sick day (maybe?)

I’m sick today.

Not the I’m coughing up my lungs sick. My anxiety and depression is really acting up. My whole abdomen feels like it’s about to detach and roll right off my body, I’m in that much searing pain.

This may sound like a weird thing to say but sometimes I can’t decide if my anxiety pains are better or worse than my menstrual pains. And I get nasty menstrual pains, too.

I’m half afraid to go outside because when you pass people on your way to class there’s a social convention where you ask people how they’re doing and you’re supposed to reply with “good!” and I’m just concerned it will be like: “hey! How are you doing today?”

“I have shearing and debilitating pain that makes me want to collapse into the void”

A few hours later, “you know, I don’t know why Sally reported me to counseling like that. Snitches get stitches bitch…. you know, after I don’t feel like I’m being stabbed in multiple places… you know what screw it. I’m tired and it’s been a while since I got my 14 hour nap so I’ll catch y’all later.”

 

 

What sucks the most about having an anxiety disorder is I get these jolts of anxiety. I don’t know how many others can relate to this but I’ll be sitting there, minding my own business and suddenly I get this wave of panic like “OH SHIT YOU GOTTA DO EVERYTHING NOW YOU’RE GONNA FAIL” and I just sit there shaking for a minute or so.

And then I’m alright. For like five minutes.

And then it happens again.

It’s like having multiple seizures of panic that come and go and how dare you think you’re over them because the next one is lurking around the corner waiting to jolt you like a defibrillator.

 

Everything just hurts right now. Emotionally, physically, everything. But how do I explain that to people. How do I ask for help. I wish I was better at telling my professors about my mental health issues but unfortunately I don’t really feel safe doing so. About a week ago one of my professors side tracked on his lecture to talk about mental health issues because one of the kids in our class is a psych major. And this professor literally says “you know, sometimes it’s not ~mental health~ or ~chemical imbalance~. Sometimes it’s something spiritual. Like demon possession.”

I wish I could say that’s the first time I’ve heard that. It’s really not. I doubt it’ll be the last. And I keep telling myself the age old “just don’t let it bother you! Ignore them and they’ll leave you alone!”

But the truth is I went home and cried for a solid hour.

So a week later when my anxiety is crippling me and my medication is enough to completely cover the depth of my despair, it doesn’t help to have what that professor said replay in my head over and over again like a broken record.

 

Believe me, if I could make myself better I would. If taking Sudafed was the answer to all my ailments I would put myself in a coma drinking the whole bottle.

But it doesn’t always work that way.

Sometimes you aren’t cured the way you hope you’ll be.

 

And you have to draft an email to your (other) professor saying you won’t be able to make it class today because you’re emotional wreck whose desperately trying to save face by not allowing others to see what you struggle with because who knows what opinions they’ll have about it.

And you feel like a fraud. You’re not coughing. You don’t have a fever. Stop being a whining bitch and go to class. You don’t really have a chemical imbalance you’re just experiencing “normal” fears.

But I hurt. I hurt all over.

I’m just so tired right now.

I’m so tired.

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when the future is unknown

It would be an understatement to say I’m scared shitless.

What do you do when you wake up and your body gives up. When your leg suddenly gets shooting pain or your arm just feels weak at the muscle.

What do you do when you know you already have an autoimmune disease and are receiving treatment for it but still can’t get out of your mind the nagging feeling that there’s still something else wrong with you.

And what do you do when you want to ask for advice and you feel like you repeatedly hit dead ends.

I made a stupid decision. Or at least I feel stupid for doing it. I called my endocrinologist’s office. I called them because I don’t really have a primary doctor (I haven’t for years) and frankly he’s the only doctor I ever see on even a semi-regular basis. And I called because I asked if there was any way I could do a panel test for other autoimmune diseases. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Do you ask for stuff from a doctor like that? I don’t know… frankly I’ve never really been the one to be a strong advocate for my health. Well I used to, and people kept calling me crazy so I gave up because I got tired of people just saying “aww get more rest you’ll feel better!” not knowing for the past 4 days I’ve slept 10 hours a day with no relief to my exhaustion. But that’s another story for another day.

So why not consult my parents? Particularly my mother. Who’s a registered nurse. Who knows more about health than I ever care to.

You know what that sounds like a great idea. Except there’s one problem.

My grandfather.

