It’s Not Okay

No. No big girl pants. No brave face. No confident words or bright sides. This is Lulu – crumpled in a ball.

Maybe the prospective consequence of this surgery I wrote about yesterday in Taking the Bullet didn’t have time to sink. Or maybe there was some kind of mental safety barrier I built around the subject. In any case, everything collapsed into a pile of rubble with a giant plume of dust and a flood behind it.

C.S. and I were going to make breakfast – a common occurrence on Saturday morning. But, in order to cook, some cleaning was required first. I offered to do it. I am painfully aware that I have been a little neglectful of domestics. But, C.S. insisted, and didn’t hesitate to be incredibly nasty while pointing it out.

“I’ve had a bad week.”
“You’ve had one bad day!”

I felt it building, like a swirling, chaotic ball inside my solar plexus. All of the emotions I’ve dampened and thrust inward boiled, as if a roaring fire was now ablaze under their container. Flashbacks flooded my mind. I was trapped in my head, still and gazing with an empty stare across a crowded classroom. I was lying on stomach, underneath three blankets, with a pillow wrapped around my head. I was intently watching the noon news report and cringing each time I heard a door open.

These are absolute truths from the very back, of the very bottom shelves, where the most volatile substances are stored.

“I am in no shape. Back off.”
“You know there’s nothing that irritates me worse than…”

I stopped listening. There is nothing more combustible to a situation than his deaf ear, narrow mind, and dug in heels. A major irritation paled in comparison to the tumultuous storm of explosive materials about to emerge. His complaints were a slow, low string of murmurs only punctuated by breaths to gain more steam. I stood at the counter, shaking so badly that I could no longer handle a knife.

And it rang as clear as a bell, “This is a routine procedure. They do thousands of them a day. It’s no big deal.”

“It IS a BIG DEAL!”, I screamed, tears streaming down my face. “If I hemorrhage, I could die! If my blood pressure tanks again and they can’t get it under control, I could die! And even if I don’t die, what happens if one of my adjacent organs gets a slice? I end up with a colostomy bag?!”

“It’s okay if you get a poop bag,” he joked.

“No! It’s not okay if I have to have a poop bag! It’s not okay if I lose a kidney or liver function! And it’s especially not okay if I lose my ability to have a baby! Nothing about this is okay!!! It’s NOT okay!!!”

My hands were flat against the counter with my arms outstretched. I heaved and violently sobbed. I squeezed my eyes shut and trembled. The tears poured down my cheeks and onto my chest.

Two strong, warm arms closed around me. He brought me against his chest in a firm embrace. I turned to throw my arms around his neck and bury my face into his shoulder. In that moment, I was secure. I was safe, at least from myself.

“Whatever happens, we’ll take care of it.”

I’m not okay. And, I can’t even attempt to pretend anymore. The integrity of the whole farce has disintegrated past salvageable. There is no footing along that path anymore. All I can to is come to terms with this.

November 10th or 11th, S-Day. Only 11 or 12 more days.

Taking the Bullet

I went to the dreaded LEEP surgery consultation, as first mentioned in Leep-Into-Cin – Part III, and more recently in  A Peach and A Catalyst.

Dodging Bullets
Honestly, I’ve been dodging this since I received word in May that my Pap came back bad again.  I put off the colposcopy until July, as I mentioned in All the Pretty Things.  The results of the colposcopy were among many things that triggered my breakdown in August, most noted in Meet Me in the Magnolia Tree.  I was informed at that point that I would need the surgery.  And I failed to go to both my August consultation and my September consultation.  I couldn’t face what I knew she was going to say to me.  I couldn’t hear that I may never be able to have more children.  And after the debacle from my last surgery, mentioned in Leep-Into-Cin – Part II, I couldn’t fathom the idea of having to go through another one.

The Reader’s Digest Version
It’s a lot of history to take in all at once.  I understand.  So, for those of you that really don’t have the time, or simply don’t want to sift through all of it, I will provide the abbreviated version.  I was diagnosed with HPV in August 2007 and had cervical dysplasia as a result.  At the time, I was in my early 20’s and the doctors all insisted that it would clear up on it’s own.  I got pregnant at the beginning of 2008 with T.D. and it only got worse.  In fact, so bad that I had to have the worst colposcopy of my life when I was 34 weeks pregnant.

Due to some insurance problems, I wasn’t able to get another colposcopy until May 2009, when it was discovered I had CIN-II and III in some places.  Essentially, I had the worst precancer before it became real cancer.  I had a very traumatic cryosurgery done in June 2009, and that was that.  For then.

