Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Do people ever come to terms with chronic illness? Is it possible to make peace with something you can, at most, keep at bay but never really control? Is it possible even if that something refuses to play by the very rules it demands of you? If I do X, then it should do Y. Isn't that how these things are supposed to go?
You give us all of these feelings, and with all these feelings comes the desire to shut 'em out. Then, then you give us all of these drugs and things so we don't feel them anymore. The drugs become our closest friends, the things we love the most. We choose drugs time and time again, but then, at some point, we have to let them go. We're all just sensitive people, after all.
--The Cleaner, #2.2
How much of me is still me at this point? How much is chemically manufactured via expensive pharmaceuticals? Certainly, I am not an addict, but it is still my choice to maintain this relationship with prescribed drugs. I am medicated, yet I'm still not sure which feelings I need to medicate, which I can manage, and which are going to kick me in the teeth regardless of my chemical adjustments.

Medication has done a lot of things for me along the way, but I stand beside the addict as I admit drugs aren't doing anything to make me happy. Or happier.

Despite the expensive tab, I remain anxious, fatigued, sleep-deprived, and always a bit sad just under the surface. Somehow, I always thought a cocktail like this would lighten my spirit instead of simply laying it bare.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Facebook paradox

I've been actively (very actively) participating on Facebook for about two months now, albeit under a fake name. I'm presented with the networking dilemma of people telling people that I'm there and then I get friend requests from people I'd just as soon not share anything with. Ever. Why don't they know this?

The more people I "friend," the less freedom I have to say whatever I want to say. It doesn't give me a greater voice--it subdues the one I already have.

Oddly enough, I have far more friends on Facebook than I do in real life.

On the other hand...I have been able to reconnect with lots of my long-lost friends from Chile. I lived there for a year in 1978-1979. I fled high school and my family in an attempt to prevent my imminent suicide. Maybe a change of scenery...

I hated my host family, but my classmates rocked. I loved them all. And then once I got back, we lost touch. Years later, through the power of the Internet, I found my best friend from that year. It was a bit more complex than that, but the important thing is that I found Lorna, and Lorna told Lucy, and Lucy told Emma and Maritza, and Dasy, and Cecilia...

Of course, my friends don't speak English, so my much-forgotten Spanish is getting a workout. I live in fear that they'll appear in pop-up chat, because then I can't even pretend that I depend on the dictionary and Babel Fish translation. The Spanish is killing me.

I am thrilled to have renewed these connections with the Chilenas, but not so excited about some of the other people who have tracked me down. And coworkers? Don't I see them at work all day?

Bedtime. Last night I was in terrible pain, and I only slept about four hours. I must sleep.

Time flies when you're not paying attention

Oh. My.

This blog had its second anniversary almost a month ago, and I didn't even realize it. For some reason (senility), I thought I started it in July.

Shout out to Lynn who has been here since the early days.

Two years of yammmering on about angst and bipolar disorder and who the hell knows whatever random thought passes through my head.

Next task: Figuring out how to dowload the whole thing onto a local hard drive or something. One good Google crash, and I'm done.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fat girl tip of the week

Shorts are wonderful staple of the summer wardrobe, unless you're barely 5'2" and pushing 200 pounds. In that case, floaty summer skirts and simple summer sun dresses are a more dignified approach to hot weather fashion.

Shorts have the advantage of ease of movement at the upper thigh, since the fabric prevents chafing. There's no discomfort quite like the discomfort of "thigh skid." There have been many summer days when I lifted my skirt to check on the burning, only to see a large red, raised, puffy section of each inner thigh kissing the other. At this point, only ice packs can provide any help, followed by copious amounts of Gold Bond Powder.

Last summer, I had an idea while getting ready to start my day. While standing with a container of Adidas Clear Gel antiperspirant in my hand, I was reminded of something that cyclists use on long-distance rides: BodyGlide stick. Wouldn't any slick gel product that suppresses sweating work just as well?

I had nothing to lose by trying.

