Ending a Horrible Year the Best Way

Image from pexels

I’m still pinching myself, I just can’t believe how much has changed recently, and all for the better. Wow…just Wow.

Our new home

I’ll start with the best news first, we close on our house on the 19th and we move in on the 20th! Yes, we will be in our new home before Christmas! I’m so excited I could squeal! and I probably have! hahaha We found the cutest house in the nicest neighborhood, I just adore it. It’s not exactly what we were looking for, but I just fell in love as soon as we walked inside. The neighborhood is focused on sustainability. The houses are all energy efficient, the neighborhood has a lot of walking and bike trails, it has it’s own coffee shop, and a few other little shops. It has the greenest school in the country that also ranks very high academically. It’s beautiful. The house has enough room for us and Dad, without being too big, and it has a little casita (a detached guest suite) in the back that’s going to be my studio. And I’m going to plant a lemon tree right outside my kitchen window. Perfect.

I’m able to enjoy all of that because my antidepressant is working better. I still haven’t gotten the approval for the ketamine, but we increased the dose of the Fetzima and it is helping more, I still feel like I have this black cloud over me, but it isn’t dropping buckets of rain and hail on me all the time. I can see the sun, maybe even a rainbow.

I’ve also had a few migraine free days. Yes! I really said that! The days aren’t consecutive, but I have had one here and there. I normally do not wake up with a migraine now, I get them in the afternoon usually. I’m not having as many severe migraines. They are normally moderate in intensity, when they are severe the severe stage doesn’t last as long. For example, I might have a migraine that last 9 hours, 2 of them will be severe. I did have a severe day one day this week, so it still happens, just not like it was. It looks like the Aimovig is doing something. Yay!!

The nerve block I got in my neck started helping, not completely, but I have been waking up most days without my arm being asleep or aching terribly. Every once in a while it will happen, but most of the time nope, it’s good. My follow up appointment was rescheduled because my doctor was sick, so I don’t know what the next plan is, I’ll find that out soon.

I had planned to post much more often but I’ve been so busy with all of the house stuff, doctor appointments, holiday stuff….I am so busy! I will try to post more soon, but I can’t promise anything, the next few weeks are going to be crazy busy! I have a lot of post written in my head, I just need to type them up.

Not everything in my life is perfect, but I’m feeling so much better I can’t think of a better way to close out a really crappy year and start 2020.

A Midi-Me Update – Injections, Psych meds, Houses…Stress

Photo by Thomas Plets on Pexels.com

A little bit of a catch-up as to what’s going on in my little corner of the world, besides, if I don’t write it down, how will I ever remember?

I got the results from the x-rays of my neck, it basically says I have Degenerative cervical spondylosis (often referred to as degenerative arthritis) with narrowing of C5-C6, retrolisthesis (the posterior or backward slippage of a vertebra) of C5 on C6, and bilateral neural foraminal encroachment (spinal nerve root is compressed on both sides) at this same level more extensive on the left.

I went in on Monday and got my injection. They did the injection between C7 and T1, a little to the right, because my right arm is the one that bothers me the most. When the nurse took me back to the procedure room I told her how nervous I was because of my hearing loss and Stuart couldn’t be back there. Since losing my hearing it’s very hard to have procedures BEHIND me without Stuart there to help me. She reassured me over and over that they would take good care of me. I had her tell me everything they would be doing, and I felt a bit more at ease. The doctor came in, this is the first time I met him, I only saw his assistant before, he asked if I could hear him at all and I tole him Yes, but after I lie down and he is behind me it will be garbled and I will have a very hard time. He seemed to understand. Obviously he didn’t, because it was horrible. He talked with his assistant the entire time, it sounded like just chit-chat but I can’t be sure because I couldn’t understand anything that was being said. I had no idea when he spoke to me. I didn’t know when he was going to stick me, nothing. I was terrified he was telling me to be very still or to move or something and I was not able to understand. When it was over I didn’t even know. I was confused if it was time for me to get up. When I sat up the nurse was there and asked if I was alright and I said, “I do not feel taken care of” and I burst into tears. I explained what happened and she said how sorry she was and that it should not have happened that way. I got myself together and went back to my room to get my IV out and leave. The doctor came out and made sure to catch me before I left and apologized. He was very nice and told me that he talks because it calms him, he was very sorry and it will never happen again. We will make sure we have a better way to communicate. I left feeling much better, and I was proud of myself for speaking up. In the past I would have held it in and gotten out of there as fast as I could and simply not gone back. Now they were educated and I had a much better experience.

