One Year Ago

I’ve made it through January.  I did a lot of reflecting over what’s happened to me, my relationships, and my health over the past twelve months.  I realized I have made a lot of progress despite not reaching all of the personal goals I set for myself.  The biggest improvement in the past year is getting treatment for my pinched nerve.  I never talked about the bad things about being stuck in bed for months.  Thinking about them brings back awful memories and I am thankful for my mother and spouse for putting up with me.  I think it is important for me to discuss the bad things because I know no matter how bad things (true or not) may be for me right now, I have been through rougher times.

I specifically remember the first week without help from my mom was hell.  It’s not that my spouse wasn’t supportive, but he’s never been a good “nurse,” and I’m fine with that.  I was hungry and there wasn’t much food in the house so he went next door to find that Burger King had closed unexpectedly.  He then called me from the grocery store so I could name things that would be easy for me to make while he was at work.  Surprise: I couldn’t even get strength to boil water for the ramen cups.

For nearly four months, my mom took my place and did everything around the house.  She cooked, cleaned, drove my spouse to and from work, shopped for food.  She also did a lot of the embarrassing things that I once assisted people with.  I was reluctant to use the bathroom because sitting was painful and her constant reminders to get up possibly prevented a ton of UTIs.  I couldn’t wipe myself properly after using the bathroom.  Thank the heavens for Mirena because I wouldn’t want to deal with my super long and heavy periods.  I couldn’t bathe or brush my teeth over a sink.  The only decent shower(s) I had was (were) just before surgery dates and even though the feeling afterwards felt amazing, the experience itself was not.  Since I never sat up, my hair turned into a huge rat’s nest.  My mom wasn’t great at keeping up with my hair.  That wasn’t her fault.  I remember she was de-tangling my hair and she was about ready to give up.  I looked at myself in the mirror and was ready to say goodbye to my hair.  That is, until she was able to de-tangle it successfully.

I had little choice in what to eat or drink.  I lost at least 40 pounds in muscle mass.  My mom made sure I was taking my medication and tried to keep me pacified and drugged up by doctor’s orders as best as she could.  (I’m happy to say I haven’t had any opioids since late April.)  The only social interaction I had was with a former friend.  (Please don’t ask me about this; I don’t want to talk about it right now.)  I spent all day, every day, binge watching TV on the iPad because I couldn’t see the TV in bed while maintaining a comfortable position.  (It’s only been a few months since I’ve been able to get back to my normal sleeping position without the need for six pillows.)  My sleep schedule was all over the place.  My spouse was forced to sleep on the couch for weeks, possibly months.  I can’t even remember at this point.

I had a lot of shame.  Interesting, really.  I had a distorted view because somehow I was too young or not disabled enough to not require help, even though I desperately needed it.

Fast forward to today.  What good comes from this self-discussion?  I got through that shit and know I can overcome it again should it happen again.  I was un-medicated, mentally, during that time.  I had a plan to exit this world.  I’m glad I didn’t because I’ve finally found a purpose in life.  It was in front of me this entire time and I didn’t realize it until a few weeks ago.  It feels strange to be nearly back to normal life schedule, with a few changes made so I can reach my personal goals.  When I was on the couch and got up and was in excruciating pain, I freaked out.  It was the worst pain I’ve been in since I had relief and all the bad memories started coming back, I started to panic.  I hopped to the bed and laid down.  Thankfully the pain went away after a few minutes and I’ve decided the couch is no longer a friendly place for me to sit or lie down.

The other day my friend asks me what I think of the new abortion law in New York.  I haven’t been keeping up with the news so I asked him to tell me about it.  To make a long story short, this very random question, out of the blue, lead to something I didn’t even know I needed — an “intelligent” discussion.  This was much more than an “agree to disagree,” conversation.  We spent about two hours talking about politics and more importantly, how each of us has had a profound influence on each other.  Something seen as trivial to an outsider is monumental to each of us.  That’s when I said I was dealing with my own problem and I was given suggestions on how to handle the situation.  Sometimes the best solution to a problem is very simple, to do absolutely nothing, but the majority of the time discussion and communication is the solution.

He’s Fired and I Re-Hired

Last Wednesday I saw my psychiatrist, the one I’ve been meaning to fire. I went in and new exactly what I was going to say: treat my depression or else, and take me off a medication that puts me at higher risk for cardiac events.  Things do not start off well.  He asks me how I’m doing and I tell him that I’m not well.  He says I can’t be that bad since I’m smiling and that’s the first time he’s seen me smiling.  (Depressed people don’t smile?)  I told him I’ve been “faking it until I make it.”  He didn’t understand.  What isn’t there to understand?  I put on a happy face so I don’t look so sad and grumpy when out in public.  I then got as specific as I could.  I wanted things to stop.  I didn’t want to die, I just wanted everything in the world and everything around me to stop.  It was hard for me to give an example, but I gave the one that’s been bothering me most.  Physical pain.  When I said this, I was again dismissed and was told I’m not depressed due to bipolar depression, I am depressed because my pain is making me depressed.  I always thought my pain increased while being depressed, and I’m being ignored.

