Just Got Served, But It Wasn’t Dinner

There are papers in my lap.

Everyone knows that when the mailman knocks on your door, and you’re not expecting anything, it’s always bad news. Ok, if you’ve ever been through this before. I’ve always been partial to days where there was no mail. “No gnus is good gnus!”.

I’ve left you hanging long enough. C.S. was served this morning with papers summoning him to district court as the defendant in a civil suit. Well, more like I was served, because I was home for the mail – oh, and it’s also partially my money they’re suing for.

Remember the car accident I reference here and there? It happened in the before time, before Pendulum, before Lulu, before Canvas. But it’s not been so long that it happened long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

The details are a little complicated, but I’ll make it brief. C.S. had his first car accident ever when he was T-boned coming from an off ramp from the highway. The impact was so bad, it spun the car 180 and back down the ramp. C.S. suffered a neck sprain and a concussion. He wasn’t right for awhile and his neck still hurts. But, since there was no evidence, no definitive fault was found and neither insurance company paid out.

The woman who was driving the car wasn’t even the owner. The owner wasn’t even present at the accident at any point. And yet, he is pursuing this suit.

I’ve been in fight or flight all day. My adrenaline was going and it seemed to jump start all systems. I thought I was going to fly into another hypomanic episode. It sure felt like it.

Until, I noticed I had anxiety before I went to work. I breathed it away, and thought I’d be OK. And I was. Except, I had some kind of intense panic attack while I was teaching Kindergarten today. It was the “frozen in the headlights” kind of panic. I just stopped, and stood there. I’ve never had this happen before while teaching.

It didn’t stop there. The bus was unusually crowded. I don’t like tight spaces. My sitter didn’t answer her phone when I called. The panic grew. By the time I got to the store to shop for T.D.’s birthday presents, everything looked strange and threatening.

I kept telling myself that there was no logical reason for it. I was safe. It helped a little. But what helped the most is telling myself that this would pass. I didn’t know how long it was going to take, but it would go away.

I realized that many of my responses to situations are fight or flight. Mostly, I fight. That could be the reason why my life seems like a battlefield to me. But sometimes, I have flight for no reason. Why did I suddenly freeze up?

What is it always something. Can’t I make it six months without some kind of trouble or drama?

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.

A Mixed Bag?

I am terrified of myself right now.

When I first began As the Pendulum Swings, I had started off with a post called, “To See If I Still Feel” which described a similar episode with self-injurous behavior that I blogged about recently in “Confessions of the Pain of Payment”. Soon after my original blog post, I described an incident which I thought was a mixed episode in “Shifting Gears”.  It was the first time I had ever experienced both hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms at the same time.

Last night, I didn’t sleep more than five hours.  I had taken three and a half milligrams of Xanax and 30mg of Temazepam.  I should have been knocked flat on my back.

My brain was buzzing, ablaze with thought and compulsions.  There was a sensation of vibration all throughout my body.  I surveyed my kitchen and drearily thought, “My house is disgusting.  It’s an absolute nasty, repulsive, filthy hut.  I wish I could burn this place to the ground.”  But that wasn’t my compulsion.  I wanted more than anything to clean.

First, I showered and scrubbed myself raw with a luffah.  Shampoo ran through my fingers and foamed as I clawed my scalp, three or more times.  My quest continued in the kitchen.  The skin on my hands was raw, red, and peeling as I ripped through the dishes.  I meticulously wiped down every surface with Clorox.

It wasn’t enough.  I gathered every piece of paperwork that had been piled up on my counter and threw it in a box.  I set it atop a large laundry basket and hauled it up the stairs.  Everything in it’s right place, everything in it’s right place, my mind’s voice frantically whispered.

I sorted through two months worth of paperwork, cleared two desks and organized their drawers, and cleared, then rearranged my dresser.  It was immaculate.  It was also 3AM.  I didn’t want to stop.  I had so much more I wanted to do.  But I feared that I would be too tired in the morning to even think about getting up.

My eyes opened in a flash when the first alarm went off.  And I didn’t even consider hitting the snooze button seventeen times this morning.  I laid in bed for a few minutes and felt the dread and dismay of my life.  Everything was still wrong.  It was all wrong.  And now, I was falling behind in my own life.

So, I sprang to action.  T.D. had Occupational Therapy at 9am.  I was compelled to clean the house some more.  I went through emails and started getting back on the horse and back into my life.  I went to work and disciplined sassy fifth graders.  I entertained Kindergarteners with new games.  And I rekindled old friendships with my third grade group.

