Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Out of the Effexor Coma

After a dozen weeks of smaller and smaller doses, I'm finally done with Effexor. Or "Side Effexor" as it's nicknamed -- because when you try to stop it, it gets jealous in a kind of mad-scientist way. Nausea, dizziness, ear aches, brain shivers -- but I did start pooping again.

I stopped the Effexor because it reduced my life to work, bed. I felt so exhausted every day that I wondered if I was physically ill. Sometimes I didn't have the energy to stand up or move an arm -- a weird feeling that we all describe at some point but that I had never experienced so convincingly.

So I'm out of my waking coma, and out of the stability it provided. It was awesome living without the constant irritability that I now see has plagued me since I was a kid. I have a new perspective on my mental illness -- I learned (again?) that no matter how many issues I conquer, the illness is still there perturbing me. And the illness is mostly about hypersensitivity. My senses overreact and make me irritable. I see that now, without Effexor, in the heat and the noise of the city, with all the little bits of things that collect on the floor every day and the dirty dishes and the sink that never seems to get clean, with neighbors slamming doors and the bright sun that won't go down. If I can find a med that smooths out my senses a bit, I think I'll feel much better. Effexor stabilized me and either doused my senses with sleep or smoothed them down directly, but it withdrew my life to do it, and that wasn't an acceptable solution.

I see my doc later this month, so we'll see what happens. I don't have insurance yet and the financial advisor sucks at her job and hasn't returned my handful of calls, so I may be pulling this one out of my own pocket. But my doc is worth it, and maybe the new med won't be $300 a month without insurance (or financial advice) like Effexor. I'm still on Trileptal, $45 a month at Target (elsewhere over $100).

My butt/hips/upper legs/lower back started whining more as I got to the end of my Effexor taper, and I haven't decided if that's because Effexor was helping the pain or because they really liked lying down as much as we did the past seven months. After six hours walking around at work yesterday and then sitting through a movie and dinner, my pelvis wanted to go on strike. Catfish told me I was limping; I'd thought I was only limping in my head. Those movie chairs are comfortable, but I was shifting every few minutes, trying to negotiate among all my body parts. Finally I balled my legs up to my chest despite my short skirt, despite the many children at Toy Story 3, thankful for the darkness.

A friend (who has Celiac -- coincidence?) linked me to this site about Hip FAI, which she recently discovered she has. When I manage to get insurance again, I'll ask about it. My mom's hip problem seems so far to be an increased dose of arthritis in her right hip. Maybe that plus my dad's spinal stenosis explains my problems? I'm still gun-shy about doctors -- I'm not convinced I can get anyone to care, so I sit around feeling like I'm rotting or maybe just aging too quickly. But I know I'll beat down doors again when I have the #!$*ing $$$ to do so.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting Gimpy in the Hippy

I've written before about my right hip -- mild pain, less flexible than the left one. It never bothered me enough to take it to a doctor even though I've read that in vulvodynia, hips and vulvas often go hand in hand. I figured it would be another wild-goose chase, another series of tunnel-vision docs.

Lately, however, the pain is worse, and I seem to lose some strength in my leg when it's in certain positions relative to my torso. It's also poking me in more places, spreading from just the inside of my hip to the outside and my butt and my lower back and my thigh...maybe out of compensating for it all day. The pain still isn't very bad and I might not even care if it weren't for that thing next door that's been whining at me for almost four years.

Then I was talking to my mom about my symptoms, and voila, she has the exact same issues with her hip. She actually went to the doctor for hers last week -- no results yet, but they did some x-rays and strength tests and I hate to say it but I'm really hoping they find something wrong with my mom....

Oh Mommy, No Mommy! But if she can get doctors to help her, maybe I can go to those exact same doctors and say the exact same things and get them to help me too. And then we'll both feel better and do cartwheels, or cartwheels and the 57-year-old-with-arthritis equivalent of cartwheels.

The pain with sitting has also gotten worse -- right below my tailbone ramming up into my spine. Thankfully, as a waitress, I don't do a lot of sitting during the day and can forget about it most of the time, but all the unforgiving chairs of the world have taught me that any career change will come with a butt donut.

(And if any more people tell me it hurts to sit because I'm too skinny, I am going to measure the volume of my butt via displacement and pour an equal amount of liquefied donkey farts over their heads. Not their collective heads -- one by one.)

Obviously I do need to see a doctor, but I don't have health insurance (and the county hospital is not the solution), so I'm working on solving that problem. I'm thinking if nothing results from my mom's visit, I'll start with the physical therapist I was seeing to get her recommendation and go from there. Or I'll camp myself in front of the Cleveland Clinic with a giant neon posterboard presentation of my journey through vulvodynia...ooooh, maybe I'll make a 3-D journey into a posterboard vagina...into the pleasure-dome...

Anyway, if anyone has any thoughts about my symptoms, please let me know. I know a couple of the bloggers I read have been diagnosed with either hip problems or pudendal neuralgia, so I've got those two on my list. The strange and lucky thing is that the hip and butt pain have inspired a feeling of greater control over my vulvodynia rather than a feeling of being burdened by it. There is so much more hope against chronic pain when an actual cause comes into likelihood.