My unscientific trials proved my idea has merit. I apply a liberal coating of clear gel (unscented) anti-perspirant to each inner thigh just after I dry off post-shower. I'm careful to keep my legs apart for the next five minutes so the gel can completely dry. This works and it has far more staying power than powder. Soft & Dri clear powder stick anti-perspirant will do if no gel is available.

Maybe with an adept change in packaging, I can finally make my millions. Hmmm...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Therapistquest, continued

Barb has potential.

There are no toys, puzzles, dolls, or sandboxes in her office. She remembered my name. She didn't pull any binders off the shelf and say, "I think this method will help you." She asked how she could help.

Barb has experience working with patients who are navigating all of the emotional minefields related to chronic illness and the challenges inherent to being neuro-abnormal.I have reason to believe that Barb has quite a bit of personal experience with chronic illness, and that certainly could add a higher level of empathy and understanding to our sessions.

I told Barb that under no circumstances will I utter any affirmations. She was OK with that.

I gave Barb some reading material. It's a three-page timeline detailing my mental state and life events leading up to my BP diagnosis. She said she'll read it, and I hope she does. It will cut down on a lot of expository chit-chat.

Since I didn't know if Barb would find any value in three pages of bullet points, I also made a photo collage for her. The photo essay shows what I was but am not now. I told her that people feel loss in very personal and individual ways. Mine can be summed up by those pictures that almost made Frank cry.

I told Barb that after having adjusted how I live my life in the wake of my bipolar diagnosis, I was not in the mood to do that once again with the central nervous system and chronic pain issues. I said that if I kept downsizing my life, I was going to end up with nothing left to do except sit by myself and watch TV.

Barb said we have a lot to talk about.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The real-life reality

I sound like such a snarky bitch in this blog. The truth is, I'm really quite a friendly, warm, and funny person. Even when I'm in a bad mood. I save my inner snarkiness for the customer service people at my credit union and the health insurance company, neither of which will answer my emails anymore. I had that coming.

Otherwise, I'm pretty charming. Sometimes it feels necessary to clarify.

Thanks for trying out

Adventures in therapist shopping. I decided not to go with the woman who wants to heal my inner child. It wasn't the fact that her office was crammed with toys and a table-height sandbox. It wasn't that she chooses therapy approaches like cereal on the supermarket shelf. Nope. It's because she didn't get my name right and she had no idea what the deductible was I should be paying her.

Before we met for the first time, there was quite a bit of correspondence between the therapist (we'll call her Cindy) and me. We used our names liberally throughout. When we finally set a time and date for the appointment, Cindy told me she would leave some paperwork on a table in the waiting room and it would have my first name on it.

This was supposed to be a free, preliminary session, but a thick stack of papers was clipped with a pen and a note for "Faye." There was only one other person in the room, and she was leafing through a magazine. I picked up the clipboard and started writing. And writing. After about ten minutes, Cindy opened the door and walked over, hand outstretched, saying, "Hello, Faye. It's nice to meet you. I'm Cindy. "

I looked her in the eye, shook her hand and answered, "Hi. It's May." Cindy became a bit flustered and she said, "Is it? You know, I had a feeling I was writing the wrong thing when I put the papers out there. Sorry about that."

She continued to call me Faye throughout the entire meeting, despite my ongoing corrections.

The session was weird, the office was oppressive with oversized furniture and toys everywhere, making it overly cozy, cute, and way too kid oriented. I also didn't like the idea that the therapist had already chosen one specific therapy product for me before we had even met. It all felt wrong.

As the session wrapped up, we didn't talk about making a follow-up appointment because Cindy needed to check her availablity. Fine with me, fine with me.

That was a week ago.

I checked my voice mail on my cell phone this morning, and in addition to a message I was expecting, there was a message from Cindy.

She was muddled, to say the least. She called and said she missed me last night, and she hoped she hadn't screwed up. She was in the office until about 7:30 last night, but later she realized that I might have been waiting for her out in the sitting area. She went on to say that later in the evening, she remembered we had an appointment the previous Tuesday and she might have kept that slot open for this week thinking we had an appointment. [then it starts in earnest] Cindy started thinking out loud as she realized she was confused about being confused: "Oh, no, wait, I think we, now was it? I think we didn't schedule your next appointment when we wrapped up last week because I had to check when I would be available. Oh. I was supposed to call you..." And the rest of the message pretty much went like that.

