Genetic Apologizers & Various Topics of Doom

Apologizing to younger generations for the faulty genes they’ve inherited has been a longstanding tradition in my family. To my dismay and eventual resigned indifference, I followed in the footsteps of at least 3 generations – my mother, my grandmother, and my great grandmother – by apologizing to my own child for unwittingly dooming him. Because our genes suck, you see. They just do. And I chose to procreate before I knew any better.

Now that 23andme exists, I have scientific proof that all these wacky women in my maternal line, myself included, were right to worry. We do have some fucked up genes. No wonder our family’s been plagued with cancers and rare blood diseases and asthma and allergies and eczema and the like. No wonder I became chemically sensitive. No wonder I don’t process drugs well. I’m practically a genetic mutant.

Adding to the problem, it’s not like our world is becoming less toxic. On the contrary, our food supply and our air quality have declined significantly over the years. Bad news for genetically compromised people such as myself.

I also recently learned that children inherit their mitochondrial DNA from their mothers, which is important for health. (Yes, I’m 37 and just learned this. What do you want from me? I’m not a goddamn biologist.) Well, since my mitochondrial DNA sucks, my son’s probably does, too. For christ’s sake, my mother was right…again. “I just had no business having kids,” she’s said on more than one occasion. I’ve always reassured her that I’d rather be alive with problems than stuck somewhere in the ether, all formless and shit. Well, I didn’t say it quite like that. But I conveyed my desire to live, potential genetic fuckery and all.

After Cipro, and MCS, and ailment after ailment, I’m not so sure. I mean, I’m stuck here. I’m not going anywhere, because fuck it – I’m already here and I can’t leave my kid. But I don’t necessarily WANT to be here anymore, especially facing potential decades of fruitlessly chasing good health. I’m already so tired, and this is no way to live.

When I’ve apologized to my son in the past, he’s reassured me in the same way I reassured my own mom, even though he’s experienced more sickness at a younger age than any of us have. (I, at least, had a somewhat healthy childhood. As far as I know, my mom and grandma did, too.) “I’d rather have these problems than not be alive,” he’s said. But I know he doesn’t understand the full scope of what might await him.

Eventually I decided to stop apologizing to my son for fucking him up. One, it’s kind of dysfunctional to voice those regrets aloud. No need to repeat the patterns of my elders if I can help it. Two, I don’t have to say every thought that enters my mind. Just shut the hell up sometimes. Three, I don’t want him to grow up thinking his genes are a time bomb waiting to ruin his life. I don’t want to instill this underlying fear into his subconscious mind.

That said, I also don’t want him to take Fluoroquinolones or consistently expose himself to chemicals, because like it or not, he IS genetically susceptible to developing MCS and reacting to Fluoroquinolones. And no one looking at these health conditions from the outside can remotely fathom the hell they bring, or the havoc they wreak. There has to be a way to impart a healthy sense of awareness and caution without poisoning him with fear.

Then again, it’s probably too late. Much like procreating before I realized my genes were bad, I also apologized for his genes before I realized his subconscious mind was a sponge soaking up my well-intentioned but dysfunctional worry. So now I’m not just sorry for his genes, I’m sorry for apologizing for them during his formative years. (Geez, how else am I unwittingly fucking up my child?)

I no longer apologize for my son’s genes, but that doesn’t mean I worry any less about his future health. Staying true to my family traditions, my brain has been flooded with advice I would give him if the advice weren’t totally fucked up and alarmist. Like, maybe he should use 23andme into to find a wife eventually. You know, pick someone with good genes in case he gets sick later in life. She can produce healthy kids who can help take care of him. Side note: will something like that be the future of dating? Not just checking people for STDs, but checking for genetic mutations? God, what a terrible idea. Told you my brain is out of control.

Also, I think he should go to college and major in something that will immediately land him a high paying job. Then he should live in a one bedroom apartment and save all his money for years in case he gets sick. And he should also try to marry someone who is financially stable. No, money can’t necessary heal an illness, but it can at least eliminate a portion of a person’s stress. It’s really awful to be sick and financially strained at the same time.

Don’t fret, I’m not going to actually suggest these things to my child. I know our biochemistry is impossibly complex, and that shitty genes do not necessarily doom a person to terrible diseases and a lifetime of illness. The point I’m skirting around in this ridiculous post is that I’m sick of being sick and worrying about being sick, and worrying about my son’s future in this shitty, poisoned world.

That’s all. No big deal.

