Picnic with Ants

My journey with Chronic Illnesses, finding a way to live an active, happy, and useful life.


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Hey Doc, You are Fired!!

you're Fired

Small note…I started this post on Friday, April 18th.  I updated it today.  It’s a bit long, sorry.  I apologize if it is a little bit jumbled, my head is in that frame of mind right now.  Trying to get everything in, and just now knowing where to stop.  As normal, there may be grammar, typo’s and all kinds of mistakes, if it’s too much, just let me know.  But you may get a long letter back.  : )

After much toil and trouble trying to get help from my psychiatrist, it’s time to give up and move on!

Hey Doc, You’re Fired!

I wonder if firing a doctor makes them understand much, after all, they still have a job, but they don’t have me as a patient any more. If she continues to treat patients the way she has treated me, I don’t see how her new practice is going to survive!  Also, where I’m concerned, she will be told why she no longer has me as a patient, maybe it will bring some understanding.  I’m sure part of this is my issue, but some professionalism must be maintained between a doctor and patient.

From my last post you may remember that I saw my psychiatrist on Wednesday, April 9th.  (This was after a month of trying to get my medication straight and get an appointment to see her.  All of that after having side-effects from a medication that I should never have been put on.  She did not look at the medications I had been prescribed by other doctors.  If this had happened, and we had discussed this, I would not have been prescribed a medication that interacted with my other medications.)   On the 9th, we discussed my medication, and I discussed the fact that I felt the need to start an emergency plan in case I was going to hurt myself because I was having many thoughts and desires of doing just that.  I really felt this was not taken seriously, perhaps because my husband is with me most of the time, and cares for me?  I don’t know, I do know I left the office wondering why that was just brushed off.  One reason she may have thought I didn’t need more discussion on this is because I was taking precautions.  I had my husband lock away all of my medication and only dispense them as they are prescribed.  I had him looking for more clues, other than just me balled up on the floor falling into an abyss.  Yes, I was cycling, so on the good swings I was able to try to set an emergency plan in place.  But on the down swings….well, that’s a different matter all together.  However, I cannot stress enough, if you have any mental health issue and feel you may harm yourself, try very hard to make a plan that will help you.  If you want to know more about what I did…please contact me, just look at my About Page.  It may not be everything, but I found it a great help that I knew I was helping myself in some small way even when things were spiraling out of control.

During the latest visit we did make a plan for my medication, but she wanted to talk with my neurologist to make sure the medication she put me on wouldn’t interfere with any other medication she had me on.  Finally, I thought, a Great plan.  She said she should know by Friday, April 11th,  and would be in touch.   That didn’t happen.  My husband called on Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday….and Friday (when he called on Friday the 18th he learned the office was closed for Good Friday).  Each day he only got a recording to leave a message, he never talked to a real person.  I emailed the main office on Wednesday to reiterate that my husband was trying to get in touch, and no one had called him back.  I also made sure they were aware that he is authorized to speak for me, as I cannot talk on the phone.  (This is listed in my files, he has full power of attorney for me.)

My husband also talked with my neurologist.  She said the medication would be fine.  (I’m not sure if the psychiatrist ever actually got in touch with her or not.)   Thursday, April 17th hubby and I talked and decided we would ask my neurologist or general doctor if they would write the prescription for the medication.  Preferably, my neurologist because it is a medication she often prescribes.  (I had already decided I was going to change psychiatrist  but I needed to start the new medication now, who knows when I’ll get an appointment with a new psychiatrist.)

The plan for Friday was to call the psychiatrist first, trying to reach out one more time.  Then call the other doctors mentioned, and to get in touch with my therapist, and hubby’s therapist to see if they might have recommended psychiatrist for me to change to.   However, when hubby called, (as I said earlier) the psychiatrist office was closed for Good Friday.  Yet, she still had not returned any of our calls!  (yes, I am so disappointed in this woman, you have no idea!)  He also called my general doctor, and her office was closed.  He called my neurologist, and she was in!!!  Yay!  She also called in my prescription!  (she was already calling in a prescription for me for steroids to see if we can break this cycle of the killer migraines).  I must say, most of my doctors are WONDERFUL!  I love them, and I know they care about me.

