thyroid

Pre-Order Heal Something Good

Heal Something Good BookYou guys. I’m oh-so-close to being done with Heal Something Good, the book I’ve been working on for the past three years.

This has been a labor of love. My last book, Not Otherwise Specified, was such a deep journey of mental discovery that I would never call it “Light” or “Nurturing.” I mean, the subject matter includes suicide attempts and graphic material. It’s an important book for what it is and I continue to get letters of appreciation from people who have found it helpful on their own journeys, which is why I leave it up and available.

But. But! Heal Something Good is light and nurturing and full of joy. It’s educational and fun. I’ve enjoyed every moment of writing and putting it together. Who knew learning about supporting our whole body in healing could be so fun?!

I was asked the other day if my new book was *just* for someone healing from chronic illness or *just* someone healing from mental illness and the answer is an emphatic no.

Show me someone who doesn’t have some physical, emotional or mental healing to attend to and I’ll show you someone who is an imaginary person. Life happens and during that “happens” we encounter all kinds of things that damage us. And surprise! It’s all connected inside us. Our emotions are connected to our body systems are connected to our mental well-being is connected to our emotions. (See what I did there?)

Heal Something Good hits on all that and more. If you have experienced life, I dare say you’ll find it helpful.

Pre-Orders get 25% off the book price plus a free hour of mentoring PLUS a book mark inked & water-colored by yours truly. Today is a great day to pre-order!

The image below was taken just the other day when the sun was out and tapping me on the shoulder and whispering in my ear and I was thinking about you, how happy I feel and how I want to tell you all about it.

Leah Peterson

What I Am

Fortunes

“But, what do you have? What are you?”

Oh, right. This is the part where I’m supposed to list all the illnesses and diseases and disorders I’ve collected over my lifetime and use their proper medical terms. This is how we measure each other up, to find out where we fall in the Diagnosis Scale. Are we the same? Are we different? If I told you, would you have an immediate recognition of how I feel right now because you’ve got “IT,” too?

Using this shorthand is not meant to be insulting or belittling. It’s meant to cut to the chase and find out where your battle scars are. It’s the fastest and easiest way to get to know someone else sitting in the waiting room to see the doctor or in line at the grocery store reading a magazine about health. It’s the quickest way to find out if you want to keep having a conversation with this person. And if you’ve been struggling for months, years, maybe they know of a good support group or a treatment you haven’t yet tried.

It’s Dating for Sick People.

After years and years, I’ve collected quite a pile. My suitcase is full. Disorder-this and Ailment-that. And when I open up the case and take a look I realize – hey. I don’t really want those.

How validating is it to have a medical professional tell you that what you’ve been feeling, what you’ve been struggling with for so long, what you’ve been trying to tell people about and make them believe is happening to you, that THING that is making you feel like the pits – is real? And it has a name. And here is that name. Blessings, my child, now we know what to call you.

You feel like you’re going crazy, what with all the symptoms that don’t add up and the tests you’ve been taking that come back negative and the unexplained pain and trips to Urgent Care on the weekend. Can’t someone just please tell me what is wrong with me? And if one more doctor pats you on the head and tells you to just go home and get some rest, maybe consider an anti-depressant, you’re going to go crazy. Maybe you are crazy. You’re tired of being “ish.”

Peacock

And then they do. They do finally tell you what’s wrong with you and they give it a name, a diagnosis, and then that’s that. You have IT. Are IT.

And it’s such a relief, right, that it has a name? And you can tell people like Judgy McJudgerson that have doubted you all this time that Name and that you have IT, and it feels better, just a little bit, that they know a doctor told you what it was. That the tests were positive. And sometimes it even has a treatment plan, along with drugs meant to help stop whatever is happening that’s causing you such distress. And sometimes those drugs *do* help and sometimes they only have *a few* side effects and dangit, that’s awesome and you’re thankful.

When you get woken up with pain or you can’t get out of bed or you miss your kids school event or have to go home because the mall was too crowded and too loud or you get tired just walking down the driveway to get the mail – you remind yourself that it’s ok, because you have IT. People have to understand and you can be easier on yourself, let go of the shame and guilt. You know IT’s name.

SanteFeTile

So. There I am looking in my suitcase and whoa. There’s a lot in there and they are varied and some are “worse” than others and I don’t want them anymore. I don’t want to use it as a shorthand to allow someone to get to know me faster and easier. I don’t want to own them at all.

I’m going to dis-own them. Maybe one-by-one like petals from a flower. Maybe all at once and watch them swirl down the drain like foamy residue from shampooing.

I don’t want to be called “mentally ill” or “physically ill” ever again. I’m not those things. And neither are you.

And there’s something so freeing in banning “fibromyalgia” and “lupus” and “bipolar” and and and….. I’m not a diagnosis or a disease. I’m no one and nothing that can be categorized and typecast with such simple terms.

What I am is healing and getting better and better every day. What I am is a human with some bodily systems that need support. What I am is in love with my body that continues to try and try and has kept me alive for 43 years. What I am is ecstatic that I keep getting new days and new mornings where the sun comes out and I can tell my Self in the mirror that it’s going to be a great day. And mean it. And every step I take away from the name of a disease that has been hanging on me for years I feel more joy and happiness than I can express. We aren’t meant to be burdened with illness.

Heart

What you are is strong and brilliant. You wouldn’t be alive right now if you weren’t. Your body is trying and coping in the best way it can to help you survive. You, too, could try calling yourself by, and talking about yourself in, more-than-illness terms. Don’t let IT own you. Let go of the validating feeling you get from reminding yourself you have IT and instead validate your body in new ways. The guilt and shame you carry for “failing” at doing the things you want to do in your life due to your “Illnesses” isn’t needed. It never was. Being kind and gentle with your body that is STILL ALIVE and working on your behalf? That’s enough. That’s perfect.

Thank you, stomach, for trying your best to digest the food I eat. Thank you, ribs, for holding together for me every day. Thank you, knees, for hanging in there all these years. And thanks, circulatory system and hypothalamus, for heating up and letting me know I need to slow it down a little.

