Virtual Coffee Date – October 2017

Are you ready for another virtual coffee date?  Despite the hand tremors (side effect of drinking too much coffee while taking Depakote) I do love my lattes.  It has been at least a month since I posted.  I humbly apologize, but I have been really busy.  Let me update you with the latest with another virtual coffee date.  I hope you have a warm beverage in hand.

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Why are there blood blisters in my mouth?

I have an appointment with my neurologist coming up next week.  I do not expect much excitement since things have gone reasonably well for me.  As of today, I am able to carry out a fair amount of stressful work without having a seizure.  I guess you could say that I believe I am doing well for someone with epilepsy.

One topic that I want to bring up is blood blisters.  For some reason, I have been periodically finding them in my mouth.  I have no memory of how it got there.  I have generalized epilepsy.  According to wikipedia, generalized seizures “are a type of seizure that impairs consciousness and distorts the electrical activity of the whole or a larger portion of the brain.”  I am not always aware of when I have had a seizure.  Is it a side effect of my medicine (Depakote ER) or something else?


Checkup with my Neurologist: The Good and the Bad

I had a checkup with my Neurologist today.  I went to a little cafe nearby and ate breakfast before going in.  I arrived at the office early and started filling out paperwork.  They then measured my height, weight, and blood pressure.  Here are the details of how things went.  I will start with the bad news and end on the good news.

The Bad News

  • I might be shrinking.  I have lived my life believing that I was 5 feet 2 inches tall.  When they measured my height today I am only 5 feet tall.  Either some nurse earlier in my life measured me incorrectly or I am shrinking.  It is a depressing thought since it is already difficult finding dress pants short enough for me.
  • My neurologist asked about the number of seizures that occurred since my last visit.  I had no definite way of saying how many I had been having since I am not conscious of them.  I do notice that the back of my neck hurts sometimes.  In my post Counting My Absence Seizures, I talked about attempting to find a method of measuring the number of absence seizures and received some good feedback.   I will have to try it out before my next appointment.
  • I told my neurologist that I believed my absence seizures had increased due to many stress-related issues including searching for full-time employment.  She recommended a second medicine to better control my absence seizures.  I would take it along with the one that I am already taking.  I fear changing my medicine routine especially if it will slow me down cognitively.  She mentioned that we could start on a low dose and go up from there.  I wonder if the new medicine is really necessary since I have not been meditating as much as I used to.  I also stopped exercising in an attempt to save money this summer.   In the end, my neurologist said that I could think about my options and get back to her.

The Good News

  • I lost 8 pounds since April!  This was so good to hear.  My progress has been slow, but I have focused on making better choices when picking out the food that I will eat.  I have tried to get more for my dollar by purchasing more fruits and vegetables.  I also attempted to stop eating out at restaurants.
  • My neurologist noticed that my hands do not tremor as much as they used to.  I attribute that to the fact that I have cut down on coffee, which I heard only makes the tremors worse.

Getting Ready to Travel

Getting Ready for Travel


My flight is coming soon, and I starting to make preparations.  I should have all of my grading completed tonight, so that I can start packing.  I have already printed off my itenerary for the flight.   Here are some other preparations that I have made.

Hotel Room

I reserved a hotel room next to the airport, so that I can relax before the flight goes out.   My flight goes out at 7am on Christmas Eve, and I am NOT a morning person.  I will need help getting to the airplane on time, and being close to the airport will help.  An acquaintance of mine thought it was a waste of money, but I believe they are just extremely cheap.

Medical Information


  1. I will contact Medic Alert and make sure my medical information is up to date.  My Medic Alert necklace can be easily taken off, which will be convenient when going through security.
  2.  I have already filled my prescription, so that I will have plenty of medicine on the trip.  My medicine will go in my personal bag, so that it is not out of my sight.  Just in case security has questions about the medicine, I will have my neurologist’s phone number just in case.  I am not a frequent traveler, so I’m trying to be extra cautious.

