My appointment with the psychiatrist was yesterday morning. We covered an awful lot in an hour, but ultimately she decided not to prescribe me anything. Yet. She wants to meet again next week to discuss the anxiety more in depth. At first, I was pretty disappointed. I was hoping to at least get *something* out of it. I called my therapist and told her as much. She suggested I keep a log of when my brain goes from zero to worst case scenario in a nanosecond. I came up with 4 examples in less than 10 minutes. Most of my anxiety centers around my health. Feel something pop in my neck? I’m going to have a stroke. Headache? Clearly it’s a brain tumor. I wish I could say those were extreme examples, but they aren’t. My therapist said I come across as very competent and professional and it’s hard to see the real pain underneath. I’ve gotten so used to looking like a normal functioning human being, the real issues aren’t obvious any more. I think if I come in with a list of concrete examples of my anxiety, that will help illustrate the point for her. No happy pills yet, but perhaps soon.
The game of managerial musical chairs has begun at work. They’ve announced 3 of the changes with more forthcoming. In my former work area, a position opened up that I’m going to go for. The current hierarchy is J who reports to D who reports to K. D is moving to a different department freeing up his position. I asked K flat out if it was worth me applying for that position since the obvious play would be promoting J to D’s position. He said he wasn’t sold on any particular candidate and if I was interested, he’d let me know when it’s posted. He wants people who are interested and want the job, not just people who are the logical candidates based on their current position. I asked my boss for his opinion and he agreed that I should go for it. He said, as a manager, even if I wasn’t perfectly qualified for this position, if I impressed him in the interview, he’d keep me in mind for future openings. It also shows that I’m ambitious and looking to advance. It would be a pretty significant promotion, but I think I could handle it. I’ve got all the basic qualifications and I’m familiar with all parts of the area. I’ve also recently been told by several different people that I have a gift for herding cats and they could see me going on to bigger and better things. Herding cats is pretty much the job description from how I understand it. I know I’m smart and capable. I’m a fast learner. If nothing else, it’ll show them I’m interested in moving up in the world and I’ll get some interview practice. Watch what happens.
It’s once again that time! ZooBorns was full of excellent furry cuteness this week, so enjoy!
Hope everyone has a great weekend.
As if I need more reasons why my dad is awesome, he got me in with an epilepsy specialist. I know he put on his angry daddy voice and shit gone *done*. I was getting really frustrated with the hoops I kept having to jump through to talk to the neurologist, so he did some googling and discovered the hospital he went to for his cancer has an epilepsy center. I’ve been seeing a neurologist at a different hospital in the same health system, but they weren’t part of the original organization. I suspect they’ve retained some of their old habits. I have an appointment in a little under 4 weeks, but he’s going to keep checking for cancellations and I might be able to get in sooner. I probably will be able to get in sooner because they’re always getting cancellations. He said he would keep checking so I wouldn’t have to. I have the best daddy ever. Be jealous.
Therapy was productive last night. She gave me a CD that’s supposed to help heal from trauma. As she pointed out, being diagnosed with a chronic condition is traumatic. It might not be on par with being raped or the house burning down, but it’s still a trauma. I started falling asleep listening to it last night. Methinks that’s a pretty good indication it was doing something. They don’t recommend listening to the relaxation part of it while driving, but there’s a track that’s just affirmations and I might put that in the car for when I’m traipsing around the city. Affirmations are never a bad idea. She also reminded me to keep up with my CESS work. If I haven’t mentioned that in here, it stands for creative, exercise, spiritual, and self care. Those are the 4 things I should try to do every day to keep my mood (relatively) stable. If I can’t do all 4, at least try to hit on 3. She even gave me mandalas to color for the creative point. I also can get back into crocheting or writing. I’ve severely neglected both of those. And coloring is an excuse to bust out my fun colored Sharpies and buy new crayons. There are few things more satisfying than a fresh box of crayons. Sayeth the 28 year old. 😀 I just have to make it all a priority and I know it works. When I hit at least 3 of the 4 every day, I do feel more stable and even. I’ve already hit 2 today. I had to pay my debt to society this morning, so I showered, scrubbed, and moisturized before leaving. Then I sat on my exercise ball while reading my daily meditation book and doing the breathing exercises my therapist taught me. I’m going to practice my pull ups when I get home to keep up my aerial strength and that takes care of the exercise part. Even if I can’t do a real pull up. Gotta start somewhere.
