And The World Spins Madly On

Early yesterday the barometric pressure took a nosedive and my head went with it.   My head started to throb and the light was excruciating; I took meds and carried on…or I tried to.  I realized I wasn’t up to grocery shopping or cooking to I looked in the pantry and threw a few things in the slow cooker for soup.  Then it was a sit in the chair and knit kind of day, and I was okay with that.

After Stuart got home we had soup…I’m so thrilled with how well that soup turned out, btw.   I left the room to go to the bathroom and I felt it hit….the bottom dropped out of my stomach, I got all hot, and my view began to spin….vertigo.  I leaned, for support, with my forehead and palms resting flat on the wall before me, knowing if I moved I would fall down, I called out for Stuart.   He came and helped me to the bathroom and back to my chair.  The worst had not arrived…

As we got ready for bed I took my nightly meds and started to settle down when I started to feel bad, really bad.  I mentioned to Stuart that my meds were kicking in really fast and I was feeling loopy.  (this does not happen, normally I take my meds and I start feeling sleepy, I read some and then go to sleep, I never feel “loopy” from my night meds)  I decided to just lie still and try to sleep, then I suddenly got hot all over and my stomach wanted to rebel! I laid very still trying hard not to move my head, but it didn’t work, the room began to spin and I felt like I was moving….vertigo…again…damnit!

I tried so hard not to disturb Stuart.  He has to get up really early to go to work and I hate when I have to disrupt his sleep.  He stirred a few times and I admitted I was sick but told him to go back to sleep.  I knew I could handle it, at least I told myself that.  I did sleep some, on and off, all the while feeling like I was moving.  Every slight movement of my head caused the room to spin faster, and my stomach to lurch.  I was not doing well, but I was dealing with it.  I survived the night, and I didn’t vomit, that is a miracle.

Today, I still have this feeling of motion and if I turn my head quickly the room spins, but for the most part it settled down.  Now it’s all the other symptoms that go with vertigo that are still getting to me.  The gastro-intestinal upset, the extreme fatigue, the anxiety, and, of course, my balance is completely compromised.  It’s been a challenging day.

As I sit here writing this I’m reflecting on this illness of mine and how it has manifested itself over the years.  It came on sporadically, having severe vertigo attacks once or twice a year without any other major symptoms, then it turned into me having vertigo multiple times a day, sometimes minor, sometimes very severe, I was basically bed bound for almost 3 years.  Then less than 2 years ago I started having less and less vertigo and the attacks I had were not nearly as severe as they used to be, I have been so much better that I started to drive again.  I even bought a car a couple of weeks ago.  Now, I’m being reminded that this will always be with me.  I will never escape Meniere’s disease, and I’m scared.

The fear escalated through the night and all day today.  My thoughts keep running to the “what if”s.  What if this is a new stage and it’s worse?  What if I can’t drive and I just bought a car?  What if I need more help than is available now?  What if?????

Can you see me spiraling out of control?

Time for a reality break.  Yes, I have Meniere’s and I always will.  Yes, it is unpredictable.  Yes, it could get worse, or it could get better.  Nothing is certain.  Life is not as I expected, so I will change those expectations, or better yet, I won’t have any.  Now, it’s time for a deep breath and a good night’s sleep.  Tomorrow is a different day.

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Medical Marijuana, how I got my card

*this is solely my experience, it may be different for others.  I live in Arizona, the requirements can be different for different states, and the type of product offered can be very different also.  You can read a good article about the whole process on Leafly, here.

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As soon as we moved to Tucson I started the process of getting my Medical Marijuana card.  I received it on my birthday (July 2nd).  Here’s the process I went through:

First I had to get an Arizona Driver’s License, thankfully I kept my license up to date even though I hadn’t driven in years.  To get my license I had to prove my identity and prove I live here, I took a copy of our lease and mail that had been forwarded from our previous address.  Within an hour after arriving at a DMV I had my temporary license in hand, after 2 weeks I received my official license in the mail.  Very shortly after that I went in to apply for my Medical Marijuana Card.