Not once did I yawn.

I suspected that what was happening to me now was what happened three months ago.  Opening my web brower, I began my investigation into what a mixed episode is really classified as.  The NIMH states:

Bipolar II is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes shifting back and forth with hypomanic episodes, but no full-blown manic or mixed episodes.

What?

Again, I verified it. DSM-IV Criteria for Bipolar II specifically states that “There has never been a Manic Episode or a Mixed Episode”.

How is this possible?  I have never had a full-blown Manic Episode.  I don’t think, anyway, at least not diagnostically so.  But, I know that I am having feelings of despair and hopelessness while having boundless energy, racing thoughts, and pressured speech.

Bipolar II, as described by Psycheduation.org, is very fitting.  I have more depressive episodes than anything.  My episodes don’t really last longer than a few months, if even that long.  The longest hypomanic episode I ever had was for two weeks.  They usually only last about a week and then are followed by crushing depression for a few weeks to a couple of months.

What the hell is this?  I feel like I’m losing touch with reality.  At the same time, I don’t even think I want to be in touch with reality anymore.  I don’t want to take my medicine and I’d rather give in to my impulses than keep fighting this constant, tedious, exhausting battle.  I want to stay up all night and do whatever I’m compelled to do.  I want to lay in the yard in the middle of the night in the rain.  I’m being hit with all of these illogical and sometimes sinister thoughts at light speed.

I’m going downstairs to try to continue the conversation I was having with C.S. at dinner.  He asked what I cut with because he had already thrown out all of the razors.  I’m crafty, what can I say?  I’ve contended with worse than him.  I didn’t want to answer, partly because I want to hold on to my little box of lies, and partly because I didn’t think it was appropriate dinner conversation.  I asked if he rememberred to buy band-aids.  He told me that he refused to buy me band-aids because he’d rather shame me into not doing this again. He told me that he’s taking a tough love approach.

Do you know what happened the last time someone took a tough love approach with me?  I suffered while I bided my time.  I waited until I had a reliable and self-sustaining source of income.  And I ran like hell while never looking back.

I’m up to like 919 words.  If you’re still with me, please, help me with some of your insight and personal experience.  At least insight into what I’m dealing with here with this seemingly mixed episode.

Not a Five Star Day

I mentioned to Brandon in the comment section of RIP Zen 9-12-2011 about going through the Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grieving.

1. Denial and Isolation
I didn’t immediately go to this one.  My immediate response was this deep sense of loss, with hysterical crying.  But, I did come back to this one later.

Yesterday, I swore I heard meowing in the house.  I swore I saw his shadows in the house.  Today, I looked to where his food bowl was.  I tried to make sure that he wasn’t running past me when I was leaving for work and coming back home.  I swear I saw him laying on my bed.  I keep thinking I’m going to run into him on the bathroom and see him spawled out on the bath mat.

2. Anger
I was so infuriated that someone would do this to a kitten.  To my kitten.  I was enraged that this person could walk free and suffer no consequence.  I wanted vengence.  “If I ever find out who did this, I will take a baseball bat to their knees.  They’ll have the rest of their life to think about it while they’re in a wheelchair,” I said in a IRL Facebook post.

3. Bargaining
During the original hysteria, I went to this one.  “I was going to call him in before bed.  Why didn’t I call him in?  If I would’ve called him in…” and “Maybe if I would’ve been a little more proactive.  Maybe if they had seen he was wearing a tag, they wouldn’t have hurt him.”  and  “I knew I shouldn’t have let him go out at night.  I knew it wasn’t safe.”

4. Depression
Don’t get concerned.  I am not actually depressed.  I know what bipolar depression is all too well.  This is bereavement.  I was devestated yesterday. Today, I’m sad, but this isn’t an episode.  It’s kind of ohnoui – a French term for just feeling generally down.

5. Acceptance
I find ways to accept it.  I’ve told myself, “Nothing I can say or do will ever bring him back”.  Yesterday, I did those graphics.  As it stands, one of those graphics is my current IRL FB profile picture.  Today, I made a beautiful yarn bracelet, with his tag on it.  Tomorrow, I intend to trek out to my backyard and find a stone that would be suitable to carve as a grave marker.

I keep cycling through these.  It makes it a little hard to concentrate.  I’m not focusing and in some instances, I don’t really have anything constructive to say.  So, if I’m not replying to your recent posts, don’t take it personally.  I just don’t have a lot to give right now.
I leave you with this.

I’m Going to Die in the Walmart Parking Lot

This is installment one of “The 99 quirks of Lulu”.

