Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 240


Well, every once in awhile it's absolutely necessary to get back to the core of things and the original purpose of this blog.  Originally, the purpose was twofold; first, to share our battle with attachment disorder and to be able to safely process that, and secondly, to share my thoughts on the greatest detectives TV has ever known.  No, I'm not talking Columbo or Magnum P.I.  I'm talking one Robert Goren and one Alexandra Eames.

Really, how could you have Goren without Eames?  It's like having salt without pepper (or pepa, if you know what I mean).  And Eames without Goren?  There'd be no one around to poke the dry eyeballs, to eat the glue or sniff the cake frosting.  Nobody to move people's stuff around the room or to shock a confession out of a criminal.  They're yin and yang.  Eames' practical approach, laced with sarcasm, complements Goren's unconventional tactics and quirks.  You have to love them both.

I'll be honest.  There's something about the Goren character that appeals to me as a woman, and that kind of scares me.  Because if you're naming some of the most broken, fucked-up characters on television, he'd be on the list.  Why do women like bad boys?  To save them from themselves, of course.  I would happily dedicate several years to making Bobby better if given the chance.  But we all know, in reality, a man like Bobby would be too broken to have a relationship, and too smart to turn the other way and try to convince himself that he could.

Really, what a lot of it boils down to is sexual attraction.  Robert Goren looks damn fine in a suit.  So good that when he takes his tie off, it leads to all sorts of naughty thoughts.  I have plenty of friends who don't get my attraction, and that's okay.  I'll admit there are definite looks I enjoy more than others.  I'm a cropped hair, neat suit type of fan, as opposed to the curly, unkempt hair, beard, and layered tee and flannel shirt.  He looked like a logger man in those episodes.  Anyone who has watched a bit of the show over the years can tell you that D'Onofrio puts on and takes off weight fairly regularly.  But regardless of size, put him in a suit and it'll catch your breath, every time.

I find it curious that the character of Bobby Goren is who I'm attracted to, as opposed to the actor.  D'Onofrio has done some wonderful film work, and I'm sure he's a passionate, kind person in real life.  But Bobby is who I know.  He's comfortable and smart, misunderstood and quirky, and he appeals to a woman's nature--a need to "fix" things, to nurture the man who never was nurtured.

And so I find myself once again swooning over a dark navy suit in this episode.  However, should Bobby decide he'd like to loosen his tie and remove his jacket, there would be no objection from THIS peanut gallery.  Or your pants, could lose them...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 242-Plugging Along

I conquered a hurdle today.

After my "crisis" last week, anxiety settled down quite a bit but my sleep was completely off kilter.  I was sleeping anywhere from two to seven hours in a 24-hour period, but most of the night I was wide awake.  A few nights in a row, I was asleep by five or six and awake by midnight. While I enjoy time to myself, I don't like feeling off my routine.  It bothers me.

We had to leave town on Friday due to a hurricane, and surprisingly I slept fairly well both nights in my hotel room.  Considering I don't sleep well away from home anyway, I was impressed that I managed six to seven hours, and at night no less.  Last night we were back home, and I managed to sleep through most of the night, waking at five a.m.

I noticed at bedtime last night that my muscles were sore and causing some pain, especially in my right shoulder.  I only had one thermacare wrap and it was for my back.  With a little creativity and some help from my daughter, I got the thing rigged around my shoulder.  It helped the shoulder muscle a bit, but when I woke this morning, everything hurt.  I wondered exactly what marathon I ran in my sleep, because that's exactly how I felt.

A week ago I made a deal with my mother that every day I would shower, dress, and leave the house.  So after much prodding and bribery, I was able to get my daughter out of bed to come with me.  We hit the doctor's office so I could pick up a prescription, then headed to the store to look for jeans.  The poor kid was having a horrible time with allergies and clearly didn't feel much better than I did.  So I decided to scale down our shopping.  We dropped off the prescriptions, then grabbed lunch before picking them up and heading home.

