I’m still struggling with bad neck pain. Yesterday it felt a little bit better, so I figured I would try to get out of the house for the first time in a while (other than ER visits). Unfortunately, once I got in the car, the vibrations from the car itself and the movement from driving kicked the pain back into high gear. I did at least make it to Wendy’s so my husband and I could get some dinner, but then it was straight back home because I was in too much pain to do anything else.
Honestly, after two weeks of these headaches and severe neck pain, I’m starting to worry this might be a long-term problem, just like my right shoulder blade and the arches of my feet. I’ve been incredibly depressed the last few days, partly because of the pain itself, partly because I can’t do much of anything, and lastly because I worry if my body continues to deteriorate at the rate it seems to be going, I may eventually become completely home-bound. I believe that all these chronic pain issues are mostly related to my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which sucks even more because there is no cure for connective tissue disorders 😦
I’m still struggling with migraines, but am starting to think that they might actually be cervicogenic headaches (caused by issues in the neck). The last few days, the left side of my neck has been visibly swollen and extremely tight, causing a great deal of pain. I can’t help but notice that the worse the neck pain is, the worse the headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue become as well.
One person on Facebook who also suffers from Ehlers Danlos even suggested that perhaps the migraines may be due to a chiari malformation or craniocervical instability, which are both common issues associated with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I have wondered about the neck instability possibility, as I often feel like my head is excessively heavy, not supported well by my neck, and sometimes bobbles around almost like a bobblehead. Whenever I sit for long, I have to have a neck rest because my pain worsens quickly if I have to hold my head up without support.
Unfortunately, it looks like if instability is the issue, the answer might be this huge, horribly-uncomfortable-looking neck brace that looks like it would be sensory hell for me. Of course, I do know from a prior MRI that I also have degenerative disc disease throughout my cervical and thoracic spine, and at least a couple herniated cervical discs. Whatever the issue, I wish it would clear up soon! This is miserable and I feel like I am living on NSAIDS, muscle relaxers, and Lidocaine right now.
You ever go to a doctor’s appointment and feel like you somehow disappointed them? That’s how I’m feeling today. I went to see my psychiatrist and while he didn’t say anything overly negative or mean, I just left with the feeling that somehow he was a little disappointed in me.
Perhaps I am projecting here, but I kind of feel like he isn’t quite as supportive as my other doctors about my going on SSDI. Not because he doesn’t think I have real problems and medical conditions, but because he seems to think I have a lot of potential and maybe he thinks if I get disability I’m just going to sit around and do nothing the rest of my life.
This may be partly my fault if he has that impression. After all, I don’t normally talk about all the stuff I do enjoy doing while there. I only see him every couple months for a short visit, so I tend to focus on what is going wrong, not what is going right. I don’t talk about all the art I make and sell or the books I write and sell. I don’t talk about my blogging. I don’t talk about all the people I correspond with on social media. I didn’t mention that I was recently made a board member on the International Board of Sensory Accessibility. I didn’t tell him about the art contest I submitted three artworks to this month. I don’t tell him about the online communities for chronic illness, chronic pain, autism, and other conditions that have given me a chance to support others and receive support myself.
I kind of wish I had mentioned some of those things now. Maybe next time.
This has undoubtedly been a rough week for me so far, but some good things have happened too. Here is a short run-down of the last few days:
Sunday and Monday, one of our pipes froze because of the freakishly cold weather so we had no water until that section thawed out. Luckily, it didn’t cause the pipes to burst or anything like that. My husband thinks he solved the issue by replacing the insulation around the pipe, but I guess we’ll find out the next time we all freeze.
Yesterday I had my appointment with the rheumatologist to get my Ehlers Danlos testing done. I’m officially a zebra! Right now my diagnosis is Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos, although I do plan to try to pursue genetic testing to make sure none of the other EDS genes are playing a part. The doctor also highly suspected I have POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), which would help explain my dizzy spells, vertigo, feeling faint, and maybe even a few episodes of passing out when I was younger. It sucks that there is no cure or really even further treatment other than what I’m already doing, but it is wonderful to have some answers that finally make sense!
Tuesday I made the mistake of posting in a Facebook chronic illness group about my surprise that a zoo we want to visit charges $25 for the use of a wheelchair for a couple hours. Soon I was accused of being entitled, expecting everyone else to pay for my disability, and even being too poor to go to the zoo if I couldn’t afford the extra charge. The attacks got to the point that it actually made me cry because it hurt my feelings so much. I wasn’t even saying that the zoo had no right to charge for use of their equipment, I was just questioning whether the price was a bit high for the time it would be used. Of course, then I heard that some zoos and theme parks charge way more, some even over $100 a day! I can’t help but feel personally that is taking advantage of the disabled. Maybe I’m wrong, but I still feel that way.
Last night all this stress took its toll on me. I had the worse migraine I have had in years. Luckily, I still had some migraine pills from the last time I filled the prescription which was several years ago. They were technically expired, but still did their job. Today I have that slight headachy, hung over feeling I always get after a severe migraine.
