I'm realizing that it has been almost a year since I've written anything in this space. That's a good thing. I have come to realize that I use this space when things spiral beyond my control and I need to have some type of outlet for the feelings, frustration, anger, and fear that I can't/don't share with others. I don't share those feelings for fear of scaring people away from K. But there have been minimal reason to feel that way.
We walked down to Starbucks this afternoon and sat outside drinking our mocha and gingerbread lattes laced with an extra shot of caffeine. As we sat there, our conversation turned towards a discussion of the year 2007. We both agreed that it has been a good year. Professionally, both of us have made strides in our fields. Personally, we've continued to be very happy together, disgustingly happy. We spent a lot of time traveling this summer, too much time. By mid-October, we were both ready to stay home and not move off the home front for months, which is what we did until Christmas. Well, I had a couple of work trips, but nothing too stressful.
There were no nasty surprises on the health front, well there was one. K continued to improve. This past spring, the psychiatrist moved her off the Paxil and on to Zoloft to help her facilitate weight loss. She took the move very well with only one or two bad days. Only problem with the Zoloft is the accompanying nausea that she has every time she takes her dose. As for the weight loss, K finally became serious about doing something about two months ago and went to see a nutritionist. Since then she's lost about ten pounds and intends on losing much more. After talking to the nutritionist, K began to increase her level of physical activity and walk much more. I've always been a big walker and enjoy it, but K never would go with me. She always complained about pain in her feet. Well, we went to get her fitted for new athletic shoes and discovered that she had been wearing shoes 1.5 sizes too small. She had always purchased a size 7.5, so she never thought that her foot size might have changed. She's now wearing a 9 and not complaining about foot pain. K's interest in increasing physical activity came from a bit of a shock that she is pre-diabetic or diabetic. The doctors haven't fully decided. At this point, they have agreed to back off on medication and give K an opportunity to control it through weight loss and exercise. Her blood sugar will be checked again in two months to see if she's made the necessary changes.
My health has been mostly good, except for the flaring GI problems. They have been ongoing for me over the past few years and surfaced again. I have a great doctor, but unfortunately, she doesn't take insurance. A 30 minute visit runs $250, which my insurance covers about half. Good part is that she is always accessible and willing to work quickly to solve my problems. The main problem seems to be a combination of acid reflux and gastric paresis. Gastric paresis means that my stomach doesn't process food. So I'm on a medication that activities my stomach muscles to send food to the intestines. The one that I can tolerate isn't sold in the US, so I have to have the prescription faxed to a Canadian pharmacy and then shipped to me. But my stomach pain is completely gone using that medication.
The biggest surprise about K's illness is that it never entirely recedes to the back of our consciousness. She is always vigilant to ensure that she doesn't get overtired or overstimulated. Schedule is paramount. Whenever we travel, she needs a minimum of one day to recover from even the shortest trip. While she's doing great, it's never not there. Our families don't understand or realize this vigilance. They are surprised when she's unable to do something because of the illness or she's unwilling to push her limits. We don't talk to them about the day-to-day management, and they don't realize the far reaching impact of the bipolar.
Tonight we are off to celebrate the incoming New Year. We're heading to a friend's party and then moving on to a Chuck Brown show. We're the guests of our councilman. It should be an experience. I haven't decided what one wears to a go go show. I guess I'll be plundering the closet for the right outfit in a couple of hours.
Happy New Year to everyone, if everyone hasn't given up on me. Here's to a wonderful 2008!
I haven't been posting much over the past few months. Much of that has to do that K is much better and there remains little to write about on that front. The question then becomes, what do I do with this space? It appears that its original purpose as an outlet for me to deal with caretaking duties has been fulfilled. However, I find myself still clinging to the idea of the blog, despite my apparent disinterest in actually writing anything.
As stated, K continues to do very well. She's been taking Provigil (www.provigil.com) with great results. (I'm using Safari and can't add hyperlinks in it.) It is a temporary measure, but we're hoping that it will be enough to get her through the winter without missing work. Though, she did get a bit off schedule during our trip at Christmas and missed a day of work upon return, as she was unable to get up.
We have a pyschiatrist appointment on Friday. It will be the first time that he's seen her, since prescribing the Provigil, which he actually did over the phone. I think that he's going to be very pleased.
K's also upped her visits to the personal trainer to twice a week. Don't even ask what that is doing to our bank account. But the benefits should be tangible. Meanwhile, I'm continuing to work on getting my tail to the gym and exercising it. I took a few weeks off over the holidays. I didn't gain weight, but I certainly lost some toning. I have been SORE after that past two visits to the trainer.
I'm happy. After looking a retrospective of 2006, I only hope that 2007 is as good. Things came together really nicely last year. Not that everything was perfect, but it was good. I start a new job tomorrow. Same organization, but different boss and different work. And there is still a strong possibility that I will completely leave my organization. I'm waiting for some budget issues to be resolved. But the job I begin tomorrow is located at the same facility where I have worked the past seven months, which means public transportation. I love being able to leave the car sitting at home for the week.
That's the quick update. Nothing earth shattering. I now need to spend some time figuring out exactly what this blog means and if I should shut it down or morph it into some other type of outlet.