Here we are, two years later.

My Worst Fears Realized / Speculated and More
From the moment I got the call, I’ve done my research.  I knew the words that were going to come out of her mouth.  And, I had face it alone.  C.S. and I decided that it would be better to save that 1/2 day off, in case I need it after the surgery.  Not that emotionally agree with the decision.  I see the logic.  But, I knew I’d need him there.  In a way, I am hurt that he doesn’t consider my health more important than his work.  I know he is only trying to make things stretch.  But, I feel like if he cared enough, he would have been there.

Like I already knew, I risk cervical stenosis, scarring of the cervix and cervical canal, that may make natural conception impossible.  I am at a higher risk for cervical incompetance, which may make carrying a child to term impossible.  I risk infection, hemmorage, etc.  But here’s what I didn’t know.  I risk damaging other organs in the vicinity, such as the vaginal walls, colon, bowel, etc.  And that made the whole ordeal so much worse.

All my doctor could say was, “The risks and complications are a possibilty.  I can tell you that these risks are small, but I can’t make any guarentees about what’s going to happen.”

On the subject of future children, “Cervical stenosis isn’t as much of a concern as cervical incompetance.  It depends on how much we have to remove.  We can only determine that when you’ve healed.  I’ll check at the 2 week follow-up and we’ll have a better idea then.”

My Aching Heart
I cannot get my mind away from the possibility that I will be incapable of having anymore children.  I wanted one, maybe two more if I feel my biological clock start to tick later on.  I cannot fathom the idea.  It breaks my heart to think about.  I may never have another child, ever again.  I could end up barren with the thoughts of the child that I could never have.  The child that would have been a sibling to T.D. and a child to C.S. and I.

Worse, is the possibilty of having multiple miscarriages.  I had one, and I know it was my fault.  I didn’t know I was pregnant until I miscarried at about 10-12 weeks.  I was drinking heavily at the time.  And that likely did it.  If that child had lived, he / she would be 9 in January.  It took me a long time to accept the truth about it.  But, I knew it wasn’t meant to be.  The day after I conceived, my boyfriend broke up with me.  I told him a year later about what happened.  His response was, “It was better this way.  I wouldn’t have left her (his girlfriend) anyway.  Now, we can all get on with our lives.”

It was cold-hearted, but he was right.  I was in no position to be a mother.  I was too young, with no college education, no income, and hardly a stable place to live.  The child would have had a deadbeat dad, and I would’ve been outcasted by my family.  This is not to mention that I was not yet diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  That baby has a better home in the life beyond.

Will I have to go through the unimaginable pain of losing a child?  Losing multiple children because my body just can’t do it?  I’m terrified at the idea.  I cry when I hear about it.  How could I even begin to handle that?

My doctor tried to be reassuring and said, “Most of my patients who have undergone one LEEP have gone on to have successful, complication free pregnancies.” Most.  Not all.  This is my second surgery.  I don’t know exactly what I will have left when all of this is said and done with.

The Worst Case Scenario of Them All
What if this LEEP doesn’t do it? What happens if the dysplasia grows back. I only have so much cervix. Do I have to face another LEEP? And if I do, that will destroy all hopes of another child. Beyond that, we’re looking at a hysterectomy. I’m too young to have my uterus removed. So what then? Hormone replacement therapy for the next 10 – 15 years? Or will I just have to bear early menopause?

That is honestly the worst of it all. Not being able to have children and having to go through menopause.

The Only Good News
The actual surgery isn’t nearly as bad as cryosurgery. I will have a cervical block, as well as IV sedation. Instead of being in the office, I will be at the hospital. The procedure is supposed to be painless, and afterward, I should sufffer no symptoms worse than a light menstration.

The after care is much like having a colposcopy, and heaven knows I’ve had enough of those.  Literally, I’ve had four or five.  With the last one, I wasn’t doing great the same day.  But, within a few days, I was back to my regular self.  I should be healed enough to resume normal activity within two weeks (like aerobic activity), with the exception that I’ll have a lifting restriction for a month.

The Plan
The date of the surgery – November 10th or 11th.  I have off on the 11th, so I tried to schedule it for then.  But, I can take the 10th off, if needed.  My doctor specializes in treatment for woman cancer.  I trust her and really like her.  She reminds me of the wonderful OB that delivered T.D., except she’s a little more forthcoming.  She’s the only doctor that has sent my specimens to an oncologist for review.  She is the only doctor that has been extremely proactive about this.  And she is the only doctor that hasn’t treated me like I’m a case, or I’m insane, or anything else.  She’s regarded me as a person every time.