I get the feeling that if I had hired this woman, eventually I would have buried her head in the little sandbox in her office.

Ding! Next!

Check in again on Friday for round two of Adventures in Therapist Shopping!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Did you read the package?

This week, CNN and ABC news (and the others, too, I presume) reported on an outbreak of E-Coli bacteria attributed to Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough.

The cookies themselves did not appear to cause any problems, particularly important since E-Coli bacteria are killed off at high temperatures. The cookie dough in question was consumed raw, though, so many of those who ate it this way became ill.

Several things come to mind here. First, either bake real cookies or buy them in a package. Don't pretend to be all Betty Crocker if your heart isn't in it. Save it for the open house when your property is on the market.

Second, if you are in such a dang-blasted hurry to consume baked goods that not only do you buy pre-made dough, but you buy the kind that is pre-sliced and laid out in a little tray, you do not deserve to own an oven, not even the EasyBake kind. Find something suitable for the microwave.

Next...Home Ec class. How clearly I remember my junior high home economics teacher lecturing us week after week about not eating things like meat and eggs before they were cooked. She told us we could become gravely ill, or at the very least, shit our brains out for days. Enough said.

The good folks at Nestle heard that lecture, too, and they took it to heart. More relevant, their lawyers heard the lecture and realized there would always be those who would whine, "But I was absent that day--I had no idea! Nobody told me!" Those people would then go on to chomp on blobs of uncooked, pre-fab dough, and upon falling ill would blame it all on the Nestle Corporation.

As if it were coming directly from a script, one of the first ersatz bakers to fall ill immediately lawyered up and is suing Nestle for her deeply traumatic two-day bout of diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Apparently, she missed the clearly printed language on the side of the package warning in no ambiguous words that it is a health risk to consume raw cookie dough or any other food containing uncooked eggs.

You read the warning, you embarked on the behavior anyway, and this is Nestle's fault because...?

Here's what I think should happen. I think that Nestle should sue everyone who ate raw, pre-packaged cookie dough and then spoke to the press (or a lawyer) about it. Forget torte law, chocolate chip cookie laws are different: Nestle has a good case for consumer negligence and defamation, not to mention a dope slap upside the head for consumers' lack of common sense.

Bad news changed to good news then to uncertainty

The words of the day are BPPV and nystagmus. My initial reaction was, How many ailments can descend upon one person? Quite a few, apparently.

Who knew that treatment for pelvic pain would end up revealing something about my ears? Fate moves in mysterious ways. Not that I didn't try to get the ear problem diagnosed; it was just waved off as being a medication side effect or an effect of aging.

Toni the PT was concerned about the little hump that has formed on my upper back at approximately T1-T3. It didn't respond to ice, anti-inflammatory medication, dry needling, or traction. Toni said it was time for an expert: her coworker Phil. Phil has chiropractic training in addition to being a PT.

Phil is very muscular and he exhibits the effects of generous amounts of weight training. I feel like a blobby bag of blubbery, gelatinous lack of fitness in his presence. He doesn't seem to hold this against me. He checked out the humpette, felt my ribs, and pushed on the vertabrae in my upper back. His conclusion surprised me. The problem was a side-effect of shingles. For the past year, I've been shifting the work of my back muscles up toward my shoulders in an unconscious effort to avoid anything that would aggravate the post-herpetic neuralgia. No worries--Phil said he could fix the problem in about four weeks.

On my second visit with Phil (these are so much better than what goes on with the pelvic pain therapy), he asked me to lie down on a foam roller to stretch out the muscles running along my spine. I told his assistant that this always makes me terribly dizzy--the room spins and I wobble when I stand up. The assistant mentioned this to Phil and made sure to steady me when it was time to get up and move to the therapy table.

Phil asked about the dizziness. I explained that it came on around the same time as the BP and I have always been convincd that they're somehow related. Phil said that lithium will affect balance, but not this way. He had the look of someone who knows he has an idea and he's about to be right.

