A tisket, a tasket, Catherine’s got a basket (full of health problems)

A tisket a tasket, with a green and yellow basket on grass.

First, a musical note: if you’ve never heard jazz immortal Ella Fitzgerald sing “A tisket, a tasket”, you are in for a treat. Listen up here.

This summer has been fun– celebrating family milestones and going on outings with friends– but it’s brought some annoying health woes for me. As I love lists, here’s my medical one:

None of these is life-threatening, and all of them are treatable. But, they’ve thrown me for a loop, upended mid and late-summer plans and demanded my immediate attention. The combination of them also makes my life more complicated. Because of the DVT, I can no longer take ibuprofen or other NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory medications) for conditions like, say, sciatica. Or migraine. That means more pain and discomfort day and night, which affects my sleep. Ugh.

Managing pain without the obvious choice in meds is possible, though. I’ve started physical therapy for the sciatica, which is helping. I’m doing all the exercises, which provide relief. There’s also heat (or ice, but I’m preferring the former) and everyday movement (other than driving, which is ouchy). Tylenol doesn’t do much for pain, but it’s better than nothing.

I’ve gotten some proper migraine medicine, which I now take if I feel a headache coming on. This requires attention and responsiveness, which I’m working on.

The gerd/reflux is the easiest fix. I’m on a six-week course of omeprazole, and adjusting my eating times and overall diet as well.

The DVT is the most sobering medical issue for me, as it means I’m now on anti-coagulants for at least the short-term, and possibly the foreseeable future. It affects my choice of activities and how I do those activities. I’ll post more about cycling while on blood thinners another time, but for now I’m riding on bike paths and quiet streets. I have flat pedals on my e-bike. And I always wear a helmet anyway, so that’s covered. I ordered a medic alert bracelet which I’ll wear (I got this one) and all my cycling friends know what’s going on.

In addition to the pain and discomfort and sleep interruption and trip cancellations (I really missed seeing you and yours, Sam!), there’s the disruption and shift in identity: I now have at least one chronic medical condition that requires daily medication and restrictions on some activities (e.g. mountain biking, skiing). Am I now a different person? How am I to think of myself moving forward?

I talked with friends who take daily medications to manage chronic health conditions like diabetes, depression, migraine, high blood pressure, etc. Turns out, these folks have been carrying their baskets full of health woes the whole time I’ve been skipping around without mine. They manage theirs, and I’ll manage mine. I’m getting support from these same friends, my family, my doctor, the very good physical therapy folks, and my acupuncturist.

We’ve all got baskets of stuff to carry around. How we carry them depends in part on how heavy they are and who we have to help us. Writing this helps me realize my medical woes aren’t that woesome; they’re manageable, and in fact they might even fit in here:

A jaunty yellow woven basket, with a long handle for easy carrying.

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