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Category Archives: depression

Calgon take me away

Preface: This blog is about me and my experience/feelings with regards to medications. It is not a judgement on or valuation of what anyone else does/feels with regards to their anxiety, depression, pain, insomnia, allergies…etc.


Monday morning I went to physical therapy for my shoulder. I’ve been going for close on to six weeks I think, but only once a week because they are so booked they can’t usually fit me in twice a week. This past Monday, I actually cried during the appointment because the pain was a) so bad and b) so frustrating. For the first three weeks or so, I was doing my exercises religiously at home. Then the therapist started adding in more and more exercises–without giving them to me in written or picture form–and I got overwhelmed and lost. I still try to do stuff daily, but it’s not everything I should be doing. Even so, I’m continuing to progress with my flexibility, but the pain continues. And I guess because the therapist is trying to push my range, the pain is…bad.

I am extremely sensitive to medications, and have been for most of my adult life. I don’t even take OTC pain killers like ibuprofin or acetaminophen or tylenol because they either screw up my stomach or they don’t work. I will take anti-biotics when prescribed, but I hate the experience and it’s mentally very challenging for me.

So last night I was in the shower and thinking about how much my shoulder still hurt, how sore it was, and I was under the hot spray of water and thinking…if I only took pain killers this would be a lot easier. And I knew…I KNEW part of the reason I don’t take pain killers or cold medication or antihistamines or sleeping pills or any other medication is that I would cause a bigger issue for myself. It’s NO LIE that I have medication sensitivities…I very much do have them. But maybe if I searched hard enough I could find things that work for me. I don’t do this…and here’s why.

About fifteen years ago I had a bad cold…a sore throat that was horrendously painful. I started using these OTC throat drops that had some kind of liquid medication in the middle. It was probably Haul’s brand, probably cherry flavored. I used them constantly in the beginning and they seemed to help. Then my throat started getting better but I literally got addicted to them and was continuing to suck on them like they were candy. I had to use them. I was addicted and I had to have one in my mouth almost all the time. It was vaguely terrifying when I finally realized what was happening (maybe like 3-4 weeks later). I quit them cold turkey and made Hub take the bag to work with him to throw away. I knew if they were in the trash in my house, I would dig them out and eat them. I don’t buy those kind of lozenges anymore, though in the last two or three years I have started buying honey-drops for sore throats.

I don’t do drugs and I don’t drink any alcohol and I don’t smoke. I never did any of those things. I feel like if I did or if I started using something like pain killers or anti-anxiety medication or sleeping pills, I would be using them constantly and for the wrong reason. I’d be in less pain, I’d probably have less anxiety, I might sleep more, but I’d also be zoned out and not living. I would just figure out the best way to shut myself off from everything and everyone in life by doping myself up on OTC or prescription medication. I would be gone, in every sense of the word. I’m not sure I’ve ever admitted this fear to anyone out loud, but in my heart I know that I’d use the medications to hide away. I’m not sure I’d be doing anything illegal or overdosing on the meds–or even overusing in any significant way–but I’d be using them in a way that would excuse me from life.

I feel like my anxiety over medications keeps me safe from all of this. Yes, I DID use some pain medication after my first surgery, but it was only a day or so (and so regimented!) and then I used tylenol. And then after a day or so I used nothing. The second surgery I didn’t use pain meds because I didn’t like the way they made me feel the first time, so I used tylenol as needed and I suffered through. I suffer through pain on a daily basis because I’m afraid of who I would become if I muted all the pain in my life…physical and mental.

Before I first got sick in 2001 (at 29yo), I’m not sure I ever really needed medications. Sure, I probably took cold meds on and off over the years, and never gave it another thought. Yes I did use Advil every month for cramps (which is how I ended up with stomach issues!) and probably occasionally for headaches. But after I got sick, everything changed, including who I really was. Who I really am.

The physical therapist said that I could go back to my Ortho doctor and ask to get a steroid injection to help with the pain as we continue with rehab, but I declined. I hate the pain I live with daily, and I hate the pain that reduces me to tears during PT, but the pain reminds me that I’m alive. I’m alive and I’m experiencing life.

This all sounds very fucked up. I guess I’m not surprised at that revelation.

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Shock and OW!

I know that I said previously that I wouldn’t be seeing the neurologist for my EMG until September, but that changed.