I sat in the chair in my counselor’s office. We’re still in our first sessions so she’s going over the basic medical conditions blah blah blah. I’m so tired of switching counselors. It’s not my choice, it’s my luck of being placed with counselors who are only here for a semester to get their logged hours so they can move on with their PhD in psychology. Once the semester is done, they’re done with me and off to the next counselor I am given. it’s a revolving door of hell. Because with a new counselor comes having to restate my entire story from start to finish. My trauma, my abuse, my medical conditions, everything. It’s like stabbing yourself repeatedly, waiting four months and then, just as wounds begin to heal and you feel like you’re getting somewhere, someone hands you a knife and says “you know, I’m gonna need you to stab yourself again so I can see what happens.” It fucking sucks and I want to scream. I’m too ~~”traumatized”~~ for the new grad student counselors (read that as they’re sheltered and don’t have the maturity to handle real issues) so that’s how I got shuffled off to the PhD students. Which is good because you do get someone who’s at least 10 years your senior with a bit more experience. But bad when they drop you in four months because they’re done with their logged hours. Everything just hurts. Physically and emotionally.

 

But I digress. Back to the original story.

So for the 438th time I’m hearing my god-awful medical history being read aloud so my new counselor can confirmed how fucked up I am. But in reading she missteps and says “and you have an autoimmune disease… lupus, right?”

My heart stops. The world freezes for a moment before I come back.

“No, Hashimoto’s actually…”

“That’s right,” she says as she scribbles something down. “I remember you saying something about that. Do you have lupus as well or?”

Again my heart stops.

“No,” I say a bit shaky.

We move on and continue with the session. Or at least she did. I didn’t recover quite as quickly. I know it was a lapse in judgment and she has no clue (of course she wouldn’t, I’m starting over with counselors again, she knows nothing) but hearing those words, hearing of that awful disease brings up awful memories.

 

As a kid I used to constantly ask my mom where her dad was. He was never around even though I saw my grandmother all the time. Every time I ask my mom bit her lip and said “he’s not here” which clearly wasn’t good enough for me. Until one day she sat me down and very solemnly explained to me that there was never going to be a fathom of the universe where I would get to meet my Morfar (that’s Swedish for mother’s father). Because three years before I was born… he died. He died right before my mother’s wedding. He was supposed to walk her down the isle and he would’ve given anything to have been there. But the colon cancer and the chemotherapy took too much of a toll on his body. All of this made exponentially worse by the fact he had been slowly dying years before any doctor found a lump in his colon.

He had lupus.

For years doctor’s told him he was mental. That he was making it up or that he needed to suck it up and deal with it. Only was it decades later when his quality of life had diminished to the point where a doctor could be sued for ignoring his health problems did people finally start taking him seriously.

It’s not like I know the full story of how everything went down, I wasn’t there for it. But don’t think there aren’t days where I get absurdly angry at the thought that maybe there’s a chance, even a 5% chance, that maybe he could be alive right now if he’d been diagnosed earlier. Who even knows. Maybe he was destined to die. But I don’t know if I was destined to accept it.

Because in his absence I was left in the hands of my only other grandfather (my father’s father)…

And he abused me. For over 10 years he emotionally and verbally abused me. And I’m not over that. Not yesterday, today or any time in the foreseeable future.

Had my Morfar lived, I would have known love from a grandfather. He was kind and caring and even my Mormor (grandmother) has told me multiple times he never was harsh to her, even when he was in agonizing pain and dying a slow, painful death. I could’ve been loved, I could’ve been appreciated. Instead I have an instinctual fear of men and relationships and have trouble believing that men do treat women well or that marriage is anything more than picking the man who will abuse you for the rest of your life.

 

So there’s something about the possibility that I have the same autoimmune disease as my Morfar that scares the shit out of me. And even if my counselor didn’t mean it, it still made me cry the minute I got back to my dorm room. And suddenly that knee pain feels worse. The soreness in my arm feels more intense. The fact that I want to keep sleeping even though I’ve been asleep for 12 hours concerns me that much more.

But who do I tell? I want to get tested so I at least know but how do I get the ball rolling?

Normally I confide in my mother regarding health problems. But not this time. I can’t do that to her. What do you say?

“Hey mom, I think there’s a half-decent chance I have, on top of one autoimmune disease, another autoimmune disease… the autoimmune disease that led to your father’s death.”

What’s worse is what if the tests come back positive? What if I really do have lupus? What the fuck do I tell her?

“Hey mom, you know that autoimmune disease that your dad had that led to his early demise a few months before your wedding? Well your only child has it to.”

Wow, well if that isn’t quality mother-daughter time I don’t know what is.

And so I’m walking this fine line (that’s unknown) between “I want to know” and “I want to keep my mom out of this as much as possible”

 

So I think, “hey I’m gonna adult this myself and call my endocrinologist and see if I can set something up to get tested”

And it went horrible.

The receptionist kept questioning why I wanted to get tested, questioned a bunch of times why I felt the need to call (even though I outright stated I don’t have a primary doctor and he’s the closest I come to one which is why I was asking him) and then gave this half-assed “well I’ll talk to him and we’ll get back to you”

So I’m not too confident that I’ll hear back.

 

Which leaves me back on my own and still scared as ever. Because today my body has decided that it wants to be in excruciating pain. Luckily my professor cancelled class. But as I stated earlier, sleep doesn’t solve all my problems like I wish it did. So I’m well rested and exhausted and still in pain.

