Monday, August 26, 2013

Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now

  When one needs to pee, there is usually a warning that goes through your body telling you that perhaps now is a good time to locate your nearest restroom and empty your bladder. When you have MS however, several things can make that suggestion from your body in immediate demand with little room for negotiation. Since losing the feeling in my left side 2 years ago, I have discovered that I don't feel the pending suggestion of my bladder, but rather a short notice message that tells me my bladder is full and it is time to "go." Those with MS can also tell you that at some point in their disease progression, incontinence (the inability to control one's bladder) has occurred leading to embarrassing moments. I have experienced both lately.
  For the last three weeks I have noticed two things occur. The first is that I am constantly thirsty. I find myself drinking 18oz of water in two big swigs, almost all of my hours awake. We are talking about 15-20 bottles a day. We buy usually a case of water for the house every week or two. However, we have had to buy 2 cases (32 bottles at 18oz each) per week just to try to keep up with my unquenchable thirst. No matter how much I drink, I crave more water and feel as if I have not drank in hours.
  Second, within 5 minutes of drinking, I have the feeling that my bladder is overflowing and I must immediately pee. The feeling is accurate, because when I run to the nearest toilet (and I do mean RUN, at least as fast as an MSer can) I pee a very strong stream for generally a minute at least. I have also found that unlike my usual ability to hold it for a few minutes allowing me time to locate a restroom, there is no ability beyond a few precious seconds to "hold it" leading to me having an "early release" as I jump out of my vehicle wherever I have found it safest to stop.
  Last week I was driving to a 7-11 to go to the bathroom after receiving the message from my brain that I had to urinate, when I realized that I had no more time to drive before the pee was going to make a jail break immediately and I was powerless to stop it. This led to me slamming the car in park whilst still moving in a bank parking lot and "flowing" as I ran to the tree line for privacy. If it were a crime scene I left a trail that would make the yellow brick road appear as a dimly lit hallway. A few days later I had to do the same thing, only this time it was in a frat house parking lot and my pants weren't as lucky as they were the time before. Good thing I was wearing shorts and had black absorbant socks on.
  With all this constant peeing and persistant thirst I decided that perhaps I should either invest in some Depends, or consult a doctor. At 34 years old I really don't have the desire to shatter what little self-esteem that I have left by having to wear adult diapers. Hell my youngest child just got out of diapers a few years ago and I really can't imagine having to explain to him why daddy has to wear diapers. So, at my wife's so suttle demand (get in the car and let's go) I went to the hospital to get an accurate diagnosis.
  When you are on several narcotic medications, certain side effects may occur. One of those side effects is kidney problems. When it comes to renal problems one of the warning signs is jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) which pretty much says it's time for rapid medical intervention. Due to it being summer, I have a rather good tan on most of my body so it is difficult to tell if I am becoming a Simpson. I personally thought that I had a little bit of a Simpsonesque tinge to me, but my wife didn't see any yellow, and I trust her vision more than my own. None the less however, I had the thought in my head that perhaps this might be kidney related.
  So, we go to the ER, and they put me in a room,and a nurse asks what my symtoms are and for my medical history. After a good amount of time listing my medical history, physical "ailments" and all my medications (she was glad they note this all by computer these days) I am asked to give a urine sample (NO PROBLEM) and they start an IV and take many vials of my blood. Finally after about 30 more minutes the doctor comes into the room.
  Now, as a former paramedic, when I obtain a medical history on someone I use that information along with their chief complaint to assist me with making a possible diagnosis. For instance, if you have a history of hypertension (high blood pressure) along with sudden onset of chest pain and numbness, I would be inclined to diagnose that your symptoms are most likely cardiac related and would focus on your heart until I can rule that out. This information I also can relay to the doctor before I arrive at the hospital so that the doctors there have an idea of your medical history and current complaint before I arrive to transfer care to them. I always assumed that the nurse taking my information in the hospital room would be for the attending physician to read prior to coming into my room to speak to me. Apparently; and you know what they say about assuming, I was wrong.
  The doctor comes in and begins asking a series of questions, and has no idea that I have MS, numbness on my left side, speech problems, vision disturbances, difficulty walking and standing as well as balance problems sometimes, or that I am on several narcotic medications, and is trying to figure out why my thirst and need to pee are my prime complaints for today's hospital visit instead of these other alarming medical conditions. Maybe they didn't cover this in his medical school training, but try reading the chart before speaking to the patient. Believe me, it saves a lot of time and obvious confusion.
  Now, with that out of the way, he immediately diagnoses me with diabetes. Yup, immediate diagnosis. No need to wait for the test results, or base this off of my medical history. I am thirsty and I have to pee, it's diabetes. Granted, I have read that some of the medications I am on can lead to development of diabetes, I am a firm believer in waiting for test results to be completed before diagnosing things with 100% certainty. But, he was convinced and made it clear that there was no more need for me to speak as he made his diagnosis and my input was no longer wanted or required.
  A few minutes after he leaves the room my nurse returns to take some more blood because there was a problem with one of the machines and they need to run a test again, and she gives me a shot with 8 Units of Insulin. Thankfully, later the tests reveal that the doctor was actually right (I mean, he's a doctor how could HE be wrong) or there might have been some embarrassing moments.
  So, now in addition to MS, hyperthyroidism, and elevated cholesterol, I am also now a diabetic. Turns out all the peeing was because I was not only drinking water like a Chicago Bears fan drinks beer on game day, but because my body was trying to get rid of all fhe extra sugar I was making. Lemonade anyone??? Sorry, little distubing mental image there for you.
  Thankfully, the doctor believes that the diabetes is only temporary and the medication he prescribed will get things back to normal in a little while without any lasting effects. The best part is the side effect of this medication. Now, if you are on narcotics (or have ever seen the movie Trainspotting) you know that a side effect is constipation. Well, the side effect of this medication is diarrhea. So, put them together and my bowel movements should go back to normal. Gotta love modern medicine.
  After a week on the diabetes medication, I can report that my urgency to pee is not as common and I don't feel as if I am dying of thirst as much anymore. Score 1 for the doctor, he actually helped alleviate my chief complaint. Now to wait and see how long the diabetes lasts. Good thing I never had much of a sweet tooth.
  If it's not one thing it's another when it comes to your health in the world of MS. A cure is what we all hope for, but it becomes a daily dose of symptom management in reality. Though it doesn't sound easy or enjoyable, it is all a part of life, or at least, something like it...