Food Cravings and Mental Breakdowns

After typing up my last journal entry, I went searching through my blog for mention of peri-menopause. I had enough entries on it over the last four years that I’d actually created a category for it. Totally forgot I did that.

August, 2012: noticed my period went from 25 day cycle to 28+ day cycle.

May, 2013: I had a period, then 11 days after it ended, another full period.
October, 2013: skipped period entirely.

January, 2014: my period went back to 25 day cycle.
May, 2014: period ended and then the next day started up again.

April, 2015: I started my period again after it had just ended.
May, 2015: diagnosed with fibroids. I started my period again after it had just ended.
September, 2015: bled for 12 straight days.

So…I have had up to five years to “enter peri-menopause gracefully”.
But in August, 2012, my world ended when I discovered my spouse cheating on me with the woman I babysat for. That threw my cycle and everything into hormonal whack. My world never fully recovered.

I spent over a year and a half in MAJOR depression and on psych meds.

Then I met someone new and began a relationship, which went through such HORRIBLY INTENSE bullshit that I am surprised I stayed with the person at all. It got pretty bad.
At the same time, my job went from bad to unbearable, and I finally left it in August, 2017, only to be picked up by a monumentally worse job. I’ve only been there for just under 3 months, and it feels like I’ve been there for as long as I was at the other dysfunctional job.

So there was no going gracefully into this, because I have been in a constant state of stress hormone release for the past five years.

On Friday, November 3, after another bad day at work, I came home and had a full scale emotional breakdown, complete with sobbing, screaming, hyperventilating, and rambling incoherently.
I haven’t been the same since Friday. I feel like I did when I just got out of the psych ward in 2012. Everything has me jumpy and ready to scream & jump out of my skin. I’ve been taking more of my anti-anxiety medication.

And the food cravings. Holy shit, the food cravings. It’s probably a combination of being stressed the fuck out and hormonal whack going on, but I have never eaten so much peanut butter in my life. Same with ice cream. I have to have ice cream EVERY DAY for like, the past two months.

I texted my Ma yesterday about it, since I read that daughters may likely follow their mothers in menopausal onset and symptoms. My Ma started peri-menopause when she was about 43 or 44 years old. She had really bad mood swings. I don’t recall her food cravings, so I asked. She said she ate A LOT of ice cream, and that it helped with her hot flashes.
I told her I’d had some night sweats back in March. but nothing since then.

Then of course, because I HAD to have mentioned it, I had hot flashes all last night, which made it difficult to sleep. It mostly affected my lower body from the waist down my legs to my feet. Burning hot. Dry hot. I wished for a cooling pad. If this keeps up, I will order cool gel pillows and pads.

Lather, rinse, repeat

What can I say that hasn’t been said a million times on my personal blog over the past 12 years?

I’ve entered downtime. I’m in a pain flare.

My lower back has me walking hunched over because it’s locked up. I feel like a pillbug, folding up on myself. My lower uterus feels like it’s being scraped with a melon baller. My eyes hurt. My head hurts. My joints hurt.

Though here I sit, saying ‘Thank the gods’ it all happened this Tuesday, instead of next Tuesday, when I’m supposed to graduate 19 preschoolers.

But you know, it shouldn’t happen at all. I shouldn’t be in this much pain. I shouldn’t have to suffer like this, especially after two surgeries.
And how many of my endo sisters have had five surgeries? Ten surgeries? Twenty surgeries? More than that? With the same ZERO benefit?

And don’t EVEN get me started on other treatments and remedies. I have four printed out pages of treatments and remedies that didn’t stop the pain.

It shouldn’t be like this. How many more years will we go without a cure for Endometriosis? How many more generations still have to suffer like this?

Life update

It seems I write only every 2-5 months, now.

The reason is that I don’t feel I have anything new to add. I’m still in pain after 2 surgeries. I’m still dealing with complications of fibroids, and I’m still refusing to take hormonal or GnRH therapies. I’m still refusing to have a hysterectomy. And doctors are still telling me they can’t help me if I won’t continue to be their guinea pig.

Nothing has changed.

It’s depressing.

I’m waiting for menopause in a last ditch effort to see if my symptoms dissipate.
If symptoms do not abate with menopause, only then will I consent to a hysterectomy. Unless, of course, something life-threatening develops in the interim.

