It Has a Name

Well, the test results are back. It is confirmed what the first test revealed…my calcium levels are elevated. They are 2x the norm.

I have hyperparathyroidism and hypercalcemia…none of which is a good thing.

Back in August 2012, I started to experience extreme pain in my feet…like I couldn’t stand up without having a wave of pain go through my body. I kept complaining that it was in the bones…it wasn’t the muscle. My bones were hurting.

I took corrective action after looking up what it could possibly be. Ends up I had plantar fasciitis, which meant I needed to use corrective inserts and wear the Nike Lunarglide, which helps align the ankle correctly with the leg. I took it easy on my feet.

A podiatrist confirmed it was plantar fasciitis and told me that it would take a long time to heal, but thanks to my quick acting response to the issue, the pain has somewhat subsided after a year and it may be another 6 months to a year before it completely heals.

Along the way, I started experiencing other symptoms. I was throwing up in my sleep. I had a difficult time concentrating. I started forgetting how to spell words. I started forgetting words as I was speaking. My heart was in pain a lot. I felt like I was on the verge of having a heart attack.

In my meditations, God said to go back to the meditation center and go back to writing about hockey. This was back in March or April. He finished the meditation off with…you need to see a doctor because there’s something wrong. It’s very bad.

I procrastinated on that last part because I wasn’t ready to see a doctor, but as the symptoms worsened, I decided to go and see a doctor, especially after I turned 37. I just wanted to get everything taken care of.

My last post talked about hyperparathyroidism. I knew the tests would come back confirming it, especially when I read it was linked to cancer. The results were identical. I have 2x the amount of calcium in my bloodstream than should be there.

The parathyroid (not the thyroid) synthesizes calcium in the body. My parathyroid is doing double duty. It is not only synthesizing the calcium I put into my body, but it is also drawing the calcium from my bones, putting the extra calcium into the bloodstream instead of sending the calcium where it is supposed to go.

This, in effect, causes heart issues, high blood pressure, digestive issues, memory loss, high acid levels in the stomach, kidney problems, decreased bone density (which leads to osteoporosis), etc.

Basically, I’ve had all of the symptoms. I go in next week to get a bone density reading to see how far along this has progressed (I have been complaining about my bones hurting for a year now).

Originally, my doctor put me on Prilosec to help stop the vomiting in my sleep. It actually made me feel worse. I was vomiting 4x a night in my sleep, instead of just once a week.

I’m officially off of Prilosec and the vomiting more than 1x a night has stopped. I still vomit, but just once a night. I now sleep sitting up.

I originally thought that maybe my LapBand had slipped. My hiatal hernia was removed back in 2008, so I couldn’t understand why I was vomiting in my sleep.

The main reason I got off of Prilosec isn’t because of the increased vomiting. I have been very dizzy since I started taking the meds. That’s the side effect. Most of the time I was on the cruise, I was very dizzy.

Now, I have the post-cruise vertigo. My body feels like it is still on the ship, even though I’m on dry land. I’m light headed, dizzy and feel like I’m about to pass out all of the time. This could last up to a month.

Also, what I notice is worsening is my memory. I really struggle with speech. I mix my words up or forget words. It is very noticeable, because these past few weeks, I’ve noticed people helping me with my sentences. I swear, for the life of me, I can’t remember the words. In my mind, I know what it looks like, but I don’t know the word for it. I literally blank on it.

For example, if I’m trying to say the word ‘box,’ I can visually see it but I can’t remember what it’s called. I keep telling myself I know what the word is, but for the life of me I can’t think of what it is.

Or maybe I’m trying to say the words ‘medicine cabinet’ but instead say ‘cabinet medicine.’

I used to notice everything around me, but my mind gets so focused on something, people have had to stop me to get me to notice them. I have taken to writing myself notes to not forget things, then I realize…wait…you need to just do it now, not later, because you’ll forget to read that piece of paper.