Music and Devices

Due to the fact that traveling can be stressful, I often travel with items that can help reduce stress.  For example, I bring my iPod and listen to relaxing music for most of the flight.  Most airplanes have issues with cell phones, but not iPods.


I have been so stressed out lately that I am really looking forward to this trip.  What do you think?  Have I missed anything?


The Pharmacy Lady

Thich Nhat Hanh would be sad if he knew what I did today.  I was hoping that I would have health insurance by October, but that didn’t happen.  I still don’t have health insurance, but that will change soon.  The person who has advocated for me has finally made the stubborn state officials see the error of their ways.  I am eligible for the more affordable state insurance program!

However, I am not in the system yet, and I need to refill my prescription now.  😦

I knew that I was about to throw down some serious money for this medicine, but I didn’t have a choice.  I needed to drown my sorrow by eating some pasta.  This goes against the principles of mind-body wellness.  You shouldn’t use food to resolve your emotional issues.

I finally got the courage to go to ask the pharmacy lady for a prescription refill.  When she asked about insurance, I had to tell her that I didn’t have any at the moment and that I was between health insurance plans.  She looked at me with what I thought was pity and mentioned that it would be very expensive.  I thought “I know pharmacy lady.  I know.”  While I had the opportunity to change my mind, I ordered a ten-day supply instead.  It is my hope that I will have my insurance card by the time I need to refill my prescription again.  Do not worry pharmacy lady, I will get this problem solved soon.  I don’t need your pity.

My Plan to Get Fit

Zumba for Japan
Zumba for Japan (Photo credit: anujraj)

My whole plan to get fit and lose weight on Depakote got derailed for a while.  I got seriously stressed over health insurance issues (see earlier blog post for more).  Now I can get back on track.

The Zumba Boot Camp Idea

Recently, I got an email about a zumba boot camp.  The email promised that I would go down 1-2 dress sizes in a month!  Normally, I would just delete the email, but I had taken two zumba classes at this particular fitness center.   I would meet them 3 times a week for four weeks along with 2 nutritional classes.  This sounded perfect!  I’m cheap, but I was willing to spend money on this.  I thought that this is what I was looking for.   If I tried extremely hard during this month, I would have definite proof that you can (or can’t) lose weight while taking Depakote.  So I set up an appointment to talk to the fitness instructor running the boot camp.  She asked me a bunch of questions about how much I exercise, eating habits, etc.  My fitness level was not very high, and she was afraid that the boot camp would be too intense for me.

My zumba boot camp idea was shot down.  However, I got some extremely good feedback from the experience:.

  1. The fitness instructor recommended that I take zumba three times a week to lose weight along with some cardio,
  2. Zumba toning or Pilates would be beneficial for building muscle,
  3. I’m not exercising nearly as much as I think I am,
  4. I will have to keep up  the good eating habits,

The Modified Zumba Plan

Moving Strategy

I decided that I would keep doing zumba.  I went to a couple of classes, and I love it and my instructors (who are super friendly).  I am going to take two zumba classes a week through the month of October.  That will hopefully get me into a good fitness regimen.  I will occasionally take a zumba toning class to build muscle.  If my body can handle it, I would gradually start taking classes three times a week.

Eating Strategy

I have described my eating strategy in the blog posts: Dieting & Depakote, Weight Loss Strategy, and Weight Loss Progress.  I will keep following this strategy because I think that it has been working well for me.

I am hoping that my modified zumba plan will show results, but over a longer period of time.



A_small_cup_of_coffeeI recently asked my neurologist about whether it was safe for me to drink coffee.  The most innocent of things may have a bad reaction with your medicine.   The answer I received was “drink coffee in moderation”.   I started drinking coffee a few years ago when I was taking Topamax.  This medicine made me so drowsy that I needed the shot of caffeine to keep me awake.   Because of this, I bypassed moderation a LONG time ago.  Now I drink about 4-6 cups of coffee per day.  Although, I have never really counted.

While I am on this journey to improve my health, another goal of mine is to get my coffee consumption down to about 2 cups per day.   What were your experiences with coffee and chronic illness?  Would you recommend that I stop drinking it altogether?