I had such a terrible weekend. Saturday I basically did nothing because I felt so weak and tired. We went to bed at our regular time that evening, but at 12:30am Sunday morning, Hub and I were awakened by SCREAMING smoke alarms. In our house, all our smoke alarms are interconnected, so if one of them detects something every single alarm goes off. Not only does it make that horrendous alarm noise, but it also yells “FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!” I literally sat straight up in bed and hit Hub in the chest to wake him, then I turned the overhead light on. The dogs were freaking out, I was trying to get dressed, and Hub was trying to unhook himself from his CPAP machine, all while the alarms are screaming and yelling, and the dogs are running around the bedroom (we keep them closed in with us at night). We finally are semi-dressed and have shoes on and we open the door to the hallway and the screaming gets louder because there are more alarms in the hallway and in each of the bedrooms. I tried to get the dogs downstairs to give them treats (they always get treats when there are loud noises) while Hub tried to silence the smoke alarms (the dogs are still freaking out and Butthead races into her crate and won’t come out even though there’s an alarm nearly over her head still screaming). We don’t see or smell fire anyway, but Hub goes to investigate the whole house while I retrieve Butthead and rush the dogs outside and away from the noise. When Hub comes outside he tells me he has ripped down several of the detectors and the noise has stopped. I’m not happy, I’m afraid that there’s a fire in the attic or in the walls or there’s CO2 somewhere and that’s why the alarms went off. So at about 12:45, I find and call the non-emergency number for the fire department, and I explain what is going on. They take my address and say they’ll be out to the house shortly…and while we’re waiting the alarms go off again, so Hub rips MORE detectors off the ceiling and when the silence reigns again he takes the dogs into the basement so they can’t get out of the house and I go outside to wait for the fire department. To try to shorten this story–which really has nothing to do with this post–the firefighters come out to the house in the middle of the night, and after inspecting the entire house, they figure out that ONE of the smoke detectors has malfunctioned. And because it was wired into the “system”, it sets off all the other detectors in the house. Bless them, the firefighters were pretty awesome, and by 1:30am, they were walking back down our driveway in the darkness to load back up onto the firetruck they had left in the street. We were awake, trying to re-settle the dogs and ourselves, until about 2am.

Okay, so Sunday night I pretty much had a bad breakdown. I was just sobbing over how bad I was feeling and how tired I was and how afraid I was. I felt like I was getting worse, that my weakness was worse, my fatigue was worse, my imbalance was worse, and that now I was having trouble with my hands/arms and not just my legs.

For only the second time in the four and a half years I’ve been seeing T, I actually contacted her to seek guidance and help after-hours (or out of a normal session). The only other time I’ve done that is when my mother died. I am so grateful and so lucky that she took the time to talk to me in email (which is how I contacted her). I can’t say anything got resolved or that I even felt “better” in that moment, but knowing someone was out there to reach for–and who would reach back–was enormously helpful. Yes, Hub was here and he was being supportive, but this time it took a more confident and experienced communication.

When I finally caught my breath, I was so exhausted from struggling during the day and crying for hours that I went to sleep at 9pm. When I woke up the next morning, I called to see if my primary doc could see me, even though I didn’t think it would be helpful. They were able to fit me in just before lunchtime, and Hub took time off of work to go with me. After that phone call, I called the neuro’s office to see if he had any cancellations where he could fit me in for my test. The receptionist said no right away, because she had just gotten off the phone with someone else asking the same thing. So I asked to leave a message for my doctor, and I told him I was feeling worse and that I was having trouble with my hand/arm. He called within thirty minutes and fit me in for the EMG for two days later (that’d be today).

I went to my primary, who said she didn’t know what else to do for me except to send me to see a sleep doctor to see if I was having some kind of sleep disorder, and also to an infectious disease doctor to talk about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. We were sitting in her office and I was so damn tired and frustrated that I literally put my head down on the edge of her desk and tried not to cry. She asked me what was going on and I told her, I was exhausted, frustrated, and scared. She immediately asked me if I was depressed. I was both annoyed and frustrated with this, because ANYONE in my shoes, with this length of exhaustion and weakness, and not knowing what was wrong, would be afraid and sad and upset. I thanked her for the offer but said I wasn’t ready to do that right now. She told me to try to stop focusing on my symptoms because I would surely make them worse by doing so, and to continue with my neuro appointment.

After that, we ran off to get my blood work done for the neuro and then we went home. Fast forward (cuz this is soooooo long), I spent most of today trying not to think about the test and/or what it might or might not say. I semi-obsessively check my laptop to see if my blood work has come in while trying not to spend time searching Dr. Google. We finally head off to the neuro office and within about ten minutes we are back in the testing room. I had read a little about the test(s) and heard both that it was no big deal and that it hurt like a mo’fo. I think I ended up somewhere in the middle.