In the end I was proud of both of us.  My pain today is probably at a seven.  Anxiety, maybe a four, and exhaustion about a six.  But I went.  Not only did I go, but we had a great time at lunch, and it was a good reminder of how much fun my daughter and I have together when both of us are in a decent mood.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 249 to Day 247-Balancing Act


I am so anxious I'm ready to tie my own limbs together.  As I write this I've just choked down a bowl of cheerios and put in a DVD.  It's not quite 4 a.m. and I am ready to pace the halls, drive the streets, derive my own challenge course.  I've taken medication, against my better judgment, and am trying to breathe and stop coughing.

For a person who has never had a panic attack I can only describe it as fear at manic speed.  Thoughts and adrenaline race  ahead mixed with fear into one awful jumbled up mess.

I don't balance.

Day 247- 6 a.m.

I wrote the above two days ago in the beginning of what has turned out to be an incredibly difficult and painful two days of my life.

I was supposed to start training for a new job yesterday afternoon, then today and tomorrow as well.  I was going to be traveling to Charlottesville, VA, three hours away to receive materials, be trained on the research study, and have my computer equipped with everything it needed to make it all work.  As it got closer and closer, my anxiety grew higher.  I wanted this job.  I was afraid my illness would take it from me.  I was afraid I would have even less money than I have; I am afraid that I can't support my family.  The pressure multiplied until I was no longer able to manage it.  Depression and fear gave way to anxiety, which quickly turned to panic.  Panic led to sleeplessness, racing heartbeat, hot and cold flashes, crying jags, and racing thoughts.  I realized I had put all my eggs in this basket that was quickly disintegrating in my hands.

It wasn't until my mother called me close to 9 a.m. that I realized what a wreck I was.  Sobbing, I confessed the truth--I had had no solid sleep in two days.  A nap here or there for an hour, but nothing substantial.  My dreams were discombobulated and disturbing.  I spent my nighttime waking hours curled in bed, watching hour after hour of crap TV trying to ward off the anxiety.  I even put in my favorite DVDs trying to focus on something else--and was able to sleep for an hour.  My body was hurting and I realized, as I was insisting I would find a way to make this work on virtually no sleep and in the midst of a full-blown panic attack--just how insane that statement was.  It was somewhat akin to insisting I would make it to work with the full-blown stomach flu or pneumonia.

I won't go into what was said between my mother and me; what I will say is that I decided I needed to see my doctor as soon as possible.  My husband was willing to take me to training but I insisted on the doctor instead and it turned out to be the right decision.  My doctor was able to see me a few hours after I called, and impressed upon me the importance of maintaining my medication routine.  She also started me on another medication and was very clear:  absolutely no traveling of any kind until at least next week.  My job this week, apparently, is to become stabilized.

I don't quite know what to make of the fact that I'm in a "crisis" and not "stable".  I think there's a lot of life changes that I need to make, and I'm scared to make them.  I have known this for a long time.  And the weight of those needed changes are felt in my body.  Everywhere, but particularly in my back and my upper right quadrant.  And oh, my head. @@ I guess I should be thankful I'm not in a hospital somewhere tonight, pacing the corridor.  And I certainly am thankful, although I really would love a full night's sleep again.  I guess four hours beats the two I got the night before.  Maybe we can aim for six tonight.

It would have been easier, less embarrassing, to never finish this original post.  To hide the last few days or refer to them as part of my illness, which they certainly are.  But I swore from the first word I wrote on this blog about my child that I would write honestly, from the heart and soul, and that is what I have done, not only about my child but about myself as this blog has changed and morphed into something different.  The stigma around mental illness is massive and I'm just as guilty as anyone else to dance around the term.  I found myself wondering the other day at what point does one actually fit the diagnosis of mental illness?  If one is mildly depressed?  Chronically?  Struggles with anxiety or panic disorder?  Or does it take something more major than millions of the population suffer from?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 251--Abuse and Recovery


Yesterday I was watching the Oprah Winfrey show.  Oprah and I go way back, and many years ago I was an avid fan and regular viewer.  I often wanted to be a guest in her audience (I mean, who doesn't?  She hauls people to Australia and gives away free cars!) and thought she had really interesting shows.  I'm not sure when I became less enamored...maybe ten years ago?  Probably sometime in the nineties, when our country was in the middle of Oprah-mania, I wore out.  No more book club, no more star interviews or concerts.  I reclaimed my afternoon and moved on.

