The mental state of Steph

I should start noting my mental state here. I’ve been seeing a psychologist, and I saw a psychiatrist on September 14. Both think I may be bi-polar, but they do not agree on which type of bi-polar I am.

The psychiatrist gave me a prescription for abilify, but I refused to take it. I asked for and got Lamictal, instead. I still haven’t taken it, though. I am afraid of more side effects. I’m done with more and more mental stuff going wrong with me.

I’ll restate what I said in my previous entry –
Because I’ve not really enjoyed a pain-free or sick-free or allergy-reaction-free day in about seven weeks, I have hit my breaking point emotionally.

I’ve already been wrestling with what I call ‘dangerous depression’ since the end of July.

Well, it’s getting louder in the head, and more externally vocalised.

I went with my husband to a Victorian-era home showing that happens every year in our city. There were eight homes on the bill to walk through. I did not enjoy it this year. It was painful to move. My low back pain crept back in to flare with the trapped nerve in the shoulder, every time I had to climb stairs, or really move at all. And I was still in pain from one visit to the gym last Thursday.

I was super depressed.

I guess it doesn’t help that I’ve been on Soma (muscle relaxer) for two weeks, and I know from experience that it adds to my depression. I have not had a dose of it today and will refrain from taking any more of it.

After the home showing, there was the annual parking lot sale over at the famous tiki bar in town, so we went on over.
I immediately went for the booze. First time in 51 days that I got absolutely full on drunk. My husband had gone off to his sacred game night, leaving me in the company of friends still at the tiki bar. I was still going when his game session got out around 10pm. He picked me up and took my sorry ass home. Thankfully, no tears or puke or hangover this time. I drank lots and lots of water, thanks to a very attentive bartender, and was a good girl and drank lots of water when I got home, and took vitamins and advil.

I remain dangerously depressed.

Today at work, while rocking a child at naptime, I got stabbing right side ovarian pain that lasted for about five minutes. It went away until now. I’m just sitting on the couch, typing, and the ovary is pulsing a low stabbing pain. Today is Day 10 of the new cycle, so I guess it’s mittelschmerz, which usually happens at Day 8 of the cycle, but has been off by a day or three for a few months, sometimes not happening at all. I blame it on the endometriomas on both ovaries.

I bicycled home from work in 95°F heat – thankfully the ovary did not stab me on the ride home.
But I am wiped out after spending some time in the outdoors at work today. Ugh.

So this mental health thing. The meds. I’m so tired of meds. Today I started a detox diet – the one I tried to start back in July or August and didn’t keep up with. So I started it over today. Lots of supplemental pills to take with every meal.
And then either tonight or sometime this week, I might begin taking the Lamictal. I’m terrified of it. Read all the horrific side effects here. If you think that looks bad, read the side effects for Abilify, which is what the psychologist originally wanted me on and I said no way.

Now, let me tell you again what I’ve said before. I have been going through what I call dangerous depression since the end of July, 2010, because of all my pain conditions and reactions to medications.

This is also known as, yes I will spell it out and face up to it: suicidal ideation.

I have wrestled with suicidal ideation for much of my life, so this is nothing new. The frequency is what is worrying me.

But look here, if I take Lamictal or Abilify, the warning is basically the same:

Patients, their caregivers, and families should be counseled that AEDs, including LAMICTAL, may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior and should be advised of the need to be alert for the emergence or worsening of symptoms of depression, any unusual changes in mood or behavior, or the emergence of suicidal thoughts, behavior, or thoughts about self-harm. Behaviors of concern should be reported immediately to healthcare providers.

Why would I want to take a drug that will make me MORE suicidal than I already am?

I already went down that road once, with SSRIs (Paxil), back in 2000.

Honestly, I probably won’t take the medication. I’ll get my diagnosis officially recorded as bi-polar something and then I’ll manage it myself. I’ve lived this long…

Pain, fun, allergic reactions and trapped nerves

I tried to go back to work on Thursday, September 16, but the Last Gasp happeed two hours into my workday and so I took a whole Tylenol 3 and came home. Thankfully, by Thursday night, that was the end of the major pain and bleeding.

I went to work on Friday and was able to complete a full day of work – the first all week. I never need this much time off this job for the pain, which tells me either the endo really is getting worse, or I’m becoming a wuss to the pain after enduring it for 25 years. I worked a total of 10 hours that week. Ugh.

Friday was not only my first day back to work, it was also my birthday. After work, my husband took me to a very nice sushi dinner, where I stuffed myself until it hurt, heh. I don’t think we went out that night – I was still too tired from just having spent a week bedridden. That’s how it goes.

Saturday, September 18, set the clock! Go out and have fun til the next endometriosis attack! We went to a nightclub down in Menlo Park to support the scene down there. I didn’t really have a good time, but we did get a nice picture taken of us:

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On Sunday, we joined up with a fellow birthday girl for her annual Ice Cream Crawl, which took place in Oakland and in Berkeley. Around stop #6, I decided to eat sorbet instead of ice cream, which had given me a tummy ache, no matter how much lactaid I had ingested. The sorbet was raspberry chocolate flavour. To my dismay, it was full of raspberry seeds. I shared the sorbet with people in our group, and we all winced at how seedy the sorbet was.

Within twenty minutes, my throat began to get dry, then swell up.
Great.

So now I’m allergic to raspberry seeds? Wonderful. It’s in the same salicylate family with peach skins, grape skins, apple skins, apricots – all the stuff that also hates me either orally or intestinally.

I took a children’s benadryl but it did nothing, so I took a adult dose of benadryl on top of it – 36mg total. This of course made me a zombie, and so my husband ended our Ice Cream Crawl and took us home for the day. The swelling did not abate all day and all night, but I refused to go to E.R., because the last time I did, they told me they could not visualise the swelling, so it must just be me having a panic attack. To which I’d replied, “I know what a fucking panic attack feels like, and this is not it.”

