One mile

One mile isn’t really that far.  I’ve walked many miles in my life in places like Seattle, DC, Paris and Prague.  So what’s the big deal about walking a mile? I tried to walk a mile today in my neighborhood.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.

I tried walking yesterday at the “Goose Park“, as I shall call it from now on, with great success.  Up and down little hills, I walked the lanes back and forth zig-zagging along the paths.  I was breaking out into a sweat after 15 minutes, after 30 I couldn’t take a step further. I was a little sore today but my psychiatrist strongly urged me to keep walking since I need to build up my stamina before I go back to work. So I took a walk today too.  If you’ve been reading along these past few weeks, you know that depression has been kicking my ass – hard.  I haven’t been doing anything, much less walking, and just getting up the energy to go for a walk with my husband when he takes the dog has been an enormous effort.  I always want to stop and rest, if I can’t find an excuse not to go in the first place.  After two days of intentionally walking – I’m exhausted.  It’s not the neuropathy this time; I’m just that out of shape.  No wonder I am putting on so much weight! 😦

My neighborhood is somewhat hilly so that 1 mile really counts for something.  But when I got home and asked my husband how far that trip is and he said a mile, I about fell over.  It felt like two!  In fact, I was sure it must have been two – how could one mile be so damn difficult?  The human body is a strange thing – it takes so much work to make it good and so little to make it fail.  Even with as poorly as my arm was before the surgery, just 10 days in a splint and I lost all range of motion.  It took 4 weeks to get just the range of motion back.  I’m still working on strength.

It wasn’t so long ago that I could walk a mile and a half in 30min without heavy breathing.  Between not working, not exercising, and depression, all I can walk is a mile.  Oh well, one mile is better than no miles.  It’s a start.


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Why I hate Canadian Geese

They are noisy, obnoxious, territorial, vicious creatures. Don’t walk too close to them or they will attack – especially during mating season. We used to live in an apartment complex that was quiet and charming with a pond in the back. But every spring from about February to May, the geese were there honking up a storm. Day and night. Even with heat or AC on, it still would keep me up some nights. Mating season, I know, but noisy, noisy, noisy!!! I remember one time I took a walk around the campus that I was working at and accidentally walked too close to a nest. The male goose started honking and snapping, chasing me away. I’ve been wary of them ever since.

Today, at my husband’s urging, I went for a walk. Instead of walking around the neighborhood, I went to a nearby park that I like. It is a lovely place with a pond, benches, and trees. Even a weeping willow whose leaves reach for the water, nearly kissing the surface. The only down side is the geese. There are ducks too, but they keep to themselves and are relatively benign anyway. But these geese… people feed the geese. Often. So the geese are not afraid of humans, instead they are bold creatures and they figure that if you are human and in their territory then you are there to feed them. And if you aren’t there to feed them then get lost. Mind you, I’ve gotten some incredible pictures of these geese, close-ups because they’ll walk right up to you, but I’ve also stood on top of a picnic table to get away from them. I hate geese, almost as much as I hate bugs.

Too close for comfort

Not shy! They will come closer and probably eat out of your hand if you let them. I've never tried it.

I hate spiders too. I’m afraid that every spider I see is a brown recluse (common in this part of the country) that will bite me and kill me painfully. Or kill my cats. When Luna passed away, I had a feeling that she had eaten a brown recluse.  She was playing with something, and shortly thereafter she began convulsions and eventually her liver gave out.  The poor thing died in agony. But that’s a different story. I was talking about why I hate geese and why I hate spiders and other creepy-crawlies. They are icky, nasty things.  I know spiders are a necessary part of the ecosystem but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

But geese? Surely they aren’t a necessary part of the ecosystem? They are the perfect example of a fluffy dinosaur, evolved from large flying creatures in a savage land of eat or be eaten. They eat grass and handouts and poop everywhere. Please don’t feed the geese. At least make them work for their food. Otherwise the world might be taken over by Canadian Geese.

Overrun!



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More Depression

My depression is sinking fast. I am fighting – clawing, grasping, anything to keep my head above water but something is weighing me down, dragging me under. It’s so much effort to push through the surface for that next breath of air. It feels like there is a pit in the center of my chest and it sucks away any hint of joy, it drags the tears from my eyes so I can’t release my pain, it even grabs at my throat choking me. I don’t feel the sharp sting of severe agony like usual, this is a dull, quiet hell I’m in now, paved with boredom and listlessness. My life is passing me by and I can’t even be bothered to watch it go.