I’m know these are not at BP related. Some of them are anxiety related. Others stem from life experiences. And the rest, well, I don’t know.

  1. I can only wear found or gifted jewelry. If I wear jewelry that I bought for myself, it always either breaks or gets lost.
  2. When sitting in a public place, I try to position myself so it would be difficult for a person to come up from behind me. We’s don’t want no surprises. No, seriously though. I’m pretty paranoid.
  3. I can’t make eye contact when I’m telling a story. It’s not symptomatic of anything. I just can’t take in any visual information when I’m trying to give out verbal information.
  4. I have to have a minimal amount of background noise when I’m working on something. The more tedious and repetitive the task is, the more sound I require.
  5. I have serious claustrophobia. I hate elevators. I will walk six flights of stairs to avoid it (I’ve done it). I have nightmares about getting trapped in a tiny space. No matter how badly I want to get home, I’ll let a crowded bus pass to get on a later, less crowded one.
  6. I am obsessed with office supplies. I cannot resist a sale. I hoard them.
  7. I am so particular about my pens that I will only use specific brands, with gel ink, and only in 0.7 tip.
  8. I have been wearing the same Capricorn pendant for 10 years. C.S. bought me a Taurus pendant at a craft sale 4 years ago and I haven’t taken it off since. I’m very superstitious about it. Every time I forgot to put it back on, something bad has happened. Last time was C.S.’s car accident.
  9. I practice natal astrology. It can peg a person every time.
  10. I put my hand in front of my mouth a lot. Ethology would call me a liar. But really, I’m just trying to hide.
  11. I have a really difficult time lying. It produces an intolerable physical response, so I don’t do it unless I really have to protect myself.
  12. I’ve bitten my bottom lip since I had teeth. I have pictures to prove it.
  13. I am so particular about shoes that I only buy tennis shoes every three years. And that’s after they start taking on water. This is partially because my feet are abnormally wide, although they’re not very big. It takes a lot to find a comfortable, stylish shoe.
  14. I honestly believe I’m going to die in some ridiculous, unbelievable accident or situation. I have this scenario about how I’m going to die in the Walmart parking lot. If you want to hear about it, ask in the comment section.
  15. The numbers 1, 5, and 14 follow me everywhere. The bus number I’m on – 5157. I’m on a bus everyday that starts with 51. My birthday 1/14. My husband’s birthday 5/14. Just strange as hell. Coincidentally, no lie, this just happened to be 15!
  16. I am a camel. I can hold it for hours on end. Longest held? 16 hours. I was 13, and stuck in a car with my parents on the way to Florida who refused to stop until we got there. By Virginia, everything below my waist was numb.
  17. I have always had a problem regulating body functions. I can’t fall asleep, and then I can’t wake up. I am always thirsty, but I have difficulty knowing when I’m hungry. Sometimes, if I’m busy enough, I’ll forget to eat until I have hunger pains.
  18. I have an incredible internal clock. I always know what time it is. Or maybe I’m just very observant of the position of the sun.
  19. I yell at inanimate objects.
  20. I can get a vibe from someone and know instantly if we’re incompatible. I don’t discriminate. I can be on the phone or over the internet and know. It is in the way a person addresses me.
  21. I am the only person that does the dishes and folds the laundry. It has to be done in a certain way. My clothes have to be sorted by graphic tee’s, solid tees, and color. My jeans are assorted by thickness.
  22. I have twilight blindness. I can’t see things correctly during that time of day.
  23. I carry my person journal on my person at all times.  You never know when you’ll be inspired.  You also never know when someone wants to take a peek at your dirty little secrets.
  24. I used to make wishes.  My wishes have always come true, but in a Twilight Zone kind of way.  There was always some kind of catch that ruined it all.  Remember the episode about the man who just wanted to be left alone to read his books?  And he got his wish, but then his glasses broke and he was all alone.  It’s a lot like that.  So I don’t anymore because I know there will be consequences.
  25. I have a cat that wipes my tears away when I cry.  He paws my face without claws.
  26. I think it’s ridiculous to give a kid a weird first name.  So, in case my kid want a weird name, I gave him a weird middle name.