Remember That One Time? When I Had Lupus?

Here’s the skinny – I have lupus. Here’s the story, and it goes a little something like this –

Lupus affects skin, joints, blood, and kidneys – for me specifically = pulmonary hypertension and pleurisy/chest pain 3 winters in a row in 2001-03 and now off and on, swollen lymph nodes, memory problems, confusion, headaches, high fevers, behavioral changes such as depression and bipolar, personality change and psychosis***, fatigue, painful joints, anemia, rash on forehead and beginning on cheeks, sun sensitivity, hair loss, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, abnormal heart rhythms, blood in the urine and long-term elevated white-blood count since a child.

The Lupus begat

Fibromyalgia, a full party on its own including widespread musculoskeletal pain, more fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues, more headaches and irritable bowel syndrome.

The Lupus also begat

PCOS -cysts in my ovaries causing pain, miscarriages, hormone disorders (more headaches, exhaustion again)

Hashimotos -hypo-thyroid, male-pattern baldness, weight gain, also exhaustion (I’M TIRED, OK?), more depression, mania, sensitivity to cold and heat, constipation, migraines, muscle weakness, cramps, memory loss.

And last but not least, The Lupus begat

Barely working liver and spleen, kidney issues, food sensitivities.

The DID is a separate issue, but by this time, your head is probably spinning and it might be hard to distinguish one thing from the other. Get out your punch card! You’ve all won a free hoagie!

And all because of a kitty that didn’t want to have a bath. Yes, my docs believe I have lupus because of an ornery, panicked kitty with bacteria on his claws that punctured me in the back and activated a lupus gene lying dormant inside me in 1997. And the leg bone’s connected to the brain bone. Who knew?

SO anyway, at this point I give you permission to use the phrase, in the most sarcastic voice possible, “Thanks A LOT, The LUPUS!”, every time something in your life goes wrong, because the kids and I are getting quite good at it. Example being, you all pile in the car to go out to dinner and someone forgets their wallet, well, Thanks a LOT, The Lupus! Or you knocked over your glass of milk. Or forgot someone’s birthday. Or stubbed your toe. Seriously. Try it. It’s good fun. The possibilities are endless.

Lupus is kind of scary. Here is a good website with lots of info. Lupus.org. I have Subacute Systemic Lupus, meaning it’s not full blown, if you can imagine. And actually, I can. It could be so much worse. Lupus in an auto-immune disease, so basically, your body eats itself up acting like your organs are foreign enemies that must be obliterated. Friendly fire, if you will.

In Acute Lupus, you’re losing parts or whole organs, taking steroids to slow the process and getting your affairs in order. You are your own worst enemy.

In Subacute, your body is just waiting for an excuse to be a real jerk, but it’s not quite there yet.

So, YAY for Subacute!

And here comes the boring part, mostly for my personal history record. I have a lot left to learn about lupus. I could be wrong about some stuff I think I know.

My plan of attack at the moment is building, not detoxing. My spleen and liver couldn’t handle it and my intestines aren’t working, so if I get more toxic, those toxins would just go round and round in my body killing me slowly with their song. I need to get stronger and help my immune system work if at all possible. I can’t stay in the sun very long. I can’t exercise vertically. So I have to get creative.

MY TEAM of docs and heathcare providers include

Rheumatologist
OBGYN
Homeopath
Acupuncturist
Yoga Instructor
Psychiatrist

My Rheumatologist and Homeopath have given me mostly the same diet suggestions, which follows closely to the Blood Type O diet found here. Heavy on the protein and dark green veggies, very, very low on the carbs and starches, light on the fruit and dairy. No sugar, caffeine.

What I currently take daily –

-Prescribed Meds
Synthroid 112 mcg/morning
Trazedone 100mg/night
Lamictal 100mg/night
Prilosec OTC 1/night
Acetaminophen as needed, up to 3000mg/day

Next week I will add-
Flexeril
Plaquenil
And one of these – Mobic, Naproxen, or Relafen.

-Current Supplements
The Blood Type Diet “O”, Live Cell
The Blood Type Diet “O”, Polyvite
Nordic Naturals, Balanced Omega Combination
Dr. Clark Store, Allied Amino Acids

Next week I will add-
PepZin GI
Digest Gold

Also next week I will have more tests with the OBGYN and get a sense of the damage done to my ovaries, kidneys etc. It’s the missing piece of knowledge. Once I have those results, I’ll pretty much know exactly where I am and how far I need to go to get stable.

***YES. THERE IS A LOT TO PROCESS HERE. I HAVEN’T EVEN BEGUN TO FIGURE OUT HOW I FEEL ABOUT THIS. That is why it’s down here at the bottom and not explored in this post.

Bullets

~Gainful Employment

Every day I scour the ads looking for work. It’s my job to find a job, if you will. There aren’t many writing/project management openings in my area and it’s getting frustrating. I’m trying diligently not to let it get to my self-esteem, but there is nothing like spending hours saying, ‘Nope. Not me.’ to get your confidence lagging a bit. My ideal job would be something on a flexible schedule but at the moment I’m looking at every type of job there is from part-time to contract. I just want to be able to go to work every day and feel like I’m in the right spot doing the right thing. Where is that job?

~On The Kid Front

I’m worried about Devon. He’s probably being completely age appropriate and doing/being just what he should but I’m really worried about him for reasons that I can’t go into here and sorry to be so cryptic but it’s his story and not mine to tell so I have to keep it vague. Suffice it to say that I spend quite a bit of time worrying about him and hoping he’s making smart decisions while knowing that he’s not. But like I said – maybe it’s all age appropriate At his age I was having my second child so my life was quite a bit different than his is.

Alex seems to be in a good place at the moment. She’s confident and self-assured and getting her shit together. She’s beautiful as ever and sometimes I watch her face and think how incredible it is that she’s my daughter. She’s working on her resume for a class and she actually has quite a bit for a 17 year old to put on there. I enjoy spending time with her and am repeatedly amazed that I continue to be asked to go and do things with her. I’m very lucky.

