Friday, March 30, 2012

Updates, Updates, Updates...

    Not the most SEO-friendly blog post title, but whatever :-)

    So! Updates!  I'm fairly certain the post-jaw surgery anemia I've been dealing with is almost "fixed".... I say this because (1) I've taken the iron supplements since week 7 and I am almost at 16 weeks post-surgery, (2) I've been informed it takes 100 to 120 days to recover the hemoglobin and essentially "feel better", and (3) I've started feeling better. It was rough though!!! I will never look lightly at anemia again...
"Ferrous" Bueller -- My Iron Mouse (mus ferrous)

   Last Friday I completed a 10-day round of antibiotics, which I'll go into in a moment, and today leaves me with one week left before I start to wean myself off my Nexium. Now I'll talk about that haha

Acid-Reflux, Nexium, H. Pylori & The BEST News EVER

     When I saw my PCM (primary Care Manager) a few weeks ago regarding my concerns over the anemia and its symptoms, I learned something I hadn't known before. Often, in people diagnosed with acid-reflux or GERD before they're in their 30s, the underlying cause is an infection involving a particularly stubborn bacteria known as helicobactor pylori, or H. Pylori for short. 

     In 2006, after several years of increasing nausea and a temperamental appetite, I sought treatment to make sure nothing more serious was wrong. Now, there were other symptoms but I've decided not to go into great detail here because it's not really relevant. What's relevant is I was diagnosed with acid-reflux and put on Prilosec. I remained on Prilosec for over 3 years, until it stopped working effectively. I didn't actually know it had stopped working, because I didn't have heartburn-like symptoms. I had gotten sick and when the cold dissipated, I retained a "chronic sick voice" for several months which I thought might have been my tonsils. When I saw a doctor for that, he said it was actually the acid-reflux acting up and he put me on Nexium after trying to double my Prilosec which was ineffective.

   Long story short -- My current doctor ran a series of labs for me to reassure me that my anemia is just iron-deficiency and not a vitamin deficiency, and in that process he ran two labs for H. Pylori. I had not been examined for an H. Pylori infection prior to this, and it's 2012 so I've been on acid-reflux medicine daily for just about 6 years.

   The first lab came back with the vitamin panel and was NEGATIVE for an acute infection. I wasn't aware there was another test so when I got that news I was mildly disappointed. The next day my doctor called and said the IgG test came back as POSITIVE so we would treat the H. Pylori infection and after that, I should be able to slowly come off the stomach meds.

I don't remember the last time I was so excited over lab work!
Probably never haha

    H. Pylori is a little more complex than I'm making it out to be, but since this is a blog post I'd prefer to keep the overly-technical stuff to a minimum.... I like the stuff I post here to be more "conversational"....
    ANYWAY, this type of bacteria often comes from food or water that is obviously contaminated with it. It's typically stubborn, in the sense that it can sometimes develop a resistance to the antibiotics. To help improve treatment outcome, the typical treatment is comprised of 2 types of antibiotics and a proton-pump inhibitor. Nexium, which I was on to begin with, is a proton-pump inhibitor or PPI, and the antibiotics are Clarithromycin, which targets H. Pylori specifically (among other types of bacteria), and Amoxicillin, which serves as a sort of "back-up" for the Clarithromycin. The two are taken for a LONG round of antibiotics, 10 days... after that, the PPI is continued for maybe 2 weeks to manage symptoms and then the patient slowly weans off the PPI. 


SLOW is key because when you suppress your stomach acid for a long time, GERD symptoms are going to hit hard if you stop the PPI too quickly and your adjustment to being PPI-free will be more difficult.

     So... I started with the two antibiotics BUT I quickly remembered that I'm a bit sensitive to antibiotics in capsule-form, and I had to have the Amoxicillin exchanged for a chewable variety by Day 3. Since I needed 1000mg and the only options were the capsules, which made me sick to my stomach, or 250mg chewable tablets or an 875mg tablet... four 250mg chewable Amoxicillin tablets twice a day was the only real option. It was rough....
The Clarithromycin was 1 pill twice a day, swallowed not chewed...