The neuro doctor is very quiet in general, so there was almost no talking. The room had to be like 85 degrees, which I assume was on purpose because some of the testing is on muscles and maybe the heat keeps them relaxed? The first part of the test was where they put some thingys on you and then send an electric shock through certain nerves. The second part they use needles, stuck into your muscle, to record some kind of feedback. I asked what the needles were like and was told they are thinner and shorter than acupuncture needles. When he started zapping me with electricity, I asked if the needles hurt more or less, and he said “there’s no electricity with the needles” and went back to his zapping. So after another few minutes of silence and him randomly saying “zap here”, I ask him if his patients say the electricity is worse or the needles, and he says “it goes both ways.” *sigh*

The zaps range from a slight sting to a full-on-stick-your-fingers-in-an-outlet zap to OH SHIT THAT HURT LIKE A MO’FO. Fortunately, they are pretty quick zaps–up and down both legs in multiple places and along one arm and hand–and within about forty minutes we are moving on to the needle part of the test. He actually started with my arm and it really wasn’t all that bad, as long as I didn’t look at what he was doing. When he moved to my first leg, it was fine until he went into the inside of my calf and then it HURT. Especially he had trouble finding the right spot to be in and he had to sort of shift it around and push harder and that was pretty bad. The same issue happened with the other leg, but then we were pretty much done. After I got dressed, I asked him if he saw anything and he only said, “nothing jumped out at me” and said he’d have to go through all the data that had been collected during the test in the computer. I asked if there was anything I should or shouldn’t be doing, and he only said to stay hydrated and to rest. He scheduled us to come back for a follow-up for next Wednesday, so I have a week to sit and wait…

Tomorrow morning I go in for my CT Scan for my cancer follow-up. My father is driving me because Hub has to be in the office and I feel so weak and off-balance that I am afraid to drive myself. Friday I have a massage therapy appointment, which I hope I can get to, and I might have to have my father drive me again. I had cancelled my PT appointment for this past Monday because I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. I hope I can return to it this coming Monday, because I need to continue to try to make progress on my shoulder.

For now, I have a headache and I think I need to go to sleep. I have to get up early to start drinking the crap for my CT Scan, so off I go.

 

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Finding connections

I wasn’t sure what to do this year about mother’s day. Last year I sent Hub off to his mother’s house without me, and I spent part of the day with my brother and his then wife (now ex-wife). I talked with T about this on Friday, because I feel some guilt about not going to my mother-in-law’s to be with her, but I just am not ready yet this year. I know she understands–as does Hub–but I am at heart a people-pleaser, and so the guilt sat heavy with me. In the end, though, I couldn’t make myself go.

My father had mentioned to me Friday evening that he was going to go to the cemetery to visit my mother’s grave and he asked if I wanted to go. I didn’t answer him at that point, but Sunday morning when I saw him, he brought it up again. He said he knew it made me feel “uncomfortable”, but he wanted to make the offer for me to join him. I tried to be gentle in responding when I said to him, “I don’t feel uncomfortable about going, but the truth is, I don’t feel a connection to Mom there. I don’t feel it to Nana and Papa, either…it doesn’t work that way for me.” (my grandparents are buried in the plots next to my mother). For real, I feel more of a connection to my mother in her “den” closet, where she had a bunch of books stashed on a bookshelf…gardening, trees, cookbooks…I stumbled on them at one point and ended up crying. Because that’s my mother. The cemetery is just a marker for her physical body’s last resting place, but it has no history for me with her. My father only said OK and that he was okay to go alone, which I had to trust was true.

Somewhere around ten a.m., I texted my brother (the one with the ex-wife) to see what he was doing that afternoon. He said “nothing”, so I asked if he wanted to do something. What I really wanted to do was go back to the nursery where Mom and I used to go all the time, and where he and I went after she died. I also offered up the opportunity for him to come to my house to help me bake peanut butter cookies, which he (and my other brother) scarf up as fast as I can make them. His response was a preference to go to the garden center, so in some corner of my mind I knew it was the right thing to do. Even Hub said as much when I told him my plans for the afternoon while he was with his mother…he said my mom would be happy to know I was spending time there with my brother.

