Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A GENERATION OF GEEKS

I think back to the days of growing up in the "hood" when children interacted with each other.  We spent our youth by playing hide and seek, kickball, dodge ball, tag, hopscotch, jump rope, four square, and many other games like marbles, jacks, Quaker's meeting and when it rained we got on the telephone and organized a place to play board games at someone's house for the afternoon. On days when the girl's did their thing, we played with Barbie dolls while the boys did who knows what! The thought of being cooped up in the house alone only happened when we were sick or on restriction. Regardless of the weather, we wanted to be outside with each other.  When it was cold and snowing, we rode our sleds and ice skated and when it was summer we went to the public pool and found stuff to do outside in the sun. 

I often wonder why and when exactly those days stopped and the isolation began. Was it a gradual change or did it happen overnight? I often wonder how the decline in the sale of board games matches up to the rise in sales of electronic games. Is there a direct correlation between the two? I guess as electronics took root, children's attention and focus turned from each other and towards a world of imaginary creatures where one didn't have to go looking for an adventure because the adventure came to you at the flip of a switch. I often wonder why parents allowed electronic gadgets to become a babysitter, a friend and an entertainer. What we learned as children about teamwork, dispute resolution and organizational skills dwindled away and was replaced by the solitude a child now finds comfort in.  It seems children no longer play outside and I hear adults claim it's because it's so unsafe to be outside.  Has allowing children's lives to change so drastically created a generation of socially awkward human beings who have social anxiety issues? Have we given children an easy excuse to be clumsy, couch potatoes?
 
I won't dispute the safety factor, but I do know there is safety in numbers and being so isolated stunts a child's social development and skills. How can a child learn how to properly interact with others if doing so is never encouraged?  Has it become easier for parents to just buy the newest electronics for their children instead of insisting they spend time outside playing games with their friends or would doing that brand the child as being the neighborhood outcast? Play outside? What's that all about? Who would trust someone who plays outside and has fun doing it?  Have we raised a generation of freaks and geeks who are addicted to electronic crack?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I LOVE MY MIDDLE FINGER

I've recently returned to writing and painting. I think both things are positive outlets for all this pent up anxiety I'm feeling and it sure beats pacing and doing tedious housework all the time.  I can't say I'm a master at either craft, but I guess I do well enough to form a sentence or two in order to construct an idea to elaborate on or as I like to call it, rambling... My skill at painting is acceptable and I have to admit I'm my own worse critic.  The following is the piece I finished today. I never name my pieces because I like for them to be whatever the viewer wants them to be, thus no name, just a number. My signature, Van Goggins was given to me by my closest friend.  She named me after Van Gogh. Van is not my first name, but Goggins is my maiden name I don't know what Van Gogh's diagnosis was, but I rather like the fact that he was "special" and special people need to stick together!

When I started painting this picture I wanted to include the cancer I have on my middle finger, but figured that might be a little over the top.  Besides how does one abstractly depict cancer? Of all places to have cancer, I have to have it on my middle finger.  While they tell me it's not a terminal type of cancer, it's cancer and no cancer is good. And yes, it makes me anxious especially since I have to wait another month to get in to see a specialist to have it removed. 

I keep envisioning my middle finger rotting off and the thought of that doesn't bring me joy.  I'm partial to my middle finger...some of my best angry moments involved using it to signal to someone that they had gotten under my skin. Now, it seems the only thing under my skin is cancer.  I've been fighting the urge to do my own surgery, but I have a feeling that would only make it worse.  When this first appeared on my finger over 12 weeks ago, I assumed it was a possible spider bite. 


I tried on three separate occasions to get my primary care doctor to look at it, but she wouldn't even come near it. WTF? I know it's not pretty, but put some latex gloves on and come over here and look at it. NOPE! She blew my mind by how she acted.  I know we all have bad days, but when a doctor has a bad day that means mistakes are going to be made! What I finally ended up doing was getting a new primary care who solved the problem in a matter of minutes. He nixed the notion that it was a spider/insect bite because there was no drainage or infection associated with it. I know it looks sore and it is sore,when I bump it. The question of the day is how many times do I bump it in a 24 hour period and how many shining expletives do I say per bump? 

