A Series Of Unfortunate Events

So late last night I wrote this long post detailing everything (well most things) that have been happening lately, I decided that most people really don’t want/need to read all those details so let me just sum it all up. (if you are really interested I left the detailed post at the end)

Stuart was laid off yesterday because of lost revenue due to COVID-19. It came as a huge shock and I’m still processing it all. I know we’ll be okay, we are in this together and that’s all that counts.

The beginning of last month we cut my SPRAVATO (esketamine) from twice a week to once a week and I did not do well, both the depression and the migraines came back full force. It has not been a good month. This week we went back to twice a week, let’s hope I see improvement soon. More about this later.

About a week ago I was stung by a scorpion while sitting in my living room. I didn’t have to go to the ER or anything like that. I’m fine. I just hurt like hell, and I still have this spot on my leg that feels kind of weird when I scratch it, but it’s getting better every day.

I had a severe allergic reaction a couple of days ago to something, I don’t know what. My doctor thinks it was a combination of things. Simply put I have had too many allergens bombard me at once, so it wasn’t just one thing, therefore it probably won’t happen again. But if it does I have lots of Benadryl and my EpiPen.

So that’s the series of unfortunate events that have been happening in my life. It really hasn’t been all bad, but this post has gotten way too long! I’ll post more soon, I hope, and tell you all happier things. Like, we got added a new member to our family!! We rescued a kitty. I’ll tell you all about Brody and more soon!

Brody, his first night home.

If you’d like to read more details here they are, this is the post I wrote last night….if you read it, you can tell I was not in the best frame of mind. I hope you’ve had a better month.

It’s 1:33am and I’m sitting here in tears, today, um yesterday, the most recent and the worst of the latest in a string of pretty crappy events happened and I’m not taking this last one very well. Stuart was laid off. We were finally affected by the backlash from COVID-19. It came as a huge shock. There was a big layoff in his company right when they started the work-from-home phase, we felt it was a knee jerk reaction at the time. We don’t know what to think now. There is no rhyme or reason as to who they chose to lay off. The company he works for isn’t really losing any business. They are a huge irrigation company for large golf courses, agriculture….they do supply Disneyland, but I don’t think they stopped watering their grass just because they’re closed, and that is just a small fraction of their business (all over the world). The only thing they are having trouble with is getting parts in from overseas.His team is down to 3 people! They can’t do all the work and no one knows how to do the things Stuart does. They just shot themselves in the foot.

I’m freaking out. It’s not the money, not really. We have money saved, unemployment is higher right now, he got a little severance package, and we have my small disability income and Medicare, however he was laid off before and was out of work for almost a year, I do not want to go through that again. It totally depleted out savings I finally felt like I could have nice things, now I feel like I have to scrimp and save every penny. I had a house keeper coming in once a month to help me out, I can’t do that now. We had plans for the house and yard, not any more…. I’m heartbroken. I’m shattered.

Now for at least some of the other things that have happened over the last few weeks. We cut my SPRAVATO (esketamine) treatments down from twice a week to once a week and I crashed hard. The depression came back in a huge black wave. It has been suffocating. With the depression, came the migraines, and the increased dizziness and vertigo. The good news, we increased it back to twice a week this week, hopefully I’ll be feeling better soon. But I really do not want to be tied to this stuff twice a week, that takes two days out of my life every week. That isn’t really feasible. I could never even go out of town, and when Stuart gets a new job I don’t think they will be too pleased that he has to take 2 days a week to take me to these appointments.

Next, I was stung by a scorpion. Stuart lived in the desert for many years and never even saw a scorpion, I live here less than 2 years and get stung by one while sitting in my chair watching TV. The irony, you gotta laugh. I had no idea what had happened, I only had this very intense nerve pain in my leg. I yelped in pain and told Stuart, then I noticed that there was a red spot on my leg, and he got me a Benadryl and ice real quick. Because of his quick thinking (we thought it was a spider bite) it didn’t swell at all. It hurt so bad that night I barely slept. For two days it hurt and felt numb at the same time. This was over a week ago and still if I scratch in that place it feels funny, kind of tingly, but it’s getting better. Oh, Stuart found the scorpion the next day, dead. When I looked up the symptoms it was dead on for a scorpion sting.

