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Monthly Archives: December 2013

I worry for him

I worry for my husband. You know from previous post that his job is in jeopardy. November 3rd came upon us and Hub’s employer told him to come in to work on the following Monday. They claim to be trying to find a contract to put him on, but so far that has not happened. He goes to work and waits for word at the end of the day as to whether or not he should come in the next morning. It is so stressful for him that it makes me worry about his mental AND physical health.

I know as well as the next person what stress and anxiety can do to you physically. And as much as he says he’s not feeling anxious, I don’t think it’s possible to live with his level of stress and not-knowing without having some anxiety about it. Yes, it might not be anxiety to the level that I have had to deal with, but there are many types and levels of anxiety. I do wish he would go talk to someone, but he’s not interested. Not to say he hasn’t tried, but he’s never been comfortable talking about his feelings, and that has left him with uncomfortable and unfulfilled visits with therapist of varying degrees. It makes me sad because I feel that T has helped me in a number of ways. Yes, she does say things I don’t agree with, but she’s open to discussion about those things when I bring them up. And yes, there are times when I feel like my session has been a waste of breath–because I’m chattering and taking up time and she doesn’t always redirect me when I wish she had–but the majority of our sessions lead somewhere. And I do feel she has been a large part of why I’ve been able to move forward in a lot of ways. But he digs in his heels and says he won’t go talk to anyone again. I can do nothing but let him make his own decision.

So I do what I can, listen when I can, and be supportive. But it worries me that living with his level of stress over his job and over having to take care of and support me on his own…it’s a lot. And it takes its toll. And Hub is not necessarily the healthiest of people (no judgement…neither am I!), so any added stress is bad. I guess stress is bad for everyone, but at the moment, he’s the one I’m talking about.

And I have added guilt that he is the one who has to take care of us both. He’s the only one working to support us, and many many times he is the one taking care of us in lots of ways. He does most of the cooking and a lot of the shopping on his own (though I go as often as I can). He does the lion’s share of cleaning, too, when I cannot. And he takes care of the dogs every evening and through most of the weekends. Again, I do what I can, but he’s the one who picks up all the slack when it’s needed. And since I can’t really work, it means he is responsible for paying for everything…mortgage, food, bills, car payments, insurance, all those everyday things that are required to sustain us. It also means his job is really really important. The last one he had, he kept for much longer than anyone should have to, considering how they treated him and how painful it was for him. Now he’s in this position where they don’t know what to do with him, but he has nowhere else to go. Jobs are scarce for him, so he’s stuck in this horrible limbo with his current company.

I worry a lot for him, I really really do. I wish I could be of help more, because all of this is affecting his health. And I love him so much, it hurts me to think of him being stressed like this.

I only hope next year is a better one for all of us. And I wish it for all of you!

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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in anxiety, guilt, hub, strength, stress, worry

 

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Double dose

Last night was bad. Among other things, I did not sleep at all. Why, you ask? Because when I turned out the light and went to lay down, I felt my heart pounding in my chest, harder and faster than I was comfortable with. And this triggered the first of two anxiety attacks that I fought overnight.

**TRIGGER ALERT** for those who get distressed over descriptions of anxiety attacks.

I haven’t had an anxiety attack since I got off Prilosec back in January. Have I had anxiety? Yes, I have. But not to a point of what happened last night. The kind of anxiety I’ve been dealing with has been low-level, during the day, and mostly related to pain. And I’ve been able to handle those issues consistently, and with less time and focus as the months have gone on. Last night was reminiscent of past anxiety attacks, when I was back on Prilosec. It was not as bad because I tried very hard to use the tools I’ve learned since then, but it was worse than it has been in over eleven months. And it’s frustrating. Even ignoring the fact that I slept roughly half an hour’s worth–all of which was taken up by nightmares that started a new slide into an attack–it left me feeling defeated. And sad. And angry. And upset.