P.S. I noticed a few days ago it's starting to grow hair from it.  Great! A hairy cancerous finger! What more can one ask for?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

When I was younger I had no worries.  I did as I pleased when it pleased me.  I always thought I'd be one of those cool old hippies as I aged. It makes me smile thinking about being laid back with a live and let live philosophy.  I guess for the most part I fit that description, but last year something happened to me.  I can't really explain it because I don't understand it.  It's like something short-circuited and made me a little crazy.

I started having panic attacks and they got so frequent and debilitating that I had to be hospitalized.   I do know one thing and that's that I never want to go back there again. It's just not a warm, fuzzy place to hang your hat in a time of emotional need. So regardless, of how bad things may get, I'll find some solution that doesn't include being someplace where I feel like I'm one of the herd. While I was there, I didn't see any people get the help they needed because the atmosphere promoted "let's get the hell out of here as soon as possible" instead of "I need to stay here and fix what needs to be fixed.  And when you get right down to the reality of the situation the doctors and patients have no real say on the length of any given admission thus making it extremely difficult for any doctor to do their job. 

It's the insurance companies that dictate what care you get and how long you get it.  While I was there I talked to several other patients who were visibly upset with their doctor for discharging them when they didn't feel like they were ready to go home. The attitude they had bred distrust and contempt towards anyone who was there to help them. The huddled masses sat bitching about the doctor and what an ogre she was. She didn't listen and didn't care...blah, blah, blah. I could see how detrimental that way of thinking was and like the stand up kind of person I am I started talking to the people who were upset and explained it wasn't their doctor who was making the decisions it was the insurance companies.  Once I explained how insurance works (I was a insurance billing specialist for several years) and that regardless of what you get admitted to the hospital for the insurance companies set how many days you can stay for that thing. Insurance companies don't see you as an individual, but as a bottom line and they want to pay the least amount for your health care they possibly can.

It's the reason so many people turn around and come right back to the hospital. Gall bladder removal? It's an outpatient procedure now...you go home the same day as the surgery regardless of how you feel. Now, you may have to turn around and go to the ER later that day because you have developed a complication.  With mental health issues, it's worse... Try to imagine someone who really isn't ready to go home because they're in the throes of a major depressive episode. They must feel helpless being forced to go back to the same surroundings that many times is unhealthy and lacks a support system for the person. Fragile people don't do well without structure and support.  For them, it's easy to turn their frustration and anger on the doctor...after all, it makes sense. The doctor doesn't care. Right? The doctor and the nurses are easy targets!

So that person with depression is started on an antidepressant and probably an antianxiety med as well just for good measure, but the kicker is that the meds don't start working for 4 to 6 weeks after starting them. What's that person supposed to do in the meantime? Twiddle their thumbs and sing Kumbaya? Nope...go home and tough it out. Just remember not to get too vocal or else you'll land up in a locked room on suicide watch. The key to success is to stay calm and learn the ropes so you don't rock the boat.

After my explanation of what insurance companies can and can't do, it diffused a lot of pent up anger.  I brought the matter up in the next group everyone attended and the response was great.  I could see the frustration start to melt away as people gained a realistic understanding about how the system worked and that they didn't have to be mad at their doctor.  I was as bold to suggest that the social worker incorporate this topic into other groups in the future because many people don't understand how the system works and it stresses them out.  They assume everyone is against them and it's rather difficult trying to reach someone who has built a wall for protection.  I'm sure my suggestion never went any further, but it felt good to help a few people. Hopefully, they'll be in the position someday to pay it forward and help someone else.

P.S. Writing helps even though I tend to ramble at times...

Thursday, May 19, 2016

THE BIG YELLOW TAXI

The lyrics to a Joni Mitchell song has been percolating in my brain for several days now. I'm sure there's some deep hidden meaning as to why I cling to this song and hear Joni's voice clearly in my head, but I've been in an anxiety overload lately so the deepest I can get is to say that change can suck especially if it's an unwelcomed change or an unnecessary change. Perhaps as I slowly meander towards my golden years, the lyrics of this song are quite prophetic...

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot


One might think that a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot are good things, but I'll be honest with you...I rather long for those simpler times without the use of gimmicks and come-ons. My simpler times don't include pink hotels. No, my simpler times aren't like the times the crazed Trumpsters long for. My simpler times are when life didn't seem so oppressive or heavy...when dreaming was not only allowed, but highly encouraged. Now, I sit here wondering how many paradises have been paved and made into a parking lots or something as meaningless as a parking lot.  Perhaps the ultimate in meaningless things to build would be a pink parking garage as tall as the eyes can see filled with yellow taxis.

