Thursday, December 15, 2011

OK, I Can Do This...

Since the time I blogged last a lot has changed.  (Yes, I neglect my blog.  No, you can't judge me for it because I genuinely do have better things to do.)
#1 - I got a part-time (20 hour per week) job in my library's Reference & Information desk, which is all of 45 feet from where I used to work but the tasks are quite different and I don't have to lift books for 2 hours at a time and then sit at a computer for another 4-6 hours, so that's a big help.  I'm also working with reference librarians a lot and they are helping give me tips that will further my education, which is rad.  And, best of all, I work at the Reference Desk 10 hours a week which means I can usually work on homework (or an odd blog) while I'm here.  Score!
#2 - I finally got myself a massage for my birthday.  And the masseuse, who was quite intuitive, figured out that my right arm was actually being plagued by severe tendinitis.  *Cue heavenly music*  My physical therapist said he thought my arm pain could definitely be related to that, and my Orthopedic Doc said, "Oh yeah, that's tennis elbow.  Lemme shoot you up with steroids real quick here..."
While I hate that something as stupid-sounding as tennis elbow could have been a major factor in my arm pain for a long time, I am incredibly glad that someone finally figured it out because the treatment for tendinitis is actually helping.  Not curing me yet, but definitely helping.      
#3 - I finally started putting my old treadmill to use with the Couch to 5k program I've heard about a lot recently.  I've only done a couple of days so far, but I will say that my overall stressed-out feelings are lessening and my body feels better overall when I make sure to get it moving like that.  This is kind of a crucial thing for me, because I think before now I was so depressed about the injury that I subconsciously wanted to punish my body for being such a jerk.  I hadn't been eating very well, I did basically no exercise besides the ones for my physio, but no more.  I am finally getting back to running. Which makes me very happy.

I'm making a lot of these changes while I'm in what is probably the biggest crunch of schoolwork I've had so far in my graduate program.  I have one professor whose organizational skills are just horrid and she managed to schedule three giant assignments to be due within 3 weeks of each other (two of which are group projects with two different groups of 5 people each, so I've had to coordinate my schedule with 8 other individuals for meetings each week, which is really, really not easy) and, of course, my class with the very organized, clear professor also has a giant project due during the same time as well.   So I've figured, OK, let's just buckle down and finally make some of the big changes to my life that I've needed to make while I'm being all disciplined.

WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!  Look at me go being all disciplined!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now someone please come and clean up my house, will you, because being disciplined everywhere else in my life means I have no time for banal housework.  

PS: I actually typed most of this in November, but forgot to publish it.  Oh well, you can deal with that, right?  :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Excuse Me While I Mope a While...

As always, for your listening pleasure, a theme song for my blog: 

"Time is never time at all
You can never ever leave without leaving a piece of youth
And our lives are forever changed
We will never be the same
The more you change the less you feel
Believe, believe in me, believe
That life can change, that you're not stuck in vain
We're not the same, we're different tonight

Lately I've been struggling with a feeling that I've completely lost myself.  
I've lost myself in this haze of injury fallout and I don't know how to find myself in it again.  I find myself dwelling on the things I cannot do, rather than the things I can... after being in pain like this for more than a year the voice that complains about it all is finally growing louder than the other logical, sane voices that try to keep the misery in check.

Things I used to be able to do that I can no longer do due to my gimpy neck:

Rock climb
Carry the kiddo around like it ain't no thang
Actually consider taking long car rides by myself
Work out like a regular person (ie: not worry that sit-ups might strain my neck or bicep curls might yank on my arm too much)
Work full time
Lift the books/computers that I'm supposed to in my job (and now have to regularly ask others to do for me, which is awkward and embarrassing.)
Go dancing (Ok, well, I could technically do this still, but I look stupid when I dance without using my arms.  Picture an ostrich in a neck-brace trying to dance.  Yeah.  That's me.)
Go bowling
Do stuff around the house like fixing fences, weed whacking, assembling furniture, etc.
Give the kiddo a bath without silently crying from the pain all the leaning and reaching causes me.

 The list in my mind goes on and on.  And it makes me feel like a ghost of my prior self.  

At work I am constantly reminded of how bad a job I'm really doing.  I'm the second-most experienced supervisor in my department, yet I find myself constantly needing to say "I can't do this.  Can you do it for me?"  This happens when a patron wants me to check them out a laptop (which is like 12 times a day), when they want me to get them a book over 5 pounds, when I'm slammed with work with strict deadlines... plus the nerve blockers I'm on make my memory turn to crap, so I frequently forget to do tasks that I told someone I would do not 20 minutes prior. Every week I have at least one doctor or physical therapy appointment to go to so I have to ask my boss to modify my schedule and even though she is always very accommodating for me, I know that I will not be able to come back to work full time anywhere in the near future and it makes me feel guilty as all hell.  I used to feel like I was serving a purpose there and was helping my department, but now I just feel like I'm dragging the whole place down. 

The same goes for my life at home.  Poor Andrew is constantly summoned to rooms to pick things up for me, to deal with Sadie if she's flipping out and thrashing around, to take out the trash, bring in the groceries... really anything that involves lifting at this point.  Since he's the only one who can do most of the yard work outside he alone is responsible for our house making fire clearance this year.  