Phil ran me through a series of manuevers that involved falling back onto the table while abruptly turning my head in different directions and at contorted angles. Each time, the room started to spin. I wasn't allowed to close my eyes, and that made me feel sick to my stomach. Phil said it wasn't unusual for people to throw up immediately following the procedure. Terrific.

Despite the violent dizziness, Phil repeated the test three more times. At the end, he said, "This is a very clear case of BPPV and nystagmus. It's usually very easy to fix, and you'll stop falling down stairs and watching the room spin when you wake up. Google it when you get home. You have it in both canals, and that's very rare. I'm going to refer you to another PT, but you need to see an ear-nose-throat doctor, and possibly a neurologist." Ka-ching. Visions of my pay check flying off danced in my head.

Taking Phil's advice, I looked up BPPV and nystagmus. BPPV stands for Benign Paroxsymal Positional Vertigo. Nystagmus is a condition that can only be decribed as involuntary rapid eye shaking. BPPV is a vestibular dysfunction of the inner ear. The condition results when...in the inner ear, specifically in the semi-circular canals, which control body equilibrium/balance, there are tiny hairs that help us orient ourselves within physical space. Each hair has a calcium crystal on top of it. In some people, the crystals get knocked off of the hairs. When the head is in certain positions, the "rocks" bump into the hairs, thus sending wrong information to the brain about balance. This causes nystagmus because the eyes are trying to assist in the balance process.

The really good news: BPPV is easily remedied through a meaneuver similar to what Phil did. The really bad news: 98% of BPPV cases are only in one canal. The maneuver that drops the crystals into a neutral position only works on one side. By repeating it on the other side of the head, the crystals on the first side will fall back into the chamber they were just rolled out of.

Rare. Two-chamber BPPV is very rare. Of course it is. In the case of two-chamber BPPV, surgery is indicated. It must be performed by a neurologist, and it's risky. No, thank you.

A few hours after my appointment with Phil, I had an appointment with Dr. B (psychiatrist). I asked if this could be caused by medications. He said no, but he wanted me to follow up with an ENT doc or a neurologist because the BP brain is just to susceptible to other stressors.

And here's the thing about me and BPPV: Half of all BPPV cases are caused by a head injury. I haven't had a head injury. In the other 50% of cases--the idiopathic cases--migraine is strongly indicated as a possible cause based on patient data studied to date. Well, I certainly get migraines and I have since I was about 15. Not just migraines, but debilitating migraines.

Migraines...Studies have consistently shown that 70 percent of people with bipolar disorder also suffer from migraines. Yes, 70 percent. Nobody has yet figured out why that is, but it's a definite link within BP populations. Bipolar disorder. Migraines. BPPV. Migraines. I want someone to study the comorbidity of BP and BPPV. Please.

I'm so dizzy,
My head is spinning;
Like a whirlpool,
It never ends...
'Cause I'm so dizzy.
I can't see;
I need to call a doctor for some help,
I'm so dizzy...
--T. Roe/F. Weller 1969

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy

Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy, developed by Shirley Jean Schmidt, is meant to reintegrate the malformed parts of the inner child's psyche with the properly developed adult parts.

According to the Website,
The Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS) is a psychotherapy approach which helps child parts get unstuck from the past, so they can grow to meet their full potential now.
And this is the approach my new therapist wants to try with me. Could it be that because she does a lot of work with children, she sees child related problems in adult clients?

I'm skeptical that my issues of disappointment in regard to my health are rooted in my childhood. Maybe I'm just not cut out for therapy at all. I'm too cynical and weirded out by it.

Read about DNMS therapy here. I'll be sitting in the corner weeping into my Froot Loops.

Reciprocal sadness

It started off as a matter of tidying up. Fifteen years' worth of pictures have piled up in drawers, on bookshelves, in boxes. Starting in 2000, the bright yellow envelopes also started holding digital versions of the prints and negatives--first floppy disks, and later CDs. I remembered cleaning up regular digital files when I bought a new camera and again after that when it was time for a new laptop.