To obtain a Medical Card from the Arizona Department of Health I needed to take my medical records that proved I have been dealing with one of the approved conditions on the list for over a year, in my case severe migraines, to a doctor to see if I qualify.   To find a doctor who will do these referrals was pretty easy, I just looked in the local free paper, there are plenty of ads (I actually think this is kind of weird)   I saw an ad that looked a bit more professional than some of the others and emailed them (as most of you probably know, I don’t use the phone because of my hearing loss).  The doctor I saw is a Naturopathic Doctor, she reviewed my records briefly and checked my vitals.  She told me a little about Medical Marijuana, and told me I should receive my card in a couple of weeks.  Oh, I also had to pay a fee to the doctor and a fee to the state, the doctor fee can vary, the state fee is set.  You can get the recommendation from the doctor and then file your own paperwork online with the health department, but I decided to pay the extra little bit to have the doctor’s office do the filing for me, they even took my photo for my ID.  So to break down the cost, the office visit was $100, the processing fee (to have them file all my paperwork) was $20, and the state fee is $150 so the total cost to get my the card was $270.  The state fee is $75 for those with a SNAP card (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

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Ads found in the Tucson Weekly  (I’m not against recreational use, but if this is a medicinal only state, then treat it like medicine.  The ads like those above give medical patients a bad name.)

 

If you are interested in even more details, this link will send you to the center where I saw my prescriber.  Actually it isn’t “prescribed”, it is recommended, doctors honestly don’t have enough knowledge about the efficacy of marijuana (the different strains vary in what they do, some are sedating, some are energizing, some help pain, some cause paranoia…..there is no way to actually just prescribe marijuana like you do other medications, you have to know all the different aspects of the different strains and delivery methods, therefore they really have no idea how to dose it.  The center that I went to offered a 15-minute Complimentary Consultation to discuss the available types and delivery method for cannabis, and suggested strains to help with my condition.  They also suggested a dosing schedule.  I felt this visit too short, however, since I had already done a lot of research I didn’t need a lot of guidance (or so I thought), but I welcomed the advice on strains and dosing.  The center also offers a couple of workshops, one teaches how to make edibles because it’s much cheaper to make your own, (these are an additional cost).

After receiving my card I visited a Dispensary that is located close to my house. (since then I’ve done some research on the different dispensaries in the area and I will make sure to take advantage of the best deals, it kind of blows my mind that they offer sales, I thought all the dispensaries would have the same prices and the same products, but it can vary greatly.  I should note that the dispensaries are non-profit, however, some also sell paraphernalia, I don’t know if they are allowed to make a profit on that, it seems like they should.

When we arrived at the dispensary someone greeted us at the door and welcomed us in.  We walked into what appeared to be a somewhat large lounge, the actual shop was in another room that had to be opened for me to go in.  Stuart was not allowed in the shop with me even though I told them I needed him to hear, to compensate they had a pen and paper so we could communicate that way if needed.

A very sweet girl met me at the door and gave me a tour of the shop.  She pointed out a cart that contained CBD products only and told me that anyone could come in and buy those, they simply took the cart out to the lobby and had them shop from there.  I noticed that she kept pointing out the strains with the highest amount of THC, they are more expensive, so I was wary about taking her advice as to what I needed.  (I have since been back to this dispensary and another and found the people I spoke with very knowledgeable and were able to really help me figure out which products to try.)

There are so many different types of delivery methods, smoking, vaping, tinctures, transdermal patches, various edibles (from cookies to hard candies), drinks, and concentrates….so much it is mind blowing.  The doctor I saw recommended I use a tincture and vape.  A CBD tincture 10 mg, 3 times a day, as a migraine preventative; and a CBD:THC 1:1 tincture to help me sleep.  It was also suggested I vape for acute pain, since I have a dry herb vaporizer I was given the name of a few strains that would help, I was also given the strength I’d need if I wanted to use an oil vaporizer.  This was a good starting point, but I have a lot more to learn.  This article can give you more of an understanding of what CBD and THC are and what they do: “CBD vs THC: What’d the Difference?”  (I have found the best information on Leafly.com)

 

In my next post I will tell all about what I’ve tried so far, and things I wish I knew before I started this journey.

****NOTE****  I admit I’m very nervous about writing this article.  Please be kind to me, do not treat me as a drug seeker.  I am not looking to get “high”, I simply want the pain to lessen.

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mini update…it’s all about me

20180902_140241It’s Labor Day, for most it’s a time to a honor the workers of America, and send the summer off with a bang.  For me, Labor Day this year marks my 14th wedding anniversary.  I can honestly say, I’d marry this may again in a minute!  It sure doesn’t feel like our wedding was 14 years ago, yet, it feels like we’ve known each other forever.