I'm basically this big ball of NEED at this point and I HATE IT.  I used to be the person who would take responsibility at work, would take action when the yard was a mess (at 8 months pregnant I tore up most of the dirt in our front yard with one of those twisty-soil-breaker things and planted grass, for god's sake!), who would jump at the chance to go someplace with roller coasters or go kayaking out in the Channel Islands, who might actually try to look nice instead of constantly sporting a frizzy ponytail and baggy clothes.  And now I'm someone who watches bad TV dramas on Netflix while I ice my neck and watches bad comedies while I do my home physical therapy and who basically orders my boyfriend around at home.  It's really no wonder he hasn't proposed yet.  I wouldn't want to marry this version of me either. 

I suppose this gimpiness is not completely without precedent in my life... after all, I was nicknamed Scabby Abby in grade school since I had a tendency to skin my knees all the time. Before the age of 14 I had broken 8 different bones in my body in various stupid ways - rollerblading, jumping my bike off skateboard ramps, falling out of trees, skateboarding, and I even broke my collarbone in 1st grade just by sitting in the wrong place while two boys roughhoused and one shoved the other on top of me.  Plus, since I graduated college in 2006 I have had surgery to remove a cyst from my sinuses, to fix the knee that got messed up in a bike accident, and to take a baby out of my belly after 41 hours of labor.  So I guess I've always been a train-wreck, but knowing that doesn't really help.  I had some really good, injury-free years between high school and my college graduation and I had really hoped that those years would become my new "norm." I need to find a way to get back there!

I am a firm believer in everyone's power to change their own lives.  We own our own realities and we alone have both the power and responsibility to make ourselves happy.  And, as Billy Corgan so poignantly wrote, I believe in the resolute urgency of now - that you must change your life NOW if you want to truly live the life you intend to.
So how the hell do I do that now?  Do I find a bunch of other non-physical, non-computer-based things to occupy my time?  Do I continue trying to convince myself that things will improve?  Or do I give in and medicate myself into feeling happier? 

I have no answers here, clearly.  Just an overwhelming melancholy.  

Hopefully it won't turn into an infinite sadness. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I'm Not Dead!!

Good Lord. It's been ages since I blogged anything. And I somehow managed to leave a giant gap like this when my last blog was about OxyContin.

That doesn't look good.

To anyone out there who worries that I may have fallen off the deep end and might possibly be curled in a ditch somewhere, twitching and scratching holes in my skin, I promise I'm fine! I wasn't too high to write a blog entry! I was just trying too hard to avoid unneeded computer usage while I was doing my first semester of my graduate degree and returning to work finally. In fact, I am avoiding nonmandatory keyboard usage so much that I am writing this with a robot.

 Well, almost a robot. More like my computer being my slave, but not a very good one. I am attempting to write this entire blog entry using a spiffy program called Dragon NaturallySpeaking.  It's kind of slow going... and, I must say, it's really weird to speak things first instead of just typing them. Normally writing is very silent activity for me and hearing myself say the words instead of simply move them from my mind to the computer  screen through my hands is way weirder than I thought it would be. For one, I have to have the room entirely silent so that my microphone can pick up what I'm saying, means I can't do what I usually do which is write while listening to music. I hope my creativity isn't found to lack as a result... but no matter what, this program is a million times better than the one that came with my Microsoft system, even though it lacks the punctuation finesse that my actual typing would have, so I've still had to type some to add it in. Also, I suck at enunciating. But my arm is sitting in my lap not yelling at me for typing, which has to be a good thing. The more I "write" with this program the better it will get at understanding what I'm saying so prepare yourself for several long-winded blog entry as I practice using this technology that may very well save my MLIS it degree

But before I start on the other stuff I want to say, a quick update: I switched neurologists and my new doctor actually seems to care about getting the better as opposed to my last one who basically wanted to drug me up and ignore me. Thanks to her, I've been off the heavy pain killers for over two months now (Huzzah!!) and have finally discovered that it was, in fact, the ibuprofen that was making me puke so often. Go figure.  Oh well, at least I dropped 25 pounds from the constant nausea!  (That's looking on the bright side, right?  I mean, I needed to lose 40 pounds anyway...)  Now, instead of sporting dilated pupils I'm now rocking an awesome looking pain patch which, when I'm properly clothed, usually shows just above my shirt collar line. 
Sometimes I wonder if people assume I'm the world's heaviest smoker attempting to quit...

Hey, I'll take this lameness over permanently scarring my liver any day!  

I'm back to work, but not quite full-time yet. I've hit a wall at the 30 hour per week mark and now my arm pain is getting worse instead of better, which I think is from the increased computer usage and book lifting thing that I have to do at my job. So I am trying to find a part-time job instead of the full-time one in order to make my work life less stressful and time-consuming so that I can prioritize my library science degree. I did pretty well in my first semester (if I do say so myself), especially considering that my professor's wife died three weeks before the end of the semester and I got struck down with plague the week when all my final exams were due. An A and A- doesn't seem too shabby after all that. :) 
So in general things are getting better, but not nearly as fast as I want them to.