Unfortunately, the shot hasn’t worked. I’ve seen no evidence of any change. We will have to try something else. I go back the day before Thanksgiving for a follow up, we’ll discuss the next steps then.

Now for an update on the psych side of things. I still haven’t gotten approval from my insurance company for the ketamine. They came back saying I needed to try TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) first, so my doctor’s office had to send back explaining that I can’t do that because of my cochlear implants. Of course, it takes the insurance company forever to come back with an answer. Geez. On the up side though, the new antidepressant she put me on, Fetzima, is doing some good. I’m not back to my normal self, but I’m not feeling like I’m in the deepest darkest depths of despair either. I saw my psychiatrist on Wednesday and we increased the dosage, I’m hoping it will bring me up a bit more. She told me to watch out for side effects, as it can cause headaches. I asked her, “How would I know?” I was being kind of serious, like, would they be different than this constant thing I have now? or what? But she said, “I guess you wouldn’t.” Well damn. Now how do I know if my migraine is actually getting better but this drug is causing me to have a headache?

We have been constantly looking for houses, trying our best to find just the right house for us before our lease is up. We can move into Stuart’s father’s house, but that means we’ll need to move twice. We thought about renovating the family home, but we don’t really want to live there forever, so we are still searching for a place to call our own. Crossing fingers and toes that a house we saw this week will turn out to be the one. We might just have a very magical Christmas.

Speaking of holidays, is there anything more stressful than trying to organize a holiday meal with people won’t tell you what they will and will not eat until you tell them what you are making and then they just say, “Oh I can’t eat that”, or “The kids won’t eat that”? Ugh! I used to really want to have a family holiday, but boy oh boy is it a pain in the butt. They can’t afford to do much, so we thought we’d do everything, but I couldn’t get anyone to tell me what they would eat. I swear you just can’t please some people. So they are bringing food too, we will have way too much food for 7 people, about half of it, I can’t eat. When we lived in NC we used to have an “orphans” Thanksgiving. We’d have a big meal with a bunch of people who had no where to go for the holiday. It was always so much fun. We’d often play games after dinner and talk for hours. I don’t know anyone like that here, of course, I don’t know many people here.

To make things much less stressful for Thanksgiving I ordered our meal from Wholefoods. I’m adding another vegetable, a desert, and some cookies. That’s all the cooking I’m going to do, and I love baking, so that’s not stressful. I also make my cookies in batches, I simply freeze the dough and cook it later. Also, if I can’t do it, it’s not a big deal, the meal is taken care of, and the other half of the family is bringing a pie, so everything is covered. I find, the trick to surviving the holidays when you are chronically ill is to have all your bases covered in case you can’t do the things you want to get done. Don’t over extend yourself. Rest often and don’t eat too much junk. Try to keep your normal schedule if you can. You might want to increase some of your supplements. I increase my vitamin C, D, and Zinc during the winter.

How do you survive the holidays? Any tips you want to share?

Free ebook version of an Award Winning Cookbook Giveaway! November 12th

Just click on the image to take you to Amazon

I’m sharing this post by my friend over at See Janye Run. I’m so excited about this cookbook giveaway to take place on Tuesday, November 12th,  and thought you might be too! Jayne just told me they started the giveaway a little early so I just got my copy!  Be sure to head over to Amazon and snag a copy before it’s too late! 