I just want to get this all behind me.  I want to be able to deal with the aftermath as soon as I can.  And, I need to make the attempt to get pregnant as soon as I can afterward.  Because, if I have to face another LEEP or hysterectomy, I’ll be damned if I don’t at least try to have another baby before we come to that.

Fear and Loathing in Pittsburgh

Tomorrow at 11:45AM EST, I will be meeting with my OB/Gyn for my surgical consultation that I’ve put off for three months. And I’m more scared of this than I was of my induction of labor.

Tomorrow, I face my biggest fears.

I face a serious surgery, no matter how benign it may sound. I don’t like doctors. I am terrified of hospitals as a result of my most previous experience. And, I’ve never been put under before.

The surgical procedure alone presents enough potential threats. I have had a life-threatening reaction to an epidural. What will I do once I’m hooked into an IV? Will my blood pressure tank again? Will the anesthetic wear off? I’m not sure I can endure that pain.

Then, there’s the aftercare. The complications are numerous. Do I face a serious hemorrhage? Anemia over the Pittsburgh winter is unbearable. I may not be able to get back on my feet as soon as I’m expected to. How can I possibly take care of my son? Who can I call on to help? I do not have a great support network.

And then, there are future complications. I may have deep scaring. The surgery may cause me permanent future pain. And what about getting pregnant again? Studies indicate a small percentage of women have one of two fertility issues after having the surgery. In one scenario, I may suffer scarring that causes me to be incapable of natural fertilization. In another scenario, I may suffer miscarriages and / or premature births. If I can get pregnant, then I may never be able to carry to term.

And what will happen if this surgery fails like the last one did? How much many more times will I have to go through this? And what’s the next step after that? Hysterectomy, if it gets any worse. Can I stand the idea of losing any hope of having more children? I’m too young to lose my reproductive organs. I can’t be menopausal in my late 20’s. Do I face hormone replacement therapy for the next 15 – 20 years? How would that serious chemical shift affect my BP?

Worst of all, I have to face all of these unknowns alone. C.S. and I decided it would be more wise to save his PTO days for after the surgery. I didn’t agree as much as I had to accept. I am so scared of being alone for this.

I am terrified of being alone. If the news is bad, I’m going to be alone in that office. I am embarrassed to cry in public. But there I’ll be, in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh, on the streets holding back. I’d be holding back from the office, to the stop, all the way back home, where I’ll have to face my parents. And when I get home, I’ll have to hold back some more. For my son’s sake.

But inside, I’ll be falling apart.

And that’s all before I even go through with the surgery.

At the very least, I have the whole day off to soak it all up, and likely cry it all back out.

A Peach and A Catalyst

This one was inspired by Colonial Punk’s Post.

Stress.

A one syllable word that is so commonplace in everyone’s life. When am I not stressed? I can’t answer that. It really is always something.

It’s more about how stressors are processed that produces the effects and thus, the consequences. I’m probably not a prime example of how stress is interpreted. I have been known to buckle under the weight. I am guilty of allowing my situations to become critical.

How stress manifests for me is a complicated thing. It depends on the particular stressor and the source that it is coming from. In addition, it depends on my particular mood, the emotion, and the intensity of emotion that the stressor produces at the time.
I’ve been running a little high lately. I’m out of the hypomanic episode, thanks to a virus or something. But, if I had to describe the state I’m in right now, I’d call it a 6 or 7 on the mood scale with panic attacks. (In all fairness, this started before the abnormally high stress). Honestly, I’m used to running at about a 4.

I mentioned in Just Got Served, But It Wasn’t Dinner that C.S. is being sued. That was Thursday. That comes with a whole host of problems for both him and me. We finally have the name of an attorney. Any further than that and I’m really not at liberty to publicly detail the rest. Legal problems are at least in the top 5 of my “Worst Things That Could Happen List”. (Medical is number 1. We’re getting there.)

My typically benevolent boss is coming down on me. I understand her concern. My boss has a difficult time delegating and the Winter Concert is in my hands. Her anxiety has to be off the charts. It would be absolutely embarrassing if this project flops.

The electric company has recently determined that we are financially ineligible for services. Now, we’re stuck with a budget amount of $430 a month. That’s up $200 from what we were paying on a “just making ends meet” budget.