  27. I think the most random thoughts.  For instance, my husband and I were once talking about daily activities that burn calories.  I asked him, “How many calories do you think a seizure burns?”  Today, we were talking about how we were going to manage to find a girlfriend for another friend.  He’s kind of nerdy, so I said, “Maybe I should start telling these girls he has money?  Do you think that would help?  It worked for Bill Gates!  How much money does someone have to have before they stop being a nerd?”  Honestly, I want to know these things.
  28. Flashing lights drive me nuts.  Imagine me verses a strobe light.  I have a message indicator that is driving me crazy on my voicemail right now.  But I just don’t feel like listening to it.
  29. I have to sleep with my feet outside of the covers.  My feet are my temperature control.  If they’re too hot, then I’m too hot.
  30. I am almost always barefoot when I can help it.  You see, my depth perception is terrible.  In order to not trip and fall all of the time, I use the sensations in my feet to guide me.
  31. I count stairs.  I can tell you the amount of stairs that are on every stairwell that I encounter frequently.  13 in my house.  14 in my parent’s basement and 16 to the upstairs.  And 10 each going up each floor at work, with eight leading into the building.
  32. Every clock I have that isn’t set to a satelight is set randomly ahead.  I don’t know the real time, so I have to assume that what I’m looking at is the real time.  This is how I trick myself into being early.
  33. I am an organizational freak, not a neat freak.  Everything in it’s right place.  I want to know where I can find anything on a moments notice.
  34. I am extremely scheduled.  I have to do things at certain times or else my day isn’t going to go right.
  35. I am obsessed with the weather.  Especially during hurricane season.  It is absolutely fascinating.
  36. I collect odd things from places I travel to.  In fact, I have sand from Myrtle Beach in a baby food jar with a little ceramic turtle with a little straw hat sitting on my desk.  I went to a theme park in California that was selling as many rocks as you could fit in a tiny bag with a drawstring.  I have a collection of decorative boxes from various places.
  37. Old world maps tickle my fancy.  It’s amazing to see how differently people viewed the world in those days.
  38. I believe in the power of hematite.  Hematite supposedly absorbs negative energy.  To clear the energy from the hematite, you bury it in the ground for several days to return it back to the earth.  I actually had a hematite ring shatter once.  I was going through a really bad time.
  39. I cannot spill a drink without freaking out about it.
  40. I hate the smell of raw onions.  It is intolerable.
  41. Perfume is my best friend.  I have this fear that I smell bad.  So everything I use is scented.  Lotion, bodywash, shampoo, deodorant, body spray, perfume, anything you can name.
  42. I don’t like wearing jeans.  I prefer skirts and what would be considered a house dress.  But, I live in Pennsylvania and we have two seasons here.  Winter and construction, also known as summer.  Jeans are required dress.
  43. I cannot stand getting my face went unless I’m fully submerged.  That means, I hate any kind of precipitation, with the exception of a good summer downpour.  Now that’s a way to get wet!
  44. I can’t stand when my husband uses my toothbrush or razor.  So I intentionally buy pink colored items so he doesn’t use them.  It’s not manly.
  45. Everytime I dye my hair, I always have to do a trim.  So, I take a sample of the hair and I keep it in a ziplock with the date on it.  That way, I can always keep an assessment of my hair color at any period of time.
  46. I like having certain imperfections.  My hair is cut choppy and asymmetrical with a weird part for a reason.  I love the scars that I didn’t inflict upon myself.  I have stretch marks all over my body for various reasons (growth spurts, pregnancy, etc).  I love when my dark blonde roots come in against my white blonde hair.  And I especially love my eyes.  They are each split in half in color.  One part is green-gold and the other part is blue grey.  Maybe people think I look like a mess, but I think I look real.
  47. The noise of someone biting their nails is like nails on a chalkboard to me.  Ugh.
  48. I can predict the weather based on previous injuries.  When my hips and knees hurt, a serious storm is coming.  I’ve never been wrong.
I imagine you have quirks too.  Maybe you identify with some of mine.  So tell me, what are yours?