These are just a few of the reasons that I’m firing my psychiatrist, but there is something else that really bothers me about the whole thing.

When I first saw this doctor I had a very good first visit.  It felt right.  Then when I returned for my second visit she seemed to have forgotten everything we talked about.  No, I don’t expect my doctors to remember everything from every visit, but I do expect them to look at my file and be a bit up to date when they walk in the room.  She met me by telling me that she was leaving the practice I was seeing her at, when I was referred to her I was told she was not taking new patients, but since she worked so well with my therapist  she would accept me.  I was conflicted about this because my therapist is with that practice and I like for my doctor and therapist to have a good working relationship.  But I felt very good about the first visit so I decided to follow her to her new practice.  (and when I say new, I mean, they were just starting it, so it’s a big deal for the doctor’s involved.  I realize this has to be a lot for her to deal with, but it shouldn’t be at the neglect of her patients).

Now that I think back on this, it bothers me.  First, it was questioned if she was taking new patients, and she decided to take me on because she likes my therapist so much….ect.   I was thrilled at the time.  Now I think, she should never have taken me on as a new patient when she knew she was leaving that practice.  She had to know, my first and second appointments were only 2 weeks apart.

I know this post is getting a bit long, but I feel I would like to say some good things too.  When I first saw this psychiatrist, I felt validated for the first time in years.  She understood how I couldn’t just exercise…ect.  She seemed to really understand my chronic illness and was willing to work with me.  We discussed that at some points I may have to cancel my appointments on short notice, she understood and set me up special appointments on her planning days, so if I couldn’t come, she wasn’t losing any money.  This plan was still in effect at her new office.  I only had to cancel at her new office ONCE, so I don’t think this should have been an issue; but I don’t really know.  There are 2 other big things that bothered me when she moved.  I have severe asthma.  She put an aromatherapy thing in her office, I could not breathe in there.  I put on my mask and got way to hot and couldn’t stop coughing.  We had to move to the conference room.  I was very uncomfortable there.  We were even interrupted by her husband and that made me feel very odd.  I know it is too much to ask, but after her extreme understanding, or so it seemed, at our first meeting, I kind of expected the smelly thing to be gone from her office when I returned.  I guess she doesn’t have any other patients with scent issues.  One huge thing, as you all know, I have a big problem hearing. this doctor talks very fast.  I ask her often to slow down.  She will apologize and then continue to speak at the same speed.  This is the reason I have to have my husband in my sessions.  I would prefer not to have him in there.  It takes more time, and I feel I’m just spending time going back and forth trying to understand things.

Now, we wait for a bit to see if she will actually return my husband’s calls next week.  If she does, he will explain in detail why we will no longer be in need of her services.  If she doesn’t, I will be writing her a letter.  At this time I’m not sure what other actions I may take.  I do feel doctors should be more responsible for how they treat their patients.  They are in charge of a person’s health.  A mental health provider could the that cog in a person’s life that changes a life forever….or puts it in a delicate balance of life and death.  Am I being overly dramatic here?  I don’t think so.  If I believe my doctor cares and is trying their best to help me, I feel better.  If they ignore me when I have made it clear that I am in a very tenuous state, I feel less like a human.  This is a huge responsibility.

If she calls, we will simply discharge her.  I can understand that she may be way over her head in the new office, that she may have hired the wrong front staff people….ect.  I feel compassion for her about all of this.  There may be extreme circumstances in her own life.  In a business, especially one of this magnitude, extenuating circumstances should have been relayed to the patient and taken care of by another doctor on call.  But she doesn’t even call???  No one called.

So now you know my whole story.

On closing….my therapist got in touch and recommended a new psychiatrist.  We have been in touch, and will see where we are going from here.  I’ll keep you updated on that.

