Picnic with Ants

My life disABLED with Chrnoic Ilnnesses, it just IS. Taking one moment at a time.


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guilt, blame & chronic illness(es)

wendy:

I needed to hear this lecture recently, and will probably need to hear it over and over …
Thanks Phylor for “lecturing” us, and reminding us, that there is simply no room for all that guilt and blame in our lives. This is a post I know I will come back to and read over and over.

Originally posted on Phylor's Blog:

This is a lecture. A lecture I’ve given myself many times. A lecture I’ve given to other people. A lecture I thought I’d post and give to you. Guilt and blame don’t necessarily come with chronic illness(es), but these emotions can. This added stress does nothing for your body, or your mind.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

We all, I think, carry guilt and blame from our pasts. Things we’ve done, intentionally or not, that we feel guilty about. Events and circumstances that rightly or wrongly, we blame ourselves for. These feelings can haunt us all our lives; sometimes we can challenge them, or shine such a strong light on them, we begin to understand, forgive, “bless and move forward.”

Past guilt/blame can make us a better person, or turn us into something else (even something we are aware of, and don’t like). We can try…

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More Than Meniere’s…what’s next

question-mark-puzzleOn Tuesday I went to Duke.  I needed to see Dr. Kaylie and get his opinion on what has been going on with me and see if he could help at all.  To tell the truth, I didn’t have much hope, and as it turns out, that was a good thing.

I told him the long drawn out details of this whole ordeal, from me starting to feel so much better and the decline…and all the strange symptoms I’ve been having.  Things that just don’t add up to being just Meniere’s.

He couldn’t tell me why I this was happening, or why I had such a good spell.  He could say, this is not just Meniere’s.  Meniere’s Disease is a set of symptoms.  It should really be called a syndrome, not a disease, as the only way you are diagnosed is by having a set of symptoms, there are test to rule out other things, and there are test that say it is vestibular, but there is no test to say….this is Meniere’s Disease.   I have all of those symptoms….so yeah, I have Meniere’s disease…but I have more symptoms that don’t go with normal Meniere’s.  So what else do I have?  No idea.

Some of my symptoms could come from different things other than my ears. (possibilities….my pulmonary issues are causing me not to get enough oxygen, I may be having orthostatic hypotention issues…ect.)  These are things I need to have looked at first.  I want to make sure that some of these are not making my vestibular symptoms worse.  So, first off, I’ll be seeing a new general practitioner here in Charlotte and getting some test run and getting referrals and such.  I’ll talk more about that as it happens.

Then, if the vestibular symptoms don’t calm down, or go in remission, I’ll most likely be heading to Johns Hopkins Vestibular Clinic to see if they can figure out what is going on.  (I discussed this with Dr. Kaylie, and he agreed that this would be a good place to seek some answers.)

That’s the plan right now.

If the vertigo gets so bad that I simply can’t function and see other doctors I will probably be trying to go to Johns Hopkins sooner.

Stuart and I have talked a lot about this and he wants to do anything to try to find some answers.  There would be a big cost to go to Johns Hopkins.  The trip alone would be a big cost. This makes me uncomfortable, and apprehensive, but in the end how could I not go?  How could I turn down the chance to make this better?  Yes it will be expensive and I will feel bad about that, but it could give me the chance to have a more normal life with my husband, how could I turn that down?

Right now, I’m ramping down off of the steroids.  Scared much?  you bet!  However, I’m very happy to find my emotions getting back to normal.  I can’t control the future, so I’m trying hard not to be worried, but I can’t say I’m not.  I’m afraid when I get off the steroids I will start having violent vertigo every day again.

This has really caused a lot of problems trying to heal the herniated disc in my lower back.  I haven’t been able to go to physical therapy on a regular basis.  My physical therapist and I discussed it and put it on hold for a few weeks, I start back on Friday.  Hopefully, I will be able to go back regularly now.  I am supposed to start aqua-therapy on Tuesday.  I know it will help my back a lot, but I haven’t been in a pool in a long time.  I do not know if I will be able to do the aqua-therapy, or if it will actually trigger a vertigo attack.  Guess I’ll find out on Tuesday!   The long ride in the car to and from Duke really caused my back a lot of pain.  I don’t know how it could have caused any more damage, but it caused a lot more pain.  I keep wondering if my inability to sleep well has caused my symptoms to be so much worse.  I have not been able to sleep more than 2 hours at a time since I got hurt.  I do sleep about 8 hours a night, but no more than 2 hours consecutively.   hmmmm…  Wish I could take something for the pain, but that makes the vertigo go crazy, plus, pain medications make me itch and my stomach hurt.  I guess the first thing I need to do is to figure out a way I can sleep more!  Meditation alone has not done the trick….I’m working on it.  (I will say, it’s not just the pain that gets me up every 2 hours, I usually have to pee too.  I have to take something to help keep my ears clear and it causes me to pee a lot…so…yeah, consecutive hours of sleep are hard to come by.)

