I’m a High-Strung Mess

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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!

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Poetry: Waiting for the Doctor

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Waiting for the Doctor
By: Maranda Russell

Perch on the edge
kick the drawers down below
lay back
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
stand up
run the water in the sink
look through the cabinets
hear doorknob start to turn
hop back onto examination table
try to look innocent.

Another Fun Visit to the ER

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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.

Spiral of Anxiety and Fear

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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.

Denied Access to Mental Health Records

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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.

Why Doctors Frustrate Me – Trying to Get Testing Done

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I want to begin this post by sharing a horrible dream I had last night. I was sitting in row G of a live outdoor show (my dreams are pretty specific sometimes), when someone behind me threw up all over my head. It was disgusting! I still remember the smell and feel of the vomit as it trickled down my face and hair. Ick! By the way, how do you “smell” things in a dream? I don’t know, but I sure did!

Ok, now that I got that off my chest, on to the main topic of this post. I am frustrated with doctors. Why? Because time and time again, I have had to fight to get testing that I feel is important, because many doctors tend to think I am just being a hypochondriac or overly anxious when I tell them I suspect a particular diagnosis.

However, time and time again, I have been proven RIGHT when I finally got the testing. C Diff, MRSA, medication allergies, asthma, CFS, fibromyalgia, costochondritis, pancreatitis, Aspergers, bipolar…all of these are conditions I highly suspected long before I actually got diagnosed, and yet, I had to fight to even get them checked out because doctors thought I was just being paranoid.

The most recent testing I am fighting for is Ehlers Danlos (EDS). I meet the major and most of the minor criteria for the condition, but have been fighting to even get a referral for testing. EDS is often comorbid with high-functioning autism, so that is what first made me interested in the condition. I am positive I score at least 6 or 7 out of 9 on the Beighton Score (higher on the Brighton Score).

I guess I can sum up this post in one sentence: Why is it so damn hard to get a simple test done???

In Case I am MIA Soon

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Hi everyone! I wanted to write a short post just to say that I might be MIA this weekend (and maybe longer, who knows?) because I am having wisdom teeth surgery tomorrow. The teeth are impacted and oddly placed, so unfortunately, it isn’t expected to be a simple tooth-pulling operation (which definitely shows in how much I have to pay for it lol). Thank goodness they put you out for it!

I’m sure I will be fine, but as those of you with chronic illness/pain know, nothing is ever easy when you have autoimmune issues and inflammatory conditions that crop up every time your body is put under any kind of stress. I am hoping it won’t lead to a major flareup of my fibromyalgia or CFS, but I am preparing for the worst just in case.

I hope you guys will keep me in your thoughts and prayers (if you do that kind of thing). I could definitely use some positive energy sent my way!

Back Doctor and Pain Management Clinic Rant – Why So Insensitive?

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This is going to be a bit of a rant. Yesterday I received a letter from the orthopedic doctor and pain management clinic I was seeing for my upper back/neck pain. That letter turned my mood sour quickly. It said that I had been non-compliant with physical therapy and the spinal injections they had ordered, so they were kicking me out of the practice.

Why did it tick me off? Because the way they expressed it is totally not what we had discussed in person. First of all, I was not “non-compliant” with physical therapy. I tried it for several weeks and it WORSENED the pain rather than helping. It also caused widespread fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome flares throughout my body. This wasn’t the first time I had tried physical therapy, so I had been worried from the start, but they had promised they would accommodate my conditions, which they didn’t actually seem to do.

When I called the physical therapy office to explain that it was worsening my back pain and my fibromyalgia/cfs symptoms, they seemed understanding at the time. I was also having issues driving myself to therapy because when my back pain flares up, I can barely turn my head because of the neck pain. I asked the physical therapy office if I should perhaps try again in the summer when my husband could drive me, but the lady said that if the sessions were causing me that many problems, trying it again in the summer didn’t make much sense.

As for the spinal shots, the main reason I was fearful about going through with them is because they would not offer any kind of sedation. You see, I had been told how important it is for spinal injections that you be absolutely still during the process or you could cause damage to the spine. As an autistic person with severe sensory issues and intense over-sensitivity to any kind of sensory input (including pain), this worried me. I also have severe anxiety and that can sometimes make me shake and tremble involuntarily.

I had researched the shots and noticed that many other places offer sedation. I even talked to a few other people who had undergone the shots and had been sedated. I was not trying to be a pain or a drama queen, I was simply being cautious. Affording the shots was also a major issue at the time (since they required full payment up front), which I had explained to them.

In the end, I’m not upset that they were unable to further help me, I had already kind of figured that out. However, I am upset at the accusatory tone of the letter they sent me and the obvious insensitivity and lack of understanding for people who suffer from chronic pain/chronic illness and people who happen to have autism or other sensory processing difficulties. By the way, I will be sending them a letter back stating much of what I just said here. Hopefully they will learn something.

 

When Non-Profits Only Care About the Money

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On Facebook I shared a post about some tax changes that are being made to churches and non-profit institutions. The debate that started, made me think about my own experience working for a non-profit organization and I wanted to share a little bit of that here. For around 6 months or so, I worked for a non-profit religious hospital system. My job was to be one of the people in the emergency department who collected patient information (especially insurance information) and processed payments.

From the beginning, it was drilled into us that it was about the money. We were hounded to make sure we collected certain percentages of money from patients while they were still there in the building, whether they could afford it or not. We were encouraged to apply pressure to them to pay at least a percentage that day, regardless of their personal circumstances. Although patients could legally ask to be billed later, we were told to NEVER tell them that, and only offer that option if they brought it up first.

We were told bluntly that the hospital had to make sure to look like they were doing enough “public outreach” to keep their non-profit tax status, so when they did run public assistance programs we were told to advertise them when talking to patients. It became clear that they didn’t necessarily do programs for the poor because they CARED about them, it was so they could continue to get the tax breaks and other non-profit advantages. I heard so much negative talk there about Medicaid patients and the poor. I was also told flat out that the company was purposefully looking into opening more locations in areas where the people were more likely to pay, and closing locations where the populations were poorer.

One huge issue I had was that even when someone was brought to the ER and died, we were pressured to try to get money from their grieving relatives. More than once, those in charge actually chose not to tell family members that their loved one had passed away until AFTER we collected insurance information and copays/deductible payments. They would send us in, and we would know the family’s loved one was gone, but we were told to lie and pretend we knew nothing. This killed me to have to do. One time a lady begged me for information on her husband who was dead, and I couldn’t tell her anything. I also struggled to go up to a mother whose child has just tried to commit suicide and ask her for money. I felt like scum.

In the end, I couldn’t keep this job due to my own health issues, but I couldn’t have kept doing it with a clear conscience either.