I get the same throat swelling when I eat eel. Actually it’s the uvula that swells up. Same thing happened with the raspberry seeds, only not as horrible as it does with eel, thank [insert deity here].

I refused to go to E.R. because I cannot afford further debt with them – still haven’t paid off the June debt I incurred with another oral allergy attack. And I refused to use my epi-pen because you HAVE to go to E.R. if you use it. So I was kinda stuck. I knew I wasn’t gonna die, or at least I hoped I wouldn’t die choking on my tongue.

I made it through the night and the swelling went down by morning.

What a sucky end to my birthday weekend, though.

All through this whole time, I was still dealing with having to be on muscle relaxers for the trapped nerve in my shoulder. So I was quite the grump.

Monday, September 20, while bicycling to my psychology appointment after work, I experienced pulling, stabbing pain in my right ovary. This is not a good thing to be going through while pedaling. The pain lasted for several minutes after I climbed the two flights of stairs to my shrink’s office. Ugh.
The pain went away, though. Thankfully. But I was not even a full three days into my new cycle when that pain hit. The endometrioma is doing bad things to me. :(

I was able to bicycle to work for most of last week. I even made it to the gym on Thursday, September 23, for the first time in 146 days. I did the 2lb hand weight workout exercises as prescribed by my trainer, and then I did 14 minutes on the elliptical machine.

The pain from the workout did not hit until Saturday, just in time to help my friends move in 85°F heat. I designated myself cleaning lady that day, because on top of the workout pain, I slept wrong again and the trapped nerve issue in the neck/shoulder flared up real bad again.

On top of all of this, I’ve been bruising the hell out of my legs by running into the coffee table repeatedly, as well as the child-sized furniture at work. I have bumps and bruises and scrapes. I think the clumsiness is due to the muscle relaxers.

Because I’ve not really enjoyed a pain-free or sick-free or allergy-reaction-free day in about seven weeks, I have hit my breaking point emotionally.

It’s not fair that I can’t enjoy my 11 – 20 days between endometriosis pain cycles being totally free of any other sickness or pain.

It’s always something. :(

Two things accomplished despite the pain

This morning my husband confirmed that he would be late to work so that he could take me to the DMV to renew my license. I hopped in the shower and made myself all pretty and off we went. We made it in time and only had to wait 15 minutes, thanks to me having made an appointment. That standing around though, first for the fee paying for the new license, and second for the photo, caused a lot of pelvic pain. There literally was nowhere to sit. I was on 1 Soma and a half a Tylenol 3 plus 400mg Advil, so I was sleepy and yet still in pain. The trapped nerve in the neck was behaving, at least.
Once I got through everything, I was told my new license will be in the mail in 2-4 weeks.

My husband had parked a few blocks away because the DMV was so packed – I overheard a woman telling someone that the Hayward DMV had closed down, that’s why the Fremont DMV, usually a quicker adventure, was now looking like Oakland (packed out the door all day long. So my husband had parked a few blocks away. I shuffled along and my husband was impatient and worrying about getting to work, so I told him to go on ahead of me. We agreed to meet at the half-way point – at the Smog Station across the street. I went in and used the restroom, and met my husband outside. We drove back home and on the way, I took another half Tylenol 3 for the pain.

The bleeding had subsided ever since my shower this morning, which I was grateful for, but of course the continuing pain let me know that more gushing will be on the way.

I got home and rested a bit, then got a burst of energy, so I tackled the pile of homework still waiting to be finished. I got five illustrations done! I hope to finish off Binder #4 tonight for my Language Arts class, and do some more work on the Rationale paper for that class. Any homework I have left to do is LONG overdue, but I will eventually finish it and hand it in, and will still receive a grade. I’ve not stopped being anxious and guilty about it but I’ve stopped freaking out over it. I come to accept the fact that I’ll still be proud of myself no matter when I turn the homework in, and that all of their threats to have people turn in homework in a 2 week turnaround were mostly empty threats poorly designed to try to motivate people through fear. Which is hilarious, considering the book Positive Discipline, which is so encouraged throughout our Teacher Practicum seminars. But who says anyone ever listens to their own advice or reason. This training center certainly doesn’t.

Around 1:50pm, I re-upped my medication and took 1 Soma and 400mg Advil. I have not needed the Tylenol 3 since this morning, because the cramps abated, and the bleeding still had not resumed.

The Soma made me sleepy, and around 3pm or so, I took a nap in my own bed. I slept for nearly two hours, and woke from some crazy dreams, which I’m sure were medication-induced. I can’t even remember them, now. I think it had to do with a classroom.
I noticed that the bleeding had resumed, but only by a tiny amount, and I was still free of cramps. The trapped nerve in the neck however was agitated again, but it wasn’t time to take meds, yet.

I made myself some late lunch just after 5:30pm, and have been on the couch ever since, just resting. I am groggy from the Soma. I am still feeling really guilty for having taken today off of work, even though I have been drugged all day and know that without the drugs, I’d be in a lot of pain. The early part of the day, I had pelvic pain despite no bleeding. So it’s still valid and it’s still reasonable that I called off for another day.

What is unreasonable for me is that my body chose to have the calm between the storm in the middle of the day, which means the Last Gasp might not happen until tomorrow. This means I stress out, wondering if I’ll have to come home sick from work tomorrow, too. FOUR DAYS! I have NEVER taken four days off work from this job because of the endometriosis. Ugh. Is it because of the new endo growth? This is month two of really heavy bleeding. Is it due to perimenopause? Is it because of leftover stress from the summer training classes? Four Days!!! I don’t even usually take THREE DAYS off in a row like this. It looks so very bad on the résumé, so to speak, and makes me consider whether I should file for disability again. Bah. I don’t miss 14+ days of work in a month, so there’s no sense in filing. They will reject me again. I really hope this job does not fire me for my increased absences. I cannot afford surgery until spring or summer, so absences will happen every month. :(

Something else I accomplished today – I checked back through my diary to see when the last time was that I took Soma when also dealing with endometriosis cramps, and it seems like it was in 2007.
I also found out from my own Things I’ve Tried page that “Soma dissociates me so nicely from the pain but leaves me moderately to severely depressed after taking it for even one day, contributes vastly to weight gain“.