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 . . .

Leep-Into-Cin II – Part II

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.

July 19, 2007

C.S. and I walked through the neighborhood in the early morning hours.  The air was thick and heavy like wet cotton, but a chilled wind passed every few moments, carrying with it the scent of midsummer rain.  Our discourse was just as thick, but much more warm.  It was like other evenings, but with an electric charge of an impending thunderstorm in the air.  We walked the desolate backstreets with a course for a local convenience store.  Everything was quiet, with the exception of our conversation and the light patter of rain beginning to fall.

Mid-sentence, underneath a huge tree of which the limbs spread high into the sky and over the alley, C.S. grabbed me by the shoulders.  He put his hands to my face and breathed, “I have always loved you.”  With those words, he kissed me deeply and jump started a heart and soul that were long dormant.  I caught my breath and my words, then asked, “Is this true?”  He answered without hesitation, “Yes.  I knew since the night that we painted.  You made me a mural of the stars that I stared at each night for years.”

That had been almost four years prior.

C.S. knows all of my darkest secrets.  At that point, we had been friends for five years.  C.S also knew all of the darkest secrets of Avi and Beck.  C.S. was kind, but he did not hold back when revealing  the ugly truth that were the skeletons in those men’s closets.  I had never been so betrayed and disgusted with others.  C.S. had no hand in it.  He was an innocent bystander, only collecting secrets like a Pandora’s box.  Now the box had opened, and I was dealing with the tremendous reality of it.

The First Blow – ASCUS

After all had been revealed, I decided it in our best interest to see a gynecologist.  I had seen a gynecologist a year before, and six months before that.  It was always unremarkable and a necessary discomfort in order to get birth control.  That was the primary concern.  I was not about to start a relationship by getting pregnant.  It had never happened before, and I wasn’t about to begin then.

A month had passed since my Pap smear, and it was already late August.  C.S. and I were at home, enjoying a day off together.  In fact, we had taken our first hooky day off together so we could continue to enjoy each others company for a long weekend.  I had received a call from the clinic and was perplexed.  They had never called me before.  I took the call and had to move to the balcony for a better signal on my cell phone.  In these days, network in my area was limited.

The words came at me faster than my brain could handle.  My Pap smear result showed “atypical cells of undetermined significance” or ASCUS for short.  My heart raced.  What the hell did that mean?  In short, it meant that I likely had cervical dysplasia, but that could only be determined by a colposcopyAnd what the hell did THAT mean?  Cervical dysplasia refers to cellular changes in the cervix causing precancerous lesions and a colposcopy is a procedure where the doctor determines the grade of these lesiosn.  What causes that?  Human papillomavirus (HPV).

That Son-of-a-Bitch

I couldn’t understand and I couldn’t get any definitive answers.  Who gave this to me?  All of my exams had been clean.  Only a year had passed between, and one of us was supposedly monogamous.  I knew my mistake, but I was very careful to use protection!  It had come down between Avi, who had claimed to have been faithful with the exception of that one indiscretion two years prior, and Beck, that dog of a man, with whom I had only had sexual contact for a few seconds with a condom.  There was never a way to determine which one was at fault.  Neither would confess, especially under the circumstances.  The two men in my life that had used, abused, and thrown me away contended to give their last blow to me.

The First of Many

In September 2007, I had my first colposcopy.  I was scared out of my mind.  Never in my life had I experienced any significant medical problems outside of pesky asthma and painful tendonitis of the knee (later diagnosed as a result of Genu valgum, or knock-knee syndrome).  Sure, I had taken a few blows to the head that resulted in concussions, but they were very mild and never required anything more than a shining light in my eyes and a couple of stitches to my head.  C.S. went with me that day, but he wasn’t allowed in the room because we were not yet married, only engaged.

The procedure is absolutely underestimated in the eyes of practitioners.  It is considered to be routine, and is in nature.  But they failed to notify me that a biopsy was involved.  This is significant information.  They failed to tell me that they were cutting a piece of my flesh from my body!  I laid there, my feet in stirrups, in a silent room as metal scuffed about on the trays and tables.  And then there was an unbelievable pain without any warning.  I clenched my teeth and dug my brand new garnet engagement ring into my palm with all of my might.  It was the only thing I could do not to scream.
I’m a Whore

I got what I deserved.  The one time in my life that I had cheated and this was my punishment.  Painful gynecological procedure for flapping my wares about.  I’m a whore.  How could C.S. go on loving a whore, knowingly?  I’m dirty, I’m diseased.  And I know I gave it to him.  I passed this vile thing onto the one person I’ve ever cared about this deeply.  I’ve done harm to someone who has given me nothing but love and kindness.  I am tainted.

It plagued me.  But C.S. stood in his position – I didn’t know.  I couldn’t have known any better.  He didn’t care what had happened before.  He only wanted me to be healthy and live a long life with him.  I was so happy to hear this.  So we continued to plan for our wedding to start our long, happy, healthy lives together in the eyes of the law.  We had started living together as roomates before we were ever romantically involved.

A Doctor’s Assurance, a Beautiful Lie

Another month passed before I had my result.  You know, Planned Parenthood works pretty slowly.  It was October at this time, and we had just booked our reception hall for April 26, 2008.  Our wedding had a date now.  The nurse reported that I had CIN I, indicating mild cervical dysplasia.  She also reported that on account of my age and the statistics that “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 90 percent of HPV infections are “cleared” by the body within two years.”, the doctor advised that we repeat the Pap in six months to monitor changes.