(Then again, that's the story of everybody's life, I suppose...)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mommy's Little Helper

 This is a blog entry about drugs.
On my often-mommy-themed blog, no less.

Shut up.
I am a master of being appropriate.

(Nevertheless, here are some tunes that will make you wonder how much of this applies to me.)

As I've previously complained, I have neck issues - specifically, bulging discs and increasing nerve damage in my right arm that is related in some mysterious and undiagnosable way.  (This is what happens when you try to toss your baby around after fatiguing your back muscles with determined-to-lose-the-baby-fat pulls on the rowing machine, by the way.  Future mothers: take it easy when you go back to working out!)  I was losing the ability to use my right hand when I went on disability and even today if I use the computer for more than 10 minutes at a time my arm gets shooting pains up and down it through the shoulder, elbow, and hand.  Lifting things is completely verboten, but it proves an impossible thing to avoid while having a toddler who likes to climb things.

The day I went in to see my doctor and burst into tears the minute he asked why I was there he put me on Oxycontin.  I have been at what is either a "very high" or "rather low" dose, depending on whether you're talking to my pharmacist or my neurologist, for two months.  Was I happy to be on this drug initially?  Yes and No.

Sure, the biggest part of me wanted relief from pain and would try anything, but the second-biggest part of me  just kept thinking, Whoa, that's crazy stuff.  Wasn't Rush Limbaugh hooked on that stuff?  Ugh.  Rush Limbaugh.  I hate that guy.  With his five angry chins always flapping around... I'll admit, there was a tiny fraction of my being that was also a little excited to be able to try this famed drug, but it feels like the ghost of my teenage self getting excited instead of my current "mom" me. 

The first thing everyone says to me when I admit what I'm on is, "Wow, be careful with that stuff!"  I have no idea what they mean when they say this.  I guess their minds also go to Rush Limbaugh and they get understandable concerned.  Could this drug turn me, Abby, mother of one, lover of children's books and fuzzy pillows, into a ranting, right-wing lunatic too?!?  Could I become the next Sarah Palin, exploiting the fruits of my loins for votes and, after losing those, for ratings?

Oh come on.  Be serious.

They're probably more worried that I'm going to pop a bunch all at once just to see if it's fun.  Which is not something I'm interested in and I would hope they would know that... but I guess it's not something that's implied in my everyday life as a mom for some reason.

They probably had a better idea what Oxycontin does to you than I did, though.  All I really knew is that the doctor said it would give me pain relief all day.

Since being on the drug I can say that my arm does feel a whole lot better.  My neck too!  I can move better, I can walk more before the arm becomes angry dead weight pulling on my neck, I can sleep through the night, and, most importantly, I'm not snapping at Sadie when she accidentally hits my arm with one of her toys or jumps on it while I'm laying on the floor on my ice pack.

The drawbacks are the memory lapses, my lack of attention span, the nausea and, of course, the come-down.
During the Thanksgiving break I ran out of medication (having not had the foresight to count my pills for a 5-day weekend) and shrugged it off.  No big deal, I can handle the pain again for a day or two I thought.  But it wasn't the pain that scared me, it was the crazy vertigo attacks I had 15 hours after going off the meds.  I was sitting in a restaurant with Sadie when I was very suddenly overcome with the intense sensation that I was going to pass out.  I had visions of myself hitting the floor and the people at Rudy's having the call the ambulance and take care of Sadie, who would probably freak out... so I did the most logical thing I could think of: I sent my friend Katie a text message about it.  Like it wasn't too big a deal, she could read it whenever...

Add loss of good judgment to this list of withdrawal side-effects.

When I talked to the pharmacist about this incident she said a few helpful things like, "Whoa, are they doing surgery soon?" and "You have to come off this slowly - it's not the mental withdrawals that you have to worry about, it's the physical ones" and, of course, the now trite "Be careful with this stuff."

Another negative to this drug is that I now have friends/acquaintances coming out of the woodwork who are suddenly very concerned about how much pain I'm in and what I'm going to do with the left-over pills if I do go on a lower dose.  Who knew I had so many pill-popping people in my life?  

So now, here I am, on a drug that I can't just come off of whenever I want to because I have to be stepped down gradually to avoid further withdrawal shenanigans (and no, you can't cut the pills in half - they're time-released so if you cut them up you get the whole dose all at once).  My doctor told me yesterday that he doesn't want to start the weaning process until he's confident that I won't end up back in his office crying again if we lower the dosage.  So I'm stuck here.  And, to top it all off, my new health insurance just increased my co-payments for the stuff too, so my tiny disability checks will now be $35 less-effective in warding off my debtors. 

In hindsight, would I have taken this stuff if I'd known where it was leading?  Maybe.  I'm more human and less of a Grump-o-potomus now that I'm in less pain, so that is a great benefit, but honestly, it's terrifying to be on something that you can't just stop taking if you want to.  Especially when everyone keeps telling me to "Be careful!"  Let me assure you all now: I am being as careful as the doctor will allow me to be.  (And no, I will not give you any of these things even if I have "leftovers.")