Day before yesterday I had a pretty severe allergy attack. I was just sitting in my living room and my throat started to close up. Stuart was just in the next room but it closed to fast I couldn’t call out. I took a Benadryl fast, and started looking for my inhaler, which was hard to find simply because I was getting confused. I finally took about 3 Benadryl and used my inhaler so many times I just don’t know. I’m just glad I didn’t have to use my Epi Pen or go to the ER. It did happen again that night, but I got the Benadryl in faster and it ended faster, then yesterday I took Benadry every 4 hours and I was fine. Today I’ve itched a lot. My doctor (I had a telehealth visit with my migraine doctor yesterday and I had to tell her because I had taken my migraine shot the night before the attack) she said it could be a high load of allergens. The allergy count is very high here right now, and then the scorpion, add in a powerful medication, and we got a cat…the combination could have caused it, but one on it’s own probably wouldn’t. So I’m okay there.

I told my neighbor, who has become a very good friend, that she must think I’m a calamity of horrors. I was so touched by what she said, “No, I think you are a beautiful young lady with the most positive outlook I have ever seen” She will never know how much I needed to hear that.

Light Switch Flipped

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

This is going to be just a (relatively) short update, if you read my last post you will have a good idea of what goes on during my treatments. My dose pack was increased back to 3 (84 mg), but the “trip” that I had the last 3 treatments was not as intense at the first time. It was pleasant, fun even, but not the same. My husband is so patient to put up with this, he says it isn’t bothered by it at all, but I have to wonder. He is not the kind of guy to just let loose and have fun with you when you are intoxicated and he’s not, and I’ve only seen him a little drunk once; and let’s just say he cannot sing but he’s a much better dancer when he’s a bit tipsy.

An amazing thing happened at the end of the last treatment, I felt as if a light switch flipped, and I looked at Stuart and said, “So this is what it’s like to not be depressed.” It wasn’t the happy silly feeling I was having when I was high, of course I wasn’t feeling depressed then. And during mania I don’t feel depressed. This is different. As a friend asked, “Is it like in the Wizard of Oz when the Black and White turns to Color?” YES!! Suddenly the cloud is gone. It’s just gone. If things weren’t so crazy in the world I’d probably be really happy right now, but as it is, I’m handling things really well. I had a little spell this weekend where things slipped in and I felt the cloud closing in, so I don’t think I’m quite to the point of going to a maintenance dose yet, but This is AMAZING!

I had another vertigo spell that lasted 3 days this week. It was mostly severe disequilibrium. I had no balance on Friday, I thought I had an ear infection. I could not walk without Stuart’s help, and by help I mean almost carrying me. I was stuck in a chair the whole weekend and couldn’t do anything for myself. It brought back the feelings of complete helplessness I had when I was at my worse. That is what triggered the small bout of depression, but it probably would have been worse before this treatment. I’m a bit concerned that I’ve been struck with vertigo each week I’ve had these treatments. If it happens this week, I’m really going to think SPRAVATO might be triggering my Meniere’s. If so, I hope it gets better the longer I’m on it. If that’s not the case, at least in maintenance I’ll only need it once a month, maybe getting it less often will lessen the risk.

So that’s all for this news. I have more to tell, but that’s for a different post.

SPRAVATO (Esketamine) week 1

Last week was my first week receiving SPRAVATO (Esketamine) treatments. I received my first treatment on Tuesday March 10th. I’m sorry I didn’t post about it sooner, it was a bit of a crazy week, as you will soon discover.

I had to fast for 2 hours and not drink anything for 30 mins before the appointment to minimize nausea and vomiting. I also took phenergan. We started out to the appointment with plenty of time to get there, we now live over 30 mins away from the office, traffic was okay then Stuart said, “I’m going to the wrong place.” He had driven to my therapist office instead of my psychiatrist office. I instantly got very anxious. I hate to be late and I was already nervous about this appointment. I’m still not very sure about where things are in this town, I think it makes it more difficult to get to know these things when you don’t drive, so I didn’t realize that we really weren’t that far from our desired destination. We arrived right on time, but by the time we got there I was pretty agitated.