I’m kind of on an emotional roller coaster about all of this right now.  I’m feeling a bit torn apart that my doctor couldn’t help me, don’t we all feel like that sometimes?  We grow up going to the doctor when we are sick and they make it better, now they can’t make it better and I feel so torn up inside, but I understand, I know doctors don’t know everything.  I just want to be that little girl again that goes to the doctor and gets her medicine and wakes up feeling better.  I actually broke down last night thinking, why can’t he help me?

Then the funny thing is, I am actually much calmer now.  I feel this calm acceptance.  This is how it is.  I don’t have any more answers than I did before, but I feel better somehow.  I now have a plan.  It’s flexible enough to change as things change and that’s good, as I can’t predict how the future will unravel.  I’m taking things as they come.  That’s all I can do.


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It’s just so hard sometimes…

This is a stream of thought post.  I just needed to talk and get some things out.  So no fixing of grammar or anything.  One thing I do want to say before you read this…..I’m not suicidal.

photo by w holcome

photo by w holcome

Is everything just so hard right now or is it the life through steroids?

I feel like I’m slipping away.  I don’t know who I am half the time.  I’m really not handling things all that well….yet in the next moment I am….then I’m not…then I am…then I’m completely melting down and that has been the last two days, and

I just feel like a weight is on me that I cannot lift and it is crushing me,grinding me down further into the ground past the point of breath….I’m buried alive….why, why cannot I still just not die.

Oh I am so ashamed to feel this way.  I am just so tired.  So tired of feeling the ups, the downs, the hope, the devastation when life kicks me in the gut over and over.  And I can’t believe I’m actually writing these feelings out here where everyone can read them.

I do not feel like this.  I don’t.  This is not how I handle things any more.  It has to be the steroids messing with me…it has to be….

But then…there has been so much loss lately…so much stress…and I found out yesterday that it is worse than I thought.

When you can’t hear very well…..let’s face it, I can’t hear at all without my cochlear implants on and working, and for a while now things haven’t been sounding right.  So conversations with my husband have not been as communicative as they normally are.  I have always been so proud of how our relationship has been so good, because we communicate so well.  When you can’t talk a lot, communication seems to fail.  He thinks I hear things I don’t.  I think I hear things he said differently.  And things simply do not get talked about.  I’ve been feeling like we just talking much about stuff….and when we do, things just don’t get anywhere, we just get a bit frustrated because I don’t understand things….well…I really didn’t understand something, and I got really upset about it yesterday.  I lost it, completely broke down, and I’m still spinning about it.

I thought our finances were doing ok.  Not great of course.  Tight.  We do have a mortgage and rent and everything.  But I thought we were ok, not in the negative ever month, being able to pay our bills…paying off credit cards….ect.  We aren’t.  We are still in trouble.  I’ve been spending money recently.  I’ve told Stuart when I was going to, or asked him….he didn’t say…”we really shouldn’t be spending”.  No I haven’t gone crazy, but I’ve spent when I didn’t need to.  We bought Christmas for our niece and nephew that could have cost half what it did.  He said, “It’s what we would normally spend.”  This makes no sense to me.  I’m so distraught.  He said….that in about a year we should turn the house over to the bank.  What?  and we can spend money on gifts???  I can buy things for me?  NO.   I knew we were in real trouble when Kiki started having diarrhea Friday night and Stuart said, “Oh Kiki please don’t get sick, we can’t afford it.”   What?  We discussed this before we got a dog.  If we couldn’t afford a pet, we should not have gotten one.  In my opinion, that is one of the worst things a person can do, and I know Stuart feels the same.  (I know we would have found a way if Kiki would have needed to go to the veterinarian, but that comment really scared me.)  We are in this situation because of me.  We have not been able to sell the rest of the stuff out of the house, or get the house on the market because of me.  No, the house may not have sold yet, but we are nowhere near even getting it ready.  All because of me.  I have gotten too sick for him to leave me alone to go to Durham and take care of things.

Now, how can I not feel guilt about being sick??  How can I not feel guilty for every doctor appointment I have?  How can I not feel bad about every extra thing we have to spend because of my illnesses?  How can I not feel bad about the trip we have to take to Duke….tomorrow?

We were talking about taking me to special clinics to look for more answers…..HOW could I even think of this???  I cannot allow my husband to lose everything for me.  I cannot allow him to work so hard at his life and never be able to own another home, never be able to retire, never be able to do anything but take care of me!  NO!  I will die first.   Please, please, let me die first.  I simply cannot live with this guilt or with this lack of quality of life.  How do you choose?  How do you choose?  Am I selfish and allow him to sacrifice everything for me, to help me…where it may end up there is no help, that I will end up just like this forever.  Or do I stop it.  and say enough.  I accept that life will be like this.

I have ups.  We’ve seen this, over and over.  I have some good times.  I had them not long ago.  I went for over 4 months feeling so much better.  Then I have times like this.  Will I be like this forever, or will I have the good times again.  Who knows.  I cannot predict the future, and I have to stop making up the worst case scenario in my mind.

