Christmas Conundrum

I like Christmas. I find it’s a pleasant time of year. Even though people are often pushy and rude, I still enjoy shopping and I love buying gifts for others. I like Christmas music and snow, when we are lucky enough to have it. I love to bake holiday goodies. I like the Spirit of Christmas and sharing the joy with others. But this year we have a conundrum.

My niece is coming to visit and spend Christmas with us. I am really excited about this. I am disappointed that her mother, my sister, is not having Christmas for her daughter, but this means I get to see her. She is a sweet and strong young lady. At age 23, she’s just finished her two-year degree and she’s going to go to a four-year college next year. She’s much like me in that she wants to study science. In fact we’re so similar, we could be mother and daughter. She’s bipolar too.

This is where the conundrum comes in. My mother in law has just accepted an offer on her house. This means that this year will be the last Christmas they have in the house that my husband grew up it. She invited us to spend Christmas with her. I told her that my niece is coming and we really couldn’t go. However, my husband has been thinking maybe he should go. He feels torn because he wants to stay here and spend Christmas with us, but he feels as though it’s a family obligation to go and spend Christmas with his mom, who is 70 years old. If he goes, this will be the first Christmas we have spent apart since we met.

I feel torn too. I want him to be happy. And I want my mother in law to be happy. But I also want him here with me. And I know my niece would love to have him here. This is his only opportunity to go because even if I didn’t have my niece here, I am in no condition to travel. However, she can drive and we can shop and we can bake and we will be okay, but we will really miss him. So I don’t want him to leave but I also understand that it’s important to his mom, and to him too in some ways. But this breaks my heart.

He keeps asking me what I think. Do I encourage him to go? Or do I encourage him to stay? Or do I encourage him to make up his own mind? I don’t know what to say to him. I don’t want to keep him here against his will. Nor do I want to force him to go. But it’s going to be really hard without him.

The really sad part is that yesterday we were both happy and excited about Christmas. Now we both are upset and frustrated about it. Amazing how quickly things can change.

Things I’m Thankful For

This is my no means a comprehensive list, but I thought of a few things over the holiday. So here’s starter list of things I’m thankful for:

1. My husband. My soulmate.
2. My Dad is alive and well.
3. My “bro”
4. My childhood friend, J. She is always there for me when things go wrong back East.
My “fur children”:
5. Princess
6. Goldie
7. Indy
8. Lucky
9. LunaKitty, my fur angel who had to leave me two years ago. She was a wonderful part of my life and I still miss her. I’m thankful she shared most of her short life with me.
10. Saxon for easing the pain of losing Luna.
11. My niece
12. Good doctors: PCP, psych, GYN, surgeons
13. The hairdresser who washed my hair for me when I could not
14. The friends who sat with me after my surgery
15. All my friends, near and far
16. My friend, L, who invited us forThanksgiving dinner
17. My massage therapist
18. My vacations. Not everyone gets to go to Scotland, France, or the Netherlands.
19. Meeting nice people
20. My left wrist seems to be getting better
21. I can make a fist with my right hand
22. I can walk. I wasn’t expected to after the accident but today I do and without a cane.
23. My house
24. A savings account with a positive balance
25. I’m still collecting a paycheck while on sick leave

All of you for reading my blog and giving support in a way that no one else can. 🙂

2.5

It’s been 2.5 weeks (or so) since my surgery and I haven’t written in over a week.  Nothing’s happened.  That’s not true – lots of things have happened:  I got my splint off, I started PT,  I’ve even been out of the house a couple times. I haven’t written about any of this because it doesn’t seem like something worthy of writing. But that’s not fair to you.  It’s not my place to determine whether my blog is a waste of your time or not.  It’s your time to do with as you please. If you wish to read it, then the least I can do is write it.

I think the true cause of this attitude is because the depression is returning.  It’s not a train barreling down the tracks at me like before.  It’s slowly creeping up behind me, carrying a cloak of darkness.  It’s a silent stalker, waiting for me to pause in my step, so it can work its dark magic.  Tendrils of familiar sadness flowing over me, binding my arms, slowly dragging me to the ground.  I’m fighting to keep moving but it’s not easy.

The physical is taking a toll on me as well. I can’t use my right hand for much of anything.  My arm doesn’t straighten all the way.  I can’t lift it to my mouth because it won’t go past my chest.  If I try to make a fist, I can get the tips of my (long) nails to just touch my palm.  Last night I was in a lot of pain.  I took a Percocet but it didn’t do any good.  It didn’t even make me tired.

My electronic communication is limited to left-handed typing and dictation because I can’t type or write with my right hand.  It’s taken me an hour to get this far in my post.  I have to ask for help with almost everything.  No wonder I’m depressed.  Maybe it’s situational, but it still feels the same.  Wisps of darkness enveloping me, beginning to drag me into its murky depths.  I feel like I am living in a cocoon, cut off from the rest of the world.

