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Posted on 17. April 2014

Ignoring Health Signs; Pushing Through

By Alyssa Rosengard

Since December, life has been one crisis after another. I found myself caring for my elderly dog, Sophia, a Pekinese/Dachshund mutt we adopted from the shelter, who at age 14 could no longer hear and could barely see. At the end, she was using the bathroom inside the house, and her tail no longer wagged. My husband and I took our time, but we decided she had no quality of life anymore and had to go to the vet to be put to sleep. I do not think two adults could have made bigger fools of themselves crying loudly and uncontrollably at our lovely vet’s office.

Directly after my Sophia’s death, my 97-year-old “Bubby” had a second mild heart attack. She lost her will to live, and I went to New Jersey to sit vigil with my mom, sister and assorted family members and friends. While sitting vigil, I was exposed to a hospital setting where many of the elderly there were sick. I would never trade the time I had with my Bubby; she was my mentor, second mother and home to me, but having a primary immune disorder means trying to avoid places and people who are at risk for infection. I, of course, contracted pneumonia and a stomach virus after the visit. Did I regret the time I spent saying goodbye to my grandmother? Not at all, not even for a second! There are times in life to push through the risk of illness and get on with living. But then there are times when we ignore symptoms from our body that tell us to stop, seek out medical help and heal.

Before my grandmother’s funeral, I developed signs that I had fallen out of remission from my autoimmune bleeding disorder known as ITP. Due to the chaos of the last couple of months, I had my head in the sand. There was blood in my urine, and I had unexplained black and blue marks on my body - two glaring warning signs that something was wrong. I felt I had no time to heed these warnings and went into ignorance mode. I ignored the warning signs that I was seriously ill again. In my defense, I had been in remission for the last 12 years, but I should have contacted my oncologist. Instead, I waited until I got back the next week after the mourning period.

I got back into my routine over a week after the funeral and waited for my preset appointment for intravenous immune globulin (IVIG). That’s when my oncologist said: “Your blood platelets have dropped, and you are at hemorrhaging risk again. What happened?” What happened indeed? Life happened, traumatic events happened, and I chose to ignore the health signs.

After two months of chemo and steroids, I have completed treatment. I am no longer a bleeding risk. My blood platelets have normalized for now. I can only hope I am in remission again.

There are times during chronic illness when we are at risk of infection and have little choice but to push through stressful and possibly unsafe situations. Then there are times when we ignore warning signs because we are overemotional or distraught over what life throws at us. Unfortunately, being chronically ill, we have to be vigilant all the time, 24/7. Our bodies will tell us when it is time to stop pushing through and visit our doctors, because sometimes our lives hang in the balance.

Be well and be vigilant. We only have one life.

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Comments (2) -

Lucille
10:15 AM on Friday, April 18, 2014

I know how this works. 2 years ago I took care of my mom.  Down hill after that.  My 17 year old dog died.  I had lymphoma and went into the hospital 2 different times.  Still help when I could.  Was off my infusion for cvid because the doc was more worried about the cancer.  During that time lost house my husband job, and all that goes to follow that.  My mom and dad were both in the hospital at xmas, 2 different ones.  I visited and took care, not thinking about my cancer or my cvid.  I ended up in the hospital for week myself after that.  My daughter dog died after years, we do try and keep them.  I treid to convince myself that I would be ok.  But then I had a thought if I keep away from the running around to the hospital etc, I could and I will keep myself out of the hospital myself.  I did it.  I the mean time my mom in and out of the hospital and the same time I was in died last August. It was the first time I drove past 60 miles in 2 years.  I made it through xmas again and then in Feburay My brother who was taking care of my parents bills for me died suddenly of heart problems.  My dad has gone to the va 2 times since and is making me think of his age 92, and how long he has.  I am keeping up with the fight.  I kids are helping me alot. Tehy want their mom to be amost normal.  I am at this point not quite sure what that is now.  I know we do what we have too.  If something happened to one of my 6 kids or grandkids I would be right there.  To hell with the illiness who comes first.  Some times I make sure it is me, but always a but. I know how you feel and all of us who have this, and it will not go away.  
Hope you are feeling better.

Gail
3:09 PM on Sunday, April 20, 2014

I can relate only too well, unfortunately. Mom, who was 91, died of kidney failure just before Christmas, and beforehand I visited her daily in a nursing facility where there were the usual bugs going around - not a smart move. But I did it anyway and hoped for the best. I simply needed to be there for my wonderful Mom. Sure enough, I picked up a stomach virus that plagued me for 2 months and that neither my gastroenterologist nor immunologist could diagnose. Finally it just went away. All that was going on when Dad, age 92, fell at the assisted living facility, shattered his hip, had hip replacement and ended up in the same nursing facility for 2 months for rehab. More visits with fingers crossed. I squeaked through on that one. Now we are going to clear out my parents' 2-bedroom apartment crammed with stuff to move Dad to a memory care facility. I'm doing my best to keep healthy (I have CVID and get monthly IVIG), I know I'm pressing my luck but I simply need to be there for my Dad and my brothers. We all go through trying times, but when they pile up quickly, we are so at risk.

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