Tyler is changing. His body is responding differently to food and exercise than he’s used to. It’s interesting to watch him have to pay attention to things he is used to ignoring. He’s still playing basketball in a travel league but really he’s just biding his time until football starts again. That is where his heart is. Ty is a thoughtful young man when no one is looking. When you ARE looking, he’s full of bravado and teasing. He still gives me hugs and for that I’m ever grateful.

Tony is perfectly 13 going on 14. His hair is long and covers most of his face. He peers out from tiny holes in the curls through his glasses and you have to look pretty hard to see him. He’s bordering on Emo status and his clothes style has changed. He’s finally found a style that he likes and it’s fun to see him care about his appearance. He’s got a group of friends he hangs out with and I like seeing him happy. Happy being Emo.

~The House

Besides the flooring in our new place, which is pretty terrible and cheap, I love our new home. The size is nice. The vibe is good. There are roses of every color in the front and a small backyard with lots of green. I love the deep kitchen sink that even the large pans can fit in. It’s always hard to fit your stuff into a new configuration and this time is no different. We still have boxes in some rooms and don’t know where to put the family games and the important papers but we’re getting there. Every day it feels better and better.

~Joe

Joe has been sick and miserable for days now. He’s coughing and snotty and feverish. It’s hard watching the people you love being ill and feeling helpless to do anything for them. We had one moment of short tempers flaring because it’s hard to not run into that when you aren’t feeling your best. In that moment it was interesting to see how far our communication has come from a few years ago. We mostly circumvented any lasting issues and got back on track in a fairly short amount of time. Good for us.

~Me

I’m getting off the Invega and Trazadone and staying on the Wellbutrin and Prozac. Coming off Invega has not been as bad as some others like Effexor. My mind is a little funky but I don’t get the major electrical charges running through it. Just a dull headache from time to time. I’m happy to be on less medication but not sad to be on what I’m staying on anymore. Every morning when I take my pills I think about how my day is going to be so much more productive and well-balanced because of them and it helps alleviate any qualms I have. The truth is that I’m so thankful to have a way to balance out my brain chemicals. Time spent wishing I didn’t have to take meds is time wasted.

Since my thyroid has been regulated I’ve been able to lose weight at a snail’s pace. Which is better than not at all but just barely. Each hard won pound off is cause for celebration. Historically I’ve loved the treadmill but this go around I’ve found the recumbent bike to be more my thing. I’m not as tired as I have been and I must admit that ever since I started taking the name brand Synthroid instead of the generic version I’ve seen an improvement. I still get erratic heart racing but it’s not as scary as it once was.

~Misc

I keep waiting for someone from Tara to call and need me. I hope it happens sooner rather than later. I can’t wait to be a part of it.

I haven’t been taking many photos and I miss it.

I can’t decide if I want to hang pictures in this house or if I like the blank wall space.

The bird doesn’t get out to fly in this house like he did in the old house. We need curtains to cover up the sliding glass doors so he won’t try to fly through and smack into them.

Accepting Hell

So, this is it? Really? I can’t quite believe it. I keep asking myself over and over…is this it?

There have been a few days where I got really close to replying to that question with, ‘No, this will not be it.’ and it’s those days that are the worst, as I look for a way out.

The past few months have been insane. Literally. I feel like such a failure as a mother. As a wife. As a proponent of mental health. As a human being. I’ve struggled so hard and fierce, using every, single muscle trying to hold on to reality and then given up, fallen back and tried to accept what reality is and let it fold over what I keep trying to make it.

Reality is that for the rest of my life I’ll be on some kind of medication. Reality is that even though I went through therapy for years and years and then integrated and then brushed the dust off my hands, thinking I was done with the diagnosing and drugs and really hard parts, I will never be done. There is no such thing as done for me when it comes to brain disorders. I will continually have new and fun streaks and variations come out that will need attending to. Drug cocktails that will need adjustment. More weight to gain. More side effects to wade through.

Reality is that I should never, ever try to have any more children. It would be irresponsible to do so. Reality is that my kids have it so much better than they even know. Maybe they do know. After all, they chose the life they have now, not living with me. They must have had some internal compass that told them to stay the course at their dad’s. And, good, because life with me is not much of a life. Reality is that my feelings about that, about them and towards them are so huge that they threaten to splinter my mind again and I have a gray area lurking in the background that needs addressing and months and months of work to repair.

Reality is that my husband will be working with me and trying to help keep me stable for the rest of our life together. I have good spots, to be sure. I do some things that are fun, creative, and not always crazy. But more likely than not, those things do intersect with the crazy. And sometimes getting out the Dyson for a long-overdue vacuuming party is preferred to a new project’s birth.

Reality is that my life is hell and I make it hell for those close to me.

I don’t think I’m conveying how disappointed I am accurately. Your emails and letters have been sweet and I do appreciate them. Very much. But not one comes in that I don’t think, ‘They don’t really know who I am.’ If you did, you wouldn’t say the things you do. I am not the person that I thought I was and that I led you all to believe I was. I’m not healed. I’m not better. I’m no authority on anything, least of all mental health. I’m just one more person trying to figure out how to make it another day. One more person just like everyone else in the entire world that struggles with mental disorders. And to all of you? Wow. You inspire me with your getting up every day and trying again. Because I don’t know how long I can do this.

I’ve gone to the psychiatrist and a couple of therapists in the past few weeks and tomorrow I have another one. At one point three weeks ago, I was ready to go to Seattle. That is where Dr. Clancy lives. Dr. Clancy was the one who integrated me and the thought of trying to find someone else here was too daunting. My sister told me to get on a plane immediately. I made plans with a company up there to take a position. But Dr. Clancy’s first opening was mid-November and somehow, no one thought it was a good idea for me to go up there and wait that long. I mean, what good is a job at a great company if you’re crazy? So then it was off to our couple-counselor who suggested some people here in the area and made me promise to call if I started feeling suicidal. As did the other therapist, the psychiatrist and Joe. Which is kind of a joke since if I was really going to kill myself, I wouldn’t call them or anyone. But I couldn’t kill myself, anyway, because no matter how you slice it, it would hurt the kids and that is the last thing I want to do. There is no accident I could contrive that at some point wouldn’t fall apart and prove to be self-inflicted. I’ve thought it through. And, I’ve seen way too many episodes of Law and Order and Without A Trace to think otherwise.