I am on Day 7 of my latest menstrual cycle. I made the mistake of drinking coffee on Saturday, which brought back the bleeding and cramping. Then it went away. Then this morning, I drank coffee again, and the pain and bleeding returned. So now I’m lecturing myself about cutting out coffee again. Ugh.

The fibroids LOOOVE coffee. It really gets their party going, I’ve noticed. So I need to stop drinking it again. This is going to be difficult, but it is necessary. Wish me luck.

While we’re on the topic of cutting out fun stuff from one’s diet, let me just state for the record that cutting down on or cutting out alcohol entirely does JACK SHIT for easing up your pain. I know, because as of this month, it has been a year and a half that I have abstained from all alcoholic drinks. And I’m still in just as much pain. So THAT dietary rule is bullshit. What you SHOULD know about that dietary rule is that drinking alcohol while in a pain flare, or near the start of your pain flare, will CAUSE your pain to spike horribly. That is why Experts tell you not to drink booze. But the way they phrase it is to cut it out entirely. What you need to do is just note your windows of opportunity, and try drinking outside of your pain flares. If that makes sense. I know some of you out there never get a respite from the pain, while others, like me, have windows of pain-free or low-pain time.

Feeling really down.

I am in a lot of pain. I hobbled into work this morning because I had a parent conference at 8am. I’m shocked I lasted the entire day…I certainly thought several times to just bail, but I gritted my teeth and hung in there.

On the bus ride home, I felt nauseous because of all of the motion. Just walking from one bus stop to the next across the street felt like a death march because of the pain and nausea.

I have 3 remaining parent conferences tomorrow. The one first thing in the morning has already been rescheduled twice, so I can’t cancel it.

I may just go to work long enough to do the conference, come home, and come back in the afternoon for the other two conferences. Not sure if I’ll be able to stay at work all day tomorrow.

What sucks is having to take a bus to and from work when in so much pain. I thought driving was bad? Try walking three blocks to the bus stop first thing in the morning when the pain is at its worst, then getting on a herky-jerky bus.

Anger is an energy

Time moves slowly at Kaiser Permanente.

5/21/2015 4:22 PM PDT
Hello Dr.Nguyen,

Days ago, my GYN said she would be in touch with you about a narcotic contract. I am a bit confused, but I think this means she is writing me off as to further refills from her department.

I have endometriosis with worsening symptoms. I requested an ultrasound, which discovered fibroids. This is a new development, and I believe is the source of my increased pain. However,my GYN is saying it is very minor.

I really need to find out who will continue filling my prescription to manage this pain. I am on my last Norco pills during this cycle, which has me home from work again, bedridden.

The next time this cycle is due to take me down is June 14, but I have been enduring midcycle cramping and bleeding since at least February, which is the whole reason why I requested the ultrasound in the first place. So it could be that I will need more Norco before June 14. I want to be prepared.

I await your prompt reply.

George arrived on May 20. I was off work as I mentioned, bedridden, on May 21.

And lo, in less than 24 hours, came a reply:

5/22/2015 12:19 PM PDT
Sorry to hear about your pain. I have emailed Dr Shankar and will follow up with you after I discuss with Dr Shankar. It would be a good idea to schedule follow up clinic visit with me anyways so we can discuss your medications for your pain, maybe sometime late next week (give me a chance to discuss with Dr Shankar plan of action for your chronic pelvic pain).

“Late next week”.
And I’m running out of pain medication, fast.

I returned to work on May 22 in level 7 pain. The pain continued to alternate between a 4 and a 7 on the pain scale throughout the weekend. Thankfully, I was off work for Memorial Day on May 25, because I spent the day in bed from continued pain, having to ration my medication.

Tuesday, May 26 found me completely pain-free. I was in a jovial mood all day. It had felt like I had endured a long, harsh winter, and that Spring had just sprung for me.

And then, the very next day, the cramping and bleeding returned. And it lasted for four days.
See, this is what I’ve been talking about. This is what has been so unusual. This is what prompted me to ask for an ultrasound. This is what ended up being a new diagnosis of fibroids. The latest ultrasound results came back proving the increased pain I’ve been in, as well as lengthened pain flare episodes (results came back showing fibroids). This also proved why I have been eating more Norco than I normally would for the past few months.

And yet, I’m being totally fucked around by the medical establishment, and denied my fucking medication.

Unfortunately, I was not able to score an appointment to see my primary doctor by May 28 or 29 as she had requested, and I completely ran out of pain medication, and suffered greatly as a result, because no one would fill a few pills for me to tide me through.