We have to get more stable financially before I can allow him to sacrifice any more.  He does so much.  He is so exhausted so much of the time.  He doesn’t even see that it is because of me.  At least he loves his job now.  It is not draining him.  He really enjoys it.  I don’t worry about him so much there, but am I jeopardizing it?   I hope not.  Right now that is all I can do.  I have to trust that his boss really is as understanding as he says he is.  I have to believe.  I know his hours are flexible….I hope they are as flexible as they are making them.  He does a lot for me.  They work around my appointments.  Sometimes he leaves in a moments notice when I have an attack.  He always gets in the hours, he gets his work done….he says that is all his boss is concerned about.  But I am concerned.  I do not want him to risk this job over me.  (they did just put him in charge of a project, so they must believe in him, right?)

I have to be more involved in the finances and everything as often as I can.  I have been hiding.  I have not been able to handle the stress of it.  I do not deal with instability.

I’m not dealing well with not being able to do anything.  With not being able to help at all.

I’m simply not dealing well.

I do so wish we had some help.  I wish someone would give us a maid for a day as a Christmas present.  Or better yet, a maid service.  We used to have one, got a great deal on Groupon, had a maid come in just once a month, and it was perfect.  For this tiny place, I’m sure it wouldn’t cost much….well for some.   But it would get the deep stuff done.  Things that just don’t get done…..oh who am I kidding, a lot doesn’t get done lately.   (I think that’s why Kiki got sick, she found something on the floor, I swear she’ll eat anything she finds!)

I’m tired.  So tired.  Between the spinning head and the aching back, sleep is hard.  And now my brain will not shut off….I worry.

Please Please tell me I will be able to deal with this better again after I get off of these dang drugs!   But then will the awful vertigo get worse again?  I live like that either.

Why does it have to be so hard????


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I did it Alone. Spinning another day…

At a little after 6am Stuart was leaving for work and I woke up and decided to eat a little something and take my first steroid of the day.

I woke at 8am with my stomach hurting…ugh, steroids.  Then I thought,  “Oh good, it is better today, knock on wood”…and I really did!  I took an antacid for my stomach and went back to sleep.

I woke up at 10am with horrible heartburn and spinning.  sometimes you just want to cuss!

I thought, ok….slow.  I can handle slow.  I hope.  I took meds and slowly, very slowly started to get up.  Ah…let’s just lie here for a minute.

Try again….slow.  VERY SLOW….  I feel like I’m walking on a merry-go-round, and it’s on a rocking boat….ugh…my stomach takes a lurch…it’s ok, just stop here for a second.  Grab my walker….oh nice walker, I love you so much.   slowly I get up…I am sure no one has ever seen anyone move so slowly.  Once I am up, well kind of up, I am hunched over the walker with my head leaning to one side, I am doing pretty good.  I start to head to the bathroom.  WAIT…phone!  I grab my phone, just in case.  If I fall, I need to make sure I can get help.  and off to the bathroom.   I DID IT!  I got to the bathroom ALONE!  During vertigo!  it was a very slow spin but I did it!!

I did it 4 times today!!!   I have been slowly spinning all day!!!   If I keep my head exactly still things are pretty still, but if I move, WHOOSH!

This morning I was very proud of myself.  Not only did I get to the bathroom alone, I got in the kitchen, grabbed a banana, a couple of pancakes that were in the fridge and got back to the bedroom…got my CI’s….and things I’d need for the day  (meds and such) and go myself to the couch.  Once I went from the standing position I was in to sitting the vertigo went WILD!  What on earth?  who knows this is the most bizarre thing in the world, no rhyme or reason to me!

So I collapsed and tried to calm down…and hung on!  Whew!

It slowed, and I was ok, but not great by any stretch of the imagination.

It’s about 11am by now.  Stuart had an appointment this morning and texted to check on me.  I told him I was spinning but I handled it, however, if he could stop by on his way back to work and help me get settled it would be great.  So he did….and I sent him on his way!  Even though I was not doing well when he left.  It is now almost 4pm and I have done a good job of handling things today.

I’m proud of me.

I still want to share with you guys just how I got through some of the roughest parts this past month, and everything that went on in my head, and heart.  Things I didn’t want to admit to.  I was ashamed to admit I wasn’t handling things as well as I thought I would.  But I got through it, and learned a lot along the way.   Of course, I’m still going through it….so…we’ll get there.

One thing that really helped me get through all of this…..

So I feel bad about it…feel bad.  That’s OK.  Acknowledge it.  Don’t feel so guilty about it.  I don’t have to feel positive all the time.  My positive go to attitude is still there, but it is perfectly fine to feel bad about this, to feel sad, angry, and well….just bad.   I’m not going to wallow in it, I’m not going to get stuck in it, so I don’t need to beat myself up over it either.  Accept it, and have some self compassion.