All the details are in her post..

https://seejaynerun.com/2019/11/10/november-12th-only-free-award-winning-ebook-cookbook-for-all-us-kindle-readers/comment-page-1/#comment-228

Doctor of Pain

PAIN drawing by W. Holcombe

We have a little joke in our house about how the Pain Clinic sounds like it’s a place where you are going to get pain, a little S&M anyone? It should be called the Pain Relief Clinic don’t you think?

My migraine doctor (a neurologist that specializes in headache disorders) said she was sending me to a pain specialist for my neck pain; you can understand my confusion when I ended up at a Spine and Sports Medicine Center. I’ve been to a sports medicine center before and it was filled with lots of sweaty people doing exercises and recovering from surgery. To say I was a bit wary of this appointment was an understatement.

The confusion ended once I talked to the doctor. This may be called a spine and sports medicine center, but it’s not like any sports medicine center I’ve been to before. Stuart actually said he wondered if they used that name because of the negative connotation association with pain clinics. I think it may also be because they mostly treat people with spine issues. But yeah, this was different.

They took a thorough history, that was very hard for me to go through, I kept breaking down when I was filling out the paperwork as I was realizing just how long I’ve been living in pain.

These are the things, that I know of, that are causing pain to my head, neck, and back area (this does not include pain in other areas). In 1973, at age 10, I broke my right arm and found out I had a bone tumor, that would end up with 5 more breaks, and a major surgery including a bone graft in 1978, leaving me with my right arm shorter than the left and recurring pain. May of 1974 I had my first migraine, two months later I woke with a headache that never went away. In 1991 I fractured my 7th cervical vertebra, and had a severe contusion to the back of my head (I now have arthritis in my neck). In 2016 I had akathesia as a side effect from a medication that has left lasting effects to my back. I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m whining, really I’m not, it’s just the way it is.

After we talked about all my symptoms, the different types of pain, the numbness down my arm… and after we went through all the things I’ve tried to relieve my pain….PT, chiropractic, supplements, Botox, medications, acupuncture, massage….and how little they worked we discussed my next option, injections.

The first injection I’ll be getting is on Monday, it’s a corticosteroid injection to the right and between the C-7 and T-1 vertebra to address the nerves that run down my right arm. Every day I wake up with my right arm in severe pain and it has electrical sensations running down it, and my hand is weak. They decided to address that first. I’m very nervous about getting any steroid injections because of the risk of Avascular Necrosis. I had AVN in my left hip causing me to get a hip replacement, they believe it was caused from steroids. You can read more about that here. She said that most of the injections in the future would not be steroids, so hopefully this won’t do any harm. But what choice do I have? My quality of life is greatly diminished right now.

She sent me home with a prescription for a muscle relaxant and orders for an x-ray. Now I’m just waiting for Monday. I’m slightly nervous about this only because I was asked if I wanted sedation. Why would someone need sedation for this? They give you a local before the main injection. I’ve had major injections in my hips, and I’ve had lumbar punctures and patches in my spinal cord, I was never offered sedation for those. Am I wrong about how bad this is going to be? I had an injection for pain in my neck when I fractured it many years ago, I didn’t have sedation then. I was given something to calm me and it made things a little hard actually because I couldn’t stop laughing.

Have any of you had these kind of injections? What was your experience?

First Meeting

I met someone yesterday who touched my heart, she cleaned my house, but that isn’t what made her special.

Since I’ve been having this flare I haven’t been able to keep up with the house cleaning so we decided to have someone come in to help out. I was looking on the Nextdoor site and saw where a neighbor was asking about a cleaner for her home, several people answered her but one person’s comment struck me more than the rest so I messaged her and asked if she’d be interested in helping us out. Lucky for us, she said yes. That’s how we met Lennie.