So after lunch, my brother and I set out for the nursery, which is about 20 minutes away. We talked a lot in the car about how he’s been doing with his depression and his medication, as well as some other health issues he’s dealing with. But once at the nursery, we talked about plants. We walked around the big place for about two hours–which leaves me exhausted and in pain today unfortunately–just chattering and touching plants and gagging over the high prices. We bought absolutely nothing, but it was worth the time and energy and pain, because it felt right. This brother and I, we have always been the closest of the siblings–with the exception of his married life where he withdrew from the whole family…and even then I tried to stay in touch with him as much as it was possible–so this connection felt good to renew. I know he’s struggling with his depression and his newly single life and his desire for a partner and…well, lots of stuff. And part of today was to remind him that he’s not alone. Doing that for my mom and for him made the day work for me.

I miss my mother so terribly. Every day. I feel like my identity without her has been lost. I don’t know how to get it back…yet. I’m still searching, and maybe someday I’ll find my purpose again.

I described (to T and a friend) the run-up to mother’s day as “being poked with a cattle prod when you’re already on fire”…and it’s true. That’s so much how I felt with all the television commercials and the holiday displays in all the stores and the radio commercials and facebook and instagram and on and on. I worry that it will always feel this way, this painful, this sad, this lost. Living without my mom has changed my life and changed me at my core. I don’t know how to adjust to that, or that adjustment is even possible. Somehow, I have to find a way forward. Last night I watched Bad Moms on television while Hub was still at his mother’s. There’s a point in the movie where Mila Kunis is talking to her movie daughter and she basically says, “I know you can make it through this because I’m your mother and I know what you’re made of.” It was such a dumb, funny, stupid, crazy movie, but that scene and those words (which I can’t remember exactly) really hit me hard. I know my mother believed in me and believed in my strength and my ability to persist. I hope I can find a way to continue to make her proud in that aspect as I try to find my way.


 

As a minor update, I finished all my bactrim pills successfully. I don’t know how much I feel better, but so far it seems the smell is gone, so I take that as success. I wasn’t too much more itchy the last day and half, so that was good. My stomach isn’t entirely back to normal yet, but I know the bactrim stays in your system for several days following the last pill. So hopefully another couple of days and my stomach will be better.

 

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Sleep? Why bother…

Apparently this is what my body and brain has decided. Sleep unnecessary.

I know that for real it has to do with my mental, emotional, and physical pain. All of those wrapped into one, split into pieces, kneaded into each other, and then rolled into a throbbing ball of oneness. I’m so on edge that one small scrape and I’m raw and bleeding profusely, figuratively.

I cried on the way to the grocery store this morning. Not because I had to go to the grocery store, not because I was worried about being able to afford the trip to the grocery store, not because I was afraid I was going to have an anxiety attack in the grocery store… I cried because I couldn’t not cry. I’m tired, I’m not sleeping, I’m worried about Hub and I’m worried about Butthead. I’m worried about myself, too. My grief is overwhelming every part of my life and I can’t seem to dig my way out of it.

Hub is agonizing over a job offer–in part because it might mean less flexibility and he worries that he won’t be able to come home if I need him–that he received on Friday. I’m worried for him because I don’t feel that the company was being up front with him…they kind of bait and switched the job position (which they apparently did to the guy before him, someone Hub knows). I am concerned he won’t have any backup on his work, and I’m worried because if this is how they treat potential employees, how do they treat current employees. But Hub is unhappy in his current job and looking for a way out. Our health insurance changed due to the buy-out, so he’s both unhappy with the new corporate owners and unhappy with their shitty health insurance. Unfortunately, the potentially new company has equally shitty health insurance…so that kind of cancels out the pro/con in that category. Now they’re not budging on a concession he asked about (a minor concession on their part!), so that might be the end of that. I only hope that his current corporate overlords don’t decide that he’s no longer needed before he finds something else.

Butthead is randomly puking again. I mean, it’s good news that she’s not persistently puking like the last episode where we ended up rushing her to the vet hospital and coming home with anti-vomit pills… But this randomly throwing up (twice in the last four days…one of which was this morning which was another reason why I was so upset) is so frustrating. We don’t know if she’s sneaking and eating bad things outside or has gastritis and so her stomach hurts her or what… We’re at the point where we’re acclimating her to a basket muzzle that she’ll have to wear anytime she’s outside so she doesn’t eat crap off the ground and make herself sick. It’s hard and sad to make her wear a muzzle because she’s a good dog, not aggressive, shouldn’t have to wear it. I know it’s uncomfortable and bulky and just plain weird for her, but we don’t know what else to do with her. We can’t figure out what is wrong with her. And if it’s that she’s eating stuff outside that’s making her sick, there’s nothing else we can do other than the muzzle. For the past month or so we’ve been out there with her every minute, following her and standing over her and making sure she’s not eating things. But with the snow and ice, and my physical capabilities being limited at this point…I couldn’t keep up with her and I think she might have eaten something that made her vomit last Thursday when I wasn’t standing over her. We just don’t know what to do with her… So I’m worried that she’s going to vomit again like the last episode. Ugh. So far it’s been these two random episodes and today I spent time on and off modifying the basket muzzle to try to use a quick-snap collar to hold it on her head versus the old-fashioned buckle which is a pain in the ass to get on and off of her, especially with her floppy ears and long hair.