It was really only about getting organized, nothing more.

Frank's computer churned and whirred its way through the floppy disks. I had to use his computer because mine doesn't have an "A" drive. Photo after photo rolled across the screen, revealing captured moments of a rich life, Frank and May discovering new pursuits and having fun doing it.

It was easiest to load everything onto the hard drive and then copy the folder onto a flash drive. After an hour of managing folders, I shut down the computer and got ready for bed. I let Frank know there was a new file on the desktop, but since I might be adding more files, I didn't want him to delete it yet.

When I got home from work, Frank got through the end-of-workday niceties and then he said, "I looked through those pictures today. It was intense. There's a lot of history there. Honestly, it made me want to cry."

This would fall soundly into the category of things Frank normally wouldn't say. Thinking he missed his friends from back East, I asked why the pictures made him sad. I was not prepared for his answer.

"Everything was different. You have a smile in every picture. Not anymore. It's not like that now. You can almost see exactly when the bipolar got you. It's really sad."

I told Frank that, yes, bipolar disorder had won. He said, "Well, I wouldn't say it has won, not yet." His eyes were just so sad, and he shifted them down to Sparkle who was happy to be petted, with or without an excuse.

I shook my head and said, "Frank, it's true. BP, its treatment, the related expense, the effects on my personality and demeanor, the weight gain, my sense of hope and fun and curiosity, the lost IQ points...I would say that BP has won because it took away everything I valued in myself."

I think that Frank, the eternal optimist, just had a reality check about something he was still hoping wasn't really true.

And that makes me sad.

To see the smile Frank was referencing, click on the picture

Where do people go?

I've lost track of Joanna...again. Sometimes she does this. Maybe she's working on a special assignment out of state or out of the country. Maybe she's very, very busy with work. Maybe she fell out of her raft traveling down the New River or the Cheat.

I don't know. I only know that I haven't heard from her in months, she doesn't answer my messages, and I miss her.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weather of my life

In 1995, I left the muggy, hazy Mid-Atlantic East Coast for a good job that was located well west of the Midwest. The place held no appeal for me until I lived there for a few months and realized the climate was outstanding.

A good climate is critical to my ability to function or even to maintain mood stability. In 1995, I landed in a semi-arid, high-plains climate where I learned to love crisp, dry air, dry snow (what little there was), dry summers, crystal clear blue skies, sunny days all year 'round, and only a few weeks of bad weather interspersed in each season. Sunscreen and lip balm became wardrobe staples for me.

Now I live in a place where it rains a lot, the weather is wildly unpredictable, winters are somewhat harsh (we had multiple blizzards two years in a row), we're now in some sort of daily tornado/hail zone, nights are terribly chilly, the wind is uncomfortable, and summers are really short. Lately, rain and cloudy skies are the norm. I hate it. Humidity, damp, blech.

The thing is, I haven't moved. Frank and I are still in the same place we've been since January of 1995.

Global warming?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Things I used to do that I don’t do now
read books
take road trips
bike (a lot)
mountain bike
go to the symphony regularly
buy new music
run in the park
workout daily, religiously...
spending two or more hours per day at the gym
Pilates (Reformer)
participate in online communities
study & collect wine
attend festivals
djembe (lessons)
harmonica (lessons)
go to the movies
watch movies at home (DVD)

Still do, but barely
make jewelry
leave my house (except for work)
housework of any kind
car care (washing, maintenance)

How I spend my time
watching TV

Things that have changed:
strength and stamina
interest and enthusiasm
ability to organize
ability to plan
attention span

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I am trying to find a therapist. What a pain in the ass.

My health insurance company has a long list of practitioners who are on their in-network list, but there is almost no information provided other than a therapist's name and address.

There are sites on the Internet that have nice headshots of therapists with in-depth descriptions of what they do, but no information about which insurance they take.

I've been trying to cross-check between the two media--Insurance's directory and Internet information. It's slow going. The more I slog through it, the less interest I feel in completing the task.

