Sunday, July 31, 2016

You can say that again. No, really, tell me.

Shawn and I were out and about. We came upon the free-standing strip of businesses in the parking lot of a much larger strip mall. We were on the backside which has a couple of vacant spots. I said something about how I thought the yogurt place was the end unit all the way from front to back. Shawn said no with a little chuckle. I asked him why he laughed. He told me that I had made the same comment not that long ago.

Later, I was looking at a shelf with our collection of POPs:
Me: Who is that next to Iron Man, not War Machine, the other side?
Shawn: Black Panther.
Me: Was he in a movie recently?
Shawn: Yeah, "Civil War".
Me: Did we see that twice?
Shawn: Yes.
Then, it bothered me that I didn't remember these things. I asked Shawn what we were doing when I had brought up the yogurt place the first time. He told me we had tried a new taco place that's in the same parking lot. I looked at him, dumbfounded. I had no recollection of going to a taco place. He told me, with humor, that it wasn't worth remembering.

There is a new series on HBO, "The Night Of". It's a weekly series that Shawn wants to watch. Once again, he puts his own stuff aside because of me. Because of my memory issues, a week between episodes of such a dense series just doesn't work for me. So, instead of just going on with the show for himself, he decided that we'll just wait for when we can watch the episodes back-to-back within a few days. That way, chances are high that I'll be able to remember and follow the show.

I continue to have to ask what day and date it is. The evening before an ECT treatment session, I have to check in with Shawn as to what meds I'm allowed to take. Sometimes, I have left the stove or oven on. A couple of weeks ago, I forgot to put the clothes in the washer when I ran it; the basket was right there!

Lesson learned here: ECT is no joke!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

In my view, when it comes to medications, it is a good idea to not check the list of side effects. I think, previewing the list of side effects can lead to believing you have them. So, in my prescription drug life, I will look up side effects once something seems to be changing.

Well, my cocktail of 5 drugs for my mental health has been going through lots of adjustments lately. A new drug, not just new to me, but newly issued, had me losing my shit worse than what it was supposed to be fixing. This was after a week of being on it. I called my prescribing nurse practitioner; left a message explaining what was changing; and, she called me back to tell me to stop immediately.

So, a few days ago, Shawn and I had an appointment with my nurse practitioner to check in on how I am doing and make some medication adjustments again. Yesterday, I really started to notice some odd changes that weren't all about my mental health. For one, my vision was getting really blurry, but mostly up close. I thought maybe I was getting to that reading-glasses age. I tried some OTC reading glasses which seemed like they were going to help, but turned out to fail. Then, I talked to Shawn, and we decided it was probably time to get an eye exam.

I also started to have shaky hands the last couple days. Thinking about that plus blurred vision, I decided it was time to look into the side effects. HOLY SHIT STAINS! The crossover from drug to drug is major. To me, it seems that with me being on 5 drugs with very similar side effect lists increases my likelihood of having some of those side effects. And, GUESS WHAT? Blurred vision and shakiness are on a few of the lists. Now, I'm going to cancel my eye appointment and call my psych nurse practitioner to tell her about the blurred vision and shaky hands.

The side effect lists for drugs can be very long and I choose to avoid the power of suggestion that can come with that.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

And now for something completely different

Today's post is an attempt at lightening things up around here. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that it is written by someone else with a sense of humor. It's written by my husband, Shawn. He sometimes writes little stories about his excursions with our dog, Jarvis. Here's his latest piece:
Jarvis and I walk past a women [sic] walking her two tiny dogs. One of them is not at all happy to see Jarvis.
Through all of this, Jarvis doesn't say a word. He just looks straight ahead, pretending not to hear. The little dog keeps it up until we're out of sight.
Me: What was that about?
Jarvis: Hmm? Oh, heh, yeah... we, uh... we had a bit of a misunderstanding once.
Me: What kind of misunderstanding?
Jarvis: Well, I may have mis-read a few signals...
Me: You humped him?
Jarvis: Vigorously.
Me: But he's tiny!
Jarvis: And I have no balls. I can't really be choosy, now, can I?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My heart will bleed on and on

I woke up a little less druggy this a.m. according to Shawn. There haven't been any tears as of yet. So, I'm not sure if that makes watching a Trump rally right now a wise or poor decision. Right now, I feel like vomiting. I'm not crying or in a rage.