What was I saying recently about how some things are best forgotten? In this case, it would have done me good NOT to forget. Now I have to monitor myself for further depression. I have already been gaining weight – I’ve gained 6lbs in the past month, and my whole body is feeling it. I don’t know if you can relate but I swear, my FAT hurts in my hips and arse. No joke.

Let’s hope I can undo the trapped nerve in the next couple of days, so I can get off the Soma again. But DAMMIT, it DOES dissociate me so very nicely from the endo pain. Blah.

Details on the pain level and medication doses

Lots of TMI.

My period arrived on time yesterday (Monday) morning. I called in sick to work because I expected the pain to ramp up. When the pain did not ramp up, I felt guilty and set to housework. By 11am, the pain and bleeding came full force, and I spent the rest of the day on the couch on Tylenol 3 and Advil gel-caps.

I cannot remember how much Tylenol 3 I went through, yesterday. I want to say it was 2.5 pills. I went through 1,600mg Advil yesterday.

The pain was at times very sharp, and most of the time it was burning and gnawing. The pain was centered in the uterus and the right ovary, though sometimes the left ovary chimed in. I would wager that my pain averaged a 7 to 7.5 on the pain scale yesterday.

This morning, I shifted position in bed and a large gush literally squirted out of me, immediately soaking through everything. I scrambled out of bed before the bedsheets could be affected. The thick pad and liner, my underwear, and my pajama bottoms took all the damage.

Today was very heavy all day, tapering slightly in the evening, and now after 11pm, I am back to another surge – my body is trying to pass a clot at the moment. OW.

I also woke with a trapped nerve, because I slept on one instead of two pillows last night. The reason I slept on one pillow is that the Tylenol 3 makes it hard for me to breathe sometimes, and I felt like my chin was trying to touch my chest with two pillows. And on Sunday, my Alexander Technique instructor was telling us not to walk with our heads down, since a human head weighs as much as 20lbs and can hurt the spine if drawn forward all the time. So even while prone, I thought about this, and put my head back a bit on just one pillow so it would not be tilting forward.
That was an unfortunate mistake on my part, because I have bulging disks in my neck from a car accident many years ago, and anytime my head leans back even the slightest bit for too long, it impinges upon the nerves. So I woke with a trapped nerve.

As I wrote earlier, I wanted my husband to stay home with me today but he wouldn’t. I texted a neighbor and didn’t hear back. I went and knocked on their door but they didn’t answer. As I was about to walk to my car, dreading the drive, another neighbor pulled up to say hi on her way to the gym. I hitched a ride to the doctor with her, and got prescribed muscle relaxers. I took a whole Tylenol 3 and shuffled home because I did not have exact change for the bus and can never remember how much it is, anyway. It is a 0.4 mile walk, but a bit harrowing when in pelvic pain and trapped nerve pain in the neck/shoulder. I got home and the other neighbors returned my call and offered to take my muscle relaxer prescription to the pharmacy.

Due to snafu between doctor and pharmacy, my script was not filled til 2pm, so I was in burning nerve pain the entire time (in the neck/shoulder/arm), on top of the endometriosis pain.

I had by this time convinced my husband to come home early from work, and he picked up the muscle relaxers for me. I took one on the way to my psychiatrist appointment, which my husband dropped me off for. I was sedated and loopy throughout the appointment, but had notes ready and got out everything I needed to for the psychiatrist to make a decision.

She does not think I fit easily into the bi-polar category, but agrees I have some sort of mood disorder and wants to start me on Abilify right away. I told her I would research it, first.
This jives a bit with my psychologist – she IS convinced I have “bi-polar 1” and wants me on Lamictal right away. I did not share this with the psychiatrist – I want her to see me a few times before I let the two start talking to each other.

I was miserable today, between the two painful conditions. I estimate the pain hovered at 8 all day. Even right now as I type, I am waiting for the latest dose of Tylenol 3 to kick in, and I’m whimpering in pain.

I have had 2 Soma pills today and I think I took 1,200mg Advil. I think I took 3.5 Tylenol 3 pills today. I didn’t take more than that for sure. I’ve been on heating pads all day. I’ve been laying around uncomfortably all day. At least the trapped nerve and the endo pain take turns. Right now the neck/shoulder/arm feels alright but the pelvic pain is hateful. Earlier I was able to nap a bit in a reclined position on the couch, but then my neck and shoulder started hurting again, with pain radiating down my arm again. So I got up and had some energy for a bit – which only means I could be in a sitting position for longer than 4 minutes – walking around still sets off more pelvic pain.

Now it’s back to pelvic pain. I’m going to warm the rice and corn heating pads for the 987543208573246th time today and try to go lay in bed. Here’s hoping I can sleep through the night.

I have called off work again tomorrow – I just know my body is not done with the heavy bleeding and pain, yet. I have a DMV appointment in the morning, anyway which cannot be cancelled. They sent me notice a month before my license was to expire, and the soonest I could get in for an appointment was two days before my friggin birthday. How lame. I have heard horror stories of people without appointments waiting 5+ hours to be seen at the DMV, and I’m in no condition to do that right now. So I kept the appointment and felt extremely guilty for taking time off work, but now it looks like the pain will keep me home, anyway.

My husband has developed some compassion and said he’ll see how I’m doing in the morning and may drive me to the DMV appointment. How nice of him.

I don’t know how much more I can take.