We increased my antidepressant but I have a hunch Celexa just isn’t going to work for me.  Sure wish I could go back to Paxil, but it will render the Percocet useless so it’s no good until after this surgery recovery is over.  I hate being so limited and dependent.  I am trying to stay upbeat but it is hard.  I am trying to be thankful for the small things but that gets hard too.  I am thankful that I have a good surgeon.  I am thankful for good doctors. I am thankful that my Dad is doing OK.  I am really thankful to have a good husband.  It’s the little things that help.  Like knowing someone will read this – so I don’t feel quite so alone.

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WordPress Apps

For those of you who read my blog via e-mail, I encourage you to go to the actual WordPress site. As of late, I am having trouble with the app, and therefore I am frequently publishing before the post is actually completed. This is in part because the iPhone and iPad apps are different for WordPress. But mostly it’s my own inability to properly use these apps. Sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you.

Veteran’s Day

My father join the military in 1946 at the age of 17. He traveled the globe as part of the US effort to clean up after WW II. In China, he met a young woman that he fell in love with. He couldn’t speak the language and she couldn’t speak English, but it was love. Sadly, at that time, enlisted men could not marry women that they met on tour. Only officers had that privilege. Had that not been the case, I may have been half-Chinese.

He spent two years helping with the clean up efforts in Okinawa. Amongst his travels, he stopped over in Honolulu and fell in love with Hawaii. He has told me on several occasions that he can never go back because if he did, he would never leave. I went to Hawaii last year and it’s a beautiful place. Pearl Harbor is particularly haunting. I can only imagine what it looked like at that time with the devastation so fresh.

In 1947, the US Air Force was split off from the Army and my father ended his career as part of the Air Force. He spent the last of his Air Force career as a clerk typing out forms. Each form needed 13 copies and because you can only make one duplicate at a time, that meant he had to type each form seven times in addition to one original. At least he learned how to type.

I spoke to my dad last night. I said, “Dad, it’s Veterans Day.”

He replied, “So what?”

I said, “I want to thank you for your service to our country.”

He seemed stunned by my statement of thanks. I don’t think anyone has ever thanked him for serving. I think we need to remember to thank our veterans more than just once a year. Whether in war or in peace, they are willing to lay down their lives to protect us and defend our rights.

Thank you to all the vets and military personnel out there. We appreciate you.

One Week After Surgery

It’s been one week since my surgery it’s been an eventful and yet very very slow week. okay it’s just been a slow week. Healing is an extremely boring process. First there’s the sleeping. Sleeping is good. But when you aren’t sleeping, then what? There are limited number of things you can do with only one hand. And you would be surprised how many things that you both can and cannot do with just one hand.

For example, I am quite impressed with anyone who breaks their arm and then is able to wear jeans or some other zippered pair of pants. At all. Trust me, even wearing pants that are a size too big is a challenge. Working a zipper with one hand is harder than you think.

Second, when your “working” hand is most disagreeable, you’re limited even further. This means I end up watching a lot of TV. And lots and lots of TV is very boring. I can stream stuff, but again, that’s TV. I’m only talking to you now through Dragon dictation and my iPad. My iPhone lets me read your blog, but the WordPress app for the iPad doesn’t allow for reading. (Unless this function is hidden where I cannot find it.) Otherwise you would not be hearing from for a long time.

Okay, now you know the sad state of my recovery, that is my boredom, let’s talk about the surgery. The surgery – well I don’t really know yet because I don’t see the doctor till Monday when have my first follow up appointment from surgery. The doctor told DH that there was a lot of scar tissue that had to be cleaned up, and they reattached the tendon. The doctor told him the surgery went as planned so there were no complications unforeseen circumstances which is good.

I am very fortunate that I have friends who were willing to come sit with me last Friday night and Saturday. (My cover may be blown, but that’s another post.) My hairdresser washed & styled my hair today for nothing. She said that she wouldn’t charge me for doing something that I cannot do for myself.

My husband has been very supportive helping me to take care of myself: food, medications, personal grooming, and other stuff. Today was a real day on the town. After I had my bath and got my hair done then we went to lunch and did some other errands and stopped at Starbucks and talked. So I bought him lunch and coffee for all the wonderful things he’s done for me this week. It’s not about paying him back, it’s about love & helping someone who has been an integral part of your life for 15 years.

It’s almost Thanksgiving and I am thankful for all of the wonderful people in my life. I can’t pay any of them back, but I will do what I can to Pay It Forward.
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On the Other Hand

Thank you all for the support and well wishes! I made it through the process pretty well with the least amount of PTSD yet. Either this facility is just better or it really helped that I told them in advance that I suffer from past medical trauma. The panic level was much lower and I was able to keep it under control. Had some problems but no worse than my last MRI. Close your eyes and think of some thing else. (Common advice for brides until the 1960s. 😉 – ok that be some of my husband’s sense of humor rubbing off – he gave me the title for this post. )

This nerve block on my arm is doing wonders for the pain but I can’t move my fingers. I can move my thumb just a bit but only in one direction. (Don’t worry, it’s not stuck there. It falls back to neutral.) But I expect the pain to start coming through the block soon – actually it’s already started.

