Feelings of uselessness

It’s days like today… the past few weeks, actually, that the MS really rears it’s ugly head. Forgetful, addled, clumsy,…

Is it the “new” medication? Is it not working as well? The infusions seemed to work better, but I can’t take them anymore because of JCVirus and the risks involved with PML (which I think I explained in a previous post). So I’m on a pill, and I don’t know how well it’s actually working. Mention it to the Dr., and she says (reminds me) that stress can cause the MS to “bleed through”. So avoid stress.

Stress? Let’s talk about stress. I’m aware that people have it worse than me, but that doesn’t help (and don’t bother telling me to think about it, I won’t respond because if I do, I WILL go off in a big way). So, what are my current stresses? Let’s list them:

  • Trying to get rid of the house in Chattanooga that needs repairs. Yes, there are repairs going on now, but in the mean time, we’re still paying mortgage on it, to the tune of $800. This is on top of our rent here.
  • Having been out of work for 2 months and having to use some of the insurance money for living stuff, and now having to come up with the money to pay for the repairs on the house.
  • Finding out there are more damages once they’ve gotten through some of the demo for fixing the house. This means getting the insurance adjuster out and having them take another look, and hoping they’ll be willing to give more money for repairs.
  • Jon having hurt himself and having been out of work since May. Thankfully he has short term disability and is getting paid regularly, but not paying any medical bills.
  • Having fought with Jon’s worker’s comp for so long that his treatment got very delayed and he’s still not really gotten any answers.
  • Trying to get myself back into the swing of things at work and having a hard time because of brain fog. I “get lost” sometimes while I’m working on something, and this sends me into anxiety. And with having taken so much time off, I don’t want to ask to go home because of it even though I have a hard time functioning.
  • Medical bills. Paying them off little bits at a time, but they’re just hanging over my head.
  • All of the kids being behind on their shots due to lack of money for it. And Percy is back to chewing himself so bad that he’s getting hairballs again. Few things quite as disgusting as a dog hairball.
  • Doing shows by myself because Jon can’t manage it (this I don’t blame him for, I was where he was and I don’t want him making himself worse). Yeah, I could not do the shows, but I need to try and get another inflow of cash.
  • Keeping up with custom orders while still trying to make stuff for shows.
  • Trying to pick good shows and having failed at that at the beginning of the year, meaning that I spent money to sit and not sell anything or barely sell enough to make the price of the table/booth.
  • Trying to keep things together at home: cooking, laundry, what little cleaning I do (which I will admit isn’t much). Also, grocery shopping, picking up medications, any other little things we need
  • Having my show tent break at a recent show and having to cut what could have been a profitable show short because I couldn’t use my tent. And now having to fix or replace it, or just not do any more outdoor shows. (and the worst part of this is realizing on my way home what I could have done to be able to stay… which just made me feel like more of an idiot)
  • Taking the dogs for their walks alone and just not being able walk them as far as they need. The heat is hard on me, and makes my brain fuzzy if I’m out in it too long (another problem with the outdoor shows. The most recent one left me feeling like someone had toasted my brain on high, and it felt like that for days. Crunchy brain.).
  • Having to be overly careful to not fall on my ass/face because it’ll likely undo the surgery I had. As someone who has always tripped over her own feet (and pebbles, and flush cracks in the sidewalk, and dust bunnies, and leaves, and….), this does make me self conscious, and again, feeling like an oaf who’s almost 43 and still hasn’t figured out how to use her own body yet.

So, what has all this caused? Brain fog where I get lost with what I’m supposed to be doing, both at home and at work. This makes stuff at work take a little longer because I have to double check to make sure I’m doing things right. Anxiety attacks where I just want to curl up in a ball and not doing anything for… well, honestly, days. I have to push through it with anxiety pills and willpower to be able to get anything done. Agitation with any little thing… the dogs needing to go out, needing to stop what I’m doing to do something else that’s necessary, the dogs barking at anything, the post office not delivering a package because they’re incompetent, the idiot driving in front of me that’s doing 25 in a 35 zone, the seat cushions on the couch moving out of place, the cats getting into things they shouldn’t. Finding myself constantly typing the wrong word… and I’m not talking about typos, I’m talking about typing “park” instead of “wouldn’t”, or typing a completely wrong name at work when I’m looking for a client. Not being able to come up with the word (or words) for what I’m talking about.