Things I should note today….  woke feeling better around 8am.  Woke with vertigo at 10am.  Had rotational vertigo all day, various degrees of spinning speed.  Right side of face/head felt funny. (by this I mean, it feels thick).  Had a migraine.  Took a Maxalt, pain got better, but side of head sensation did not go away.   *could some of the vertigo be migraine related?   Ears feel full, but not as full as they have over the past few weeks.  When I drink I can really feel the coolness in my right ear, it actually feels like water gets in my ear.  there is not water in there if I feel in there, but it feels very strange.  am I just noticing this because I’m hyper aware now?

 


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Not the post I planned….

So I had this post all planned out.  I had been working on it in my head.  I even had a few little illustrations to go with it.  Neat huh?

I really wanted to talk about what has been happening to me over the past few months.  All the stuff that has been going on…Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually.

I thought I could get it out.   I haven’t been able to write much.  To read much.  To do much of anything because of the vertigo.  Finally, I thought I could do it.  I started getting it together.   but that’s not how things happened…..

I started getting ready for bed night before last.  I had had a strange day.  I hadn’t had vertigo, but my ears felt off.  (if you have Meniere’s you can know what that means….or it could means something different for me….what they were doing, well, they felt very full, and my hearing was weird – best word I have – I thought that would stop when I lost my hearing and now hear through cochlear implants, but no, my hearing still gets wonky, unless of course I turn them off, then I just hear the increased tinnitus….oh yeah, I didn’t mention that, I also had increased tinnitus.)  I also had this weird fainting type of spell.  I didn’t faint, but I felt like I was going to, like I was hit by a tranquilizer gun.  It was strange.  I had to fight hard not to just pass out.  I could have gone to sleep, I guess, but it was too scary of a feeling, like if I went to sleep I might now wake up.  This has happened a few times lately, I have blamed the steroids, they can make your blood sugar drop, so I eat something and feel better.  This time was a bit worse, as it came on very suddenly, and I was hard pressed to even move……so….Stuart checked my blood sugar.  I’d just eaten a banana, my blood sugar should not have been low.  My blood sugar was indeed not low.  It was on the higher side of normal…hmmm.  Not that strange since I just had that very ripe banana, but strange since I felt like I was fainting from low blood sugar???  what on earth?   Well I ate some protein anyway, and maybe it was the placebo effect, maybe the spell was just ending, whatever…I started to feel better.   But I still felt off…and I admit, I ate more, I ate too much probably.  But I felt better.

A little while later I went to get ready for bed.  I was brushing my teeth and looking in the mirror and thought…why am I moving?  Then I feel it and think…”oh shit.”  Yep, vertigo.  No warning, no strange feeling, nothing….I was just moving….what the?

It was slow so I rushed to go to pee real fast but had to have Stuart help me to bed.  (I always try to pee really fast before it gets bad because I always have to go when it happens.  It is horrible lying there about to bust to pee and can’t move because of vertigo, but it happens every time!  And if I vomit, I will pee too, complete loss of control.  So rush to pee, if I can…..so strange how things have changed for me with this…I never would have considered trying to run to the bathroom when this started a just a year ago, now, well….things have changed….)

I got my meds in me and it looked like this wold be a short trip.  WRONG!  It was a long and bad.   Over 4 hours….slow, fast, start to sleep – wake spinning fast, terrified – have to go to the bathroom again!  can’t get up….bedpan, humiliation, back – pain! – ….FAST SPINNING – help….slow…..fast…..sick…sick….help….tired….guilt….sorry…..sleep….AHHH!…..slow….sleep…AHHH!……….

Now what?

I was supposed to be going down to 1 steroid a day the next day.  Yesterday.  I did.  I felt bad all day yesterday.  I hoped it was just that hangover feel from the night before.  Then..Last night.  vertigo.  just a little, all night, I just kept waking with the bed moving.  I handled it.

This morning I woke….AHHH! FULL FAST SPIN!   Stuart’s at work, and I have to GO TO THE BATHROOM!  and I do not mean just for my morning pee.   Oh hell.   Whoosh!  Whoosh!  Whoosh!  I can’t move.  Which world do I try to step in to?  They are moving so fast.  Whoosh!  Whoosh!  Whoosh!  Oh I am so sick.  More meds.  sick.  I have to GO!

I grab my phone….text….I can’t see the key board, it’s all a blur…WHOOSH!   I type, “Spinning”  I think…and hit send to Stuart.   I don’t want to bother him, I want to be able to do this alone.  But how?  I know other people do.  How do they do it?  How do they go to the bathroom?  How do they survive without killing themselves (accidentally or on purpose?)   Since this has gotten so bad, I have always had Stuart to help me.  I’ve only had to deal with an attack a very few times alone.  That was so long ago.  It was so hard.  I don’t know how to not ask for that help from him.  How do I do this alone?

Soon I got a text back.   I don’t know what it said…..I texted….”help”  hit send.