We had planned to go on a day trip to just get away, but things haven’t quite turned out as we’d planned; maybe we’ll make it there soon.  Instead we went to the botanical gardens here in town, it was like walking into a secret garden, I really needed to get out and commune with nature.  I’m so glad we Stuart talked me into going.

(I’m actually starting to get sleepy, but I really wanted to post this now, so I haven’t read over this, please excuse any and all errors, if something doesn’t make sense, let me know.)

sleep: After reading the comments left of my post about my lack of sleep and extreme fatigue, I have tried a few things and I think I may have discovered a couple of things that may have been contributing to it.

  • One – allergies.  It was suggested that this might be the case so I checked looked up what might be causing that, and found out that ragweed is causing MODERATE pollen counts.  I’m very allergic to ragweed, so I increased my antihistamines and have been doing a saline spray.  I wish I could use a Neti Pot but it causes vertigo.
  • Two – mood swings.  Someone mentioned that when she is feeling the way I have been that she knows she is a bit manic.  Well that sent up bells and whistles.  I realized just how quick to anger I have been lately.  I’ve been cutting myself off from people.  I am trying to make an effort, but it has just been so hard.  I’m simply having a hard time putting forth the effort.  I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting my people.  I’m also having uncontrollable crying spells.  Today (I’m wring this on Sunday night) I just couldn’t stop my eyes from leaking.  It annoyed the hell out of me.  So, have I been a bit hypomanic, that would cause the anger and the lack of sleep, but it doesn’t explain the tears.  Could I been depressed?  Is it possible to be experiencing both at the same time?  After being diagnosed with bipolar I over 22 years ago, you’d think I could figure this out, but I must admit my moods have not been as stable this past year as they have been for many, many years.  I’m not having full blown mania or severe depression, but I’m having a very hard time coping.  I’m also having a very hard time holding my tongue, and unfortunately I have been hiding how I’ve been feeling from almost everyone (I do share these things with Stuart, we are in this together) including someone who is causing me some severe anxiety.  I’d really like to cut this person out of my life, but it’s just not possible, at least not right now.  I’m trying hard to just let it go, and be gentle with myself.  I understand that I’m really getting upset because this person is not behaving as I expect people to, it is these expectations that I have to let go of.  But the drama is affecting other people in my life and that is causing me more anxiety.  I’m sure most of that makes no sense, but it felt good to get it out, even if it is a little cryptic.
  • Gabapentin – I’ve been taking 100 mg of gabapentin 3 times a day for a while now, and it hasn’t really bothered me.  I take 200 mg at bed time and 100 mg upon waking.  If I don’t take this my arm goes to sleep and aches, my back hurts more and my aches and pains are more intense.  Since moving here I’ve needed to refill my prescription a couple of time and I noticed that the manufacturer is differnt than the one who supplied my pharmacy in NC.  I can’t help but wonder if that changed things.  so for the past couple of days I haven’t been taking my morning dose and honestly I haven’t been nearly as sleepy during the day. That’s unfortunate because my pain has increased quite a bit.
  • Stress and anxiety.  We’ve talked about this before, but I have spent a number of hours awake lately when I simply could not shut my brain off.

What I discovered was not an issue.  My use of medical marijuana.  For the most part I’ve been using mostly CBD during the day. You can read recent studies on sleep and CBD on NCBI  To make sure the CBD was not causing my insomnia and/or my daytime fatigue I decided to stop taking it for a while.  After 2 weeks I saw no difference with my sleep, but did notice an increase in my headaches and anxiety.  I haven’t been using any cannabis with THC duing the daytime.  I have still been taking it right before I go to bed, it does help me sleep for about 4 hours at least.  (note I’ve been using marijuana to help me sleep for a couple of years now)

Increase in physical symptoms: I’ve been much better for a while now…my vertigo has been almost non-existent at least 9 months now.  This past week, it has been worse again.  I haven’t been having full rotational spins for the most part, but I have been seeing things move and I feel like I’m moving.  I’ve had a few spells this week that caused Stuart to come home early to help me.  I haven’t thrown up from vertigo in quite some time.  Even before I stopped having vertigo on a regular basis, I had stopped vomiting.  I normally use a little cannabis to stop the nausea and vomiting, but I was trying hard this week to not do that, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t causing me to lose sleep.  Well, it wasn’t and I will be using it to help with the vomiting the next time I have vertigo.  My migraines have also increased, and I don’t feel like the gammaCore is doing much.  That makes me sad.  To be completely honest, I’m having a very hard time staying in the present and not freaking out over the thought that I might get back like I was.  I’m already afraid to drive again.  Shoot.