Four months later, I had become pregnant with T.D.  By the time I had my first Obstetrician appointment, it was time to repeat my Pap.  I reported to the OB that I had CIN I and he scoffed at me.  “Oh the dreaded dysplasia!  Don’t worry, in most cases it resolves itself within a year.  It won’t affect your pregnancy at all.”  What a lie!  My pap came back bad again.  But there was nothing else we could do.  Colposcopies are not recommended for pregnant women.  It had become a waiting game.

Warning Flags

During my pregnancy, my medical insurance change and I thankfully changed OB’s.  I had reported everything to the new OB and was shocked when he became worried about my situation.  He demanded that he receive all of my gynecological records since I began seeing one.  Planned Parenthood works slowly and it took him six months to get the complete documents, after several threats.  But once he had those records in his hands, he was gravely concerned.  We scheduled a colposcopy for my 36th week of pregnancy to avoid preterm labor.

Up until my impending labor, this had been the most painful experience of my life.  The pain of the biopsy is a thousand times more pronounced in pregnancy.  Essentially, they are cutting into a cervix that has thinned in preparation for labor, and is inflamed by the hormones of pregnancy.  The cramps were not just uterine cramps, they were contractions.  I cried, and held C.S.’s hand tight.  At the very least, he stood by my side this time.

The result was CIN II, and I thankfully went full term.  Although we had this result, it was still more of the waiting game.  The situation was becoming more dire.  In a years time, the dysplasia had progressed a full stage.  However, we would have to wait until T.D. was born, and I was completely healed afterward.

I lost my insurance after T.D. was born, and sat in the dark about the dysplasia for eight months.  By the next pap, and the following colposcopy, I had progressed to CIN III.  At this point, I had a new gynecologist because my OB had left the practice a month after T.D. was born.  We were unfamiliar with each other, but she urged that I have cryosurgery as soon as possible.  I saw the urgency because the next step was carcinoma-in-situ, sitting cancer on my cervix.  It had only been less than two years since my original diagnosis and I was already at this point.

Cryosurgery – Alone

I scheduled my cryosurgery for the next available appointment, which was a month later in July 2009.  C.S. promised to go with me.  I looked to him to do so.  I couldn’t go through this alone.  I had suffered so much in the last year.  I had the colposcopy, a month long prelabor, and gone through childbirth through induction.  After another painful colposopy, I just couldn’t go through it by myself.  The thought alone was too much for me.

But, as was becoming the norm, C.S. had something come up at work at the last minute.  My mother cared for T.D. when I was at appointments.  I had to be strong, and I had to go alone.  I was a mother now.  If I can handle labor, I can handle surgery.

I could.  The surgery itself wasn’t bad and the doctor talked me through it.  There was very uncomfortable cramping nearly to the point of pain, but not quite.  It came in short bursts as they touched the cold probe to my cervix.  I was optimistic about it.  If I can get through this, it will be over forever.  That was until the doctor instructed me to lie on the table, alone in the room.  After five minutes, I could get up, dress, and leave.  It sounded simple enough.

But when I tried to lift myself to sitting, it was a painful struggle.  I gushed a clear liquid tinged with blood.  I panicked.  No one told me that this would happen.  I was weak from the procedure and nearly fell off of the table while getting down.  Standing was painful, and moving was worse.  Everything from my waist to my mid-thigh viciously ached.  Dressing was complicated and I was distressed.  All I wanted to do was go home.  Really, I thought, “I wish C.S. was with me.” and I became furious with him.  How could he?!  I could hardly move and was expected to take care of a 9 month old when I got home.  How could he leave me stuck like this?!  That was the very first time I felt he had failed me.  I resented him for it.  And maybe I still do.

In the Clear?

My next pap came back bad.  They said that could happen while I was still healing.  The cervix, after any kind of trauma, isn’t completely healed for upwards of six months after.  They assured me that the next one would be fine.  I believed them.

I really did.

The Case of the M&M Interactions

I had a psychiatrist once tell me that the psych meds were all “M&M’s a different color”.  Doctorspeak for, “Same thing, different packaging.”  How refreshing.  At least she was honest about it and didn’t make it seem like one thing was going to be the miracle cure.  That’s now how I refer to my cornucopia of medications.  M&M’s of a different color.  I’ve got my big white ones, little white ones, my shelled white ones, the big bulky blue breathey one, and the mac-daddy of suppliments I take to keep everything else under control.