Always remember, we need to be an advocate for ourselves!

If a doctor doesn’t treat you with respect, or if you are just uncomfortable in their care, and you have any way possible, change doctors!  I know some people just can’t do this as easily as I can.  I grew up in a very rural area, I had two choices for a general doctor.  No choices for specialist.  The nearest doctors of choice were over an hour a way.  (this may have been a major reason I was not diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder as early as I might have been.)

Yes, I may have a mental illness, and recently I may have been very depressed because of my medication has not been working properly, but I am a human being.  Oh a better note, I am feeling much better (I know I need to get my medication straight because with Bipolar I Disorder I might feel fine one day and not so much the next).   Doctors still need to take patients seriously.

Yet, I realize that a lot of people will think, “She has a mental illness, is admittedly not stable, she is probably exaggerating about things.”  Or something like that.  I’m lucky I have someone (my husband) who can also help be an advocate for me and explain this is not “all in my head”.   But what if I didn’t?  What if I didn’t have the ability to just change psychiatric doctors?

There needs to be much progress made to help people who need mental health care.  (or health care in general) If they can’t afford it, they are often put on a LONG waiting list to see someone that the state provides.  They have no choice in doctors.  They are often lost in the system.  When you are having mental health issues, trying to navigate the system to be seen at all is extremely hard.  (Yes, I am speaking from experience).   Things need to change.  How can we bring about a change?

I’ve thought and thought on this issue, and I just can’t see how to make things better in this country.  Are the mentally ill meant to live a life of less?

Mental Health care (and general health care) in this country is great….if you can afford it!

Thoughts?  Ideas?  I’d love to hear them.


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A tiny little update

After my last post I feel horrible I haven’t been back here sooner.

I’m not having a good time with the vertigo recently.  My dear friend, Mr. Meniere’s, has decided to settle in for a visit.  A long horrible visit…so this really will be very short.

Saw my psych doctor last Wednesday.  She is supposed to be talking to my Neurologist (headache pain specialist) about a drug we discussed putting me on.  (a good idea huh?)  But it’s taking a long time.  I did see her late on Wednesday so things probably didn’t get started until Thursday…but my goodness.  Well, I won’t get in to all of that.  I’m upset about that visit….but I’ll vent later.

I am having a better time of it.  Not cycling so much now, I’ve been pretty level for a couple of days now.  I’m reading more of the Buddha’s teachings, and it helps.  (I’m not pushing Buddhism here….I just get very comforted when I read his teachings and try to follow the practices.)

I really need to control my anxiety.  I know the vertigo is more out of control because of the stress.  It is my greatest trigger for Meniere’s.

I need to have emergency plans in place…just in case.  This helps relieve my anxiety about a situation I have no control over.  It gives me a little control.  For example, I have an emergency kit for when I have vertigo attacks.  I feel my severe vertigo attacks have fallen drastically since I created this kit.  I have one for home and one for travel.  It eases my mind.

When I started feeling suicidal, I knew it was my illness, but it didn’t really matter.  So when I cycled enough out of it to be able to really communicate with my husband, we made up an emergency plan.  I know where to call, or go if I feel I am going to hurt myself.  My husband put all of my medication away and gives it to me as prescribed so I will not….tempted when I fall in the darkness of my soul.  We have a plan.  It has helped me so much.  I now feel that I am understood.  My husband knows how I’m feeling, as much as he can.  He’s taking me seriously, and helped me to have in place a way to make it easier when (or if?) the dark lady returns.

Today, we talked about an emergency plan if my husband remains out of work.  We can’t wait until there is no money left, it will cost us money to leave here.  We need to know at what point do we need to decide to leave.  Where we are going, and how things will happen.  There are parts in there we are pretty sure about, but we need to solidify this plan.  I’m so anxious about our future I feel paralyzed.  I know that it is adding to my feeling so very ill.

So….I’m here.

I’m not on the computer a lot right now because of the vertigo.

I’m working on getting the psych meds straight.