I’m baking. And cooking. This weekend alone I’ve made fish chowder, beef stew, corn bread, butternut and spaghetti squash, apple crisp and Boston Cream pie besides all the normal meals. I’ve made thousands of lists in my head with all the things I need to do. These lists include things like wipe the downstairs bathroom counter, change out the mousetraps, find the canvases in the garage and make tomato sauce and that is four things on a list of a few hundred things. I’ve drawn a million shapes from the television, over and over and over while sitting in front of it, to the lines on the road and the clouds and the mailboxes and the trees when I make a trip to the store for butter. I’ve crocheted hats. Many hats.

One night, I had a dream about the egg sandwiches I was going to make the next day at lunch. It was very vivid and included the print on the paper towel that I used to hold the shells until I threw them out. I dreamed I peeled all the eggs, rinsed them and then separated the yolks from the whites, placing them in two bowls on the counter. Then I carefully took the whites, two at a time, and put them in the small canister for the Bullet. I pushed the cup down quickly, twice, and then dumped the perfectly chopped whites into the bowl with the yolks. I didn’t comment out loud in my dream, but in my mind I was remarking on how perfectly shaped the whites were and how two was the perfect number for everything.

The next afternoon, in real life, Joe was helping me peel the eggs. I got out the Bullet canister and two bowls and started separating the whites and the yolks just like in my dream. He looked at me, first sidelong and then full-on. As he asked what I was doing, I was ashamed. So embarrassed. But I couldn’t stop doing it the way I saw it. I pushed the canister down twice and then dumped the contents in the bowl. They were not chopped perfectly. Far from it. Half of them were mush and the other half were hardly chopped at all. But I kept doing it. And Joe kept trying to be helpful by suggesting ways to load the whites and how about we don’t use that thing at all and just do it the way we always do it? I finally told him that I dreamed about doing it this way and so I was trying it. I did two more whites and then realized it was not going to get any better and that I had to STOP. So I took a spoon and scraped out the mushy whites at the bottom. I turned to Joe and said, ‘You know what’s funny? What’s funny is that I thought doing something the way I dreamed it would be the right way to do it! I listened to something in my dreams!‘ And then I laughed. Hard. Manic. Harsh. And then I started bawling and it took everything I had to pull it together, not get tears or snot in the egg salad and keep making the sandwiches.

The kids were here for the weekend. Their dad went out of town and for some reason, they agreed to come over here instead of having someone in their dad’s family come up and stay with them at their home like they’ve done in the past. It was wonderful to have them here. Truly wonderful. And just around every corner I was about to lose it. I hope they didn’t know, but hell, I think it’s been established that my kids know much more than I give them credit for. It’s not at all impossible that they were very aware that mom was barely there some times. That mom’s face is red because she just got done crying in the bathroom. That mom is so busy in the kitchen because she has no idea what to say to anyone and sitting down for 2 minutes in the living room was just not in the realm of practical. That mom accidentally fell asleep on the couch in the afternoon and is sleeping in until 11am every morning because she is on new drugs that make her so, so tired.

I’m taking Invega for now. The Effexor, which was the sixth mood stabilizer I tried and the only one to work, and Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, are soon to follow. Do you know what Invega is? It’s for schizophrenia. It’s a paliperidone derivative and when the dose is halved, it’s supposedly good for Bipolar. It’s an anti-psychotic drug.

I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar twice before and once I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The former I never took seriously because the first time it was called Manic-Depressive Disorder and I knew I was not depressed all the time! So it could not be true! Oh, how much I sometimes miss my former mental health naiveté. The latter diagnosis scared the hell out of me and was given to me mere days before my first mental hospital stay. However, once I was diagnosed with DDNOS, there was no more reason to even look at that one because the dissociative disorder was well enough to keep everyone very, very busy.

Now I don’t even care. Honestly, who cares what the diagnosis is? I’m fucked up and always will be. The End. And that is what I have to accept. But I can’t.

The first night I took my new drugs was so hard. I thought about it all afternoon and evening and the closer it got to bedtime the more out of control I became. I couldn’t stop crying. I cleaned up dinner and bawled. I showered and bawled. I brushed my teeth and bawled. It would have been funny if it wasn’t so awful. And by the time I crawled in bed next to Joe I was a complete mess. I tried to tell him what was so awful about taking the new meds but I don’t think he could understand much of what I said between my gulps for air and wiping the snot off my face. And really, it’s not anything I can explain very well. It is just really, really hard. It represents the rest of my life. It says that I understand that there is no other way, that this is the ONLY WAY to get my brain under control. No amount of coping skills, positive talk, shaping my Universe, affirmations and prayer will change anything. This is it. This is me. This is the rest of my life and I don’t want to be here.

I was also crying because I was petrified. Anti-psychotics are well known for some really tantalizing side-effects like confusion, dizziness, weight gain and ticks/muscle spams, just to name a few. Being known as my kids’ crazy mom is one thing. Being known as their drooling, morbidly obese, dumb as a stick, spasmatic mom who is house-bound and afraid to drive in case she forgets how to get home is something else.