I got in to see the primary doc on June 1, when I again was pain-free.
There, I plead my case as to why I need medication over hormones and surgery. I also handed her a 4-page document on everything I’ve ever tried to manage endometriosis.

After begging Kaiser GYNs for 2 years to be put back on Tylenol 3 to manage the pain because I have side effects with Norco, and being denied, my primary doctor jumped at the opportunity to get me off of Norco and back onto Tylenol 3. She said it’s much more manageable to prescribe that one. Incredible. I can’t even.

And then, while I was still jaw-dropped over the pointless 2-year medication fight, the doctor said, “But I still need to put you on an opiate contract”.

Note that the language has changed from narcotic contract to opiate contract.

WHY, I asked. She said it’s still a controlled substance. But easier to deal with than Norco regarding red tape.

I looked over the wording of the contract, and then listened as my doctor rattled off the contents of the contract. The language is clear – I am a drug-seeker who has to be warned (twice) against getting combative with staff about meds, and who has to take regular pee tests to make sure I’m not taking any other opiates or narcotics, or illicit stuff. My doctor told me THREE TIMES how she had looked me up in the drug database to make sure I was not going to several doctors to get the same meds prescribed, and she DELIGHTED in scoring me on a risk assessment to be eligible for the medication contract (I scored a 2, whereas 4+ is denied a contract).

She told me that the pee tests are random and at any moment, I could be summoned away from work to have to do one, lest I get dropped from the contract. Interference with my life and career, much? Playing ball, much?

I took the contract home and pondered it before signing.
I read it to my partner.

I cried. I felt trampled on. I felt abused by the medical establishment once again. Forced into playing ball once again.

The very next day, on June 2, I experienced intermittent level 6 pain, and described it as adhesions pulling from the inside. This lasted two days.

On June 5, I reported for my first pee test after work, and was told it would be a $45 co-pay next time and from then on.

To pee in a cup.

I exclaimed, “No thank you!” and was referred back to my workplace, since my health care is through the workplace.

I checked in with my workplace, who said their hands are tied.

I emailed my doctor, asking why I signed an opiate contract when Tylenol 3 is a narcotic, and I informed her that I cannot afford routine urinalysis fees.

She replied the same day, surprisingly. She wrote, “Codeine is an opiate and contract is still needed. For chronic opioid therapy we do urine testing twice a year.”

So I don’t get out of the damned $45 fee, but at least it’s only twice a year.

I’m still puzzled by the narcotic vs. opiate thing.

But now I have 30 Tylenol 3.

Good thing, because beginning on June 11, I experienced crushing fatigue and full body joint pain. Cramping began on June 12 and has not let up since, even though I have not yet started my period. After four days of this pain growing stronger, today I gave in and began taking half pills of the Tylenol 3, on top of the 2,000mg of Ibuprofen I’ve been consuming for the past week.

On top of the medications, I’m still taking Probiotics, Evening Primrose Oil, Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium (for restless leg syndrome, which plagues me ever since being on Gabapentin), cramp bark and other crap.

The pain today has been the worst in the past 5 days. I’ve been at a level 6 all day, with shooting pain from my lower back down my left outside leg, cramping into my left thigh.

I hate living this way.

Today is a rough day.

I had a moment of panic in the bathroom today at work, when I discovered I’d started bleeding heavier than yesterday.

My period was supposed to be done last Sunday, but I started spotting bright red again yesterday.

Today, the blood was dark brown with debris – the so-called ‘coffee ground’ blood. At this point, I finally acknowledged consciously that something is wrong. I suspected once again that I’m dealing with an ovarian cyst. This is something that, in the past few months, I’ve given brief attention to, but pushed it out of my head. Today, I was forced to acknowledge it as fact.

So I looked back in time and realised that this endometrioma or cyst has been in the works for the past six months – since probably November, 2013.

Nov. 4, 2013: 5 waves of intense pain – 7 on the pain scale. Nausea with evening pain flare. Took half a vicoprofen.

Dec. 1, 2013: Nausea, extreme fatigue, shakey legs. Mild to moderate pain. Dark brown flow, turning to red.

Dec. 29, 2013: Bedridden. Puked from pain. 8.5 on pain scale.

Jan. 21, 2014: Moderate uterine and ovarian pain.

Jan. 22, 2014: Moderate bleeding and cramps. Severely fatigued all day, w/ fatigue lasting through Jan. 24.

