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!