Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Story-Time Tuesday - If Good Health Was Easy

I'm making myself write this story.   Partly because my Naturopathic Doctor just published a very interesting book and I want to share it with you.   Partly because I'm pushing myself to write more.   And partly because I think this story might be YOUR story.  And sometimes reading makes pain hurt a tiny bit less.  This story will be pretty candid...I'm not attempting 'the glass half full' philosophy here.  I know it could be worse. 

I'm using the Story-Time Tuesday format for this and each week I will be doing a giveaway for "A Different Kind of Medical Care" but Dr. Tina Marcantel. 

You can read about this book by clicking here.

Giveaway Information:   Enter to win a copy on this post today or you can purchase at that link.   10% discount code is 'healthy1'.

I will have Mr. Jenny select a random number from all the comments on this post.   Feel free to enter any time before Monday.

Winner will be announced next Tuesday along with the continuing story.  Autographed book will be mailed out on Wednesday!

The winner of last weeks books is this comment:

I have fibro and arthritis and a few other things. Stress is just horrific on me, so I can relate to what you are saying. I'll be waiting to hear the rest of your story and I pray that your pain is at least tolerable now...or gone! :)

 Congratulations!   If you could e-mail your snail mail address (jennymatlock at cox dot net with the words BOOK GIVEAWAY) and I'll get the book out to you on Friday! Or even tomorrow if I get my house ready for Thanksgiving early by some miracle!

Jenny Matlock


The revolt started almost right away.  The hot flashes went to nuclear level.  I was the woman who would have ripped off her clothes in public just to cool off.   I was the woman who would dump water on my head and have the house so cold everyone was blue-lipped and shivering.

I kept reading about surgical menopause.   ‘Hot flashes are normal,’ I told myself.

I called the surgeon who said, “Hot flashes are normal.  If they get extreme call back.”


 Oh.  Okay.  

I tried as hard as possible to reconcile feeling like someone is pouring boiling oil on you is normal.  “Not extreme.  Not extreme,” I told myself.

Poor Mr. Jenny didn’t say anything.  He was frightened of the mood swings, I suspect.   Or just afraid to touch a woman who would yell, “You’re too hot…get away from me!”  He figured out really quickly that I wasn’t complimenting him and/or flirting.   Sigh.

Then cold flashes started alternating with the hot.  I cracked a molar from my teeth rattling together.

After I had it pulled, I called the doctor back.

"Seriously?  Is this ‘normal’?   My teeth are chattering so hard I’ve cracked a molar…five minutes later it feels like someone is pouring boiling oil on me?  Is THIS normal?  Is THIS extreme enough?”

The doctor conceded that, “Yes, it might be a bit out of the norm.” 

He prescribed estrogen.  And Progesterone.  Patches.  Pills.  Nothing helped.  If anything, the hot and cold got more extreme.

He sent me to Tucson to a specialist who gave me some kind of awful injections that made me throw-up for days.

After the treatment I could barely move and my heart started feeling weird. 

I went to my family doctor.

“Weird how?” he asked.   A few seconds later he was doing a portable EKG.  “Wow, this is very unusual arrhythmia.   How long has this been going on?”

“Since you sent me for that hysterectomy,” I told him.   He dismissed any connectivity with a wave of his hand, and wrote a referral into a heart hospital for evaluation.

He gave me pills to help with the discomfort.

When my heart went into beating really slowly it felt quite painful inside my chest and when it was racing I felt like I was going to pass out, so even though the medication made me feel dizzy and sick, I took the pain pills

The heart hospital was puzzled.  They did tests.  They poked.   They prodded.  I wore an electronic tracking halter device for a week.  Nothing showed up.   They did more tests.  They made me wear the halter monitor for a month.   Nothing showed up.

I guess I should clarify here that nothing showed up WITH MY HEART.  