Hope everyone is having a lovely end to their week. I’m ready for it to be Friday to be sure.
After doing a bit more research on what the doctor told me, I think I feel a bit better (admittedly, most of it was on Wikipedia). In the process of reading about temporal lobe epilepsy, I came across the term hippocampus. I remembered her saying that the hippocampus on my right side looked different than the hippocampus on my left side. So I clicked on that article to learn more. Among other things, it’s a part of the brain that’s involved in epilepsy, PTSD (which I have), and schizophrenia (which runs in our family). I remember my mom living in fear of my sister or I suffering some kind of trauma in our teens and going schizophrenic on her. There’s also strong correlation between depression and temporal lobe epilepsy, so that part of the brain probably has something to do with depression as well. In thinking about the fact there’s a difference between the 2 sides in my brain in addition to the PTSD and the fact that schizophrenia runs in our family, it made sense. Also given I started having the seizures around the time I developed the PTSD, but didn’t know it yet, it fits pretty darn perfectly. Science once again comes through for me.
I’m still feeling a bit down, but I made myself get out of bed, get dressed, and come into work. I refuse to let this keep me down. I’m going to contortion class after work and I’m going to soak in the good energy from the silks gym. As I’ve said before, my brain likes to go all worst case scenario on me like I’ve suddenly developed a brain tumor in the past 3 weeks or I’m going to have a stroke. Though, if I keep stressing myself out like this, a stroke isn’t outside the realm of possibilities. 😛 I keep having to remind myself this is a process and an exercise in patience. There is no quick fix. But it can be fixed. I’m the kind of person who wants something and I want it 5 minutes ago, but that’s not how this process works. It’s not going to happen on my timeline. But even small progress is still progress. Now it has a name. Now we’re trying out treatments. Now I can explain what happens when I zone out. And I’ve even had a laugh or two about it.
One bad day doesn’t set me back to the beginning. Just like when I first started treatment for the PTSD, the bad days began to space out more. I could go longer and longer between days where it took all I had in me just to get out of bed. I know it’s my wonky brain chemistry, not a character defect like the negative voice in my head likes to tell me. In about a week, I’ll get to talk to an actual professional about getting some chemical assistance to even me out and lighten the load a bit. I’ll figure out what all of this really means for my daily life. It’s just going to be an exercise in patience first. That’s a skill that will serve me for the rest of my life no matter what my situation.
I feel better for having put all that out there. It’s really hard to admit how scared I am. It’s hard to be honest. But I definitely feel lighter after putting all that out there. Courage isn’t just rescuing someone from a burning building or entering combat. Sometimes courage is tending to the less pretty parts of who we are.
I think the worst part of having a seizure is not being able to articulate what’s going on in my head. I know what I want to say. I know I want to explain my trigger to someone if they’re seeing me have a seizure. But I can’t. All I can do is allow myself to be led or sit or held and wait until the storm ends. There’s one trigger I have that I can’t seem to articulate fast enough. By the time I realize what’s going on, it’s already too late. The seizure has already started. By the time I come out of it, I can’t remember what was going on in my head that triggered it in the first place. That’s a feeling of absolute helplessness that’s terrifying. I want so badly to say it because if I say it then I can be more aware of it. If it has a name, it can be controlled. I know it’s a thought process, not an external trigger. But damned if I know what it is. It’s like tip of the tongue syndrome with my brain. It’s horrible to not be able to communicate. As someone who has never been at a loss for words since I learned how to talk, this is particularly traumatic. I just want to be able to say what’s going on in my head and I can’t. Then it just makes my anxiety worse which increases the chances that I have another seizure. Vicious cycle. It blows. A lot.
