Monday, December 27, 2010


The holidays went well. No arguments or major annoyances. The weather was beautiful up until Christmas Eve. Then, it poured down rain while we were indoors, wondering how long it would last and what the drive home would be like. Then, it suddenly stopped and the skies cleared up. It was cool, but not cold, and sunny. My grandmother did not make her tamales, of course, although I've wanted her to show me how to make them so that it would then be someone else's job to make them from now on. Still, she keeps coming up with excuses. This time, it's that she didn't have my phone number. She could always have had my dad call me, but I gave her my "new" number.

The good thing for her, this time, was that she only had to make some rice and beans, and that was a lot easier and meant fewer dishes to wash afterward. She was able to spend more time with us, unlike at Thanksgiving, when she just couldn't leave it for a few minutes. It eats at her that the kitchen is dirty, so she just goes and cleans the whole time and exhausts herself. So, she did get tired and go to lie down, but she did stay for the (short) gift exchange and a little conversation. We each only got one gift (we did a variation of the "secret santa"), although my grandmother wanted to give something to everyone, and we all pooled our money to give her a gift. The major surprise was that my uncle Richard (who was not present) gave my grandmother and my father each $100! This may seem understandable from someone who makes as much as my uncle does, but he's notoriously stingy with it, so I was shocked that he was that generous. Still, it was very nice of him.

Christmas Day was a very quiet day at home with just my mother and me. It was much colder, but not cloudy, so we were fine with not going out except to walk the dogs. I made some Mexican rice and we had some tamales from HEB, the chef-made ones that we all like. I also had some beans that I took home from my grandmother's. My mom isn't a huge bean fan, so I gave her a larger portion of rice. Overall, that was nice. Very tasty and very simple. I'd given her the gift I bought her the day before, along with the dogs' gifts that I gave to them that day, too. So there were no gifts, but I was glad to relax and stay at home.

The next day (yesterday), we both went to my sister's (M, since R is out on the west coast now, and was on vacation in Vancouver with her family). Instead of more tamales, or the proposed turkey, we decided to order pizza (why not?). M put on a video of Night of the Lepus, which I could sort-of remember. It was so funny, of course, because the special effects were terrible, and the plot was outrageous. I mean, rabbits turn gigantic and are suddenly carnivores?

The good thing, I will say about these past few days is that I'm able to participate a little more. I'm still tired, but I don't feel like I'm going around in a daze. I feel more aware of my surroundings. I wish I could finally break free from the depression symptoms altogether, but I feel better than I have in a long time. I'm just soooo tired, though. I've discussed the fatigue already, so I'm sure I don't have to go into it again that I'm not sure of the cause of that. I just wish I could get more done in a day and be able to get out of bed at a decent hour. Today, I had to set my alarm for 9:00. I reset the alarm for 9:30 when it was about 9:05 and I'd hit the snooze button. At 9:30, when the alarm went off again, I hit the snooze 2 more times to end up getting out of bed at 9:40. I just couldn't make myself get up. I wish I could get up by 8:00. Of course, I don't want to be up if I'm not going to get anything done, but it takes me a long time to get motivated to do anything. That I'd like to change, also.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Dosage

I went to the doctor on Friday. I have been feeling a little better on Abilify, despite the lack of sleep. I still have no energy, but am not sure that has to do with the drug or the lack of sleep either. So, my doctor decided to raise the dosage on the Abilify. I'm to see how I do on it for 1 week, then decide whether I want to stay on it or not. So far, this only makes for my 4th day, so I'm still not sure. I have noticed that I'm nauseous at times, although that may be that I need to take it with food. Did that this morning and yesterday morning and that seems better. My sleep schedule is about the same. I don't wake up as many times during the night as I did when I first started on the drug, but I'm up longer the one or two times I do wake up and I have trouble getting to sleep initially, even.

So, I'm still not sure I'll be staying on this drug. I wish I could paint or draw or something, but that ability went when I started on it. I suppose I just need more time to make a decision, but I'm really sick of being stuck at home.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I was having a lot of side effects on the higher doses of Geodon, despite how much better I felt mood-wise. But it was time to switch. I was too sick and my tardive dyskenesia (sp?) was much, much worse. My doctor decided to switch me to Abilify. I'd heard of it, but didn't know much about it. I was willing to give it a try since I'm really tired of feeling like this and I will do just about anything to keep from being suicidal. I was supposed to cut the tablet in half to start at 1 mg, but the things were so soft that they practically disintegrated. So I started at 2 mg instead. It took a while, obviously, to feel any different really, but right off I was having trouble sleeping. I'd always taken the Geodon at night because it made me a little sleepy. But after a couple of nights of not sleeping, it was obvious I needed to take the Abilify in the morning. I did that, but I am still not sleeping as well as I'd like. I have trouble getting to sleep, and then trouble staying asleep. I wake up several times during the night and toss and turn quite a bit before going back to sleep. I will say that I've been waking up less often the longer I've been on it, which has been about 4 weeks now.

Other than that, the tardive dyskenesia is better, although not gone (I've been on these meds too long for that, I think). I'm not hallucinating like I was on Seroquel. I do somehow feel less depressed, although I didn't really think an anti-psychotic could do that. However, this drug is prescribed to go along with anti-depressants sometimes for people with depression, so maybe I shouldn't be that surprised. I don't feel 100% better, but I'm afraid to have the dosage raised because then my sleep will be interrupted again (or, more than right now).

I've also had my thyroid rechecked, and the levels are low on the free T3, but within the normal range. I don't usually do too well at that level, so my old doctor had raised the dosage on my thyroid medication. The new doctor lowered it again. I don't know whether to have a doctor raise it again. However, I'm incredibly fatigued. I can't even describe how tired I am. I can hardly do anything around the house. When I go out, I'm wiped out the rest of the day and part of the next day, if not the whole day. I can't stay out as long as I used to, either. This could be the thyroid problem, my lack of sleep on Abilify, or something as yet untested, like a complete blood count or white blood cell count. I am just not too anxious to have any more blood tests done as I've had way too many done in the past couple of months. I am phobic of needles, which means that the fear level associated with them is equivalent to what I'd feel if my life were threatened. Plus, I have a very low tolerance for pain. It's very difficult to go through this, and to have it done in very close proximity to another is especially hard. Doctors never think anything of ordering a blood test, but really it's traumatic for me every time.

Anyway, we'll have to see. I may have to concede to more blood tests to find out what's wrong. My dad bought me some multi-vitamins to see if that would help. I hope they do so that I'll know it was something easy and cheap to fix.

Monday, November 22, 2010


So, today, most of the day, I'm just sort of annoyed. I had to go to the gynecologist, which meant going to the depressing, ghetto hospital downtown where I have to pay to park before even going into the lot, whether there is actually a space or not, then wait in a noisy, uncomfortable room where the staff are rude and as depressed as I am. I had to wait an immensely long time, too, even though I was a half hour early and they got me in early anyway. Apparently, it's a teaching hospital, which means they have a conference after each patient leaves, usually lasting about an hour, before they'll even dismiss me and give me my prescriptions. It was longer than that, I think. Plus, I had a major migraine and there were children (way too many children in a waiting room that's all tile, which makes the sound echo) screaming and running around like wild animals while the parents just looked on and did nothing. Of course, the staff did nothing about it either, even after I complained. I mean, it's a doctor's office, not a playground.

I get home, and I didn't get a call from the shop where I dropped my computer off this morning, which I was hoping for, thinking they'd at least have an idea by now what might be wrong and how much it would cost to fix it. No such luck, so I'm still on a borrowed mini-computer that I can't type on and which doesn't have all my programs or files. I want mine back ASAP.

Nothing much happens. I'm hungry and eat, watch a little TV. But, by the evening, I'm depressed again and I have no one I can really confide in. My mother always tells me I'm being stupid and it's my fault I get upset all the time. What she doesn't seem to understand is that it's a chemical imbalance in my brain that makes me feel this way, and that things could be perfect and I'd still be sad. It's not events that are making me depressed. It's the disease that's doing that, plus her attitude and that of many other people. Most of the times I was acutely suicidal were after arguments with her where I basically felt like she didn't want me around because I made her feel down and I was stupid and lazy and want to be sad on my own. I don't want to live here anymore, but there's no where else for me to go with no income. I don't want to talk to my dad because he's mentally ill himself and is ill-equipped to deal with it. No one else wants to really be there when I need them. In fact, sometimes I wait long periods before calling anyone, just to see if they'll miss me and call to see how I'm doing. I've waited as much as 2 or 3 months and no one ever calls to check on me. I usually cave at that point because I care about my family and friends, despite the fact that I'm not as important to them as they are to me. I usually want to know how they're doing, despite the fact that they don't seem to care how I'm doing. Maybe they know I'm not doing well and don't want to hear about it.