Also, tomorrow I’m going to an ENT because my left ear is stuffy, and full, and ringing, and has been for a month. I can’t hear well, I feel disoriented, my glands hurt but I have no infection, and I don’t know if any of this is an ear problem or a TMJ problem or something even more sinister. All of this is really bumming me out today. At one point my thoughts turned to 23andme, and how I’m too tired to figure out how to deal with my mutations, and how a part of me just doesn’t even fucking care enough to try to fix anything anymore. I also do not want to get on this doctor merry go round again, but I have to figure out WTF is going on here. Did I mention my fingers and the side of my head feel numb sometimes? And that some kind of weird cognitive difficulty is going on? Well, it is.

Also, I’m just as afraid of the doctor telling me nothing is wrong as I am of hearing bad news. Because clearly something IS wrong – I’m just so used to being dismissed that in spite of these obvious problems I’m afraid of some guy in a white coat telling me it’s all in my head. Hey, asshole? It is in my head – my left ear, specifically. Fucking diagnose me.

And now my PTSD is kicking in. I swear, just when I think life is relatively normal, some shit like this happens. Fuck off, life. Seriously.

Whelp, this post sure devolved into a pile of shit, didn’t it?

Oh, well. Better luck next time. Tomorrow is a new day, and all that crap. Insert additional inspirational cliche here – I’m all out.

UPDATE, because I’m too tired to write a new post:

The ENT thinks my problems are TMJ-related, and that my ear fullness and hearing loss are due to residue left by the ear drops I used a few weeks ago. Gross. I guess it’s time to resume the dental work I’ve been putting off. I took a break because I can barely afford the payments. Treating TMJ is also expensive, so fuck that, too. 

Misadventures with Nasal Spray

I’ve had intermittent facial pain for the past 4 years, approximately. It mostly affects my left side, and can involve my nose, sinuses, teeth, jaw, eye, and ear. I have sought medical advice on numerous occasions. Here’s what I’ve been told at my various appointments, in pretty much this order:

“It’s probably allergies. Try this nasal spray.”
“It could be a tooth infection. Go visit a dentist.”
“I don’t see anything wrong with your teeth. Follow up with your doctor.”
“It could be allergies. Try this nasal spray.”

The pain and irritation comes and goes. I’d pursue an accurate diagnosis more frequently, but I hate going to doctors. My faith in the medical system was completely destroyed by years of visiting countless doctors who either dismissed my issues or couldn’t help at all. Therefore, it’s a rare occasion that I actually seek their help anymore – usually I have to be in somewhat bad shape to decide to brave their offices again. Not to mention, floxing gave me a higher than normal tolerance for physical discomfort by forcing me to endure illness and pain for several years with no help whatsoever. So, I tend to live with bothersome symptoms for long periods of time, hoping they’ll just go away eventually. Smart, huh? Yeah, I think so, too.

Anyway, one reason doctors haven’t been able to help is because all they seem to do is speculate rather than identify the root cause of the problem. Then they prescribe drugs to mask symptoms. But as weeks and months drag on, I inevitably forget these details and end up in an exam room again at some point.

This time, though, when my discomfort flared again I remembered the results from all the visits of the past, especially the “It’s probably allergies. Try this nasal spray” thing. So, I decided to try some nasal spray before heading to the doctor again. Luckily, I have amassed a small collection of little-used physician samples over the years, and so I happened to have two such sprays to choose from. I picked Nasonex, mostly because it was in arms reach the moment it occurred to me. Bonus: it wasn’t even expired.

Because my chemical sensitivities have improved so drastically from the first 2 years I was sick, I tend to forget I’m still very sensitive to drugs of all varieties. (I take them only rarely.) So, when I decided to squirt one spray into my affected nostril, I was surprised by the side effects that ensued in the coming hours.

First, I began to feel crappy. Yes, that’s a vague description, but it was a noticeable contrast from the previous two days of feeling relatively good. In addition, within a couple of hours I began to get joint and tendon pain, nausea, mild peripheral neuropathy of the itchy/crawly variety, muscle twitching, nausea, stomachache, and jitteriness.

I thought, “Oh no, am I coming down with the flu?” Then I thought, “Wait a minute…surely it can’t be from that ONE SQUIRT of nasal spray in my one nostril, can it?” So I googled “Nasonex Side Effects”.

The answer? Yes. Every single one of my sudden symptoms could, in fact, be related to that single spray of Nasonex. Well, except for the peripheral neuropathy, I think. Most medications tend to flare that no matter what – just another gift from Cipro that keeps on fucking giving.

But anyway…I’m going to share some gems I stumbled across in my google searches, just to illustrate how ridiculous life with sensitivities really is.

Some of my symptoms fall under the “normal side effects” category. That’s fine. I understand that even healthy people get side effects from medications.

Some of them, however, fall into different categories. “Flu-like symptoms” falls into the “call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects” category. Oh really? No, thanks. That’s a quick route to a “paranoia” notation in my medical chart.