So I went to go to bed last night, doing the same routine I normally do. Lights out, ceiling fan on, radio on, blanket off my legs to keep me cool. I tried to make myself comfortable, and I went through my thankfulness list, which is how I turn my brain off at night. Or at least, how I attempt to turn my head off. But last night, after I went through my list of why I’m thankful, I realized that my heart was beating really loudly. And that lead me to realizing that it felt like it was beating fast. I tried to ignore it, but I couldn’t get comfortable. I sat up, I rolled over, I changed positions over and over. I couldn’t get the heavy, hard, beating in my chest to go away. I felt the anxiety roiling up over me, and I knew what was happening. But I remembered what happened to my husband with his too-fast heartbeat, and the anxiety increased. I put my finger to my pulse in my neck, even though I knew it was a mistake, and felt how fast my heart was beating. I tried to do diaphragmatic breathing, I tried to relax my pelvic floor, but neither wasn’t helping. Kind of as a last resort, I tried EFT tapping, even though I was making up the words as I went along. I used the correct meridian points, but I was just talking to myself about how I was feeling the anxiety, but nothing was hurting me. It seemed to work somewhat, even though it took several rounds of it. I think I drifted off a while later, only to have a nightmare within 30 minutes of falling asleep.

I woke again, with the pounding heart, loud and fast, and the anxiety. I felt warm–was I sweating? was it my heart? was I dizzy? nauseous?–and I forced myself to get up and go to the bathroom, to clear my system and put cold water on my hands and face. Back in bed, I felt the racing, pounding, loudly beating heartbeat again. And it started all over. I breathed, I relaxed, I tapped. And I tapped. And I tapped. And I think I dozed again. When I woke up at that point, it was 7:30, the sun was up, and Hub got up to take care of the dogs. And I lay in bed for about 2 1/2 more hours. And I talked to myself about what had happened. A lot of the things I’m saying here. I realized my heart felt okay, even though I still wonder if it’s beating faster than normal. The issue is, when I feel normal, I never touch my pulse to see how it feels. Under other circumstances, I know that my heartbeat is fine, because I’ve been tested over and over again in the past. But when I’m anxious, it feels fast–hella fast–which is so scary to me.

Upon the light of day, post sleeplessness, I didn’t want to get out of bed. Even though I felt–once again–betrayed by sleep, I wanted to stay in bed and wallow in what had, and what almost, happened. But I roused myself and got into the shower, pushing myself to go forward with what I planned for the day. And as I showered, I try to remind myself that sometimes these things are because of body-memory. History of what has happened to you, physically, is embedded into your brain. And I am trying to be hopeful that this was a result of body memory…in that my unconscious reaction to the hard-pounding, fast heartbeat was to become anxious about it. It’s the only way I know how to react, I guess.

When I went downstairs after my shower, I told my husband what had occurred overnight. He immediately hugged me, then reminded me that I should have awakened him so he could help me. And truthfully, I did think about it when I first started feeling my heartbeat, but I felt ashamed. I felt like I needed to handle things on my own to prove to myself that I could. I don’t know that having him awake with me would have helped, because his ability to stay awake in the middle of the night is, to be nice, sucky. And then I would have felt more alone because I would feel like he’d purposefully abandoned me when I needed him. This morning, when he got up to go let the dogs out and feed them, I almost asked him to come back to bed afterward to stay with me, but I didn’t want to feel that weakness.

So on a positive note, I guess the fact that I didn’t go into a full-blown attack either time is good. The fact that I was able to use the tools I’ve gained to stay in control is good. The fact that I was able to handle things was good.

The fact that it happened at all SUCKS.

(**bonus note, I had no anxiety the following night when trying to go to sleep, so that’s good)
 

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Soft focus

This week’s session with T was as I expected…venting about the physical pain I was in. And talking about how it was affecting me, and how I was handling it. And I talked about a realization I had while writing my Chutes and Ladders post.

I wrote in that post that my knees felt like a slide from square 87 to square 24…and that initially I was going to include my general health in with that, too. But upon reflection, I realized my general health wasn’t quite as bad a slide. I don’t think I would have realized that if I hadn’t had such a visual to work with (i.e. the pictures of the Chutes and Ladders board). I told T that specifically, and she nodded thoughtfully, like she was filing the information away for another time. Oddly, the “another time” came just a few minutes later as we were discussing the pain that I was dealing with.

