What if this sound never goes away and only gets worse and louder.  It could be so debilitating.

My tinnitus expert coworker and I both agreed that this could all stem from my temporomandibular joint problem that is caused by my teeth clenching/grinding which in turn is possibly caused by the stress in my life.  The funny thing is, I do not feel that I am overly stressed, but my body may disagree.  I guess my body is reacting to my growing to-do list and the weekend tasks of getting the house ready for the babies.  Sometimes I can hear the sound so loudly when I work with kids that I have to work really hard to concentrate on what they are saying.  I feel the most comfortable when I stand in the hallway in front of the closet that houses telecom equipments because of the machine noises that resemble the white noise in my ear.  A friend of ours gave us a sound machine for the babies.  I put it by the bedside and turn it on when we go to bed and wake up to it.  Since it is on the left side of my bed, it helps to balance out the noise.  Who knew that something intended for our babies would be so useful in my situation?

I don’t think the stress level will go down any time soon as the time approaches for us to take our babies home.  We have been warned by many about the fatigue that we will likely experience the many months after the babies are born.  I just hope that my body pulls through again for me once more by getting used to the tinnitus so I won’t hear the noise again in a matter of nine months, just like last time.

Relief

The breast scare turned out to be nothing serious.  Such a relief.  Praise the Lord!

Yesterday’s visit with the doctor at the Breast Health Clinic already gave me good news.  The night before the appointment, I couldn’t even find the lump that was on my right breast.  I touched and searched and it was just not there.  The bigger and more solid one on the left was still there.  God answered my prayers by keeping me at peace with this whole thing.  I went into the appointment feeling calm.  And I really appreciated the doctor’s bedside manner.  She really put me at ease.  I will call her Dr. Calm.  After I told her about my fertility treatment, she shared with me her own infertility journey.  We chatted the whole way through the clinical exam and the ultrasound.

Dr. Calm told me that she went through many rounds of IVF before she finally got pregnant with her twins.  She spotted my pendant that says “Hope” and told me a story.  While they were still in the thick of it, her husband told her that if they have a girl in the future, he’d name her Hope.  And Dr. Calm finally got pregnant with boy/girl twins.  And her daughter’s middle name IS Hope.  We also chatted about her husband being the only child in a traditional Chinese family so the pressure was on from her father-in-law for her to make some boys.  She was very touched when her mother-in-law told her that she’d be equally happen if Dr. Calm was carrying twin girls.

While we were chatting about all this, she carefully palpated my breasts.  And she also couldn’t locate the small lump on the right breast.  She was quite sure that it was a cyst if it came and went so quickly.  She could really feel the bigger, more solid lump on the left breast.  She commented that it felt very mobile and oval.  So those were also good signs.  The ultrasound image showed a dark oval which looked to her like a cyst as well.  However, she said it looked like a cluster of cysts rather than just one cyst.  Just to be sure, she wanted to send me to get a diagnostic ultrasound because her simple bedside ultrasound couldn’t show the depth of the mass.  She said that there was nothing to worry about, but clinically she wanted to make sure that there was nothing hiding below the cyst/cluster of cysts.  She also ordered for a mammogram since the last one was done two years ago.

Dr. Calm then told me an encouraging story about egg donation and surrogacy.  A college friend of hers couldn’t get pregnant and was advised not to carry on her own.  She did both DE and surrogacy and had twins around the same time my doctor did.  The two sets of twins grew up together and are best friends.  She said that her friend is blonde with blue eyes so the donor was as well.  Mixed with her husband of Egyptian descent, my doctor said that the twins looked just like her friend.  Dr. Calm said that she was very hopeful for me for bringing home a baby.

Today I had a busy day running to the radiology department two separate times from work.  The mammogram itself was not so much painful but uncomfortable after being squeezed, moved, turned and told to hold my breath.  The entertainment came from the technician who was also Indian and chatted with me about all things Indian including food, customs, and in-laws.  The afternoon appointment was for the diagnostic ultrasound with a more powerful machine than yesterday’s.  The ultrasound tech took many images of my left lump.  Afterwards, a very eloquent doctor came in to talk to me.  She looked at my mammogram images and saw that I did have a mass.  But she didn’t think it was anything serious as it looked like a cyst to her.  I lay down again for her to feel the lump.  She looked at the ultrasound images that the tech had taken and told me that it looked like there was one bigger cyst in one location and a bunch of smaller ones in another location.  They are nothing to be worried about.  They don’t increase the risk of cancer and they come with the fluctuation of hormones.  Sometimes they go away depending on the hormonal level in the body, like the little one on my right side.  Although the guidelines for mammogram have changed from over 40 to over 50, she’d still recommend an annual one from 40 on.  The only disadvantage is a false positive that may cause a bit of anxiety, but the advantage is that it does catch cancer and save lives.  She wants me to know that having cysts does not mean the risk of having cancer is diminished.  So I have to know what these lumps feel like.  If there are any changes that are out of the ordinary, I should still seek help.  I think from now on I’ll have a mammogram on a yearly basis just to be sure.