Then I called on voice.  I only have to hit one button.  I did not have my cochlear implant’s on, so I could not hear anything.  I saw the little numbers start counting, I don’t know if he picked up, I just started talking.   “I’m not hurt, I have to go to the bathroom.  I need help for that.  I’m not hurt.  please just come help me to the bathroom.  I’m not hurt.  can’t get to the bathroom, really have to go…..”  then said I hoped he heard me and hung up.  I really wanted him to know I wasn’t lying there hurt, but I needed a little help….then I waited….

and waited.   and held on as hard as I could.  I knew I would soon have to try to crawl to the bathroom…..but then what?  I wouldn’t be able to get up on the toilet…..what was I going to do?   I kept trying to think.  the bedpan was in the bathroom.  Ugh! The trashcan?  maybe.   I’m going to kill my back even more.  “I have to GO!  I’m going to soil myself soon.”   (I really think I may have ended up soiling myself before I would have made the decision what to do.  My body wasn’t going to wait much longer.)  Then Kiki jumped up and ran out of the room…..”Yes, Stuart is here.  Whew….”

So I was saved the humiliation of soiling myself, or the possibility of injuring my back more from trying to get to the bathroom by myself…..or injuring myself any number of other ways.  *sigh*

The vertigo won’t go away.   It slows way down….right now I feel like I’m on a boat with the constant rocking, and if I move, it gets MUCH worse.  I will have full blown spins on and off.

I had an appointment scheduled at Duke tomorrow with my ear doc to get his opinion about all of this, now I can’t ride in the car for that long.  We rescheduled it for…I think Stuart said a week or so out.  I have increased the steroids and am hoping I can get this under control enough by then so I can ride in the car to get there.    What can he do?   I have no idea.   What is causing this?  I have no idea.  I thought I had an idea, but now, nope.   Where do I go from here?   if my trip to Duke comes up with nothing….I don’t know.   One step at a time.

I can’t control what happens in the future, but that doesn’t mean I can just sit around and not do anything.  I have to consider Stuart’s job.  His boss has been so very understanding, but this is above and beyond what we ever thought he would have to be doing.  First I injure my back and now this?   I’m afraid he is being understanding on the outside and not so much on the inside?  Stuart is getting his work done.  He works the hours, just often not normal hours.  Today he is now working at home.   He is going to talk to his boss again about this to ease my mind.  He likes this job, I do not want to jeopardize it because of me.  But I do not know how to take care of me during the attacks by myself.  If they are short, fine.  But when I can’t walk all day long because of it?  How do I go to the bathroom?  Get water?  food?  We can’t afford to get me a helper, and who would know when I’d need one?  (I’m spouting off out loud here, I’m not looking for answers…..just where my mind is right now.)

The guilt about this eats me up.  It is crazy to feel so guilty about being sick.  I didn’t do it.  I have no control over it.  Yet, this is the one thing I find the hardest to deal with….guilt.   I am so very sorry to be such a burden.  At times I will feel like I am past this, but then things like this happen and how can I not feel like a burden.  How can I not feel guilty?  How can I not feel that I am causing so much trouble for my husband?   Believe me I could give a list here of a lot of things that need to be done, that he needs for himself…..ect…..that are neglected because of me….because I’m sick.   Guilt much??   I’m working on being much more gentle with myself, non judgmental….I’m better than I used to be, but really, I don’t know if I’ll ever get rid of all of the guilt.  It’s a work in progress.  I can say it is much better than it used to be.  I don’t hate myself, and I don’t think of myself as a complete failure.  Those used to be huge thoughts that ran through my mind.  Those are thoughts that I hear from many people who are chronically ill and have lost so much of their independence.  That’s a sad thing isn’t it?   Ah…things I’ve been thinking about…..I’m doing really well with much of this stuff.  I really do like me.  I try my best to be a good person and I think that’s pretty darn important.  It’s just that my body often needs help, and I feel guilty about that.  Perhaps, if my husband had help it would be easier.  …..eh…..going in circles there aren’t I?

No…this isn’t the post I planned to write.   It isn’t well thought out.  It isn’t illustrated.  It doesn’t give a good account of what has happened.  It’s just me.  Telling you a little bit how it is now.  In this world of mine.   would I change things in my world today.   yeah, can’t say I wouldn’t.   Do I still love my life….most of it yeah.  This vertigo stuff can hit the highway though…..but I will accept it.  I have to.

This is just how things are right now.  Just right now.  they were different a moment ago…they will be different in a moment.

I’m actually much calmer about things and I’m dealing mentally with things better….yeah I know it doesn’t sound like it….but really I am (probably won’t be when the steroids start kicking in full force again, but hey, at least I’ll know it is the steroids, right?  this last round made me a bit crazy….I do not know what if feels like for a “normal” person to be on a high dose of steroids, but it makes me feel like my bipolar medications aren’t working, however, you sit there and think….is it the steroids or do I really feel like this?  ugh!)

It has taken me all day to write this.

I hope it makes some sense.

I’m going to try to write more often.  I need to keep up with what is happening to me.  So these posts coming up may be up and down or start to sound the same or something….but I really need to just write about what I am going through….

hope you don’t mind….

I might just need someone to listen.