There is no doubt that my heart is a bleeder. I agree with the phrase that I've seen on buttons and bumper stickers which states, "Better a bleeding heart than none at all." Does this make me a die hard Hillary Clinton supporter? Of course not. Does this make me a die hard Donald Trump non-supporter? Of course!

Watching a little bit, here and there, of both conventions, I cannot deny that I identify more with the DNC (#ThanksMichelleObama).

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


My psychiatric nurse practitioner has a reputation for trying her hardest to use the least amount of drugs as she can to treat her patients. I am on more meds than I was with the 3 psychiatrists I was a patient of prior to her. My appointment today didn't change the size of my cocktail. We did change dosages again; some up; some down; some almost reaching maxed therapeutic dose. Playing around with all of this is getting to be frustrating.

These drugs make me groggy at night which carries over to a sluggish, drunkenness the next morning. Add to the mix that I'm easy to tears and there is no way I am ready to be on my own. It is so hard for me to not have my own income and level of independence. I was in the 4th grade when I got my first job, it was a legit job. So, what's really difficult is not having an actual timeline for when I should be able to get a job. How do I not feel lazy while I also feel drugged? It is going to take time, I know this, as difficult as it is for me to accept. In the meantime, I'm a ball of emotions, moved to tears at the drop of a dime.  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

2nd surgeversary

Today marks 2 years since my hysterectomy. I wish my current experience with ECT would erase this entire part of my life from my memory instead of things like date or where the dog park can be found.

My awareness of our inability to be successful with IVF was a couple months prior. My gynecologist wanted me to be completely sure of my decision, as there is no going back. She brought up trying another round of IVF, using a donor egg to implant in me, or using a surrogate. My eggs for retrieval were pretty slim pickings in both quantity and quality so that was out. People were simply missing the boat that, perhaps I was being selfish, my desire was to have a baby with Shawn; to carry that baby made of my eggs and Shawn's sperm in my own uterus.

So, even though the knowledge of my failure to become a woman who could carry her own baby already existed; this date actually sealed that for me. This date marks the time when I lost almost everything. I was gutted; left only with a single ovary.

As this day comes and goes, I try to remember and offer support to those who have gone through the struggle and those who, like my cousin, are in the midst of it. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Trial and failure

As I've explained before, I'm on a pretty significant cocktail of medications plus ECT for my mental illness. This has caused me to be a bit of a guinea pig. So, over the last week, I was taking samples of a new to me and to all my doctors/therapists medication. My prescribing doctor is always good about giving samples to work through things before having to pay for the meds, especially if they are outside our insurance.

I've given this medication a week. The hope was that it would make me a little more clear headed and wake me up a bit. With this change, I would hopefully reduce the amount of another med I've been taking. After a week, I didn't think this was working. I was a huge cry baby, growing as the week went on. I was starting to feel like if I was given the Beck_Depression_Inventory to take, the number would shoot really high.

When changes like this happen, you have to wonder why. What was it that changed in that time? My assessment? This new medication. So, I called my psych nurse practitioner and let her know what was up. Her response, eliminate that medication from my cocktail and we'll go on to our already scheduled appointment next week.

And so, on to the next one.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Up in a puff of smoke

When I was a teenager, I was a social smoker. My BFF made this easy for me and made it easy for me to pass off the smell when my parents questioned me about it. I was always able to be casual about smoking and never purchased packs of my own. By the time I got to college, I was a little more active with my smoking. The increase in stress in college had me seeking out the calm that smoking always brought to me. But, I still never considered myself a smoker; I still wasn't buying cigarettes regularly.