I'm just frustrated, lonely, and misunderstood. I'm going to all these doctors and taking medications that help a little in that I'm not acutely suicidal 24 hours a day, but I wish they could get it right and I'm feeling more normal and can work and then be out on my own. My other conditions are hard to diagnose. They've done all these tests and nothing ever shows up. My gynecologist wanted to do a biopsy of my uterus to check for cancer. I've heard about this procedure and women say it hurts worse than childbirth. I know that nothing will show up because nothing ever does, and I'll have to go through all of that pain and trauma for nothing and somehow have to find a way to pay for it. No, thank you. I had to order more blood tests for my thyroid since my general practitioner made that change to my medication and I feel really horrible and run-down. My old doctor's wife was an endocrinologist, with whom he'd actually discussed my case. I have more confidence in him than the other because he's managed it in the past and I've always felt fine. Of course, that means I have to pay for the test and the doctor visit because he isn't one of the University Health System doctors, but really, I don't think taking less thyroid hormone than I need is going to make me feel better and I know it's unhealthy and dangerous. I just can't get this all done fast enough. I'll have to wait for the lab results and he might want to get me re-tested, which I'll somehow have to pay for. Hopefully, he'll wait a while in between to let us pay for the other tests and doctors that I've had to have the past month and a half.

Well, the blood test is scheduled for 10:00 tomorrow morning and it's now 11:00 at night. I know I haven't been sleeping well and I'll probably be groggy tomorrow, so I'd better try to get some sleep. I've been switched to Abilify instead of the Geodon, so that might be why I'm not sleeping well. I hope that I'll get adjusted to it and that will pass. We'll see. I've only been on it for 4 days. Anyway, I had better get some sleep. Goodnight.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The last couple of weeks

Things have been a little slow the past couple of weeks, hence I have not been writing. There have been a couple of family issues, one being that my great uncle died, and the other that my uncle is in the hospital. My great uncle had a fall down the stairs and sustained a head injury. He was in the hospital for a while, but in the end passed away. My uncle has fluid in his lungs, but has been having trouble paying for the treatment. I'm not sure what the difficulty is exactly, but he's out of the hospital, but still having to go in and have the fluid removed, which he says is really painful. They're still working on how to pay for this stuff. He and my aunt are both retired, so I think they are both on Medicare. Even then, it's been $250 at a time for the doctor visits. I'm not sure why, but I don't know enough about how Medicare works to advise them. I guess it's just the proximity to my great uncle's hospital visit that scares me so much. He could recover and be okay, but I'm scared that he won't make it because he can't afford the treatment. He'd been feeling bad before that, so I suppose he should have gone to the doctor sooner. I don't know.

Anyway, that's pretty much it. Somewhat eventful, but there's not really much I can do. I don't like that feeling at all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Ex

So, a while back, about 3 years ago, I dated a man I'll call N. It was winter and we knew each other for about 3 months before he was laid off at his job and had to move to Austin. This isn't a huge distance, only about an hour and a half drive from San Antonio, but we ended up losing touch. I really didn't know why or what had been going on with him in that time. But I found him on Facebook and sent him a friend request, which he accepted. Now, just recently, he wants to pick up where we left off. Of course, I really can't do that. A lot has happened and it has been 3 years, after all. But I did agree to drive up there last Monday for a visit.

I am not going to write about what we talked about necessarily, but I found out what had happened to him in the intervening years and much of it was very unpleasant or else he had no computer. So, he would have made a much greater effort if it had not been for this. I suppose I'm happy to hear that to some degree, although I'm sad to hear what he had to go through. In some ways I have missed him a great deal. We agreed that we would remain friends, whatever happened, and he is a friend at this point. I would like it to develop more, but it is just way to early to say. In other ways, a lot of things have happened. I've dated a little more since then. Those didn't work into relationships, but I've discovered some of what I like in men and some of what I don't. I don't know if N and I are compatible any more. We have stuff in common, but I'm a different person now than I was then. He finds me immensely attractive, which is a nice feeling since I don't get that very often. He is attractive to me, also, although not in the classic way. Still, I find other men easier to talk to on the phone, for instance. N is very quiet and doesn't say much. He has a sense of humor, but overall he is quiet as a person and somewhat serious. I don't know if this is really someone I could see myself with in another 5 years. I guess I just think it's too early to tell at this stage.

So, at this point, I have mixed feelings. I don't want to lead him on, but I also don't want to turn down another chance. Things could develop further, you know? Maybe after I've spent more time with him, I'll change my mind. At this point, we're friends, though. I'm interested in it becoming more and I think we have enough in common to keep it going for a little while. I don't know whether it will be long term or not. I don't want to ignore other men who come along, but I don't see myself as the type to date more than one person at a time. I'd feel horrible about myself. So, still don't know what to do. Maybe Sunday will help clear things up. Maybe it will be a few weeks from now. We'll see.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Boring, boring, boring

Not much to report at present. Nothing much going on. I have been hiking a couple of times, at night, but with a group, so not as scary as it could have been. It was fun and I could take Bucky. So both of us get exercise and I'm also being a little more social than my ordinary life usually allows. I'm trying to get out and meet people and make friends. So far, I've met some nice people, but not made any friends. Going to keep at it, though.

The medical stuff is in a hiatus for a couple of weeks, thank goodness. I'm really sick of it and hoping I don't have to go back for quite a while. I have 2 doctors' appointments in one week and yet another blood test to schedule (just another TSH. I wish he'd do a full panel. I don't trust the TSH test by itself). Not fun. I hope I can put that off a little longer.

Other than that, my life is pretty dull. I've been reading a lot, which I always enjoy. I wish I could be painting, but really need some new paints. I've already talked about my wish to go back to oils, but that will have to wait, I suppose. I think I should keep at the acrylics for a while yet. I may decide I like them better than oils. Who knows?

Right now I have Bucky sulking and refusing to come near me until I give him a treat. I usually give him one before bed, but he's come to demand it earlier in the evening, then expect another one later on. I refuse, of course. I presume he's got me mostly trained!

I did get a couple of albums from the library, and now I can burn CDs. The new drive came in the mail and actually works. That means the computer is fine. It was just the drive that went bad. What a relief! I was dreading that moment. How much? The drive wasn't that expensive, thank goodness, although hard enough to pay for with all the other expenses from last month. The credit card bill comes to $160. Dad always wants to pay it off in it's entirety, so this will be a difficult month for us. I wish I could work and help with the bills. : (

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yet another medical test

The good thing about the new program is that I can finally get all the tests done that I needed. The bad thing is that it's only temporary, and they'll probably order tests I don't need or that aren't covered. I will only find out when I get the bill at the end of the month. I hope it's not horrible. No one could tell me how much it would be.

Yesterday was supposed to be a transvaginal ultrasound. This is one I'd never heard of. I got to the hospital (which was an adventure in itself--we got lost a couple of times and barely made it in time--we were supposed to be 30 minutes early, but were not) and went back for the test. Mom went with me, but did not go into the testing area. They asked me to strip down, then the lady asked me if I was not a virgin. Of course, I am (long story that you don't need to hear at the moment), so they said they couldn't do that test. So they did another ultrasound, which was just over my belly and didn't hurt like the other would have. So it turned out fine, but I wouldn't have gone down there for the test if they'd known I couldn't have it done. No one told me any of that or asked me any questions except "when was your last transvaginal ultrasound?" and thinking I should have one in that case. Idiots, I swear. That particular hospital was in a ghetto part of downtown and was the most depressing-looking hospital I've ever seen. Sadly, I have to go back there to see my gynecologist. The waiting room was depressing and crowded with a bunch of crying, fussy children and no place to sit. I'm not looking forward to going back.

I hope this will be the end of tests for a while, at least until I know how much I have to pay. This will be hard enough, even if the tests are only $20 or so, it will still be horrendous. I have a bunch of doctor's appointments next month, so not looking forward to that either. I don't hate them, but I don't have much faith in them either. Also, I just keep thinking, "How much will this cost?" every time they want me to come in for something.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Most recent doctor visit

I did finally get to see a general practitioner. The office stinks. It's really crowded and there's no parking anywhere. There's a Sea Island with a huge parking lot that's completely empty next door, but they constantly put out messages that they'll tow you away at your expense if you park there. It just doesn't seem fair that they have this empty lot they won't let anyone use and yet there's a doctor's office next door with almost no parking. I drove around forever, then decided to chance it with Sea Island, but they put out another message that if you didn't move it in 15 minutes it would be towed. I wasn't the only car in the lot, but the lot is huge and there was probably less than 20% of the lot taken up with patients. There was no one else in the lot at all. It turns out that since I'd already been called inside that they saved me a space in the back (it was full when I went back there before).