T.D.’s Early Intervention services ended October 16th, when he turned three. This is complicated, so try to stay with me. He was supposed to have transitioned into school-aged services at this point, but it didn’t happen.

Adding fuel to the fire, C.S. isn’t sure if he wants to take this promotion on the cusp of some serious financial detriment and before the holidays.

I mentioned problems with T.D.’s pediatrician giving me some serious trouble in The Farris Wheel. I won’t go into the complete story, but I have a ton of things I have to face now with his health and development.

And I have this surgery looming.  My consult is finally scheduled in stone for October 28.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Blah.

The reactions varied. When I saw the papers for the suit, I sprang into action. It was an insult. I was angry.

When my boss came at me, I flew. It shook the very foundation of my work experience. I’ve always considered work to be a safe zone. I became so anxious that I responded with annoyance, fear, and paranoia.

All of T.D.’s things are overwhelming. I’m treading into unknown territory and I’m not sure how to proceed. It froze me in fear to know that my child has something wrong. And I felt like the worst mother in the world.

I’ve never had a major surgery. There are a lot of unknowns. I’ve been dodging it because I don’t want to walk around blindly. Too many what if’s. How am I going to handle news that something bad has happened?

And as for the bills, what am I going to do? We can handle it, but we’re going to be on a tight budget. We might have to make some heavy sacrifices. I am upset. I can’t stand the idea of living in extreme poverty again. I am almost to the point of tantrums. I still need a couple new staple clothing items (white t-shirts), new contacts, and new glasses. When will these needs be satisfied, if at all? Rawr!

So, as you can see, stress produces a wide variety of responses. But, the end result varies. Either, I crumble into a depressive episode because of the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. Or, I go manic and power through with serious ferocity. Or, I am frozen with anxiety, and if I approach the situation, I’m overcome and retreat.

Spin the wheel. It’s hard to tell what stress will trigger with bipolar disorder.

Take two, three or four pills and call back in the morning.

The Farris Wheel

Manic Monday recently wrote a post entitled Surgery Date that talked about nasty, unprofessional health care professionals. I spoke to her about their disgrace and the extreme agitation it caused.

I have been through the situation many times. I have a certain amount of animosity toward health care professionals as a result. I have been misdiagnosed. I have been diagnosed and not treated correctly, if at all. I have been treated as a hypochondriac and a liar. One clinic took the wrong course of action and made a condition worse. I had cruel nurses during my delivery and one that popped my hip out. I’ve had overzealous doctors want to pump me full of drugs when unnecessary. Others refused me much needed medications such as antibiotics until I developed a worse condition. And the worst of all was the incompetent doctor that botched my last surgery and left me on the table to fend for myself.

Worse, there are doctors that have mistreated my son. They’ve attempted to withhold antibiotics, and advised me against taking him to the hospital when he had a fever of 105F. But they are eager to pump him full of brand new, live vaccines, which have not been tested in the long term. I am almost convinced they are attempting to kill my child.

Dr. W., T.D.’s psychologist that diagnosed him with PDD-NOS on the ASD, was the worst of them all. At his diagnosis, she essentially handed me a stack of papers and sent me on my way. And still, she failed to include some crucial information.

T.D.’s pediatrician appointment did not start well. Dr. F. had a nasty demeanor. She started a physical exam when C.S. and I mentioned T.D. suffers from chronic diaper rash. She snapped, “Well, why is he still in a diaper.” I answered in a snotty tone, “Because he has Autism Spectrum Disorder.”.

“Oh.”

Yeah, oh. Bitch.

She certainly changed her tone after than. Until, we got to the vaccinations. You see, we started vaccinations until T.D. was a little over a year old. That is when my FIL (father-in-law) was diagnosed with stage 3 lymphoma. He started chemotherapy and it was recommended that T.D. stop the vaccines until my FIL was declared in remission. In that time, C.S. and I decided against them.

Don’t get me started on the vaccination debate. Suffice it to say, I’m not going to change my mind. But, I got those looks like I’m a terrible mother for signing that waiver.

Worse, they uncovered an ear infection in both of his ears. T.D. showed no symptoms and didn’t complain of pain. How was I supposed to know? He’s still largely non-verbal!

She treated me like a terrible parent all around and T.D. like he was retarded. I got crap for him not seeing a dentist. WTF?! Most dentists won’t see patients younger than 3. On top of that he has special needs!!! Do you think he’s going to sit still for an oral exam when I can’t get him to sit for a haircut? I don’t think so.