My period came yesterday and I’ve been home and bedridden ever since. On top of it, last night my neck/shoulder went out because I slept wrong. I wanted my husband to stay home with me today but he wouldn’t. I hitched a ride to the doctor via my neighbor and got some muscle relaxers. I took a whole Tylenol 3 and shuffled home because I did not have exact change for the bus and can never remember how much it is, anyway. It is a 0.4 mile walk, but a bit harrowing when in pelvic pain and trapped nerve pain in the neck/shoulder.

The thing I’ve been saying to my husband since last night is that I just want to be put out of my misery. I told him repeatedly that I need a caregiver, but he needs an equal partner. I told him for that reason, the marriage probably isn’t working out in his favour. He insists he wants to keep me around, but I don’t see the point. I don’t want to be disabled. I don’t want to be needy. My body is broken and has other plans for me.
He won’t take me out back and put me down, though. I told him he’s selfish for that.

Then again, I’m selfish for wanting him to do the deed. But I won’t do it, myself. I told him it’s a really good thing I’m seeing a psychiatrist, today, because between the trapped nerve in the neck and the ongoing/worsening endometriosis pain alone, I NEED the psychiatric help right now.

My psychologist has ideas about what my diagnosis is, but I’m going to wait til the psychiatrist has also evaluated me before I start educating myself on how to care for myself with yet another diagnosis.

And a large part of me wonders why I keep seeing specialists for all these problems. It does nothing but take my money and insurance, and makes me miss more work because of the appointments, and none of this has actually HELPED or CURED me, anyway. I should just go on like all the other broken people in the world, until I decide like a lot of them that I’m DONE and just hit the reset button on my own, in peace.

Doing better emotionally

I had my little three-day pity party, and now I’m ready to formulate a new battle plan.

Friday night I hung out with my husband and our friends, and we had game night. I drank two vodka drinks that night. I got a buzz but did not get drunk. I ate a lot of chocolate covered espresso beans and cheese. I was in ‘screw it’ mode with regards to my diet. I felt like nothing I do makes any difference – my body is going to continue to be diseased – so why not just live my life the way I want to, and eat the junk I want to eat?

Well, Saturday morning I found out why I can’t do that.

When I woke up, all my joints were aching, and I had a new round of pelvic pain going on, and my breasts were so tender that I wanted to cry. I knew the culprit was firstly all the caffeine and secondly, the booze. I know this because Tyler knows this I have direct experience with noting how my body reacts to caffeine and to alcohol.

However, the brain weasels were still invading en force on Saturday (yesterday).

I went to my friend for a massage (she is trained!) and had a lovely session with her. I started out wanting to cry my eyes out, and my voice was very shaky. I ended up with a lovely state of relaxation that carried me through the next five hours. Alas, the brain weasels are a strong lot.
However, as I was going out the door last night, a co-worker called and asked me if I’d like to share a hotel room with her for the next training class on July 5. I was confused as to the dates, and so she called her mom (who runs the school I work at).

Get this – I thought my next class was this coming week, but it’s not! It’s not until NEXT week! Hooray! I was soooo stressed out about getting all my homework done from the last class, and now I have another week to do it. My co-worker told me not to stress, that I actually have all summer to get my homework done. This jives with what two other co-workers have told me. But the teacher I had for this last class was telling everyone the homework was due June 21, and I was all stressed to hell that it was late already. So glad I have more time. And on top of it, now I have a room to share instead of footing the entire bill for a room myself. Commuting down to Sunnyvale had been quite a bitch last time. Getting a hotel room is much more preferable.

As I was saying, I was on my way out the door. I went with my husband and two friends to see Concrete Blonde’s 20th Anniversary Reunion concert last night (OMG it was so awesome!!), but I was still such a spaz that I felt I needed a drink. I would have taken a half a Tylenol 3 were it not for the fact that I’d left my medication in the car. So I drank to quell the brain weasels, instead. I only had one drink – Mount Gay rum with club soda and some lime. It was godawful but that’s the best the bartender could come up with outside of corn syrup-infested alternatives. I should have just had the rum neat. Ah well. It did its job in the end.

I wore a corset to the show last night, hoping it would stabilise my back, because I always get bad back pain when standing at concerts.

The corset didn’t help. So there I was, in moderate back pain by the middle of the show, and I didn’t have any meds on me, and I didn’t want to drink any more booze in case the back pain got worse, or even worse, in case the pelvic pain returned.

On the drive home from the concert, my mid back began to spasm. I laughed hysterically and kept saying, “at least it’s not pelvic pain, this is actually manageable!” I tore at the corset strings and ripped the thing off, and dug my hands into my back to try to work out the spasm. Things didn’t calm down until I got home and smooshed my back to a tennis ball to the wall and rolled on it to try to work the blood flow in the back.

A TMI note – I was intimate with my husband and right afterwards, the pelvic pain kicked up. I need to note this because I am clinically diagnosed with dyspaneuria, and now I’m ever aware of the cysts on my cervix thanks to the latest MRI report. There was a tiny bit of blood in the vaginal discharge after intimacy. The nerve pain began immediately – first a tiny tickle near my cervix, then fringing out slowly to a burning sensation inwards, radiating throughout my entire pelvis. I reached about a 4 on the pain scale, but I did not take meds because I’d had one rum drink earlier in the night.

Today I’m going to review the list of inflammatory foods, and resolve to cut out sugar and ALL dairy (including goat milk) from my diet. The Budwig diet however calls for yoghurt, so I dunno what to do with that, yet. Maybe I’ll make an exception and just have goat milk yoghurt in the diet and keep the restriction to no cow’s milk anything, no bottled goat milk, no cheese, etc.

The point to the new battle plan is that I want to try to stave the growth of the endometrioma on my left ovary.

Wish me luck. The last time I cut sugar out of my diet, I had an emotional meltdown from the withdrawals.