All day
Staring at the ceiling
Making friends with shadows on my wall

All night
Hearing voices telling me
That I should get some sleep
Because tomorrow might be good for something

-Unwell, Matchbox 20

I have a playlist titled Depression.  When my depression is acute this usually kicks me out along with a good cry. The depression I’m in now is not so cooperative. I can’t even cry.  It’s a chronic soul sucking monster of a black hole.  I don’t know which one is more dangerous: sharp and short (usually accompanied with a dysphoric mania) or this long slow sense of slowly falling into oblivion.

I’m making an effort to “fake it until you make it”.  I (eventually) get up in the morning. With great effort, I take a shower. I do my PT exercises. I keep all my appointments. Yesterday I went to lunch with a friend.  I dressed up in nice slacks and sweater.  I wore heels and foundation.  (No eye makeup, I had an eye exam later that day.)  I looked good but I felt like crap.  I enjoyed lunch – I’m starving for contact with the outside world but I can’t seem to get off my couch to go out there.  It’s just too much work.  I had a therapist appointment afterwards. I told her my psychiatrist is watching me carefully for switching while we rapidly ramp up the Paxil. I told her (my therapist) that I must look worse than I thought.  She said from the outside I look great. Until she looks at my face.  There’s a sadness and pain in my eyes. Eyes are the windows to the soul.

Why is Paxil not working???  Did they give me a fucking placebo by mistake? I feel like slamming my head against the wall.  Maybe I can jump start the chemicals. Shake something loose. Like when your candy bar gets stuck on its way out of the vending machine. A good shove will shake it loose. Paxil always works. Why is it not working this time???????????????????

Maybe a part of it is that I am feeling my age. I had to get my first pair of bifocals.  $244.  It sucks to get old. But I had to knuckle under and do it. Putting my glasses on top of my head is really getting to be a pain in the ass. One more body part(s) to fall apart.  I can’t lose my sight.  I don’t think I would have anything to live for then. I’ve already got Pars Planitis (an inflammatory eye disease), floaters, I’ve had a retinal tear, and I have a small epi-retinal membrane.  My eyes are about 40 years older than the rest of me.

I think having to admit that I need bifocals just added to the list of things making me feel like crap. I already procrastinated for two years, but there’s no avoiding it anymore.  I need bifocals.

I’m getting old.

I’m getting old before my time.

Will I live long enough to retire?

Will I ever find a job I can stand that long?

Every day is a struggle.  I’ve been in worse situations in my life and not felt this bad. This level of depression has only hit me a few times before: during an abusive relationship, after I left that relationship, when I was unemployed, and now.  Why now?  I’ve got medication coming out of my ears.  I take nine prescription medications. NINE. That does not include supplements. I hate answering the question: how is your general health? Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor.  How the hell do I answer that question? I have so many (weird) things wrong with me but do fairly well despite it all.

Imagine if I had had children and passed on all these weird genetics? Bipolar would be the least of their problems. At least, some of the time. Other times, it’s the worst of the beasts.

All of these thoughts are traipsing through my mind. They aren’t running, scattered to the far corners, sprinting and chasing like mania.  No, I feel the furthest thing from mania.  I feel hollow, my mind just rambling along and my fingers telling you about it.

I guess it’s time for my rambling to come to an end for today.  I hope you all are doing better than I am.

 
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Did I get up?

One of my goals while I am fighting this depression is to force myself to do things that feel like so much effort. Like getting out of bed. Taking a shower. Washing my hair (and it’s short). It may sound strange that taking a shower is such an effort when you aren’t physically disabled. (I’ve got the arm issues but they don’t prevent me from taking a shower.) So anyway, yesterday I decided that sleeping 11-12 hours a night is absurd when there’s no physical reason for it. I set my alarm for 9:30 am. My phone went off at 8:30 with a reminder call about my therapist appointment tomorrow (boy do I need that!) and I should have been able to get up then – I’d had 8 hours. I dozed until my alarm went off. Then I turned it off.

So, did I get up? No. I didn’t get out of bed until 11:30. AGAIN.

My days are filled with nothing. I lie in bed and worry about so many things – work, money, health. I do nothing to aid my situation. My therapist once asked me to write out why I procrastinate. She asks, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Probably what’s already happening. Somehow results by default because of inaction work for me in a sense, but it’s in a bad sense. When it’s over, I just think, “This was my fault. The result of my inaction. I deserve this.” So it all comes down to self-punishment.

I had the exterminator come over today and look at our door. Yes, we have termites. $1200 to fix/prevent the problem from returning. Lifetime guarantee, transferable to the next homeowners. He was very surprised that we have them at all since our neighborhood is usually clean of them. Lucky, lucky me.

I HATE HOME OWNERSHIP!!!

All I wanted was a new kitchen.

Maybe I should have stayed in bed all day.


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Estimate

Note:  I started this post yesterday but got too tired to finish it, so I’ll separate the days.