 


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Thanksgiving often forgets those without……

THANKFULI love the sentiment behind Thanksgiving.  Take the time to be thankful for what you have.

Then I look around.  Is that really what I see?  There is so much talk of spending time with family and friends and eating and …and…and  Well what is a person to do who has no one, or who has very little?  I have very strained family relations.  I am never invited to any family function.  This can be very hard.  Some years it hurts more than others.  This year I became very melancholy about family, I’m sure it is because I have been so sick and the steroids have been turning up my emotions a bit, but seeing all the stress on how we should be with family and how things “should be” started to make me feel even sadder about it all.  (Don’t worry, all is good with me.)  If that could happen to me imagine what it could do to someone who is really depressed?  Someone who has no one?

I remember those times.  I have spent Thanksgiving and Christmas, alone.  On occasion I was invited to friend’s for dinner, sometimes they were fun, other times they were miserable.  If you reach out to someone and invite them over for a holiday meal, please try to include them in your festivities, not just feed them.  I have never been more miserable than when I went to a holiday meal and felt I was a charity case.  Sitting in a corner alone watching people have fun is worse than sitting alone by yourself knowing people somewhere out there are having fun.   I’m not saying, don’t reach out and invite someone over….please do!  But include them in your festivities.  Do not have family gift exchange in front of someone who is alone for the holidays.  Do not do your yearly family traditional …. whatever….and not include this person.  Do something that includes this person.  Make them feel welcome and special.  Make them feel you are Thankful they are there.  If you have a special family tradition that you cannot include this person in, then invite them to come later, or have the tradition after they leave, or find a way to somehow include them.  Some people may not have a hard time with this kind of thing, but I did. It was torture to see a happy family doing things that a family does knowing my family didn’t want me with them.  That is not to say I was not grateful to everyone who had me over for a holiday meal, I was.  I have been to some homes where I didn’t want to leave I felt so welcome and included.  (little hint, if you have someone over….get them involved.  Treat them the same as you would anyone else.  I loved it when I was put to work, or was told to help with the kids, was taken aside by grandma and told story after story….when I was treated like family, that was the best.)

It’s also that time of year when I see so much food everywhere!  I hear people talking of family and friends and togetherness and FOOD!

I’m amazed at how much food is wasted in this country, yet so many people go hungry.  There is no reason for anyone in this country to go to bed hungry.  There are so many things wrong with this I just don’t know where I would begin to talk about it here.  Not today.

Today I want to just say, when you are planning your Thanksgiving meal, think about the people who don’t have one.  When you go to the grocery store and you see that box that at the entrance where you can donate to the local food bank, please put something in there.  People are using the food bank more and more these days.  The place to go when you are in dire need is overwhelmed with people in need.  Every time you go to the store, please put something in that box.  If you can donate to the food bank, even better, then they can buy fresh food to give out.  This is very important, even when the needy are getting something to eat it is often so far below nutritional standards they are so malnourished they are getting sick and often still starving.  Most of the hungry are children and elderly.  1 in 5 people in the United States are hungry.   When you are wearing your elastic pants this Thanksgiving so you can eat too much, remember there are people who don’t have enough….some who don’t have any.   Remember, they won’t have enough the next day either, so continue to give. Project Sunlight is a great place to get ideas on more ways you can help.  At Feeding America you can find more about hunger in America and you can find your local food bank and see what they are doing in your area.

Remember, after Thanksgiving people will still need food.  We often give more to make sure people have this wonderful meal on this day, but then they go hungry again a few days later.  This year won’t you say thank you for your bounty by sharing a little throughout the year.
no one poor

Now…for a few things I’m very thankful for this year….

  • I cannot say how thankful I am for my husband, without whom I do not know how I would manage to navigate this world.
  • After 15 months without a job, my husband found work.  Not just a job, but one he enjoys!
  • this moment is good.  (it has been quite a ride of ups and downs this past month, the past 2 days have been better…one moment at a time…accept and make the most of it.)
  • I had nearly 5 months of feeling so much better than I thought was possible.
  • for learning more and more about living more mindful
  • for learning to be less judgmental of myself and others.
  • for having a roof over my head, heat when it is cold, food when I am hungry, water when I am thirsty…
  • for feeling safe.
  • for having at least one friend I say anything to and know it will be OK.
  • for a very special email I received the other night that helped more than the sender could ever possibly know.
  • for learning how to forgive, and knowing that forgetting isn’t as easy.
  • for remembering again and again….I can do this….one moment at a time.

There is so much more I can’t even think right now….actually…I can’t really think right now.  Unfortunately, I’m getting a bad headache…ah the joys of weather change.


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What is wrong with me??

image by w. holcombe

image by w. holcombe

What is wrong with me?   This is the question I kept asking over the past couple of weeks.  Heck I’ve been asking this question a lot over the past couple of months, I just keep seem to be falling apart.  But I don’t think that way….or I try not to.  I accept things as they come.  I just roll with the punches.  Yeah.  Well that isn’t how it has been going.  I’ve been trying.  But I’m not succeeding right now.