I just feel constantly on edge and at the point of breakdown pretty much all the time. And I just keep waiting for the next bad thing to happen. If I take any kind of drive, I’m often blaring Nine Inch Nails through the stereo in the car, which is my go to overly stressed album. And I feel bad, but there are a lot of times I just want to be alone. With Jon not working, he’s home and that’s not something I’m used to. We’re good in that we don’t have to constantly be in each other’s business, but it’s still a big change from what I’ve been used to for the past, oh…. 12+ years. And I hate feeling that.

The bipolar of course isn’t helping. The medication that was working fine now isn’t cutting it, but I hate the idea of upping things again. I’m an advocate for staying on medication, but that doesn’t mean I really like taking it. I still mentally fight myself with sometimes feeling useless because I need it.

I’m sick of being strong. I’m over being strong. But I don’t have a choice in the matter.

Doctors, tests and surgery, oh my!

This has been quite a week. I don’t usually do this kind of thing to myself, but it was just unavoidable. 4 doctor appointments in 3 days. Yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment sometimes. heh

First appointment of the week was the medication shrink. I pretty much fall apart in her office, and we have the longest session I think we’ve ever had. I really like this woman, she’s been good for me. Gets my sense of humor (well, as much as I show her anyway), has similar “beliefs” as I do, doesn’t pull any punches. I admit, I’m not usually a fan of female doctors, but she’s been great. So happy I made the change.

A bit of an aside, and a word of advice for everyone, don’t be afraid to “fire” your doctor. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not a good doctor, they might just not be a good fit for you. Health care professionals are a VERY personal choice. Of course, you want someone that’s competent, doesn’t make mistakes, keeps up to date on new technologies, new treatments, the latest research, etc. That’s a given. But someone can be technically/medically “perfect” and still not be a good fit for you. You need to be able to trust your doctor/nurse/dentist/shrink, etc, and you need to feel comfortable telling them what problems you’re having, and even challenging them if you’re not sure something is working. If you’re going along just because you don’t want to rock the boat or hurt their feelings or whatever, you’re not doing EITHER of you any good. I believe on the whole, most doctors, etc, want to help their patients get better. If they’re not doing that for you, for whatever reason, making them believe they are or ignoring the issues isn’t going to make them happy. And I think generally they can tell things aren’t going the way they should… but are they going to “fire” you? Likely not. They’re going to keep trying, and likely as not, failing because it’s not a good match. Think of the relationship as exactly that… a relationship. If you’re keeping a friend around because you don’t want to hurt their feelings, how is it really helping either of you? You’re miserable, and they’re still around when they could be “with” someone else. Open up that space for them and find a better match for you.

Anyway, back to the first appointment of the week. We discussed how things were going (the MS treatment change, the house, the back pain, the nervousness about seeing the surgeon, etc) and she said that while medication isn’t going to fix any of that, not having a medication that’s working for me isn’t going to help me deal with it either (ah, the joys of mental illness. When the chemicals are out of whack, it takes 20 times more to deal with some stress that others might just take in stride.). So, we’re trying a new anti-depressant. Just like any other medication, sometimes things just stop working. I’ve been on Celexa on and off for the past… Oh… 100 years or so? heh Amusingly, as we were discussing other pills, there was a lot of “Have you tried this?” “Yeah, it worked ok.” “Ok, how about this?” “Oh no, that one didn’t work for me at all.” “Let’s see. I have that you’ve tried this and this and this, and they didn’t work so great.” “Geez, I think I really need to start keeping a list of all of these.” “Might not be a bad idea.” So, we’re trying one that I don’t think I’ve tried before, and so, we start the “medication dance” again. Tango, anyone?

Second appointment of the week was the talking shrink. Haven’t seen her in a while due to craziness on my end, and then a cancellation on her end. We haven’t met since before Christmas so there was a bit to go over. And I think we finally made a little bit of a “breakthrough”. Yay! Took a little back and forth, but I think she finally got through my thick head a little bit and helped me see things a little differently. Just needed to find the right analogy, really. Again, we come back to that “right fit” idea.