First I was told that the normal person who does this was out and a substitute was taking her place, she would be back next time. I was then asked if I’d like to be in a room with a recliner or a couch, I said a recliner. Then I tried the recliner and it rocked, it moved even when it was reclined. I decided that was a very bad idea if this stuff might make you have vertigo you sure don’t want to be in a chair that moves. So we moved to the room with the couch. We talked about how the drug was to be administered. It’s a nasal spray, it comes in devices that contain 28 mg each, depending on the dose you are to receive is how many devices you use, to be self administered under supervision 5 minutes apart. From what I read you normally start at 56 mg (2 devices) and depending on how that works, you work up to 3 (84 mg). I was surprised when I was to start out at 3. Then she took my blood pressure and it was WAY too high so we had to wait 20 minutes to see if it would come down. Every time I go to that office my blood pressure it high, I don’t know what it is about that place. Maybe it’s the ride over there, my nervousness…?? Anyway, I had them dim the lights, I laid on the floor (it’s a nice, clean room with a nice rug) and I meditated. She came back and actually got on the floor with me and took my blood pressure again and it was down enough to start.

I had to tilt my head back and insert the device in one nostril while holding the other closed, push the plunger and sniff. Then do the other side. Easy peasy. I didn’t feel much, but by the time the 5 minutes were up and I was ready to take the 2nd dose I could feel it a little. I repeated the same administration and WHOOSH! Oh boy I felt that one! I suddenly felt very panicky, a bit paranoid and did not like it at all. Then I realized it was because I was fighting it. So I relaxed and just let it go, and I started to feel just fine. I felt tipsy kinda, but more high. By the time we were ready for the third dose I was giggly and had a hard time leaning my head back for it, but I got it done, and oh what a trip it was. I was told I was quite entertaining. I did not loose time, and I knew where I was the whole time. I did get to where I couldn’t understand what people were saying for a while, and Stuart had 2 heads and a third eye, but it didn’t freak me out. I laughed a lot and got very interested in the smallest things, like the top of my water bottle and the tip of my nose. I said some pretty funny things, that I probably shouldn’t repeat here, but one time I did tell everyone I loved them. As it started to slow down it was just fun, actually most of it was just fun. Something I haven’t felt in a long time. I just curled up on the couch with Stuart and laughed and joked and waited for things to get to where I could go home. The trippy experience lasted about an hour. I had to stay there for two hours from the time of my first sniff, as long as my blood pressure wasn’t too high, the treatment can make your blood pressure rise for 4 hours after. She took it and she couldn’t hear it. She waited and tried again, she finally got it and it was 90/70 so my blood pressure went way down instead of up. hahaha

So that was my first treatment. I won’t go into as much detail about the next one, there are just some more things to know about the rest of the week.

After the treatment I walked outside and started sneezing, I’m pretty sure it was because there was a big bush outside that has just started to bloom, lots of things are blooming here suddenly. I sneezed and sneezed that night until I took Benedryl. I woke the next morning with a bad migraine and vertigo. It was very cloudy and a bit rainy, so I thought it was that. I had to use my walker. The vertigo got worse. If I kept my head straight it was okay, but if I moved, rapid spins! The next morning I couldn’t lift my head without severe vertigo. There was no way I could go in to have my second treatment. I finally figured out it was BPPV (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). I’ve had this before a few times, but it’s been a while. The last time my doctor showed Stuart how to do the Epley manuver so he could fix it, and he did, but I had to be upright for 48 hours and it takes a while for you to feel steady enough to move around. Luckily the office was able to change things around and I was able to have my second treatment on Friday.

I got to the appointment and the regular person who oversees this was there. I had a massive migraine, so no surprise my blood pressure was high again. Once again I meditated for 20 minutes and got it down enough to do the treatment. I’m really not liking that. I have normal to low BP everywhere else. That is starting to concern me. But the main thing you need to know from this appointment is that she said I should have started off with 2 doses. So I only got 2 on Friday. It was nothing like Tuesday. She said I must have a higher tolerance. She was surprised at how I could have a coherent conversation. I felt really high, like I had a lot of marijuana, but I didn’t feel like I was tripping. Nothing looked strange, I didn’t feel different (when I had my first treatment my sense of touch was different). So for my next treatment we go back up to 3. When I first got the treatment my migraine vanished, it was bliss because I went in there at an 8+, unfortunately when it ended the pain started to return and ended up right back where it started. I really am hopeful that as this treatment continues I’ll have more lasting results.

I saw my therapist later in the day on Friday and she said I looked brighter. I was still pretty “happy”. We had such a nice visit, we just talked and talked, it was like girl friends laughing. I know it was because I had just had my treatment that day, but that was fun. You don’t normally have that kind of day with your therapist. Hahaha!

Any questions please feel free to ask me anything!

