Up and So Far Down

The past two weeks have been a trying time for me.  I went to a new psychiatrist and started a new medicine.  It worked well and I had a follow-up appointment two week’s later.  Since all was good with my mood (but still having some OCD and anxiety) we decided to not increase medication dosage and “wait and see” for two more weeks.

I was in much better spirits, actually enjoying myself, not feeling as angry and not lashing out as easily.  My motivation was coming back and I wanted to focus on eating healthier, exercising more, adding in meditation, and doing a really good housecleaning.

Although my exercise was only about 20 minutes a day, that (with the repetitive motions of cleaning), irritated my cervical spine issues.  That’s putting it nicely – the cleaning and exercising caused significant pain.  I had to sleep with a travel pillow.  By Friday, my back was in such bad shape that I could hardly move.  To say it put me in an awful mood, again, is putting it nicely.  I have been severely depressed since the pain began.  Will I be able to function normally post-surgery?  Dusting the house exacerbates my issues, I recall from an earlier cleaning attempt.  Taking a scenic walk in our area caused my upper back to be in such severe pain, I had to take my muscle relaxers along with the icing and heating.

This weekend I have been in bad spirits.  I feel like I’m back in that place I was prior to seeing the psychiatrist.  I just want to be in bed.  I feel anti-social, unhappy, in pain, exhausted, easily irritated and overly anxious.

Will I survive a summer vacation to Colorado?  Roger is way too excited to cancel it.  Am I putting off surgery too long?  Will I be able to handle Roger’s birthday party post-surgery? Will I gain another 30 pounds being unable to do simple tasks around the house?  I keep going on and on and getting lost in my own thoughts.  I am hoping typing this out will get these thoughts “out there” and I will stop perseverating.

Is 6:30 too early for bed?!

 

The Mind

Despite my sleep deprivation, we had a fabulous Sunday at Fort Worth Zoo.  The weather was perfect and the animals were mainly awake and visible.  The last time we went to this zoo, Roger was three years old and not at all interested in the animals.  His autism made him only interested in fans, the train, and other inanimate objects.  This time he had more interest in the animals but really was interested in the dates on plaques.  His brain must be filled with pages of dates.  According to him, he takes pictures in his mind that he pulls up when he talks about specific people in history.  He will be looking at a book and if he needs to put it down to go to a class or therapy, he says he has to first take pictures with his mind.  It is so interesting to hear him vocalize how his mind works.

Yesterday and today were days to get back into the regular routine of school and work.  I am adjusting better to life in my upstairs office, although I still have hiccups that require almost daily calls with IT.  I am still trying to figure out the balance of housework, Roger’s therapies/classes, trying to exercise, and my job.  I have decided to let some things I wanted to be weekly to go on a bi-weekly schedule.  I think that may help out my stress level.  I have also asked Rob to take over Roger’s after school schedule every other Wednesday so I can deep clean the kitchen and bathroom.  It may not be exciting to you, but it’s been plaguing my mind.

I wish my mind was filled with pictures that I pull up, rather than lists of scheduled activities!

Neurosurgeon

First off, let me say that I have been dealing with this back pain for over a decade.  I was working in NYC when I started treatment on my back.  I have been in and out of physical therapy, had a few epidurals, and many x-rays and MRIs over the years.  The pain in my back specifically and has been pretty constant since 2014 and my limited range of motion since 2007.

Since being in TX, I was referred to one orthopedic doctor who said I had three options:  1. Physical Therapy 2. Epidurals 3.  Surgery.  He said it was up to me.  I went the PT route and never returned to him, since he offered no advice.  Then, I went to a different orthopedic surgeon who set me up with a pain doctor for epidurals, since PT was not helpful.  Last year this orthopedic surgeon said I needed ACDF surgery.  I was hesitant because he suggested the same to a friend who was told her disc issues were very minor by another doctor.  So, I met with a different neurosurgeon at the time that recommended traction over surgery, since, at the time, my arm and hand pain were the biggest issues.  Also, my PCP at that time suggested I get an EMG to see if my arm pain stemmed elsewhere before committing to ACDF surgery.  That is when it was discovered that I had severe compression of my ulnar nerve at my elbow.  I had ulnar nerve transposition surgery last August and “forgot” about my back.