Yesterday:

First things first, I met with my pdoc today.  She seemed very concerned about my depression, so she is increasing the Paxil gradually up to 40mg.  I asked if that was a good idea, but she said we would watch closely for switching.  Apparently, the more depressed you are, the more likely you are to switch when when things start getting better.  She commented, “We’ve got to get you out of this depression.”  Which makes me think that maybe I look worse than I thought. I meet with her again next week because she wants to watch me closely for any sign of mania.  If I didn’t have 6 months worth of Geodon sitting in my pantry, I’d throw up my hands and say: let’s try lithium.  Why I would rather take three meds than one is probably beyond any rationalization, but I have my reasons.

On to the title… the husband of a good friend of mine is a general contractor.  We had him come over to our house and give us an estimate on updating our kitchen.  The estimate was a little disappointing, but pretty much right where I expected it to be – just under $5k.  One of the biggest expenses will be the tiles I want, so I went to Lowe’s this afternoon to look around at options.  (I watch too much HGTV and I wanted those little glass ones, which run about $12/ sq. ft. whereas regular tile costs $3-$4/ sq. ft.)  I found some stone tile that I’ve fallen in love with that will probably knock the price of tile in half, more if I don’t add the decorative ones.  Which would bring the total under $4.5k.  It doesn’t sound like you get a lot for that money, when you consider all that I get is new counters, backsplash, sink and faucets.  However, this would completely change the look of the kitchen and really modernize it.  Yes, it would be cheaper for us to do the work ourselves, but we would never do it if left to our own devices.  We are terrible homeowners.

Today:

Well, to pick up where I left off… yes, we are terrible homeowners.  I HATE home ownership.  If I could, I would live in a townhouse, except for one thing: privacy.  I like my privacy.  I like being able to sit on my back patio and read and not have the world watching me.  Maybe it’s a little paranoia, but I always feel like I am being watched.  I know I am at work because everyone watches everyone else so that they can draw false conclusions and develop gossip. Maybe our jobs just aren’t interesting enough so everyone feels the need to indulge in gossip.  This is the most gossipy place I’ve ever worked.

Back to home ownership… I found this wonderful tile, so I bought one of the decorative ones to take home and see how it would match up with what we currently have in the house and it goes wonderfully with everything!  I think it will go well with the stainless steel sink and the new counter tops (which will be jade green concrete), it also works with the tile we already have and the white cabinets that will stay white until we can afford to have them painted and glazed.

The decorative tile I want

Retail therapy works really well for me.  I’d been planning on spending $3-5k on the kitchen anyway.  DH and I are not handy with tools and such.  I love my drill and electric screwdriver, but I have a saw I bought 4 years ago that still sits in its box.  (I was going to make bookshelves.  Yeah, right.)  I even have a small saw bench for safety. Never been used. (Obviously.)  We barely hang up pictures.

I slept for 12 hours last night.  This depression is really kicking my ass. I know I’m worried about money, but I think putting a little bit into the house is worthwhile.  This is not the only thing that needs fixing… we might have termites too around the front door.  I wonder how much that is going to cost to fix.  At least a new kitchen will look pretty.

Argh! It’s always something…. 😦

 
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Slipping

I’m slipping into depression again. My frustration with the healing process, with my arm and my mental illness, worry about work & money, having to deal with my house, bills, medical, etc. It’s all just wearing me down. And 10mg is not enough Paxil to lift my spirits. I feel sad all the time. I sleep 10 hours a night and I’m still groggy in the morning. I sit on my ass and play video games all the time. (It’s a joint effort – I make character decisions and DH runs the controller for me.) Exercise is too much effort for me.

Lulu has been kind enough to nominate me for some awards, but I haven’t the energy to write the blogs. The blog that’s done me the most good writing lately is My Neuropathy. I felt like I was doing some good for the world. Most of my blogs are just rants. 😦

I’m tired, I’m frustrated, and I’m bored. I’m afraid to go back to work. I am afraid of even looking for another job – well, not afraid precisely. More like it seems like a lot of effort and complication. It would mean moving -again. I’m tired of moving, tired of changing jobs, just tired. Another job could be good for me but it takes more effort than I have. I may not have a choice soon. I don’t know what to think.

At least I see my pdoc tomorrow. Maybe we should up the Paxil, or go back to the 400mg of Lamictal. I don’t know. I hope she has some ideas.


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My Neuropathy

Since my last post, Manic Monday, spurred a lot of interest on the topic of neuropathy, I thought I would share my experiences in hopes that they help someone else.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a MD nor associated with the medical field in any manner.  This information is based solely on my experience.

