Thursday, April 14, 2011

Playing Doctor, Psychiatrist, and Physical Therapist

I'm anemic! I win the diagnosis!

I've never been anemic before, but I had a feeling that I was what with the enormous fatigue I've had the past couple months. My thyroid number is also triple what it was a year and a half ago -- still in the normal range according to the clinic I go to, but not according to other sources.

I've decided this all has to do with Lamictal. The fatigue coincides with when I went up to 75 mg on it.

I like Lamictal a lot. I'm still cycling, but my lows aren't as low as they were before, and I get higher than I have in a while. The highs are also sustained. Once in a while, the highs get a little hairy, but most of the time it's a bonus.

Lamictal benefited me at lower doses, and it hasn't stabilized me more at these higher doses (I'm at 150 mg now), so I can probably drop to 75 or 50 mg. I'm still on a very low dose of Effexor, and the love for sleep I experienced at higher doses of Effexor isn't the same as this fatigue I have now. So maybe we can mix the Lamictal and Effexor to get a sleepiness that doesn't also feel like I'm hollowing out. And I can stick with that until I'm less stressed and can drop the Effexor again.

I'm not weak, though, which is awesome. I'm up to THREE PULL-UPS!!!!!!! I will be buffer than Linda Hamilton!

A pic from one of my blog entries on Wellsphere is the fourth hit for "Linda Hamilton chin-ups" on Google Image...creepy/obsessive. Catfish's arm is up there too.

In hip news, I've decided the hip pain I have -- and my mom has, and her mom has -- is due to some kind of...congenitally...misarranged...body element... In other words, no injury or malady, but a certain arrangement or weakness or tightness that our bodies have and that we end up exacerbating, compensating for, favoring, working around, etc. You know how you go to a physical therapist and they observe your body and can tell if a muscle group is weaker than the others by the way you stand? Or that your ribs are slightly off? That's what I'm talking about.

So I've decided I need to strengthen the muscles in my hips and lower abdomen to make sure I've got a good framework there. That hip is also less flexible than the other one, so I'm going to make sure I work on its range of movement. It may never get more flexible or less painful (and the pain is NOTHING compared to vulvodynia!), but I'm hoping that if I pay attention to it, I can limit the progression of the issue with age.

The pain is near the inguinal ligament, which is apparently a common site for sports injury. I remember "injuring" my "hip flexor" on that side in track in high school while training for hurdles -- just a "strain," but now I'm thinking that maybe I've had this problem for longer than I thought. Maybe it wasn't an injury but a natural lack of mobility that I was pushing up against. Or it could've been an injury to that ligament, even though it didn't seem like a huge deal at the time.

But for my grandma and my mom and me to have the same pain?!

I am feeling better in the head -- I think it's mostly just taking the time to care of myself. As I said in my last blog post, I can't expect meds to do everything. They can help, but they will never fix everything. I am sensitive to stress, and I have to look out for myself and choose a lifestyle that works for me. Thankfully, the kind of stress I'm sensitive to is the sustained, non-momentary, non-emergency I should hold it down just fine when the terminator arrives.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Idiopathic Idiopathy

After a weekend of working at the restaurant, I came home with swelling in one of my upper thighs. Similar to the swelling I had in my lower abdomen on the same side a few months ago -- similar feeling during work, pain while bending, etc.

This time I was able to get in to see a doctor while I was still swelled up, and she sent me for a CT scan and an ultrasound, a blood clot being her primary concern given what the swelling looked like. Both were negative.

Which is good because I don't know what the hell I'd do with a blood clot.

And bad because I wanted them to find something they could fix.

And good because the swelling made me feel gross about being a biological thing, like I was rotting or deteriorating or aging grotesquely.

Yet another idiopathic event.

And two more tests -- now we can be SURE sure sure there is nothing detectable going on down there.

Maybe it was part of my body's overall statement that if I don't sit down and stop soon, I am going to gamble everything away.

My body made me sit down. Nothing happened to it; it was kind of like when you eat something and it makes you puke -- you very quietly never eat that thing again.

My body said, plop down and shut up. So I did. I haven't been to my service site in a week. I spoke with the director and my supervisor about taking a medical leave. I saw my psychiatrist today. Neither of us had any brilliant ideas. I told my psychiatrist, "I can't expect medicine to fix everything."

The lucky thing is that my body was so ploppy this time, making me sit down before I lost it. It's hard to surrender and just sit down and not try anymore, but this is so much better than losing it and then sitting down.

I've dropped too much weight being depressed, and I've been sleeping at every turn. I kept thinking, it's my meds, or it's my period, or I have cancer and that's why my leg is swelling and I'm sleeping so much, but I'm pretty sure the sleep has been a form of coping.

Every thought makes me want to sleep.

I said to Catfish, "you make me want to fight for a life that works for me. I don't want to lose you because I'm depressed." Because even if someone loves you despite your depression, that doesn't mean you can't lose them because of things that happen tangential to depression. Like last fall's big blowup fight.