We are working on an emergency plan if hubby doesn’t find a job before we completely run out of money.  (luckily we were able to get on a mortgage assistance plan, or we would be destitute before now.  But right now we don’t have to pay our mortgage because of this assistance.)   This will help me feel less anxious about our future.

I have much more to say….things I’ve been discovering about myself…and just thoughts in general.

Thank you all for the loving support you have shown me.  I have felt these emotions all around me, and it has helped so much.  We may not all know each other in person, but I promise, the loving thoughts sent from all of you have reached me.  And I am eternally grateful.


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The Bipolar Cocktail – when the mixture isn’t right…

Medication_cocktail_by_LaChixMany illnesses are treated with a cocktail of medications, Bipolar type 1 is not different.  For me, I must have a mood stabilizer, an antidepressant, an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety drug), and….I can’t remember if there is anything else.  I think that’s it.  Right now the mood stabilizer is working.  The antidepressant isn’t working, and the anxiolytic is trying hard to work but I have a lot of reason to be anxious.  (that’s what my therapist told me on Thursday anyway).   Of course, you could say I have a lot to be depressed about too, but I don’t normally let depression take over my life.  I’m fighting hard to keep telling myself, “This will get better.”, but it has been a bit overwhelming lately.

The tears, so many tears have fallen.  The words, “I’m sorry.” have passed my lips so many times I’ve begun to wonder if I can finish a conversation without saying it.  I’ve been told by professionals that I don’t “wallow”.  Oh if they could see me some nights, they might just change their minds.

Recently I completely lost control.  In a complete panic! I needed to leave.  I needed to get away from my husband before I hurt him any longer.  I know I’ve become such a burden, I’m not a fun person, I’m worthless, and useless.  I wish this wonderful, caring man had never met me.

How could I leave?  I can’t drive.  Where would I go?  I have no money.  What could I do?  The only answer.   Take the dark lady’s hand, I hear her promises to make it all better.  To help my husband.  To end the pain for both of us.  I reach out….and suddenly I stop!  NO!  This is my illness talking!  It will get better.  My husband loves me, and if I leave with her, he would be devastated.  I can’t hurt him.  “NO! my  lady I will not leave with you.  I’m stronger than you!” … at least for now.

I knew my resolve was weak.  I knew I couldn’t trust myself.  I grabbed my computer.  I searched and searched….I needed an inpatient hospital.  Somewhere I could go for just a little while.  Somewhere I could be made to not listen to the dark lady beckoning to me with empty promises.  I found a listing, I hit on it…..Site Not Found….What???  I went to the next place on the list…it wasn’t an inpatient facility…the next, same thing….again…again!  I threw my computer!

I was so livid!  And so…..I don’t know….I really don’t remember what happened immediately after that.   I know I ended up getting in the bath, (for those who regularly read my blog you will know how odd this is for me, I’ve become quite phobic of the bath due to my vertigo, but in the bath I was.) and my husband joined me.  He held me, and we just laid back in the water.  I talked, he could only listen.  (I can’t wear my cochlear implants in the tub, so even if he talked I wouldn’t have known.)  I cried, he held on tighter.  I told him everything.  He knew most of it already.  He did witness it.   When we got out of the bath, and readied for bed, I gathered all my medications and gave them to him.  I took out 3 pills that I might need during the night, knowing that even if I took the 3 together I would not cause myself harm.  I told him to lock them away, until I was better.  Only giving me the medications as I needed them.   (this happened a few days ago)

My cocktail will be remixed on Wednesday.  It will take a while to know if this mixture is working.  Until then, I will be cautious.  I’m still crying a lot.  The words “I’m sorry” are continuously spewing from my mouth.  I not only feel sad, angry, lost and riddled with panic….I feel sick.  My body feels as if it is fighting off an invader.  I keep running a low-grade fever, on and off.  I am hot….I am cold.  My head, throat, all of me hurts.   I had one of the worst asthma attacks I’ve had….ever…yesterday.  It scared me….suffocation is terrifying.   Once I knew my rescue inhaler was not going to work, we rushed to get the nebulizer up and running.  Luckily, I began to feel relief very quickly.  A trip to the ER was narrowly avoided.