They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot


Imagine a tree museum.  Imagine our earth without trees.  Imagine mother nature being all, but forgotten and our grandchildren and beyond having to look at pictures of trees and flowers because they no longer exist in the concrete jungle we made in its place. It's not an impossibility! Think about all the living things that no longer exist due to man's gluttony and the pollution he creates as he grows and changes and builds his pink hotels and swinging hot spots. My mind flashes back to a commercial they used to run on television years ago. A Native American stands and weeps as he gazes out over the destruction man needlessly glorifies as progress. Whoever created that ad wasn't paid enough...

Hey farmer farmer
Put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please!

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot


It's incredible when I think about all the poison we've ingested in our lifetimes and here we are still polluting...still damaging the place we call home. We eat food full of GMO's, hormones and other chemicals without thinking about what damage that had done to our brains and our bodies. My mind cries out for places like Flint, Michigan whose water supply has been not only poisoned with lead, but worse, our government, our protectors have allowed and encouraged things like that to happen as our infrastructure decays and crumbles and another pink hotel and swinging hot spot is built. We, the people expect to be protected against ALL enemies foreign and domestic, but that oath that is taken by our leaders seems to be taken too lightly. I consider lead to be as much of an enemy as any terrorist is. I consider leaders who pledge to protect us yet turn their backs on us in our time of need more of an enemy than a leader or a protector.

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot


Unfortunately, we all have our day in the sun and then we die. The land we had hoped to make a better place, the life we had wanted to give our children and the dreams we all seemed to have dissipate into a paved paradise.  The big yellow taxi takes us all away whether we're ready or not, but in the mean time can't we do more than sing a song of protest? Can't we actually do something? Can't we do anything to make the world a better place or should we start saving our pennies so we can see the trees when they're in a tree museum?

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got

Till it's gone
They paved paradise

And put up a parking lot

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

ALL IN THE PACK - STORY 1: THE GIFT

Any pet owner of multiple pets knows that each pet has their own distinctive personality. One of my pets is a doxiepoo (miniature dachshund/toy poodle mix) or "doodle" (what he was sold as).  B.A. (Be Anything) is just too smart for his own good. SERIOUSLY! I'm confident enough with his abilities to have him match wits with many people...especially with the juvenile politicians in the current presidential clown show.  Let’s see, they’ve discussed penis size…B.A. has them beat there.  He’s hung like a horse! In the matter of wives…B.A.’s significant other is a queen and his mistress is a quite lovely German Shepherd named Sasha who lives next door. His sister, Libby is protector of “The Portal” (a reflection on the living room ceiling that she stares at and guards diligently).  As for foreign and domestic relations, we have ambassadors to: China (Shih Tzu), Scotland/UK (Dandie Dinmont Terrier), France/Germany (Doodle) and North America (American Shorthair Feline). For specific policies, please refer to B.A.’s website: Iamthegreastest.org

Each day B.A. amazes me with how he manipulates people. For example, he views ALL visitors as someone new to play with him. After just a minute or two, he deposits one of his favorite toys at the feet of any visitor and starts "using his words" (a command he knows to do in order to let anyone know what he wants.) In this case, it's to let them know it's playtime. He also knows to go to Grandma, if Momma tells him "no". These are just a few of his many characteristics that make him a unique member of the pack in which he's a member.  One of his fellow pack members is a cat who think's she's a dog. We call Tara a "cog" (cat/dog).  Actually, I don't think any of them knows what they are, except Fenway (an extremely spoiled Shih Tzu)! She definitely knows she's the alpha of the pack. I call her "Cujo" when she's in her bossy mode because she acts like a cross between the cartoon character, the Tasmanian Devil or the rabid Saint Bernard Stephen King featured in one of his many novels...except without the foam and biting!

Another thing that distinguishes B.A. from the others is the gifts he deposits occasionally on the floor in the den. This gift is a perfectly formed "shitsicle" (a word I made up because the tird looks like an ice cream cone). This ability is one he formed as a tiny puppy. When he has to go to the bathroom, he sits down completely and as he starts to have a bowel movement, he slowly lifts up his bottom, thus forming a glorious SHITSICLE.



 


Monday, November 30, 2015

A KODAK MOMENT

Hello world! The rumors of my untimely demise have been grossly exaggerated. While some will jump for joy over this news, others will grumble and moan.  I seem to have that effect on people. This anecdote seemed appropriate to signal that I've finally come up for air with my twisted humor intact. Or maybe it means the Zoloft is actually working.