The ebb and flow of chronic pain continues…

Tuesday, June 8, 2010: spotting turned to flow again. 6.5 on the pain scale. I went to work anyway, and took half a Tylenol 3 and 600mg Ibuprofen. They were really short staffed, so I felt I had no choice but to be there.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010: spotting, intermittent cramps, right side pain.
To top things off, when I got home from work, my cat let me know she’d somehow gotten a bladder infection. She mewed for an hour until I realised she wasn’t trying to get into the bedroom. We usually ban the cats from the bedroom and they love to mew outside the door, cuz they love laying on our bed instead of on the couch or their own catbed. But somehow I came ’round to the idea that she was trying to tell me something, and she was. The poor thing.
I followed her around the house and quickly realised she was trying to find anywhere to pee, but the urine was just not coming out. She glanced up at the bathroom sink. I lifted her up and into it, and she squatted and a trickle came out. Oh my god. I about cried. My poor baby!

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I took her to the kitty emergency room and confirmed the diagnosis. She was put on antibiotics for a week, and now she’s all better. But boy, what a scare. She’s 14 years old, so any health problem could be a major one; it could mean her time has come. Cats in her family line live to a maximum of 17 years old, so she’s only got up to a few years left with me. Of probably 20-something cats that came from the matriarch from 1992 onwards, only three are still living, and two of them are in my household. The third lived with my Ma until last month – now he’s at the Humane Society, awaiting adoption, because my Ma cannot be trusted to properly care for animals.

Saturday, June 12, 2010: Pulled left upper arm/shoulder while stretching. Pain lasted all week through today.

Monday, June 14, 2010: I began commuting to a teacher training course. It’s a one-week course from 8am to 5pm, and it’s 40 miles from where I live. It takes an hour and ten minutes to get there, and an hour and a half to two hours to get home. I have the same unfortunate route that rush hour traffic takes – both ways. I sit in my go-kart of a car (the seats are low to the floor) for over two hours a day, and I sit in class for 8 hours each day. I’m not just at a desk though – I also have to get down on the floor, sitting either on my knees or cross-legged, stretching over a rug, like my teacher. It is the Montessori Way.
These positions did NOT help with my strained shoulder/back issue, and it certainly doesn’t help that I have congenital chondromalacia patella, so sitting on my knees hurts more than my back, it also makes my knees feel like they are on fire, because they get so inflamed.

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The other problem I ran into during the training week was that of scented people. I’m not used to having acute chemical sensitivity – it’s only been since September 2009 that this has plagued me so bad – only nine months – so I’m still figuring out how to cope.
Being in class with up to 30 women is a scary thing, because women tend to love scents, fragrances, perfumes. I picked a seat on the end of one of the long tables, and as it figured, one of the scented people in class chose to sit right next to me. The sore throat and headache set in within an hour.
The next day, I chose a seat across the room from this woman. The day after that, I was late to class, and the only open seat left in the room upon first glance was right next to that same woman, and another scented woman.

Not all oils, body sprays, soaps and perfumes have chemicals that are immediately toxic to me. These particular women, whatever they were wearing – the chemical makeup of their fragrance was too toxic for me, no matter how little or how much of the scent they had on them. So it’s not like they were doused in the stuff – on the contrary, it was probably a light tap or spray and most people probably wouldn’t even notice the scent. But the chemical(s) in their perfumes hates the hell out of me – the one with the compromised immune system. Go me.

After Day 1 of class, we were told to clean the tables and tidy up the room. I got stuck with table washing duty, and was handed a bottle of clorox surface cleaner. Of course, I choked and ran to escape the fumes. I had a talk with my teacher, and the cleaner was removed by the next day. She had the students use 409 cleaner, instead. It was a little better, but not vastly. I switched duties with another student and tidied up the curriculum materials on the shelves, instead.

You know, I got back into child care because I had lost my mind in the field of computer software. I had gone to school to be a teacher, not a technical support lackey.
However, the challenge of returning to the field of child care in my thirties has meant dealing with escalating health problems while trying to remain limber and agile, which are the basic requirements for being a preschool teacher.

I find myself in the past year wondering more and more often, “Did I really make a wise career choice for myself?”

Wanting to do something is one thing. My body and health cooperating with this is another thing entirely. But what else will I or can I do for a paycheck?? I’ve never been anything other than a child care provider or a clerk or a corporate office lackey of some sort.

Thursday, June 17, 2010: I was so sleep deprived by Day 4 of the training class that I decided to make a giant mug of caffeinated tea and take it with me to school. This helped me immensely with being able to stay alert and awake for the 8 hour class.
However, by early afternoon, I began experiencing left side pain and ovarian pain. It was intermittent throughout the day. It was Day 8 of the new cycle, so I wondered, is it the caffeine or is it Mittelschmerz? Or is it both?

I had gone for a brisk walk on my lunch hour twice during the week with a schoolmate I’d met during a teacher training course last Autumn, so I was really trying to exercise and work out the kinks in my back. It didn’t work. I was experiencing muscle tightness over my entire body, and at night while trying to sleep, I was getting charley horses in my calves and feet. I was sure I was drinking enough water during the day – I had been bringing two or more bottles of Smart Water (electrolyte water) with me to school each day.
I haven’t been so good at remembering to take my calcium pills – actually I forgot for the entire week. I was only taking Vitamin C and Zinc pills, and occasionally remembering my Evening Primrose Oil capsules. So perhaps I’m deficient in calcium and potassium, and perhaps I’m dehydrated despite what I think was good hydration. It certainly didn’t help my stress level during the week.

Friday, June 18, 2010: The last day of class. I was caffeinated that day, as well. I went out that night and drank some alcohol with my husband. I got buzzed, not drunk. I had a good time and my body felt more relaxed than it had in a week.

However, when I woke Saturday morning, the full body muscle strain was back, and the left side ovarian pain ramped up again. I dealt with the ovarian pain radiating up to my sides and down into the tops of my leg all day, just as I had on Thursday.