The doctor himself seemed nice enough, although very business-like. He even wore a suit. It may be that he had other obligations that day, but I doubt I'd have worn it to work if it were me. I'd have brought a change of clothes perhaps, but not worn the business suit. Anyway, he seemed to think it was fine to judge my thyroid based on the TSH test alone, which I disagree with. So there's already a point against him in my book. I think you always need at least a free T3 in addition, if not others as well. My old doctor always did this. His wife was an endocrinologist, so I had more confidence in him to judge that than other doctors. It may be that I get a referral to an endocrinologist if this guy can't get it right. Besides the thyroid thing, he seemed fine, although I'm not sure I buy everything he said. He did give me the referral to a gynecologist, which is the main reason I went to see him. He wants me to get a transvaginal ultrasound, which is something I'd never heard of, but which sounds very painful. However, I think the gynecologist might want the results of this test (probably why he ordered it--he seemed to think it strange that I'd never had one done).

Regarding the tests, he says that nothing showed up that was irregular except my thyroid being a little off. I already mentioned above why this may not be the case, but he adjusted my thyroid med anyway. I hope I don't gain weight after all the work I'd done dieting to lose it. The vomiting episodes could be the result of migraines (he said there are several kinds, including abdominal migraines--this sounds a little flaky to me since I'd never heard of such a thing, but I'm not a doctor), or it could be a side effect of the Geodon (the fainting spells as well). So, I will have to work with my new psychiatrist to figure that out. I hope it's easy to fix. I really want to go back to work.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tests part II

I'm assuming that since I haven't heard anything about the tests aforementioned that everything must be okay. I'd assume that they'd call me for an earlier appointment or they'd at least call to let me know what had happened. When I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, that's what happened. My case was so severe that the doctor called me the night he got the results and told me to come in first thing in the morning and I didn't need to make an appointment, that it was an emergency. I'd assume that diabetes or a heart problem would require some sort of immediate action.

Other than that, I've had a cold the last few days. I haven't felt much like doing anything, although it wasn't as severe as it could have been. To be honest, I haven't been severely ill since I started taking a zinc supplement. I really think it helped. I'm not sure if I'd have been severely ill with this one, so it could just be in my head, but I wasn't stuck in bed the whole time. I do feel better today, although my cough hasn't gone away yet, but that'll probably be the last thing to go. I am drinking some echinacea tea, as well. It's supposed to boost your immune system, so I'm giving it a shot. It seems to help, but again, maybe I wouldn't know. Maybe this cold just isn't that bad. It just seems to help since I haven't been as ill as I've been in the past in a long time.

The other thing is that I've lost 5 pounds in the last 2 weeks. I'm extremely happy about this, since I'd plateaued for a couple of weeks and nothing happened. I was extremely disappointed and was afraid that it was something to do with my diet and me, rather than something that happens with every diet. So it's a little more encouraging to have lost weight again. I was so happy when I got on the scale today and it didn't go up as high as I expected. : )

I've contemplated writing a book of some type. Not necessarily the same style as I write here. This is more to get my thoughts out than to really entertain anyone. I'm not even sure anyone follows me anymore, or that anyone would find it entertaining. But I have been told that I should write again, and I did have some novels I'd started to write a long time ago that I could attempt to finish, or else make them short stories and attempt to put them into an anthology. Not sure yet. I've also been told I should write my memoirs, which I'd never considered. I didn't think anyone would care to read something about someone they'd never heard of, but I've also been told that there are people who would still read it and that not everyone who writes them is famous. Well, that shows you how much of that genre that I read. I guess I tend to focus on historical mysteries and sci-fi. : )

Friday, October 1, 2010

Medical tests

Today, it was time for some tests that needed to be done a long time ago. The only bad thing was that I will probably have to have more tests done, since I don't think the ones the doctor ordered are adequate. All she wanted to test of my thyroid was TSH, and you really should also do a Free T3 or something in addition. Keep in mind, of course, that I am phobic of needles and I'm also a huge wuss when it comes to pain. If I can get used to it, like the knee pain, that's one thing. But sharp pain that's only once in a while is hard to get used to. I also needed an EKG. I am taking Geodon, and that can make you prone to heart problems and diabetes. She did a fasting glucose test to check the latter. The EKG, however, was written separately. The form was filled out incorrectly, which caused me to have to wait while they waited for a corrected form to be faxed over. However, with the Center for Health Care Services (where my doctor works and is in a different building), everything takes forever. The tech told them over the phone that I was waiting, but that didn't speed them along. I waited for an hour. The tech said that the computer won't save the results if the wrong code is there, but she did the test anyway after a while and said she won't submit it until she gets the form. However, that depends on how long it takes to get the form. If she didn't get the form by 4pm, all the exam results will be submitted or lost. So, I may have to retake that one. I hope not. I hate going there as that's where I was hospitalized. You also have to pay to park and they don't validate.

On top of that, I get home and I was trying to burn a CD of the photos I took at the Crowded House concert for a friend, and the drive in my computer is not working. I have no idea why, but it has just suddenly decided to stop burning CDs. I checked the discs on another computer, so this time it's not the discs. I have no idea how to correct this situation. I probably need either a new DVD-RW drive, or else a new computer. Obviously, we can afford neither. I have no idea how much these tests are going to cost. No one could tell me, although I asked around. Also, there's the hospital bill that needs to be paid somehow. It's not a good time right now.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Doctor visit

Just went to the doctor yesterday (well, Friday, since it's now Sunday early morning) and I guess it went well. Nothing major to report, but she upped the Geodon, since I'm still having trouble with concentration and memory. I really need it. Still having depression symptoms, but she doesn't want to make too many changes at a time. I'm glad of that, actually, although I want to feel better asap. But then I wouldn't know if side effects were from one medication or the other. It's too early to tell whether it's making any difference or not, of course. But she said that this could also help with the depression symptoms sometimes, so maybe I'll be lucky.

I did get unlucky and had another of my vomiting episodes recently (just last week). It lasted 2 days, so I was pretty miserable and it was hard to keep food down. I took promethazine, since that's the only thing that seems to work. I wish it wasn't by prescription only, since I have to take it so often. Plus, I wish I didn't have to take so many pills before I feel better. I wish I could just take one and that would stop it. I guess that's unrealistic, but I'm afraid that this could escalate and then the pills wouldn't work anymore. The tests the doctor did a few years ago didn't show anything, so they don't know what causes this. I don't know if it might be one of my medications, though. I seem to remember this starting before I took the Geodon, which is the one I've been on longest. The others have changed too much. I wonder, also, if the Geodon might be the cause of the fainting spells I have sometimes. The doctor ordered an EKG, so I guess we'll find out whether there's something wrong with my heart or not. Plus, there's heart disease in the family, so I'd rather catch it early, rather than wait for it to happen and then try to do something about it.

Just please let all this take care of my symptoms so I can go back to work!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week 3

So now I've been on this plan for 3 weeks. I've lost another 3 pounds this past week. That makes 12 pounds so far, which is great. I really needed that! I'm only 4'9". I should not be 147 lbs. Now, I'm 135. Not great, but better. It may be that my scale is off and I'm not really 135, but that's the weight I'm going by to judge my weight loss. So regardless of whether I started at 137, like the doctor's scale said, or 147, like my scale said, I've still lost 12 pounds. Yea, me! Really, I need to feel positive about something. I hope I'm going to exercise. I need to be outside a lot, but it's way too hot out there. So, I'm trying to do power yoga again. I don't enjoy it as much as hiking, but I can't hike when it's 98F and humid. At least it's below 100 for now, but that may change. We just had some rain, so it will surely go up in another day or two, if it doesn't rain again. The humidity doesn't make it feel any cooler, though!

