I Won My SSDI Case!!!

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Here is what I wrote on my Facebook page today, I think it pretty much sums it all up:

Six long years, and I finally won my SSDI case! Fully favorable! Feel like crying and screaming. Been sick and in pain so long, sometimes I wanted to give up hope and die, but glad I hung in there.

All those people who doubted me or thought I was just being “lazy” or “dramatic” can kiss my ass. To all those who have showed love, empathy, and encouragement, thank you so much for helping to keep me alive and fighting.

My fellow bloggers here on WordPress definitely fall into the second category of supportive, encouraging people, so thank you all so much!!!

By the way, the decision was just made yesterday and my lawyer was the one who called and told me, so it will still be a little while before I get the back pay or monthly payments started, but I’m on my way!

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Neurologist Visit Update

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Yesterday I saw my new neurologist for the first time to try to figure out why I am suddenly having so many migraines. I must say the visit didn’t start out well. For one thing, they only see new patients first thing in the morning, and I am NOT a morning person. However, I did make it there on time at 9am in the morning, but then I ended up waiting to see the doctor until after 11am!!! Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

The doctor seemed rather grumpy when he finally came in too. Maybe he was having a bad morning (I would think so with being that behind schedule for a specialist), but after waiting two hours, dealing with a grumpy doctor was not ideal. I will say that even though he was a bit grumpy, he was thorough at least. He asked tons of questions and investigated all the leads I could provide, even bothering to request additional medical records and taking a second look at my imaging tests that have already been done.

By the end of the visit, he had decided to send me for an EEG to check for possible mini strokes or seizures, and another head/neck MRI to see if my cervical issues have worsened in the past two years or if anything else has changed. He also wants me to be tested for Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that may be contributing to my vertigo, ear pain/pressure, and tinnitus.

He noted that my neck was constantly spasming, so he switched me to another muscle relaxer and also put me on Topamax to try to help prevent the migraines (we are hoping it might help my fibro pain some too). I guess we’ll see how it goes from there.

Star Trek Exhibit Highlights at Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Over the weekend my husband and I visited Indianapolis to see the Star Trek exhibit at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. My husband was in heaven lol. I was there. I did find a few fun things to concentrate on though.

I annoyed my husband by sitting in the captain’s chair like this:

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My personal favorite in the exhibit was this painting of Data’s cat from The Next Generation, I would hang this in my house:

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My husband got assimilated and beamed up (along with a little friend):

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I did get to ride the museum’s carousel (one of my favorite things to do at any museum, zoo, or park). Unfortunately, I threw my hip out climbing onto it. I think from now on I may need to sit on the little benches on the carousel like all the other old, broken down bodies:

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I also got a photo op at Candyland:

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Now I am back home, exhausted, sore, and will probably need a few days to recuperate.

Fluoride Fears

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Sometimes I worry about fluoride…specifically ingesting too much of it. Too much fluoride can cause a condition called skeletal fluorosis, which is often mistaken for arthritis or fibromyalgia. Most people know our toothpastes and other dental products often contain fluoride, but many don’t realize all the other sources of fluoride we ingest every day.

There is fluoridated water of course, which has been a point of contention for years. Should the government put fluoride in the drinking water? Is it necessary? Especially when most Americans use toothpaste with fluoride anyhow? Did you know that both green and black tea (two of my favorite drinks) are a high source of fluoride? It often has way more fluoride in it than the water, often over the “safe limits” established by the government (which are still debatable).

Because our water is fluoridated, almost everything made with water stands a chance of being fluoridated too – all our drinks, alcohol, soups, fruits, grains, vegetables…even our meat! (Often our food becomes contaminated with fluoride more due to pesticides rather than our water, and our meat gets contaminated because animals eat food with these pesticides in them.)

Some people claim antidepressants like Prozac can contribute to fluoride poisoning, although this is definitely debatable. I’ve heard scientists argue that because of the way the chemicals bind together in the drug that the fluoride should all get washed out, but who knows for sure?

Maybe I am just an anxious, sometimes paranoid person (all true), but maybe this really is a problem that is often ignored or overlooked. After all, fluoride is still a poison.

Afraid of Living

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I am not afraid to die –
but I am not yet
unafraid of living.

I’m not sure I have ever written truer words than the 3-line poem above. This little gem came to me while taking a bath last night, so I repeated it to myself like a mantra until I got out of the tub and could write it down.

It is true that I am not afraid of death. I am a bit afraid of the actual feeling of dying, mostly because of the instinctual anxiety I fear it would bring. However, I am not afraid of being dead. In fact, I rather look forward to it. If there is something after death, it will be awesome to explore and find out what else is out there. If there is nothing after death, it will just be like the times I have passed out or been put out for surgery…simply a loss of consciousness which often sounds like a relief in itself. No more worrying. No more pain. No more anxiety or depression.