I’ll take you through a quick run-through of the normal of chronic ailments and then medications.

Bipolar II
Mood Stabilizer:
Lamictal (lamotragine) – 100 mg twice daily = 200 mg

Antidepressant:
Wellbutrin XL (bupropion) – 150 mg once daily

Sleep Aid: (insomnia)
L-Glutithoine (nutraceutical)
L-Theanine (nutraceutical)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Anti-anxiety (benzodiazepine):
Ativan (lorazepam): 1 mg, three times daily = 3 mg

Asthma:
Ventolin (no generic)- 2 puffs every 4 to 6 hours or as needed

Migraines:
Maxalt (no generic)- 5 mg when you feel a migraine coming on

Tendonitis of the Knee and Genu valgum (Knock Knee):
Ibuprofin – 200 mg every 4 to 6 hours or as needed

High Cholesterol:
Garlic (nutraceutical)
Omega3 Fish Oil with DHA and EPA (nutraceutical)
L-carnatine (nutraceutical)

Regular Suppliments
Vitamin C
Vitamin E
Vitamin B-12 with Folic acid
Pantothenic Acid
Bioflaviniod Complex
Bromeline 3000
Ubiqinol (I highly recommend this one for fatigue but it’s pretty expensive)
And probably like 10 others I’m not thinking of right now.

And of course, I am a woman of childbearing age, so throw in an oral, hormonal contraceptive.

Throw in 60 mg of prednizone, and a Z-pak and you’ve got a medicine soup.

Think about all of the doctors we have. Pdoc, PCP, OB/Gyn, Neurologist, Orthapedic, etc. Now, consider that despite the hundreds of times I relay the medications from one doc to another, it probably widens the margin of error.

I’m finishing this on my phone so I have to put the full link on.
http://reference.medscape.com/drug-interactionchecker. This is a comprehensive multi-drug interaction checker. Slap ’em all in there and it’ll tell you. Of course with a little doctorspeak.

Turns out azithromycin (z-pak) doesn’t play well with hormonal bc. Pregnancy risk. Hormonal bc doesn’t play well with lamictal and prednizone by increasing the metabolism rate and having higher concentrations in the blood.

Who knew?

Somatopsychic

Definition of PSYCHOSOMATIC

  1. 1: of, relating to, concerned with, or involving both mind and body <the psychosomatic nature of man — Herbert Ratner>
  2. 2: of, relating to, involving, or concerned with bodily symptoms caused by mental or emotional disturbance <psychosomatic symptoms> <psychosomatic medicine>

We hear it so often, especially when relating to depressive symptoms.  Depression hurts.  Ever heard that expression?  Probably.  That is, after years and years of being called a hypochondriac, lazy, dodging responsibilities, neglectful, irresponsible, neurotic, uncaring, inattentive, a complainer, and a flat out liar.  You might still be getting flack for that, right?  I sure am.

We’ve touched upon the issue of bipolar depression and it’s limitations at Dailystrength.org’s Bipolar Support Group and again in Blogging Beepers throughout various posts.  Bipolar depression literally destroys us both mentally and physically.  It’s a proven fact that bipolar depression and hypochondria  have nothing to do with one another.  The aches and pains are real.  The exhaustion and fatigue are too real for words.  The headaches are blinding and are just as real to us as they are to you “norms’.  Depression causes a variety of symptoms that aren’t just made up in our heads.  And they sure as hell aren’t made up because we’re too apathetic toward our own lives.

I’m a control freak, much like Mwam who writes “I Was Just Thinking…”.  I cannot stand the idea of someone else having to take the reigns of my life.  It is my body; it is my mind – I can do, say, think, whatever the hell I want.  Except when I cannot physically or mentally do the things that I think and want.  I don’t put the responsibility on anyone else.  I don’t throw my kid at the nearest person because I’m having a breakdown.  I don’t let the bills go unpaid and I don’t let my house get to the point where it would likely be condemned.  I wear my stylish clothes, dash on that makeup, and I don the smile that you trolls love so much.  I keep on moving at MY pace, where the “norms” like it, or not.

Which brings me to Monday.  I noticed that I had been losing pace unusually fast, and my physical health had turned for the very worst.  Unusually so.  I had made a recent, but passing mention of a physical illness in, “When it Rains, It Bleeping Hurricanes”.  And since “To See If I Still Feel”, I’ve been making multiple mentions of a lingering depressive episode.