Yes, I have an emergency plan in place now for my deepest levels of depression.  Of course, I have my husband watching my behavior.  I have all my medications that could harm me locked away to be given out only at specified times.  We have the address and phone number of an emergency psychiatric hospital.   At times I am thinking clearly.  Other times I feel so engulfed by the depths of depression I cannot imagine a way out, it feels as if I’ve stepped in a tar pit and it is constantly trying to pull me under.  I have to keep my mantra in my head….”I know it will get better.”   I’ve had problems with my medications before, I KNOW THIS WILL GET BETTER!


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Share Your World – 4 questions about Me

I’m starting a new fun challenge.

Over at Cee’s Photography she has a weekly challenge called Share Your World where she will ask 4 questions about ME.  (or anyone who takes the challenge).  So each week, you will start learning different things about me….not just about my chronic illnesses.  A little break from the norm, and a way to remind me and everyone else that I’m not just my illnesses.  I have many facets to explore….

So let’s get started:

Do you believe in extraterrestrials or life on other planets?

I_want_to_believe5

Poster in Fox Mulder’s office on the X-Files.


I think it would be pretty egotistical of me to think that our planet is the only one out there that can support life, and has life on it.  Do I think there is life on the planets in our solar system?  No.  But somewhere, out there…..yeah, as Fox Mulder’s poster said, “I Want to Believe”

What type of pet or pets do not want to have?

I like all kinds of animals and have had a number of different pets, from snakes to birds.  What type of pet to I not want to have?  Any animal that is endangered.  An animal that has been raised in the wild and should stay there.  A skunk. Since I have a cat now, I wouldn’t want a bird, however I really loved my bird.  I wouldn’t want another snake, that was a phase.  I don’t want a pet that doesn’t like people, who can’t love.  There’s probably some I’ve left out….but that’s a pretty good start, especially for someone who really likes animals!

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

The Brightest Yellow that they can make!  A friend once described me to a future employee of mine as a YELLOW type person.  Always bright, and happy.  No I’m not always happy…if you are a regular reader of my blog, you know this about me.  But I am more positive than negative person.  I try to make the most out of things. I like to be kind to others and just make people smile.

What type of transportation would you be? Why?yellow jeep

A bright Yellow Jeep Wrangler!  It’s FUN!!  I’ve had one and miss it often.  It looks like a Tonka Toy, who wouldn’t want to drive a Tonka Toy?  Plus, every time I got in it I smiled…the brilliant yellow was a bright spot to any day.  (My husband gave me a Yellow Jeep for a wedding present.  We sold it when we moved across country, for the second time.  I always thought I’d get another, but then we decided we only needed one car, and shortly there after I couldn’t drive any longer.  But we do have a yellow VW Bug…convertible!  And it’s fun too.  My thoughts?  Why have a boring car?

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Being able to go outside in the sunshine.  Riding in the Bug with the top down.  That my husband can give me injections.  and Too Much Information ahead…..I had sex with my husband!  Much like we used to, it was delightful.  If you know more about my illnesses, you will know it’s hard for this to happen.  I have chronic pelvic pain, hip dysplasia, and vaginismus.  ( I just realized I need to update my Chronic Illness tab.)

 

So, how do you like this new challenge I’ve accepted.  Questions come out on Mondays, so I will post them sometime during the week.  I hope you like learning things about me that you never would have guessed.

 


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Dark and Silent – A day with a Migraine

headache 7

When a migraine really takes hold of me, it’s time for a day with no light and no sound.

Take my medication and try to sleep.  Oh but the pain, sleep just will not come.  A tiny bit of light maybe?  Oh no, not yet.