It has just been too much.  This post is about the latest….

I mentioned a little in the beginning of my last post: VERTIGO…MAJOR!

It started the beginning of this month.  I would just suddenly have this whoosh feeling and I’d start to spin.  It just felt different.  I can’t explain it.  Maybe it was different because I had been feeling so off for so long.  I had been having the severe disequilibrium for so long (feeling like I’m on a boat all the time) and not being able to focus on one spot without it moving.  Maybe?  Really, who knows.  But these attacks…they are different.  The start, it just feels like I moved my head too fast, but I didn’t move…and suddenly I’m in full spin.

One night I had a drop attack, but it felt different from any I’ve had before, and I haven’t had one in a long time.  We were watching Jeopardy, and suddenly I felt like an entity had just come up and partially entered my body and pushed me over on the couch and I gasped…one of those screams where you suck in all your breath…I just fell over on the couch and was in full-blown vertigo.  If I had been standing, I would have hit the floor hard!  It scared me so much.  Not just the falling, but that feeling before hand, I literally felt like there was something trying to enter my body and pushed me over.  It scares me just thinking about it.

When it started I had just had a day completely vertigo free.  I could focus on a spot without it moving, the boat stopped.  Relief.

What happened for that day?  What happened after that day?  These are questions my mind likes to ask but no one can answer, I try hard to stop the loop of questions, but it’s hard.  I’m an inquisitive person.  I’ve always been that way, I want to know how things work, I loved science and proving theories.  Telling me that no one knows something about a scientific problem is hard for me.  I keep thinking I’ve accepted that.  And I have.  I have.  But I don’t want to.  I want it to change.  I want to know what is happening to me.  What changed?  And more than that, I want for people to stop asking me that question.  It is hard enough for me to not have the answer for myself, but when someone else ask it, it cuts me to the bone.  I want to just scream….I DON’T KNOW!  Please NEVER say to a chronically ill person, “Why can’t they do anything?”  of  “I think you need to find a new doctor.”   You have no idea how many doctors I have been to and still continue to consider.  However, this is my life.  It is my decision how I get treated.  You do not know what it is like to live with this, and you have no idea what the treatments are….do not tell me what I should do.   (unless of course you have this disease then you can talk to me and if you over step your bounds I will feel I can tell you to so.  That’s different, we are going through the same crap…excuse my colorful language.)  However, normal people do not understand.  Heck, some people who have this don’t understand, it’s different for different people.

So….off that soap box and pity party….

I went to the doctor on Wednesday.  Yes the doctor here in Charlotte.  He really doesn’t listen.  I will not go back to see him.  I am glad I will be able to see the audiologist here when I can’t get to Duke, but I will have to find a different doctor.   (and I don’t feel right going to the audiologist since they don’t get paid, I’ll only go there if I absolutely have to.)    They do have a lot of doctor’s in that practice, however he is supposed to be the “head guy” who knows about Meniere’s.  I will be doing some research, but if he is the head guy…I am up a creek.  Let me tell you about my latest visit.

I did get an appointment rather quickly, that was nice.  We got to the office and I had to be taken in by wheelchair.  They thought I was in a wheelchair because I had back surgery??  I never said I was having back surgery.  I did tell them I had a herniated disc and was having physical therapy, therefore I wouldn’t be able to do vestibular therapy until I got that straight. (Where did this information come from?)    He asked me about these attacks, how long they have been happening and what they were like.  I told him …bad attacks lasting 30 mins to over 3 hours, 3 to 6+ times a day, coming on with no warning.  He asked me to describe the attacks.  I looked at him and said.  “You know what a Meniere’s attack is like.”  Yes, I was a bit snarky.  I had been through telling him what my attacks were like the last time I was there. I have never had to tell my last doctor what my attacks are like every time I go in there.  He said “Yes, but I want to know what your attacks are like.”  I started to tell him, I told you last time, but I didn’t.  I said, “severe rotational vertigo, severe tinnitus, want to die!”   “Yes, that’s normal”  DUH!   Stuart them tells him how much my eyes have been vibrating with these attacks.  I got him to really look this time, and he really noticed, he as surprised he hadn’t seen it so much before.  My eyes really dilate, and I have nystagmus really bad during an attack.  I need light or I get really sick, but lights also hurt because my eyes are so dilated.  My eyes hurt so much after just a few minutes, after hours…well dang!  So the lights are normally dim and my face is in a bucket throwing up, of course my darling husband doesn’t normally see my eyes vibrating.  Poor thing felt guilty he hadn’t really noticed as much before.  I was having him look because something with Meniere’s one eye will vibrate more than the other telling you which ear is causing the attack…not all the time, and not this time…darn.