However, lots more physical symptoms decided to show up in my body.  My hair started falling out and my skin started aging rapidly.   The headaches grew worse along with the joint pains.   Tremors in my hands and arms made it difficult to even hold a glass of water.   I also began experiencing bone cramps…like Charlie horses inside the bones of my legs, spine and pelvis.  The bone cramps were absolutely excruciating.  I would wake up almost every night screaming even though I had tried drugging myself into oblivion with pain and sleeping pills.

I would scream until I grew hoarse…and then the cramps would go away for a few hours or a few days.

The doctors scratched their heads.  They increased the pain medication.   They send me to a rheumatologist and another endocrinologist.

It seemed that each week the symptoms got worse with test after test yielding no information.

The heart doctor suggested we shock my heart to re-start a healthy rhythm, my main doctor ordered more painful tests at a neurologist and my OB/Gyn surgeon suggested I try yet another, stronger,  hormone patch.

I lost my life.

Almost literally.
The bone cramps and pain and heart arrhythmia showed up day and night.  I actually feel clammy even now writing this at the remembrance of that level of agony.

I recall sitting at our Accountants office with several people and my husband when I got a horrible bone cramp.  Mr. Jenny saw me turn white and he started to help me out of the chair.  Yeah.  Not a cool thing in a business meeting.   With my husband’s help I stumbled out of the meeting and into the hall.  I yanked open a closed door and stepped inside.  I tried to muffle my screams of pain into my arm.   Mr. Jenny tried to help but there was nothing to be done.  The cramps were a roller coaster ride through hell until the pain released you.  Minutes passed.   My hair was dripping sweat and probably sticking straight out.  I could barely walk.

The secretary came to the door and knocked.   When I was finally able to look around I saw we were in a storage closet stacked with paper and files. 

Ummm… awkward.

With wide eyes the secretary asked, “Are you okay?” 

“Actually, I’m not,” I replied. 

We went home.

Please remember I’m not telling this to boohoo.  I want to share this INFORMATION with you.  This is just an example of how awful my life had become after the hysterectomy.  Even on the ‘good’ days when it didn’t feel like my face was getting smashed by a hammer and my heart was ticking away fairly well, the bone cramps were my nemesis.   They came at will and they owned my life.  Some days I would be screaming in pain ten times…other days it might only be a small pelvic cramp.

More time elapsed.   More pain pills.  More sleeping pills.   More tests.   More poking and prodding and wracking up zillions of dollars in medical testing.

I tried everything that every doctor told me to do with no improvement.

I finally ended up ‘off the medical grid’ with anyone I prayed might help me.   My husband called those practitioners ‘voo doo’ doctors.  Perhaps they were, but I didn’t care.   I was so desperately in pain I tried following every lead to every strange person that might heal me.    The quirkiest among them, perhaps, was a tiny, little French woman who had me eat primarily liquefied watermelon juice. 

I’m not denigrating ‘voo doo’ doctors.   I saw and experienced some pretty freaky stuff including levitation (or maybe I was just hallucinating from all the pain and sleep pills I was taking to survive).  Some of these ‘cures’ actually did help for a short time.

But after an hour or a day or a week, all the symptoms returned full force.

My health continued to decline until one fateful day I consented to go a pain clinic.

The doctor at the pain clinic dismissed the heart arrhythmia, dismissed the cold and hot flashes, dismissed the tremors and the headaches and said, “Aha!  We can help with your bone cramps and joint pain!”   He talked a lot about … well… a lot of stuff but I was in such misery I could barely hear anyone talking to me.

The new doctor decided that I need some nerve testing on my spine before they could make recommendations.  

To be totally candid, even after years of being poked, prodded and tortured I wasn’t prepared for the pain level of the spinal testing.  At one point during the procedure the bone in my thigh started cramping.   “Don’t move,” the tech cautioned.  I bit into my forearm trying to hold still.  Yeah.  That test still gives me the heebie jeebies.

After the test, I was injected with something to block all the pain from my waist down.  A few minutes later I could feel the bone cramps but the level of pain was reduced substantially.

After sitting in recovery for an hour, I got up quite gingerly to find that things didn’t hurt that much in my pelvic bones and legs.