On my way to a doctor's appointment not too long ago I stopped and took the photo below.  The independently-owned gas station that once had done business at a prime location had been rudely squeezed out of business by two convenience stores very close by. I'm sure that's a too familiar story for many small business owners. Now, the once thriving business claim to fame is barbecued turkey legs (not listed on the sign), sweet potatoes, boiled peanuts and an occasional carwash for some local charity or school.  You can't get more Southern than that except if they offered ice cold moonshine as a beverage to wash away your cares.

As I came to a stop at the traffic light at the intersection on which this once booming business rests, I did a quick double take. Obviously, either new services are now being offered or some young hooligan rearranged the letters to get some laughs. Yep, I actually circled around so I could take a picture on my cell phone from the parking lot. I have to admit I was tempted to ask how much does it cost to get an "oiled anus" because the price wasn’t listed and after all knowing the price is an important thing especially for those who are on a tight budget.  I exercised my almost non-existent self-control by simply driving away with a smile on my face, but only after securing a picture that truly is worth a thousand words or in this case, three hundred and sixteen words.



 

 


Saturday, April 04, 2015

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

Pain is something we all experience and deal with in various ways and those ways are as individual as each of us is.  Over the past year, I've found myself in a few situations of having to deal with some major pain and disappointment due to the collapse of three close relationships...all were filled with negative aspects and no longer brought me the joy they once did.  Letting go and stepping away from any close relationship is not only difficult, it's scary as well.  I must have asked myself a hundred times if I made the right decisions, but in my heart I know that removing myself from the negativity and thinking about what's best for me was the right thing to do.  Some people have speculated that the pain from ending those relationships helped start the emotional avalanche I've been experiencing as of late.  What I think is many things great and small have brought me to my knees lately, but not to pray.

Now, I'm faced with yet another relationship to assess.  When I was at the height of my crisis, I received a card in the mail from a friend who I haven't heard from in ages.  She stated she had read what I had posted on Facebook about my current situation.  Instead of responding to what I had written either in a comment there or a private message or by picking up the phone and calling me, she chose to do so with a handwritten card.  As I read her words that directed me to throw away my meds and to pray instead, I remember asking my son over and over again who would write something like that to someone so fragile.  I cried and paced and just couldn't wrap my mind around the carelessness of such a statement.  The more I thought about it the crazier I got. 

I really had no idea that she read anything I posted on Facebook because she never comments on anything I write.  The times I've written comments on her Facebook page regarding things she posts, my comments would go unanswered while she responded to everyone else who made comments.  In the past I would call her and leave messages on her voicemail, but she would never call me back. I may be hardheaded, but I'm not blind and I certainly can see when someone isn't interested in staying in touch with me so I simply stopped putting myself in the position of being ignored.  I felt like I deserved to be treated better than that especially by someone who claims to be my friend. 

Yes, you read the part right that she suggested that I throw away my meds and pray instead.  Let me say that I respect anyone's religion and I appreciate any prayers my family and friends want to send my way, BUT  and it's a huge BUT, I personally don't pray.  I really hate to label people because that seems so backwards, so I'll just say where religions are concerned I have my doubts and skepticism.  My close friends may not like or understand what I believe to be true, but they all respect it just like I respect their opinions and beliefs.  I guess I should say they all respect it EXCEPT her.  She has always preached to me and claims to be a Christian yet she can't find it in her heart to try to mend the torn relationship she has with her sister.  Her jealousy and mean spirit reminds me of her elderly mother who is filled with nothing but bitterness towards everyone.  The older she gets the more like her mother she becomes.  What I see I can liken to someone thinking they're a mechanic just because they stand in a garage.  People who claim to be Christians should be more Christ-like, be less judgmental, more forgiving, more compassionate, more love-inspiring and most of all they should lead by example. 

Seriously, where does anyone get off telling someone to throw away their meds and pray?  I can appreciate the fact that many people have panic attacks and that maybe the prescribed meds give them an adverse reaction, but that doesn't mean the meds are bad.  I keep thinking how she would have felt if I had taken her wonderful advice and stopped taking the anti-anxiety meds that had been prescribed to me and then tragically, I took my own life because I could no longer cope.  Would she have felt any responsibility or would it have been just a big oops on her part?  People need to stop and think about what they say to others especially in times of crisis.  Their words can really impact a person.  It's okay to share your experiences with someone who is going through something similar.  It's usually comforting to know you're not alone, but remember that each person is different and what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for all people. I'm glad my "friend" was healed through prayer, but I think I'll use a psychiatrist, a good therapist and take some meds to help me through my rough spot. 