Back to the visit.  The doctor then looked in my ears and does this thing where he makes me follow his finger with my eyes….he moves his finger really fast.  I tell him…that makes me sick.  He keeps telling me to look at it.  I look but I will not look fast.  I am not going to throw myself into a spin in his office just to perform his little test.  (I know it is neurological test, I’ve had it many times before, you do not have to do it so fast)  I had already taken 3 or 4 Valium that day because of the attacks I’d already had.  I can tell he gets frustrated with me when I don’t do the test as he wants.  oh well.  He asked what I take for my attacks, I told him, Valium and Phenergan.  He said, well that’s the best.   He asked if I had this happen before.  Yes, in the spring of this year, and explained it had been after I had been on a high dose of steroids for my migraines that tapered off too fast.  My ear doc had to put me on steroids that tapered off slower.  He said, I told me I only have attacks 2-3 times a year.  I said, I only have very severe attacks 2-3 times a year, I have small, and mini attacks almost every day.  He said nothing.  He paid NO attention to that.  He acts like since I don’t have severe attacks like I have had the past couple of weeks all the time then this is not debilitating.  He really heard nothing I said about how this is affecting my life.  He heard nothing about how I can’t focus on things without them moving.  He DOES NOT LISTEN TO ME!  Why?   Later when I got home I was so upset, I talked to Stuart and was in tears, “Did I down play my Meniere’s to him the first time I saw him?  He doesn’t understand what this is doing to me.”  Stuart then told me…that no, he just doesn’t listen, he only hears what he wants to….I digress again…back to the visit….

So he wrote me a prescription for steroids.  Good, that is what I expected.  He told me the dose and I thought…That’s High.  He then said some people get very agitated and have mood swings on these….I told him I do, and it can be pretty severe on a high dose.  He ignored me…”If you have a problem call me”  I just told you I have a problem! Listen to me!  I explained again about how the high dose prescription from my migraine doctor that tapered off too fast made me spin.  He said, “This won’t make you spin, but if you have a problem, call me.”  Hmmm, are you listening to me?

I got the prescription and started it.  The next day I couldn’t stop crying.  I looked that the dosage….and the tapering.  60mg a day for 14 days!  then 40mg for 2 day, 30mg for 2 day, 20 for 2 days, ….you get the idea.  14 days then 2 days each…that’s a pretty fast ramp down!  and 60mg of prednisone for 2 weeks!!  I will be going out of my mind!  It is very hard for me to deal with these emotional swings with my bipolar swings anyway.  It makes me feel like I am having bipolar episode, and it drives me crazy.  I can’t trust my own emotions.  I don’t know if all of my mood swings are from the steroids or if I need to be evaluated for bipolar stuff.   So, I thought….I can’t do this.  I decided to look up my chart on the Duke Patient Portal and see what my prescription was from my doctor there.  It was for prednisone, 10mg tablets, so that was all good, but the dosage was much different.  I’m following his dosage.  He starts out at 40mg for 5 days, then goes to 30 for 5 days….ect.  a much slower taper down, and I know I did fine with it.  I will also be taking half as many pills.

Is this the right thing to do?  Should I be treating myself?  In this case….I don’t really think I’m treating myself.  I don’t like to go against a doctor’s prescription, especially about steroids they can mess you up!  But I know my tolerance to them and I know they do mess me up.  I once swore I would never take them again….but sometimes you have to do something that you don’t want to do to survive.   I feel like since I couldn’t go to Duke to see my doctor, I’m doing the next best thing.  We did call him and he said he felt steroids would help again, but didn’t feel he could prescribe them without seeing me.  (My point…as I say in my disclaimer, I am not giving medical advise.  I do not advise anyone to ignore what their doctor tells them.  This is just my story.)

Good news.  The steroids are helping.  I’m on day 3 now.  The first day I had a mini attack and a few hours feeling like I was VERY drunk, I was more sick to my stomach than I was during most of my attacks, and that is saying a lot!  Unfortunately, I had run out of what I had been using to really control my nausea, so I was really sick that night.  Yesterday, I didn’t have an attack.  I did have that drunk feeling again last night right when I was getting tired, same as the night before, thankfully it didn’t get as bad or last as long.  So it looks like things are getting better day by day.  Tonight, I am going to force myself to go to bed and to sleep as soon as I feel tired…maybe that will stop that drunk feeling.

that is the story of my last couple of weeks.

It has been hard.

The last few months have been hard.  Physically and Mentally.  It has also been hard because the doctors I trust are 300 miles away.  I’d also like to see my therapist, this has been a lot to process, and I’d like to have her to help me through this with the mood swings.  I moved here feeling so much better, with so much hope, so much promise.  I thought I was ready to handle anything life through at me.  I was wrong.  I’m still trying hard to live in the now.  I’m trying to accept things as they are, and accept my feelings … nonjudgmentally.  that is a BIG thing.  I may be having a really rough time, and I may not be able to accept life as it is without wishing it to be different, but that’s alright.  I’m just not there yet.  Right now I’m hurting, and I need to be here for a little while, and stop judging that.  I’m still hopeful and good and happy and loving….it is just that the hurt is in front of it right now.  And I’m not going to judge that.  I’m just going to wait until it goes away, and since I accept that is here, and a part of me, the faster it is lifting and the other parts of me are shining through.

Deep Breath.

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