I must say I’m grateful that I can just leave my cochlear implants off and I’m in silence.  I don’t have to worry about sounds sending me into an abyss of pain.  My room is cloaked in darkness.  I do have to have nightlights, they all point to the floor, showing as little light as possible.  If you are like me and have Meniere’s Disease with hearing loss, you will understand why I must have some light.  There are TWO main reasons:

First, I cannot walk in the dark.  Literally, I cannot tell the direction I’m going in, often I can’t tell if I’m going up or down.  Walking in the dark, is simply not something I can do.  I haven’t been able to stand up in the dark for many years, long before I was diagnosed, or showed any signs, of having Meniere’s.  I remember being told I was just thought to be a little off.  I also get Migraine Associated Vertigo, another reason why it is not advisable to walk in the dark when having a migraine, even if I didn’t have other balance issues.

Second, I cannot hear in the dark.  Let me explain.  The only way I can hear…really hear anything, is with may cochlear implants.  If I don’t have them on, I can’t hear.   I have to see to hear.  I have to read my husband’s lips or the little bit of ASL (American Sign Language) that we know.  That’s the only way I can communicate.  Yes, he could write things down, but I’d need more light to read it than I need to see his hands talking to me.

After taking my rescue medication, then my backup medication when that didn’t work…I finally start to have some relief.  No I’m not pain-free, I’m just not lying on the bed with a huge ice pack on my head wishing that someone would just cut my head off!  The pain has gone from being very close to a 9 (10 is going to the ER pain), to about a 6 or 7.  Remarkably, this amount of pain I can deal with fairly well.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bragging that I can take the pain…Oh no!  This comes from the fact that I have Chronic Daily Headaches, so every day my headaches are on the 2-3 level.  I don’t complain until it hits a 5, and only then because I know it will be getting worse.  At a 5 I will often take something, but I need to be careful, I can’t take something if I’ve taken something for too many days in a row, this will cause rebound headaches.  I never want to have rebound headaches!  Before I knew about rebound headaches I took too much medication.  I hurt, I took something, that’s the way it works right?  But you can get to the point where your body says, OK, it’s time for you to hurt so I can have that pain medication.  It’s strange.  I know I’m not giving sound medical rationale about this, but that’s the way I think of it.

I’ve been told that today is a very beautiful day, with temperatures close to 80 degrees F.  The sun is shining and the flowers are starting to bloom, a great day to take out the VW Bug convertible (that I got a few years ago, and now I can’t drive…but I still enjoy it).   Instead of having a lovely day out with my husband, I’m closed up in my bedroom (I literally haven’t left this room in a week, or more.   I’ve had so many migraines and vertigo taking the stairs is just too risky.)

I’m only able to write this in small increments with my computer screen dimmed as far as it can go without being black.

Why is the Botox not working?  I have no idea.  It normally takes a week for it to kick in, but it’s been over a week.  I hope this doesn’t mean that this treatment has stopped working for me.  I’m not sure what we’d do next.

Days like this…well the week like I’ve had, makes me feel so useless and..oh I don’t know how to say it, I feel like I’m just alive, but I’m not living.  Understand?

If you have times like this, what do you do?  How do you start to feel useful again?  I feel it’s been so long since I’ve really been useful.  So many people wish they could just lie around in bed all day, never having to do housework, always having someone to wait on them…..but I tell you, it’s not really what they want.  Living like this is torture.  I want to be able to cook and clean.  Work in my studio.  Have a Garden.  But, it’s just too much on this body and mind of mine.  I say figure out something small, but I’m out of suggestions.  If I didn’t have this blog, and the blogs I follow….my friends in my computer, I would feel completely worthless.  Thank you all for giving me that gift.

I apologize that the pain is talking so much today.  May tomorrow be a more pain-free and steady day.

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This is my brain on Menieres

wendy:

I can really relate! Extraordinary Spin-ster, a new blog dedicated to Meniere’s Disease, Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and ADD….be sure to check it out!!

 

I can really relate! Extraordinary Spin-ster, a new blog dedicated to Meniere’s Disease, Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and ADD….be sure to check it out!!  

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