I am currently a high-strung mess. As my SSDI hearing looms nearer and nearer, I find myself obsessing way too much over it and almost panicking about the fact that I feel powerless over what will happen in the end. I am trying to do absolutely everything I can think of to prepare for it and make sure we have good medical documentation especially, but that in itself is stressing me out because it means having to be assertive and ask for things from my physicians which I despise having to do. I HATE having to ask ANYONE for ANYTHING. It is just the way I am, but sometimes you have to do the things you hate…
I do not do well when I feel like I am not in control of a situation. My anxiety can’t handle the uncertainty and the endless waiting. I would almost rather deal with the worst case scenario immediately rather than be in limbo for months waiting for someone else to decide my fate. On top of that, I feel like I am annoying those around me (lawyer office employees, doctors, my poor husband) because of my intense anxiety state. I talked to a paralegal today and she told me to take a deep breath and relax lol. If only I could! I can do the deep breath, but the relaxing part just ain’t kicking in.
The heightened stress is taking a physical toll too, as it always does. My upper back/shoulder/neck area is flaring again to the point that I am regularly rolling on Lidocaine and had to take some Tramadol. The pain is so bad I can’t do any household tasks, which makes me feel bad too. Even typing this is painful and requires frequent breaks.
Now I feel like my whining is probably annoying all of you too lol. Sorry if that is the case, but I just needed to vent!
Waiting for the Doctor
By: Maranda Russell
Perch on the edge
kick the drawers down below
wish I had a pillow
turn to the side
curl up in a ball
poke a hole
through the thick
tissue paper cover
read the poster
about acid reflux
for the 15th time
flip onto back again
count the ceiling tiles
12 in all
play with the blood pressure
thingy on the wall
run the water in the sink
look through the cabinets
hear doorknob start to turn
hop back onto examination table
try to look innocent.
I spent yesterday in the ER. Always lots of fun. I was rather freaked out because I literally couldn’t swallow at times and felt like I was going to choke to death or something. I also was having chest pains, trouble breathing, and feeling like I was going to pass out. Now I get to go back to the GI doctor because they think there are probably issues with damage to my esophagus.
Still not feeling much better today. They put me on some meds that are supposed to protect and hopefully help repair damage done to the esophagus, but no relief yet. I still struggle to swallow, keep coughing, and feel like there is something permanently stuck in my throat. Eating and drinking is no fun, even the smoothie I tried to drink earlier struggled to go down. My chest, especially around my breastbone feels like there is an elephant sitting on it. Man, this sucks.
I am feeling so incredibly stressed about my upcoming SSDI hearing and everything related to it. It has become an obsessive thought pattern that I can’t get out of. This always happens when something I am super nervous or scared about is looming on the horizon. My mind is a circular track of “what ifs”, incessant thoughts about things I need to do, fears that I will make a mistake and blow my last chance for SSDI benefits, and fear that if I fail and am denied again, it will once again send me into a suicidal spiral of feeling worthless, disbelieved, and like I will forever be a burden to society and those I love.
Tomorrow I have to ask my psychologist to fill out a RFC (Residual Functional Capacity) form for the hearing. I think she will be open to it and want to help, but I am still anxious about asking and scared of rejection. I have to ask my primary care physician to fill out a similar form when I see her next week, and am even more nervous about that because I know she is often rushed and I don’t want to be an inconvenience or annoy anyone by making demands.
As you can see, I struggle greatly with asking anyone to do anything for me. I’m not sure if it is just my lousy self-esteem or what, but I always feel like anything I need is an imposition on someone else. Maybe the result of being raised by a narcissistic parent? Growing up, I often was made to feel like anything I needed (emotionally or physically) was selfish and inconvenient to those around me. To this day, I struggle with feeling like I am actually entitled to anything – even basic human respect.
I think my fear of being disbelieved about my disabilities also stems from the fact that when I first started getting really sick, even my own husband and family didn’t believe me. My husband came around first, when he saw how much I truly was suffering every day and how even the things I loved most were being ripped away from me. He has even apologized for his initial doubts. Some of my family (including in-laws) still make me feel invalidated, but I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t do much about that.
I found out recently that my Social Security Disability (SSDI) hearing has been set for February 2019. When I found this out, I contacted my attorney’s office to ask for a copy of my medical records since I honestly don’t even know what all is in them other than what my doctors have told me and what little is available on the online portals. I was rather shocked when they told me that they could give me the physical health records, but it is a HIPAA violation to allow me to see my complete mental health records.
To be honest, this bothered me. I’m not allowed to see some of my own mental health records? This doesn’t seem right to me. Maybe I could understand if I were violent or a real danger to others and they feared me getting pissed at what the doctors wrote and trying to harm them or something, but the closest I’ve ever come to violence is just having a meltdown and yelling at someone because I was overwhelmed (normally this has only happened at work places when I was put under a lot of pressure). Even yelling is pretty rare for me though. I am much more likely to just burst into tears, lock myself in the bathroom, or try to get away from the situation by finding another “safe” area where I can be alone.
Am I alone in being frustrated by the seemingly patronizing system hiding my own truth from me? Who else deserves to know my doctors’ real, honest perception of me more than myself? I’m not a child. I can handle knowing what my doctors really think of me and maybe knowing those things would help me in my own personal growth.