I had no idea that it had been two months since my last post. Doesn't seem as if so much time has past. And lots has happened. This has to be a short post, because I need to get ready for work in 15 minutes. I am meeting my boss downtown, so I get to leave almost two hours later than normal. Very exciting.
The K update. She's doing great. She missed her first day in six weeks yesterday due to a bad cold. This was the longest stretch that she has gone to work, since prior to her heart attack. In October, she went through a bad spell of wanting to sleep for 18 hours a day. She couldn't wake up and go to work. After only going to work for about 2-3 days in a two week period, we had the pscyhiatrist give her another med. Enter (cue the drums)
Okay--any med with the name PROVIGIL can only be spelled using all caps. It is a medication to promote wakefulness, normally used to treat narcolepsy. The military has also tested it with Air Force pilots and they needed only a few hours of sleep over an 80 period. But, K is taking a lower dose.
It has done wonders. It does not affect her mood. But she is able to get up and get moving in the mornings. Even on the weekends, she is frequently up by 7 am, which previously was unheard of. She goes to work every day. It has lifted this constant tension that both of us had on a daily basis as to whether she would be able to make it to the office. It was one of those tensions that you don't even realize that you have until it is lifted and you feel lighter.
The other change that the doctor made is that he told K to stop using her light box. When she was really ill, it made a huge difference in her mood. This winter, K would sit in front of the light and after turning it off, she would crash. It was a crash that would occur over a 20 minute period and I could see it on her face. She would go from being fine to being in a black, black mood with anger and unable to get herself out the door. She stopped using the light at the same time she began using the PROVIGIL. That makes it difficult to parse out the individual effects, but there has been a dramatic switch in K's ability to function.
Several downsides exist to the PROVIGIL. !) It will only work for a few months. Hopefully, she can come off it in the spring. 2) It is addictive. 3) Insurance won't pay for it. K takes half a pill every morning, which is $5.50. A monthly dose costs about $150 or a bit more. It is not an inexpensive med. But, it works. And really that is the only thing that is important.
Okay--I need to go change into my suit and get going. Otherwise I won't have time to make it to Starbucks before having to meet my boss.
Labels: meds, sun lamp
Friday the 13th
No, nothing bad has happened. Actually, it's been a good day. It's just that I'm tired. K and I are away on a long weekend in Chicago. She's visiting family and we're staying with some close friends. They are busy putting the kids to bed. Yesterday was bad, but K handled it better than I did.
We had tickets out last evening. Our flight was delayed and we didn't even arrive at the airport here until after 10 pm local time. I had started out exhausted from a long day and even longer week at the office. (Yes, I need to deal with the job situation.) My temper was short, but K was fine. She took the lead and pulled me through and dealt with my short-temper. I did sleep well last night, despite the constant work dreams, and then napped this afternoon.
Things are going well. Due to K's concern and the raising of the lithium last month, we have another psychiatrist appointment scheduled for Monday afternoon. It's very unusual for her to have another appointment in a month. She's been on the three month cycle for some time. But it's fine. We don't mind seeing him. He's entertaining and seems to enjoy the appointments as well. Fortunately, K's mood is vastly improved on the higher dose of lithium. I guess she started metabolizing it faster due to the working out, but at least the problem appears to be solved in the short-run.
My mood in regards to K is fine. What continues to take its toll is my job. I have begun taking some concrete steps to find something new. Or I've begun thinking through the steps. I know what my weak areas are; lack of management experience is the glaring one. But with some luck, I'll be able to get a position that can help me fill in that gap. I could also use some more project management technical experience, but that will probably come through one of the these other positions. We'll see. Any move will take a long time to set up for a number of reasons. I guess what I ought to do is pull my resume in order, so I can look for jobs outside my organization as well.
Nothing else. K's been wonderful about my job. She's not put any pressure on me about my hours or stress. That's good. Previously, she's always been against me taking something that would have longer hours or greater stress. But her health is good enough that she no longer depends on me to do things. Also, the car stays at home, so she has access to the car even if I'm at the office. She likes knowing it's there, even if she doesn't choose to use it.
That's the quick update. Things are good. K is with her family right now bonding with the niece. That's also good.
As the light fades . . .
The longer K has bipolar, the easier it becomes to see the cyclical nature of it. Now, as we head into fall and the shorter days, she's already struggling more in the mornings in order to able to get out bed and make it to work. A couple of weeks ago, she began using the sun lamp in the morning. A few days ago, she upped the lithium by 25% in hopes of feeling better.
The lithium increase is not only linked to the shorter days. About six months ago, we began to go to a personal trainer and K upped her level of physical activity. The result is that her body seems to metabolize the lithium more quickly, so she needs a slightly higher dose. At least, we're hoping that some of the dips in her mood will be stabilized by the increase.