And here’s the cherry on top of the sundae. His BMI is high. So now, we all have to keep a constant and detailed food journal. Yeah, as if I’m going to be able to get all of his sitters on board with this. But, it has to be. I’m sure the next step is a dietitian and CYF at this point.

And at the end of our visit, she made it pretty clear that she doesn’t believe the diagnosis. Excuse me, are you a child psychologist? NO!. Don’t make judgments you aren’t qualified to make!

I do feel like a failure of a mother. Even when I know a doctor is trying to guilt trip me and fear monger me into doing things her way. I know my son better than any doctor could hope to.

At the very least, I’m pointed in the right direction as to where to get the referral for services. And unlike other pediatricians, she was not hesitant to prescribe medicine. Those are her only redeeming qualities.

I still absolutely detest that woman. I am rescheduling his appointment with another doctor. I never want to see her again.

Just another reason on the pile as to why I despise medical professionals.

Radio Silence Breaks

It’s been five days since my last post.  I realized the huge gap in posting and attempted to write something on the bus on the way to work quickly.  That ended in my phone crashing the app and me seething over lost work.  So, here’s an update on the RL that’s been eating my Lulu life.

Saturday, October 15, 2011
That was the day we held T.D.’s third birthday party.  The morning started out with a breakfast buffet at Eat N Park.  T.D. is an incredible eater.  What made the buffet worth it was the fact that I knew he would eat an adult portion, though C.S. and I may not have.

C.S. and I put T.D. down for a nap when we came home.  Then, we feverishly cleaned the house before our guests arrived.  It’s not as if we keep a dirty home.  In the past week, I’ve been sick, so the domestics got a little behind.  Really, we could have gotten it done in about an hour, but we opted for the deep clean.  I won’t bore you with the details.

T.D. had a lovely party.  His Grammy (my MIL), Poppop (my Dad), and his Grandma (my mother who he actually calls “Gram”), all stopped by to open presents and have birthday cake.  The rest of our guests weren’t able to come until later due to other obligations.  But that was fine.  T.D. considers our friends to be his friends, too.  He has his favorites, and they all managed to make it.  He really loved it.  And I’m so happy that he had such a wonderful party.

Saturday, October 16, 2011
This is my little dedication to the birth of T.D..

We all must have partied a little hardy and woke up later than usual.  We were sitting at the breakfast table when I noticed the time.  I said, “At this time, exactly three years ago, Mommy was hooked up to all over her IV’s.”

I had an induction with T.D. at 38 weeks.  My pregnancy was riddled with problems.  Most of them were normal pregnancy symptoms – acid reflux to the point of vomiting, migraines, etc.  When the doctor asked that Monday morning if I was ready to have the baby on Thursday, I was overjoyed!  There’s nothing I wanted more than to not be pregnant anymore.  My stomach was so big that I couldn’t even lean forward anymore, much less bend down.

I also had more threatening pregnancy problems.  I had placental problems and cervical dysplasia at the time.  Additionally, I’m a small woman.  There was an issue with narrow hips, and the question as to whether I was going to be able to deliver naturally.  On his last ultrasound, T.D. was about 6 and a half pounds and his lungs were fully developed.  It looked like we were ready to go!

A little later in the early afternoon, while relaxing with some television, I noted the time again.  I said, “At this time, Mommy got her epidural that didn’t turn out so well.”

The doctors and nurses urged me to schedule my epidural ahead of time so that I wouldn’t miss my window of opportunity.  Personally, I didn’t want to get it until it was absolutely necessary.  However, since I had to schedule, I had little choice.

They cleared everyone out of the room, and I panicked.  I begged for my husband to be allowed to stay, but it was hospital policy that no one remain.  Apparently, some had fainted at one look at the needle.  I was scared.  I tried to remember what other women had told me; “By the time I got the epidural, I was in so much pain I didn’t even feel the needle!”  But I felt it.  I screamed when that needle was shoved into my spine.  The nurse and doctor were jerks about it.  “It couldn’t have hurt that bad.”

We hung around in a silent room for awhile.  Finally, I asked, “Why are we waiting around?”  It was hospital policy that the doctor and the nurse administering the epidural wait for fifteen minutes in case something happened.  Nothing did happen, and everyone was allowed to come back in.

It wasn’t even ten minutes before something did go wrong.  I kept telling C.S. that I felt like I was going to vomit.  I was spinning and everything blurred.  A hazy black formed around the edges of my vision and enclosed in while voices seemed to drift away.  In my mind, I thought, “This is what dying feels like.”  I was brought back to with a shot of adrenaline.  The epidural caused my blood pressure to tank out and I lost consciousness for just a moment.