It all started about 2&1/2 years ago.  At first it was just a light tingling in my fingers and toes that would come and go.  Since I had been previously diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I thought it was just a relapse. I thought, “Great, my first relapse in seven years. Must be all the stress I’m under.”  But then it started to happen more often.  Within a month, I had full-blown peripheral neuropathy: severe pain in my legs, temperature regulation issues, tingling, etc. Within two months, the numbness started.  It began with the side of my big toe on my right foot.  I remember this because I was thinking how it was the furthest body part from my heart.  The numbness spread, encompassing all of my feet, ankles, and eventually spread up my legs.  After a year and a half, the numbness was up to my knees.

You can imagine the terror I felt the entire time.  I’ll try and give some description as to what it feels like.  Imagine a burning, searing pain in your feet.  Like walking on hot pavement in the summer times a hundred.  The pain doesn’t just feel hot, it feels electrical. I also occasionally get stabs of pain which feel like someone has taken a spike with a small, sharp head and slammed it into my toe.  These stabs occur randomly, and are so sharp and shocking that I have been known to cry out, and even remove my foot from the gas pedal.

There’s also the cold.  My feet are constantly cold.  I’ve had problems with cold feet for most of my life.  But now my feet sometimes get really cold – like ice.  Your feet can sweat and be cold at the same time – it’s the weirdest thing.  If you manage to get them warm, that often triggers the searing hot pain.  But there is another kind of cold.  It’s a bone deep cold.  I remember walking down the hallway one time thinking, “this is the strangest sensation.  Something is not right.” (Brilliant deduction, huh?) This feels like is your bones have turned to ice water.  The whole leg doesn’t necessarily feel cold, but the bones are deep and frigid.  It’s more like an ice cold water than pure ice because you feel a little “sloshy” and unsteady. Peripheral neuropathy also causes problems walking and you will trip if you try to walk too fast.  Good comfortable shoes are essential for keeping your balance and to prevent pain.

I almost forgot the deep pain. The surface can feel fine (or most likely is numb) but there is a deep pain. Like your bones are crying out for mercy.  It reminds me a little bit of when I was a kid and the doctor said I had “growing pains” in my legs because of a growth spurt, only this is much more severe.  I had it in my shoulder and chest one time and went to the ER.  That time it felt like the muscles as well as the bones were in agony – I put it as an 8 on my pain scale.  (A 10 is having your hip put back in its socket and waking up after a hysterectomy.)  At least I know my heart is fine.

Lastly, there is the numbness. The numbness feels like it’s on the surface.  In my case, it’s not so bad that I can’t feel a pin or a scratch but I still have it.  When it was up to my knees, I didn’t even want to shave my legs because the sensation was so creepy.  Now it’s only in my feet, from the balls of my feet to my toes. So I both like and hate pedicures.  The warm water and foot massage is wonderful, but I can’t let them work on the balls of my feet because the pumice stone is painful. The sides of my toes and between my toes are partially numb.  It feels like there is sand between my toes.  At the time it was spreading so rapidly, and in combination with my other symptoms, I was convinced I would die within a few years.  Since they have both receded significantly, the absolute terror I lived day to day has also receded, but I still remember it and dread the day it may come back.

There are many causes of neuropathy including diabetes (most common), vitamin deficiencies, toxic chemicals & medications (for example, cancer treatment), and more obscure diseases.  However, 60% of all neuropathies are deemed idiopathic.  What I have described here is peripheral neuropathy (PN).  There is also autonomic, optic, audio and others.  PN is the most common. It can be difficult to find information on the web regarding neuropathy unless you start looking specifically for diabetic neuropathy. I’ve included some links below.  The only way to treat PN is by isolating the underlying cause and treating that.  Certain medications are used to help treat it such as Cymbalta, Lyrica, Neurontin, and topical creams, but those medications are only addressing the symptoms (pain) and not the underlying cause.  Studies in Europe have concluded that alpha-lipoic acid helps to aid in recovering nerve function.  It also lowers glucose levels.

I’m still a medical mystery.  It’s unclear why my PN hit so hard, so fast, progressed so far and then receded. This is NOT typical. My A1C (diabetes test) was under control within 3-6 months. It’s possible that I had a MS relapse that exasperated my symptoms for a period of time. There was a lesion found on my t-spine, which may or may not be related to MS.  Since my spine had never been imaged before, there is no way to tell if this lesion was new or old, so I still carry the diagnosis of “probable” MS.

This is my story.  I hope someone finds it valuable.


Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/peripheral-neuropathy/DS00131

Medscape: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1170337-overview

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NIH): http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/neuropathies/

WebMD: http://diabetes.webmd.com/diabetes-neuropathy

American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/neuropathy/

Alpha-Lipoic Acid: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/alpha-lipoic-000285.htm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10595592

 

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.