Still Only Human: A Health Update

Neurology appointment today. Got the results from my brain MRI back, and had an EMG done. All good, nothing to report. Guess I’m not an alien after all. Seeing pictures of my own brain put that youthful fantasy to rest. 

In case you haven’t had the pleasure, an EMG is used to test nerve and muscle function. The first part of the test involves being tazered repeatedly to check the nerve reactions. Also, to see whether or not your arms and legs flop around like fish when electrocuted. The second part involves being stuck with needles like you’d get at an acupuncturist’s, except unlike at the acupuncturists, these needles hurt, especially when the doc asks you to flex your muscles while the needles are inside. (Believe it or not, they’re listening to the muscles, which apparently sound like scratching an old vinyl record) Perhaps people in charge of performing EMGs would do well to invest in a few acupuncture courses.

About a week before the EMG I had an MRI of my brain done. Unfortunately, this wasn’t an open MRI, and while I’m not claustrophobic, I had to suppress some anxiety: being inside a tube where the walls are inches from your face and where you can’t even lift your arms will make anyone skittish about being there. My only saving grace was a well placed mirror, angled so I would see the outside of the tube, thereby giving the perception of some open space. My mom had actually come to the testing with me, so the sight of her in that small mirror was the biggest source of comfort. Still, I had to keep myself from going off the deep end of and wandering into panic attack territory, even unto needing to be taken out a couple of times between scans.

These tests were done because of complaints I had about headaches, facial and lip numbness, shooting pains in my right arm, numbness on my back and right thigh, and constant twitching on my right leg. To allay any suspicions of mini-strokes, multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy, herniated disc, carpal tunnel, or various other nasties, the MRI and EMG tests were ordered. As I said, all normal. Turns out the headaches and facial and lip numbness were all due to migraines possibly brought on as a side effect to medication (particularly Nexium, but maybe also Domperidone) while in my other body areas I had longstanding pinched nerves.

Needless to say, I was relieved.

Brain tests aside, I’ve also recently been tested of Addison’s disease as a possible reason for my gastroparesis. It was a final test, and looks like it’s negative. No Parkinson’s, no MS, no scleroderma, no kidney issues. My only known issues are GERD and a malfunctioning gallbladder. (My HIDA/CCK resulted in an ejection fraction of 19%. Normal is above 35%.) The condition is therefore officially diagnosed as idiopathic, most likely post-viral in nature. Frankly, I think any actual gastroparesis I might have had has improved to the point where it’s simply dyspepsia amplified by a faulty gallbladder. Testing is ongoing, however. Gastroparesis or not, here’s where things stand:

  • Current weight: 238 lbs
  • Cholesterol: LDL 59, HDL 30, Total 119 (I have to improve my ratio, badly.)
  • Blood pressure: 110/68 (average)
  • Resting pulse: 60
  • Fasting blood sugar: 84

Compare this to me 2.5 yrs ago:

  • Weight: 324 lbs
  • Cholesterol: LDL 110, HDL 37, Total 165
  • Blood pressure: 160/100
  • Resting pulse: 78
  • Fasting blood sugar: 92

Come to think of it, the gastroparesis may have been a blessing in disguise: I don’t know that I could have lost that much weight otherwise. I certainly didn’t believe I could. I just wish blessings would stop disguising themselves as bodily injuries and health issues.

Anyway, my current goal weight is 200 lbs by year’s end. Maybe that’ll finally put an end to my GERD problems. (The condition has improved with weight loss, but it’s far from gone.) Well, that and the removal of my gallbladder, which my current doc has yet to approve. Of course, all of this is pending test results.

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