After several texts back and forth we set up a date and she came over yesterday. When she came to the door I felt I would like her instantly, and within the first 5 minutes I knew I was right. Her smile lights up her face and she is genuinely warm and friendly. We have a sign in our front yard, I posted a picture of it on here before, it says things like “Love is Love”, “No Human Is Illegal”, “Science Is Real”…. This sign means a lot to me. It says a lot about what I believe in, and who I am. When Lennie came in she mentioned how much she loved our sign, she said she saw it and thought “These are mine kind of people.” I gave her a high five.

We chatted some as she went about her business. She knew from our messages about some of my health issues, but I didn’t know she had a few. Her illness was not supposed to be chronic, but it did have some long term complications. She really understands going through a long ordeal before being diagnosed.

The main thing I really wanted to write about was how she reacted to my hearing loss. When she found out I lost my hearing just a few years ago she first asked the same thing everyone else does, “Do you know sign language?” I wonder why that’s the first thing people ask? You know when you are not immersed in a language it’s hard to become fluent in it, especially at my age. Taking a class when you are fighting vertigo and migraines on a daily basis is almost impossible. Absorbing a foreign language while dealing with those? Well I haven’t been able to do it. But anyway, after we discussed all that, I promise I didn’t say anything rude, she asked me something no one else ever has: “Has losing your hearing been difficult?”

My first instinct was to say “No”, and just brush it off. I started to say that I thought it was more difficult for Stuart, but then I stopped. I looked at her and felt tears well up in my eyes, “Yes, yes, it has been very difficult.”

I was taken aback by the fact that she asked, and genuinely seemed to care. No one has ever asked me that before. I’ve never gotten the impression that anyone has felt that it has been very difficult. I think some people see that I have some challenges, but I don’t think they understand how difficult it is, and I think it would make them uncomfortable if they knew. I think a lot of people think my cochlear implants “fixed” my hearing loss, and others think I’m really good at handling it. Truth of the matter is, it’s extremely difficult, my CIs are far from perfect, and I think I handle it pretty well but that doesn’t mean I always understand what the heck you’re saying or that it’s any less difficult.

Meeting Lennie made me realize that I can still make connections with people in the “real world”. It may still be difficult to nurture a friendship when I can’t drive and may often have to cancel things and I can’t hear in many situations…but Lennie made me want to try.

You never know what kind of mark you may leave on a person, try to make that mark a good one. Look what Lennie has done for me.

(I will try to post about some of the difficulties I have dealing with hearing loss soon.)

Ketamine and Esketamine — Repost from Experiments in Happiness

In the upcoming weeks, as soon as my insurance approves it, I will be receiving Spravato (esketamine nasal spray) for depression. I wanted to put together a post explaining what it is all about it, then I found this post and thought I couldn’t possibly do a better job. So I hope you don’t mind if I share this with you. Please note that this covers all forms of ketamine, if you want to just read the “How Effective Is It” statistics surrounding what I will be receiving read sections 3 and 4. I got so much information from tbe post started to not even watch the video attached to it, but then I noticed that it is captioned so I went ahead and watched it and it is very interesting. It does get a little in depth in the science part of things, so if you are interested in that kind of thing, it’s worth it, but if that bores you, you might want to skip it.

Do you have any experience with ketamine? Know anyone who has? Do you have or know anyone who has, medication resistant depression? Or like me, the meds stopped working or there are just way too many bad side effects? I’d love to know other’s experiences.

Ketamine and Esketamine

Drug Class: NMDA Antagonist

How it works: Blocks a channel for a chemical in the brain called NMDA. This, in turn, increases the effects of another channel for a chemical called AMPA. This leads to increased effects of BDNF and mTOR. The increased effects of BDNF and mTOR helps the brain to rapidly form new […] Ketamine and Esketamine — Experiments in Happiness

I don’t want to talk about it.