Feb. 16, 2014: Debilitating pain. Did not note whether mostly ovarian or low back. Bedridden for part of the day on the 17th.

On May 2, 2014 the pain ebbed and flowed. I felt better after work, but then on the way home from hanging with friends, I was crying from the pain, which was mostly on the left side, radiating down my left leg.

May 3: intermittent moderate pain, especially in the lower back.

May 4: Low back pain mainly, but also stabbing on both the left and right side ovaries. The bleeding was subsiding, so I thought I was done with my cycle. That night, the pain cranked up to a 7.5 on the pain scale, and I laid on the floor on my back, crying, while my S.O. looked on helplessly.

May 5: pain and bleeding subsiding.

May 6: my entire back was locking up at the end of the work day. Then shooting pains down side of left leg, then right leg, then pelvic. I started bleeding bright red again.

May 7: ‘coffee ground’ discharge – a mixture of new and old blood, so much that I thought I started my period again. As the day wore on, I got more locked up in the pelvic and low back region again. I had to take 600mg Advil, then half a Norco, by 12pm.

My S.O. convinced me to see a GYN TODAY, so I called and got an appointment.

At the doctor’s office, I got a transvaginal ultrasound done (I’m a serious veteran of that wand, now). This ultrasound revealed a 4cm fluid-filled sac on my left ovary. The GYN also noticed a dark spot at back of my uterus; she said it could be the left ovary attached at back of uterus. I had her look at my previous surgery reports. She thinks it is most likely adhesions pulling the left ovary to back of uterus once again, and that I have either a large cyst or an endometrioma on the left ovary.
However, she urged me to go to ER for a doppler ultrasound and a uterine biopsy, because she is concerned about torsion, which can be dangerous, and she is concerned that the cyst is 4cm in size, which is the threshold where doctors get freaked out about cancer.

However, I am going to wait on it, based upon previous experience w/ cysts and endometriomas.
(See http://www.livingwithendometriosis.org/steph/2008/11/status-on-ovarian-cyst/
and
http://www.livingwithendometriosis.org/steph/category/ovarian-cysts/)

I also told the doctor I’m not comfortable going to E.R. because of an incident once where I went to the E.R. and instead of listening to me and reading my surgery reports, and just making me comfortable with an IV of drugs, they made me wait the pain out, then forced a pelvic exam, stirring up the bees nest again.

Today’s GYN doctor said that as a patient, I have the right to refuse a pelvic exam and ask only for the doppler ultrasound. She says I can request that first and then opt to have a pelvic afterwards, if something significant is found on ultrasound.

Just to make her stop trying to sway me, I did promise the GYN that if the pain gets any worse, I will go to the E.R. and request the doppler ultrasound.

I am feeling very defeated today at today’s news.

Not a day goes by where I don’t curse myself for not sticking to a caffeine-free and sugar-free diet since my last surgery in 2010. I have been able to successfully cut out red meat and pork, but the other two are just too much to ask for, apparently.
I also know that I cannot blame my diet alone on my pain. I know full well that I have abnormalities on chromosomes 1, 7, 9 and 12, and that endometriosis has been with me since I was created. I know this. I know that diet alone is not going to stop the pain. So I need to have a happy medium – not feel guilty about ingesting caffeine and sugar, but not going hog-wild with the two, either.

But cysts and endometriomas will still happen to me. It’s the nature of endometriosis in general, and specifically the nature of how endo affects MY body.

I’m just tired. I’ve been battling this goddamned illness for 29 YEARS.
I’ve had two surgeries. I don’t want any more surgeries. I know of women who have had over 20 surgeries and they’re STILL not any better. In fact, some are worse off! So I don’t want any further surgery. I just want to try to make it to and through menopause, and see if that burns the disease out.

But dear gods, I am so, so tired.

Ouch.

So the threat of cramps was real. I’ve been bleeding heavily all day, and the cramps got to me at work twice today. I consumed 1,600mg of Ibuprofen, and now at 9:25pm I’m crying “Uncle” and took 800mg more of Ibuprofen, for a total of 2,400mg today. I’m camped out in bed with the laptop, and a rice heating pad on my pelvis. I wager I’m at a 6.8 on the pain scale right now.

This recent bout of cramps began soon after I lifted 3lb weights. I had stretched my torso out doing some of the weight exercises, and that may have stirred things up a bit. Ouch.