On a happier note, the grown ups, Boy, & I went to the Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival today. It’s hosted by one of my favorite restaurants in town and supports GA Organics. We certainly got our fill of lycopene, vitamin C, & antioxidants for the day. We sampled tomato pie, “caprese” sorbet, tomato crisps, cornbread, sliders, and even tomato cotton candy. We left sufficiently stuffed. Of course, I never have a bad time at a food festival.
I also scored a top, 2 bags, and an exercise ball (upon which I am currently perched) at the thrift store for less than $13. Best community service ever.
We’ve made it to Friday, so everyone knows what that means. Cute & fluffy time! Barring monsoon conditions this afternoon, I’ll be headed to aerial conditioning class tonight (despite the name, most of it is done on the ground), the hot yoga tomorrow morning. Sunday is one of the most popular food events in town. A bunch of the top local chefs get together and create tomato themed bites to support sustainable and organic farming. Without further ado, furry critters!
Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! Frolic like a baby tapir!
Right about the time I’m ready to throw in the towel is when things start to happen. I’m 99% sure I had 2 seizures in my sleep last night, then I had one while I was on the phone with my therapist this afternoon. For those keeping score at home, that’s at least 2, more likely 3, in less than 12 hours. I called the doctor and, as usual, had to wait for a call back. I called 6 different psychiatrists about getting in to see them and discuss medication. I had a good cry, got a hug from our ever faithful intern, and finally heard back from one of the psychiatrists. She can see me on the 30th. She didn’t promise anything other than a consultation, but she was okay with the fact that I already have another therapist I’m talking to and I’m happy with her services. I got a call back from the neurologist’s office and she said give it until Monday. If the seizures don’t change or get worse, then call them back and we’ll tinker some more. I figured I hadn’t quite given it enough time yet, but the frequency was worrying me a bit. For someone who has as little patience as I do, the whole scenario is maddening. But I’m trying to keep the faith. It’s all a process and the process will work. It just might not work at the speed I want it to.
I went to contortion class last night and forgot how hard that class actually is. I’m definitely sore today. I was planning on going to ballet, but considering how out of shape I am, I might hurt myself. I think I’ll take the night off, get some epsom salts, soak away the soreness, and go to ballet tomorrow night. Plus, my dad is out of town and maybe Mom and I can order something tasty for dinner. Now to decide what that is.
Adjusting to the new dose of Keppra and I’m so. tired. Usually I up the dose the night before, but I decided to wait until this morning so I would have an even number of doses. Definitely feeling the slowing down. I’m grateful today is slow at work because I don’t feel like a total slacker for taking forever to do things. Better slow and accurate than fast and wrong, I suppose. I’m still going to make myself go to the aerial gym tonight to get out of the house. I’ll watch the trapeze class and then take contortion class. Right now I’m the only one registered, but I know that will change. Of course, the last time I took class was in November, so who knows how the attendance has changed since then. I may get a private lesson. That would be nice. Either way, I don’t want to fall into moping mode. That’s not helpful.
My plan is to go to ballet tomorrow night, a different ballet class on Wednesday night, and then “Rockette bootcamp” also on Wednesday night. The last kickline class they held didn’t last very long and this one is taught by an actual former Rockette, so I want to catch it while they have it. Then I’ll give myself a few days off. I figure exercise can’t hurt and none of it is done off the ground, so I should be fairly safe. I haven’t heard back from the psychiatrist yet and I left another message this morning. As I recall, it took a while for her to call me back the first time I tried to schedule something with her. I’m not expecting to get an appointment much before mid-August. That’s the down side of good doctors. It takes forever to get in to see them. In the meantime, I’ve got the Keppra, exercise, and talk therapy, so I should stay on a pretty even keel.
Now I just need to perk up a bit.
I can’t say I was surprised when I heard the news of Cory Monteith’s death. I know the autopsy report will come back as some kind of overdose. When someone has been abusing drugs and alcohol for that long, it’s not a matter of if, but when. That’s the truly heartbreaking part of it. Deep down, you know he chose that way out. He knew sooner or later he would die from the abuse. I feel for everyone who loved him and tried to help him. I lost a dear friend of mine to a heroin overdose about a year and a half ago. One of the last things she told me was the next time she used, she would die. For her, she couldn’t escape the darkness. She didn’t know how to find her way out.