Now, jitteriness was another story. I didn’t see it mentioned on mainstream websites, so I decided to do another google search: “Nasonex jitters”. Of course, I got several hits. It must be a known but rare effect. Whatever. It happens. I am certainly no stranger to the concept of rare side effects. What struck me as beyond ridiculous, however, was this statement:

“Usually seen in women aged 50-59, who have been taking the medication for 2-5 years.” Uh…okay.

My search for “Nasonex twitching” yielded similar anecdotal evidence of this side effect, including:

“Muscle twitching is found among people who take Nasonex, especially for people who are female, 60+ old, have been taking the drug for 1 – 6 months…”

What? People, I’m 37. And let me remind you that I used ONE SQUIRT of that shit. One squirt, one time. I mean, really? What the actual fuck? I haven’t been taking it for a month, let alone 2-5 years. In fact, it had only been 2 hours. But my body, in its infinite, distorted wisdom, said “Ooh, 2 whole hours?! Break out the fucked up side effects – 2 hours is just too long to be on that drug!”

Suddenly I’m remembering AGAIN why I still have so many samples from the doctor’s office, and another reason why I always put off appointments: because I can’t tolerate the bullshit drugs they always want me to try. So, I guess it’s possible my face/eye/tooth/jaw pain is from allergies, but I can’t tolerate the medication long enough to test this theory.

I swear, the level of insanity involved in the aftermath of floxing is staggering, even to an old-timer like me. (By old-timer, I’m referring to my veteran floxie status of 6.5 years.) You’d think I’d be used to this sort of thing by now, but I’m fucking not. THIS SHIT IS RIDICULOUS.

Oh, and for the record, I have no idea if the Nasonex even helped. The pain and discomfort in my face lessened after a while, but it seems to do that randomly when I don’t take anything for it. So who the fuck knows?

I’m just going to end this post here. I have other ailments that have evaded diagnosis, but I’ll save elaboration for another time. Here’s a little teaser, though: be on the lookout for a post entitled “Misadventures with my Ass”, or some such thing. That’s sure to be a fun one. (BTW, get your heads out of the gutter – I’m referring to medical issues only!) I’ve got to gather the courage to talk about my ass woes publicly, though. It might take a while. Or, it might not happen at all. We shall see. Hopefully none of my ailments will eventually result in someone saying “Oops, we thought you had allergies or minor digestive issues, but it’s actually stage IV cancer. Sorry!” Because that would totally suck.

And I’m not making light of cancer in the least, BTW. It’s actually been a fear of mine for quite some time, to receive one of the worst diagnoses possible after years of medical mysteries.  So, that probably means it will happen someday.

Until then…stay tuned for more misadventures with ailments and modern medicine! Good times! Gooooood times.

Fully Functional Opposable Thumbs: Fun While They Lasted

I am in such a pissy mood this fine evening. Do I want to explain why? Hmmm. Hmmmmmm…. I’m not really sure. Let’s see…

For one thing, electricians have been rewiring my apartment for the last 2 days. This place is old, and the wiring probably violated some kind of building code. Anyway, I came home today from the sweatshop where I work to find most of my furniture moved around and dirt everywhere – dirt which probably contains microscopic flecks of lead paint, might I add. So I got to spend the last hour moving furniture and dropping expletives, like when I discovered dusty layers of crud all over my kid’s freshly washed sheets, my rugs, and the toiletries on my sink. Oh, and when I found out my bathroom fan is now wired to the light switch so it whirs annoyingly every time the light is turned on. I mean, come on. This is not a gas station restroom. Or…it wasn’t until today.

So, spending my evening moving furniture and cleaning dirt off my floors and surfaces sucked. It also allowed my other annoyances to bubble to the surface, one of which is that this very post has been saved in my drafts for almost an entire month and I haven’t managed to finish it. Not only that, but I first started writing it several months ago. It bothers me that life is so hectic that I rarely find the time to write, even though writing is one of the few activities that fills that vast hole of despair I wrangle with from time to time. Or if I do find the time, I’m too exhausted to form cohesive sentences.

Of course, my ever-pervasive perfectionism might also, sort of, hinder the writing process as well. It just might.

Anyway, energized by my aforementioned pissiness, I decided that I’m going to sit right here on my slightly askew couch, surrounded by my slightly askew furniture, lead paint dust underfoot, and finish this blog post tonight, by god. Finish this shit and post it, even if it’s not perfect. Even if it has…(GASP)…some typos. EGADS! So, here we are.