Our latest project here at home is to archive all our old photos. The old photo albums that these were in did not have acid-free paper, etc. So these are becoming damaged. We're trying to scan them all in to the computer and then will burn those onto discs. We won't discard the old photos, but we don't want to have them lost forever. We will take them out of the old albums, though. Black-and-white is more archival than color, so those photos are in better condition, although turning yellow from the acid in the albums. The old color photos were used with an older color process which doesn't hold it's color very long. They will have to be scanned, too, before they turn yellow or red (or, rather, more than already). Of course, this is a good time to scan all the newer ones, too. Might as well preserve them before they get damaged, right? Of course, as a photographer, I want mine scanned hi-res, so that takes much longer. My printer/scanner/copier/fax isn't a professional-grade one. It's just a household one. So the highest it will scan (without freezing up the computer) is 2400 ppi. I guess that will do. They need to be a decent size to fit onto discs, so I guess they can't feasibly be any larger than that. I don't like the idea of any information being lost, so I hope that is a large enough file in case I want to do something with those photos later.

I am starting a new painting. Again, I'm still trying to get used to acrylics, so this will probably not be very good. But I'm going to paint something based on one of my old photos. After that, I may tackle my depression issues again. I want to figure out how to do this while on bipolar meds, so this will obviously be a challenge for me. I need to get used to my DSLR, too. I want to take it hiking with me this fall/winter when it's finally cool enough to be outside.

Maybe I sound like a wuss, but I got sick from heat exhaustion once and it was horrible. I never want to feel that way ever again. I now know better (and did before that day, but it didn't stop me--stupid) than to spend a lot of time outside when it's that hot. I see tourists here all the time in the summer spending all day at the theme parks and you can see they're flushed red and about to be ill all night, but they don't seem to realize it. If they're lucky they'll leave before they get heatstroke and end up in the hospital. If it's 104, it doesn't matter if it's a dry heat or not. It's dangerous. So, since I'm carrying extra fat around, I know I can't deal with high temperatures any better than I did when I was thinner. The parks I like to go to are a bit difficult to do a hike less than an hour long (more likely 2 or 3 hours). There's also a relatively new park called Government Canyon that I haven't been to. The name makes it sound really boring, but I've heard it's a really cool park. It's not open every day and there is a fee, so it's not one I'm going to go to that often. But I like Enchanted Rock (again, the name doesn't do it justice--it's 3 or so large granite hills--if I go back I'll write more about it), so I think that it might be worth the money sometimes for these parks.

Anyway, I can see that I'm rambling now, so it's time to get off the computer. Time to paint or read again.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


My symptoms are mostly in the area of depression, however, I will also mention that I have problems with anxiety. This has somewhat lessened after being treated for the bipolar, however, I am still pretty anxious. I've always had this fear of someone sticking a needle in my foot. There are probably several reasons for this, but on is that I stepped on a sewing needle when I was 4 years old. This may not sound that traumatizing to a normal person. But for a child who was very tiny for her age, this needle went a good way through my foot and was a pretty wide needle used for embroidery. Then I had some traumatizing experiences when I was around 11 and so on for a few years with a sadistic dentist. I hate needles. Somehow this connected together in my mind. I can't sleep if my feet aren't covered. When I was on Zoloft, I had managed to work my way into wearing socks instead of having a blanket over them (this was preferable since my bedroom is so hot). But now I feel the familiar pangs of anxiety again and the socks aren't enough. I hate for my feet or anything else to hang off the bed. I have this sensation that I'm going to feel pain at any moment, so I yank it back up. This is horrible for when I'm just sitting there trying to read or work on the computer. Sitting with my legs up can cause problems with my circulation, so I hate to do it. But the anxiety over the needles is way stronger than my desire for adequate circulation.

Another of my fears is of doors being open. If I can see darkness in the closet at night, I'm always afraid someone is hiding in there waiting for me to fall asleep. It doesn't matter if I check there a hundred times before I try to sleep. If that door is open, I will not sleep. This has escalated to cabinets and drawers, although I know no one can hide in there. But I can't stand seeing that darkness inside. At first, I wasn't sure I could sleep in this bedroom because there isn't a door to the closet. Really, I have anxiety about it all the time. I take melatonin to help me sleep, but this is sometimes not enough. There are times when I resort to promethazine (which is given for severe nausea), which is a really strong tranquilizer. Even if I only take half the tablet, I will be groggy the next day, even if I manage to sleep well. I hate to take it, but being sleep deprived is worse.

The other major issue is my hand or something else touching the wall. Mainly this is at night, which is when my anxieties are strongest (although the social phobia can be at any time). But I've always been afraid of bugs crawling from my hand onto the bed. This could be that I've had this happen numerous times, including from ants, which I despise (especially the big ones we get here in TX). I had the window resealed, which helps, but the ants still get in sometimes. Any bugs are gross to me, so I really don't like them in the room. I actually have a very strong phobia of these nasty bugs that are usually associated with disease spreading, but which I cannot even write about because I hate seeing the word written down. I can't stand seeing cartoon ones, even. This may be a type of neurosis, which is much worse than a phobia. It's a phobia taken to a much higher level. Even worse, is that here in TX, these can be quite large and sometimes they fly. I will seriously freak out and scream and cry and generally panic. I'm just lucky that I haven't had too much experience with scorpions in my apartment, although that happened once. I've been other places where they were just everywhere but just not in the apartment. We did live in a house when I was little where there were black widow spiders in the garage. We knew this, but our toys were in there, so we were forced to go in there if we wanted to play with them. I'm sure my parents would have been horrified if they'd known. However, we had a tendency to exaggerate, so maybe they wouldn't have believed us anyway.

These are the main fears that I have although, obviously, not the only ones. I will speak to my new doctor about this because, so far, the treatment for bipolar disorder has not helped my anxiety much at all. Will probably relate more as it develops...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Weight Loss

Unfortunately, some of the meds for bipolar and other psychiatric conditions cause weight gain. Seroquel was one of those for me (as well as Paxil--will never take again). Obviously, this isn't the same for everyone. I should stress that only some people gain weight on these drugs, or any drug, really. But I was one of the unlucky ones. Going back to Geodon, which did not make me gain weight, was a chance for me to lose some of the weight I'd gained. This is not the heaviest I've ever been. That was Paxil. I was on it for way longer, though. I'd gotten up to a size XL and I'm only 4'9". Now, I got up to a medium, which is still big for someone my height. Also obviously, when I was on these drugs, no amount of dieting would make me lose the weight, nor the 2 hours of working out at the gym that I did. I can't afford the gym anymore. But I can do Weight Watchers, which is very inexpensive. I can eat my own food, so that's a plus. Last week, I lost a shocking 7 pounds. I wasn't sure that was accurate, since my scale hasn't been very consistent in the past. But this week, I'd lost another 2 pounds, which is more in line with what my weight loss was in the past. I'm going to continue this plan until (and maybe after, to maintain) I lose most of the weight I've gained, a couple of pounds at a time. Rapid weight loss isn't too safe, so I'm happy with that. My bones have shifted and thickened, so I will never be the weight I was in high school (which was 86 pounds--keep in mind that I'm extraordinarily short, and I had very fine bones at the time). Thin for me now would be 104 probably. I'm under no illusions that I will be any thinner than that. Anyway, I'm happy so far, because I'm taking steps to make myself healthier. I need to exercise somehow. My sis R recommended power yoga, so I got myself a DVD and will do that when my sprained toes and injured wrist have healed somewhat. The toes are better, but the wrist is recent and I did it probably while sleeping, because I don't remember doing it or it actually hurting during the day previous to that. I wish I could also lift weights, but I don't have any, nor can I afford them. I probably don't have the space for them, either. Will take what I can get, though. : )

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Denied Again

Okay, last appeal was denied. This was our "request for review", which meant we disagreed with the judge's decision (duh, of course we did), and wanted him to go through the evidence again. Unfortunately, they do not let you get another judge. So, we ended up with the same jerk we had before, who, of course, did not think I was disabled. Our only option was to file a civil suit, however, I don't think that's what my lawyer wants to do. Our chances are almost nil, and I talked to them recently. They mentioned that they would call if they were going to continue, or else they would send me a letter. Then she confirmed my address. However, from the tone of her voice, I could tell it would be the latter. I am obviously very disappointed. I, honestly, don't see how anyone would think I can work. Anyone who hired me would have to put up with frequent illness (not just the bipolar disorder), and I know there is no one who could have an employee that is absent that much. I don't want to get a good job, then get fired and not be eligible for re-hire.

I have no clue as to how to proceed. I know I can't work. However, not having money for my medical tests, etc. that need to be done is very difficult. I needed the medical coverage from disability in order to get better. I need a diagnosis and treatment. I don't know how I'm going to get that if I can't pay for any of it. I don't know what the University Health System's program covers (and the woman in charge of that has no clue, either). I don't know who to contact for information. Everyone tries to pass the buck to someone else. I just hope that the general practitioner that they assigned me to is not a jerk and that he will listen to me and be able to answer my questions. I'd prefer to see Dr. R., my regular general practitioner. However, if they will cover the tests, I have to see their doctor. Please let them cover the tests!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Wow. It's Sunday and you're already getting a new blog post from me. Amazing, right? Yeah, we'll see if I can keep it up.