Now, I need to decide whether or not to post this link on Facebook so she can read all about how I feel and what I think.  What would you do?

Thursday, April 02, 2015

LET GO AND LET IT HAPPEN

Sometimes we have to let go and just let it happen in order to get past the difficult times and ultimately move to the other side where inner peace can be reached.  I know letting go is a frightening thing.  I also know how putting your life in other people's hands or trusting someone else's judgment is equally frightening.  I just spent a few days at a psychiatric facility.  I want to write about that experience and will do so as the words come to me.  I also want to write about the people who were instrumental in helping me through my crisis. 

I'd like to start with thanking an old boyfriend for reaching out to me shortly before I was admitted to Baptist Hospital's Behavioral Medicine Center.  I think it was his words that initially let me know that letting go was the right thing to do.  I had done it many years before at a time when I had retreated into a very dark place.  It was a time he had viewed firsthand. Due to the pain I had suppressed for many years as a child I finally lost my ability to function normally as a teenager.  I eventually found drugs numbed my pain and allowed me to live in a void absent of all feeling-both good and bad. Outwardly, it was a "safe" place to reside, but inwardly I was slowly headed towards total annihilation.  When I finally let go, I came close to dying, but I can honestly say that without letting go back then I would have definitely died at a very young age.  As defiant and hardheaded as I was way back then, on some level I allowed myself to trust people enough to pull me through so I could go on living and eventually learn to thrive.

Most people know my life is pretty much an open book no matter where I am.  I share things that most people try to keep tucked safely away in some dark, cozy closet.  I share things that cause others much angst and shame.  I use Facebook in much the same way as I use my blog only to a lesser degree because most people there don't like to read lengthy updates from people.  Somehow social media seems to have created a population of ADHD-minded people who like to "skim" through their friend's and their family's lives.  They get all the highlights without any real substance most of the time.

Sometimes I post links from my blog on Facebook so that my friends and family (those people who aren't in my everyday life) can remain "with" me.  I learned long ago that shutting people out is a very damaging thing to do and that relationships don't thrive on neglect.  Yes, I have slipped into becoming a hermit in the last 10 years or so, but my hermitude isn't completely void of people.  My problem seems to be that the people I'm closest to live the farthest from me with the exception of my children who live close by.  Through my written words I manage to stay connected to the people in my life who are most important to me and they never lack knowing what's up in Mildred's life.  

About two weeks ago I posted a very lengthy update on Facebook (or at least lengthy for Facebook standards) that clearly let people know I was in emotional crisis and headed towards a place I should avoid.  I ended that Facebook update with what I thought was a little humor, a very "Mildred" thing to do... 
"One last thing...do I get a gold star for the longest Facebook status update?" 
 
I didn't expect anyone to address my question due to the nature of the rest of my update, but I received confirmation from a blast from my past that indeed the update was a little on the lengthy side.  That confirmation also came with many thought-provoking items.  Although relationships can change and people come and go from our lives, some bonds/connections/friendships are meant to last in strange, unexplainable ways. The private messages he sent me brought me to tears for several reasons.  The most important one was that he cared enough about me to reach out to me in my time of need.  For that, I am truly thankful.  Without knowing it his words were the catalyst that opened the floodgates that needed to be opened so I could finally let go and just let it happen in order to get past this difficult time and ultimately move to the other side where inner peace could be reached once again.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