Even though I’ve been feeling ultra shitty and exhausted, we had to do a bunch of things this weekend. Most of which we accomplished. Unfortunately, one of the things was cleaning up the caulk in our master shower which seemed to be growing mold behind the caulk at the joints of the floor and wall. Hub is not flexible, so he had trouble sitting on the floor and scraping at the caulk, so I did 90% of it. Which, of course, hurt my arms, shoulders, and hands more than they were already hurting. The end result, though, is that we need to call in a professional to look at our shower because this is the second time in a year that we’ve ended up with this problem. Last time my brother helped me strip and re-caulk the shower, but now we’re in the same place again… There’s something wrong if there’s mold and mildew growing behind the caulk, especially since we bought mold-resistant caulk. This all means that we don’t have a shower in our bathroom and we have to haul ass to the shower on the opposite end of the house…past all the windows in the front of the house and over the foyer area of the house. It also means we have to haul all our paraphernalia into the other shower, which is smaller than our master shower. It’s not a huge deal, it’s just more stress. And more stress in having to find someone who knows what they are doing to come into the house to fix whatever is happening. The stupid sub-contractor that our builder hired to do our bathrooms did not know what they were doing. They screwed several things up in our master bathroom and ruined a lot of our shower floor tiles by having to go back and chip out all the wrong grout they put in. So we were left with grout over top of grout, and chipped tiles. And the slope of the floor is really bad, which causes water to pool in different spots in the shower and leaves our grout with water stains where the water sits. It’s shitty and depressing and frustrating. That’s all in addition to whatever this caulk situation is.

I have my mammogram on Wednesday. We finally got our health insurance cards from Hub’s new corporate overlords. I opened the mail, found the card, and called for my appointment all within about ten minutes. The first they had was a week away (now this Wednesday) and I took the appointment. I am pretty paranoid about keeping up with my mammos, so I’m glad that it’s only about ten days overdue from the day I had it last year.

I was supposed to have a relaxing massage last week. I had it scheduled in between two trigger point appointments…I normally go to TP massage therapy once a month (ish). So I scheduled the relaxing massage exactly two weeks after one TP appointment and two weeks before the next TP appoint. And then it snowed, and my relaxing massage appointment got canceled. And I really really wanted it. I mean, not enough to endanger my therapist or myself, but I’m so disappointed. I knew this was going to be a difficult month (technically, it’s been a difficult year so far), so I had planned for the relaxing massage–which I never get–and then plans went pfffft. Since my massage therapist only works two days a week, there were no openings for me to do a make-up massage. I don’t know when I’ll be able to fit it in again.

I told T on Friday that I want this grief to have some kind of end date. But with every day, every month, it stays. It’s a solid burden that I carry with me every. This month is especially difficult as it’s the (one year) anniversary of Mom’s death. And with every calendar day I think of what I was doing on “this” day last year. How we had no idea what was coming. How we took her to an arboretum in the city trying to perk up her spirits…not knowing how soon it would get so bad. How it happened so fast. How I was late to Hub’s birthday dinner last year because I was with Mom and Dad helping them with something. How it was only days after his birthday that she was in the hospital and then hours later that she was gone. Grief has no end date. It plays by no rules. It doesn’t give a shit who you are or what you want. It lives and breathes and grows and growls and harps and hammers and changes and does whatever the hell it wants. And it sucks.

 

 

 

 

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Birthdays and grief

My mother’s birthday was a few days before the holidays. As one of my brothers said to me, “I’m sure it’s not creeping up on you, either…” And it wasn’t. T thinks that a lot of my pain and anxiety were around the colonoscopy without my mother being there, and because of my mother’s birthday, and because of the holidays without her.

Yeah, I knew her birthday was coming. I knew it was going to be bad. I also knew I had somewhat of a plan for the day. Before Mom got sick, when she was still crocheting, she hooked up a bunch of preemie hats for our local hospital’s NICU. At the time, it wasn’t a lot of hats, so we kept saying we were holding off before taking them in. After Mom passed, I took all of the small amounts of yarn I had and crocheted more tiny hats. Then I put them all into a bag and left them in my library. Because I knew what I wanted to do.