Image by TPHeinz from Pixabay

I have found myself dreading coming to my blog. I don’t want to talk about me, but I have always kept this blog open and honest and I don’t want to stop that. As I look back at the many years I’ve been writing here, I’ve been up and down and up and down and up and down….have I really made any progress? How do we measure progress? I think that’s the real question, and not one I’m going to answer today.

I have a lot going on right now and I simply don’t feel like talking. Ummm, that may not be true, I just don’t want to feel worse when I do. I’ve reached out and been ignored…not sure what happened there. I spilled my guts to someone who told me I could always talk to them, when I finished they said, “WOW. You have a lot going on. Praying you get some relief very soon. Love you bunches.” and that was the end of the conversation. I cried for most of the day after that. That is what happens when you try to talk to someone who does not have chronic or mental illness. She may love me, but she has no clue. And it makes me VERY wary to talk to anyone unless they are my peeps. But I don’t have many peeps and I don’t want to wear out the few I have. I do have a very good friend who hears almost everything and she is amazing, but she has her own crap going on and I can’t just keep unloading on her all the time. Of course, Stuart’s here, and he has never made me feel like I can’t talk to him, or made me feel bad about how I feel, but he needs to get away from it sometimes and he thankfully he doesn’t have a chronic illness. Support groups do not work for me, those people get on my nerves. I have a therapist, but let’s face it, one hour a week is not always enough, and sometimes you don’t get that. (like when I’m so sick I can’t go, and soon she’s going to Thailand for 3 weeks…Ahhh! I am happy for her, she’s never done anything like this before. What a dream trip.) Oh, dang I’ve completely lost my train of thought. So anyway…I don’t want to talk, or maybe I don’t trust talking, I don’t think it’s doing much good, and I feel like I’m losing the few friends I have because of it. I have some new treatments coming up and as that happens I’ll post about them. I would love to know more about other people’s experiences with these treatments, so I’ll be sure to post mine. (I just started Aimovig for my migraines, I’m going to be trying ketamine (esketamine nasal spray) as soon as my insurance approves it for my depression, and I’m going to be going to a pain clinic for my neck pain caused by my migraines…or the neck pain contributing to my migraines…anyway…pain.) So there will be posts.

I’ve decided to try to start putting out more posts, but they will be posts that are about my chronic illnesses and not so much about just me. I will probably put in there how it relates to me personally. But I have soooo much going on right now there may not be a lot of posts coming out, but I’m going to give it the old college try. (where did that saying come from?)

Well, that’s what’s on my mind today. Plus a whole heck of a lot more, but most of that is a mess!

Before I go, I’d like for all of you to know that if you ever need someone to talk to I’ll listen. Well, not with my ears, but I’ll text, message, email…. There is a contact form right here on my blog just go up to the top and you’ll see the “About Me /Contact Me” tab…you can contact me right there and it will email me. Now, if you are someone who wants me to sell something on my blog, or do some strange post, or something like that…don’t waste your time. I’m really not into those things. But if you need a to talk, I’m here for you.

My Brain Screams

manipulated detail photo of saguaro catus by wendy holcombe

For over a year now I’ve been hit with one thing after another. Last Fall my bipolar medication stopped working and I basically had a psychotic break with the mania/rage going way out of control and battling a lot of medication side effects before we finally got that under control. Then I had a severe UTI that caused hydronephrosis in both kidneys, I had a cyst removed from my scalp that got horribly infected and I had a reaction to the antibiotics. In April the severe intractable migraine started and has continually gotten worse; over the last couple of months I’ve been having an escalation of cluster headaches, at least one a week. and now my antidepressants have stopped working. All this while we have been looking for a house, in the worse housing market I have ever seen, and we have to move from our rental by the end of November.

It is any wonder my brain has decided to check out?