Recently, I haven't been the easiest to live with. My job stress and insecurities seem to be reaching all time highs. The insecurities appear to be unfounded. No one tells me that I am doing a bad job, but I still feel that I am constantly ready to drop something. Good news is that I leave the office every night between 5:30 and 6 pm and I begin each day at 7:30 am. It isn't the hours, but I don't have a free moment throughout the day. I no longer am able to even hold a five minute personal conversation, because I get pulled away to deal with something. The stress is very high, not only for me, but my co-worker as well. Both of us are beginning the discussion about finding another job. For political reasons, I probably have to stay where I am for another four months, but that may change. Meanwhile, I drive K nuts by agonizing over the situation.
We are also looking into doing work on the house. The structural engineer came this week and told us that our house is solid enough to support a green roof. A green roof requires that soil and plants are on our roof to capture rainwater and better insulate the house. A much costlier approach towards our roof than a traditional roof, but K is very much in favor of it. We also need many other expensive repairs. K tried to warn me the dangers of buying a house about 130-150 years old. What we didn't realize is how little maintenance had occurred. Also, things like plaster have a 100 year life span and now it is literally at the breaking point.
My mom is in town next week. We've been slowly cleaning the house to prepare for her arrival. But we have more to do today. I also want to hit the farmer's market this morning to purchase our fruits and veggies for the week. We have been going to the farmer's market the past few weeks and I really enjoy. The only catch is that we have to make the time to do it.
The other thing going on is that my term as vice president of the neighborhood is coming to an end. There have been offers to sponsor my run for president. I'm tempted. The current president is excellent in some areas, but he's not good about running the meetings and keeping people engaged. Likewise, he doesn't share information. I barely know what's happening at times. I could do a much better job of being inclusive. But I don't want to commit to at least a couple meetings a week, especially with my current job situation. I was almost sucked in the other day.
K and I are doing more again and going out during the week. Political fundraiser tomorrow night, which should be interesting. I haven't met Eleanor Holmes Norton yet. Things like that are keeping us busy.
Things are good, though I need to bring my stress under control.
Last night and yesterday afternoon, I ended up getting so wired about work. My coworker was getting her ass kicked and I had the day off. I got the feeling that she wasn't getting to everything and I did offer to come in over the weekend to help out, but she declined my offer. Even though, I ought to have let the whole thing go at that point, I couldn't. Instead, my anxiety about the situation continued to increase throughout the day. As a result, by bedtime I was wired.
K insisted that I take .5 mg xanax before going to sleep. Okay--three vodka tonics don't affect me, but give me .5 mg xanax and 9 hours later, I was still only barely able to crack my eyelids open. I guess it worked, since I slept well all night. I also decided to spend an hour at home, okay it's been two hours, working on things remotely. This puts me into a better position for Monday morning. And I took care of one task that I believe was overlooked yesterday. It was putting together a bunch of good news stories prior to my boss speaking on Monday morning and again at lunch.
This morning we went to the personal trainer. I was somewhat concerned about slipping and cracking my head open after the xanax, but it turned out to be a good workout. Now, we have a wine tasting party this evening, and I am sure that we have some chores to do prior to that.
Visit to the Doctor
K had her quarterly visit to the pyschiatrist this morning. We were both exhausted, despite the visit not being until 10 AM. It was a good visit. The one concern is that K is not doing as well as she could be. She's somewhat down due to the changing seasons, which usually hit her pretty hard. A couple of years ago, we purchased a sun lamp, and she uses it on a daily basis pretty much from September until April. Instead of immediately increasing her medication, the psychiatrist is hoping that the sun lamp will improve her enough, so a dosage increase won't be necessary.
The fact that K is off is a subtle thing. It expresses itself in small irritations and exhaustion. Nothing serious, but also, they are warning indicators that shouldn't be ignored. By addressing it now, hopefully any further backslide can be forestalled.
So, K does not have a three month hiatus from the psychiatrist. She's going to return in a month for review of where she is. She's fine with it, but I know that she would certainly prefer if the visits remained on the quarterly schedule.
On a more personal note, we're looking at how to cover some much needed home repairs. Everything is expensive and I keep feeling as if we are trying to drain blood from a turnip as we try to figure out how to pay for it all. The roof needs to be done this year. K would like to have us install a green roof with little seedums up there to help the environment. I'm not against it, but there's definitely a cost premium. It is also difficult as both our neighbors have overlapped their roofs onto our roof. In each case, their roofs will have to be disturbed in order for us to have our's redone. Pain in the ass. Fortunately, we get along well with both sets of neighbors. There have been times when the relations have not been so amicable.
The basement drama is slowly, too slowly, drawing to a close. The last piece is the waterproofing. We're hoping that we can move forward with that the next 4-6 weeks. Once we complete that, we'll be able to move everything back down there and begin to truly organize the space without problems from the leaks. I can't wait.
We're slowly reaching an equilibrium. My job continues to be a source of anxiety for me. I believe that I will remain in my current position for the next few months. Then I'll have to see. But this was a difficult week for very stupid reasons. However, what ends up happening is that the pressure gets slowly cranked up throughout the day. I had today off and my coworker faced the pressure cooker for her entire day. I feel somewhat guilty, but she also left me a week before we had a huge conference a few weeks ago, so my guilt is somewhat mitigated. I just hate the anxious feeling that seeps through my entire body. Working out helps relieve much of it, but I didn't make it to the gym this morning.