I know what that darkness feels like. I was there 3 years ago. I had so much pain, no name for it, and nothing seemed to help. Drinking would numb it for a time, but then the drunk would wear off, the hangover would set in, and I’d hate myself as much or more than I did when I started. It’s a horrible, lonely place to be in. There were days where it was a challenge to get out of bed and get dressed, much less face the world like a functional human being. I knew I didn’t want to keep living that way. I didn’t want to stay in that darkness. I was lucky to have an amazing support system of people who loved me deeply and helped me in any way they could. I was able to put a name on my pain and start to heal it. I found others like me who could understand the hell I’d been through and come out the other side. I gained an understand that I’ll never truly be “over” my experience because it’s part of who I am now. But it doesn’t have to rule who I am. I can look back on those dark days and know that it did get better. And it will continue to get better. If I’m willing to put in the effort and time on my part, the darkness won’t hang around forever. Part of why I’m so open about my own struggles is that maybe my words can help someone else. If someone else can benefit from my experiences, no matter how terrible, then it’s worth it.
A moment I’ll never forget was as I was driving home the day I’d heard Emily had died. I was driving past the exit to get to her house and I saw a rainbow over about where her house was. It hadn’t been raining that day and there was really no reason to see a rainbow. I took it as a message from her that she was okay and in a much better place. Rest peacefully, Cory. The pain is over now.
I managed to score an appointment with the neurologist yesterday afternoon. I got more details about the whole situation. There’s nothing horrible like a brain tumor or cancer in there. It’s definitely epilepsy, though the nurse told me the wrong part of the brain the first time. Apparently it’s my right temporal lobe and not my right frontal lobe. I’ve got a rogue piece of gray matter hanging out in there that’s kicking up trouble. She said it’s probably been there my entire life and something triggered it to get it seizing up. I don’t have to do the video EEG unless I want to consider surgery. I view surgery as a last ditch effort, so we’re going to keep tinkering with the medication. She said I can be on up to 3 medications before they’ll consider surgery. I’m on my third full day of the 2000mg / day dosage and it seems to be working. I had one seizure in the middle of the night the first night I increased the dosage. I’m still on a fairly low dose and it’s a very safe medication. They give it to pregnant women, so that made me feel better. She also gave me carte blanche to take Benadryl to help me sleep. Since not sleeping well is a trigger for seizures, she told me to use it when I need it. I still woke up a few times last night, but I slept so. much. better. I made myself stay up until 11 to see if that helped with waking up around 530-545. It didn’t, but I’ll keep trying. As Boyfriend pointed out, maybe I’m not one of those people who needs 8 hours of sleep. Maybe my body can function on less. I may just give up and instead of tossing and turning for an hour, just get up when I wake up around then. My mom pointed out that I was definitely a morning person when I was little. She claims she was the only person who knew what was on TV before the Today Show. I suspect she wasn’t the *only* one.
She also said that depression was more common in people with epilepsy. That was a relief. I was beginning to feel a bit nuts for being so down about all this. It’s nice to know that it’s not me, it’s my brain chemistry. I’m currently waiting for a call back to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist to discuss antidepressants. I probably should’ve done that a while ago, but better late than never. That might be the last little boost that I need. Until then, I’ve got my Benadryl and the Keppra. She wants to see me every 4 to 6 weeks just to check up on me for a while. The goal is to be seizure free and I think that’s doable. I’m happier now that I’ve gotten more details and feel like I know which way we’re going with this. The next step is the antidepressants and then I suppose we’ll keep tinkering from there.
I’m glad it’s Friday. Tonight is dinner with a couple we haven’t seen in a while. Tomorrow is the thrift store in the morning, then a birthday party tomorrow night. Sunday will be whatever strikes our fancy, but I think shooting things might be fun. We haven’t done that in a while. For now it’s back to work and contemplating what I want for lunch. Deep life choices.