Currently, the past couple of months, arm pain has returned, along with the ever-present neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain and mid-back pain (all due to my C5-C7 discs).  I went back to the surgeon who performed my arm surgery.  She said that what I described was most likely due to the my neck issues.  I went back to the pain doctor, set up two epidurals and a referral to a neurosurgeon who she highly recommended and was conservative in his approach.

The new neurosurgeon was very straight forward.  He said, at this point, physical therapy or epidurals will not help.  They may help some of the symptoms but will not make the underlying issue better.  He tested my reflexes and did some sort of flicker test on my fingers. My middle finger on my left hand twitched.  He said this was definitely indicated that surgery is necessary. He recommends ACDF surgery on 2 levels (as the orthopedic doctor suggested).  He said the level above is having some slippage but, since he is conservative, would not work on that level unless the new x-rays he ordered show more slippage from the x-rays of 2015.  He said surgery was not urgent but needed to be done.  Our perception (my husband and I) thought that meant that we would discuss in a year, maybe five.  Thankfully my husband asked for a specific time frame.  The neurosurgeon said 2-3 weeks.  Um, we would define that as an “urgent” time frame.  He retorted that in the medical field “urgent” meant surgery needed to be done within a 48 hour time frame.

I have a follow-up appointment in two weeks where the new x-rays will be discussed, as well as the plan for surgery.  I did tell him I could not have surgery so quickly.  I have a colonoscopy in May and we have been planning  a very nice summer vacation for the end of June.  I will be in a neck brace for 3 months post-surgery. I cannot drive in a neck brace and we are driving to Denver.  He did not like me waiting so long — but I’ve been waiting for a year with all the last minute attempts at another round of physical therapy, epidurals, and ulnar nerve transposition surgery.  He said to avoid anything jarring: running, jarring exercises, riding a horse, being on a boat, and not to fall when on the mountains!

I guess I need to get back in touch with HR tomorrow and find out what short-term disability I can get since I had surgery not so long ago…What a fun Wednesday!

Tuesday, Tuesday

Well, today started out very stressful.  I had a half dozen phone calls with my boss prior to 9:30 am.  I was in a constant stream of work until noon.  I got up at 10 to the hour each hour when my Fitbit told me I took zero of my 250 steps each hour.  After my lunch break, things settled down to a more manageable pace until the end of the work day.  Today, Rob picked Roger up from camp and I got to take a long, extremely hot shower.  I love showers that my skin is pink/red for a good 20 minutes afterwards.

Today we met a reading comprehension tutor at the Lewisville Library.  It is hard to discuss the needs of tutoring when your son is at grade level.  However, as many kids in his class started the year at lower levels than him, they have progressed to his level 6 months later.  Roger is still at the same level he started the school year at.  He is a great reader but I think his downfall may not be comprehension but attention.  His long-term sub thinks it is lack of interest v. comprehension.  How can you teach a kid to be interested, pay attention and focus on books that have zero interest to him?  The only books he is interested in are biographies.

Of course, he aced the tutoring session and she said she would reach out to interventionists in elementary school for suggestions.  She is a dyslexic interventionist in middle school.  She gave me pointers but I told her that he will do these things for me.  He is a people-pleaser for everyone except me and my husband.  At home he fights about doing any homework.  I could never homeschool.  This child would be determined not to learn anything from me.

After his session, we went to the biography section of the children’s library and Roger chose books on Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, Prince, Louis Armstrong, John Cena, The Rock, and Chuck Close.  The Chuck Close book was one I showed him — truly an amazing artist and a fantastic children’s book.   We also got Roger his own library card and he checked out his own books.  He was thrilled.

Afterwards we had a nice dinner at Red Robin.  That restaurant is never my choice but I know Roger really loves it and he’s been such an awesome boy lately.  I had a nice libation there and two godiva chocolates at home.  That made my mood better.  However, I do not want alcohol or food to be my stress reliever…Although relaxed, I decided to jump on the stationary bike and blog while riding.  Not as yummy, but enjoyable too!

