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ejourneys's picture

I took my partner to the podiatrist on Friday. As we waited in the examination room for the doctor, she asked me to read to her from the "blue foot" poster, a drawing of a foot with markings in blue where the bones are labeled.

I stood up and craned my neck to read the label she wanted.


I held onto the medical counter, making mental note of the dull ache at the back and sides of my head as a wave of vertigo hit. In a second I was telling her that my reading would have to wait. I sat back down until I was sure my head had cleared and then gave the reading another shot, positioning myself more slowly this time.

My vertigo is fickle, but I've learned that a few things can potentially set it off. Getting out of bed too quickly after a night's rest. Bending down too quickly from a standing position. Standing from a seated position and looking up.

Not long ago I had experienced a sense of triumph at feeling sure-footed while standing on a step stool. It's those moments that reacquaint me, at least for a time, with the body I used to know: Hey, I remember you! I now know to enjoy those moments while they last.

I'm still in much better shape than I had been in while undergoing chemo. I recall vertigo hitting me back then while I was still seated. Heck, it had hit me once while I lay in bed; I had to sit upright to clear it away. Dizzy or not, I still had the presence of mind to think, You've got to be kidding me.

My blood pressure is still pretty low, but that isn't the full story. I had been finally discharged after my lumpectomy a year ago with a BP of 79/42 because I had been asymptomatic: no dizziness, able to walk and talk. These days my BP is usually 90-something over 50-something and on occasion it has even broken 100. Low as it is, it is still higher than my asymptomatic, post-surgical reading, and I hadn't been dizzy then. But that was before chemo.

Extra sensitivity to caffeine is another effect of treatment. I had given up coffee during chemo and radiation. Those treatments are dehydrating enough, especially chemo, and I didn't want to add coffee's diuretic tendencies on top of that.

I still do not have coffee at home, but I enjoy it out on occasion. My partner and I went to a local diner after her podiatrist appointment. There, having learned another lesson, I ordered decaf. Some weeks earlier I had downed two cups of full-strength coffee, which had sent me into a steroid high without the steroids.

I would never have believed that two caffeinated cups in mid-afternoon would give me the same jumpy insomnia that I had experienced from even a halved dose of Decadron during chemo. Prior to treatment I could down two pots of full-strength coffee with impunity. Two cups were a joke.

Not anymore.

Confusion persists in the wake of my hospital's acquisition. The insurance person at my hospital had given me the NPI (National Provider ID) number of the new owner and had told me to use that number, rather than the hospital name, when speaking to my health insurer.

According to the customer service rep at my health insurer -- who checked the NPI number, the new owner's full corporate name, and then the acronym of that name -- my hospital's new owner had never registered with them. That places the new owner out of network for all plans.

"It depends on how they bill," the rep told me. If the hospital bills under its own name, my insurer can process a claim. If the bill is under the new owner's name or NPI, my insurer can't do any processing whatsoever, because right now there is nothing in the system to latch onto. Thus, for any hospital service, "How are you billing?" is a question that needs to be asked. That would be fine as long as I am not too sick to ask the question.

I got on the horn and passed that info to the hospital's insurance person, along with the rep's info that the walk-in clinic affiliated with the hospital is out of network even if the hospital bills under its own name. The hospital's insurance person had told me she thought the clinic was in network, but she hadn't been entirely sure.

Doodling is a great way for me to cope with that nonsense, with more from the TinkerLab TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge.

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Prompt: "Giant." This piece uses a color-altered tracing of my photo of a Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly (which I've also made into a sticker spray) and my photos of a water barrel reflection (color-altered), Portulaca, and mushrooms, along with a photo of me that was taken in 1997.

Full size

I've been playing around with creating sticker sprays and stencils in Art Rage. This piece uses sticker sprays that I've created from my photos of coffee, oil, and milk; a mushroom; electrical wires; and oil in vinegar.

More art pieces from the challenge are here.


Puffin2014's picture

I've had vertigo episodes even before I had chemo. It's sporadic though, and I tend to forget about it until suddenly I do something that triggers it. I'd say "be careful, you sure don't want to fall and break something", but I also know it doesn't work that way! Keep up with your exercise program so your muscles are strong enough to stabilize you when you wobble.

I wish people wouldn't give answers that they are unsure of without prefacing the answer with "I think, but I'm not sure". At least that way we'd know we need to keep searching for someone who DOES know the answer instead of thinking the problem has been solved.

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