Tag Archives: potassium

Oh Potassium….

For those of you who have been on this journey with me for awhile you know I have this waltz with potassium. For anyone just joining welcome and let me give you an abbreviated version of the story…. Last year right before my 2nd & 3rd spinal surgeries I had my routine blood work done and it was found that my Potassium level was a little low, so they put me on potassium supplements. Then I had a saddle pulmonary embolism (massive blood clot both sides of my lungs), to which I was apparently supposed to die, but I refused..well I’m stubborn like that…to which I continued to battle with the Potassium for months until they stopped one of my medications in hopes that my Potassium would return to normal. I got a good reading and all was SUPPOSED TO BE RIGHT IN THE KINGDOM!!!!

Fast forward to yesterday…..I had to have more routine blood work done for my upcoming surgery (do we sense a theme here?) and I got to see the results this morning and I’m looking at all the results and everything is looking good some stuff is a little on the low side of normal, some on the higher side of normal, but all NORMAL so I’m like good, good, good..and THEN….I get to the line that says POTASSIUM….I think it’s going to become a curse word in my vocabulary. I mean seriously…. it’s LOW. REALLY???!!!!

So I suppose I get to take supplements again until time of surgery…BLAH…however this also just proves my point that I didn’t think it was the medication necessarily lowering my Potassium levels, I thought it was something else. However I don’t have an MD behind my name! After all is said and done I feel like I could pass my medical boards however! (Trust me that is said very tongue in cheek). If Potassium was a tangible thing and we were in the wild, wild west I would be meeting it at high noon!

Luckily I know it’s no big deal and I’ll just have to take supplements and they’ll draw the blood right before surgery and all is well. It does annoy me however because it’s been this on going battle to get the Potassium to STAY UP.

download (5)

Rain, pain and a drop of blood

Bad storms are a brewin’! There was hail the size of golf balls in the DC area yesterday thanks to social media we got to see pictures. My head and neck are really hurting still. I think this is my body’s way of telling me it’s time for surgery. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and my arm from the shoulder all the way down was totally numb. This then caused my leg to slip and hit the bed frame which wasn’t happy!

So as I’m re-telling this story this morning wifey said to me that the bed frame and I just can’t seem to get along! I mean I got a concussion from it last year (yes that is a true story…) and now I hurt my leg. So she goes maybe when we replace the bed we need to get a softer gentler frame. I laughed and go NO! I might break a softer gentler frame! I mean this one takes a beating and keeps on trucking! I think it’s all in your perspective!

So I have to get my INR checked today and it’s been running low so we’ll see how that goes, good news is that is only a drop of blood. Then I have to get more blood drawn for more labs to try and figure out the potassium and other health issues which are more complicated. So everyone is agreeing that I can come off the blood thinners before surgery, but we are keeping me on them until closer to the surgery because the therapeutic value of having me on them outweighs me coming off them now. If I didn’t have to have surgery this year I would stay on them a full 12 months. So if we can get as close to that 12 month mark as we can the better we all feel it will be long term. Of course now that I have had this massive blood clot the higher my risk for a 2nd one will be.

I am also going to ask for blood work to be done after I come off the blood thinners to look for clotting factors because I think we all need to know before the next surgery if I have even more issues like Factor V playing into this. I mean the more we know the better we are walking into this next surgery. I was not prepared to get a massive blood clot last time, and we know that my veins are compromised this time so things will be handled differently for sure. I also am more aware of the signs of blood clots.

All that being said I’m at peace going into this next surgery. I know I need it. I’m not thrilled about needing it, but I know that for my overall health I need it especially with the issues with my arms and hands. I know we just have to be smart about it. Trying to get all the ducks in a row before surgery, get all the puzzle pieces before surgery too.