Catfish said to me, "I have mad respect for you." Meaning my dealing with depression -- he had a year of it after his divorce.

He also said, "I love you for who you are."

I needed to hear that, but not about depression. Depression is abstract. Concrete are the things I fail at, the going to work and renewing the car registration year after year before the end of March (and that one time I did but still didn't put the sticker on until mid-April), the clean or not-clean apartment, the sleep and more sleep, the waitressing aspiration, the pain, the idiopathy, and all the things I hate about myself but could never admit to anyone else. My depression doesn't embarrass me; my life does. But Catfish jokes with me, asks me if I just woke up from a nap, as if sleeping at this time of day is perfectly fine, and I think, what planet are you from and thank you for coming here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chronic Denial

I am a chronic denier. For example, I identify as having mild depression -- which sometimes means no depression -- even though depression kept me from attending more than a third of my classes my senior year of college, and has incapacitated me similarly over the past several months.

I've noticed that a lot of us vulvodynia bloggers are overachievers. I don't think overachievement correlates with vulvodynia; I think it correlates with blogging about vulvodynia. We take everything we do to the next level.

I haven't been an overachiever in a while -- due to my "mild-to-nonexistent" depression -- but I started out that way, and I haven't stopped trying to overachieve. Which I don't think of as overachieving. I think of it as just doing what everyone else does, right?

Overachieving isn't a problem as far as wanting to go beyond average. The problem is when "over" turns into "unhealthy." Perfectionism is one form; chronic denial is another.

In denying the degree of my depression, I'm saying that even though there are all these facts about depression, none of them apply to me. In turn, I'm saying that everything I do and feel is a choice. I blame my depression on me.

Which in turn makes me believe I have a corrupt personality. Who would choose to live this way? If I'm making the choice, what is wrong with me?

For a long time, I thought I could control my vulvodynia. Clearly I had done something wrong in my life; if I rectified whatever bad choices I had made, my vulvodynia would go away.

Food turned into pure and impure. If I ate purely, I'd make up for all the badness I'd done to my body by eating impurely.

Or if I'd just not had sex in a certain position, the pain never would have started. If I hadn't had sex casually. If I hadn't liked sex. If I had been more pure.

I think the underlying issue is control. In perfectionism, in chronic denial, in overachievement, we want to believe that we have a choice, even if it means we are bad to have chosen differently. But sometimes we don't have a choice. Really, really, really don't have a choice. I have severe depression, and I have pain that I didn't have any hand in creating.

I hate the thought of having severe depression. To me, severe depression is the people who left school mid-semester.

Oh wait, that was me.

But I never flunked out or got probation.

No, but I also had a sturdy disability document (for bipolar disorder) that made my professors accommodate me. Without it, I would've flunked at least three semesters.

But wait -- severe depression means disappearing, not being able to work---and I've always been able to work---

I can't even respond to that one here because I'm so embarrassed.

My wiser Esther swoops in at this point and reminds me that this isn't a shortcoming; it's a difference, and the key to a better life is figuring out which kind of life works for me.

My AmeriCorps term is up in August, and my host-site supervisor says they would like me to return for another year. I would like to return for another year, when I'm feeling good. When I'm feeling bad, I don't even want to go back tomorrow. I am so tired of fighting for it. I feel like I'm back in college -- my worst days, which I thought I had left behind for good.

My supervisor is very understanding and accommodating. She says I've done well, that my 60% is someone else's 100%. Overachievement.

I'm bonding with my service and those I serve. I will miss them if I don't stay for another term.

But I don't want to be unstable either. I CAN'T be. Should I keep doing something that makes me sick? Me first.

If I could find the right meds...level out...

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
-- Carl Jung

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Work of W. B. Yeats

Today, the peach is all

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky


What shall I do with this absurdity---
O heart, O troubled heart---this caricature,
Decrepit age that has been tied to me
As to a dog's tail?


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

In other words, my peach is all about Yeats.

Yeast, I mean. Yeast. My peach is all about yeast.

What I didn't anticipate about a five-alarm yeast infection plus vulvodynia is that the dancing a yeast infection makes anyone do turns into the dancing you do to avoid a cackling outlaw's gunshots.

I also didn't anticipate that the sparks around my urethra would echo back to my tailbone, where clearly there are no yeasties assembling. Do you have sensitive knuckles? When I pet between the tops of my knuckles very lightly, it's almost unbearably ticklish. That's what it feels like at my tailbone today.

Such strangeness this vulvodynia brings!

I think the yeasties are in retreat, but meanwhile, gravity + Monistat = more gunshot avoidance. Finally it occurred to me that Neurontin, or perhaps Naproxen, might make the itch more manageable. Waiting to see.

Thanks for your support following my last post. I've leveled out but still feel a great ship of karma headed my way in the form of, I don't know, thousands of people not showing up when I need them to. I won't be assembling any marches anytime soon.