On Mom’s birthday, I woke up and got dressed. And I called my father to see how he was. He said he was just going to call me because he was going to the cemetery and he wanted to know if I wanted to go. I didn’t really, but I didn’t want him to go alone. So instead of answering him directly, I said if he would take me up to the hospital to drop off the preemie hats, I would go with him to the cemetery. He said okay, so we left about ten minutes later.

At the hospital–where my father’s sister (my aunt) was admitted and stayed for several days, and where my mother went for her lymphedema wraps–I left Dad in the parking lot and I went inside. At the main desk, they checked me in and directed me to the NICU. As I made my way down the hall, I saw someone walk into the elevator, so I hurried to join her so I could save some time waiting for another elevator. Inside, the woman standing across from me smiled, then looked at the bag in my arms and her smile got wider. She asked me if I was bringing hats to the NICU. I said yes, and her eyes seemed to sparkle. She was heading for the NICU herself…she had twin girls who had been born before Thanksgiving–when they were due after Christmas. I said congratulations and I hoped they were doing well, which she said they were. And she told me, “They brought me to see the girls for the first time, and there they were in hand-knitted hats, and it just made my heart skip a beat. That someone out there did that for me and for them, complete strangers!” Her smile was so big.

When the elevator doors opened, I walked with her down the hall and into the NICU waiting area. I wished her luck and she disappeared behind a door that the nurse unlocked for her. I approached the nurse, who was behind a glass windowed reception area, and I put my bag of 40 hats on the counter in between us. And I announced that I was there to drop off crocheted hats for the babies. In all sizes, all colors, all different types of yarns. The nurse smiled and took the bag, then started going through the hats. She oohed and ahhed over some of them, and even rubbed a few on her cheek and said how soft they were. She told me how wonderful if it was to have them, and wanted to know “how many women are there in your group that made these?” I laughed and said it was just my mom and me. The sweet woman said, “oh my goodness, please give your mom a hug for me!”

I basically nodded and smiled, gave a wave, and left the unit for the safety of the hallway. It was hard. I tried not to cry as I made my way back through the hospital and out to the car where my father was waiting. Fortunately, he was busy navigating the parking lot and trying to figure out the best way to get to the cemetery, so our conversation was pretty sparse.

When we were done and I was home, I cried. I cried because those were the last hats I had from her. I cried because I missed her. I cried because I hated where I was in my life without her.

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When my mom was going through chemo, I made her a bunch of hats for her to wear after she lost her hair. Years ago, probably six or seven years, before I was crocheting, she was supposed to crochet me an open-weave sweater to wear over a tank top. She never got to it, for various reasons. I don’t even know what happened to the yarn we picked out. She crocheted me a shawl for my brother’s wedding, and added crocheted sleeves to an evening gown for my cousin’s black-tie wedding. So I really have nothing I can wear that she made for me. I wish I did. The last thing she crocheted was a lap blanket that she was expecting to donate, but a few days after she died, I took it. I wrapped it up in tissue paper and put it into a plastic bag that a set of sheets came in, and I put it away in my guest room. It’s in a drawer in my grandparents’ dresser. It’s ugly as sin color-wise, but I can’t bear to part with it. I also have a ruffled ball that was supposed to be for a baby that was a test-project. It’s on a shelf in my bookcase hidden behind some doors with the perfume that I took from her bathroom drawers a few months after she died.

I honored my  mom as best I could on her birthday. My birthday is coming up soon. Hub usually cooks me a special dinner and he’s been asking me what I want to eat. I kept putting him off, because I honestly do not want to celebrate my birthday. I finally told him I didn’t want anything special on my birthday because I didn’t want to have my birthday. I don’t even want it to be acknowledged, because it’s just another reminder to me that she isn’t here with me. Last year she was in brain radiation on my birthday…she was just getting over the symptoms of the brain mets. We were dealing with the lawyer trying to get my parents’ trusts all finalized and stuff.

Last year, five days before my birthday, I had to call an ambulance at 11pm for Hub because he had an episode of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) where his heart rate was sustained up around 225 or 250bpm. They had to stop his heart twice with medication to get it reset. We went to his follow-up appointment with his cardiologist on my birthday.