Dueling Potassium

Frustrated does not even begin to tell you how I feel right now. If I was a cartoon character my face would be bright red and steam would be gushing from my ears. I got a phone call at 7:45am from the doctor’s office and my first thought was this can’t be good. I pick up and the nurse asked for me, I affirm that she is speaking to me. She informs me that my potassium levels have dropped. EXCUSE ME??!!!!! I try to stay calm on the phone because it’s not her fault, it’s not really my fault either. So she tells me the doctor wants me to temporarily stop one of my medications in hopes that helps bring the potassium levels back up into normal range. I confirm with her that he still wants me taking the certain dosage of potassium supplement daily which he does and then he wants me to repeat the lab work in two weeks. Peachy…..NOT!!!!

I want to cry. I want to give up. This is the part of chronic illness that I HATE! There are certain parts that you can fight the good fight, and there are others that no matter what you do you feel like you are fighting a losing battle. Right now I feel like I am losing an impossible fight. I have been eating lots of potassium rich foods (which when your potassium is this low the supplements are really the better help in bringing it back up), and I am trying very hard to do anything and everything I can to get it back into a normal range because of the LEG SPASMS. They hurt. I do not like them!

So we will stop this medication and see what happens and either my potassium will go back to a normal range and the doctor will be right it was the medication or my potassium will not go back into a normal range and I will be right that it’s something else to which he will have to run more tests, so maybe this is a blessing in disguise. So in the meanwhile I will continue to eat potassium rich foods, take the supplements as directed and hope for the best because honestly my potassium levels need to go back up in normal range.


For anyone with chronic pain you get to this point where you just want to fire whatever hurts. Yesterday my right leg was spasming so badly that I wanted to just remove it, put it in the corner for awhile let it do it’s own thing and then when it was done pick it back up. It hurt so badly I wanted to cry. Crying doesn’t help however. It makes me just feel worthless. I feel powerless over the pain, the cramping, the spasm. I just watched as my leg seemed to have a life of it’s own. I tried massaging it, I tried taking my knee brace off hoping for some kind of relief. I even tried heat, ice and any other trick that I have ever used for relief, but nothing was working yesterday. I felt totally powerless over my right leg.

So I was venting about how I just wanted to fire it. I just wanted to look at my right leg tell it YOU’RE FIRED! You cannot hold up your end of the deal, sorry I will have to have you replaced. If you wish to reapply once you get your act together you may, but for now you are terminated. I had this picture of Donald Trump and the TV show Apprentice in my head where he fires people. It did make me giggle. The leg spasms are so frustrating to me because they have been going on since 2013 and I think right now it’s a combination of the low potassium (which I have to get my blood re-checked later this week) and the back damage. If the potassium is still low I might lose my mind. 1 pill it’s low, 2 pills it’s low, and then 3 pills it’s still low? You’ve got to be kidding me! If on 3 pills it’s still low we’ve got to try something else because I’m not going to keep taking more and more potassium pills hoping it goes up. I’ve been eating potassium rich foods like they are going out of style, but the most recent leg spasms are making me think the potassium is still low.

Evil Eye

So if you have been following along you will know that I am rather bitter about having to take 3 potassium supplement pills a day right now. I was on 1 pill a day at the beginning of March, but when I got my one way ticket to the ER (thanks to my fabulous cardiologist) we found out my potassium levels are low. So when I went to my PCP to talk about my ER visit he raised the supplement to 2 tabs a day with follow-up blood work in 1 week. I did the follow up blood work and my potassium levels are the SAME!! So now I am on 3 pills a day….needless to say I am a bit cranky about this…so I told the nurse very politely that I would need a new script which I thought he had done, but they didn’t give me at the pharmacy when I picked up meds last week. So she said let me call them and talk to them. SURE!! I mean that makes my life a LOT easier!!! So she talks to them and tells them they have to fill it, so it got filled ASAP! Power of persuasion! So she gets back on the line tells me that since I had just had it filled that’s why they didn’t fill it, and I told her I understood that part, but with taking 2 and now having to take 3 pills, I was going to run out a lot faster than my original taking 1 pill a day. So we got that all squared away.