I’m meticulous about knowing where everything is in my purse (wallet, access cards, keys, bus/subway pass). These days, I drop something and walk away…not even noticing what I’ve done until my brain starts doing the mental inventory and I realize I must have forgotten something, only to turn around and see it laying on the floor next to the subway turnstile.

I literally have a faint memory of holding the object before I dropped it, even though I just opened it and used it just 30 seconds earlier and told myself to remember I was holding it underneath my phone. I literally have no recollection I was even holding it until I realize I’m missing it. It takes a lot longer to remember I was actually holding it.

I was never like this. I knew where everything was and what I was doing. I was in complete control of myself.

When this absentmindedness started to happen, I assumed it was probably Alzheimer’s. My grandmother had it. I was taking extra precautions to make sure my memory was constantly churning. Now, I’m just helpless and can see it worsening as the weeks go by.

These are all the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism. The doctor also said I have hypercalcemia.

I’ve already started going through the motions of preparing my friends and family for the worst.

I had to find out if this was a genetic disorder, so I had my brother contact my father (who is a doctor) to find out if this ran in our family. My brother didn’t have the name for it, he just described it. My dad knew what he was talking about and then started describing what this disorder actually is along with the symptoms.

Somewhere down the line my father asked my brother if this had to do with someone that’s already had cancer before. My brother tried to divert the conversation away from it possibly being me, but we think my dad figured it out. He told my brother that this was a very serious matter.

So far, based on what I’ve read, combined with the symptoms I’ve been experiencing, we’re beyond the monitoring to see how it goes. We’re at the prepare for a lot of testing which could lead to surgery.

Because all of the symptoms, testing and doctor visits are escalated right now, I may have to cancel my 3 week vacation in October. I also have to prepare for the worst, so I’ve given my keys to my friend with instructions on how my funeral should be arranged, as well as all of the contact numbers she will need just in case. My brother is aware of where the Will stands, as well as what to do with all of my property and what accounts and insurance policies he’s a beneficiary of. It’s morbid to even discuss these things, but considering my friend has the exact opposite of hyperparathyroidism (the low calcium), she is beyond freaked out for me. She told me that she would be freaking out right now if she were in my shoes. She said she couldn’t believe how calm I was about all of this because I could die. {She said it, I didn’t.}

I spoke to another co-worker and she told me her sister had this. She didn’t survive it. She had 14 surgeries. She didn’t survive the 14th surgery.

I will admit that after doing some ‘pick me up’ shopping last night, I went home and cried. I tried to explain to the cat if something bad happens to me, my friend would come and pick her up and take good care of her for the rest of her life. When I told my brother Surita would be going with my friend, he responded, “What about me?”

Surita hates him. I wouldn’t do that to her. I’d rather she go with someone she really likes and be just as spoiled rotten (or even more spoiled rotten) as she was with me. I want her to continue to be happy for the rest of her days.

Today, as I look back on everything, it just amazes me how everything was interconnected. It started with my feet being in excrutiating pain. The memory loss wasn’t Alzheimer’s. The vomiting in my sleep wasn’t because my LapBand had slipped. The heart being in pain and the high blood pressure wasn’t because I had an unhealthy diet (because I don’t). It was hyperparathyroidism and hypercalcemia.

If you read the link to hyperparathyroidism above, you’ll see it’s either a benign tumor or it’s a malignant cancer. I guess we’ll find out soon which one it is.

Also, looking back at that meditation…there are times I question if God is really speaking to me…if he really keeps his promises. I question if he lied to me at times, or maybe I was just lying to myself, thinking it was God. He told me to go back to the Meditation Center to focus on cleaning out my soul, so I did. He told me to go back to hockey writing, so I did. He told me to go to the doctor because something really bad was going on, so I did.

I understand why he told me to go back to hockey writing. I understand now that he wasn’t lying that something very bad was going on with my health. Each time I tell myself that God didn’t lie to me, I then realize that promise he made to me when I was 15. This is his way of saying he didn’t lie to me back then. He was keeping his promise.