I asked her that considering how long she’s known me and how much she knows about me, what was her opinion on me breaking down the myriad of pain I was dealing with onto paper. Kind of to show myself what the pain really was, how bad each of it was, and how it was affecting my daily life. I thought maybe if I broke it down in writing–visually–that it would lessen it’s effects. She said she wasn’t sure how it would work for, me, but she said she wanted to talk about another option for releasing focus on the pain.

She asked me to get comfortable in the chair, then told me to find a point to focus on in the room…anything, it didn’t matter. So I found a pillow on the chair across from me and focused on the button in the center. She told me to keep staring at it, focus intently on it. After a minute or so, she told me to now widen my gaze to include my peripheral vision. To take in and notice all the things to the sides and around my focus point. And she asked me how my body felt after I did that.

I noticed a relaxation in my shoulders and upper chest, which is where I hold a lot of my tension. She said this technique is not quite as good as learning to relax your pelvic floor–which she has taught me in the past–but can be almost as helpful. So it’s another tool for me to keep in mind when I need to relax. Focus is an issue when you are anxious, because you tend to keep tensed up and focused–or obsessed–with whatever is upsetting you. People who remain relaxed are less likely to hold pain and anxiety.

Two drivers are on the road, one is drunk and one is sober. The drunk driver veers into the lane of the sober driver. The sober driver tenses up for the collision but the drunk driver has no clue…his/her body remains loose and relaxed. Who usually walks away without injury? The drunk driver, whose body was holding no tension. (It’s horrible, but true.) Babies, toddlers, when they fall, they don’t generally get hurt because they don’t know yet to tense up in anticipation of the fall. Their bodies are loose and limp like noodles. It’s interesting to me to have this conversation with T because when I’m at PT and E starts working on certain mobilization treatments on my knees, I specifically stop to relax myself. I always take a deep breath and relax all my muscles, knowing that if I’m relaxed when she hits a painful area, it hurts less. Well, at least I feel like it hurts less, anyway.

The other thing T and I talked about was doing some trauma work around my physical pain…because the physical pain I have can be related to a traumatic event. Traumatic events will come back up as body memory, so sometimes the pain will feel worse than it really is because the body remembers the original event and treats it as such. I’m not sure if this technique is going to work because she says trauma work really needs a beginning and an end, and I have to really see if I can break down an origination and end point for some of my pain. I guess we’ll see.

My next appointment is the Friday after Christmas. I’ll try to report back.

 

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Souffles and pies

This time last year I was in bed. Almost to the day, I had a cleaning crew (well, two women) here cleaning my house in anticipation of my father-in-law and his wife arriving to stay with us for a week. It was the first time they were seeing our new house, and in addition we hadn’t seen them for probably two years prior. They hadn’t met Le Moo, either. And there I was, in bed, in the throes of my “Prilosec fever”, with strangers wandering around my house cleaning. My mom was here helping to supervise, but being the control-freak that I am, it only made things worse.

As a part of the Prilosec fever, I was shrouded in paranoia and anxiety and panic…and pain. I wasn’t eating because of the paranoia, I was stuck in bed because of the lack of energy and nourishment, and I was in constant pain. Anxiety and panic were strangling me. On the morning of December 24th, I went into the local emergency room because I felt I had no other option. I was mired in panic and anxiety, every breath making my body swell with fear. My entire body hurt, I couldn’t stand on my own…I thought I was broken and dying. I spent the entire day in the ER with my mother and my husband by my side. My cousin, a doctor who trained in that particular ER, came and went during the day to support me and help translate when it was needed. She knew the attending on duty and was a liaison for us. She was a God-send. I went home late in the day, after dark is all I remember, and slept in my own bed. But I was no better off than when I went in that morning…with the exception of being rehydrated from a day of IV fluids. I was also told I might have a slow-growing tumor in my head from the MRI, but at that point I was too numb to be terrified.