So far, I can tell I’m gaining weight around the middle. All my shirts are tight. I’m slightly dizzy most of the day and so, so tired. I get headaches about once per day. I see odd things out of the corner of my eyes. I’m absent minded and do things like load the coffee maker with the very last coffee in the house which I have just lovingly ground, turn it on and then forget to put the carafe under the spout. Guess what happens when you do that? You get an overflow and coffee grounds all over the counter, down the side of the oven where you can’t really reach and mud all over the floor. And no coffee that morning. I still cry. I still want to do a million things at once. Pretty much the only thing that has changed is that my mind races a little bit less and I’m too apathetic to kill myself. Or, too lazy because I can’t think of a good plan. (DO YOU HAVE A PLAN??) (That’s a joke for anyone who’s ever had suicidal ideation and talked to an authority figure.)

Wow, this post got really long.

Belinda’s husband Alex left a comment on my post on Real Mental the other night where I talked about getting back on drugs. Insights like his, from people who struggle with mental disorders, like all the good people that write me emails and send me letters and frequent Real Mental, are so inspiring. And I know at different times in my life I’ve given some not-too-horrible advice to people. But at the moment? I can’t find any of it. I can’t hear it. I can’t remember it. I feel frustrated and angry and like something was stolen from me. And I know what it was. It was the dream of being well. The story I told myself for so long where I was well, happy and a great mother to my kids. That has been irrevocably taken away from me and there is no way to get it back. All there is left is to accept it.

These past five years have been great and awful. Great because I had this dream to keep me alive and to work towards. It made everything hard worthwhile. I woke up telling myself how great it would be at some point in the future when the kids lived with me half the time or some of the time and how I would get to be their mom. I went to bed telling myself the same story. And every afternoon I told it again. And every hour in between. I feel like I should expound on this for a few more paragraphs just so it’s clear how much this was a part of my life. But, basically, that is all there is – I wanted to be a great mom. And the awful? well, the awful is, because that was my complete focus, I have nothing as a backup plan. My universe literally cracked in half and I don’t know what is next. And this is where the disordered thinking comes in – not only should I have had at least one back up plan, but I should have had some kind of maintenance program going with interval therapy going on and reality checks. But, I’ve been to so much therapy! I know what they’d say! I’ll just tell myself and it’s the same thing, right? Right?? Wrong. If you think you know everything, there is nothing left to learn and no one can tell you anything. If I had been on some kind of program, monthly, bi-monthly, hell, even quarterly and there would have been someone there to tell me WHAT IF then maybe I wouldn’t find myself in dire straits. And if I wouldn’t have taken off right after I was integrated and stayed with Dr. Clancy for a few more months like he wanted me to five years ago, maybe things would be different. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Or maybe things would be just the same. I’ve put off looking at this closely because it was easy to blame all this stuff on other things, like my thyroid. Avoidance and confusion.

I haven’t self-harmed in years. Since right before my last mental hospital stay. But it crosses my mind every five minutes. I won’t do it but it’s there. Instead of allowing myself to think of it, I obsess about getting a new tattoo. Where will I put it? What will it look like? Can I just cover up one that I have with a new design? What would that look like after? And then I draw it in my mind for hours.

I obsess about smoking again. About not smoking again. The last time I smoked was at a friend’s home during the summer and my kids saw and that was just a few days before my kids told me that they didn’t want to live with me ever. Never. What if that was the reason they don’t want to? What if I do smoke again and they say to themselves, yep! We knew it. Good thing we picked our dad. But I’ve got to keep my hands busy and I can make only so many hats before I have yarn coming out of my ears and I throw it at the wall and then can’t stop pacing like a caged animal that can’t get out. But, there is no where to go that is away from me.

The mania is so stealthy sometimes. I’ll be feeling so good, like I finally have it together for the morning and I can breathe a little easier and then I realize that I’ve been standing still, staring at the toothpaste in the little basket for who knows how long and wondering why it isn’t moved two inches to the left because THAT IS WHERE IT GOES. And if the toothpaste isn’t right, nothing can be right. And then when I get downstairs, there is a load of laundry from last night still in the washer. This of course means that Joe doesn’t love me because if he did love me, he would have moved it to the dryer so it didn’t go sour and then make me smell it when I go to check it. The sour actually assaults my nose and makes me cry. It’s that harsh to my nose. And it’s so awful, so HUGE that I can’t even think it or explain it. I just cry and then try to figure out how to make it through this god-awful day. Somewhere around lunchtime I’ve decided I have no friends. None. Not a single one. The people I know from high school are nice when I call them but let’s be honest, if I’m always the one calling them first to talk and catch up, if I’m always the one to make first contact and they never do, and they could just keep going years without hearing from me, then who’s friends with who? And who cares and who doesn’t? And why should I call them first anyhow? If they don’t care about me at all. And the same goes for anyone I’ve know in the past five years since I’ve been Healed (just thought I’d capitalize it now that I’m making fun of it) because none of them ever call me first. Why am I always making the extra effort to check in or stop in? Am I that needy? Why am I that needy? No one likes me. And by the time Joe gets home from work I’ve thought of about a million reasons why our relationship will never work out and how we should get divorced immediately and how I’m friendless and no one will ever consider me their best friend in the world. I might as well be dead. Now THAT is fun to come home to. Quite a treat.

A few weeks later, I’ll feel completely opposite. Everyone loves me, or would, if they knew me. I start awesome new projects like writing groups and reading groups and artist groups and mental health groups. Time sometimes eludes me. I’ll feel like it’s been 3 hours but it’s only been long enough for one song on the radio to finish. I’ve just thought of THAT MANY THINGS. Because I’m so awesome. See? Can’t you see how awesome I am? I could travel the world and interview everyone that interests me. I could go overseas and write a travel log. It would sell. Of course it would sell. Why wouldn’t it? I am AWESOME. Sadly, by the time some of the groups come around to needing me to actually do something like be in charge of a meeting, I’ve cycled back down to not feeling worthy of grime on the side of a quarter and I can’t function. I just can’t do it. Everyone will be looking at me and wanting me to say something. You know, because I am in charge.

