Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Flare or UTI?

$83 later, flare.

It started on Sunday. I peed and it pinched at the end, like a UTI. I peed again and saw blood, but I was at the end of my period. Could've been my period; wrong color for end of period, but could've been. I didn't see blood again, but peeing still pinched so bad that it made me tear up. Just like a UTI.

I drained a jug of cranberry juice, popped cranberry pills and Cystex, and tested myself twice with AZO's UTI test strips. Both times, I had leukocytes but no nitrites, an inconclusive result. I've had leukocytes in my pee before without having a UTI -- one goose on the way to my original vulvodynia diagnosis. Today, at an appointment I had already made for other girlie things, the doc said I had no leukocytes in my pee at all according to her dipstick. So I almost certainly don't have a UTI. She was willing to do a culture and give me antibiotics, but $83 was enough spent today.

I'm glad I had someone check me out because I'm headed out of town. Traveling with a UTI is a sure way to, well, die. But I still spent what is to me a good chunk of money to find out, again, that I have not anything but vulvodynia. The National Vulvodynia Association conducts a survey of how much vulvodynia costs. Where's the box for how vulvodynia obscures everything else that's going on down there so you don't know what you need to do?

I've had flares that felt like UTIs before, but never one that lasted for 3 days. From now on I'll remember that if I'm not bleeding (and bleeding more and more each time I pee), I don't have a UTI. Still no blood. Still ridiculous pain. Top 5 flares! I don't even want to walk down the stairs, let alone drive to Chicago. I don't even want to walk!

I'm scared that this signals a new status quo. Will this pain pass? Or is this my new day-to-day? It's got to pass. And when it does -- when, when -- I'll be thankful for my baseline.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Self-Discipline, Or Not

Catfish brought home a 3.5-pound bag of Peanut M&Ms from Sam's Club yesterday. I hate him.

Actually, it's still sitting on the shelf, or about 3.2 pounds of it is, anyway.

If he had brought it home when I was at the top of my Effexor dose, 150 mg per day, I would have chowed the entire bag down in 2.5 days. If he'd brought it home when I was at 75 mg of Effexor a day, it would've taken me 5.0 days.

I told my psychiatrist how bad my bad-food cravings were when I was on so much Effexor, and he didn't seem surprised, which surprised me. From what I've read, serotonin does affect food cravings -- but it's low levels of serotonin that'll keep your hand going back to that bag. Effexor should've raised my serotonin levels, but instead it raised my M&M levels. Then again, maybe it was my phlegmatism that made my chocomania so expected.

My point, though, is that for a lot of what we do, there's a chemical behind it. We all talk about chocolate during PMS, pickles and ice cream in pregnancy -- but my Effexor experiment sold me on the more abstract idea that our brain chemicals can influence behaviors like self-discipline. Yeah, yeah, self-discipline is a muscle, we know; all the same, coming down off the Effexor was like giving that muscle a shot of 'roids with each smaller dose. So though we can work on our self-discipline just like any other behavior, we've also lucked (or unlucked) into its initial state just as we have the shape of our toenails.

So if you're wondering why you suck so bad at doing your exercises every day or not eating so many cheeseburgers, consider that there's probably a chemical behind it. And give into it. Let yourself suck. Eat cheeseburgers at an astronomical rate. Scolding yourself is not going to stem the cheeseburger scarfing. Accepting your weak self-discipline muscle for what it is and then working to make it stronger might.

And if you can't stop eating cheeseburgers because you're depressed, consider changing your diet as a psychiatric tactic. We store 95% of our serotonin in our intestines. Our bowels are our "second brain."

P.S. We are doing one push-up for every M&M eaten. That theory that self-discipline in any area affects every area is gonna kick in any minute.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Facebook and More Acceptance Talk

I linked this here coochie blog to Facebook so my posts would automatically share themselves with everyone in the world I know. And that was fine, but I've realized there are some things that I want to share with you guys that I don't want everyone in the world I know to know, even in the name of raising awareness. Like particular lady-bits details. So enough of that. I'll import selectively.

I saw my psychiatrist a couple weeks ago, and he okayed stopping the Effexor. He said I seemed like a different person to him having gone off it, using the word "phlegmatic" five or six times to describe how I had been before. He said some people are sensitive to serotonin to the point of becoming "too neutral." Spot on, man! That's exactly how I felt. Beige.

So I stopped both the Effexor and the Trileptal (mood stabilizer) and now I'm on to Lamictal (another mood stabilizer). Except I think the Lamictal is making me twitch and burn in creepy ways all over my body.

If it's the Lamictal, that will suck. I think it's actually helping my brain, and there are only so many bipolar meds out there. But if it's not the Lamictal, that will suck too. That means it's another

~~~~~~MYSTERY DISEASE!!!!~~~~~~

I've been thinking about future diagnoses as my butt has become less tolerant of sitting and the vulvodynia has crept beyond its original horizon, and I realized that I'm in a different place with disease than I was before. I'm less anxious about it and more -- if it's even possible -- open. Disease feels like less of an offense, or maybe no offense at all. It's no longer something that has robbed me, taking away x, y, and z that I used to have or could've. It just is.

I think this is acceptance, and I think the underlying concession in my particular acceptance is that my body is not infallible. It's only as reliable as nature made it, and nature is successful, not perfect.

All bodies are only as reliable as nature makes them. Nature comes with no guarantees. It just tries over and over to succeed.

A body's infallibility is different from immortality. Infallibility implies guarantee. I have never thought I was immortal; I have thought that, given my age, my habits, my fitness, I was reasonably assured of what to expect from my body. But that just isn't the case.

That doesn't mean I don't get frustrated. I am feeling pretty heartbroken that the Lamictal might not work out. There are only so many mood stabilizers. Last fall's episode is still stalking me. It wasn't until then that bipolar disorder terrified me. Is it possible to get PTSD over one's own disorder?! Ah!!!!

And I'm frustrated with the creeping physical symptoms, the lack of answers, etc., etc. But I'm not panicked, exhausted, despairing, or even fearful or worried. I would hate for something huge to be wrong with me, but I'm not constantly dreading it. I'm just tired of the game in a way that's almost sinking into subconsciousness.

I still want answers. I need them -- because if I feel this crappy this young, where will I be in ten years? There is no way in the world vulvodynia is just some

~~~~~~MYSTERY DISEASE!!!!~~~~~~

Pain like this means something is WRONG. BIGGEST DUH IN THE WORLD.