So last night I go to pick it up…Now mind you it’s late, I’ve had physical therapy already so I’m a bit punchy at this point….

*Up walks way to perky sales associate*

Me- I’m here to pick up a prescription for *insert information*

Sales associate (SA)-Okay can I have your date of birth?


SA-Okay let me get that for you!

*goes gets the prescription comes back*

SA-Do you have any questions for the pharmicist?

Me-Nope I’ve been taking these long enough and at the rate I’m going I’ll be taking a bunch more because the stupid potassium level won’t go up so now I’m on 3 pills a day!

SA- Umm….this say to take 2 pills a day…

Me- *laughs* Yeah that was before he got the blood work back! See I was on 1 pill a day and my level was *insert number* then he told me to take 2 pills a day and wrote that script and told me to get my blood checked and it’s still *insert number* so now we’re up to 3 pills a day! YAY ME! I feel like I won the lotto! So I have to get my blood checked again, so if it doesn’t go up I’ll be seeing you again soon for more! *insert more laughing*

SA- Well let’s hope that this does the trick.

So I smile sweetly thinking chica you have no clue, you have no clue. I really am sick of this potassium CRAP!!

Rain, heartburn and apple cider vinegar…

I hurt, I’m sore and I just want a nap! So the rain is causing me to hurt even more than I have been. It’s POURING, even the cat is running for her life! The rain hits the windows and the noise scares her. You couldn’t even see the house next to us it was raining so hard. The cat went and hid under the bed until the rain stopped. We just laughed a bit, and watched the rain. I’m glad my appointment is later in the day. Hopefully the sun will choose to peak out.

I have the worse heartburn again. I don’t get it often but every once in awhile I will get it and it is the worse! I really dislike it and since I only get it once in awhile I take a couple tablespoons of raw organic apple cider vinegar in some water. Everyone always asks me how can you do that? I laugh and say I’ve had some pretty gross alcoholic shots in my day and I figure if I can down those I can drink this! I really don’t think it’s that bad and you don’t have to put it in that much water- the water is to help dilute it so it’s not so hard on your teeth. I will take it a couple of days and my heartburn will clear up and I’ll be good to go again. I have a feeling the increased potassium pills are to blame this go round because diet wise I have not been eating foods that trigger it.

Still trying to figure out this whole low potassium issue. Doctors keep blaming medication, I’m not convinced. I think its something else of course I don’t have a medical degree so what do I know? I will say that if the number comes back the same on 3 pills a day I am going to say to the doctor he needs to do other blood work because if on 1 pill its this number and on 2 pills its this number and then on 3 pills its the same number something else is going on. It shouldn’t stay the same number when you are increasing the supplement.

So we will see I will keep eating all those wonderful potassium rich foods and see what we got in a week. Hopefully the number has improved and we can move forward if not I’m not sure what plan B will be besides more blood work because something has got to give, when my potassium is low my legs spasm and that just isn’t a happy situation for anyone especially ME!

download (5)

Good signs

So I got my tests results and they were positive results. The Nuclear Stress Test matched the 2 previous ones so that is a positive in my world. Matching is good. I felt like saying Tic-Tac-Toe three in a row! The echocardiogram was good too! The heart is going back to normal size, not quite back to normal size, but getting there. Doctor wants to see me back in July so I’ll see him right before my neck surgery. He did give me a letter to give my neurosurgeon to tell him that from a cardiac standpoint I am good to go.

As far as the blood thinners he says I can come off of them, but suggests I go on a low dose aspirin to keep the blood thin to try and prevent another clot from forming. He and I also discussed that I am at a really high risk for developing another clot after this next surgery which I know. This is nothing new, BUT I cannot be afraid of it either. The moral of the story is I could develop another blood clot at any time. I am educated now, I know the signs now. I am much better versed in what to look for which is good.