Later on, more toward the evening, I noticed the time again.  I mentioned, “This was the time that Mommy’s epidural wore off.”

My doctor and nurse expected me to have delivered around dinner time, and we had gone past that now.  I was in absolute screaming agony and begged that my nurse get someone to give me more medicine.  She told me to wait.  Wait?!  Wait for what?!  Finally, my screams attracted enough attention to get a boost of epidural.  It was a relief, but not enough to bring the pain down to a manageable level.

And this is where my memory gets a little fuzzy.

There was a clock across the room and a TV underneath of it.  I was keeping time based on both the TV programming and the clock.  I could have sworn that the doctor came in and told me around 10 that we were going to do some practice pushes.  I know that’s the time that they cut me off from the epidural.  But C.S. seems to think differently.  To say the least, T.D. was born into this world after between 45 minutes and an hour and a half of pushing labor.  They told me, “He’s out!  He’s out!”

“I know.”

They rushed T.D. off to the little cart. I didn’t hear him crying at first. I asked, “Is he OK?” They assured me he was fine. But, I didn’t hear him. It was the longest minute of my life, but I finally heard his voice.

Today, T.D. is alive and well. And my hips remained two inches wider.

The Hypomanic Toll Booth

I’ve been in a hypomanic episode since since I wrote A Mixed Bag on September 26. You can count. It’s been about 12 days. My record is 14.

It started out pretty dysphoric and it was thought that I was going through an ultra-rapid cycle. That’s unusual for me. My hypomanic episodes are usually awesome. I hate to say that, and I’m not encouraging anyone to indulge any kind of mania.

Normally, I have these incredibly euphoric and productive hypomanic episodes. I am overloaded with confidence and ambition. I feel like I can take on the world, and I often do. I have overly high self-esteem where I boast and brag incessantly. I’m hypersexual and that’s always met with great enthusiasm. I do indulge that hypomania by getting everything I can out of it.

Because I know that I will inevitably have a terrible crash into depression. That’s why I call it a pendulum. The further the pendulum swings into mania, the further I can expect it to swing back into depression.

I’m not a very active person by nature. One of the main reasons why hypomanic episodes are limited to 5 to 10 days is because my body simply can’t take it. Hypomania forces my body to be as active as my mind. Therefore, I either experience a mental crash that pulls my body with it vice versa.

Thursday morning, 4:56AM, I was awoken. I had a sense that I had been in a near waking state for awhile. By whole body ached, even in places it doesn’t usually ache. I had the worst pain in my head. I wasn’t even tired when I got up, although I had only slept three hours by then. I took two ibuprofin and a half a milligram of xanax with the hope that I’d be asleep again soon. At 7:03AM, I was back in bed.

I’ve been in agonizing pain all throughout my body when the ibuprofin wears off since.

Am I sick? It feels like the flu with no fever. No fever, no illness. Is it because of the Beni Koji I took on Thursday night? I’m not sure, because I figured my body should have processed it by now. But, I have another idea.

I think my body is finally giving out under the hypomania. Too little sleep, too much activity. But my mind is still pushing on, although there are moments where I am absolutely incapacitated with pain. I’m still ablaze with hypomania!

Why and how is this happening? How long can I expect to be hypomanic? Really, I’ve never exceeded 14 days. Will this pain go away? Should I see a doctor? Is the pain related?

Any ideas? I could use as many POV’s as I can get.

Where I End and “It” Begins

There is great mystery and confusion that surrounds us when we try to differentiation symptoms and personality. James, who writes the award winning blog James Claims, inspired me to finally write a piece on this subject with his shout out. Which is which? Episodes surely have a profound affect on our cognition and behavior. Then, what about medication? Does medication give or take when we are defining traits and types in studying our own personality?

Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test? If not, take a moment to review the MBTI. It doesn’t matter if you’re having an episode. The results are very reliable on a test-retest reliability scale, regardless. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

(Pause.)

Anyhow, this subject of personality and the MBTI spawned from a conversation with Brandon who writes The Daily Bipolar. I had mentioned the MBTI and how we can get a more stable idea of ourselves.

I started taking the MBTI in 2007. I have taken it every six months since then. Each time, I scored ENFJ (Extroverted, iNtuition, Feeling, Judging). That is, until the most recent retest. Suddenly, I scored Introverted, iNtuition, Feeling, Judging – INFJ. How could a person go from a well established extrovert to an introvert?