Big Ball of Stress

Achieving balance is what most people are striving for  – or at least I am.  However, at this time in my life, I view everything as stressful.  Work is stressful, cleaning is stressful, trying to find time to exercise is stressful, eating healthy is stressful, getting Roger ready for school/camp/bed/classes/therapy is stressful, playing with Roger is stressful, trying to fall asleep at night is stressful.  BUT doing nothing is the most stressful of all for I think of everything I should be doing.

I think I have forgotten how to relax.  What is the first step?  How do you train yourself to relax?  It really pisses me off when I see others relaxing while I am stressing out.

I also think I have forgotten how to have fun.  It takes a lot to make me smile or genuinely enjoy myself.  It wasn’t until The Dead Milkmen were actually onstage playing that I enjoyed that night.

I genuinely feel bad for my son and my husband.  I want to have fun.  I want to let go.  Will a brain swap work?

Any tips or advice appreciated (just comment).

Last week and new beginnings this week

Last week was a really tough week.  My mood was incredibly low, as was my patience.  There were many stressors in regards to deliveries, appointments, and feedback (or lack thereof) in regards to Roger’s academic progress.  My week was filled with many thoughts all over the place and total lack of focus.

Today I have decided to try and get back into the swing of things.  This is a theme of my life:  out-of-whack week followed by an in-focus week (or attempt to that).  So, today I have focused on work, exercise, my weekly schedule (and Roger’s), and some laundry and garbage chores.

Today, I had a podiatrist appointment (I need orthotics due to some feet issues).  He politely stressed that I need to be healthier.  I couldn’t agree more.  I am hoping my motivation can remain.  It comes and goes so quickly!

I have a new therapist appointment on Friday of this week.  She is a “psychotherapist”.  I am not sure how different that is from the counseling I have received in the past.  I hope this time I “click” with the therapist.  I always do some on-line research when I make appointments.  On FB, I saw that she “liked” the God Delusion, so that is a positive to me!

What a pain in the back!

This morning I had scheduled Yin and Sit Yoga and Meditation, some “me” time.

After waking up to Roger on the iPad continuously this morning, I decided to finish my weekend work while riding the stationary bike.  I was done by 9.  I then did homework with Roger and followed it with some fun karaoke.  Then the time arrived:  time for me, time for yoga.

I was in tears from the beginning movements to the final savasana.  I was in total pain from my neck to my tailbone to my right leg.  This is where Roger, my son with autism, rammed his head into my spine after not getting his way.  This was on January 2nd and I don’t even remember what it was regarding.  All I remember was it was post-massage as I plopped onto the bed on my belly and was peacefully lying there.  I let out the loudest cry.  It immediately hurt so terribly.  I don’t think I ever produced a scream like that even when I broke my knee or ankle.

It has been three weeks and the pain has not gotten better.  I have tried Tylenol and anti-inflammatories while using the heating pad but this has not helped in the least bit.  I kept wondering where all my depression and lack of motivation came from at the beginning of this year.  Today was my reminder.  I am so glad that the majority of the class is done with your eyes closed, so others did not see the tears stream down my face.

When class was over, and that could not come quickly enough — that damn 75 minutes, I rushed to my car for a proper cry.  Then the thoughts raced:  have to make an appointment this week.  With who?  My primary doctor?  My back doctor who I am not really fond of — seems too surgery happy?  My pain doctor?  Next thoughts:  I really am going to have to cancel being teacher’s helper this week, my back cannot handle the copier.  Followed by thoughts of that yoga retreat that accepted me on “scholarship” but is less than 2 weeks away.  How can I possibly do a yoga retreat right now?  I do not foresee my pain level being that lessened in that short period of a time – especially since specialized doctors usually do not have readily available appointments.

I told Rob to occupy Roger for a bit.  I am in such a terrible mood right now.  I have 2 loads of laundry and cannot even muster the strength to empty the dryer to put the other load in.  And the state of the house is in total disarray due to Roger’s “box fort” building.  I may hide myself away in the bedroom for the time being until I can cope better with it all.