Wednesday I met with Dr. Roberts, my primary physician, to talk about alternative blood thinners, and diet. Then Thursday I went in for an infusion of Rituxan, a treatment for my rheumatoid arthritis. This infusion was supposed to be last week, but after the nurse, Anne, got the IV started, before she started any of the meds, I nearly blacked out. She was asking some questions and I could feel the blood drain from my face.
"I don't feel so good."
"You don't look good. Your color matches the [white] wall behind you. Maybe you should lay back."
My blood pressure dropped to 55/60. It took a while, and never did come up to normal, but eventually it came up enough that my color came back, I was able to stand up, and they let me drive home. No infusion that day. Anne called my doctor who said that wasn't happening. Apparently they have a small window of acceptable blood pressure. Obviously, I wasn't in that accepted range.
I've never had a problem with needles. I go in often for regular blood work. I give myself injections. Needles don't bother me at all. So what happened? I don't know and neither do the doctors.
I went back in this week, hoping it wouldn't happen again. I'll tell you now, I didn't black out, my blood pressure stayed fine, but not everything went well.
First, my hands and forearms were too cold, which meant my veins were really small. Anne couldn't find anything to even try. She gave me a heating pad and I kept it wrapped around my left arm for 10 minutes or so. Once my veins were warmed up, and a bit bigger, Anne tried to start the IV again, but the first vein didn't work, so she had to try again. The second attempt worked just fine, and as she was taping it down, she jerked her left hand. It looked to me like she waved at something with her right hand, like something flew in her face, but I didn't see what happened. When she did, her left hand yanked out the IV. Vein #2 blown.
Now we had to restart the process, going back to the hot pad, using it on my right arm. Attempt #3 was successful and we were able to start the 5 hour infusion process, about an hour later than originally planned.
I'm guessing the "side effects" I've experienced are related to the infusion. Keep in mind, my body is used to napping nearly every day. Thursday I was up around 6am, went to the infusion center around 8, and was up all day. In fact, I was wide awake until 4am Friday morning, finally falling asleep about the time I should be headed to the gym (which I didn't do). I slept for maybe 4 hours, then was up for all Friday, not falling asleep until 1:30am Saturday morning. Crazy!
I drove directly from the infusion center, back to the chiropractor's office to meet with his wife, Pam. She has a doctorate in something (I didn't read her diploma), and she's a nutritionist. She spent almost an hour with me talking about food, diet, and eating habits. The result is, we're completely changing what I eat.
- I have to eat way more protein. I haven't been eating very much protein, probably only 30-40 grams on a good day, more often 15 grams. According to Pam, I need to be eating 90 grams of protein per day to feed my lean body mass. (Despite my appearance and the excess of fat on my body, I do have LEAN body mass.)
- I need to be eating more fat, good fat. So I'll be cooking with real butter instead of margarine, olive oil instead of canola oil.
- I need a lot more veggies, but the right kind of veggies. I need to stay away from the sweet veggies - peas, carrots, corn - at least for a short time.
- I need to drastically reduce my carb intake. I would guess 85% of my diet has been carbs, which just feeds my fat.
- I'm supposed to start eating 5 or 6 times a day, to keep my blood sugar levels more stable. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, mid-morning snack, mid-afternoon snack, and something before I go to bed.
Yesterday I went grocery shopping. Buying healthy food is expensive, and all the packages seem to be a lot smaller than the big bags of cheetos.
Hopefully these changes will spur some weight loss. Hopefully the alternative treatments will work. If they do, maybe I'll be able to stop using some of the many prescriptions I'm on. I'd love to be drug free, controlling my RA with diet and exercise. Maybe someday.