Today is more of the same with the ovarian pain. I have been on Ibuprofen and/or half Tylenol 3 pills for much of the week for the pain.
Thankfully, I have a followup appointment with Dr. Giudice this week to go over the MRI report. I can’t wait to get that out of the way.

Each day that passes leaves me wondering if I really should try out the Gabapentin or something similar.
I’ll talk to the doc on Wednesday.

Today, I woke up wanting to cry. I still have classwork to finish. I am expected to put in an appearance at work tomorrow, despite telling them I’d be taking the summer off for the training courses.
I have this week to finish the coursework, and a new class starts the following week. I have three classes back to back to back in July. I’m a tad stressed out over all of this. Each class is college-level intensive – it’s like 11 weeks condensed into one. On top of that, I ended up being partially responsible for taking photos for the class, because the two people who said they would totally flaked, and I panicked, knowing photos were needed, so I began snapping pictures of the demonstrations. Naturally, others saw this and began asking me to share my photos with them. Since we only have a week to assemble the binder, inclusive of 200-something photos from class demonstrations, I began to stress over just one more thing – not letting people down.

So I’m pretty depressed over just about everything right now.

I got the photo thing off my plate by yesterday – all the pix are uploaded and invites sent to classmates to pull down the photos from the web (Picasa). I have an order of printed photos waiting for me at Walgreens.

Now that I’ve made time for journaling, it has helped somewhat. Despite the pelvic pain and shoulder/neck strain, and despite the guilt over not being able to join my husband to help him celebrate with his dad on Father’s Day, I will now start my day and try to finish that damned 3-inch-thick class binder, and begin assembling the summer theme materials to take to work tomorrow.

I’m not working with children tomorrow – my head teacher decided to take off last week during tear-down week. The office already knew I was roped into a class which was pushed up a week. So both of us were gone and our outdoor classroom has not been set up with materials for the summer session. The head teacher is still supposedly AWOL, and the director asked me to come in a few days for a few hours each day to clean up and change out some materials in the outdoor class.
Of course, I said I’d do it, because I felt responsible for picking up for the head teacher’s supposedly unauthorised or poorly-timed absence.

I really really really wish the outdoor classroom head teacher had the freedom to teach in her own style, because the children really are learning and really are excited by her lesson plans. Alas, the parents and teachers and office administration are less than happy with this teacher, because she allows the children and the outdoor classroom to get absolutely filthy. And well, her personality is a lot like a friend of mine back in Michigan – most people just have no clue how to even deal with people like my head teacher and my friend; these two people are on a whole other plane of thought and reasoning. My friend self-diagnosed as Asperger’s Syndrome, and he’s also officially diagnosed as Paranoid Schizophrenic. So, taking his personality and communication style, and seeing how closely my head teacher matches him, I don’t want to diagnose her – rather, I go with how I’ve learned to interact with my friend and apply it to this teacher. Things have worked out for the most part pretty well between us. But I don’t think I can save her from the parents, the teachers or the administration. :(

So I am covering her ass for a few days, for a few hours each day this week, as the children begin summer school. I will see teachers and children, but I am not instructing the children. I am not taking in any pupils to the outdoor classroom. I’m merely there to use what I learned last week in class in trying to set out some materials for summer session.
This is of course a bit stressful in and of itself, but also a good learning experience, no?

Round 2 of Medical Marijuana

On February 13, my neighbor and I went to check out a medical marijuana dispensary really close to where I live. She’d told me about it – I hadn’t known there was one so close. I decided to put her on record at that place as my caregiver – backup if you will – in case my husband is not around and I am unable to go to a dispensary. My husband is on the list as my caregiver at another dispensary in Berkeley, so now I have two places I and my caregivers can go to.

The place looked as new and wonderful as the place I’d been to in Berkeley. There’s even a whole slew of rooms for massage, Reiki, yoga – all complimentary to the patient. How cool! At this new location, patients cannot medicate on site, like they can at the one in Berkeley. I also liked how this location wasn’t surrounded in barbed wire and looking like an armed compound from the outside, like the one in Berkeley does.

I talked at length with two different people about what might work best for my pain, and chose some pure indica strain marijuana, since I was told the butter was not very good there, and the only other edibles they had to offer contained gluten. I cannot afford a vaporizer right now, so I knew that I’d be smoking this indica strain out of a pipe. I was given a butter recipe so I can make the stuff myself, but I was warned not only by the staff but also by my friend that the entire house, and potentially the entire property would reek of marijuana in the process. Uh, I’m not okay with that. I hated it when my ex boyfriend used to make his rudimentary pot cookies (some weed and peanut butter slapped onto a wheat thin and baked for 20 mintues in the oven – yes it’s as gross as it sounds), because even that little bit of weed he cooked stunk up the entire apartment. I wonder now if it stunk up the entire floor and surrounding units…ugh…the poor neighbors!

So that was back on February 13th.

Eleven days later – last night – I got a chance to try out the indica for the first time.
When I got home from work, I decided to not take any Tylenol 3 – my drug of choice in battling endometriosis pain – because I wanted to try out this new round of medical marijuana.

When we got together with our neighbor last night to watch the latest episode of LOST, I asked her to show me how to work a pipe to smoke marijuana. Seems silly, but I’ve not smoked the stuff in at least eight years, and I’d never used a glass pipe before, so I wasn’t sure if it needed a wire mesh screen put in before the buds of marijuana was put in the pipe, or if it needed to be placed in whole or crushed, or what. So my neighbor showed me how to use her glass pipe.