However, yesterday I was channel surfing and found Oprah interviewing a young man named Clayton.  His story immediately caught my attention.  Thirteen years ago, Clayton was a six-year old boy spending the majority of his days wrapped in a dog chain and a wire fence, locked in a small closet by his father and stepmother.  His story is rather remarkable, because a case worker had already been to the house, seen Clayton, and decided he was not in any danger.  Clayton's fourteen-year old stepsister had run away from their home in Indiana to Kentucky and was picked up by the police.  When she begged not to be sent back to her home in Indiana, her story stuck with the officer who she spoke with.  He requested a caseworker to investigate the girl's claims of abuse, and the caseworker who visited the home found no reason to remove Clayton.  Fortunately, the girl's story was so vivid that the officer couldn't let it go, and told the family they would have to come to Kentucky to retrieve the sister.  The family did just that, and upon their arrival, the officer took Clayton and conducted an interview that revealed severe physical abuse and neglect.

Clayton ended up being adopted by his biological mother's aunt.  It was at this point in the story that my heart met this woman's in an empathic nod.  She talked about how skittish Clayton was; how his nights were filled with terror from dreams and recollections of his trauma.  She wanted everything to be as normal for him as it could be, but the one thing she said that stuck out to me was how overprotective she became.

As a parent of two children who were neglected and potentially abused in early childhood, I could identify thoroughly with what she said.  Often times I have thought that I was paranoid.  I've been told by other parents I am overprotective of my children.  Clayton's adoptive mother described her fear of someone trying to kidnap him from the front yard and her need to keep an eye on him at all times.  I can identify with those feelings.  When your children have been traumatized by things that aren't supposed to happen to anyone, the bogey man is real for them--and for you.  Nobody can prepare you for the secondary trauma you experience reliving those moments with your children.  The fear that children experience when dealing with trauma is incredibly real and vivid.  For the adults who choose to walk beside them, the journey is a long one.

Watching Clayton discuss his past so openly gave me hope for my own children.  The last four years have been particularly challenging for our son.  We all have lived through tremendous turmoil and difficulty, including plenty of days (and nights) where I have prayed for guidance in making the right decisions for this child.  There have been moments where I have doubted myself and feared for my son's future.  There have been moments where I have tearfully thanked God for the opportunity to be in this child's life.  But mainly, I've been grateful for the support of people who have guided us along this journey.

The last couple of months have shown a tremendous growth in my son's emotional capacity to listen to reason, to calm down and work with other people, to build positive relationships with the people who love him.  For years I worried I would never have the chance to laugh with him again or to enjoy his funny, sweet personality, because he was so clouded with anger and hurt.  That anger and hurt is still at the forefront of his thinking, but he is learning how to balance and manage it with more positive strategies.

Lucky we are, Clayton reminded me.  Lucky to be together and to heal.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 257--Making a Mother


I've been fortunate the last few weeks that I've had very little pain.  It's been such a reprieve after months of ongoing muscular spasming and tightness.  I can remember a time not too long ago that I thought I'd never have another day without some kind of intense pain.  The exhaustion is hard to deal with, more because of expectations from my family than anything else.  My sleep patterns are a bit mixed up at the moment and that makes life a bit harder.

My son is angry that he has to attend day camp this week.  Intensely angry.  The kind of angry that makes me wonder if it's worth it at all.  In the hour it takes me to get up, get him up, and get him ready and over to the pickup spot, we both were verbally cruel to one another this morning.  He slammed things, told me how he hated me, what a bad mother I was, and how he shouldn't have to do this because he doesn't want to.  The fact that he doesn't want to is enough of a reason for him just annoys the hell out of me.  Who in this world doesn't have to do shit they don't want to do???  Like I want to be sitting in a car being yelled at by a fourteen-year old?  Like I even want to get up on vacation at seven-thirty a.m. to take the damn kid to camp?

Lately I've been considering having a biological child.  I'm in my early forties so my time is running out and I'm well aware of it.  I have a lot of doubts about being a mother again.  I worry that I won't feel that I can give this child everything it deserves, that I won't have the energy to keep up with a toddler, or a preschooler.  That I will need to continue to work full time to support my family and my time with my baby will be limited to evenings and weekends.  Maybe more than anything else, that I will find the problems I have always written off to disorders and poor prenatal care to be faults in my own parenting abilities.  Perhaps the problems lie with me, not with my children's early situations.