Finding a job is never easy but in this new reality that I’m living in, I’m well aware that my options are limited. The regular 9-5 job does not work for me. In the years I’ve done it, it’s all I can do. I don’t do anything else besides commute, work and sleep because I can’t factor anything else into the equation. And then after about a year straight of it, I’m burned up and sick and have to quit. I can only ignore it for so long before it demands that I pay attention. And this sucks for many reasons, not the least of which is financial and probably making Joe feel alone and stressed and working 3 jobs so we can survive. I’ve written so much down in this blog over the years that any potential employer will find it and immediately throw my resume in the garbage. I couldn’t change that if I wanted to. But I don’t think I want to. I just have to have some kind of hope that a flexible position exists out there where I will fit in. Where I can make enough money to contribute to my well-being and take some weight off my partner. And if I can’t and that doesn’t happen, that is so unfair. And here we go on the downward slope again on the unfairness of life and how Joe is trapped and will never have a good life.

So, I don’t know how to answer all of your heartfelt questions. I’m fine? Maybe? But not really and never will be? But thanks for caring enough to send me your warm thoughts and wishes and I wish I was fine and could be different for you. And be the person you thought I was. But I’m not. And I don’t know how much I’ll be updating this blog for awhile still. It’s so hard to write the truth right now and I just can’t get into lying on purpose and saying I’m fine or alternately, revealing all the grisly details of the suckage. Instead, go here to see a photo of my bird, Bird, that Alison has made insanely, fiercely awesome to show the true spirit inside him.

Let Me Tell You

Let me tell you a little story: The last post I did? I actually posted it a week ago but it was somehow set to PRIVATE and I didn’t know it and then I realized it and then I marked it PUBLIC and now you can see it. Cool story, huh? There is no moral or arc. You’ll just have to get over it and accept it for what it is, whatever that is.

Let me tell you a big secret: I’ve gained 15 pounds in the past 2 years. Add that to the 20 pounds I gained when my thyroid started going out 4 years ago and the gazillion pounds I gained on medications for 6 years and you’re talking about a-LOT-o weight. And now I look like this. I look at that person and can’t believe it’s me. I don’t feel like that on the inside but I sure do feel like that when I get on the treadmill. I can’t exercise more than about 20 minutes without getting so sleepy, achy and wiped out that I don’t move for the next 12 hours. The doctor said that within 7-8 weeks on the higher thyroid dose I will start to feel an improvement and be able to workout longer. ‘What a relief’ said my knees. She also said my appetite should improve once my body starts functioning again like a real person and that I would actually GET HUNGRY and then WANT TO EAT and that in so doing I would LOSE WEIGHT because I would have energy to MOVE MY BODY. She also told me that I will have a harder time because I used to have eating disorders. And also not to get pregnant for the next two years. (SADFACE)

Let me tell you a little something about time management: I have three large boxes with approximately 447 photos to scan and crop and resize and put on disks for my entire family before the reunion later this month. I have had these images since last July and have not cracked them open or done a little scanning each day to cut down on the overall effort. After the reunion is Blogher and I’m supposed to have some really funny and entertaining things to say. Who thinks I can do it?

Let me tell you a very short sentence about moving boxes: STILL THERE.

Let me tell you about my kids: They stayed here for 9 days. Now they are at their dad’s for 10. And then they’ll be back for 5 and then at his for etc. etc. and on through August. You ask, Do they like it? Are they sad they have to do 50/50 time? And I answer you with the only measuring sticks I have available –

  • Alex said she hopes we stay in this house until she graduates in 2 years and also that she likes being able to be here whenever she wants. I think my curfew for her is 30 minutes later than her dad’s. Is that bribery? I wasn’t aware of it before hand so I must vote no. But it doesn’t hurt.
  • Ty trusts me to get him to his daily practices and games on time and prepared with the necessary sport accessories. His face no longer looks strained or worried an hour before we leave. He called this house his Home at least 3 times in phone conversations that I overheard.
  • Tony’s room is as messy over here as at his dad’s. He does not put clothes in the hamper or away in his drawers. He also makes snacks at midnight and doesn’t clean up after himself. I’m taking all these things as signs that he is as comfortable here as there.


Let me tell you a tiny nerd anecdote:
Tony’s friend came over and asked if we had the Pink Floyd movie, The Wall. I told him he could check the shelves. He asked where it might be and I told him they were in alphabetical order. He breathed out, ‘Coooool!’

Let me tell you a post script: LA Angst is coming up on July 11th! Reader spaces are filling up quick this time if I believe the 17 people that told me they want to read. Get off the fence, duckies! I only have room for seven six more of you.

Photabulous, The Recap

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I threw clam chowder up once and I couldn’t eat it for about 6 years and that was a onetime vomit deal. Nothing like the incredible amounts of awesome pain I’ve been in with our old friend Blue Cheese. You’d think I got ran over by a truck and then wrung out like an old dishrag. Picture me lying prone, moisture-less and wrinkled up like an old prune, arm extended slightly up and meekly calling for water. Additionally, I’ve had about 10 narcoleptic naps the past few days and as Joe will tell you, normally I can’t fall asleep anywhere except in the bed with about 15 pillows moated around me, the lights out and the fan on low to lull me into unconsciousness. Sometimes there is chanting going on in the background and incense rolling out in tufts over the headboard. If he so much as breaths wrong, I stiffen and have to start the whole relaxation process* over again, starting with my toes. Man, I’m a party in the sack.

The first and only time I ate blue cheese prior to this past weekend was in high school. Someone dared me to taste it so I tongued a chunk, gagged, and then spent my hard-earned 5 dollars on a new Duran Duran cassette tape. I probably had an eating disorder and I threw up on purpose so I could fit into my super tight button fly stonewashed 501s, so I don’t think you can count it as a really sad episode in my life. Plus, Double Duran? I scored. (Simon! I waited for you for so long!)

Joe will routinely get salad with blue cheese. I still kiss him but I have to admit that it’s not high on my list of Things Joe Eats That Make Me Lust. It’s higher than onion and garlic but lower, much lower, than say, strawberries or chocolate.