House search: We still haven’t come close to finding a house that is suitable, there just aren’t very many houses that have the features we want/need.  Now we’ve found a little snafu on our credit report that we need to clear up.  It’s sad when someone has a credit score of over 800 and the ability to put down a down payment of over 20%, and we are having trouble getting pre-approved.  There’s something wrong with that picture.  We are hoping we can get it straight soon.  If not we’ll just rent for a while. I’m trying hard not to stress over it.

Eating:  I still feel like food is controlling my life.  I recently had a week where I wasn’t starving all the time and I was able to stay in my calorie range.  I’m terrified of gaining all that weight back, yet I can’t seem to stop eating, and that is simply tearing me up inside.  I did find a cool app called Mealime and it has been a great help in planning meals that are pretty easy and healthy too.  Now if I could just control the snaking, especially in the middle of the night.  How did I go from having to force myself to eat, to overeating?

Doctors: It has been a challenge finding doctors here.  Most of the doctors I found on the BCBS site who said they were accepting new patients actually weren’t.  I do like the PCP that I found, except for a couple of things, I’m hoping those things will resolve themselves after we get to know each other better.  (like she isn’t comfortable prescribing my Valium for the vertigo.  I don’t take if often, but if I’m having vertigo that is the only thing that helps calm it down.  I do not take it as an anxiety medication, nor do I over use it.  My last prescription of 90 pills lasted me almost a year!  She doesn’t seem to understand that it is the best vestibular suppressant out there.  I will have to find an ENT.  I want to see a neurotolgist here in town, but he only sees patients that have been refereed by an ENT.  So I have to find one of them first.  Argh, what a pain!  I am hoping he can treat both my Meniere’s an my migraines though, so I really hope I can get in there to at least talk to him and see if he can offer any help at all.  I do like my neurologist now, well what I learned in my first visit to see him anyway, but I do not like how hard he is to get in touch with, nor do I feel like his staff is very helpful.  Recently I had a seizure, my first in a very long time, the next day he called my neuro and left a message about it.  No one ever called back.  I had a seizure and NO ONE CALLED BACK?!?   The doctor who operated on my wrist was not as thorough as I felt he should have been.  Every time he was in the exam room with me I felt he was always on his way out the door.  I didn’t feel like he answered all my questions and I didn’t feel like I had clear enough discharge instructions.  He also didn’t even talk with Stuart after my surgery.  Talking to me right after I wake up is not a good time to expect me to retain information.  They did send me a survey to fill out and I spoke up about my feelings, I’m proud of myself for that. I was told by the resident who took my stitches out that I could have pain from the healing for a year. wow!  Didn’t expect that one.

That’s all for now….I guess that was a bit longer than a “mini update”  perhaps I should have called it a “maxi update”  🙂

*photo taken by W. Holcombe at Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, AZ – all rights reserved.  Please do not copy without permission.

 

Eyes Wide Shut

I’m so tired.  I’ve experienced fatigue before, but nothing like this.  I can’t stay awake, except at night, when I can’t sleep.  I’m restless, yet I can’t get it together.  I started exercising more this past month, but this past week I haven’t been able to do more than what is absolutely necessary.  A little while ago I put some dishes in the dishwasher and now I’m ready to take a nap.  I am having a very hard time keeping my eyes open.  Lifting my limbs is a challenge.  This in conjunction with extreme brain fog, yes writing this post is a challenge, it’s also why I haven’t been able to follow through on promises made.  I really hate that.

What changed?  I honestly don’t know of anything that has changed so much in the past week that would cause this.  I don’t think I’m sick.  I’m not running fever or anything like that.  My headaches haven’t been worse, they aren’t better, but they aren’t worse.  I haven’t increased my medication.  I am taking CBD oil during the day, but I’ve been doing that for over a month now, so that’s not new.  I’ve actually been taking less this week because I keep forgetting.  As it has been pointed out to me countless times by numerous people, I have been under a huge amount of stress, but honestly, the stress hasn’t really intensified recently, it’s been pretty steady for months now.  I’m dealing with it pretty darn well, if I do say so myself.  The only thing that has my mind racing is our house hunting, it’s taking longer than we expected, and it’s just getting to me a bit.  I’ve decided to step back from the search for a few days at least, a bit of breathing room, get refocused and start again next week.