 

 

 

It’s somebody who’s really scared that I’m a lot sicker than I think. A lot sicker than I currently know

And what if I find out too late

 

 

 

Maybe I’ve been here before, I know these rooms, I walked these floors, I used to live alone before I knew you

It’s not a cry you can hear at night, it’s not somebody who’s seen the light

It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah

hallelujah

for the love of soap

you know what I feel like bitching about this. This will be the official first thing I bitch about.

Some people have allergies to normal things. Like pollen or cats or the person who sits in your spot in class or takes your parking spot (I’m looking at you shiny silver Camry).

You know what I’m allergic to? Fucking soap.

I am allergic to hand soap and I almost choked writing that because that has got to be the most dumbass allergy I’ve ever heard of. Nobody sits there and goes, “oh you’ve got allergies too? Haha, you should’ve seen this one time I used Dove body soap. Got a body rash for days. It was fantastic.”

Fucking stupid.

How does one get diagnosed with soap allergies? Well this is a fun story. For years, my hands have mysteriously and randomly gotten red. As in so red it looked like I was wearing red gloves. On top of that they chapped to the point where they started bleeding. “Hey, there’s blood coming out of your wrist.”

“Oh yeah, you know, that just happens sometimes. I’m used to it”

A junior higher trying to explain that they are somehow use to blood seeping out of their hands periodically for no reason at all.

 

So this went on for years. Finally I’m a freshmen in college and I’m so over this cycle of my skin just going apeshit over nothing so after seeing a dermatologist for a year he finally asks me, “Have you ever tried using lotion for sensitive skin.” Now, I have tried using everything that’s ~~dermatologist approved for sensitive skin!!!~~  ~~4 out of 5 doctors say this is the best soap you’ve ever used!1!!1~~ and that one doctor who doesn’t approve is the one that knows my hand still bleeds for all those “sensitive skin” soaps.

Since I’ve tried everything (or I think I have) and I’m desperate for any solution, I look at my doctor’s offer of his approved soap and I’m  like “just fuck me up” (what do I honestly have to lose).

So I try it. It’s called Cera Ve. And it saved my life. And I’m actually not being paid to say this but if Cera Ve wants to pay me they can PM me and I’d love to pay off my student debt. But no, I use this “special stuff” and not only do my hands clear up in a couple weeks but they never get red again. Because I guess by the time you buy Cera Ve, you’re a desperate piece of shit who will buy the most mellow soap on the market.

 

But wait, there’s more. This miracle substance costs $13 a bottle. A bottle that is about 12 ounces at best. So summed up: it’s expensive. It’s really expensive. It’s painful to buy when you’re following your parents around Costco on Christmas break to pick up everything for the big dinner and you see a massive 5 year supply of soft soap for only 8 bucks and something inside you fundamentally dies just realizing that you could have all this cheap soap for the low low price of having your hands burn off.

And it sucks. So when my suitemate gives me the side-eye because I have a collection of empty Cera Ve bottles across my bathroom sink while trying to desperately fill each bottle with water and squeeze out every last drop possible… stick it Sandra. This shit’s expensive and the government doesn’t care if you have suds allergies as long as you pay the money they loaned you while stabbing you with an interest rate that is anything but criminal.

 

So everywhere I go, I carry a cool* (*it’s not cool) travel size Cera Ve. Which leads to interesting conversations in the bathroom that I never wanted to have. Like when I was at a national conference presenting my research and I had to use the public bathroom so I quick put my little bottle on one of the sinks along the row (off to the side so hopefully not to cause a disruption) so I could come back to it when I wash my hands after I’m done. And of course as I walk back to the sink there’s a middle age lady who looks like a wannabe Olivia Newton-John double from the end of Grease putting her hip little bandanna in her hair and standing right in front of the sink where I put my bottle. There’s a whole row of sinks and she picked literally the one in the corner I put my Cera Ve bottle on. I am ashamed and patiently waiting for her to step aside so I can at least rescue my poor little expensive bottle and finally wash my hands. Well no sooner do I start standing there but this lady notices out of the corner of her eye and gives me a scowl that would’ve sent John Travolta running for the hills as she sharply asks me “what do you want”

“My soap.” I say sheepishly pointing to my little Cera Ve bottle. She sees it, gives a sigh to be heard across the bathroom and steps aside. As I rush to my soap bottle I apologize “sorry I have a soap allergy and this is my special soap” but she leaves halfway through ensuring I feel like a piece of shit because I have got to be the only person in human history who has the unfortunate luck of being allergic to standard hand soap.

 

It’s rough some (most) days. And some (every) days I just wish I could go two seconds living like a normal human being. But then my body hears me say that and decides that it’s time to make some other part of my body go defunct.

 

 

Happy days are here to stay.