In 2016 I started having seizures during an extremely stressful time of my life. It was determined they were psychogenic non-epileptic seizures. You can read more about that in this post: Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures What Are They? Since that time I haven’t had many, only a few and only in times of great pain (like when I was in the ER for my migraine) or extreme stress (like after a vertigo attack that happened during the mania). Lately they have been coming regularly. It is increasing my pain levels dramatically. When I have a seizure it looks like a grand mal seizure. It starts with my right hand twitching, then the arm goes, and the whole right side twitches and curves back, my head draws back, my muscles are all tight and spasming. It is very painful, and my neck and shoulder on the right side still hurt so much. I feel tingly on that side, and I just feel so off. During the seizure I am mostly aware, but I can’t do anything. Sometimes I’m not as aware, sometimes I’m very confused when it’s over. I always cry when it’s over. I feel so exposed, vulnerable, scared, and unsafe.

Just a year ago I was doing so much better I bought a car. I was driving, cooking, shopping, painting, swimming…. I don’t understand what happened. I’m not asking “Why me?” or anything like that, I’m simply confused. I know we made a major move, but I was doing pretty good for the first few months we were here, so I really don’t think it was the stress of moving. But I guess one stress could possibly have snow balled into a bigger stress… into a bigger stress… into more illness…but who really knows. All this could have happened no matter what. It could have happened independently, but it just happened to happen one right after another I suppose.

Where does it leave me now?

Migraines – I’m still starting Aimovig on the 28th for my migraines, but I won’t know if it’s working for 3 months. I just finished a round of steroids hoping to get a break from the pain, it did lower the pain level, but they made me so sick I couldn’t enjoy it. (Oh boy was I sick, Meniere’s and steroids do not mesh well together, at least not with me). I may go to the pain clinic to get injections in my neck, I haven’t decided about that yet. Just a little scared about that one. Oh, the Migranal nasal spray is working as a rescue medication, thankfully. It doesn’t completely take it away, but it comes close, so I am having a little bit of relief twice a week. More than I was getting, but as I said, it doesn’t take it all away, it takes it from a 10 to a 7 or maybe, if I’m lucky a 6. Ah….a 6…but that is a rarity.

Mental Health – I started a new antidepressant, Trintellix, on Tuesday. I’m to try it for 2 weeks and if it doesn’t work we’re going to try Ketamine. I’ve tried everything else. This should be interesting. I’m working with both my psychiatrist and my psychologist about my seizures. I need to get my pain and stress under control. One step at a time. Just one moment at a time.

Home life – We’ll be moving into one of Stuart’s dad’s houses the beginning of November. The house Stuart grew up in. We aren’t sure if we’ll continue to look for a house to buy, or if we’ll stay there and renovate his house. The house is a bit further out than we planned to live, so we’re going to live there for a while to see how we like it. Kinda cool that we can do that. I’ve just been freaking out a little about not having a home, and needing to settle down. I’ve been feeling so lost and temporary ever since we moved from our house, six years ago, but it’s been so much worse since we moved here. When we moved here we basically got rid of everything. We have 2 chairs in our living room, and one is very uncomfortable. We have no dining room furniture. Our home is very sparse. We did not plan on renting for this long. It’s just so hard on me. This has just been so hard. I need stability. I NEED IT.

Right now I feel very alone, vulnerable, and scared. The only place I feel safe is in my husband’s arms. He literally saves my life every day. I told him that if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here any more. So much pain, both physically and mentally…it’s just so much. And my amazing husband told me that he loves me so much, he never wants to lose me, but it also makes him feel guilty because he knows how much I’m suffering. I don’t know how I ended up with such an amazing man. He’ll never know how much it helps me to know he hears me.

I have so much, a wonderful husband, a roof over my head, nice clothes, good food, access to quality health care, support…. and yet I’m so unhappy. I’m so very sad. It hurts so much. My thoughts are consumed with pain. I find no enjoyment in anything. A friend posted a question on her blog asking if you found out you were going to die what would you regret not doing more of….and I could not answer that question. First I thought, not helping others more, getting more involved…. But then I tried to think of something I enjoyed that I would wish I had done more of, and I had nothing. There are things I used to love to do, but now…..not so much. My art…nope. Cooking…too much work. Taking pictures…can’t see it. I can think of nothing. All I do is sit and color by number. And that’s not for enjoyment, it’s to take my mind off of the pain…the migraine, the chronic daily headache, the back pain, the neck pain, the hip pain, the bladder pain, the pelvic pain…so much pain every day.

life is suffering. life is pain. life is ever changing. life is impermanence.