I’m signing off now. I expect I’ll be lurking more than posting , but who knows? I’ve never had Percocet before. It’s supposed to be stronger than Lortab. 😉

Under the Knife

I get my elbow reattached in the morning.  I’m not sure there is enough Klonopin for me to deal with this. There are a million things going on in my head, but I don’t feel manic.  I do feel anxious.  VERY anxious.  I called the pre-op department today because I had forgotten to tell them about my Lyrica and I mentioned that have severe PTSD from a past medical trauma.  (For a brief description see Donation: One Slightly Used Gallbladder.)  She asked what the trauma was from and I said a car accident that nearly killed me. I told her how I get very upset and start shaking and my blood pressure goes up, etc.  Then she asked what time I was due to be at the center and I said 7:30am.  She said not to worry, I would be the first one on the schedule and they would get me set up with an IV and a sedative.  I forgot to ask if my husband can come back and keep me company while I wait for the surgeon and anesthesiologist to make their rounds.

I’m already trembling, how will I survive the hour long drive down there?  And I certainly hope they give me something to keep the pain at bay for the long drive home.  (I’m assuming that I will get a script but it will take time to fill and I still have to get home.)  I’ve prepped a pillow for the car ride and a spare bottle of old Lortab in case they won’t give me a parting dose for the ride.  I have backups upon backups and still I don’t feel safe. I worry about the procedure, I worry about the recovery, I worry about everything.  Worrying doesn’t do any good, I know, but how do I stop it?

Today I was really busy with therapist & doctors appointments and the like.  I just settled down to write this about an hour ago.  Just to update on other things – worker’s comp appointment wasn’t as bad as I feared.  He is sending me to a hand specialist to check but it seems that I have inflammation in the wrist joint that will probably go away over time.  Maybe.  We’ll see.  Oh and I was able to get a copy of my job description from my nurse case manager.  I’ve never had one before.  It’s interesting to note that my job description (as a professional with a PhD) is the same description as the technician’s job.  Remind me again why I went to college for 10 years???

Thank you all for the good thoughts for tomorrow.  I’ll post when I can.

Bipolar 1.5

I saw my psychiatrist yesterday.  It was my 3 week checkup on the new Geodon dose.  She asked how the Celexa was doing, but I said I didn’t think I could adequately answer that question since it’s only been a week since I titrated off the Paxil and onto it.  So another followup in 2 weeks to check on the Celexa.  I think this “medication soup”, as I called it, is bringing my moods into line.  But I wonder… how much control do I really want?  Will I never get excited about things?  Will I never experience sadness again?  Yes, I want to feel better but I don’t want to lose myself in the process.

So we talked about a lot of things, and my time even went over by 10 minutes.  I love talking to her.  I feel completely respected, almost as if we are equals, but at the same time master and student.  We talked about panic disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).  She read snippets from the DSMV-IV.  We agreed that since my anxiety problems are not something that happens more often than half a week, and usually stem from specific events or situations, I do not suffer from GAD.  (I do have OCD.) We talked about medications and we talked about bipolar.

Then I asked her the question: do you think I am bipolar type I or type II or NOS? I was originally diagnosed NOS, but I’m not sure that has much meaning to it. She took a moment to collect her thoughts and then she said, I think your symptoms resemble bipolar type I more so than type II… but it’s really a spectrum… She pulled out a copy of Stahl’s Essential Psychopharmacology where he describes the bipolar spectrum and read some of the classifications to me.  But at that point, my brain had stopped listening.  I had the answer to a question that’s plagued me for a long time, but I’m not sure I really wanted it answered.

My first reaction to the call was to make light of it and say, “Well, if you’re going to do it, you may as well go all the way!” This is not meant as a slight to any BP IIs out there, it’s more of a statement as to my coping mechanisms.  I affectionately refer to my time in outpatient therapy as Daycare for Psychos.  I have my chill pill (Klonopin), my crazy pill (Lamictal), and now I need good names for Geodon and my antidepressant.  I once introduced myself to a pair of interns at the neurologist’s office with, “Hi! I’m crazy.”  (The neurologist politely corrected me saying that I wasn’t crazy but rather bipolar.)  Labeling myself, my medications, my experiences with these terms somehow lessens the emotional blow.

Yes, this is the same woman who won’t tell her best friends that she is bipolar.

Because I don’t trust them or because I don’t trust myself?  I don’t know.  Silence is a burden, but it is better than ridicule or pity.  I don’t want to be known as the bipolar friend.  One of my friends already has a bipolar friend and I hear about her every so often.  All the crazy things this woman thinks and does.  When we bought our house, our realator wouldn’t shut up about her crazy ex-daughter-in-law who was bipolar.  I think I wrap myself with twisted humor as a shield against the true face of stigma.

While my brain and my soul are still wrapping themselves around the idea of being bipolar I or perhaps bipolar 1.5 might be a better description, I still have to contend with my impending surgery.  I will try to post a little something tomorrow as it is my last day of two-handedness for a while, but if I can’t eek out the time, I guess I’ll report in when I can get the iPad to cooperate with WordPress.  (It ate half of my original post.)  Good thoughts requested for Thursday AM! 🙂