Friday, 27 February 2015

Bathroom Woes

If you have ever taken a ‘water pill’ you know it can give you a sense of urgency and makes you pee frequently. I take one, Lasix specifically, almost every day. I say almost as I can’t take it on a day I’m going out because I need a bathroom close for at least six hours, and other days I just give myself a ‘drug holiday’.

One day last week I woke early, took my Lasix and went back to bed. I was having a lot of cramps and abdominal grumblings and I knew it was a stay home, stay close to the bathroom kind of day.

I had been to the bathroom twice already and was lying in bed when I heard a strange sound from the bathroom, a loud gurgling, followed by a sort of flushing sound. I had to get up to check it out and saw the toilet bowl had emptied of water, all on its own. So, of course, I flushed it to see what was going on.

As I don’t have a plunger that was not the wisest of moves, and I was lucky when the water rose close to the top it didn’t over flow. Where is that damn shut-off valve I wondered.

Great, a day that I anticipate will be spent with frequent trips to the bathroom and my toilet gets plugged. Shit! And how apropos is that. Lol

We have a property manager, but he’s not in every day during the winter and that was his day off, of course. I was determined not to call him in for this when he would be at work the next day. I used a bit of PineSol and a kettle of boiling water, twice, in an attempt to get rid of the blockage and it worked, sort of. At least I could flush the toilet.

Now it’s all fixed, a bit of effort with the auger to move things along and we’re all systems go. What a relief.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Thank Goodness for Good Neighbours

I looked out the window this morning and saw the fresh snow. All the cars parked are covered in a blanket of white, and the mounds of snow from clearing the road almost hide them entirely. I see the property manager out there with his John Deere, clearing the road, and notice my neighbour out there clearing off his car.

I better get out there and move my car, I’m thinking, and hurry to get dressed. My car hasn’t been moved in over a week though I’ve been out there, started the engine and cleared it off twice. If I leave it, with the sun shining on the windshield, there would be a melt/freeze thing going on and it would be a mess scraping off the ice when I do want to go out.

By the time I got outside my neighbour had my car cleaned off, even going so far as to take a broom to the 10 inches of accumulated snow on the roof, a big deal as I drive a van.

We had a neighbourly chat, I moved my car so the parking area could be cleared, and thanked my neighbour for the help. He’s a true gentleman, and a very spry ninety years old.

Some of us age better than others, and as I make my way with the walker, I envy him his energy and ability. 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

New Meds Update

I have been on the anti-depressants for almost three weeks and can’t believe how much better I feel without the daily stress of anxiety related chest pain. There is something scary about having chest pain, as it makes one think of heart attacks. It has been a relief for me to know that my pain does not have a cardiac cause.

The new pills made me very nauseated for the first week, almost to the point of throwing up. I had no appetite and that was okay, I need to lose weight and it reduced my urge for boredom and stress eating. Now into week three I have learned to take the meds with food and it seems to be better.

I feel calmer, and have been sleeping better, another plus. But most of all I feel better for the relief of the chest pain, the accompanying shortness of breath. I still have the joint pain, it’s been a constant companion for too many years and I can cope with it, good days and bad.

Other than the blogs, I’ve set the writing aside, have wanted to settle in to the new medication and so have not taxed my brain and made myself deal with memory and concentration issues. To fill my days I have crocheted up a storm.

Baby steps, at this point it is baby steps that will get me through. And any day I feel better is a bonus.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Ongoing Anxiety

I have always been thankful for my doctor’s professional courtesy. In 2000, she agreed to take me on as a patient, as I was new to town and in need of medical assistance. She is the one who has seen me through the disability process, the loss of my career and the ongoing progression of my disease.

I saw her last week to discuss my increasing anxiety. Not having been in the office since last summer, she knew nothing of what I had gone through during the fall months, the numerous visits to the walk-in clinic, my trip to the ER.

I appreciate the ‘old home’ feeling I get at the office, with the nurse and the doctor. I feel comfortable that they understand me and are there to support me through whatever happens. The doctor knows I am reluctant to take medication, so when I ask for help, she knows I have thought about it long and hard.

I have been living with this anxiety related chest pain for the last year; have experienced the worsening of it in the last few months. It seems to come without warning, for no apparent cause. And it comes with good feelings as well as bad, so what does that mean?

I hate these lesions in my brain. They are the cause of my lack of concentration, the memory issues, the personality changes, and now they are the cause for my anxiety.

I realized I needed something to calm me down, on a daily basis, not the as needed Ativan that could be very addictive. So I’m trying an anti-depressant, one that has a major anti-anxiety component. I still have the Ativan for worst case scenarios, my safety net, so to speak. So far I’m feeling better, and that means a lot.

I remember a woman I met when I was working. She had a panic disorder and found it impossible to maintain any regular work schedule. One of her main issues was the lack of understanding, from family, friends and co-workers. I’m glad I can say that I was understanding and supportive, though I now realize I had no real concept of what she was experiencing.

Why is it that mental health issues are not given the same level of understanding and acceptance as physical ailments? Why is it that we are so reluctant to accept these frailties in ourselves and in others?

Invisible diseases, when not accepted or understood, make us feel isolated and alone, make us feel...invisible.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

For Being Brave

When I was out the other day, a woman complimented me on my ring. It’s a simple costume piece, silver coloured with a purple stone. I told her it was my MRI ring, and she looked at me in question.

Having an MRI, especially an MRI of the brain, is not a comfortable experience. It is fifteen to twenty minutes lying in a tight chamber with your head strapped down so you can’t move. It is loud noises and claustrophobic feelings. And when it’s done, they pull you out, give you an intravenous injection of dye and send you back in and repeat the whole thing all over again.