I took two small hits off the pipe, and that was all it took to get me high. I didn’t want to do any more than that, because I wanted to gauge my personal dosage. I was high right away, but not experiencing pain relief. Sometimes the Tylenol 3 does that to me, so I let it go. I also noticed that right after smoking the stuff, my throat felt thick, and it was hard to breathe and swallow. I felt like my throat was closing up on me.
I didn’t get this reaction with the edibles, so I know it is a negative side effect from the smoke.
Another negative side effect is paranoia. I was hearing sounds inside the house that I thought were coming from outside the house. For example, the gas heater cracked and banged every now and again, and I thought someone was outside sneaking around, trying to listen in on our conversations…
Along with this paranoia came my inner demons. Insecurity, codependency and jealousy kicked up to levels I’d not experienced since I was with my ex-boyfriend. This is wholly unacceptable to me.

During that first hour on the indica, I noticed that I really wanted to stretch a lot, like I used to do whenever I consumed ecstasy. Every time I stretched my arms up or arched my back, I got a lot of pelvic pain. But my body needed to stretch, it didn’t want to be in pill bug stance. But stretching brought on the pain.

While on the indica – although I knew I was in pain, the message being sent to my brain was slightly dulled or delayed in registering the pain.

Compare with January 30th – my first test run of medical grade marijuana made into butter – in which the pain completely went away for an hour and a half. That was a sativa-indica blend. However, last night, just like on January 30th, I still got too high for my comfort, and did not like having to ‘take a trip’ just to get some pain relief.

My experience last night was similar to my experience on January 31 – I could give a detailed report as to how the pain felt. I was really high but could still feel every bit of the pain. I had moments last night where I was completely dissociated from the pain, but it didn’t last long. When we got home after watching TV with our neighbor, I began nearly uncontrollable nonsensical babble. I’m usually able to keep this at bay – it is a nervous tic of mine – but the marijuana kicked it up fiercely. I do NOT like that. I do not have Tourette’s Syndrome, by the way. This nervous tic began after I sustained a head injury in a head-on auto accident in 1994.

This morning, my alarm went off for work at 6:30am and I knew I’d be in too much pain to go in today. I hit snooze a few times before crawling out of bed at 7am. The pain ramped up to a 6.5 on the pain scale within minutes, and reached 7.5 within an hour.

I prepared the pipe my neighbor loaned me, and went out to the backyard to take a hit. I started off with one small hit and held it as long as I could, then slowly walked back to the house. I was stoned immediately, and could still feel the pain, which as I said, was a 7.5 on the pain scale.

Around 10:30am, I walked to the backyard again and took a big hit from the pipe. I held it as long as I could, and staggered back to the house, high as a kite. I tell you, I had the same experience as last time, where I was ready to break from the pain.
My entire pelvic region was angry and inflamed, and were I not high, I would definitely be crying from the pain. However, being as high as I was, the pain signal was somewhat muted. It still reached my brain, and I still felt the pain, and I still knew the pain to be severe, but my brain wasn’t receiving the signal in a crystal clear fashion. That is thanks to the marijuana, but also no thanks. I don’t want slight dissociation. I want full pain relief!!!

The nonsensical babble kicked back up again this morning after the first hit, and of course got a lot worse after the second hit.

I tried to get some sleep, because the marijuana incapacitated me, but I whined in pain on the couch. I then crawled into bed, thinking it would be more comfy, there.
It wasn’t. I writhed in pain in bed for minutes on end. I cried dry tears – sometimes the pain is so bad that I’ll cry, but no tears spill out. Finally, I drifted off to sleep, and drooled like an infant. It didn’t last long.
I woke from the pain again only 15-20 minutes later, and had to relocate back to the couch again.
No position was pain-free for me.

I want to also note that once again this morning, on both hits off the pipe, it was again hard for me to breathe, and my throat felt thick, like it was closing up on me. I did actually cough and gag after a short time, and I nearly threw up. I had to open my mouth and consciously remember to breathe and open my throat. This forced conscious breathing lasted for two hours, and was quite annoying to have to maintain.

Around 2pm, I declared myself not to be so high anymore, and so I split a Tylenol 3 pill in half and consumed it. The pain still did not abate. Nearly an hour after that, I took the other half of the pill.

By 3:30pm, the cramps finally went away – completely – and this was due to the Tylenol 3 – not to the medical marijuana.

I hopped on chat and told my husband that I’d just completed Round 2 of the medical marijuana testing, and had fired it again.

This could be it for me. If I am even willing to go for a Round 3, I will give the vaporizer a try – IF I can find someone willing to loan me their vaporizer, or IF I can take the indica I purchased to the dispensary in Berkeley and use one of their vaporizers. But honestly, I really don’t want to chance enduring another day without relief from the pain when the pain gets to or near 8 on the scale.

I must also note that on February 18, 2010, I saw my acupuncturist again, and she presented me with a new round of herbal medication to try. This is in powder format, and consists of the following ingredients:

Today is my trial run with the new herbs. I have been taking this powder with hot water as a tea, and have consumed it twice so far today. Each time, I use only a teaspoon per one cup of hot water. So far, I’m really noticing the diuretic effects of the tea.

Right now, I’m on another round of Tylenol 3. This time, I consumed an entire pill. I am dissociated from the pain in a way totally different from marijuana. With the Tylenol 3, much of the pain is eliminated, and any remaining pain is detached – I know it’s there but its signal to my brain is severed. I can’t give you a full report of the pain, because it’s not nagging or annoying me. With the marijuana, the pain is muted, yet still nagging.

Also with Tylenol 3, I am high functioning. I am not knocked out from it like I am knocked flat and stupid after only one hit of marijuana. I am not rendered mentally ill with insecurities, jealousies, and babbling. I am able to carry on conversation; I am able to do online research and type up my journal post. I cannot do any of that on marijuana – I’m too busy staring off, drooling, and moaning from the continued pain.

Tylenol 3 remains the only medication I can use, which provides excellent pain relief and causes very few side effects. Of course, the one big problem with the Tylenol 3 is that using it every month for the past 5-6 years, it is in fact slowly destroying my liver.

Sunday – Day 4

My husband woke with very little hangover, shockingly enough. I woke with the usual low back and neck pain. The bleeding had stopped again.