Christmas day, I sent my husband off with his father and step-mother to my mother-in-law’s house for Christmas. My mom came to stay with me; I stayed in bed all day while my mom encouraged me to eat multiple small meals. My husband came home early to be with me, and his father and step-mother came home later. That night I had my 2nd major panic attack. It was the impetus to finding out about my Prilosec fever.

It’s one year later from all that jazz, and things are better for me. I started with a new therapist in January (that would be T!) and started PT in February. I began turning my life around…slowly but surely I’ve been making progress. I’m extremely proud of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned about myself. And how much I’ve learned about the people who love me. How blessed I am to have them all.

A few weeks ago–my dad’s birthday–we were coming home from the restaurant and I was in the car with my parents and my brother. Hub needed to run an errand so he was not with us. I asked my mom what she wanted for her birthday, which was coming up in December. My mom doesn’t particularly enjoy food much anymore. She’s at a point where it’s more fuel than anything else. She gets bored with food. I’ve asked her before what we could do for her her birthday and she always says she just wants to be home with the family. It’s kind of the same as Mother’s day. But this year, she surprised me.

I said, “Ma, if you could have anything for your birthday dinner, what would it be?”

She said, “Cheese souffle and lemon meringue pie.”

I was nearly speechless, because she actually answered me. In the dead silence, she told me that she had her mother’s recipes for both and they were foods that she never eats because she hates to make them (my grandmother has been gone for at least five years). So I told her I would do it for her. I would practice the entire time between birthdays to make sure I got it right, as long as she gave me the recipes. I badgered her for a week, and she finally searched through her files but couldn’t find either recipe. So I told her I would hit the internet and find some recipes to try. She told me she wanted to go ahead and try some souffle recipes on her own. I think she was regretting asking me because souffles are a pain to make. But I said if she wanted to try, I’d come over and help.

The next thing I know, she tells me she tried to make a spinach souffle but it didn’t rise. She didn’t know what was wrong, but she was disappointed. She said it tasted fine, but it was more like creamed spinach than a souffle. So I said I’d give it a shot. I had already searched the internet and watched no less than four videos of people making souffles. I was ready.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a great cook. My grandmother and my mom were great cooks in their day. I have things I can make pretty well, but beyond those it’s always a gamble. Sometimes stuff comes out great, sometimes it sucks. There’s no in-between for me. But hey, it’s eggs and a little flour, some milk, butter and cheese. Not like it was going to cost a lot to try. I found a recipe that would make TWO servings, so I went with that. I asked Hub to haul out the Kitchenaid mixer (which weighs about a thousand pounds and I am unable to lift it) and leave it on the island for me. So when I got downstairs this morning, I took care of the dogs and did some work on the computer, then headed for the kitchen. To the great white beast–the Kitchenaid mixer. And I started following the recipe I’d found. With that–and the videos I’d watched the night before–I was off and running.

I got the mixture together and poured it into two ramekins (technically, they were french onion bowls, but who cares!), then stuck them into the oven. Then I called my mom and whispered “don’t sneeze, the souffles are in the oven”. She laughed. When I was little and my mom made a souffle, she’d always yell at us not to jump around, slam doors, or yell. So I told her to prep herself to come over to test-eat the souffle for lunch, then I hung up the phone. And then I went back to the oven, turned the little light on and stared. And stared. I walked away to take care of the dogs for a few minutes, then went back and ZOWIE! The souffles were rising! Puffing up and browning!! I called my mom and said, “GET OVER HERE!” And before I hung up the phone I said, “And don’t slam the door on your way in!”

And thus, the souffle! My first EVER!

Souffle extraordinaire!

Souffle extraordinaire!