Before I was diagnosed, I was all over the place. When I was hypomanic, I was the life of all of the parties. I could throw down with the best of them. I was always prone to doing things that were strange, dangerous, and / or illegal. And having friends that would be in awe and amazement at my latest stunts only added fuel to thay fire.

But in those days, I didn’t isolate myself when in a depressive state. I really leaned on my friends. I had no other support system. If I lost my friends, I lost everything. In those days, friends would take 3AM crying phone calls. A boyfriend would dedicate his Friday night to talking me through a depressive compulsion, like self-harm, and not think of me differently. Before we were together, C.S. used to insist that I come to his apartment to stay for awhile.

I was already married with a baby when I was diagnosed. I have been in treatment for Bipolar Disorder II for two years. By treatment, I mean several different psychiatrists have shuffled pills at me, and I faithfully swallowed them. I went through a lot of life changes in that time, too. I settled into my domestic life and started a career path.

What’s different now?

Firstly, I am a mother and a wife. Week long benders and non-stop parties are out of the question. In fact, most of my social life crumbled. I have a strong dedication to my family. I will do anything to ensure their health, well-being, and happiness.

I had dedicated myself to school and am beginning my career. I have great enthusiasm for teaching and music. Many of the dreams and ideals that had been trampled in my past have begun to emerge once more. Arts, music, literature, philosophy, politics, and the pureness of real love were all resurrected.

My vast social network dissolved. And do you know what? I don’t really care. After all of it, I’d rather be alone. I much prefer using my time to enjoy family and intellectual pursuits. These activities would be art and literature mainly. That is opposed to wasting time investing in people who will never be a good friend.

Much of this wouldn’t have been possible for me without the medication. I have more control. Having the ability to regulate my emotions has enabled me to have a more solid marriage. It allows me to be the best possible mother I can be. Even on a bad day, I can still pull myself together and responsibly honor my obligations. My judgment is better and I’m more logical than ever.

I regained and retained all of the great things about myself with only a small fee. My short-term memory is shot. It wasn’t great to begin with, but Lamictal completely did it in. Unless I repeatedly write something down, like a name or a phone number, I will immediately forget it. And by getting the bipolar disorder under control, I unearthed a terrible underlying anxiety.

In my adult life, my attention has been focused inward. When I was officially diagnosed, I knew that I couldn’t escape it any longer. It is time to work on myself.

And my E changed to an I.

Leep-Into-Cin – Part III

Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature.  It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  Children under the age of 18, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this.  Use your own discretion.

Bringing in the Big Guns

After the experience where I was left stranded on an operating table, I had grown animosity toward that doctor that performed my surgery.  I refused to see her, and I refused to go through any more procedures.  It didn’t matter.  I had lost my insurance again and there was nothing I could possibly do.  The only other option was to return to the clinic so that they could slowly kill me with their negligence.

I did break down and go to the clinic, but only for a required Pap to receive birth control.  I took the call when it came.  ASCUS, same news, different month.  I couldn’t face it.  I didn’t want to do it all over again.  But as usual, Planned Parenthood didn’t really take this news seriously.  I didn’t plan on going back anyhow.  The nurse practitioner butchered me during that routine exam and left me bleeding for a week afterward.

Finally, I had good health insurance and went to Magee Hospital Womancare.  By chance, I was given to a doctor that specialized in woman specific cancers.  Upon our first meeting, I didn’t care for her.  She was cold, calculating, and blunt.  She reviewed my records, took a pap, and sent my samples off to an Oncologist – the first time a real cancer doctor had ever seen my file.  I was relieved, but I couldn’t stand her bedside manner.  Her words were few and her work was rough and quick.  At least it was quick.

I got the good news of my first negative pap in years!  I celebrated!  The dysplasia was gone!  I rejoiced at having that burden lifted from me.  No more would I worry about growing more cancerous cells, as day after day passed.  I could live without constant concern of death.

Until April 2011.

I had neglected to get my six month pap and was coming upon my yearly pap.  The office tried to contact me and I missed several appointments.  I was very busy now.  I had just been accepted into my first teaching job and was responsible in the spring musical as the Music Director.  The very night of the show, Womancare tracked me down.  I paced backstage and scheduled my appointment for spring break.  I realized the urgency and knew I was running out of birth control anyway.

