Bronchitis Update

I wanted to give a quick update on my health situation since so many of you commented on yesterday’s post about coughing up blood. Thank you to all of you who sent your thoughts and prayers. I did end up going to Urgent Care, where they did a chest x-ray and came to the conclusion it was bronchitis. So I’m on antibiotics yet again (the third time in the last few months).

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Coughing Up Blood

I’m a little freaked out today. I’ve had a chronic cough for years, which we have always contributed to sinusitis and my chronic sinus infections. But today for the first time, I actually coughed up blood. I’m not sure if I should go to Urgent Care or if it is really that big of a deal. I may have to contact my doctor to see what she thinks. My chest hurts too, which concerns me even a little bit more. So needless to say, I’m not up for writing a long post today.

The Spice Girls of Depression

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Last night my back pain got so bad that I may have accidentally overdosed on muscle relaxers. I was thinking my prescription allowed me to take up to 3 muscle relaxers at a time, but I was wrong, apparently it was only 2 at a time…and I took 4. I’m not sure if there is actually much danger in that, but I probably should be more careful.

Yesterday was also a horrible depression day for me. I think the combination of physical pain and the despair I feel sometimes about the seeming meaninglessness of life makes for a perfect storm. It probably didn’t help that I attended a group early in the day that talked about the sometimes apparent pointlessness of life when you are agnostic or atheist.

So, last night I was watching YouTube videos (trying to distract myself from the depression) when I watched a video about the 20th anniversary of the Spice Girls. While I was watching it, I started thinking that my depression is kind of like the extremely popular but somewhat annoying 90’s girl group. Instead of Sporty, Posh, Baby, Scary, and Ginger Spice, I have Paranoid Spice, Anxious Spice, Angry Spice, Sad Spice, and Hopeless Spice living in my head. Thinking about all these emotions personified in ridiculously dressed, cheesy girl group images did make me chuckle a bit. Imagine those dance routines!

Psychiatrist Visit Update

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First off, I want to thank all of you for your comments on yesterday’s post! I really appreciate all the support from you guys! It definitely makes me feel less alone and even a little bit loved! It can be easy to feel all alone going through all this mental health stuff, and although I do have some support in real life, knowing other people care about what happens to me matters a lot.

So the visit went ok yesterday. I was kind of anxious about it because I was worried the doctor would be upset I quit taking the Abilify because of the side effects, but he didn’t seem to be upset. Surprised maybe, but not upset. He didn’t make any huge changes to my medication regimen, but did prescribe me a daily anxiety med (Buspirone) and upped my antidepressant (Prozac) a little bit. He kept the Seroquel the same for now. I must admit I was hoping for more sweeping changes than that, but maybe it is a good thing that not everything change at once. The Seroquel does help me sleep and although I fear becoming dependent on it, being able to sleep regularly has made a huge difference.

One thing that bugs me though is that this psychiatrist says some of the exact same things the two psychologists I have seen have had to say, things I’m not sure I agree with. Every mental health professional I talk to talks about what a “survivor” I am and how they have no real fear I would ever be a danger to myself, even if my husband did die and I was left all alone. They always talk about how intelligent and strong I am, but I don’t feel that about myself. I feel like a big wimp most of the time and scared of my own shadow. How the heck are they seeing this kick-ass survivor when they look at me, when all I see is a scared little girl? The psychiatrist yesterday went so far to say if they dropped me off alone in the middle of a frozen tundra, I would find a way to survive. A huge exaggeration obviously, and so opposite my own opinion. In that case, I think I would just lay down and give up. And if my husband died, I DO think I would pose a serious threat to my own well-being, but why do they find that so hard to believe?

*Art by Maranda Russell

Seroquel Zombie?

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So today I’ve mostly spent my time watching YouTube videos about Seroquel, especially videos about the side effects of taking it and the experiences of people who decided to get off of it. I’m not making any rash decisions about the medicine myself (which I do currently take). The medicine is a wonder drug when it comes to helping me get to sleep, which is the main reason why I am taking 50mg of it a day (which isn’t even a high dosage). I do like the warm, fuzzy feeling I get after taking the meds and the way it knocks me out within an hour of taking it. I’ve tried other sleeping pills and none of them worked nearly that well or dependably.

However, I am having some side effects that I assume may be from the Seroquel. I am sleeping at least 11 or 12 hours a night and still waking up groggy and just wanting to sleep all day. I normally get up, have breakfast, then lay back down on the couch and try not to fall back to sleep. I am exhausted constantly (even more so than just from my normal CFS symptoms). I am starting to feel a bit “zombiefied” as well. As I’m typing, I kind of feel disconnected from my fingers and feel like they are somewhat trying to do their own thing rather than what I want them to do. I wake up each day with a hangover feeling and often with a nasty headache that sometimes lasts all day. I am also HUNGRY all the time it seems, especially for sweets. I really fear gaining weight. I’ve been on the med about 3 months now and have gained a few pounds, but I fear I would gain much more if I lost my self control and ate as much as I wanted.

I guess the reason I am sharing all this is just to see if others who have taken it have experienced similar things? If so, did you keep taking it? I really debate whether sleeping regularly is worth all the side effects or not.

*Art by Maranda Russell

Bulging Discs, Traction, and Pain Management

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Well, I found out yesterday that as well as having degenerative disc disease throughout my cervical and thoracic spine, I also have a bulging disc that is pressing on the nerves surrounding it and likely causing most of the excruciating upper back pain I have been experiencing for several years now. The doctor wants me to do traction therapy and then see pain management for injections and other pain modalities that might help. I’m pretty bummed about it.

On one hand, I am thankful they aren’t pushing for surgery yet, but on the other hand I know the doctor isn’t ruling it out and that kind of scares me. I know for some people traction works wonders, but for others it doesn’t. I hope it helps me. Anything that keeps me from having to be eventually sliced open is a good thing in my opinion. I figured I would share this information with an old drawing I did years ago entitled “Crick in the Neck” (pictured above). I figured it fit the subject matter well, and it was always one of my favorite drawings I’ve done. If the treatments do help the pain, it would be really good for my art and my writing, as both are hard to do when my back is acting up (since the pain shoots down into my arms as well).

Bad Depression

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I’ve been really struggling with depression lately. And I mean really struggling. Like, can’t get out of bed struggling. Like sleeping more than half the day struggling. Even when I do finally get out of bed, I often find myself back in bed soon after, lying there staring at the wall and the ceiling for unlimited amounts of time. I do still have an appetite at least, but I think a lot of that is the meds, which make me hungry almost all the time. Of course, sometimes with depression I do tend to comfort eat as well. So along with the desire to do absolutely nothing, I am also plagued with anxiety about gaining weight from being hungry all the time. I don’t see the doctor again until the day after Christmas, so I am just having to muddle through the best I can, but it is really hard. I feel like I am constantly fighting just to function at all. Even washing my hair or brushing my teeth seems too much for me most of the time and I have to force myself to do it. This level of lethargy is ridiculous, and sometimes I wonder how I’m alive at all.