Old thumb post I’ve decided to publish, potential typos and all (take THAT, perfectionism!):

I was blessed with these working thumbs for thirty six and a half years, though I doubt I used them for much besides sucking and inadvertently poking myself in the eye during my first six months of life. Still, I kind of thought their functionality would last my ENTIRE life, and I don’t show signs of dropping dead anytime soon. This is distressing.

Oh, what happened to my thumbs? Right, that detail would help, wouldn’t it? Okay. You see, at work I performed a task which I’ve done thousands of times before at my menial job for the last 10 years.

That’s it. That’s all I did.

Oh, you wanted more? There really isn’t more. While this work task was slightly more labor-intensive in terms of quantity and time spent on its performance, this very thing occurs every so often at my job, and so was nothing new for me. I even performed this task repeatedly in the early days of floxing with no issue.

So what gives?

Physicians may disagree, but I suspect I’ve not yet arrived at the age where loss of functionality in my joints can be blamed on aging alone, especially given the abrupt onset of my thumb issues.

Wait…I never explained what’s wrong with my thumbs, did I? They fucking hurt – that’s what’s wrong with them. More specifically, once the time consuming task was over at work, they were sore, and the soreness never healed. It’s been more than three months. My thumbs now hurt when I perform certain tasks both related and unrelated to work, from the task that fucked them up to begin with, to washing dishes, to typing, to putting on pants, to cutting paper to make the collages I so love to make.

Did you hear that pathetic crushing sound? It was my heart breaking at the thought of losing my ability to create the art I like to create without pain or limitations in movement. But have I lost it? I don’t know, because I don’t know what’s really wrong with my thumbs, or whether they will heal. They make these snapping noises sometimes, in addition to pain. That can’t be good. I probably need to see a doctor, but I can’t afford tests and xrays, and god forbid if something is wrong with them and I need specialized care. I suppose I could agree to a payment plan with a doctor’s office, and then never pay the bill like I did when something was wrong with my kidneys and I had to get tests that never yielded answers. Then I could welcome yet another bill collector into my life, whose calls I ignore daily. We’ll just have to see.

The elephant in the room here, is why the hell was I suddenly injured from a task I’ve performed occasionally for the last 10 years with no previous trouble? Did my thumbs finally reach their maximum threshold of normal usage after being damaged by Cipro?*** I’m suspecting so. Of course, can you imagine the doctor’s reaction if presented with this information?

“Um, yeah…my thumbs are injured from doing this work task I’ve done thousands of times before, and I think it’s because my tendons and cartilage were weakened by a Cipro prescription I took 5 and a half years ago.”

I can see the incredulous look on this doctor’s face all the way from the alternate universe in which I decided to actually tell this to a doctor. Therefore, I will not bother to mention it in this universe. If I see a doctor, and that’s still an IF at this point, there will be no mention of Cipro. Why? Because I don’t want to be referred to a psych or offered Prozac like the last doctor who told me I was crazy for believing Cipro harmed me. Instead, I’ll be the good, agreeable patient and let the doctor figure out what’s wrong with me, because he knows best, right? What do I know? I’m too dumb to understand a package insert anyway. Let him blame my thumb woes on overuse, or even age, even though I’m still relatively young. Then I’ll go home and add my thumbs to the list in my after-death plan (I’ll post more about that some other time), try to carry on with these mangled, pain-riddled appendages, and like everything else that’s gone wrong post-Cipro, wait around for months to see if they ever improve.

Or, I’ll just skip the doctor altogether and keep on waiting around. It’s what I’ve been doing all this time, anyway.

***I know it sounds crazy, but frequent muscoskeletal injury from everyday tasks is not uncommon post-FQ Toxicity. Some of my other injuries include: 1. My shoulder/arm, after putting on a coat (this bothered me for approximately 2 years) , 2. My feet, after wearing 3″ heels for 6 hours (my left foot still has not completely healed, 7 months later), 3. My shoulders, from something new I was doing at work. Doctor said it was bursitis, recommended physical therapy – I declined for financial reasons. They have mostly healed now, but it took more than a year. 4. My wrists – again, from a work task. They eventually healed, but now I have a new wrist injury of unknown origin, going on a month now. 5. My foot. I don’t remember what was wrong, or where it hurt, but I remember it was sore for weeks after walking up a tiny hill. And I mean, tiny – about 3 feet long at a 20 degree incline. 6. My feeble brain cannot recall the sixth injury, but I know I had more than 6 during the last several years. Either way, there is no reason a person in their early thirties should injure themselves while walking or putting on a coat. Somehow, FQs seem to accelerate the aging process, weakening joints and tendons – this is why some people end up in wheelchairs. Although my injuries are annoying and troublesome, I’m grateful every day they weren’t severe enough to hinder my ability to walk.