I bring you a surprising answer.

Definition of SOMATOPSYCHIC
: of or relating to the body and the mind; especially : of, relating to, or concerned with mental symptoms caused by bodily illness >

Shortly after the accident, I contracted what I thought to be influenza.  It happens biannually.  This year, it was the stomach flu at Christmas, and the body flu in the summer.  The year before it was H1N1 (or Swine Flu) over Halloween and “viral syndrome” (AKA summer flu in doctor-speak because, they don’t seem to think anyone can catch the flu outside of flu season).  I hate it, but that seems to be the rhythm of circulating illness.

Anyhow, during this June influenza, I developed laryngitis, and as a music teacher, this is bad, bad, bad news.  As a wife of a man who has diagnosed hearing loss but is too vain for hearing aids, it was the most aggravating thing to ever happen to me.  99.9% of As the Pendulum Swings readers have never met me, seen my face, or heard my voice.  I am very careful to preserve anonymity.  (Yeah, come find me among the 1,223,348 people that live in Allegheny County, PA!)  I’ll tell you this.  I am a 5 foot 1 inch powerhouse of sound.  If I were a stereo, my speakers would be larger than I stand.  I don’t need a microphone in assembly halls, cafeterias, stages, or theaters.  Literally.  So having the mother of all sore throats that preventing me from speaking at all was a challenge.

But this continued for over a month.  I didn’t want to see a doctor because I knew I would get all fired up when they told me it was something stupid like allergies, asthma, cold, etc that could not account for these symptoms.  But they would.  Because I’m a big flippin’ hypochondriac.  And I would’ve been a whining drama-queen who blew my symptoms out of proportion just so I could go on being lazy.  Over the last week, though, I noticed that I started to lose a lot of traction.  My throat felt like there was glass in it, I had a half an octave surrounding my speaking voice, I was intermittently running a low grade fever, and I had a super sensitivity to changes in temperature.  I noticed my behavior changing.  I started letting go.  I let my kids in my classes have free periods.  I couldn’t go three hours with the dire need to sleep.  I let my kid destroy the house and hardly said a word to him.  I couldn’t.  My throat hurt so bad that I would only talk when it was absolutely necessary.  But when the shortness of breath came, I knew that wasn’t anxiety or any other psychosomatic symptom.  I literally wasn’t getting enough oxygen into my body.  And I started to feel it – HARD.

My husband pretty much reluctantly took me to the local urgent care after he got home from work yesterday.  He kept saying, “It’s up to you, it’s up to you.”  Manslation – I will take me if you tell me that I have to.  It turns out, I have (drum roll please!):

Walking Pneumonia!

Walking pneumonia with acute bronchitis complicated by history of asthma, as a secondary infection to influenza.  And do you know who invited this illness into my ecosystem?  It wasn’t the children.  It was the dirtiest, nastiest, smelliest, most abominable creature I have ever encountered – Rs (we’ll call him).  Rs is my husband’s estranged best friend who recently made reconciliation.  When this guy comes around, it never fails that someone becomes deathly ill.  One year, we thought he gave C.S. SARS because they both had respiratory infections so badly.  (Neither confirmed, nor denied.  No one had health insurance).  C.S. was almost too sick for our first Valentine’s Day.  The only person in my family Rs hasn’t gotten sick yet is T.D.  And if T.D. ends up in the hospital because of that misogynistic germ breeder, there will be hell to pay.

As my doctor is giving me this information, the light bulb goes off in C.S.’s head.  “Oh yeah, Rs had that about a month ago!”  Smooth operator there, Einstein.  You could’ve killed your wife who seemed like the only person susceptible to this illness!  And speaking of, how was I the only one who got any of these illnesses in the first place?  Oh yeah, because I don’t have an air conditioned bedroom, I sleep next to the fan, I spend at least two hours a day in the elements in my commute, I don’t sit at a desk all day to do my job, and I chase after a hyperactive toddler all day.

“This bleeper is going to get an eyeful when I get my phone back.”  Yes, I was sick enough to leave my Blackberry, which is normally an electronic appendage, at home on the desk.  The text message conversation looked a little like this:

So it turns out that for all of this time, this entire month, I have not been having an episode.  My psych meds were ineffective because they aren’t made to treat somatopsychic illnesses, like pneumonia caught by a music teacher who just so happens to have bipolar disorder.  Only the Z-pak, 60mg of prednizone, and sucking an albuterol four times a day is going to cure that.

I will never let anyone call me a hypochondriac again.  Eff you “norms”.