As I left my sulking son at camp this morning, I was overwhelmed with tears and feelings of failure.  I doubt myself as a mother probably more than in any other way as a person.  And my god, there's enough doubt to go around fully.  But on mornings like today, I doubt that I could give enough to be a good mother to any baby, because some days I fail so miserably with my son.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 261-Mama Bears and Hibernation


Clearly I've added another category to rank--exhaustion.  You might be wondering why.  Well, because I'm exhausted, that's why. And I'm not talking about normal, "God I've worked a long day and my feet hurt" exhaustion.  I'm talking barely-get-out-of bed exhaustion.  Sleeping too long exhaustion.  And I've noticed that as my pain gets better, the exhaustion continues.

If I were to describe it, it would be the kind of exhaustion that you can barely keep your eyes open.  You stumble over your feet and into walls.  Your coordination is off and it's all you can do to stay alert.  In fact, your alertness is defined by the fact that your eyes are open, not by your mind being on.  So you think you can take a nap to throw it, but this kind of exhaustion takes more than a typical 90-120 minute nap.  This exhaustion takes a nap that lasts several hours.

I went to bed around midnight last night and had to be up at 7:30 to get my daughter to camp.  I overslept; that is, I slept through my alarm.  Fortunately my mother woke us all up.  I threw on my bra and a pair of shoes to run the kid up there.  After dropping her off (and there was drama that ensued afterward but I won't get into that now), I came home, poured myself a coke zero, and made my way back to my bed.  The next thing I know I'm waking up and it's 2:20.  That was roughly five and a half hours that I slept.  So 7+ 5= 12.  I slept twelve hours, and I've been fighting sleep ever since I woke up.

Amazingly, my pain has all but disappeared.  I'm thrilled with that.  Every once in awhile I have some pain in my shoulder and neck, but not so badly.  My anxiety is still present.  Considering my daughter is camping in the mountains three hours away, on her first real overnight campout with a group other than good friends, I'm amazingly calm.  The anxiety comes and goes, depending on what's going on in my life, like most people.  I'm really excited about getting back to work in another couple of weeks.My biggest worry, however, is this exhaustion.  Work that can be done at home independently is fine,because I can work on my own hours, including the middle of the night.  But work that requires meetings with my teachers will be set in advance, and I'm going to have to figure out how to keep myself alert.

First, I need to really monitor and control my blood sugar better.  I dove into some donuts yesterday and today.  I wanted something sweet and I have a horrible time limiting myself to JUST ONE.  Diabetics with high blood sugar will often experience fatigue and irritability.  Next, I need to build some exercise into my routine.  My experience has been that the more exercise I have, the more alert I am.  All those great things--endorphins and serotonin--work fantastically for me and I feel better.  Third, I need to push for a different antidepressant.  We have tried the classic one for fibromyalgia, which is Cymbalta, and it didn't work for me due to a horrible side effect.  My next option is Wellbutrin.  My psychiatrist has told me this drug helps to boost energy level.  I know that it can be added to one I'm already on, Celexa.  Celexa helps with anxiety while Wellbutrin does not.  Considering the intensity of my anxiety these days, I am hoping I can add Wellbutrin to Celexa, and that it will make a difference in my energy level.  I was supposed to go to the psychiatrist today but slept through my appointment.

So that's my biggest concern with my job.  I feel like it's the kind of job I can make connections and make a difference with, and my biggest fear, as always, is that I will somehow upset my employer or let her down.I truly hope I don't.

I entitled this thread "Mama Bears and Hibernation".  The hibernation part speaks to my exhaustion and how I feel I spend a good amount of time curled up and sleeping.  But the mama bear--if you could hear me suck my breath in over the internet, well, you'd be hearing it now.  My children have been in camp all week, and on Thursdays the camp travels a few hours away to go on a campout for the evening, and then returns the next evening.  My son decided immediately he did not want to participate.  He still has some lingering concerns from his early childhood when he was removed from his mother's care.  I'm not even sure he's aware of it consciously, but I do believe subconsciously he doesn't feel safe in a camp away from home with people he doesn't know.  Heck, I wouldn't either.  So he decided to stay home.  In the meantime, my adventurous one, my daughter, was ready to go this morning.  Last night she had expressed a bit of concern and said she didn't want to go.  Because she had actually chosen this week FOR the campout, I insisted that she go.