I don’t know who does the buying for the hospital gift shop, but they do a good job. On the plus side, I don’t have to go to the hospital very often, on the negative; the gift shop is not accessible unless I want to pay the cost of parking.

I have my ring, which only cost me $20, and feel it was a well deserved little token for my bravery. LOL

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Attitude and Aging

Yesterday, because of the snow fall, I had to move my car or leave it buried, and that was not an option with more snow expected. It took me a few minutes to clear, (I hate the van in winter) and while I waited for the guy with the snow blower to clear the space, I visited with a few of my neighbours.

The one woman is very fit and used a shovel to clear some of the snow the blower missed. She pushed the shovel along the yellow line marking my parking spot, a nice gesture. The other neighbour was a man I’d never spoken to before, a thin but active man, ninety years old.

And there I stood, struggling to stand with my cane in hand, younger by 25 years of the one, probably of an age with the other.

Today another neighbour brought back my Tupperware container, and thanked me for the homemade soup I’d given her last week. She’s 82 and had just walked out to the mailbox and back, a decent walk, one I couldn’t manage without the walker and a few rest stops.

Some people just age better than others, not my luck, I’m afraid.

If my life is a case of that crap stuff about not being given more of a burden than I can cope with, well, I think someone miscalculated. The MS and its symptoms are bad enough, then there’s the Fibromyalgia, a bit more to deal with, add in the arthritis and all those aches and pains, the worst being the back and knee.

I look at others, enjoying their retirement, and I can’t help but feel a bit cheated. Hard knocks, I guess that’s what life is all about. I wish I had done some things differently, but wishful thinking is a lost cause, there are no do-overs. It is what it is.

So, let’s think bright thoughts. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and there is no snow in the immediate forecast. I think I will take a short walk, get some sun and fresh air. Attitude counts.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

An Ungainly Gait

There’s a man I used to see around town who walked with a very strange gait. Instead of the usual left-right-left-right sort of thing, with alternate feet moving in turn, he walked with almost a side to side shuffle, like a penguin.

His body rocked side to side with each step, making his gait look awkward. I never knew why he walked that way, maybe he had a hip injury.

I used to have a nice and easy walk, the kind where you never had to hesitate at curbs, be afraid of steps, or worry you’d drag your foot and fall flat on your face. When I injured my knee, almost twenty years ago, I would sometimes walk with a limp, depending on how much pain I was in.

Pain in the knee, dragging my foot, I could still manage fairly well, unless I was tired, or the ground was rough and uneven or I didn’t watch every step. It’s been years now since I started using the cane, more for balance than anything else. I had to have my hand on something, and there wasn’t always a wall or some furniture handy.

Last year I gave in and got the walker, as the cane just wasn’t enough anymore. I walk much better with the walker, as it gives me more confidence, makes me feel more secure. But it’s cumbersome when taking it in confined spaces, like a restaurant, so I go back to the cane.

Lately, I notice that my walk is much more awkward, especially at home when I don’t use the cane or the walker. My place is small so I depend on the walls and furniture. But I notice I’m walking with a definite side-to-side sway. I’ve lost more feeling in my feet and wonder if the side-to-side motion helps me move my leg through the step without tripping, instead of lifting my leg to avoid dragging my foot.

All I know is it must look awful. I watch other people walk without any conscious thought and wonder how many years has it been since I walked with ease. Last time I was out I came upon a curb and stood still for a few moments, trying to coordinate in my mind, what foot will I step with, where will I place the cane?

As much as I applaud the kindness of strangers who, on seeing the cane/walker, give me space and hold the doors, I hate that you have to do it. Sometimes, most times in winter, it’s easier to stay home than to constantly struggle to get around.

I hate that I might have become, like the penguin man, that woman others see and recognize by her ungainly gait. 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Sleep Deprivation

I have a friend who recently went through a sleep study and was found to have sleep apnea. She stopped breathing an alarming number of times each night, and it reflected in restless sleep and constant motion. She now wears a device when she sleeps.

I was asked, because of my poor sleep, whether I thought I had sleep apnea and I could confidently say no. I may not sleep well, but when I sleep, I sleep like the dead and don’t move at all.

It’s actually that ‘not moving’ that wakes me up. The pain of lying in one position for even a couple of hours is enough to wake me. Sometimes it’s the need to go to the bathroom, but I think that’s often just coincidental.

After a few hours of sleep, I wake up and feel sure it must be morning; I feel I’ve slept that soundly, but it never is. I make do with a few hours sleep, numerous times through the night, and often give in and stay in bed late in the morning.

It would definitely help if I went to bed at a decent hour. I may go to bed early, as I need to rest my back and put my feet up, but I rarely go to sleep early. I watch television, or read, and have a difficult time putting down a good book.

What I need to do, and I think it would help with this chronic lack of sleep, is to take a nap each day. There is always that point in the day when the fatigue becomes overwhelming. I feel it’s a chore to sit, can barely keep my eyes open and feel my mind start to fog. This is when I should go and lie down, even if I don’t sleep, I would rest. Why I resist this I don’t know.

When you add in physical activities, like shopping or social time, the deficit to my store of energy is increased. I’m trying to get into the habit of lying down when I feel that tired, and I have been better, already had a lay down today, twice, once after my shower, an obvious energy drainer, and again after lunch.

I know it’s wrong, but having a nap just seems like giving in. I’m too stubborn for my own good.