1 Clarithromycin, 4 chewable Amoxicillin

They have to be chewed before being swallowed... there's a flavor... it's sweet and possibly "banana" but it's not very pleasant and there were 4 of them, twice a day haha

     I finished the 10 days and I've done 1 of the remaining 2 weeks on Nexium. Next Friday, April 6, will be the end of those 2 weeks so after that I will start weaning off the Nexium. Since it's a 40mg capsule and I take it only once a day, weaning off is a bit tricky and it may be a trial-and-error experience for several weeks but ultimately I should be able to work up to 7 straight days without the PPI and from there going without it should be no problem.

    Will I still have acid-reflux symptoms?  Probably... but I shouldn't have them all the time and they should be manageable, for the most part, with a dose of Alka-Seltzer or Tums. 

    Will I be able to eat whatever I want?  Probably not haha... I have a sneaking suspicious that liquor will still probably upset my stomach but I've never been much of a "drinker" anyway so not really a big deal. It would be nice to be able to cook with wine from time to time, however, so I'll cross my fingers on that one.  I likely will still have to tone down any spicy foods and avoid too much bread, pasta, and acidic foods like pasta sauce and citrus juices, but a little is okay.  I'll post more on this as I work through the details.

    I just.... I'm so surprised that in all this time no one thought to check for H. Pylori and then when I see my current doctor about something unrelated, I learn about this bacteria and they test for it only to FIND IT.... and my current doctor is still a RESIDENT!! So... I feel a little cheated, in a sense, because I've been on a PPI for over 6 years and if the underlying cause was a stomach infection, I could have been treated for this 6+ years ago and not need the PPI this whole time.

But no use crying over spilled milk!

Work, The Jaw Surgery Playbook & Recipes

     As I get over the anemia, I'm getting more work done which is great. I hate when I fall behind because it affects my clients but it also affects my income which stresses me out. I'm doing better though, so hopefully I'll be getting much more done during the week and able to take back my weekends haha
The work I'm doing right now is writing product descriptions for a furniture company
Sometimes my output is slow but it's often because of things like this (above) where it's a ton of items that are all basically the SAME item, but each needs a unique description...
Apparently, the picture is funnier to me than to the people I've shared it with haha

    I am still working on the website, obviously since it's still "incomplete".... I'm working on a couple of galleries to add for pictures, recipes and videos and once I start getting more content up I'll add videos for all the main entries to make the information more accessible for people that absorb info better when it's presented in an audio-visual way. Or if you're just lazy and don't want to read haha

    The first recipe book is "complete" in that it contains all the recipes and nutrition info I used during my initial 6 weeks of recovery. But it's also "incomplete" in that I am still creating more recipes. I think I might leave that first one alone, though, since it's nearly 100 pages. I'll compile the other recipes into a second recipe book, and also my soft-foods recipes into a recipe book for weeks 6 or 7-12, aka the second half of recovery. By week 12, the bones throughout the jaw that were cut for surgery are about 80% full-strength, but they're technically "healed" by week 6 so food tolerance will vary from patient to patient, depending on lots of factors.
The cover of my Jaw Recovery Playbook Recipe eBook (PDF)

    As always, feel free to contact me directly if you need advice, tips, information or if you want my recipes for your recovery. Or if you just want my recipes... I've shared them with a few other people who are not jaw surgery patients, but who are into health and fitness or bodybuilding, since the recipes are mostly higher-protein, high-protein/high-fiber, low-sugar, etc.  

    There's a link to the site at the top of this blog, you'll see it at the top along with other links to my other websites and/or profiles, or just go to www.JawRecoveryPlaybook.com

What's Next?

    I've given in and made Atom his own blog.  His cuteness should have its own platform and not just be tossed in with my pictures, blog posts, ramblings, etc. Sooo... feel free to check out Atom's Blog, "Just Atom"... there's a link to that at the top as well, or you can go to www.JustAtom.blogspot.com  He's linked to his own G+ profile as well, so be sure to stop over there and follow him on Google+ too :-)
Atom... in all his cuteness!



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