Anyway, I promised to write something more on-topic, so this is my medical update. Yes, I know that sounds boring. It might just be that, but if you are bipolar or even depressed, you might be having similar symptoms. You are not alone, which I have to remind myself all the time! I am not on here to provide medical advice. I am not a doctor and I hope I'm not pretending to be. I've learned a lot about my condition over the years that I've been treated, including about some of the medications I take and what they do. I want to be as informed as possible when I talk to my doctor. If I have a good one, they want me to be informed, too. The last doctor I had was not that type.

I don't want to give his real name, but Martinez is a very common name here and be aware that that is not his actual name. I don't give my name or my friends' names, so I'm not going to start now. If I have something good to say, I'll say it straight out, though. Anyway, now that I've explained that, I will say that he did not seem to like it that I wanted to be on certain types of medications or that I was aware of more recent research than he was. Keep in mind that I do not read medical journals and this was published in a book in 2004, so we're not talking cutting-edge. He told me that Lamictal and Seroquel were both anti-psychotics, too. I know that Lamictal is an anti-convulsant from just about every source I've read and the other doctors I've talked to. According to them, it works as a mood stabilizer in bipolar patients, which is not the same as an anti-psychotic. So he did not want to keep me on both medications. I stuck to my guns because that was the treatment that has worked the best, so far, as I'd been on the anti-convulsant alone and it did not correct all of my symptoms, including the hallucinations. I wasn't sure I liked the Seroquel because I'd been gaining weight. However, I wasn't sure if it was my diet (I do eat when I'm depressed), so I was willing to give it another chance. I had to argue and argue, but he gave me the prescription anyway, even though he grumbled about it. I didn't like his attitude (he was very abrupt and was just like every other doctor I'd had with the University Health System, which means I had to repeat myself over and over). I didn't have a choice on the next appointment. They just handed me a sheet of paper and that was it.

The next time I went, I was going to ask for another doctor. I did not like him and I didn't feel comfortable talking to him. My previous doctor, whom I liked a lot on a personal level (he was like a father figure for me in some ways, and we had all kinds of pleasant conversations when I came into his office, like similarities between ancient Rome and the United States, the history of art, our experiences in Paris, and any number of things). We had a lot in common and I could relate to him and he could relate to me as he had children my age that had similar interests. He is also the one that had me reading the research and explaining what my prescriptions did and how they worked, what the side effects were and how they would begin manifesting, and what to do if I had any of them. I guess I was spoiled. I will use his name because I think he is a good doctor and very easy to talk to. His name is Dr. Jacques Baillargeon in San Antonio, TX. He's just awesome, really. He is the one that first thought it might be bipolar disorder instead of post-traumatic stress disorder, which was my first diagnosis (another doctor). He doesn't take insurance anymore (he was tired of dealing with them and I don't blame him), but he is worth the rates he charges, which are reasonable for his profession. He could change his policy in the future, so it's worth it just to talk to him.

I went in to my new appointment and I was waiting quite a long time (always there--another reason I was spoiled as Dr. B. never made me wait) and another woman came out. She told me her name was Dr. Rodriguez (again, not her real name) and I could see her if I wanted to, or I could wait a little longer and see my regular doctor. I told her that I'd only seen him once before and wanted to change doctors. I guess she thought I would want some continuity, and ordinarily, I would. But, in this case, I was ready to switch. She was very nice and was new in the office (only her 3rd day there), which was why she didn't have as many patients assigned to her yet. She also seemed to understand exactly what I was talking about and knew all of the research I'd read and more (yea!). She was happy that I knew as much as I did and was actually pretty surprised about that, too. But she was really sweet and I would like to stay with her, given a choice. So they gave me the choice, and I'll be you know what I said. :) They also gave me a new appointment, and at least now, they let me pick the time. As she gets more patients, this may not always be possible, but it was nice this once.

The new plan is to put me back on Geodon as my anti-psychotic since it helped my symptoms better than the Seroquel (and, yes, it was actually making me gain weight). Indeed, my hallucinations had been worse than ever before, by a long shot, and were much more negative and disturbing, and they were never like that before. My concentration and memory were worse on it, as well. Unlike the doctors at the hospital, she wanted to make that change not quite so suddenly, so I'm on a slightly lower dose of the Geodon, and she will raise it the next time I see her. She did raise the Lamictal to 200mg.

I'm not as depressed as before exactly. I think I always get a little optimistic after I see a doctor. I think, "this is going to work this time." But then, later on, I start feeling that familiar refrain of, "Everyone is better off without me." It's a dangerous thought to have and it scares me quite a bit. Usually, it seems like my symptoms are worse at night. Maybe you've had similar problems. But with me, I guess, I'm just doing things during the day and it isn't until I'm trying to sleep that I have time to think...really think. That's when the crying spells happen most. That's when I ended up in the hospital. But with this disorder, at least in that mood, thinking isn't what you need to be doing because your thoughts are controlled by the disease, not you. But I've fallen victim to them many times and probably will continue to do so for, at least, a little while longer. I can tell, after last night and the night before, that the dosage still needs to be adjusted. I had thought that I was feeling sort-of "in the middle", not really badly depressed, but not really happy, either. But I think that was just because I had a doctor's appointment. Now that some time has passed, I can tell I'm still depressed. I'm better than before, no doubt, or I'd still be in the hospital (although I will admit that my acting got me released, not the alleviation of symptoms). If they'd known I had done some acting and taken acting classes, they probably would have seen through it!

But, I also knew that my family were pissed at me for putting them through that when they knew themselves that I wasn't that depressed (yeah, they know me so well). So, I put on a happy face and tried to go on with my life. I tried to enjoy every minute I was out of that place. At first, it did feel great, but not as great as I would have liked. It was nice to see trees, really. I missed them so much. I didn't think 3 and a half days would be that long, but it was. It was worse because I'd been hiking every day before that. I'd used that as a stress reliever. When I couldn't do that, or paint, or draw, or any of the things I normally did when I felt unwell, that was worse than my symptoms at that time (probably not literally, of course). If I'd had insurance, I would have gone to a different hospital. Other people who were there with me said the others were better. Hell, even if I was on Medicaid, I probably could have gone somewhere else. But I'm not working (and I probably wouldn't be here right now if I were), and so I had no choice. However, I will say that I will probably call the crisis line again if I need to. It's better than the alternative, although it won't feel that way at the time. Hopefully, a little cool-down time is enough to get me through another few days, y'know? But the worst thing was really the boredom. If we'd had counseling and other things to do, it would have helped more, I think. So, if I win my case and still need it, I can call someone else. I hope I won't need it.

That being said, I am hoping that I will be okay and that I will be able to go back to work in the not-too-distant future. I don't know when that will happen. It's like there's a light at the end of a tunnel in that I feel some relief from the worst symptoms, but the light gets farther and farther away the more I travel through the tunnel. I keep thinking that it will not be much longer, but it is taking longer than I expected it to to finally get better. Really, when I saw my first doctor, I believed her when she said she thought I could be back to work in 3 weeks. Seems really naive of me now, but at the time, I really did think that I would be cured by a magic pill and everything would be perfect in no time at all. I know that's unrealistic now, but I had no clue back then. I wish I'd been better informed, and I wish I'd had someone be honest with me. So, I'm telling you. It might take longer than you think, but it's possible. I have a friend who was just diagnosed with clinical depression. She's doing wonderfully right now. It helps to talk to her because she's where I want to be, and I see that it's possible to feel better. I know it. I don't know how long it will take me to get there, but I want to know what that feels like. I do. I want to know what it's like to be truly happy for a change. Happy, without the black cloud over me, you know? To quote one of my favorite bands, a-ha, "Make it soon."