Third appointment was this morning with the orthopaedic surgeon. Boy, was that one making me anxious. We went over all the details of my back, what I’ve tried, what issues I’ve had, what the MRI said, etc… but, of course, he had to send me down for yet more x-rays before all of this, and, of course, they had to bend me every which way to get the images he wanted. :/ I didn’t really hurt a ton before that but boy was I feeling it afterwards! (and I understand why it was that way, mind you, but it still didn’t make it hurt any less). And he was definitely a surgeon. Buy, are they a different breed entirely. Thankfully I’ve dealt with a few of them so I kind of knew what to expect, but they’re a tough one to deal with. The only “personable” surgeon I’ve ever had was the one that fixed my nose. He was great. The rest have all been very matter-of-fact, dry, etc. He wasn’t too bad though.

What he did tell me was that it’s not a herniated disc, but a bone spur. So, yeah, there’s that. Not sure how the two can be mistaken, but I’m not a doctor. But it’s still a problem, it’s still causing issues, and needs to be fixed. And that, in his opinion, means surgery. A “laminectomy” to be technical. For ease, here’s a link to a little information about it from the Mayo Clinic, but for quickness, it’s basically him taking away a little of the vertebra off to make more room for things. Like I need to be missing any more parts! (I am missing one of my ribs, never born with it apparently. Found out when I was about 12 and they were checking out my scoliosis, and elicited the comment “I always knew you weren’t all there” from my Granny. Love and miss that woman). But first, I get to have something called a nerve conduction study, or EMG for short (yeah, I don’t know, look it up. 😀 ). Last one I had was… unpleasant, to put it mildly. That’s scheduled for the beginning of February. Thankfully, through this process, I had a dear friend there to help with listening, asking questions that I forgot/didn’t think of, and generally making me calmer and more able to focus on what he was saying rather than just shutting down. <3 Love you, lady! And finally... I ended today with an appointment with a doctor I respect and trust, and frankly missed a lot when he left Chattanooga. Man, am I glad I decided to see him about all this. This is a doctor that is a good fit for me, can explain things in a way to make them comprehensible, is patient enough to re-explain things when I'm lost, goes to the computer to look up references to show me, and is generally one of the most compassionate doctors I've ever met. I got very lucky to find out he ended up in the same area as I did. He helped explain EMGs to me and why they're a good diagnostic tool (they test the nerves in sections so they can rule out what part is and isn't working. For those that understand the reference, it's kind of like using a multimeter for the nervous system. They try to find out where the problem with the nerve actually is, and thus can pinpoint where the actual problem is), showed me a diagram that helped explain why damage/issues with different parts of the spine make different parts of the body react the way they do (This picture isn't really graphic, but it might not be safe for work or kids. It's good, though. Incidentally, my spine damage is at L5-S1, which shows why I'm having pain down my leg, and have occasionally had pain on the side and front of my leg: Dermatome picture ), pointed out that I have done all the steps I could do, and in order, and that the next logical step would be surgery, as well as some information about spinal/nerve damage that I didn’t know… And generally reassured me that while it’s a big choice, it really seems to be the right one. I’m not happy about it, but I feel better informed and calmer. (this is also the same doctor that finally got me into a medication shrink and put forth the idea that I might need more than just an anti-depressant… and while it took a while to find the right medication, it’s the best thing that’s happened for me mental health wise). If you read this, thank you Doc.

So, now that y’all have read me ramble on, I hope you can take something away from this, some little bit that might help you either now or in the future. For me, it’s just good to get it out, get it “logged”, and be able to move onto the next step, whatever that might be.

Oh, and I ended the day with a little shooting practice and dinner from Jason’s Deli. I won’t bother you with pictures of my dinner, but I’m going to brag a little about my shooting. Didn’t do as good as I would have liked at 10 yards, but I started strong and finished weak… I was having problems keeping a good stance due to pushing myself a little too much today and making my back/leg hurt. But not bad for not having shot in, oh, maybe 2 years?

Target at 5 yards

Target at 10 yards

And now, I go to watch some Netflix with my wonderful hubby via XBox Live/internet.