I’m asking for help and I wasn’t getting it.  I was told I needed to go on pain medications (opiates) because an antidepressant medication wouldn’t help me.  I explained why I didn’t want to be on medication for pain and my reasons were dismissed.  Besides side effects of constipation and lethargy, I was addicted to them years ago.  I haven’t had any since April, and for the first four months of this year, I was taking them constantly.  I went from 5mg every 8 hours to 10mg every 4 hours.  I became dependent on them.  I hated how they made me feel.  My mom would “feed” them to me to make me shut up.  I would fall asleep.  Even recently, I’ve wanted to take one.  I have a strong support system and when I had that feeling and I was desperate to take the pain away, I talked to my support system and they reminded me why “one” would be a bad idea.

I was being dismissed.  Great.  I didn’t think I would get the treatment I needed, which is why I came into the appointment knowing that it would be my last, effectively “firing” my psychiatrist.  I talked about how even though my mania has been managed very well, I didn’t want to be on a medication that put me at higher risk for cardiovascular events.  He said this wasn’t true, but I’m going to believe a pharmacist and the black box warning on the medication over this doctor who seems to be clueless.  He asked me what I proposed.  I told him.  He obliged, to my surprise, to FINALLY put me on my treatment plan that had been working well for me before the whole “stuck in bed” period of time.

YES.  It’s about damn time.

Before the appointment was over I let it slip that I moved and would be making my follow-up appointment with the other clinic, seeing a different doctor.  My psychiatrist said he would be sad to not see me any longer.  He said he’s seen a great improvement in my mood (??) and would miss dealing with a strong individual who goes after what they want.  Well, yes.  I’ve been doing that for the past few months and I guess it took that long for him to take me seriously?  I’ve been asking for this treatment since day one and have been given every excuse why he wouldn’t help me.

Don’t back down.  Pick your battles.  (There have been many of them.)  It’s why I thank my mom for teaching me such a great life lesson.

Solace

Things have gotten a bit better for me.  A major concern with a job change would be the lapse in health insurance.  It was decided to pay out of pocket for COBRA for myself only, which would result in no lapse of coverage and be cheaper than buying a short-term plan from the marketplace.  I was worried about finding a way to afford my insulin and anti-psychotic (which, I did the math, is $40.76 a pill).  Now that the worry about how to pay for my medications and doctor visits is no longer an issue, I feel a sense of relief and the majority of my anxiety is gone.

The spouse was invited over to his former co-worker’s house to watch UFC on Saturday night.  I took a long nap during the day so I would be able to stay awake the entire night.  We decided to order BBQ for pick-up, but the traffic for the theme park was at a stand still.  I moved 250 feet in traffic in about 30 minutes, decided to “screw it,” found a gap in traffic and made it to the house.  I then called in a pizza order for delivery, but was quoted two hours, so I decided to not be lazy and went to pick it up.  I had Alfredo pasta with chicken, mushrooms, and broccoli.  The side salad was also delicious and I forgot how good the house-made blue cheese dressing is!  The host was very nice, offering me a beer and marijuana, which I declined because it’s probably not the best choice to make while in the middle of applying for a job within the county/police department.  Guys are gross.  But that’s OK because I felt like I fit in.  I tried holding a conversation with someone’s wife and it was about shoes, shopping, and spa day.  I couldn’t care less about any of those things.  And I heard many stories about my spouse at his old work and OH MY GOSH, that boy needs to think before he speaks!  Of course, he says the stories are embellished, but I already know about the sausage-dick jokes, so I’m sure the stories are not too far off from the truth.

I had my psychiatrist appointment this morning.  The new doctor was a lot more welcoming.  I am apprehensive about completely coming off my current medication and going to a single medication to treat manic episodes only, but I trust their decision based upon them going through my complete history.  The doctor genuinely believes I’ve been in a low mood due to the major life events that have happened within the past two weeks, and that my manic episodes are mixed, is a good sign that this new treatment might work well for me.  I will have the added benefit of it being inexpensive and less possibility of weight gain and diabetic side-effects.

Last thing, I think this drive to the new work might kill me.  I’m going to need to find something to do, if not work, until the move because this new drive can suck it.  Still looking: which is the worst intersection on this commute?  I’ve never looked forward to moving, until now.