Sure I still had hand tremors and the nerves in my face were jumping and my head was exploding, but some of the pain was gone!

I was so happy.

I remember smiling broadly at Mr. Jenny.  Sure, I still felt awful but it was a BETTER awful.  I grinned like a fool all the way home.

I think I was even grinning in my sleep until around midnight when the nerve blocks wore off.

I realized they hadn’t ‘fixed’ anything, they’d only ‘hidden’ it.

I cried my pillow soggy that night.  I begged my husband to kill me.  I’m not even using dramatic license here.   I got on my knees and begged him to kill me.

He did.

The end.

Okay. That was funny...right?


He didn’t really kill me but I was furious that he wouldn’t. 

When we returned to the pain clinic the next day they were happy.   “This is good news,” they said, “We’re just going to cut a nerve or two in your spine and you’ll feel a lot better.”

“Ummm…”   my husband and I said simultaneously.  “Ummm….cut a nerve or two?   Is that a good idea?  I mean…ummm…”

“Oh yeah.   We do it all the time…blah, blah, blah…let’s schedule this for next week…blah, blah, blah…”

I didn’t hear a word they said.   I was stuck on the word ‘cut a nerve or two in your spine’. 

I finally interrupted the doctor.  “Look, I have kind of a weird medical history of surgeries and procedures NOT going as planned.  My body is wired wrong or something.   Couldn’t this get really screwed up?”

“Not to worry…we’re good at what we do (and admittedly they were quite highly recommended) and the risk of permanent paralysis is low and…”

I walked out of the examination room.  I’d like to say I strode out with great determination, but the truth is I hobbled out in great pain.

Mr. Jenny joined me in the car and we just kept looking at each other.  “How did this happen?  How did I get here? I can’t let someone cut nerves in my spine.”   I was crying hysterically.  

I cried all the way home.

I couldn’t stop crying.

I googled for answers on the internet…crying.

I made myself sick crying.

And then I got ticked off.

Really, really ticked off.

My life was gone, everything hurt almost all day…every day, I was depressed, I’d physically aged about 10 years in a period of months…

I was mad as hell.

It was pretty dramatic at our house that day.  

And…to be honest…there was a lot of swearing.

I grabbed the car keys and told Mr. Jenny I was going for a drive.

I drove about a half a mile and went into a natural grocery store.   This store had a huge selection of homeopathic and naturopathic remedies and medicines.

I went up to the health desk.  I’m sure I looked like a mad woman…grey faced, shaking in pain, crying my eyes out.

“I need help!   I need someone to help me!”  I think I yelled it.   I think I scared the kind woman behind the counter.

She came around toward me and gently took my hand.

“What’s wrong?  What can I help you with?” she enquired.

I babbled and cried and sobbed and told her all my physical symptoms.   She gave me Kleenex and listened intently.

“I don’t think I can help you,” she finally said in a quiet voice.  “Go next door and talk to the owner of the nutrition store.   She is really good with issues like this.”

I gathered my soggy Kleenex and walked the short distance.

The owner came to help me right away.

I cried and cried and told her all of my physical symptoms.   She guided me to a small in-store book section, and started handed me various books.

After I had four in my hands she stopped and looked at me.

Really, really looked at me.

“Have you had a hysterectomy?” she asked in a kind voice.

I told her the surgical staple story.

“So…they removed both ovaries?” she clarified.

“Yes, they did.”

One by one she took each book back.

She held up a finger to wait and disappeared for a brief moment.

When she came back, she handed me a business card.

“Call this doctor,” she said firmly.  “Call her right away.  I think she can help you.”

I drove the brief distance home to find Mr. Jenny pacing in front of the house.

He started to yell at me for running off and worrying him.

I told him the story of the health food store people.  I showed him the business card.

“Great, just great,” he said.  “Another ‘voo-doo’ doctor.”

We stared at each other for a few long moments.

In that moment I realized that I wasn’t the only one that had lost a life.   My husband had lost his best friend and companion.  Even though I was the one suffering the physical pains, he was suffering just as much.