Around 12pm, we ate breakfast. I had made Trader Joe’s gluten-free pancakes, and my husband had cooked up some Trader Joe’s Smoked Chicken Apple Chardonnay sausages. Mmm, mmm good!

We puttered around the house, and around 2pm, I tried doing some laundry. Well, within half an hour, that put me back to square one with the pain and bleeding. I passed a lot of clots. It was around 2pm that I took 600mg Ibuprofen gel caps. An hour later, the pain was still bad, so I took 1/2 of a Tylenol 3, and I’d been doing acupressure to also try to stop the pain. I was still moving around cuz I’m stubborn. In fact, I took half an hour to 45 minute breaks here and there, but for the most part kept at housecleaning and such.

This evening, I stood for a couple of hours straight while sorting through pictures, before my upper back finally cried uncle and I stopped. The bleeding was diminishing, and stopped after a nice hot shower. I’ve been puttering about at the computer for the past hour to hour and a half.
I did get some weakness in the legs, and some low-level nausea, but the pain and bleeding has not returned, so I’m going to bed.

My gut tells me though that this is not the end of the cycle yet.

Saturday update – my spouse’s birthday

Saturday (yesterday) I had upper and mid-back pain upon waking – I think it’s my pillow again. I got out of bed, stretched slowly, got moving around and felt a lot better. The bleeding had stopped overnight, but I knew it wasn’t the last of it. I went about my morning, anyway, and shortly realised I was very cranky. This is from having taken medication with codeine in it (Tylenol 3). Every month I get angry and aggressive, not just because I’m fed up with being in pain, but as a side effect to the codeine. I react the same way to marijuana, which is why I’ve been hesitant to go and get a medical marijuana card from the local pot club.
I’m also wondering if my upper back and neck pain is attributable to the codeine – I’ve been noticing TMJ symptoms again since being on Tylenol 3 this round.

Because I was cranky, I was snapping at the cats. My spouse asked me to please calm down, because I was making him uneasy on his birthday. So I took the last .5mg pill of my Lorazepam stash.

By the time we got out of the house around 1pm, I had some minor pain again, but was feeling quite mellow from the Lorazepam. As we walked from our car across the street to the computer shop to pick up our laptop and my external drive, however, the pain reached about a 4.5 on the pain scale.

I continued to deteriorate over the course of the afternoon. My spouse got some coffee at our favourite coffee shop (Peerless), and I ordered a raspberry tea. It was quite tasty – and I took some ibuprofen with the tea. When we got home from our errands, it was just about 4pm, so I took a nap while he stepped out to visit his favourite game store.

He woke me at 5pm to tell me we needed to get ready for dinner. He’d organised a sushi outing in honour of his birthday. I dragged myself out of bed, and as I woke up, I felt okay – no cramps. Yay!

While at dinner however, the pain returned. At one point I gasped and clutched the table, and decided enough was enough, so I dug out a half a Tyelnol 3 and swallowed it down with some green tea.

Within half an hour, I began to feel very light-headed, then outright dizzy and floaty. I became concerned for myself, wondering what was bringing this on, since I’d only taken half a Tylenol 3. I wondered if something in the sushi acted as an accelerator for the Tylenol 3. I wondered if I’d not had a full enough stomach when I took the Tylenol 3, then scoffed at that idea.

After dinner, we enjoyed a very nice dessert of gluten-free chocolate decadence cake, purchased earlier that day at Mariposa Bakery. My spouse requested the cake all on his own – I had nothing to do with it. :)
This was the same torte-like cake we had gotten for our one-year wedding anniversary back in October. Everyone got to enjoy a slice, and judging by the empty plates, they all loved it. Even the owner of the sushi restaurant got to have a piece, and asked me where he could get one of those cakes for himself!

After dinner and dessert, we went on to the local tiki bar. I had forgotten my purse in my car, so I went back out to fetch it. By the time I got back inside the bar, I thought I might pass out from the dizziness, and people could actually tell I was not well.
It finally dawned on me what was going on – even though I’d taken .5mg of Lorazepam some six hours before the half Tylenol 3 pill, there obviously was a drug interaction going on. I stepped outside to phone the pharmacy, nearly tripping over people on the way out. My spouse’s friend accompanied me, despite my gentle protests, and waited next to me while I talked to the pharmacist. The pharmacist acknowledged that yes, despite the time lapse, there could still be an interaction, though it shouldn’t be dangerous – it just enhances what side effects are already present in each drug – namely dizziness and fatigue.
I was okayed to take some more Ibuprofen, though.

I went back inside and let everyone know what was going on, and that I’d be fine. People suggested I should go home and rest. I told them meekly that I was afraid to be alone at this point. The pain was ramping up, I was having a drug interaction, and I could not take more Tylenol 3 to combat the pain. So I hung out, and people kept a wary eye on me. Bleh. It’s just, if I passed out, fell and hit my head, or the pain got to be a 10 on the scale, I didn’t want to be alone when it happened – I’d much rather be where people could see it and immediately rush me to the emergency room.

Sometime after 10pm, the pain was too much to bear, and I called it quits. I assured everyone I could drive home myself, that I live only a mile away. My spouse’s friend (the same guy) walked me to my car, and I thanked him. When I got home, I texted the spouse and his friend that I made it home safely.

I was able to sleep deeply on and off, for only about 20 minutes at a time. Then either the endo pain or the neck pain would bother me awake again. I texted my friends from time to time to see how they were all doing at the bar.
My spouse’s friend is so awesome that he also tended to my hubby for the rest of the night, and was the one to bring him home “marinated” – probably sometime after 1am. I thanked him for being such a good friend and hanging out with my husband. They don’t get to hang out enough, those two.

Once my spouse was home, I slept like a log, until sometime near 4am, when the damned cat began howling and scratching at the door again. I think the cat’s got dementia, I swear. He’s nearly 14 years old.