There has to be an easier way.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The inside out and back again pain issue

There were no nerve blocks for two weeks and the pain that had barreled through my lower abdomen quieted itself. Instead, the sharp discomfort migrated to my upper spine causing so much inflammation, a small hump of swelling developed where upper spine meets the base of the neck. It hurt. A Lot. By the end of the day, my arms felt heavy as if I were wearing a wet woolen coat.

I went to my scheduled appointment with Dr. G this past week, expecting another round of nerve blocks and pressure point manipulation of the obdurator internus. Think about the picture and make your own conclusion how this particular body part is access for manual (digital) therapy. When it's inflamed, nerves in the entire area become compressed. It hurts. A lot.

Maybe it's the physical pain. Maybe it's the ongoing, seemingly relentless medical appointments. Maybe it's the frustration of shingles pain that won't quit. Maybe it's the disappointment of having a body and brain that are extremely dysfunctional and riddled with problems too personal and stigmatized to discuss. Whatever the cause, the sadness that weighs on me is profound and seemingly ingrained in my personality. Except it doesn't show because I swallow it.

I told Dr. G that I was sick and sad and discouraged. She asked me about being sad. I told her that I was tired and it felt like the stress in my upper back was the burden of hiding everything that causes me pain, especially bipolar disorder. I explained that as I became stable after the Big Melt of of the mid-2000s, I vowed to act as I had before my illness became manageable only through medication and self-discipline. If the people around me were unable to believe the illness was nothing more than self-indulgence, then I would respond by proving that not only was I OK and functional, but that my illness would never, ever visibly manifest itself. In other words, I put a tremendous amount of energy and effort into acting as if I had no illness at all.

Dr. G listened. She found it very troubling that I was putting so much pressure on myself. She was appalled when I said it might be self-pitying and weak to feel sad, frustrated, and cheated of a life I had lived with enthusiasm. I may have survived periods of true suicidal threat, but I felt no victory on this point. Instead, I could only see the things that had been taken away from me, along with everything the central pain syndrome had stolen, as well. Although the loss was a tragedy, it did not serve me in any way to feel sorry for myself. I just wouldn't.

Dr. G was deeply concerned. She explained that when chronic stress--be it physical or emotional--is placed on the brain, the result is a gradual shutdown of the nervous systems, but only as progressive damage and inflammation consume the body.

I shrugged. Dr. G leaned in close and said, "May, listen to me. As your doctor I must tell you. You are literally killing yourself. If you keep living your life this way, you...are...going...to...die."

A tear rolled down my cheek, quietly followed by several more. I wanted to dispute what Dr. G was saying. I lacked the ammunition and the energy. I told her that I was capable of doing and being so much more than what had become of me. By allowing myself to be ill, by even accepting it, I would never achieve my true potential.

Dr. G thought about that for a second, her brow furrowed and her head tilted to the side, looking at me with a frown. She took a breath and said, "Where is it written that you have to achieve your potential. Geez, were you nothing but hypomanic for three decades straight? Do you understand that what you accomplish in that state is not on the scale of 'normal?' Overachieving tends to benefit more people in more ways than it ever does for the overachiever, you know."

Dr. G stood up somewhat abruptly and said, I have some prescriptions for you. She rummaged for a pad, and once she found it, she scribbled quickly. I wondered what new drug I was going to have to take on this quest for a body at peace with itself. The eight daily medications I take already seemed excessive. How could there be even more?

Dr.G handed me the two little blue papers. The first said,
Allow yourself to feel:
--a sense of loss
The second had the name of two therapists Dr. G believes are effective in their practice and a good match for patients like me. There are other patients like me? Dr. G assured me I was not alone. She asked me how many times the gynecologist had recommended I see Dr. G. I thought about it and said, "Many times over the course of three years." Dr. G. leaned in close and said, "I am not Jacki. I am not going to 'suggest' this, and that's why it's a prescription--you need a therapist."

"Why? So I can accept and commit?"
"Yes," she said. "It may be the only thing that calms your nervous system, relieves the pain that has remapped your brain, and rebuilds your immune system."