I’ve been using marijuana to help me sleep for a long time.  (full disclosure, I was using it long before we moved to a legal state)  for some reason it’s not working like it used to.  I can’t sleep, yet I can’t stay awake, what’s up with that?  When I try to go to sleep at night I just toss and turn, often I just give up for a while and get up.  It’s hard not to snack in the middle of the night when you’re up all night.  OK, I’m exagerating a little, I am sleeping …some…

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My sleep last night recorded on my Fitbit.

Okay, my brain is not working.  I’m about to fall asleep…probably not really, but I feel like it.  It is storming like crazy right now.  Monsoon season is almost over, as much as I’m tired of the storms every day, I’m going to really miss them when we go for months with no rain.  Plus, they are really cool.

Some reasons I might not be sleeping…hmmm….pain.  My wrist is getting better, I’m not having those horrible sharp pains and I have much more range of motion.  I can pick up dishes without extreme pain! That’s awesome!  But, now it hurts all the time.  The pain is not as intense, but it’s always there.  I bought some CBD salve yesterday and I’m rubbing it all round my wrist and hand, not the actual surgical site yet, I get my stitches out on Friday. after that I’ll rub it all over.  Cross fingers it helps ease the pain a bit.  I feel silly complaining, it’s not that bad, it’s just constant.  (sometimes I do still have some sharp pains, I was just reminded of that a few moments ago when I tried to help with dinner)

Thank you all for listening to me rant.  I do accept that this is the way it is right now, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to figure out what is going on and take care of myself the best I can.

Any suggestions?

 

 

 

 

Mindfulness Monday – Storm

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Monsoons 2018, by W. Holcombe. all rights reserved

 

“You can’t calm the storm,

so stop trying.

What you can do is

calm yourself.

The storm will pass.”

~ Timber Hawkeye

 

“You will not be

the same after the

storms of life;

You will be stronger,

wiser and more alive

than ever before!”

~ Bryant McGill

 

“The great benefit of

practicing mindfulness…

is the presence of mind

within a storm

 of emotions.”

~ Phillip Moffitt

 

*photo was taken in Tucson, AZ , off my front porch, during monsoon season 2018.  It’s am amazing time, I wish I could get better pictures for you.  The monsoons are full of beauty and power, but…another of it’s secret powers is to cause super duper migraines.  Ahh.  Please do not use this image without permission.

 

 

Visiting Aqua Caliente Park

Today we visited Aqua Caliente Park, it’s located on East Roger Road in Tucson, AZ. I never expected to see anything like this in the desert. Funny though, I saw several oasis in the Sonoran Desert outside of Palm Springs, CA; when we lived there, yet I never expected to see it here.

You can read about this park on the Pima County website, but I’d like to share some of the sites I saw there, I hope you enjoy them.

First you’ll find the Flora, followed by the Fauna.  (some of the plants are not actually native, but they’ve been here a very long time)

 

 

The fish in the photo by himself was a monster!  If anyone knows what kind of fish he is I’d love to know.  I’m pretty sure he’s not a catfish; if he is, he looks different than SC or NC catfish.  🙂   ***I just read that the part has grass carp and bass in it, I think this might be a carp.  I think it should be noted that none of the fish or turtles are native.  However, here are many bird species that call this place home.

The frog was also huge!  Bigger than my foot! He was so patient and let us take a photo of him, there was another frog close by, but he didn’t want his picture taken so he jumped in the water very fast.

I had severe migraines all week, I was lucky enough to have a few hours respite and a few more hours with the pain reduced enough that I could function, still at a slower pace and I was probably a cranky bitch at times, but I’m grateful I was able to enjoy part of the weekend.

*I have one last photo to share, but I’ll save that for Mindfulness Monday 😉

**Remember all photos and artwork on Picnic with Ants are personal property and are not to be shared without permission from the creator.  (in this case, Wendy Holcombe took all the above photos and is the sole owner of all rights)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meaningful Monday – Suffering

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“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching,

and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be.

I have been bent and broken, but

—I hope—

Into a better shape.”

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

“There is the solitude of suffering,

when you go through darkness that is

lonely, intense, and terrible.

Words become powerless to express your pain;

what others hear from your words is

so distant and different from what you are actually suffering.”

John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

We must look deeply in order to understand

the needs, aspirations, and suffering

of the person we love.

This is the ground of real love”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 

*photo by W. Holcombe.  Baby Opuntia (prickly pear) Cactus.  Please do not use without permission.

I did things a little differently this week, the not all of the quotes would be considered “mindful”, but I felt they were more meaningful this week.