So doctor has been having me take 2 potassium pills to try and raise my potassium level up, but it didn’t work, so now I’m going to take 3 potassium pills for the next week. I’m not sure what the plan will be if 3 pills don’t work. I still want to know why my potassium is low with taking the supplements. I get that the doc thinks its the blood pressure meds, but I’m not convinced. I really think it’s something else. I think this little experiment will be good because if he raises it to 3 and the potassium doesn’t budge I’m going to say to him okay what else could it be because you’ve tripled the potassium and my level is staying the same something is going on!

The weather was nice and pretty and then it got COLD! I don’t want it to be cold, I’m done with cold. I want nice and pretty! I like nice and pretty! Wifey is going to be planting the garden soon, I’m excited! Life is good. Pain levels are high due to the changing weather patterns, stimulator is on more often than its not, but I try to make the best of it. My hips are misaligned again and I’m leaning to the right, so I’m trying to be mindful and stand up straight, but it’s hard when I’m tired I fall into old habits. Plus just being stiff from everything else. But I’m upright, so that’s a plus!


download (5)

Went to the doctor he upped my Potassium, he actually DOUBLED it. Which isn’t a surprise. I mean it was easiest to do that instead of taking 1 pill I take 2, in one week I will get my blood drawn to see if my Potassium is high enough. I have been eating potassium rich foods to also help bring it higher since we found out it was low again. I am tired of the blood draws. I am a hard stick to begin with so having to have my blood taken by the vampires is NOT my favorite activity!

My hamstrings are better today, but still very sore. I have physical therapy today and I am just going to take it REALLY easy today. Nice and slow and go from there. Sometimes you just have to slow your roll down. I’ve also been feeling dizzy and light headed, which I have a feeling is the heart rate. More cardiac testing soon. We will get this figured out!

I’m baaaccck!

Finally got to bounce from the hospital! I had excellent nurses this go round which made a big difference. Got excellent post-op care. I did have a picc line this time which made the IV much easier. I was laughing with the tech because he said I didn’t scream or fuss really, and I go oh I’m sorry if you wanted me to scream you needed to tell me before you were poking me! LOL Can’t tell me after the fact oh yeah you were supposed to scream and make a fuss! Can’t go back, haven’t found a blue police box yet! I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about a picc line, but it did made life a LOT easier.

PT and OT were good. Got to practice going up and down the stairs, walking the halls, I’m not one to stay in bed for a long time, I like to get up and moving soon after surgery. I feel better if I am up and moving. Plus if I am up and moving I get all the junk out of my lungs from surgery and I feel better faster. That’s always a plus too! I am using the spinal chord stimulator a bit, its nice to have that option right now. It really is magical!

I want to keep going on and on about everything that’s happened, but the sleep fairies are making my eyelids heavy.

K- Well, Potassium to you too!

So on August 28th I had blood work done for my upcoming surgery. I get a call from the doctor’s office that my potassium is low. CRAP! I have high blood pressure and like millions of other people I take a diuretic to help control said blood pressure but with this medication you have to watch your potassium. So the doctor puts me on a prescription potassium pill, so I’ve been taking it with a meal ever since. So yesterday I went to get my blood work done with the hopes that my potassium would be back in the normal levels and I could stop taking this HORSE-PILL. Yeah no such luck…..

The nurse says to me well your potassium levels are better, but since you are on the diuretic he wants you do continue taking the potassium pill once a day. *le sigh* Okay, thank you very much. So I guess I’m stuck with this ginormous pill for awhile longer. UGH! Which also means that he is going to be asking me to have my blood work done again soon, which means the lab techs are really going to start hating me. It’s one thing when I’m there every 6 months, its another when they have to start seeing me more often than that!

But I smile and think there are worse things in life, we had already made a more conscious effort to eat more potassium rich foods at every meal, and we will continue to do that. It won’t be long before I can stop taking this huge pill and things will be back to normal.