There’s also a lot of irony involved with going back to hockey writing. When I first started off as a beat reporter for the Devils, I was going to the Meditation Center, and that was when I had my surgery which led to the doctors saying my cancer had returned.

The second time around after taking the majority of last season off, I’m back at the Meditation Center and it’s looking like a surgery is forthcoming and cancer is linked to it. This time around, though, it’s much worse.

So I apologize ahead of time to the players and coaches I interview…I may have a hard time with my speech when I ask the questions. My words may get turned around or I blank on a word. I apologize to the people who read my work…I spend more time looking up how to spell words on the internet now than I ever did before. It’s a frustration for me because I keep saying to myself, ‘I know how to spell that word, I just can’t remember how.’ I’m just thankful for editors that will make my work read more smoothly and make sense over at Inside Hockey. As for the blogs…just bear with me. If you don’t understand what I’m saying or the word is incorrect, just keep in mind it’s not because I’m an idiot or because I can’t write…it’s just part of this disorder and it’s out of my control.

After I wiped away the tears last night, I thought to myself…I’m just going to push through and do what I always say I’m going to do…make the rest of this life an amazing life. Hockey plays a part of that “amazing” life, I mean…the experiences I’ve had from NHL events to watching Marty Brodeur set new records…those are the moments that were the important moments in this lifetime. I got the pleasure of falling in love with this game thanks to Jaromir Jagr. Now, I get to watch his final season and he’s making my life easier by playing that final season with the New Jersey Devils.

Then again, maybe this will be the Devils year that I can watch them hoist a Stanley Cup with my own eyes. They came close to it last year, but then lost. Maybe they’ll get lucky this season. Then again, the dream I really had of seeing the Cup hoisted…it was to see Jagr hoist the Cup one more time before he retired. Maybe God will grant that wish.

I am going to try and push through physically and mentally to cover hockey this season, but if things do not improve and only worsen, there will be a time I will have to say I can’t cover it anymore.

I think it’s weird that I’m praying it’s only just a benign tumor and nothing more. It’s the lesser of the two evils in all of this. If it’s the benign tumor…then all of the symptoms will go away after the tumor(s) are removed. If it’s the latter…well, you know how it goes.

I feel bad for my friend…she keeps sending me emails saying she doesn’t want me to die. Either way, I’m just glad I have her around to help me when I need it. She’s volunteered to pick me up after the surgery and take me home, be there for the appointments and treatments if I need her to be. Her family has been a godsend for me these last 5 years. I’m just so glad I met them.

Last year, her mom was teaching me how to raise kids by trying it out on three of the wildest boys in their family. She leaned over to me and asked, “Are you sure you want all boys?” I responded, “I’m very sure.”

Her mom died last month. I was so happy to see her family at the funeral, even though it was a somber time. They were just as happy to see me. I’m just very lucky I found such a great family to look out for me here in NYC. Surita will be just as happy with them as her new family if anything were to happen to me.

I think it is a little weird writing this post today. I think I just know what’s coming and have accepted it. Maybe I’ll be lucky and get to live another 40 years but always have this complication. Or maybe I’ll die young like I keep telling my friend. I’ve told her this for years. She got upset with me the first time I told her because I had a certain age in mind. Considering it’s approaching and now this…she is beyond freaked out right now.

Me…I’m just preparing for that day…cleaning out the soul, getting my affairs in order and just doing my best to enjoy the time God gives to me.

Last year, a gypsy woman told me Death was following me. I told her, “I know.” She gave me charms to ward him off. Instead, I left those charms in the house for the cat, because I wanted her to feel better. You can’t stave off the inevitable.

The only thing Death has told me…clean out your soul. There are things you don’t want to carry with you when you die. It’s amazing to find out just what you carry within your soul as you go through each incident in this lifetime. Things you didn’t know that hurt you in the past or you’d forgotten about…you remember and then deal with it. That’s how these past few months have been…dealing with the most obscure things and then the big things. All the while, I have to make sure to get in all the good karmic acts while I can.

In the meantime, we’ll try to fix this issue. Like I said, maybe I’ll get lucky.

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