What To Think, What To Do

My symptoms.

I’m not even sure the site linked above is a reliable one. The design sucks, but that’s not an infallible indicator of bad information. Nor is bad spelling and grammar, but it makes one wonder.

However… dammit, except for PTSD, every one of those things is happening or has happened to me. I had VBG – vertical banded gastroplasty about 16 years ago. Oh yeah, I lost weight at first, but now I weigh about 5 lbs less than when I had the surgery.

Until recently, I didn’t even consider that any of my health problems were related to that surgery. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia before the surgery, but tended not to say anything about that to anyone because it was not really accepted as a “real” problem at the time.

Several years after the surgery, I found I had a small meningioma which finally grew much larger. It was treated with radiation when it got larger. Many of the symptoms listed in that link, I attributed to the tumor.

I’ve seen neurologists, neurosurgeons, gastroenterologists, psychiatrists, rheumatologists, and… of course, my primary care docs. I recently had a hernia repaired which was due to the incision made by the VBG surgery. Ever since then, the diarrhea is much worse.

Honestly, I don’t know what to do. None of these symptoms alone are serious enough to worry about or cause much trouble, but taken together, they do cause problems. And they’ve become much worse over the past 3-4 years. But how am I — or a doctor — to know what causes what?

I also had a bad fall about 3 years ago. Both knees were injured, but my right knee has never been “right” since then. It was x-rayed and nothing is broken, but it is still very tender and painful at times. My left knee is “unreliable”. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, but it was that way before I fell. It’s just worse now.

Though I’ve joked about losing 25 IQ points, it’s really not funny. I am blessed that even with that loss, I’ve still got at least an “average” IQ and supposedly can express myself well.

Well, not as well I once did and not as well as I want to. I hate the inability to concentrate. Once upon a time, I read two books a week, now it’s a book a month, at best. This is a serious blow to my sense of well-being.

One of the main reasons I have this blog is to try to keep my mind as sharp as I can. It’s also why I read certain blogs daily. But frankly, sometimes I’m a little bit frightened that I can’t communicate the way I want to, whether in a post here or a comment elsewhere.

9 thoughts on “What To Think, What To Do

  1. Wow. I feel your pain. Especially about not being able to communicate as well as you’d like to do. I’m getting worse and worse about not finding the word(s) I need. I can’t hold a conversation without having to frequently stop for a few seconds and force a picture into my mind of the person or thing I’m trying to talk about. I can tell it’s beginning to drive my (much) better half crazy. Probably because he’s pretty sure I’ve already completed that trip.

  2. That’s why this is so confusing, CG. I can attribute all those symptoms to so many other things. But I can also pinpoint a few of them to within months of the surgery.

    There’s really nothing I can do, except that the digestive problems are getting so bad now that I am thinking about a reversal, if possible.

    It really sucks to not be able to eat much of anything without throwing up or feeling nauseous and still gain weight. A steak? Raw veggies? Forget it… they’re not going down.

  3. If it means anything, one of the reasons I started writing on the Web (at the tender age of 42) was to keep my brain from turning into tapioca during my putative Declining Years. I hope it’s helped, but there’s really no way to be sure, is there?

  4. I was a bit older when I started my first blog — 51, and it didn’t have a thing to do with cognitive ability but rather Dan Rather’s apparent cognitive decline :-)

    The first and most definitive “decline” after my VBG was hair loss. Before the surgery, I had a mane of blonde hair which others actually envied. Now, I have near baldness on the top of my head.

    When I had radiation for my little benign brain tumor, I suffered through a year of multiple areas of baldness… and gained an absolute hatred of hats. (Mainly because I never looked good in hats anyway.)

    Another point of observance of vastly declining mental ability occurred when I was prescribed wellbutrin to stop smoking. OMG – immediately almost I was not able to concentrate, to the point I dropped out of several classes I was taking at the time.

    Slowly, a lesser ability to concentrate led to my learning some programming abilities. That ability has dropped to the point that I can’t quite “get” the ability to italicize something in comments with html.

    The surgery, the tumor, the radiation, aging, etc… who knows what causes what — but I’m not the person I was 10 years ago.

  5. Your original phrasing of a “lesser ability to concentrate” pretty much sums up my programming abilities.

    Wellbutrin did evil things to my mind; severe anxiety attacks and a feeling of impending doom within a couple of hours of taking the first pill. I’ve never felt anything so mentally and emotionally terrifying. And although I only took it for a couple of days before I called the doctor’s office and told them that I was taking myself off it, I have never fully recovered from the effects. I can’t believe they actually prescribe that stuff as an anti-depressant. I wouldn’t wish the feelings it gave me on anyone.

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