Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Back on my feet

So here's what happened.  I took the week of June 2 off.  I worked two half-days from home the week of June 9.  I worked half-days from home all last week, and this week I'm back to working full-time, though I'm still at home.

And I am overjoyed to be back at work.

After my first week off, I wanted to go back to work if only for mental hygiene -- it felt like staying out of work any longer would only create inertia.  So I drove to work that Monday, but I had to go back home immediately.  Driving there, I felt like nowhere was safe, like I was a neurotic cat who had been kicked out of the house and was now in desperate need of a shadow to hide in.  As I left, I panicked thinking of how far away my house was and how there was no "safe" way to go -- no continuous shadow to be in until I got there.

So I worked from home that day and the next, and I totally crapped out on work at the end of my half-day Tuesday.  I was in extreme-anxiety mode.  The rest of that week is a blur.  I was just trying to hold the lid down on my brain.

But spending those days just trying to hold steady paid off.  I had fallen off the Lyrica wagon, so I started taking 75mg at night as it boosts my mood.  I made sure to take a Valium each day whether I thought I needed it or not.  Sometime that weekend I found my way to my parents' house despite the cat-with-no-shadow-to-be-in feeling.  And by Monday I wanted to try working again.

I am still not awesome at leaving the house.  I get stuck just inside the doorway.  If I'm going by foot, I feel okay; if I have to drive somewhere, I get panicky.  Big-box stores are wobbly parallel universes, but I was in Target long enough last week to get my prescriptions and buy some food.  Sunday I went to the beach, and I remembered that it is impossible to be anywhere else -- even inside your own anxiety -- when you're at the beach.

All of this anxiety has been going on for a long time, but it reached critical mass and kaboomed in May when the pain just wouldn't give up.  And that's why yesterday, when I started working my first full-time day, I was so excited to be working again.  I had thought maybe I was done.  I had thought my mind had broken.  But maybe not!  And I woke up today with the same feeling of excitement.

Excitement and pride.  I am so proud of myself.  It's like conquering a boss in a video game.  I beat that m.f. down.  But only I know the shape of my monster -- or, rather, its shape doesn't come with words.  I can't describe what I conquered, so the pride is strangely private.  But no less glorious.

My pain spikes have backed off over the past few weeks, probably as a result of recovering from the genitofemoral nerve blocks I had in April.  I had an ilioinguinal nerve block last week with my new doctor -- we'll see if it kicks off a bad round of pain.  I'm hoping that it was the site of the nerve block that was the problem before and not the steroid itself.

And as you can tell from that paragraph, I have no hope for pain relief from this ilioinguinal block.  Haha!  It wasn't at the site where I had the nerve block in February that relieved my pain... these doctors seem to be stabbing my stomach randomly as no two blocks are the same.  The block I had in February numbed my leg, which hasn't happened with any blocks since.  Maybe that is the key.

My new doctor wants me to see another doctor... the pelvic-pain specialist in the pain management department at Cleveland Clinic.  Dr. Joseph Abdelmalak.  I have an appointment with him on July 8.

Pursuing treatment for my pain is stressful, which drives my anxiety, and I'm ready to take a break from seeing doctors just so I can regain some composure.  Yes, pain is bad, but if you're not mentally stable, you can't do anything.  I don't want to lose my job, and I don't want to be stuck in the house.  I don't want to be stuck watching reruns of reruns all day on my iPad because doing anything else is overwhelming.  So if I have to take a break from seeing doctors to regain my footing, so be it.

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