So we arrive at camp and I sign her in, then ask for a medication slip.  You see, my daughter is asthmatic and it's fairly well controlled, but there was no way I was sending her into the mountains without an inhaler.  The camp counselor insisted that we needed the original box her inhaler came ine.

That's right.  The original box her inhaler came in six weeks ago.

Now, when she's in school, I provide a brand new inhaler at the beginning of the year, complete with doctor's instructions and the box.  I understand the purpose of the boxes--they are required by social services to ensure the medication is up to date and belongs to the child.  And in any other situation I would have had a box.  But this time I didn't, and that counselor looked at me through her sunglasses and told me, "Sorry, she can't take the inhaler."

I was pissed.  "So you mean she can't go because I don't have the BOX the inhaler came in."

She didn't answer, and I called my daughter to get her stuff and we left.

My child was crying as soon as we hit the car.  So I called the organization and asked for the camp director.  She wasn't in yet, but could I call back at ten?  No, I insisted, and I need to talk to her RIGHT NOW.

So they gave me the number and I called.  I explained who I was and what the situation was.  The director started to laugh and said, "Don't worry, I'll call over and straighten it out."

When I pulled up, sunglass counselor was on the phone and finishing up.  She didn't greet me in any way.  I actually had to say, "So do you want her inhaler for your medicine box?"

They took the inhaler and locked it up, and my daughter went to find her friends.

Tomorrow is the last day of camp.  I have been less than thrilled with aspects of this camp, and I really have been unhappy by sunglass girl.  You can bet that if my daughter was treated any way other that fairly, somebody's head will be on a platter.

What people don't understand (or sometimes forget) is that in most mothers we have a primal instinct that I like to call "mama bear".  People have put down my teaching, my clothes, my way of doing all sorts of things.  They've called me fat and tackily and mean and unfair.  It bothers me, but I can get over it.  But if you pick on my children, Mama Bear will come out and get you.  Mama Bear is not a rationale, reasonable person.  She operates from the gut of emotion and her only concern is to protect her young.  You don't wanna mess with mother bear, and especially one who's been hibernating.

So hopefully tomorrow my daughter will come home exhausted but happy.  I'm fairly certain that will be the case.  But if it isn't, Mama Bear and I will be fighting amongst ourselves to maintain decorum.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day 266--The Life of a Medical Guinea Pig

Pain-3 to 4
Anxiety-5 to 6

Okay, so this week I should have blogged at least once more because I had the best day ever, or best since I had moved back home.  I was able to get up, get ready, go to lunch and a movie with a friend of mine.  Then I came home and cooked dinner.  Altogether, a super successful day.

I'm fairly certain that yesterday was a good day too.  The thing is, I don't remember it.  I remember bits and pieces of it, like eating a sub from Jimmy John's with my husband late last night.  I think I did some laundry.  Probably watched some tv too.  But that's all.  So the question becomes why do I not remember?  My guess is the same reason that I slept all day today until five p.m.  It's normal for me to sleep in on the weekends, but not this much.  And definitely not with huge gaps in my memory.

I'm fairly certain I know why.  See, I'm on a muscle relaxant called cyclobenzaprine.  In previous years when I have taken it, I've slept for 24 hours as a result.  When I was taking it earlier this year on a more regular basis, I wasn't asleep all the time, but I certainly felt as though I was living in a parallel universe.  I had stopped taking it a week or so ago because I had suspicions it was numbing me right out of my mind.  Well, I took one last night because I was having some muscle pain.  Big mistake.

I've spent the majority of my day asleep, and my waking hours crying, feeling disoriented and just not right.  My typical Saturday routine was thrown off and everything was a mess.  I was dizzy and out of it, and I hate that feeling.  My plans to take my youngest to a theme park for a few hours this evening were squelched.  I was in another world.

So my rheumatologist can expect a phone call on Monday morning.  I cannot tolerate this medication any longer.  I'd much rather take something with less strength than suffer through something that knocks me out for two days.  Ugh.