Useless Lawyer

Let me start by saying that I am still employed (as far as I know) and I will find out later this week if I have a job. I called the lawyer as a precautionary measure.

So I finally called the lawyer. It’s been months since I filled out the request and I only got 14 minutes of his time for my $25. (I was running out of questions.) I’m sure I originally had more questions, but since I waited until the last minute, I wasn’t really prepared. Basically, I’ve got nothing. He told me to call the unemployment office to find out if would qualify for unemployment benefits if they didn’t have a place for me after coming off short-term disability. Well, isn’t that why I called him? A lawyer who deals with employment law? Really all I learned was that if you are going to make an ADA complaint (American Disabilities Act) then it must be done within 10 months of the event.

There is nothing I can do except go back to work and say, “I’m ready. Will you have me?” And they say Yea or Nay. If I do go back and they harass me again because of my work restrictions, then I can file a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) over disability harassment, but disability cases are hard to win.

I was kicking myself afterwards because I forgot to ask about COBRA. Really I need health insurance more than I need income. (Well, we all need both but since my medical bills went over $8k last year, I think I need health insurance pretty badly.) So I went to the government site for COBRA and I found the following:

Qualifying Events for Employees:

  • Voluntary or involuntary termination of employment for reasons other than gross misconduct
  • Reduction in the number of hours of employment

That means that even if they ask me to resign, I can still COBRA.  That’s what I needed to know.

So basically, it’s up to them.  I’ve done what I can to prepare, which is important.  I still have backup plans, although they are dwindling.  But that’s a whole other story.

PS: I feel no empowerment by having completed this task of calling the lawyer like my therapist said I would.  Overall, a very fruitless expedition.  At least I find a some solace in the COBRA information.

 
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Simmer

I feel as though I am walking on the edge of a knife. My temper is short, but I am containing it, keeping it under a false smile. Simmering, I can feel the rage building in my head, waiting for an outlet. The right trigger at the wrong time. Dsyphoric mania here I come. Clenching my fists, squeezing my eyes shut tight, biting my lip, counting to ten. Keep the lid on the pot, now is not the time. Never is the time, but right now is really not the time.

I’m supposed to go back to work this week. I have to be in control. I can’t get a straight answer from anyone – who is supposed to tell me when I can go back? If I can go back? Why can’t I work up the courage to call a lawyer? I can do a lot of things now. It’s time. I hate to admit it, but it’s time. I hate working; I hate not working. I hate having everything up in the air. The penny has to fall.

To make matters worse, my husband is sick. We don’t know why or how. It started two weeks ago – nausea & other digestive issues along with pain. Pain where your vital organs are. The gallbladder is already gone so what’s left? Not good. Scary. Doc gave Aciphex but it’s not fixing the problem. He’s in pain and he’s constantly exhausted and I don’t know how to help him. He won’t let me take him to the ER. I can’t lose my husband. I won’t survive. I can’t. He is the other half of me. The only one who can put up with my crazy moods, who supports me no matter what, who knows how to make me laugh and how to calm me down. I’m so dependent on him, sometimes I can’t even make simple decisions on my own.

All of this is building. Time is ticking. I am trapped within my own mind. Building, building, building. I can’t do what I need to do because I am constantly on edge. This razor-sharp knife edge. Keep the lid on. Hold on tight. This will not be a fun ride.


© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. 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.

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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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

 

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Manic Monday

I can’t say it’s a “Manic Monday” because I am neither manic nor is it Monday.  You might be wondering why I chose to go by Manic Monday.  Well, there is a story behind the phrase, but the blog name and my pen name are the same because basically I was rather stumped by the whole setup process in WordPress.  (Go ahead, laugh, it’s OK.)  Having bungled it from the beginning, and after making a few friends in the neighborhood, it didn’t seem like I should put forth the effort to change anything at this stage.  Besides, I’m not sure I can come up with a more creative name anyway.

On to the story behind the name… you may recognize “Manic Monday” because it’s a song by The Bangles.  A song from my teenage years – so you can estimate my age now.  They were never a favorite but I did like The Bangles.  (I was more of a Duran Duran girl at the time.)  However, when my obession with this song started about a year ago I actually was manic.  I didn’t recognize it for a long time – until after my new neurologist point it out.  That’s when I started writing this blog.

Things at work had been pretty rough for about a year.  It’s difficult when your supervisor is a narcissistic bully.  I went through a lot of depression, abuse PTSD and just general instability.  My health was rapidly going downhill with symptoms that still can’t be explained but had me convinced that I would be in a wheelchair within a few years.  The symptoms suddenly subsided sometime in April or May and I hope they stay that way.  But in January 2011, my previous neurologist prescribed me Cymbalta for the neuropathy pain.  A red flag should have gone up but didn’t.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Cymbalta, it is a strong anti-depressant that is also used to treat neuropathy.  I took the minimum dose for about two weeks.  It didn’t help with the neuropathy so I quit.  I don’t know if this is what started my mania, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it had an impact.  I don’t know when my mania actually started.  I was so worried about losing feeling in my legs that any mental health signs were lost.  For all I know, the mania and Cymbalta might not be related. I was only taking Lamictal for my bipolar so I had nothing to prevent mania. All I know is that by the time I met my psychiatrist in July I was coming down off of a manic high.  Not a euphoric mania either – I think that’s why I didn’t recognize it.

Wow, I really got off topic here.  What I was aiming for was not a bio but rather why I like this song now.  It’s because I hated going to work. And our manager started cracking down on people coming in late – well, except for the narcissist – he’s always the exception to every rule.  So you can imagine these lyrics…

But I can’t be late
‘Cause then I guess I just won’t get paid
These are the days
When you wish your bed was already made

I never make my bed.

Got to be to work by nine
And if I had an air-o-plane
I still couldn’t make it on time
‘Cause it takes me so long
Just to figure out what I’m gonna wear

It takes me forever to get ready in the morning.  I can’t figure out what to wear, and even when I decide the night before, something goes wrong and I have to start over.  It takes me about an hour and a half – longer if I wear makeup or eat.

As time went on and every day seemed like a “Monday” I started thinking of this song every time the alarm clock went off.  Eventually, I made a ringtone for my alarm.  I don’t know if I will still feel like every day is a “Manic Monday” once I go back to work.  We’ll find out in about a month.


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