I really want half a vicoprofen, but I’m down to my last pill. Time to get in touch with a Kaiser GYN. I’m new to Kaiser again. I had Kaiser through my work for a short time in 2012 when my husband was unemployed. Then I got on his insurance once he became re-employed. Then, this year I had to get on Kaiser through my work again, because my husband divorced me to go be with the woman he cheated on me with…who lives in welfare housing and has two children under the age of 6. Good luck with that new life. He has to support her, her two kids, AND me (through alimony). Good luck with that. [expletives deleted].

I’m bleeding like a stuck pig, I swear.

I wanted to update you on the alcohol consumption. The fear of side effects on Wellbutrin did not last long, and so I went back to drinking while out at the clubs. So far I have not had any seizures, but I have been seriously hungover from only 3 drinks. :p

The depression still comes in waves, and is no longer tied to being bedridden from endometriosis. Nowadays, when I talk about depression, it’s because of the affair and divorce.

But the endometriosis is still there with me. Right now, the pain is radiating from my uterus down both of the outsides of my legs, down to my knees. I have been super fatigued all day. I came home from work and just parked my ass on the couch for hours before finally crawling into bed out of resignation to the cramps.

I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Perimenopause?

Well here we are a full month later, and George decided to psych me out. He showed up a week ago only for one big splotch, and then left again for a whole week. He showed up again last night around four in the morning, and has gained in flow ever since.

I have consumed 1,200mg of ibuprofen today, and I worry that the pain will continue to increase. Right now, the pain is about a five on the scale. Between five and six.

Regarding the drinking, I inadvertently became completely sober this week, when I was assigned a new medication to take in dealing with the depression. I am now on Wellbutrin, and any drinking on it threatens to give me seizures amongst other horrible things. One of my friends have confirmed that Wellbutrin is a nasty thing to take with alcohol. So that is one less thing I have in my life for now to make the pain worse with Endo. I just have to watch out for eating sugar and caffeine has the other culprits.

The depression has been ever constant, and I am quite sick of it. I am hoping that the new medicine I am on well finally get me back on track with my life. I’m on four different medications now just to make my life right again. I’ll never forgive that sonofabitch for what he did.

Going back to my symptoms for moment. I have had heavy fatigue since yesterday actually, since Saturday. I slept through Saturday again. Part of it as depression, and part of it is being close to that Indo flare. I’m still able to go to work, as long as I hop myself up on ibuprofen.

More painful?

George showed up on August 31, and departed by September 5.
The heaviest, most painful days were September 1 and 2, and I’m SO lucky that I had September 2 off of work (Labor Day), otherwise my life would have really sucked.

I wonder if my period was more painful because I’ve been drinking more alcohol lately. I’ve been drinking more because I’m chronically depressed in the wake of what’s happened to me in the past year. I’m still not over the idea that my husband would be the type of person to have an affair for the better part of 2012 without my knowledge until about 3 months into the affair, and then it took me nearly 5 months to prove the damned affair was happening. He left me for her. He divorced me for her. How could this happen TO ME?!

Hence, drinking.

Is that why I’m in more physical pain?

Oh.

Time to do something about that.

August cycle

This month was a blue moon month, and also a blue cycle month. Two full moons and two cycles in one month. My friend Kristine calls my period my Wolf Time, since my periods seem to happen around the time of the full moon. ;)

This cycle began last night in the middle of the night. For a day or two prior, my body felt heavy and I was out of breath easier. I had very mild twinges of cramping, especially on Saturday. The PMS cravings were on the increase this month, a full week before my period.

This cycle is painful – I’m guessing a 7 on the pain scale. It got to be enough that I got nauseous this morning, whimpered in pain or cried out throughout the day, and finally dug into my old medicine stash of Vicoprofen.
Now I’m happily dissociated from the pain, but I’m bleeding heavily and have to go to the bathroom often.

While I’m sad to miss the Labor Day weekend’s events because of the pain, I’m happy that the worst of my pain will hopefully happen while I’m off work for the holiday, so I don’t have to miss any work.

I think my pain level is increased this month because I’ve been drinking a lot of alcohol this month. I’m still going through major depression in the wake of the divorce. Even though the divorce was final on July 5, 2013, I’m still a bit of a basketcase over it.

Today I spent the day sleeping; on the couch and in my bed. I used the heating pad all day. Right now I’m going back and forth between writing this entry, watching Ghost Hunters and watching Sleepy Hollow. I can’t seem to focus on any one thing for too long. I blame the vicoprofen. ;)