It’s such a blessing to be healthy.  I am so grateful that this is nothing more than discomfort and soreness.  Now I can focus on other important things in life and won’t be distracted by this health scare anymore.

Breast Scare and Grandma

One of my grandmothers is going to turn 97 or 98.  (Age and year of birth of that generation in the Chinese culture is often vague.)  I haven’t seen her since our trip to Asia in April 2014.  It is tough to live so far away from the majority of my family.  Grandma had been in very good health until this summer when she fainted and was hospitalized.  Physically she is fine.  However, her mind might have been a little chaotic.  As someone who used to have the best memory (remembering everyone’s birthday), she exhibited some symptoms of mental confusion and at one point didn’t even recognize my cousin who lives with her.  She no longer takes the shuttle from her home to the market for her breakfast, which was her routine for 20 years.  Her mind has improved since the summer, but it feels that a visit with her overseas is necessary at a time when she is still relatively lucid and healthy and we can still spend quality time together.  I do not want to go when it is too late.  Since we have been trying to sort out the whole donor egg cycle and surrogacy, there has not been a good time to go.  The timing seems good now that we are down to the wire in terms of preparation for our gestational carrier’s transfer.  The legal paperwork will hopefully be completed by the second week of October and we are hopeful to do the transfer the first week of November.   Grandma’s birthday this year is October 22 (it changes yearly according to the lunar calendar).  My brother is set to fly over for a visit around that time.  It would be good for me to go around the last two weeks of October just in time for a transfer in the first week of November.  I was doing my search of reasonable airfare and then…

I found a little lump on my right breast last weekend randomly while watching TV.

It felt small and it moved around a little, but it was definitely something new.  I freaked out a little but decided to make an appointment with my primary care doctor online.  I scored an appointment for Monday afternoon.  I am not going to lie, but my mind was going fast and I was worried.  You know how it is.  Our worries about the future cloud our judgment as our mind jumps to conclusion.  The worst case scenarios flashed in my head.  Fortunately, prayers for peace and the determination to stay away from Goog.le search had kept me sane.

My doctor reviewed my mammogram results prior to coming in the exam room.  My one and only mammogram two years ago was normal but did indicate that my breast tissues were dense and fibrous.  Upon palpation, my doctor couldn’t even find the little lump at first until I pointed it out to her.  She said it felt more fluid-filled, like a cyst.  Just to be sure, she also examined my left breast and found a bigger and denser lump on the top left part of it.  She said that since this one felt more solid, it’d be best for me to do a scan.  She put in an order for a mammogram and told me to go to radiology to make an appointment.

At radiology, I was told that I could be seen immediately.  However, the staff members asked me a question that was taped on the counter: Do you have new masses or lumps on your breast?  I answered yes.  Because of this yes, I was told I had to go to the “Breast Health Services” downstairs.  Over there, I was told that I had to be scheduled to see a doctor there first.  The first opening is this coming Monday late morning.  So that means that I have had to wait a whole week to see this doctor before I can get any scans.

During this week of waiting, I still freak out at times, thinking about the possibility of me being sick and us bringing a baby into this world and the baby not having a mom.  The mind can go to the worst place fast.  But I am mostly at peace with this and am just waiting for the appointment.  I pray that I surrender everything to God as He is the one who is in control.  It could be psychological, but ever since these two lumps were found, I could seriously feel my breasts throbbing with soreness at times.  Speaking with others helps.  Both of the coworkers that I spoke with have had the same happen to them.  Both were checked out and were fine.  It’s helpful to know that the results could be normal.  This has also freaked Bob out.  The first night was the hardest as he was worried and wondered why we had to deal with one thing after another.  He has since then calmed down and has also just been waiting patiently for the appointment next week.

Because of this new development, I have been hesitant with the trip to Asia.  What if these lumps are more serious than I would like?  What if treatment is needed?  What if what if what if.  I have delayed looking into plane tickets but then I am also mindful that I would like to be around for all the initial scans that Annie, our gestational carrier, would have if/when we get pregnant.  It will be even harder to schedule a time to go see my grandmother in the near future once a pregnancy is achieved if I want to be as present for the pregnancy as possible.  So I have decided to purchase my plane tickets this weekend regardless of the outcome of the exam on Monday.

It is sometimes difficult, but I am determined to focus on the good things: seeing my family, spending time with my grandma, and being full of anticipation for our upcoming transfer.  I pray that the exam on Monday yields good results so that my mind can rest and truly enjoy the good things that life has to offer.