Spring 2003 came along and so did my diagnosis of my first major depression. And, the purchasing of actual packs of cigarettes. I was pulling into gas stations to take advantage of the BOGO (the savings would make my dad proud...ha) on my favorite brand. I would step outside with coworkers for some of the most calming and anxiety reducing times of my life. I was also smoking in my car and out with friends. My psychiatrist said at one point that with all I was going through with my depression and anxiety, trying to quit smoking was probably too much more than I could handle. I milked that for quite some time. At different points, I was able to cut back, but I basically held onto that idea until 2009.

These days, I'm really struggling with being a non-smoker. I know that studies have revealed that cigarettes do not relieve stress and anxiety. However, in so many ways, on so many days, I felt the most calm when I was smoking. Shawn and I watched a show, "Stranger Things", on Netflex the last couple of days. Very many characters smoke on the show. Watching this show has increased my urge for taking a seat on the front steps with a cigarette.

Alas, it's not healthy for me, and, I'm unemployed, so I can't afford a pack.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pokémon Go check yourself before you wreck yourself

This week I saw my psych nurse practitioner for meds, who made some changes to my scripts. I also saw my therapist for some typical talk time. Then, I capped it off with my psychiatrist who does my ECT. Not a single one of them recommended "Pokémon Go" as a solution for what ails me.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Don't let me go retail again

I'm pretty sure I would have had pretty shitty scores on the Beck Depression Inventory all the way back in the 3rd grade. Perhaps even earlier. Feelings of anxiety were already building stronger and stronger.

In high school, I doubt people really would have pegged me for suffering anxiety and/or depression. At least, those who did, didn't really do anything about trying to get me the help I needed.

When I got to college, holy crap, anxiety was strong and mighty. I was an English major who was working toward certification in secondary education with the Department of Education. The Beck would have set off all kinds of red flags for sure then. There was a lot of bullshit going on at home with my younger brother and his education at the same time I was doing field work at a local high school. I was in full "HOLY SHIT! WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING?" mode. So, I withdrew from the certification program just a course or two before I was to start student teaching. Went on to finish up college with a BA in English in 4 years.

I had that degree and worked at Perkins with no idea what to do with that degree since I didn't have the teaching element attached. A want ad crossed my way. I filled it out, tested, interviewed twice (painfully so), and got it. I did well with the job, but that Beck Depression Inventory would have been very high. Honestly, I feel the urge to vomit whenever I think of my interviews and some other speaking engagements required of me. Otherwise, I did pretty well.

When I met Shawn and things got serious enough that I needed to move cross country, I would have liked to keep my job somehow in a telecommuting position. That didn't work. Finding something similar, also didn't work. So, I moved with nothing lined up and hit the online want ad sites.

Finally, I caved to retail. I went to Barnes & Noble because I thought being a bookseller made some kind of sense. They quickly promoted me to a lead position in the bargain section. Next, I was made manager of the cafe. I hated being in management. I also didn't respect my managers. Retail made me truly unhappy. Things came to a head and I decided, with Shawn, that it was time to quit. Quitting without notice was nothing I ever expected I would do. The actions of the store manager with a cafe employee just made me too mad to report to her another day.

At this point, I went on to a temp agency to see what I could get and perhaps develop into a regular gig. My lack of confidence was strong and anxiety was heavy on me. Thankfully, in this time, Shawn and I got married. He still wanted to go through with it and still loved me. The best part of all I was going through.

After the wedding was over, I was having a harder time with the temp placements. My bleeding heart took over and my wish to change the world was weighing heavy on me. I ended up at an Obama campaign office. I was doing data entry and office management tasks. Calls and canvasing were not my strong suit because of my high anxiety. That ended up being okay. Obama won and my work was done.