This was the 2nd of the two ramekins. The first was prettier, but I took it out of the oven and by the time I went to take a picture it was deflating. This picture was of the 2nd one still in the oven. It, too, was starting to deflate but I caught it before it looked sad. Do all souffle deflate that fast? 😦

So, Ma stood over the island and dug into the first souffle…and smiled. And ate. And laughed. And ate…and told me how light and fluffy it was. How tasty it was. I told her to not act like a Mom and tell me if it really was okay, and she said it truthfully was. So I said, “Happy birthday!” She finally sat down to finish her souffle, then took the second one home to my brother, even though it was deflated and sad. Apparently he wolfed it down happily, sharing only a bite with my dad (who then asked where HIS souffle was, even though he’d already eaten lunch). My brother’s birthday is in January, and he said he wanted a souffle for his birthday. So my mom said we could wait and make a souffle for his birthday since she’d had her pre-birthday test souffle today.

I’m totally making her a lemon meringue pie for her birthday, though. She said I could use a store-bought crust, but we’ll see. Gotta go out and get fresh lemons and some sweetened condensed milk. We’ll see how that goes. But I was so stoked about the souffle…it really was pretty. And honestly, my mom never asks for anything, so I’m SO damn happy I was able to do this for her.

A year ago I was in bed, sick and feeling like I was on the verge of having a full-on mental breakdown. Positive I was going to be living in a mental ward away from everyone I love for the rest of my life. And now, a souffle.

A souffle, people. First time ever, and it rose and got all brown and puffy and beautiful. For my Momma.

Happy birthday, Mom. And thank you for everything. I only wish I could give you more.

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in anxiety, family, food, love, progress, thankfulness

 

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Faith in faith?

I go to physical therapy twice a week. The woman, H, who runs the office and sits at the front desk is amaze-balls. Not only is she really good at her job, but she’s nice to everyone and has the patience of a saint when dealing with the office’s clients. I’ve been going to PT for over 10 months now, focusing on different body parts during that time. Over the months, H and I have talked a lot. I get to the office early for every appointment, and we talk the entire time I’m there until E comes to get me for my PT.

H and I have a lot in common…mostly personal characteristics. We laugh about it, because otherwise we are very different. But yesterday, while H was talking about some issues going on in her life, we started talking about something very profound–to me at least.

Faith.

And I’m not talking about religion. I’m talking about faith. Yes, I have faith in a higher power. But as H and I discussed, sometimes that means having faith in yourself as well as the people around you.

There are people out there who say I have faith that God will take care of me, and then they sit and do nothing. They sit and wait for things to happen to them. They sit and wait for God to do something. They don’t think about the fact that they need to have faith in their own abilities to get things done. To take care of themselves and those they love. And the community around them.

There’s nothing wrong with believing and having faith in a higher power–whomever you choose to believe in–but don’t sit and wait. Have faith that God has given you the ability to take care. To do the things that need to be done to care for yourself and those you love. Have faith in yourself, that you know how to handle the things that happen to you and yours. Have faith in those around you–family and friends and community–that they will be there if you need them. That you can ask for help when needed, and that you will be able to accept help when it is offered.

After H and I high-fived the common thoughts, I went on through to PT and did what I had to do. And I realized along the way that I had faith that E knows what she is doing in her attempts to help me. I had to have faith that she is doing the right things for me, and that in the end it is helpful to me.

Don’t give up your faith in a higher power, but don’t forget to have faith in yourself. Don’t forget to get up and DO for yourself and your inner circle. Be empowered with the faith you have in yourself to take care of whatever needs to be taken care of.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be a little pissed when bad things happen. But be pissed, then handle your business. Cry, then handle your business. Sleep on it, then handle your business. And use your resources, whether it be friends, family, religious affiliation, colleagues, community. Those people are all in your life for a reason. Give back when you can, and accept help when you need it.

After having this conversation with H, I am going to try to remember to have faith in myself and those around me, as well as in the higher power I believe in.

Happy holidays everyone…to those who have already celebrated, and to those with holidays still to come.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in anxiety, faith, friends

 

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Chutes and Ladders

Do you remember the game Chutes and Ladders? Did you play it as a kid? I did. I was not a competitive child, and have remained that way as it pertains to games and board games. I like to play, but I don’t like to play cut-throat. I think it comes from being the only girl among my siblings…I hated being ganged up on, and I hated feeling left-out. I wanted everyone to enjoy the game, not lord their win over each other. There are games I refuse to play with Hub because he’s all about cut-throat wins (Monopoly for example…Hub is forever trying to make horrible trades whereby he would be taking all my money on the first go-round. What fun is that?), and that isn’t fun for me.