The pap was bad.  ASCUS, again.  There was no infection or alternative explanation.  Another colposcopy had to be done to confirm all of our fears.  I scheduled it for the first week in June 2011.  I knew I would be laid off by then and would have plenty of time for recovery.  But, as you know from previous posts, I had developed the flu which turned into pneumonia.  I missed the appointment, and rescheduled for July 15, previously noted in “All the Pretty Things”.

What I didn’t mention was the nervous bus ride into the city.  Nor did I mention the walk alone through Downtown, only mitigated by my bravery to do it alone after C.S. once again failed to attend at the last minute and serenity found at the fountain.  I laid on the table in the familiar position – feet in stirrups, staring at the ceiling.  I felt the vinegar sting the tissue inside of me.  I sighed.  Then, there was a feeling of a stab, twice that of a shot, and enough for me to lose my breath.  I heard the doctor say, “That’s not enough of a sample.” and then came another unbelievable stab that had me seeing stars.  I cried out in pain.  Just keep breathing, keep breathing.  The tears flooded to my eyes and another slice that felt like a twisting knife in my insides.  Breathe.  Keep breathing.  I told myself over and over, but I was choked with tears from the incredible amount of pain.

The doctor was uncharacteristically sympathetic.  She asked me questions, but I could not speak.  I could not catch my breath to tell her that I just needed a moment.  She offered me a cool towel and I declined.  She offered me a cool drink and I accepted.  I tried to get up, but she insisted that I lie back down for awhile.  I needed time for the apoxy to take hold to cover the internal wound.  I needed time for the cramping to go away before I should move.  She knew more than anyone else in my life that all I needed was some time.  I sipped the water, caught my air, and said to her, “I don’t remember it being quite that painful.  Then again, I don’t remember it being quite that fast either!”  I was trying to save face, but it didn’t matter.  She had seen the twisted look on my face with my eyes squeezed shut.  She asked about my condition and I told her I was OK and that I still needed to catch my breath.

I was still choking back tears.  I was ashamed that I couldn’t handle the pain and cried.  I was so alone.  I was furious that C.S. had not made more of an attempt to be with me.  But more than anything, I was sad that I had been let down again.  And I knew I would have to drag all of that physical and emotional pain down the streets of Pittsburgh, back home with me, and into my home to face my son alone.

All alone.

The Anticipated Call

The office assured me that we would have a result by Friday.  I knew what they were going to say.  I had hoped that they would say that it was CIN I, and we could wait.  But I knew it wasn’t.  Just like I knew in the beginning that I would be in the 10% where this doesn’t resolve on it’s own.  Just like I knew after the cryosurgery that this wasn’t the end of it.  I wanted to believe differently, but in my bones, I knew better.

Friday morning, I took the call.  I was in my mother’s kitchen while T.D. was downstairs watching Spongebob for the gazillionth time.  CIN II.  This time they wanted to perform LEEP because of my advancing age, history with this disease, and my current grade of dysplasia.  Seemingly, it was progressing faster this time.  Or else, the cryosurgery just didn’t take.  I knew all of these things, because I often have the power of foresight.  At least when it comes to my body and my mind.  But, there is nothing that can actually prepare you for the news.  There is also nothing that can prepare you for what you are facing.

The nurse I spoke to wanted to schedule a surgical consult before we proceed.  I was puzzled and felt some looming threat.  I had never been offered a surgical consult before.  Apparently, the doctor and I have a lot to converse about.  In the meantime, I am left my with racing thoughts and full internet access.

A Rock and a Hard Place

Each surgery presents the problem with damaging the cervix with scar tissue.  If enough is amassed, that may pose problems for future fertility.  The statistics say that cervical stenosis, the narrowing of the cervical canal, is about a chance of 1-2%.  But the statistics are a little more unclear when it comes to cervical competency to bring a fetus to full term.  The more they take of the cervix to remove affected cells, the thinner the cervix becomes, which destroys its integrity.  In summation: If I have this procedure, can I have the second child that I’ve been trying to plan for?

But what are the chances if I wait to have the procedure until after my second child is born?  Will I develop invasive cancer in the meantime?  Will they have to take my uterus if I decide to wait?  What is the risk?

It would break my heart to lose the second child I so desperately want.  But it would destroy my body if I were to have a hysterectomy, or worse, to face death due to cancer.

Another waiting game lies ahead.  I do not have my consult until August so I cannot have any of my questions definitiely answered until then.

The sword of Damocles hangs over my head.

All because of two complete assholes that I trusted and loved.

To be continued . . .