So, I went back to retail. I applied at Old Navy and was hired. Their product really fills my closet, so I thought it was worth applying. Again, another horribly, anxiety filled interview actually lead to a job. My advancement through the company was quick. My stress, anxiety, depression related to the job moved quicker. I loved merchandising. That's all. I hated any of the management shit I had to do, I hated the back-to-school season and the holiday season black-outs for taking time off. If I could just build displays, that would have been okay with me. I became an assistant store manager and that killed my self-esteem, that made me hate my job and my self. One day, I decided to step-down. The store manager was kind enough to get me a transfer so that I wasn't out of a job completely. I was transferred to work shipment at another store.

I haven't managed to figure something else out for myself. This has put my Beck results through the roof, higher than ever. ECT and a huge medication cocktail have become my life right now. This has me freaking out. I worry that I will be back in retail or food service. My loved ones and mental health professionals tell me that I don't need to figure out a job right now. I wish it was as easy as they are trying to make it seem.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Survey Says...

Each Electroconvulsive Therapy procedure has Shawn and me arriving at the institute at the hospital. He sets himself up to either work on work, read, or just goof around on his phone. I start the process of checking in by filling out the Beck Depression Inventory (similar to this). Then, whichever nurse assigned to me comes with my three pre-ECT drugs. After that, I sit and wait to be called back when a bed came available.

Once I head to the back, I get my last chance to use the bathroom and my hospital gown. After leaving the bathroom, I head to my assigned bed. This is when my mini mental exam happens. Something so easy which can be so stressful. When I was learning about ECT, short-term memory loss was explained as a side effect. These mini mental exams are a way of accessing memory loss. The nurse kicks it off asking me for "the date; day of the week; season of the year?" Then, "what building; floor; city; state; country;?" Next the nurse says three words for me to repeat back. After that, I'm given a word to spell backwards. This causes me the most anxiety. I'm not a great speller forwards, so backwards is not fun. The spelling is done and then I'm asked to repeat those three words from before. Ugh! Lately, I manage to only remember two of them. That's a wrap on that little exam.

I've been able to pass the little memory exam except for a struggle with the last part with the three words. But, I can tell my memory is suffering. The other day, in the car, I asked Shawn where the park we take Jarvis to was located. Then, I had a picture on Facebook of me at Denver Comic Con in which I'm sitting in a replica of the throne from "Game of Thrones". I have absolutely no memory of doing this. Other memory things, too, like leaving the oven or stove burners on. So, the memory loss is no joke. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Where did he come from?

Back in April, I started my acute ECT. So, 3 days a week of Shawn driving me and taking care of me afterward. He loaded me up in the car and then got me home and to bed.

He has been working from home this entire time. I am so thankful for his company being so supportive. I still cannot drive. Also, I haven't been released to being on my own for long periods of time. He can leave me for a couple hours at a time. How does he do this? I haven't been the best girlfriend/fiancée/wife through the 13 years we've had together. Now, I am so entirely dependent upon him and he just steps in and handles it.

And now, tonight, he adds to his amazingly selflessness by helping out a friend (more of an acquaintance) move a couple of things. Since I can be by myself a couple of hours, he offered to do it. It isn't this guy's full moving day. He just needed a couple of people to help move a couple items. So, he takes a break from babysitting me to help an acquaintance move a couple of things.

Really? How does someone so giving exist? How did I get this person as a husband? Will I be fortunate enough to keep him?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Please, something, work for me

I am on a pretty significant cocktail of medications for my mental health. In the prescription drug category, I have 5 drugs for mental health and 1 drug for thyroid. Then I take vitamins and fish oil as OTC supplements.

Then, ECT is added to all of this. Right now, we are working on once a week, down from 3 times. I just don't know what to do with all of this. I'm not sure the one time a week is really going over that well.

All of this is making me so dependent on Shawn. I mean more so than just being a married couple. I have no income and fees are being taken out of my checking account because of lack of usage. He is taking care of me on so many levels. I fear something happening to him and my having absolutely no clue what to do about anything. It all weighs heavily upon me and I don't know what to do.

Drugs aren't enough....I need them to do more for me...