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Considering how bad I've been about writing on here consistently, I am giving any readers out there a little bonus. I am still trying to find a style that works with acrylic paints. I'm not used to the medium. The stuff I did in oils was much more polished and realistic-looking. The problem with acrylics is that they are somewhat transparent, and so any mistakes you make will show through any corrections you try to make. So, since I am new to this medium, I figured I would work on some stylistic changes that might work better with it. This is still, obviously, a work-in-progress (See "Limited Artistic Ability"). But I have made changes since the last posting of it. It looks more like a dog, but his face still looks a little crooked or something. Hmm. Not sure what to do about the ears.
Thought they looked a little too much like Doritos before. Not happy with them now, either, though. : (

Ancient Sunrise Yemen Henna

Yes, I know I promised something on-topic, but that post will follow soon. I just wanted to put something positive on here, and I was pretty excited about hennaing my hair. I always like to use natural henna since regular hair color doesn't last very long. For the price, natural henna is the better buy, even if it costs more to start with. The color is permanent and does not wash out. So it can last a year or more. Mine was last done about 2 years ago or more. Probably more like 3. Anyway, my natural color is odd and hard to describe. It did not look natural, but looked like a bad dye job. It was dark at the roots, red in the middle, and blonde on the ends. I always got nasty comments made about how horrible my hair looked, sometimes to my face and not behind my back. So, I started coloring my hair a darker color, since people have a stereotype about Mexicans that they have dark hair. Maybe that's why they didn't think it was natural, but probably not the only reason. Now all I get are compliments. Of course, I originally used regular dye, which only lasted about 4 weeks, if I was lucky. I usually picked a dark red (which is closer to my natural color, but darker) or else a dark brown. However, the chemicals were very harsh (I'm lucky that I'm not allergic because I didn't burn, but it was hard on my sinuses, etc.). Plus, I was doing it so often that it began to cost quite a bit. I heard about natural henna and wanted to try it, but the henna itself was a little expensive. Plus, I had to buy stuff to put in my mix (you want to pick all natural products and no chemicals, since that can make the color more unpredictable--or you can have your hair turn green or something). I usually put tea, wine, coffee (something acidic), then a scented oil. Usually people use tea tree oil, since this makes the dye release faster. I use lavender oil, since the smell isn't as off-putting. But I believe there are other oils that are okay as well (not all oils make the dye release faster). I also add pectin, since that thickens it up and makes it not so runny.

I always get my henna from as Catherine always has the best quality hennas. If possible, you want to use body-art quality henna (boxed henna made for hair color usually has chemicals added). She usually only had one kind and I always bought it because I knew it was good. It's been a while since I did this, so when I looked recently, she had a whole selection. In the forums, the one people liked the most was the Yemen henna as it was supposed to mature to a deep ruby or burgundy color. Since my problem is that my hair is usually brassy or fairly golden, this appealed to me, so that's what I bought. It came to $14.75 with shipping, however that could change depending on what she has to do to get the next shipment. It varies. She also had a henna that was similar called Celebration, which I almost chose, but the Yemen henna ended up being cheaper this time, so that's the one I chose. Every now and then she gets one called Dark of the Moon, but it is much more expensive.

I bought my henna and had a bottle of wine that was beautifully-colored, but didn't taste very good (way too bitter for me). I didn't quite have enough wine for my mix, since you need 2 full cups. One cup you add the day before (just anything acidic--you can use lemon juice or something if you want), plus the oil. The next day, I boiled the last 1/2 cup of wine and made a strong raspberry hibiscus tea (2 tea bags for the 1/2 cup of water). I bought the wrong pectin, or this would have worked perfectly. But I bought the regular pectin instead of the no sugar needed pectin. Stupid of me. So, it didn't set properly and was very clumpy and runny. If you use the other pectin, add it to the boiled liquid and stir, then mix it into the henna mixture. Wait about 20 minutes, then apply to your hair. It didn't work for me, so the mixture was very runny and clumpy. I left it on for 3 hours and that was about as long as I could stand. The longer you leave it on the better. It makes you hot because you have to wrap your hair in cling wrap or something (I use 2 processing caps that are the type for relaxing your hair). As I sweated, though, the mixture was dripping down my face, and I had to wipe it off immediately. If I left it just a few seconds my face was stained a little yellow. This particular henna has a VERY high dye content, which I was not used to. So, I had to stay by the mirror and the bathroom, which made finding things to do a little difficult. Instead, I put down a length of canvas under my easel and worked on a painting that I'm having a difficult time finishing. I also answered some e-mail and that seemed to take most of the time. I rinsed in the sink for a while, until most of the large clumps were gone, then rinsed in the shower and shampooed and conditioned until the water ran clear. The color I got was still a reddish brown, but was less golden red than my natural color and was very pretty. Today it has oxidized a little, and it is a little more ruby red than yesterday. Tomorrow will let me see what the color will stay like, if it isn't the same as today. I wore a dark teal silk top today, which seemed to bring out the redness in my dark hair and I got loads of compliments on how I looked. I don't get a lot of compliments, so this made me feel great. I have low self-esteem, but you can imagine me wearing that top a lot from now on! : )

I will have to write at one point on how my moods are now and what my prescriptions are. They are changing a lot very quickly and I am seeing a new doctor now. There are more changes coming. Our request for review (on my disability case) was denied. I'm not terribly surprised, but extremely disappointed that they didn't even consider it. Really, I got screwed big time, considering how the "experts" and the "judge" treated me during the hearing, and now they won't even review it. Our only chance now is to file a civil suit against them. Not sure if my lawyer will want to do that, considering how low our chances are of winning. If it hadn't been for the judge we ended up with, she said we had a good case and would have won. However, I don't think another judge will want to go against the other guy. If I don't win any back pay, however, I do not have to pay her, so I know she will want to do whatever she can. Will talk to her Monday.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Might be a while before I can post again. I want to try to keep this up, and I have been doing a pretty poor job of it. Obviously, I am still depressed, and this affects my ability to write (and even get out of bed). But now, a button came off of my computer keyboard. Unfortunately, it was the apostrophe, which also makes quotes. I tend to not notice how often I use that key, but it is quite a bit. I cannot use contractions now, which is not how most of us speak (at least here in the US). I also realize that I type quotes a lot. Either I am quoting someone else, or I am typing the name of a song or something. Obviously books and movies would be in italics, which is not affected, but nevertheless, I am hampered by this. I have tape over a few of my keys to keep the contacts under the missing key free of dust. Therefore, those keys are hard to hit as well. They do not move as freely as they would normally. So, I will actually give you a heads-up that it will be at least a week before this is fixed, possibly longer. Will try to post up something interesting after that (or at least something on topic) and not just about my computer problems. The THs seem gone and my computer error-free so far, so that part is good. I have ordered the apostrophe key from a retailer and will hopefully get by with only replacing the one key and not the whole keyboard. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Trojan Horses

Found TWO Trojan Horses on my computer today. Somehow, the anti-virus software on my computer became disabled. This is NOT something I would ever do, so I have no idea how that happened. This is my personal computer and is at my home. No one ever uses it but me. I live with my 69 year old mother. This is not something she would ever do, either. She is not malicious toward anyone, not even when she is angry. That's just not her style. Plus, we haven't fought in ages. Anyway, so I was going to run a scan, and when the window came up, it said it was disabled. I turned it back on, and of course, I was alarmed. So I set it up to run a detailed scan. It found the Trojan Horses, and I told it to delete them. However, I don't know how long they've been on here. I don't know if anyone got the information on all my accounts, or what was going on with the THs. So, today, I've been updating all of my accounts, and even changing my e-mail address. Yes, this seems drastic, but it was time to switch anyway. I was getting to where I hated Hotmail with a passion, and you shouldn't hate your e-mail provider. So, I'm now on Google, and it seems much better. So, I created a couple more passwords (well 3, actually), which I will use for all of them. I especially wanted to change the most at-risk ones, so I did those. But, even here, I don't want anyone sending Spam or anything from me, or posting something indecent and saying it was me. No, no, no. Hopefully this will take care of the problem. Only time will tell (and possibly my browser crashing over and over again, which is what alerted me this time). : )

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Good Day

As anyone who reads this knows, I haven't been doing too well lately. I've been depressed a lot, and when I'm not I'm just "okay". I'm not happy or anything. I've been having trouble creating art, which doesn't make me feel too great, since that's one of the things I've always done to cope. If I can't do that, I'm not myself. It takes quite a lot to cheer me up or make me anything other than just "in the middle". But the last couple of weeks have been great.

