I’ve been so busy – and busy enjoying life!  That is up until this year when the health has again taken a turn for the worse.  There will be a warning right here and now…this post will have some grossness…digestive issue nastiness.  So sorry.

When I left off I was down 80 pounds just four month post-RNY Gastric Bypass.  I was blogging all about my thoughts on a different site (specific to that) and for the most those thoughts were very positive.  However, given my more recent difficulties – I’m not sure that those 80 pounds are really worth this.

On the positive side of things: 2011-2012 was an AMAZING stretch of time for me.  I had such a rewarding year.  This was due to my good health.  In the summer of 2011 I played more and better tennis than I had in ten years.  I was on travel teams, hitting in the middle of the day heat, running all kinds of special events and reconnecting with that whole world I missed.  My school year was equally good.  Given good health, I threw myself into work and developed so many wonderful programs.  The class of seniors were so great and I was chosen to give the faculty address at graduation.  It was all just going so well.  

My weight loss slowed and then stopped last Spring.  I will admit that I didn’t keep up my working out nearly as much.  Then, while riding horses through very steep trails in the Colorado Rockies, I hurt my left hip flexor.  This was in June.  I’ll come back to this.

From all of this time following my procedure, I’ve also been chronically anemic.  I’ve had “profoundly” low iron saturation levels.  There does not appear to be any internal bleeding and I’m taken ferrus gluconate supplements.  This has not improved my levels enough.  I was as low as 5%, and after two months of supplements I was up to 7%.  Normal is 10-15%.  

My thyroid has also been all over the place, hence my dosages keep adjusting.  As a result, I’ve been fatigued, shedding hair, having brittle nails and really dry skin, and – of course – struggling to drop any pounds.  Combine that with the injured leg, and I became extremely sedentary.

The leg injury refused to heal all summer long.  Rather than say something, I thought if I stretched and played through the pain (yes, I still played tennis) that it would just go away.  I often use the “just go away with time” method…probably not the best for someone with a chronic disease.  

Anyway, in August I stepped out for a shot and went down in bad, bad pain.  From then on simple things like getting in and out my Jeep, slipping my feet into underwear and pants, putting on shoes and socks, and crossing my legs were so unbearable that I would tear up from the pain.  I began physical therapy at the end of September and I’m still going even now.  My right-side leg pain has improved (which was aggravated from walking so unevenly).  My left leg is still really weak and sore – but better.  I’m just really slow to heal.  I blame the overall malnutrition and goofy blood levels for this.

There is more….

With my nutritional deficiencies comes the additional muscle weakness.  When I was a sophomore (back in December of 1989) I fell down a flight of stairs and fractured C4 and C5. In all of that time since, my neck muscles have helped to support my head.  In the past year I began to experience all kinds of neck pain.  This is mostly confined to the sub-occipital area at the base of my skull.  I feared going in for this problem because anything on your health record related to “spine” and the insurance companies treat you like a leper.  I had been free of such diagnostic codes for long enough that I was really, really hesitant to do anything now, so I played the “it will go away with time” card again.  I made the best of the pain, but it progressed and worsened to a point where I could no longer endure it.  So I went back to Northwestern in Chicago and saw a new doc (mine from 1989 has retired years ago).  After looking at x-rays and assessing my symptoms he order PT too.  So I’ve been alternating my therapies between hip and neck.  I’m quite the regular at the office – it feels awkward, like I should be done by now.

Anyway, there is some degeneration at 4/5 and a little increased angulation.  I had the old x-rays and MRIs from 1989-1990.  The surgeon did not think that a fusion was advisable at this moment, but that I would do better to try physical therapy.  The neck does seem better for that time I’ve spent, but it is mostly due to all of the strength and conditioning I’ve done – and that is good!  

One of the strange side effects of all this medical stuff is that I’m having femoral nerve pain down the left leg, and occasionally my left leg just doesn’t work.  It is that pins and needles thing, but instantly.  I could be walking and then, bam – my leg is like dead weight.  I’ve discussed this and I’ve been told that it is all from the torn sartorius.  I guess scar tissue could be rubbing up against that nerve.  Again, the wobbly leg deal is a huge limitation with tennis.  I’ve tried hitting a little this past fall and I could sense my leg about to give out.  What a bummer!

Okay, grossness on the way….you are warned.

Now as I type this I am surrounded by water and broth.  I’ve been back to a clear liquid diet following my trip to the ER yesterday morning for severe dehydration.  Merry Christmas.  It sounds and feels like I have a hurricane happening in my gut.  I haven’t eaten in over 36 hours and yet I’m still running to the bathroom almost every 30 minutes.  Yes, in one day I’ve been on the toilet about 20 times.  And this is no little squirt thing.  This is like a geyser of liquid.  It has not slowed at all.  I’m home, but very worried.  The ER said Gastroenteritis and that it is tied to the violent flu bug going around.  Sure, that would make sense.  However, I’ve never had such terrible abdominal pain (not one-sided).  I explained this and they did x-rays.  The doctor said that I have the Gastroenteritis with paralytic ileus.  In other words, my bowels are completely dilated and not functioning.  I keep forcing the fluids in and the diarrhea gets exploding out.  It is impossible to get any solid rest.  My fatigue is actually painful.  My lips are cracked.  The gurgling and cramping add to my sleeplessness. I’ve had water, tea, broth, and watered down apple juice.  I’ve also taken Gas-X, but that doesn’t seem to do anything.  I thought maybe it would calm the churning.  Anyway, I’m sure that the 3L of IV fluids I received yesterday are gone.  Here is what I’m worried about now.

While this very well may just be the worst stomach bug I’ve ever had, I also wonder if this is IBS flaring up…or my liver acting out – there is certainly a lot of bile present.  I had my gallbladder out in 2004, so it isn’t that.  I’ve had a really hard time absorbing things post-op: vitamins, synthroid, protein…so what if my liver is a mess as a result?  This is what I fear.

Ok, so this is going on my 2nd day of this – no let up, other than I’m not vomiting too.  Saturday morning I was vomiting and having the runs – at the same time…wow!  At this rate, I don’t see myself getting to my family’s Christmas Eve time together.  If it is a stomach flu, this is the worst one I’ve ever had.  I’m not about to get others sick.  If it isn’t stomach flu, all of the rich and delicious food at dinner tomorrow will be torture for me – whether I don’t eat it or would try….either way it will be hard.

So given that absorption is a pretty serious long-term problem from RNY Gastric Bypass, I’m not so sure about this in hindsight.  Additionally, my really, really awesome doc who has seen me through all of this just wrapped up his practice here in order to move to the East Coast.  I just recently made an appointment with a fellow doctor in his practice, but I have yet to see her.  I am seeing her this Thursday.  I hope to get some tests lined up so that I can treat all of this mess.  I also hope that my stomach settles way before then.  

Anyway, much more has happened in two years.  I will hopefully not wait another two years to update.

Since this is about R.A. – I will say that having done the RNY Gastric Bypass has really limited any of my symptoms.  That is one of the things that comes with that procedure.  So, while I’m not taking the immunosuppressant cocktail and suffering from flare ups, I am trying to resolve other issues.  Again, in hindsight, I don’t know what is the worse of two evils.