After the appointment, I sat in my car in the parking lot and cried. I disagreed with my beloved Dr. G on every point. I did not feel it was OK or even safe to accept my feelings of devastation or my disappointment with my life. It was as if she hadn't heard me about not wanting to accommodate the illness. Overachieving put me on the fast track to being the person that other people actually admired and liked. It has always been the thing I have valued most about myself, and I believe this is true of those who know me. Without that, I would be nobody, an unremarkable woman who nobody else would even remember.

Sad. Cheated. A sense of loss. Tired. Allowing myself to feel those things will surely be the first step toward slipping away, to becoming forgotten and insignificant. I am not ready to be nobody, especially a sick, tired nobody with the dreaded, brain-eating bipolar disorder that embarrasses me and a nervous system that is equally defective. I may never be able to accept and commit to being this person.

Not yet.

Painting by Morwenna Morrison

what a difference a day makes

Saturday: sunny, warm, breezy. A good day to get in some gardening and to take some pictures of things growing out back.
Sunday: started off gray, and eventually, became violently windy. Half an hour before the tornado sirens sounded, we were pounded by hail. It went on for a good 20 minutes. We kept our fingers crossed that the roof was OK, that our cars would be OK, and that no crashing thunderstorm would follow.

The house and cars were OK, but the trees and garden were not so fortunate. I have a massive, massive hosta plant I've been nurturing for about eight years. I love it and it loves me back.

The hosta didn't do too well today and that has left me quite sad. Here are two pictures taken 24 hours apart, Saturday and Sunday. Same plant photographed from the same spot. Same leaves--note the fence to the left in each photo. Booooo-hoooooo.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Adventures in medication management

Lithium--it's not just an element, it's a medication. Lithium--it's not just a drug, it's a reason to get sharp needles stuck into your veins on a regular basis.

Time for the quarterly blood draw to see if my kidneys and liver are filtering and purging as they should be or if they've started to creak to a halt due to the corrosive influences of the lightest of all metals, the pale, silvery atomic weight number three. It will neither cure you nor kill you, unless the latter is was intentional.

Janie is a short, 50-something phlebotomist who works at the lab. She's a precision-perfect artist of vein location and manipulation. And she doesn't work weekends anymore. This is unfortunate since my veins are elusive yet tough, and as a result, they require the skills of an exceptional blood taker.

Sandi was sweet and breezy, with an easy laugh. When she stuck my arm with the needle, it didn't hurt at all. Unfortunately, she had to jiggle it a bit to get the blood going. The end result is not pretty. Based on the way I de-bruise, I'll be explaining this one away for weeks.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What's in a mood?

It's raining outside. It's pouring, in fact, and it's only 50 degrees. I have only one thing to say about this: Blech.

I do not like rain, wind, cold, or cloudy days. Don't get me started on Daylight Savings Time coming and going. These conditions wreak havoc on my moods. Just knowing this makes me feel like I'm a high-maintenance, delicate, moody idiot. It's just weather, after all.

Hormones. I have them, they are changing, and they make me sweat, especially when I'm sleeping. Or trying to sleep. Poor sleep makes May a bit of an emotional mess. Hormonal changes, well, I can't really say.

My neuralgia is in a flare today. Pain is hard. It will really wear you down.

July 1st is quickly approaching. I can't go to the doctor very much after that and until October because the grant that funds my job doesn't last for the entire fiscal year. My health insurance starts a new year, and hence, a new deductible on July 1. Paying bills and managing my financial issues is very hard in the summer. Health care is always the first thing to go. It's a luxury, and frankly, I think there's something wrong with that. Anxiety. This impending adjustment to my situation is all about anxiety.

Frank has six major home improvement projects in progress. I want my home to be whole again.

I don't know. I'm just in a bit of a low mood today, but I can't pinpoint a reason. I have a job I like, I have a place to live, enough to eat, a spouse who puts up with me, and so much to be thankful for. I've been told that I just need to be mindful and to maintain positive thoughts and say those esteem-bolstering affirmations.

Are my moods really all my fault? And who gets credit for the days when my even moods are completely chemically manufactured? Same life situation, different brain activity. Nature, nurture, pharmaceutical influence.

It's all so complex.