My sister came to visit. She brought my nephew, who, for some reason, isn't scared of me, even though I'm grumpy quite a bit. I always feel like I'm nothing to want to visit, but it was good to see them and go out and do tourist things. We went out to eat a lot and did some shopping
(low-cost shopping, since none of us really has a lot of money--I'm talking Goodwill and Ross and whatnot). We went to the zoo and fed the lorries. For one week, we went up to Fort Worth to visit my sis' in-laws. There, we did more shopping, since there's not a whole lot else to do, except go out to eat. One day, the in-laws watched little E, so sis and I could go to a concert. We drove to Dallas (about an hour away) to the House of Blues to see Crowded House. I'm pretty petite (I'm only 4'9"), so I wanted to get there really early since the floor, where our tickets were, was general admission. If I'm not in front, I can't see a thing. Even if that person were only 5' tall, that's too much for me. However, it was 107F and we really didn't want to wait outside. One woman told us, when we walked in, that if we spent $15 in the restaurant or shop, we could wait inside and skip the line. That was fine with us as we would have probably spent that in the shop anyway. So, we bought a couple of things in the shop. I bought a travel mug with the House of Blues logo and a keychain. It was only around 3:30 pm, so we had a long wait since the doors didn't open until 7. The good part about that was that we could hear the sound check through the open doors of the room where the show would be.

A little while later, a couple of other women joined us, and we had fun talking about music and TV shows and such. When the doors opened, we all ran down to the front of the stage and had perfect viewing, except for the speakers that were in front. The stage was exceptionally high, so these blocked my view of the back of the stage. However, I wouldn't complain, since it was a great place regardless. The band were awesome, as usual. They were funny and had us laughing and smiling the whole way through. Also, they let us bring cameras in (no video or flash photography), and my camera has a low-light setting that doesn't use the flash. So I got some great shots, and we all traded the camera around every now and then to get some different perspectives. At the end of the show, as the staff were clearing the stage, they handed out guitar picks, etc., and I got one of Mark Hart's guitar picks, which even had his name on it.

Afterwards, we went out to the back door, and we were able to meet the band and get autographs. They were exceptionally sweet and really funny. Nick Seymour even let us take a photo with him (I'm sure the other guys would have, too, but we didn't get to ask, however, they did sign autographs and chat with us). When we walked back to our cars, we were all screaming and jumping up and down like teenagers. I haven't felt that happy in a long time.

Sis and I also saw a-ha in LA in May, which was my birthday present to myself, to go on a trip out there. I hardly ever get to go to concerts, and this one meant a lot to me, since a-ha were the first concert I'd ever been to, and this was the first time they'd toured the US since 1986. It's also their last tour EVER, since they are breaking up after this. I have been a fan of theirs since the beginning and it was great to hear all their newer songs live, since I'd never heard them live before. It was hard not to cry, knowing it would all end, but it was amazing. So, for me, that's two great concerts in one year, which is rare for me. I just wish I could feel that way all the time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Limited Artistic Ability

For a while, I was able to paint and draw again. I'll admit that this is when my medications were less effective. I was on a lower dose of the Lamictal, and before that I'd run out of Trileptal, eventually causing my trip to the hospital. However, I'd managed to come up with a couple of coping strategies that sort-of helped me. I'd begun making art again, which felt great since I hadn't been able to think that way in a long time. As soon as I started treatment for bipolar disorder, it helped curb my suicidal feelings, but I could no longer think like an artist. I couldn't come up with ideas for photographs, paintings, or whatever. Anything I'd begun before that, I was suddenly stumped with, like how would I finish it? I was at a loss. So, suddenly being able to see where my paint colors should go, come up with ideas as to how to relate my experiences with mental illness in images, etc., felt fantastic. I painted like a madwoman, constantly having a piece of paper or canvas at least in the process of priming, if not painting.

The other thing I'd begun to do was to go hiking with my dog. Not only was I getting loads of exercise and spending time with my baby, who desperately needed to get out of the apartment and relieve his boredom, but I was dealing with my anxiety of doing things by myself. I have a fear of being ambushed by someone while I'm in the park, falling and being unable to call for help, or getting lost and unable to find my way back to the parking lot. Climbing the rocky hillside was dangerous, of course, and I almost fell backwards a couple of times, scaring myself into thinking I could have ended up with a head injury or worse. But, I kept going and actually enjoyed the time to think. Any time I'd feel stressed and like I couldn't stand being in the apartment (I still have a strong dislike for the neighbors and their noise--and their rude attitude towards the other neighbors), I would head out to my favorite park, that being Eisenhower Park on the north side of town. I rarely ever see wildlife at this park, but it is fairly large and has a variety of trails, welcomes dogs, and provides decent maps with information on the different flora. I did however, see a roadrunner ( a fairly large one, about the size of my papillon) run across the path in front of me. Luckily, Bucky was looking in a different direction and did not try to chase him!

Anyway, of course, I ended up in the hospital, which made me feel incredibly closed-in and trapped, since I could no longer get out into the open air to deal with stress. In fact, we were assured upon admission that we had the right to go outside, however this was not a possibility. The doors were locked and we were not allowed to go out of the ward at all. In the 5 minutes I spent with their doctors, they did change my medications. I felt groggy, but could not sleep in the hospital. It ended up being a total of 5 days (since I hadn't slept much for the previous 2 days, and ended up in hospital for 3 days) that I was sleep deprived, and ended up sleeping for a total of 22 hours straight after my release. I had trouble waking and slept more than usual for the next week. I had no energy at all. By the time I finally felt a little more normal, the weather had changed and it was suddenly dangerously hot to spend an hour or so walking in the park. I really didn't have the energy to do so, but I would have at least made an attempt to get back into the habit. Also, I couldn't think like an artist anymore, either. I was incredibly disappointed, and now I have an unfinished painting, which I can tell is a little off, but cannot think of what I need to do to correct it, or at least make it look more like what I want it to look like. It's been a couple of months now, and I still have no idea what to do. I need to get back into exercising, but have hardly the motivation or energy to do so. Wish there was some way I could feel happier without curbing my artistic instincts. Anyone, got any tips or ideas? I could certainly use them. I'm not happy if I'm not creating.

Dr. Martinez, Jr.

Usually, I like to keep going to the same doctor. However, my lack of funds and my continuing fight with Social Security sort-of prevent me from seeing my usual doctor. So now, as I've previously ranted about the University Health System, I've seen the new doctor they assigned me. He seems nice enough, although more businesslike than I usually like. Plus, he seemed hard of hearing or something, constantly asking me to repeat statements that I thought were a little loud for my privacy, since the doors are only so thick. Plus, there are things that I've read about bipolar disorder that he didn't seem to know, like the more current research. He seemed more interested in what medications I was taking than my actual symptoms and what has worked and what hasn't. Like, he was considering putting me back on Depakote! Hell, no! I don't want to go through all of that again! My hair all fell out (well, I'm exaggerating...not ALL, just a LOT) and I got really bad tremors in my arms, legs, hands, fingers, mouth, etc. Unfortunately, the tremors have not gone away after I went off the medication. I certainly don't want to do anything that could make it WORSE! Not to mention that he thought Lamictal was an antipsychotic and not a mood stabilizer as I've read. The antipsychotic would be the Seroquel. He didn't think I needed to be on an antipsychotic, which I really don't agree with. There's a reason I'm on it. I had problems concentrating and focusing when I was on only a mood stabilizer. My doctor said the anipsychotic would help me concentrate, which I didn't believe at first. But it really did work and I'm not about to go off of it. I like to read, and I couldn't do that before the antipyschotic. I couldn't remember anything I read and had to read and reread passages since I would forget how the paragraph started by the time I reached the end. Sometimes, just a sentence was incomprehensible to me. There were other problems as well, of course. I also had some hallucinations. They were very infrequent and I could always tell it wasn't real, but I'm glad to have them gone at any rate.

Anyway, I'm not pleased with this doctor and I hope I don't have to continue to see him for very long. If I have problems with him, I hope they'll let me switch, or else I could win my disability case and then seek my own doctor.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Well, they came around somehow. After arguing and arguing, the doctor's office finally told me they'd pay the bill. What a relief! They told me they couldn't do anything until I'd talked to the doctor, because the doctor was the one who ordered the tests. Well, I didn't even end up talking to her. I'm guessing it was discussed between her and the billing department, because that was who contacted me in the end. In some way, I wish I'd have been able to let the doctor have it for ordering those tests in the first place, so that it wouldn't happen again. But I guess I'm glad to have the bill taken care of regardless. However, I will not be going back to that office ever again. The previous gynecologist I had had problems with her billing department, as well. So I don't want to go back there, either. Wish I could just find a good one and leave it at that. Hate going from doctor to doctor.

I'm not even going to go into my feelings on the whole Center for Health Care Services thing. I mean, they're so swamped that you have to wait months for an appointment and I'll be lucky to have even adequate care if I can't get to see a doctor when I need to. Don't see how my prescriptions, etc. can be managed that way, or how I'm supposed to make do in the meantime, while I wait to finally be given a doctor's appointment some months from now.