If you don’t feel comfortable asking in the comments, you can send me a private message by clicking on the About Me – Contact Me tab at the top of the page, I’m happy to answer anything I can. If you message me, be aware sometimes I don’t check my email every day, so it might take me a couple of days to get back to you.

Esketamine has finally been approved by my insurance

https://www.spravato.com/

I found out last week the ketamine (really esketamine, um SPRAVATO) has finally been approved by my insurance, and it has taken this long for me to wrap it around my brain so I could write about it.

My doctor keeps saying I’m getting ketamine, but really I’m getting SPRAVATO, which is esketamine. Ketamine is not FDA approved for treatment resistant depression (TRD), it has been used for it off label for quite some time now with very good results but it is very unlikely they will ever approve it for anything other than an anesthetic because it cannot be monetized. That’s where esketamine comes in. “Esketamine is a molecule taken from ketamine’s racemic mixture (basically two mirror image molecules which spin in different directions).   As it is an altered form of ketamine, esketamine could be newly patented.  As a result, corporate dollars were invested in clinical trials that led to the current FDA indicated use of nasal esketamine for TRD.” (Nasal Esketamine vs IV Ketamine) IV Ketamine has been used to treat TRD since 2010 and has a 70-80% success rate, esketamine is also showing to be very effective which makes sense since it is a molecular part of ketamine, but it has only been in use in clincal settings for a year so I don’t feel like we really know long term results yet.

I start my first treatment on Tuesday, March 10th at 2pm. I have to be enrolled in a restricted program called SPRAVATO Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) Program. It can only be administered in a healthcare setting certified in the SPRAVATO REMS Program to patients enrolled in the program. I go in and under supervision I give myself the nasal spray. Then I stay there in a quiet room, with Stuart, (there is no way he would let me do this without him being there) and I’ll be observed for 2-3 hours. You shouldn’t drive or operate machinery until the next day. For the first month I have to go in twice a week for a treatment, the second month is once a week, then it goes to every other week….eventually it goes to once a month and that’s the maintenance dose. That’s all depending on how well I do on it. I could go through the dosing faster, or I could not do well on it at all, but that is the normal regimen. I can tell you that I have been struggling with this schedule. The fact that Stuart has to leave work so much so that I can go in just to get this medication, ugh, this is awful. I’m trying really hard not to feel guilty, but it sure it hard. His boss hasn’t made this easier.

Most of the side effects of SPRAVATO are short lived but they can be pretty intense.

  • Dissociation (was reported 2 ways in clinical studies through adverse event reports, 41% of patients, and by using standardized scale, 61% – 75% of patients.)
  • Dizziness (29%)
  • Nausea (28%)
  • Sedation (was reported 2 ways in clinical studies through adverse event reports, 23% of patients, and by using standardized scale, 49% – 61% of patients.)
  • Spinning sensation (23%)
  • Reduced sense of touch and sensation (18%)
  • Anxiety (13%)
  • Lack of energy (11%)
  • Increased blood pressure (10%)
  • Vomiting (9%)
  • Feeling drunk (5%)

It can also cause abuse and misuse. (I don’t really know how since you can only get it in a clinical setting. How can you misuse a drug that you can’t take home?) It can cause an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. (Why does it say this on every anti-depressant? Isn’t this what they are supposed to stop? hmmm. Or is this different?…scratching my head on this one) Temporary increased blood pressure that may last about 4 hours after a dose (could this be because people have been spinning and dissociating, and having increased anxiety?? I’m pretty sure my blood pressure is going to be a bit high before we even start.) Problems thinking clearly (not sure I’ll notice a difference on this one) or it could cause bladder problems, such as a frequent or urgent need to urinate, pain when urinating, or urinating frequently at night. (well that could be inconvenient). **all of the information about SPRAVATO came from literature provided by SPRAVATO.

Now you can probably see why it has taken me a while to wrap my head around this. The fear of having a vertigo attack has been real, and the thoughts of dissociation is a little scary, but I’ve been meditating and trying hard to simply stay in the moment and not get too ahead of myself, if I keep on thinking I’m going to get vertigo that’s a sure way to make that come true. I’m going to try hard to go in there with no expectations, simply aware of what may happen and having good thoughts about how this may help.

This is not only for my resistant depression, it is also going to hopefully help my migraines. It has been shown to help, reduce migraines, so I really am going in this optimistically.