Last weekend I took Alex to San Diego with me for a get together with the photabulous women I shoot photos with occasionally. (I can say occasionally now that it’s happened twice, right?) Anyhoo, we started the wonderful day eating brunch and then walking downtown looking for things to take photos of. We only annoyed a couple of people. Quite a successful feat for us. I must say that what Ocean Beach was lacking in silicone it more than made up for in body odor. BO in OB. GET IT?? And also? Unfortunate clothing choices.

While we waited for our food at Hodad’s, I heard my name called through the open window. And lo and behold, there was Joe’s Aunt Joan! Fun surprise. We chatted through the window until the angry man (ASShole!) sitting in between us “asked” us to stop.

At the beach we saw a dude with friendly parrots who used a very unique call to get them to come back. I believe it went something like, “Hey! Get back here!! NOW!!” And the weird thing is that they did.

Margot, Susan, Alex and I went to Old Town to the Living Room to eat fish tacos for dinner. And then Margot went home. (sadface)(hello, matt!)

On the way to Susan’s home, we stopped at Aaryn’s home. The minute I walked into the door her husband Sam put me to work folding towels. Just kidding. I love to fold clothes so I pushed my way into the Folding Circle. I just don’t like putting them away or hanging them up. Their home is quite lovely and we had great conversation but we missed seeing Ruby in the flesh. What? Kids don’t stay up past 11?

We finally made it to Susan’s where we found hand written notes scattered along the kitchen counter intermixed with plates and bowls of food. Twas a veritable smörgasbord and all fixed lovingly by Mr. Susan, Doug Myrland. Yes, Doug had given up on us ever really making it to the house and had long since gone to bed, but he left behind him the very best parts of himself and we consumed the delectable chicken wings and veggies and fried zucchini and fried olives. (Olives? Really?? Yes. They were yummy.) And herein is where we meet our old friend Blue Cheese because what would you dip all the wonderful crudités in if not blue cheese dressing? And it wasn’t just an ordinary blue cheese dressing. This was a Doug Myrlandized blue cheese dressing with additions that I can only imagine. Probably magic and fairy dust because it was the most delicious thing I’d ever had on raw carrots and celery sticks.

About a half gallon later, I went straight to bed where my stomach proceeded to not digest a single, solitary iota of any particle of food. One of the fun effects of stupid hypothyroid is slow digestion, which makes me never really feel hungry and I forget to eat because the food just sits there. It also means I’m pooping out chicken and blue cheese today from 3 days ago even though I emptied my stomach through the top vent by throwing up the entire drive home. Yes, I loved the blue cheese the first time but not the next 17 times. But, Doug! Thanks for being so sweet and next time we’ll get there sooner and eat with you. But I’m afraid I must bid the blue cheese adieu.**

I saw my old/new doc the other day and she upped my dose by about a kazzillion percent, was astonished at the lack of care I’d received during the year and a half I had been away from her and was righteously angry on my behalf as I told her all about how ridiculous and obtuse that dumb doctor was. I felt validated and safe. And then I cried real puppy dog tears and thanked her from the bottom of my heart for being so informed and saying all the things I needed to hear. After feeling my throat for what seemed like ages, she determined that the nodules are actually getting smaller. Instead of going crazy with some kind of invasive procedure, we’re going to wait and see. I like that. She even hugged me on the way out and gave me a two-month supply of Synthroid at the new, higher dose to save me money. You can’t beat that. As bad as the old place was, the new/old place is that great in contrast and I’m so glad to be back with them. There is a reason they don’t accept HMOs. It allows them to keep their level of care so much higher.

*My relaxation technique was given to me by one of my therapists where you start with either your head or your toes and consciously think about each body part relaxing while steadying and deepening your breathing. It usually works for me but it takes a dang long time.

**Alex just came home and told me that her stomach feels terrible and that she might start ralphing. I wonder if we caught a bug and that it had nothing to do with blue cheese at all? If that is the case, I’d like to apologize to Doug’s Blue Cheese Dip. Aaryn, did you say you got sick, too?

Magical Disappearing Cervix

Everything tastes off. My sore throat went from being vaguely hurty the past few months to being an actual genuine owie.

You’ll be happy to hear that my pap smear is over for another year. I hear your cheering. I won’t mention that my cervix was hard to find. I have a magic disappearing cervix that pops in and out of sight. Hello! I’m your cervix and now I’m over here! I can’t remember this ever being a problem before. I also won’t mention that she had to take out, insert and crrrrrank open the speculum FOUR times to find it. I mean, why mention that? It might make you uncomfortable.

Beyond the pap, my physical included a tippytap on the cleavage side of each breasts not lasting longer the .4 seconds, a visual peering moment at my neck and the question ‘Are you regular?’ I asked her ‘Do you mean pooping?’ No reflexes. No breathing deep. No looking for swelling around my ankles. No groping to find lumps in my breasts. Not even a tickle. No looking in my throat or actually, you know, touching it. Or in my ears. No asking how I feel. Because she knows. She read my lab results so she already knows that I’m fine. Even if I’m not, she knows I am. I’ve decided she must have super powers. She can see inside my body with her ultrasonic vision and hear my heart with her supersonic hearing. When I asked ‘So, that’s it? That’s the physical?’ She laughed and did a soft-shoe out the exam room door. Ya-cha-cha-cha-cha.

From her complete and thorough looking at my neck, she decided I no longer needed an ultrasound on my thyroid. I mean, she totally looked at it for like 2 seconds. With her eyes because you look with your eyes, stupid, not your hands. I asked her if I could get one anyway, since I actually used my fingers to touch my neck and it has been sore for so long and she said, ‘No. You don’t need one. Last week’s blood tests showed you are back within range. You’re good.’

Well, thanks! Awesome! I’m .2 within the top part of the range and so I’m good. I then told her I’d like a referral to an endocrinologist to which she frowned and looked doubtful. I did my best, listing off all my siblings and my extended family history in an effort to help her understand that I REALLY WANT TO GO TO SOMEONE ELSE. She nodded, pretended to listen, jotted down ‘family history thyroid’ on my chart, um-hummed a few times, checked her watch and said, ‘I’ll request it and see if you qualify for one. Don’t get your hopes up.’