“Should I make an appointment?” I asked him through my tears.
“Yeah, make an appointment,” he said hesitantly.
To be continued next Tuesday.

Part one - linked here.
Part two - linked here.
Part three - linked here.

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Linda @ A La Carte said...

Jenny I am furious you had to go through all this pain and frustration! Cut a few nerves in your spine? WHAT THE H??? So glad you did not do that. Thank God you found someone who could help you. I am so glad I won one of the books. I hope it comes soon. Bless you and Mr Jenny for hanging in there!
hugs, Linda

Ms. A said...

So many of these symptoms sound exactly like what happened to me, when I was on medications that my body couldn't seem to process like it was intended to do!

Gail said...

This is a horror story. I'm so sorry but I know where you're going and I'm very glad.

I think I need this book too.

Jeanie said...

Oh Jenny, I certainly can't feel the pain as you describe it, but you write it so well that I can understand the horror of what you went through. As a big fan of "voo doo" medicine, I am so glad you made the appointment and I so wish you had found that help sooner.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Jenny, I am so glad you are sharing this. It's SO important that people hear your story. I wish I had your email address because I really want to talk. I had to switch to a new one and don't want to put it online. But I will try to figure out how to email you.



Rita said...

OMG! What an ordeal!! I am on the edge of my chair waiting to hear the rest. And I am so thrilled to have won a copy of the book!!! I will email you my address!!!

You have been through so much. I am dying to know how you found you way above this level of pain. Cutting nerves in your spine--OMG!

Thank you, thank you for the book!! :) :)

Rachel said...

Good grief! I cringed and cringed at the level of pain you had to be experiencing and all the ways they wanted to 'fix' it.

Cannot wait for the next installment!

Naperville Now said...

"a better awful." Oh, Jenny, this is a terrible story to read and I feel so badly for you. please write the next post sooner. I fear my heart won't make it.

Arkansas Patti said...

This is a truly horrific story. My God, what you both have gone through. When I read about the "cutting of nerves" I wondered how many people allowed that out of desperation.
You have me on pins and needles waiting for the conclusion. I'll be back.

noexcuses said...

Oh Jenny! I had no idea that you were going through so much agony! Thank you for sharing your story. I feel so lucky that my aging process has been a little less eventful. You have such amazing courage! God Bless you!

Annesphamily said...

Conventional medicine has failed me miserably! I had a shunt placement for hydroeccephalus in 1984! All these years later still suffering from migraine headaches. Bad bones, inherited from my sweet mom! All they think you need is pain medicine! I think I caught cold in my lower back yesterday waiting one hour in the cold to renew my drivers license! I cried myself to sleep and woke up in tears! I can barely move MY knees ache. My hip is throbbing! I feel like someone stabbed me with fire! I am happy to find something or someone to help me through all this! Plus I have Rosacea and when people can't get past, "Oh my your face is soooooo red" I want to dead punch them in the face! Those derm people want to give me a variety of very costly topical creams all which increase the migraines! No one cares for an old broad! All their health magic is for young folks and those with money to rival Bill Gates and Warren Buffett! Pain stinks! Medical doctors are clueless! Sorry to vent! I would love your book! Details please!

pasqueflower said...

Oh, Jenny!! How awful that you had to endure all that. There is a happy ending, right??? My cousin, an herbalist, was just here for a visit. I'm open to alternative medicine options for sure.

H said...

It's unbelievable that, in our privileged world of modern medicines and scientific understanding, no-one could work out what was wrong or do anything real to help! So much suffering! How desperate you must have been!!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

Oh sweetie, I am so sorry you had to go through this...

Sending a cyber hug....



Susan Anderson said...

It's such an awful experience going through surgical menopause. Mine was so bad that I started an online support group on aol, which pretty much saved me. We all shared information and supported one another. It was awful then because the doctors didn't admit what a difference hormones and the ovaries to regular them made…and in how many body systems. I had heart problems too, by the way.

Wish I had known you then because our group would have helped you so much emotionally.