Thursday, May 23, 2013

Health Update

What follows is another in a series of Life With a Chronic Illness.™

Bladder surgery was a success, I am glad to say. I healed up quite nicely and now bear only a small scar on my lower back. The device implanted underneath the skin was placed at a part of my body without much fat to serve as cushioning. This means that I've had to be vigilant about making sure the implanted pacemaker device doesn't shift inside or, worse yet, burst through the skin of my lower back.

Though my condition has improved, I still experiences periods of bladder irritation, which two specific medications and a surgical procedure have never fully corrected. The pacemaker device regulates the electrical signaling between the spine and the bladder by emitting an electric current. Initially set at a low level, I upped the power slightly following surgery. I was warned by the urologist who performed the surgery that I was not to set it too high. Doing so would jeopardize battery life. The battery is supposed to last five years, after which a brand new one will be inserted in similar fashion.

I've begun my typical early summer depressive episode. Fortunately, up to now, it has been mild. People with bipolar are often sensitive to shifts in season. It's been postulated that increased or deceased sunlight is the culprit. I find myself more likely to be manic in the wintertime and depressed in the summer. Accordingly, I've increased my Lithium dosage and will up the level of an augmenting antidepressant as needed. Around this time of year, I find myself holding my breath a little wondering what to expect next. If only depression were more predictable and easier to treat.

The endocrine disorder has been the most problematic condition of all in the past several days. It is a difficult balancing act to make sure my body doesn't transform testosterone into estradiol. Every biological man has some estrogen present within his system. Too much of it, however, is a problem. In my case, high estradiol makes me physically tired and weak. This imbalance can be addressed with aromatase inhibitors, originally designed to stop breast cancer in biological women, but specialists are reluctant to prescribe it for men. For some reason, my body produces more Estrogen than is average, a fact that does not especially surprise me.

Only bloodwork can determine my precise hormonal levels. In a couple of weeks, it will be time again to have testosterone and estradiol checked, along with thyroid. Speaking of thyroid, I've been on Synthroid for three months. My thyroid levels were too low, so now I take a pill in the morning to make up the difference. In addition to other less interesting side effects, my fingernail and toenails now grow twice as fast. The same is true for the hair on my head.

If I take too much time to fixate upon everything that must be researched, completed, and swallowed, I begin to feel overwhelmed. This is why I try to live in the moment as best I can. My problems are not unique only to me. Regularly, I speak to people whose symptoms are worse than my own. The biggest concern for me is the early onset of these problems. I'm still in my early thirties and worry that the intensity of my medical problems will eventually overwhelm me completely.

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