WHILE OTHERS SLEEP, I WEEP

Since my asthma attack that landed me in the ER a few weeks ago, I've had ongoing, daily panic attacks.  My mental state has deteriorated and sleeping has become an increasingly difficult task. In the past my bouts of insomnia always seem to cycle themselves out, but this time it seems stuck on high gear with no end in sight. I keep asking myself where did these panic attacks come from. I've never had them in the past and why I'm I dwelling on death.  It never bothered me before and now I can't seem to escape its clutches. These panic attack seem to come out of the blue with no apparent trigger and when they hit, I lose all ability to calm myself down or to think rationally.  My thoughts are completely focused on the panic attack like an obsession...it's as if I'm wearing blinders and what I see is a very narrow, scary view of life.  I weep, shake and pace.  I'm overwhelmed with the fear of losing control and slipping away forever in some psychotic world. I am, however, one of the fortunate ones because I have people who love me and who will help me regardless of what that help entails.  I know it's no fun sitting with me in ER's at all hours of the day and night and at doctor's offices.  By the way, why don't any doctor's offices have comfortable chairs or better reading material?  I try very hard to keep telling myself that I'm not being a burden to anyone.  My family loves me and wants to see me get well, but it's hard not to listen to all the negative dialog going on inside my head.  I wish I had an on/off switch and since I don't I'm at the mercy of going through some rather agonizing episodes of negativity.


In the last few weeks I've learned many things...most of them are things I'd rather have been kept in the dark about than to have learned them through first hand experience. 
  1. It seems anything regarding mental health facilities are a huge clusterfuck.  Shouldn't it be organized and welcoming to set the patients minds at ease? Yet the places seem oppressive and upon entering it sucks the life from you.  Everything seems so sterile right down to the color schemes and layout of the rooms. Everything about it screams, "RUN!"
  2. People using mental health facilities are scared, anxious and filled with many negative things and need friendly, helpful people working at the facility they use.  While Nurse Ratched was an integral part to the One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest story, she has no place in real life and shouldn't be working at any place involving mental illness.   
  3. People using mental health facilities seem to too easily lose their "human" status as soon as they become a patient. Why is suffering from a mental illness any different than suffering from a physical illness? The difference I believe is in the eyes and attitude of the beholder and of the caretakers.
  4. Because mental illness carries such a stigma, it's easy to become just a diagnosis, a case number and nothing more.  People too easily lose their identity and become a page from the DSM-V.  Too many mentally ill people have lost their ability to fight or stand up for themselves.  When I look at myself I don't see the person I was 20 years ago...a person who had wind in her sails and was going places. 
  5. Regardless of what mental state a person is in, unless they have a specific, detailed plan for suicide, the person will be sent home and referred back to their primary care doctor who in turn is supposed to refer them to a psychiatrist. The process for help is way too long and complicated!
  6. Help for someone in crisis is not immediate and because it isn't immediate it makes holding on all the harder.  It makes having faith in the system nonexistent. 
  7. It's difficult to believe and trust others especially strangers who don't seem sincerely interested in your welfare.
  8. Things that happened 40 years ago can seem like they just happened. Grief, fear and pain comes in waves and sometimes those waves are like a tsunami.
  9. While primary care doctors are good at what they do, treating mental issues is not their forte and they seem to be clueless as to what the person really needs and how to help them.
  10. Public mental health facilities run by state or county agencies usually are a scene right out of One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest.  At best, my first impression was  dismal and scary and I really did keep looking for Mildred Ratched until I found her. 
  11. It's very easy to feel like one of the cows being herded through a system that seems surreal at best.  I kept finding myself wanting to "Moo"....really!
  12. Keeping a medication diary has been a blessing for me.  It's the only way I've been able to keep track of what meds I take and when I take them. Simple tasks have become confusing and meaningless for the most part.  I'm afraid it would be too easy to take an accidental overdose because I can't think straight most of the time.
  13. If you're able to find something that helps calm you down, regardless of what it is, go with it and use it...self-help sometimes is a person's strongest ally.  For me and I know this probably makes no sense, my son takes me for a drive when I'm having a panic attack.  Somehow the combination of that and an Ativan helps. 
  14. I've denied, ignored and covered up being depressed for years until it's gotten to the point of me losing the ability to function normally and do daily tasks like brush my hair, get dressed, go outside (I have to force myself to go places), take a shower and interact with people face to face in a meaningful way.  I've become a hermit because it feels safe being a hermit, but I hate being a hermit because it's not who I am.
It's daylight now...it's time to go take more meds and let the dogs out.  At least they like going outside.  Maybe I need to become a dog so I can feel normal once again. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I CAN'T BREATHE!

When dealing with a chronic illness or illnesses, that condition slowly becomes a person's entire life and effects everything a person does and doesn't do.  Sadly, it's how you identify yourself because all the other parts even the outstanding, wonderful parts seem to dwarf in its presence.  Since 2002, my list of illnesses has grown immensely.  It's as if my body and its functions have been kidnapped and ransacked by some perverse domino effect.  I jokingly tell people that I've inherited all the worst genes from both sides of my family, but the truth is that it isn't a joke at all.