Right now, I’m in pain. My arms and back and neck and shoulders hurt. I have headaches on an almost daily basis for multiple hours at a time. My hips hurt when I try to sleep. I still have nausea. I still have jaw pain. I still have anxiety over the jaw pain, though it’s not as persistent as it was in the past few weeks. I’m not sleeping much and I’m not crocheting because I hurt too much.

I don’t want to celebrate. Right now I just want the days to be days, so I don’t have to be so sad.

 

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A new character emerges

As if my life were a book. Ironic since I used to write those.

I’ve been hiding in plain sight recently. My world has seemed to orbit around my food issues (another blog) and my father. And then the election. Oh God, the election. Please, another day.

Today is for my dad. My father was born eleven months after my mom, so he is almost a year younger than she. And yet, he has always seemed to be older than her, and his health has not been the greatest. He–like me and others in my family–has been overweight all of his adult life. He never had a good diet, he never exercised regularly, and for as long as my mother has known him, he has smoked a pipe. He’s been through cigarette phases and on occasion would enjoy himself a cigar, but his vise is really his pipe. As kids we had to live with it, though my mother always hated it and the smell of it makes me physically sick. When my parents had a house built in the late eighties, my  mother told my father he was no longer allowed to smoke in the house. He had to sit in the garage or on the porch he insisted the house have. He was only allowed to smoke in HIS vehicle and then only if he was alone. When they had their current house built, the rules were the same. Still now, on days when the wind is blowing just right and I’m outside, I can smell his pipe smoke coming from his garage. I still hate it. He has a smoker’s cough, a wheeze when he breathes, and his teeth are in terrible condition. His skin is bad, he has zero taste buds and absolutely no sense of smell.

In his sixties, my father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. He didn’t care and he didn’t take medication and he didn’t change any of his habits. To this day, he doesn’t stay on medication. He takes it randomly and is convinced that the pharmaceutical companies are all out to make a buck and none of the medications do anything. He also randomly goes on and off all kinds of herbal “medications” with the expectation that they will solve all his issues. And again, has no consistency with them. He reads every alternative medical article and pamphlet he can and spouts his knowledge to whoever will listen.

Now, he is not really able to manage his sugar levels, despite attempting to go back onto his meds “consistently”. He will randomly announce he is off carbs and only eating protein, then not follow through. He will randomly announce he is off meat and only eating cheese and fish and bread. And pasta. He won’t follow through on any of that, either. And he has diabetic neuropathy in his feet. Very very bad neuropathy. He is in pain every day, often severe, and has been for at least four or five years. One time he told me he figured losing a foot was bound to happen to him. He was resigned to it. It hasn’t happened yet, but he’s not very actively doing much to keep that at bay.

My father retired from his job in the fall of 2003. Since that time, his life’s passion has been to read and smoke in his garage. When my mother got sick, he took care of her. His life then revolved around doctor’s appointments and combing through medical or alternative medical articles on the web. When Mom died, he crawled into his book and his pipe and refused to come out. Randomly he would tell me that he didn’t want to leave the house anymore. Randomly he would tell one of my brothers that he was crying “a lot”. So when my father had a medical issue crop up and he made an appointment to see his doctor, I went with him. I didn’t ask, I just showed up at his car the morning of his appointment about ten minutes before he was due to leave. When we saw his doctor, he told her that he was crying a lot and really didn’t want to leave the house. She asked him some questions and they talked–and he cried–and they talked more. And she asked him to try Lexapro. And she warned him it would take 4-6 weeks before he might feel any change, but that it would help him manage the depression until he was able to manage it himself. Or until it “lifted”, since she felt it was due to my  mother’s death. He promised her he would try it, and we went home with the pills.

Two weeks after starting the pills, he told us that he was feeling a bit better. He was doing more and talking more and crying less. Three weeks after starting the pills, he abruptly quit them without telling anyone, including his doctor. When I found out, I asked why and he told me he didn’t like the way he felt on them. But he couldn’t explain that any further. I asked him to alert his doctor–which he did by email–and he said if he felt like the depression was a problem, he would go back on the pills. Which we all knew was a damn lie.

It’s been about three months since he took the pills. Roughly two months since he stopped. He has admitted to me since then that he feels responsible for my mother’s death (which is not rational), and he told my brother (I learned later) that he stopped taking the pills because it made the feeling of loss and pain go away. And he wanted to feel the pain of my mother’s death. He was punishing himself for her death. And more recently, he has told me that he isn’t enjoying his books anymore. The one place he was able to hide and pass the hours every day. So when he had another health issue come up, I did the repeat dance and showed up at his car the morning of his appointment. And in the doctor’s office, after he went through the current medical issue, I brought up the depression and his loss of enjoyment of his books.