Decisions

Image by Jan Alexander from Pixabay

It seems like I often stay away from here more than I intend to. I will come here and sit and think of a hundred things to write and feel like none of them are worth actually putting into words. I have some ideas for posts I want to write about that I think are interesting, but I just can’t get those out right now. Things just aren’t settled enough in me to get the words out right, I’m too self absorbed, I guess, to sit down and write about anything intellectual. So for now, if you will hang in there with me, you are going to hear more about me.

I made a huge decision this weekend, I’m backing off on some treatments. Yep, you heard right, I’m so tired of it all I’m taking a break. This is simply taking way too much out of me. More importantly, it’s taking way too much out of Stuart. He isn’t complaining, but I see it. I have at least 1 appointment a week, normally 2, often more. He has to leave work early at least one of those days. If I have an appointment at the pain management doctor he has to take half a day off because it’s an hour away. He also has to do most of the dishes, the laundry….he’s really an amazing man. Luckily we found a housekeeper and she will be coming in starting next Monday once a month to do the major cleaning. We still haven’t finished getting all our moving in stuff straight and we have been here 2 months. I simply cannot do it. We are both so overwhelmed it’s crazy. He’s being made to feel like he’s having to choose between me and work. That’s going to make him hate his job real quick, he’s already talking about looking for another one. I’m freaking out about that. He has to feel better about things. I have to take some of this off of him and the only way I can do that is to remove some of the responsibility from him. Getting rides to doctor’s appointments is not a solution. I cannot hear well enough in the appointment to handle it alone, he has to be there to help me answer questions, and to help me understand what the doctor says. He also needs to be there in case I crash. I often have vertigo attacks due to the stress that comes with these appointments, I would need someone there knows how to deal with that.

I’ve canceled all the pain management appointments, I’ll consider going to another clinic if I can find one closer to us that has appointments at times that won’t take Stuart away from work so much. I do admit I’m having more migraines this month since the occipital block wore off, but it’s not worth the stress of going an hour in one direction to their office. It’s a hard trip, and I don’t really like the doctor. I see my psychiatrist next week, we are normally able to get a late afternoon appointment with her, so Stuart doesn’t miss work, but if I get approved for the Ketamine I’m not sure if I’d have to go in earlier, so that would have to be part of that decision now. I’m changing my primary care physician to a doctor that is very close to me, so I it will be very easy to get there. I don’t think I need to go to a kidney doctor any more, so I’m canceling that. I will keep seeing my migraine doctor, I don’t see her but every 3 months, so it’s not that bad. And if Stuart can’t go, my neighbor said she would take me. I know I can hear her, and I think she will listen to me. A lot of doctors don’t listen without Stuart backing me up, there is definitely a prejudice against women in the medical industry, we have really noticed a marked difference in how doctors treat me when I’m alone and how they treat me when Stuart is there to back up what I’m saying.

There has just been so much going on and I just can’t see where there has been that much improvement. Yes, I do see some improvement, but when you are doing so many things how can you know which one is the one working? I started the Aimovig 4 months ago, they say it takes about 3 months before you can judge if it’s working, well that was the same month I got the occipital block, so I don’t know if the shot or the block was the one working. I think it’s a wise idea to find out which one is helping before I keep spending money on both. I’m also not fond of the idea of continually putting steroids into my body after having avascular necrosis. They told me that it was most likely caused by steroid use and that it’s possible to get it in other joints; I don’t want any other bones to die, having one hip replacement is enough. However, if the occipital block is the one that worked then they can cauterize the nerve and that could last a couple of years. But they want to do an occipital block on the other side first and then they plan on doing injections in my back to help the muscles that won’t stop firing….that’s a lot of steroid injections. I think seeing another pain specialist to get another opinion might be a good idea anyway. I think my back might need some myofascial release. I found a pain clinic that does that kind of thing too, they are only 30 mins away, well at least I’m getting closer…sigh. First I’m taking at least a month off from that kind of stuff. Next I’m going through my medications and deciding which meds I know are working and which ones I’m taking because I think they may be doing something and I’ve been afraid to stop just in case. I’m tired of taking things that I’m not positive are helping. Lots of decisions to be made.

I do have some exciting things I’ve been doing and coming up, including a chronic pain group I’ve been attending and a migraine retreat I’m going to in April, I’ll write about those soon, I promise, but this is getting long. So I’m going to close and get this posted before I decide it isn’t worth posting and scrap it.

Have any of you decided to just take a break from some treatments? I’d love to hear your experience.

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?

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.