A few years ago after a returning from a trip to Central America, I came down with the swine flu.  It was at a time when the flu was just gaining momentum and was in the news everywhere.  The swine flu itself wasn't that bad, but it left me with a cough so bad that it hung on for 3 months after all the other flu symptoms subsided.  After countless rounds of ineffective antibiotics, I was finally diagnosed with adult onset asthma.  I was told that sometimes a virus like the flu will bring on asthma in an adult.  Although I was relieved to find out what was wrong with me, struggling to breathe on a regular basis wasn't something I wanted to deal with, but I have to admit it was better than thinking I had something far worse than asthma.  During my 3 month fiasco, I had many breathing treatments because the cough I had was so bad at times I couldn't catch my breath.  It felt like I was trying to cough up a lung and because the cough was so severe I even broke a rib from the strain coughing put on my chest.  When this episode finally passed, I rarely had to use my inhalers and I got to the point that I questioned if my diagnosis had been accurate.

I questioned that diagnosis right up until Tuesday night.  I had gone upstairs to get ready for bed which included taking all my nighttime meds.  Shortly after doing my normal routine, I started feeling a tightness around my mid-section.  That tightness increased and as it increased my breathing became more labored.  My son and I scurried to find my inhalers.  Oh my God, (not an OMG, but a full blown OH MY GOD) where had I put them?  It had been so long since the last time I had to use them.  I religiously to carried them in my purse, but I had failed to put them in my new purse when I had bought it a few months earlier.  Thank goodness, I had unopened ones in my nightstand.  By this time, I was in a full blown panic and I was really struggling to breathe, but the 2 inhalers (Symbicort and Pro Air) didn't seem to be do anything to relive my symptoms.

It became obvious that I needed medical attention because nothing I did was helping.  As I struggled to breathe, the anxiety I felt deepened.  I had lost all ability to calm myself down.  My son finally made the decision to call 911 and by the time the EMT's arrived my heart rate was over 130 and my vision had stars in it...I'm assuming that was from lack of oxygen.  But regardless of my condition, I was unable to sit down or lay down.  All I could do was pace and walk in circles while talking and flapping my arms so nothing could get close to me.  I insisted that I walk to the ambulance because laying on a gurney seemed to be an impossible task to accomplish.  Once inside I felt trapped, but the EMT's were versed in how to deal with difficult people making little to no sense. 

They convinced me to at least sit on the gurney while they examined me, hooked me up to oxygen and started an IV.  Before reaching the ER, I received a breathing treatment which helped open everything up and improved my oxygen levels. By the time I reached the ER, I had both feet on the gurney and although I couldn't lay flat and relax, I had lost that overwhelming need to pace and act like a crazy person.  As my anxiety started to subsided, the albuterol left me wired up and dried out so I still was having trouble relaxing.  After being released from the ER in a stable condition and being told I had most likely experienced an asthma attack and a panic attack on top of it, I was left with the difficult task of winding down enough to go to sleep for the remainder of the night.  One might think after all I had been through, I'd be totally worn out and ready to sleep, but you see, leading up to this attack I hadn't slept for over 2 nights.  Insomnia and I have a quite intimate, ongoing abusive relationship.  It's not one that I like or want, but like any person in an abusive relationship, it's a situation I feel trapped in without any clear way out. 

I stayed awake until sometime into the next day when I just couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.  Since then I've struggled with sleeping, eating and staying calm.  I have to admit I'm frightened a lot of the time and start to feel anxious, but one good thing has come from this experience and that's that it's left me more in-tuned to what my body is trying to tell me. In the past, I have continually ignored all the indicators that I was doing things the wrong way.  Just call me stubborn, foolish and hard-headed! Because I have to push myself to eat now, my blood sugar has been better than it has been in awhile.  Also, actually sleeping has helped bring my blood sugar down.  Most people don't realize that many factors effect a person's blood sugar. Yes, a proper diet is essential, but stress, sleep, exercise, medications and other factors effect a person's blood sugar as well.  The trick is to get everything in harmony so your body can function normally.  Although the "N" word is normally negative, NORMAL in regards to body functions is a good thing and in this area normalcy is something I need to strive harder to obtain.  With that said, it's 9:03pm and I'm going to get ready for bed. Let the sheep counting begin...