However, living is scary. Knowing I may have years and years of dealing with anxiety and depression ahead of me. Knowing that I will likely suffer from chronic pain and chronic illness until I die. Knowing that my degenerative conditions will likely worsen with time. Fearing that my husband may get sick or die and I will be alone. Fearing financial ruin. Fearing homelessness. Fearing potentially abusive situations. Fearing the entire planet going to shit (a justifiable fear from my point of view). Fearing that I may end up committing suicide if life becomes unbearable (not the ending I would desire for my life).

Bad Flare Up After Car Broke Down

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Feeling like shit today. Woke up after sleeping 10-11 hours, ate breakfast, and then went to take a nap for another couple of hours. So, why am I so exhausted and feeling like I got run over by a steamroller?

Well, yesterday my husband was driving home from work when a tire fell off his car. I had to go pick him up and once I got there, we had to wait for the tow truck to come get the broken down car. It was supposed to be about an hour before the tow truck arrived, instead it was almost three hours. Three hours of sitting in the cold (we did turn on the heat in my car occasionally, but didn’t want to run it the entire time we were waiting). Three hours of sitting in a position that is not good for my back, neck, and joints. Three hours of my joints stiffening due to the cold and being cramped in the car.

I knew today I would feel rough after all that and expected my CFS/ME and Ehlers Danlos to flare up. As usual, I was correct, but I wish I wasn’t. Those who don’t have chronic illness and chronic pain have no idea how easy it is for normal, annoying life events to set us back for days. I think it is something you have to experience to truly understand.

Isolation and Loss from Chronic Illness

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I’ve been feeling rather sad and isolated the last few days. I think a lot of it comes from the stress of dealing with chronic illness and chronic pain. Anyone who has chronic illness is probably familiar with spoon theory, an illustrative way to describe why you have to choose carefully how to use your energy to do things when you have very limited physical ability.

In other words, sometimes you have to choose whether you would like to go out and socialize for a short period of time, spend that energy getting some much-needed housework done, work on a hobby or personal interest, or even simply take a shower…because you just don’t have the energy and the physical ability to do them all within the same day like a healthy person could.

Most of the time I end up choosing to spend my “energy” and limited abilities to either spend time with my husband, work on my art/writing/blogging, or take care of personal hygiene or light housework. Prioritizing these things leaves no extra energy or time to socialize on a wider scale or do much outside of the house, other than maybe occasionally going out for dinner or doing a little necessary shopping. Even the thought of going to a movie is often too exhausting to contemplate.

All of this makes me sad, especially when I remember how I used to enjoy so many other things I can’t do any longer. I used to love hiking, playing tennis, roller skating, bowling, dancing, working, swimming, being a foster parent, and going out to various activities with people I know or share interests with. I’ve pretty much lost all of that for good. And that is depressing.

SSDI Hearing Update

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Sorry I didn’t update you all yesterday after the hearing, but I was just too exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically after the stress of the day. Overall, I think the hearing went ok. It didn’t start out very well since my husband and I had trouble locating the right building and ended up walking through the thick, slushy snow so far that I had an asthma attack, started crying, and was totally soaked from the knees down by the time we actually found the right building. The roads were bad too from the snowstorm and parking was almost impossible since none of the parking lots had been cleared yet.

Once we got into the building, I had a few minutes to recover from the asthma attack and calm down at least. I also had about 15 minutes to meet with my lawyer before the hearing to go over everything again. During the hearing itself, I was quite nervous. I was doing a lot of rocking back and forth (“stimming” in autistic terms).

I think I only had the nerve to look at the judge two or three times the entire hour I was in there. I mostly stared at the microphone and tried to block out everyone else there while answering questions. That seemed to help my social anxiety. I think I did a decent job answering the judges questions…and she asked a lot. I never lost control of myself, although in my closing remarks I did tear up a bit and got a little emotional talking about how hard it had become for me to keep a job due to my physical and mental disabilities.

Unfortunately, the judge did not tell me her decision yesterday. I will have to wait to receive the official verdict letter. On the positive side, my attorney did say afterwards that he thought it went great and even on the off chance that the judge gave a negative verdict, he thought I had a strong enough case that he would appeal that. I hope it doesn’t come to that though, God only knows how much longer that would make the whole thing drag out…and quite honestly, we need the money as soon as possible, especially since I just got a $1,500 ER bill (our deductible sucks).

Worries about My SSDI Hearing Tomorrow

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Tomorrow morning is my SSDI hearing. I’m super anxious about it. I feel a little nauseated just thinking about it. I’m afraid I’ll do or say the wrong thing. I’m afraid I’ll burst into tears and feel embarrassed. I’m afraid I’ll somehow misrepresent my reality. I’m afraid the judge will say no and ruin my foreseeable future.

I know the judge probably won’t even give a straight “yes” or “no” answer tomorrow, but that makes it even worse because then I have to wait who-knows-how-long in suspense and worry. I hope I’ll feel better when it is over, but knowing me, I’ll probably spend the next few months picking apart the experience and everything I think I did wrong until I get an answer.