The doctor asked him to try another medication, which he refused. I didn’t know at this point why he stopped the meds and he refused to tell the doctor, only saying he didn’t like how he felt on it and “didn’t know” what that meant. After explaining to my dad about the chemicals in his brain being responsible for the depression, the doctor suggested he go see a mental health professional, possibly one that would be able to help him find a better medication for him. He said he’d think about it–after he cried and I cried–then refused to discuss it any further. My brother and I confronted him the next night about doing something, seeing someone, SOMETHING, and he refused to talk to us. He later told another of my brothers that “nothing is wrong with my brain!” in response to conversation about the depression being related to his brain chemistry.

I am feeling so helpless. Although his cognition isn’t great–which he has admitted–he is still in his right mind. We can’t force him to do anything. But I can’t give up and let him just spend his last years rotting away. I’m not asking him to be someone he’s not, but I hate that he has lost even his love of his books. Today I made an appointment to see our family Rabbi so that my brother and I can go speak to him. He’s been a part of our lives for over 45 years, and he’s a trained counselor. I hope he might have some suggestions, and/or consider helping us talk to my father.

I knew my mother’s death would be hard on my father. I had no concept of what that really meant IRL.

 

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And then I cried…

I saw T for my appointment on Friday and I pretty much cried through the whole thing. She tried to reassure me that what I’m dealing with is grief, not a major depressive episode. It’s also combined with where I am in my life, which is kind of lost and stagnant. I’ve been struggling with finding my purpose–or reclaiming it if that’s the case–and she thinks that is making me feel worse. I miss my mother. I miss her love and her support and her company. I am tired of being unhappy with who I am. I’m tired of being unhappy with how I feel about myself. I cried for all of it. I cried on the way home, too. I felt weepy most of the day. Then again, I’ve felt weepy pretty much all the time the last couple of weeks.

When I woke up Friday morning, I found that our upstairs air conditioning had frozen over. Again. For the last three (or four maybe) years, the system has frozen over at least twice during the summer season. Initially, we were told finding a small leak was near to impossible, and we should just refill the refrigerant unless is became an on-going issue. When it became an on-going issue, they tried to find the leak but couldn’t. We’ve been through several different HVAC companies, and no one could find a leak. We were told it was probably in the attic in the line that runs between the outside unit and the inside unit. The only way to “fix” that was to replace it entirely. Entirely$$$$. So the second time it froze over this season, we tried a “sealant” along with a dye, to try to trace the leak. No surprise based on our luck, the sealant didn’t work and Friday morning I saw the ice building up on the system again. Talk about wanting to cry. Not only does it mean more bullshit to deal with, but it also means no air conditioning on our bedroom level. And no a/c means no sleep. If I try to sleep on the main level where there IS a/c, I can’t get comfortable and therefore no sleep. The HVAC guy came back today (that was three days with no a/c in our bedroom) and told us that he found evidence of leaks in the unit inside the house. So now we have to scrape up money to pay for that repair…the part was barely under warranty (somehow we got stuck with a crap warranty for five years instead of ten) but labor is never under warranty. I had to go find some kind of proof of when the unit was purchased because basically we are at 4 years and 11 months. Stupid jerks. Now it’s a couple of days before the part is in and then we schedule for the work to be done.

We’ve been sleeping with the windows open at night, since the weather has cooled off somewhat. Unfortunately, that means my allergies get triggered. And the upstairs gets humid, because air movement is limited. We have NO cross-breeze possible in our bedroom. Boo. I have summer allergies and I have mold allergies. So no matter what, I’m feeling it and now I feel like my bedroom is just coated in allergens from having the windows open. Ugh.

I feel like I’m a walking vat of injury and tears and pain. My stomach is giving me trouble. Not in the normal way, but in a spot of pain that is showing up in a weird place. It’s not an area I’ve had pain in before…and I can’t identify what is causing it. I hate that. I’m having some other uncomfortable pain in uncomfortable places that aren’t really proper to discuss with people. I’m not sure why, but it’s just more to irritate me. There’s a spot on my back shoulder that’s getting rubbed by my bra, and even when I try to sleep it’s irritated.

What’s wrong with me these days? I’ve known my body has been falling apart for years, but this is a whole new slew of stuff. Unfamiliar stuff.

I’m tired. I want to go to bed. The room is too hot for that during the day, even if I were to do it.

I’m whiny. Don’t listen to me. I’m done.

 

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