She’s my favorite. With or without her referral, I’m going to someone else. It’s just that ‘with’ we still get to eat food. Not being able to afford food – not so fun.

Screw republican, democrat, independent, black, white, female, male or vegetable. I’m voting for the person with the strongest medical reform in their platform.

ABCs

Oh, I’m learning so much. For one thing, when you go in to get your blood drawn, make sure that the person that is about to remove 5 vials is an expert blood retriever and not someone new. I am not a good practice person with lots of available blood just teeming to the surface. I am a person with very hidden veins that are deep and roll within my arms. This rolling and deepness is something I’ve known for years. I tell people this on the onset and warn them that I’ve broken perfect stick records before and so don’t feel bad if you don’t get it right the first time. I think the record number of sticks is 8 before switching arms. Yes, that was a beautiful bruise. What I didn’t know, was that if someone says to a fellow lab tech, ‘Hey – you should do this one.’ that they are really speaking in code for ‘This lady has really deep and rolling veins. You should use her arm for a practice dart board.’ I assumed, and that was my problem, that they were getting someone MORE experienced than them to save me pain and green bruising. Sadly, no.

I have an ultrasound next week to check my neck for nodules attached to and near my thyroid. Super fun. My throat has been sore for so long I can’t even remember when it started. And it’s larger than it should be. And bonus, I get a pap smear on Tuesday. You can’t have more fun than that. That appointment is with the nice lady. You know, the one that yelled at me? Looking forward to it. But, I am going to take all y’alls advice and write a list before I go in along with an excel sheet I started that has my blood results from a year ago and little boxes to write the new ones and the next ones and the next ones. I love shit like that. It makes me feel organized. And if she is mean again? I’m going to find a new doctor. But I’m probably getting referred to an endocrinologist anyway, so I don’t know if I’ll need to.

Finding people that have walked this walk is kind of a quest right now. In every situation I go into, the more information I can find out about it before hand, the better. It’s how I find safety and peace. One of my best friends from childhood had cancer in her thyroid and had it removed two years ago. I called her and it was fun catching up, but it was really great to hear how she manages her care. She’s the head coach for a Colorado college girl’s basketball team, so she’s got to keep her energy up. Knowing she’s made it work gives me hope.

I also called all my siblings and my parents. All 9 of them. And jotted down everyone’s medical history as it pertains to me. It was pretty enlightening to find out that all 4 of my sisters have thyroid issues but only one is on medication because her levels were the only ones that finally went out of the ‘normal’ range. The one sister that does take meds takes Armour instead of the synthetic one because osteoporosis runs in my family and the synthetic hormone is supposed to increase your bone loss quite a bit.* My sister that is 44 has the bone density of an 80 year old women, if that gives you an idea. My mom was at one point diagnosed with Grave’s disease, but she rejected it because she thought she could get well by eating right. And one brother has Chronic Fatigue, which in my opinion is really just a thyroid issue. So, there you go.

On the net, I’ve really enjoyed reading both Queen of Spain and Radioactive Girl. Also, Jonniker has been quite enlightening. And all of you that have taken time to comment or email me support, THANK YOU so much. I’ve slept a lot and cried a lot but I do feel your support and it’s made it a bit easier. I’m really struck by how much the physical has effected the mental in my body. It’s something I’m slowly getting to understand and I think I might have some research and a book in me about it.

I’ve read a few books over the past few days and would recommend What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypothyroidism by Ken Blanchard. The forward is by Mary Shomon whose book Living Well with Hypothyroidism is also great.

*Those for synthetics and those for natural are quite vehement. I don’t think I’ve quite figured out the truth yet. And the truth might just be that some do better on one thing and some do better on something else.

Thyroid Things

A year or so ago I had a bunch of tests run and they found that my thyroid wasn’t working that great, but it wasn’t working that bad, either. Also, my heart and lung were having serious issues, so my thyroid took a bit of a back burner.

Fast forward to now. Since my endocrine system sucks, the news isn’t that big of a surprise. My blood panel shows that my thyroid is barely functioning (Hypothyroidism) and I have a very large amount of calcium in my blood (Parathyroid Disease). Both conditions cause things like feeling anxious, loss of energy, depression, not being able to concentrate, headaches. My doctor, (the one that got mad at me and then kicked me out of her office) prescribed Levothyroxine. During the 30 seconds that I spoke to her, she told me the diagnosis, that she wants to recheck the calcium in two weeks before doing anything about it and that she was prescribing me a drug for my thyroid. When I started to ask questions, she told me to talk to my pharmacist, since that is his job. Then she hung up.

When I went to pick up my prescription, I asked for the pharmacist and asked him about the drug and what alternatives there were and if there was anything natural that could take the place of it. He smiled, winked and said, ‘This is the stuff you want to take.’ Then he walked away.

I realize that our medical system is messed up. But isn’t it pretty sad that neither one of them have time to answer any questions? And since I don’t have much of a choice of who I go to, I feel stuck. Where are people supposed to go that want more information? I can research on the internet just like the next person, but it would be nice to talk to real, live humans. I’ve never been one to just ‘take their word for it’ so I’m a little torn on starting a medication that I know next to nothing about and that once started, should be taken the rest of my life. On the other hand, what choice do I have?

Online I’ve learned that Parathyroid Disease is more intense in that I might need a surgery to correct the issue. I’m glad she wants to recheck my blood before moving ahead with that, but would it have killed her to say that to me? Also, neither of them mentioned that soy inhibits the absorption of the medication and that I shouldn’t be drinking/eating it. Or that antidepressants, the ones that she didn’t want to prescribe me that someone else is supposed to, screws around with absorption as well and it’s suggested that they shouldn’t be taken together. But, hopefully, with my thyroid getting fixed, I won’t need anti depressants anyway. And does this mean I need to find a multivitamin without calcium for the time being?

So many questions, so few people to answer them.

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