Otherwise, I think I'm doing okay. Weird, but seems fine for now. I think it's too early to say whether the Seroquel is doing it, or if I'd have been having a sort-of normal phase anyway. I just remember feeling so good to be out of the hospital that I kind-of think that that was the thing that did it, at least for the time being. Don't know how long that will hold out, but maybe I'll just be so anxious to stay out of that place that I'll manage somehow. I doubt it could be that simple, but I can hope. My meds were so messed up before the whole depressed episode anyway, that really I can't be sure that that was the reason I got so bad. I mean, I'd run out of a couple of them for a while. How do I know that the meds weren't working and that's why I got depressed, rather than the fact that I'd been off them for a few days and that's what messed me up? But the hospital docs thought to switch things up, and indeed made several changes at once. I have been having this weird feeling like I'm itching all over and I can't relax and be comfortable. I mean, I itch so bad that I can't sleep because I can't stop scratching. Have no idea which change could have caused this, since they made so many at once. Could have been caused by the increase in the Lamictal. Could be caused by the Seroquel. Indeed, I've had reactions simply to the dye used to color the tablets before, so it could be something that easy or it could not. Wish they'd have only done one thing and let me follow up with another doctor later. I'd have more of an idea what's wrong. I just don't like it that they don't care what my feelings are on the matter and are going to do whatever they want whether I like it or not. I have no more faith in the doctor I will see sometime in the hopefully not-too-distant future than in the hospital docs. I have a feeling I'll just be a number to them as that's how I've been treated so far. Plus, I wish they'd listen to what I'm actually saying, instead of me having to repeat myself several times, or keep rephrasing everything because they don't accept the answer I gave them because it wasn't the answer they expected. I mean, I got tired of saying, "That's not what I said. I said..." Ugh.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I hate doctors!

Okay, not EVERY one. But if I hadn't found a certain Dr. R. here in SA, I'd think all doctors are idiots who don't listen to their patients and are just out to make money. They don't CARE about people at all. Today, I called my gynecologist, a certain Dr. Gurwitz, because they charged me for 3 tests that I didn't order. But the doctor ordered them, so they won't take the tests off my bill. Well, they also said that they don't normally order those particular tests unless it's discussed with me and the doctor. There's no way in hell I'd have asked for a Gonorrhoeae (sic) test or a Chlamydia test. I'm not sexually active, so there's no reason to test for those things. I'm sure I mentioned that at my appointment because they always ask. So I don't know why they'd have ordered them based on my appointment. Plus, they know I'm not working right now and each of these 3 tests they ordered for me were $100. The most they offered me was a discount, that would make the total bill $240 instead of the $375 they billed me for. The only thing I should have to pay for is the exam and the pap test, which was all I asked for. As it is, they charged me $125 for the exam, which was $55 the last time I was there a year ago. They told me that was the lowest amount they could charge. But-- and I said this, too--if it had been that much last time, I wouldn't have come back. Not only that, but they didn't even give me samples of my medication. Last time, they gave me enough samples for the whole year. I got nothing at all this time, and the prescription they'd given me was so expensive, I couldn't afford it. So really, this has been the most expensive doctor visit I've ever had (hospital and ER visits aside), and I'll never go back there again. I just felt scammed and like they didn't care whether I could afford all this stuff or not. It's my word against the doctor's. What can I do? I'm calling back tomorrow to talk to a billing supervisor, but I'm not optimistic. But so far, after the doctors at the hospital and the people at the Center for Health Care Services (like low-cost help for the mentally ill--but it's like the McDonald's of health care because they see so many people and it's not like it's GOOD health care, just so-so care), and now a gynecologist that I had previously liked, I don't trust doctors at all. If anyone has any ideas as to any recourse I might have for being overcharged, I'd like to hear them, because it's really unfair for me to pay for things I didn't want.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I feel embarrassed about this. But I just got out of the hospital. For the first time ever, I've now been hospitalized for depression. Really, all I wanted was to talk to a suicide counselor. But the hotline I called must have been a different one, because she sent the police to my house, and they took me to the hospital. I ended up there all night long in the ER. Literally. I called the hotline around 10:00 or 10:30 pm. I was at the hospital soon after. Then, it was 7:30 in the morning by the time they finally told me I had no choice but to be admitted. I didn't sleep at all. And all of this was triggered by the fact that my neighbors don't let me sleep, so I got anxious and depressed. So now, are they making me feel any better? No, not at all. Really, by that morning I wasn't feeling suicidal anymore. I was just tired and really too tired to think about it. The moment had passed. Still, I had no choice. It was still 4:30 or so by the time they took me upstairs to my room, which I had to share (not good, I'm a light sleeper). I was exhausted, but they had me doing a few things once I got up there. I had no chance to sleep. They make you eat dinner at 5:00. I don't even get hungry until 7:00 or so. But I had to eat. Still, the food upstairs on the 7th floor was waaaayyy better than the stuff in the ER. It was at least tolerable. I couldn't even eat the stuff downstairs. Then my dad came to visit. They told me I'd get to go home the next day. The next day, I met with the doctors. They didn't want me to take the new meds until that night. So I was there another day! Really, BEING THERE made me feel depressed. Everyone there was nice, but the patients were depressed and that was hard to take. Some of them were worse off than me, being that they talked to themselves and stuff. Plus, I really missed my dog. I didn't like the hospital beds. It felt like I was just sleeping on the box springs. Plus, they check on you every 15 minutes. Those doors were not quiet, so I heard it every time and it made me jump. I didn't feel comfortable with someone watching me sleep. I had nightmares about it when I managed to sleep an hour. I just felt worse being there. They didn't let us outside at all. They didn't let us exercise. They didn't let me have my facial moisturizer or my facial cleanser, but my roommate got to keep her shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and body wash. I got zilch. I didn't trust them to watch my stuff that they were holding. They had it locked up, but it went through a few hands by then, and they told me they had to inventory it, so they went through each item before they locked it up, including my cash. Then, when they let me go, I got a sheet of paper saying they think my diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder instead of bipolar. I read about schizoaffective disorder. The schizophrenic symptoms match me not at all. I have no idea why they'd say that. I'm bipolar. So I'm pissed about that because now I don't trust them to help me. They're going to be treating a condition I don't have. And because I need help paying for my medications, I have to see their doctor or I don't get my pills. I don't trust their doctors. I'm so unhappy about it all. Not to mention, I didn't get all the stuff coming out that I went in with, including a couple of dollars and a vial of my motion sickness pills that mysteriously went missing. I just don't trust them at all. I hope I get a good doctor. I wish I could continue to see my old doctor.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Noisy Neighbors

They don't do the loud stereo thing because I complained over and over again, but they find new ways of being noisy all the time. Our apartment is downstairs and the upstairs neighbors are up until at LEAST midnight every night. They make a lot of noise getting ready for bed, if that is indeed what they're doing. It takes them 3 hours to do it, so I'm doubtful. They slam cabinets and doors, go out on the balcony (the sliding door is LOUD, and it sounds like thunder or else like MY sliding door is opening--very unnerving), plus they stomp when they walk. They even have a little toddler, who is very noisy when she runs around in the apartment, and they don't even put her to bed until around 11 or later (who lets a toddler stay up until 11?). The next door neighbors are just as bad. They fight constantly, which means slamming doors and yelling constantly. I've complained about them NUMEROUS times, and it never seems to do anything because they'll just do it again the next day. Either they're dumber than a bag of rocks or they're just really huge assholes. I'm inclined to think they're assholes, because really, I just assume everyone is an asshole until I learn otherwise, because it makes life easier. I can never relax in this place and I'm not getting enough sleep, which is impacting my health. I always try to go to bed at 10. Always have. But I can't even attempt to go to sleep until midnight because I know the neighbors will keep me up anyway. Then, to top it off, they wake up at 6 and don't even leave for work or whatever until 10, so I can't sleep in. I hate this place and everyone in it, and if I really thought about it, suicide would seem the perfect answer to this whole mess. I'm miserable and I'm making everyone around me miserable. If I didn't have to take care of my dog, I probably wouldn't be here typing this. Nothing else is keeping me here. I hate my life. This disability thing seems like it's too little too late, or else it's just going to make a whole host of new problems rather than helping. I want to buy a house and get out of this whole apartment thing. No way I can do that on $700 a month. And really, how is it fair to base the disability payments on how much I've worked. Duh. I haven't worked. I'm disabled. I can't work. People are idiots. I wish I could just get out of here, but I'm stuck in this horrible place and I'll probably never know what it's like to be happy and I'll just be in this position forever and ever. How can I plan for retirement on $700 a month? I'm almost 40. I can't stand this.