Catching Up After An Unintentional Time Out

A monsoon storm, the first significant one of the season, crashes a few bolts down just before the gates opened for the Annual Bloom Night at Tohono Chul Park, July 13, 2019, Tucson, AZ. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

After my last post about shame I didn’t mean to be away so long. That post caused a lot of reactions, some people seemed to understand my feelings of shame, others got very worried about me. First I want to apologize for not answering every comment, I have been going through an awful time with my migraines and simply haven’t been able to look at the computer much, and I will admit it has put me in a depressed funk, I’m so sorry if I worried anyone. The shame I feel is not overwhelming, I know I made it seem that way in the post, but I promise it’s not all consuming. It is not uncommon for people who have chronic pain or illness to have feelings of shame mixed in with feelings of guilt, I wanted people to know if they do, they aren’t alone. And I wanted people to know, I’d been feeling it and didn’t even realize that’s what it was. Now that I realize it, it’s easier to notice it, and to fight it. I understand that I have no reason to feel ashamed, I also understand that I have no reason to feel guilty, but those feelings still come. They are less now, but they still come.

Something happened this past week that I’d like to share. I’ve needed to cancel plans with our realtor a couple of times because of my migraines, and when we saw him he said, “Hi sickie! Feeling better?” At first I felt shame, then I was angry, very angry, and I stayed angry for days. I told Stuart if he wasn’t our landlord and a good friend of Stuart’s father he would no longer be our realtor. Then I decided he needed to be educated that this is not an acceptable thing to say to a person with chronic illness, or anyone for that matter. I was going to say something to him, but my advocate of a husband beat me to it. Stuart said that he was very apologetic and said that he doesn’t know why he said such a thing, it’s not something he would normally say. He doesn’t know that I know Stuart talked to him, and he hasn’t said anything to me. I’m simply proud that I didn’t just sit back and accept being shamed. This happens to us way too often and we mostly just shrug it off, I think we need to speak up more often and educate people as to how we should be treated. This is one way I will fight my feelings of shame.

Now, a really quick update. Since July 26th, my last visit to my migraine doctor, I’ve had 2 migraine free days, 2 days with moderate migraine pain (5-7), and every other day I had severe migraine pain (8-10), along with many other symptoms, such as nausea, light sensitivity, vertigo… None of my medications were working at all. My doctor prescribed Migranal, but it took until September 4th before I finally got it (stupid insurance hoops you have to jump through) and I can only use it 8 days a month. It’s been difficult. Our 15th wedding anniversary was September 3rd, we wanted to do something special, but instead I basically missed it. Good thing it’s the marriage that counts, and it’s a celebration every day. (HA…how hokey was that?!? It really is special though.)

I saw my migraine doctor yesterday. After my last appointment I had a CTA scan, that’s a CT scan that shows your arteries, it came back normal. I had just started Effexor to try to help my migraines, and I stayed on Emgality for prevention until we saw if Effexor worked. Well, Effexor didn’t work, so we are changing the Emgality to Amovig. You have probably seen the commercials for both of these drugs. They are similar, but a little different in how they work, so hopefully Amovig will be a better fit for me. It can take up to 3 months, to tell if it’s going to work at all. So I’ll know in December. She thinks this last 6 weeks could have been so much worse because of monsoon season. She said it has been worse than last year. I know I was affected last year, but I know I wasn’t this bad.