Okay, so anyway, Chutes and Ladders.

Chutes and Ladders board

You were supposed to make your way up the board, landing on squares that let you climb the ladder–and therefore jump ahead quickly–and avoid landing on the squares with the slides. Those damn slides that set you back soooo far in the game that it was nearly impossible to win. Unless you were playing with Mom, who cheated and fell down a slide immediately after you did so you were both in the same boat. (Love you, Mom!)

So you see that long slide in the middle of the game that originates up there at 87? And slides all the way down to 24? Ye-ah, that’s about how I feel with regards to my knees and my health in general right now. Okay, maybe just my knees (my health is probably 47 –> 29), as I feel I have slid a long way backwards, even though I am still in PT. I’m having trouble walking, both knees are attempting to give out occasionally, and I’m in pain most of the time. Even when I’m not standing, my knees are bothering me. I have to keep my legs elevated, as leaving them bent and hanging–like sitting in a chair or on the couch–leaves me in more pain. But laying in bed or sitting on the recliner with the foot support up…I have trouble finding a comfortable position. Both knees are unhappy being straight and unhappy being bent. They are unhappy going from straight to bent, and bent to straight. It sucks, as pretty much everything hurts. Walking on them is equally as difficult, as the pressure of weight makes everything feel exponentially more painful. Sleeping is uncomfortable, too, as I can’t lay on my back and straighten my knees–that hurts–and lying on my side puts weight on one knee or the other. Even with a pillow between, that weight is not comfortable. I’m not walking up and down the stairs–I haven’t for about two weeks–and I’m not going outside with the dogs (with the exception of Snow Day #2).

Top that with the back pain I’m having these days, and sleeping is very very difficult. That means I’m not sleeping, which is bad, bad, bad. Sleep is where your body gets refreshed, and with no refresh I just go further down the slide. I’ve been feeling crappy. I know that isn’t a technical term, but it’s the truth. With the bad knees, the back pain, and the not sleeping, I just feel crappy. I’m dealing with headaches, a stiff neck, and some fun positional vertigo. I’m also feeling the imbalance that waxes and wanes, but never really leaves me. It’s been more noticeable in recent days, which contributes to the crappy feeling.

Have I ever mentioned I have tinnitus, too? I am rarely ever in a dead-quiet room, because without some noise, my tinnitus gets really aggravating. I fall asleep to a radio, I read with the television on, I write with the television on, I have music on when I’m working. My tinnitus is bugging the crap out of me today. I mean, really, WTF.

And as of sometime this afternoon, I’m getting weird shooting pains up my thighs. I assume it’s a muscle thing, but who the hell knows. Tomorrow I go see T and I am guessing based on my post tonight, I’ll spend the majority of my appointment bitching about that crappy slide from square 87 to square 24.

 

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Snowy days #2

As I indicated, we had more snow. It wasn’t as bad as the forecasts said, but still was enough to give us a good time. Well, to give the dogs a good time. And Hub worked from home since the roads were supposed to be bad.

I hobbled my way outside in boots on bad knees to let Cray-cray Lab into the yard so Butthead and Le Moo could play with her in the snow. Pictures abounded, many with weird-ass shots resulting.

I eat your face!

I eat your face!

and

Arrr!

Arrr!

Lots of action shots, some of which didn’t come out very well, and others that did.

Jumping the dog!

Jumping the dog!

and

Gotcher face!

Gotcher face!

I seriously got so many photos, I had trouble picking what to post. The dogs had so much fun out there it made me forget about my pain for a little while. It was worth the cold and the help I had to get from Hub to walk back to the house.

Also, one shot of our view in the snow.

View to the back

View to the back

They’re talking about some more snow over the weekend, but it doesn’t sound all that promising. We still have snow in the yard for Butthead and Le Moo to snack on, so I’m okay with a rain event this time.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in anxiety, Butthead, dogs, Le Moo, pain, snow

 

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