I feel shame (Shame and Chronic Illness)

I’ve been trying to write a post for weeks now, but I just haven’t been able to get the words to come out. I had a CTA scan of my head and neck on July 26th, that’s a CT scan that shows your arteries. I had planned to post about it, to show you the awful bruise the contrast caused, and tell you how I freaked out when the contrast hit me, but I was actually ashamed that I felt that way. They had a hard time finding my veins, as usual, and I, once again, felt ashamed that I’m difficult. I had a bit of a reaction to the contrast and had a very debilitating migraine and nausea for days. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t do anything. Lorraine was nice enough to do a Mindfulness Monday. I’m ashamed I haven’t written since then.

I feel that I have needed to write and tell you how I’m still struggling with the migraines, how the medication isn’t working, and how I can’t accomplish anything really. But I’m ashamed that I’m not better. I’m ashamed that I keep trying different medications and they don’t work on me. I feel like I’m failing. In our culture we are expected to take a drug when we get sick and get better, if we don’t get better then we aren’t trying hard enough. We should change our diet, exercise more…. You see the stories all the time, how someone beat this or that disease by doing these things. We are expected to fight our illnesses and get better, when we don’t we often feel shame. Or at least, I know I do.

With my migraines everyone has a solution. So many people have or know someone with migraine, it isn’t rare, but chances are it’s episodic migraine not chronic migraine. I’m asked so often, “Do you take medication?” and it’s followed by, “I take (or so and so takes)______ and it works!” I want to scream, “Of course I take medication! I take preventatives, and abortives, and supplements, and I use alternative treatments! Nothing is working but I’m afraid to stop any of them for fear it will get worse!” But instead I feel ashamed that I’m defective. Not only do I have migraines, I have migraines that won’t respond to treatment.

Weekend before last we went out for breakfast with Stuart’s father at our usual place. I ordered a gluten free pancake, when it came I suspected it was wrong, but they have never gotten my order wrong before, so I took a bite. I knew immediately it was wrong. I was poisoned. I called the waitress over and asked and sure enough, it wasn’t gluten free. She apologized and I smiled and just ordered a new one. I looked at Stuart with huge eyes and he just said, there was nothing that could be done now. His father said, “it was only one bite” Stuart explained that it only takes a crumb. I should have told the waitress that I didn’t want anything else and told Stuart and his dad we needed to go home, but instead I was too ashamed. I ate that new pancake knowing that I would be sick within an hour or two. I sat there listening to them talk, while my head pounded, my stomach started to ache and get tight and my bowels started to rumble. I ended up having to rush to the bathroom there and it was obvious my stomach was distended by the time we left. I felt even more shame that I could not hide it.

I’ve never been one who is ashamed of my cochlear implants, I know a lot of people like to hide them, but I like for people to understand that I have hearing loss, because I do get ashamed when I have trouble understanding people. I sit and “listen” to conversations, but I often don’t “hear” them, and I’m too ashamed to keep asking for people to repeat what they say. After you are told over and over that it’s not important, you start to believe it, so I don’t worry about it. Then I get more ashamed when I miss things that I needed to hear.

Yesterday I had a very bad day. I woke in so much pain, but more than that when I’d stand I would see stars and I’d start to black out. I asked Stuart if he could work from home, but before he could answer I told him no, I’d be okay, because I was way too ashamed that I needed him. I was not safe, but I was too ashamed to admit that. Last night was the first time I told him how I felt. Now he is afraid he has done something to make me feel ashamed, and I feel shame that I’ve made him feel this way. I’ve explained to him that it’s complicated.

I’m just coming to terms with these feelings. I’ve tried to put a label on this before and called it guilt, but that wasn’t right, it’s shame. Guilt is feeling that you’ve done something bad. Shame is feeling that you are something bad. So, yes I feel guilty about asking him to work from home because I don’t want to take him away from work (doing something bad), but I also feel shame about it because I am ill and have to ask in the first place (am something bad).

Do you have these feelings? This will be a major discussion coming up with my therapist. Shame is not a healthy emotion, this is something we need to battle sooner rather than later.