“All the World’s a Stage”… but give the mask a break

mask clip art

Today was hard.

And by hard I mean I was in unrelenting and horrific pain, especially by dinnertime. It was so bad in fact, that when we ran a few errands at the shopping mall after dinner, I was hobbling back to my car, and big, fat, round tears began to roll silently down my cheeks. My daughter didn’t even notice until we were half way home, but hiding that kind of stuff has become a sort of art form for me.

When we finally got home, I went to my room and let out a few sobs before laying down on the couch with an ice pack in an attempt to find some relief.

(So far, it hasn’t really helped.)

Every once in a while, I get like this. The pain reaches a point that I simply can’t cope with by distraction, and in nursing school, there is plenty of stuff I can distract myself with. It’s by the grace of God that I’m managing to keep my grades up, because since the beginning I’ve been fighting tension headaches, and my typical aches, pains and various other symptoms have been on the increase. I gotta say, the timing is bad.

I’m seeing another LLMD for a second opinion in November. Out of courtesy and respect, I let my current LLMD know about the appointment. From what I understand, they have worked together before, and their relationship isn’t adversarial. I just think we could benefit from a second pair of eyes looking at all the lab work, and the course of treatment and ebb and flow of symptoms based on those treatments. Maybe this new doc can find something we overlooked. I’ve stagnated in my improvement, at best. At worst, I’ve lost some of my previous headway.
The despair of this disease doesn’t hit me often. I don’t allow it to.

Sure I’ll admit to having a bad day when I’m having a bad day, but rarely do I sink to the emotional depths that I sunk to tonight. For one, I know everyone is fighting their own battles. I’ve become acutely aware of that in recent years, and even more so in nursing school. Many of my classmates are carrying their own crosses, and they tough it out, putting on a brave face, and eager for the day when they graduate and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

So I feel guilty sometimes about complaining. When I do, I never fail to get support, however. Friends offer hugs and prayers, sometimes virtual, and sometimes on the phone or in person. And a piece of me feels horrible about getting that kind of attention. I try to remind myself that if it was someone I knew, I would be doing the same thing, and offering the same support, so why feel bad that sometimes I need it, too?

I’m still not sure. It may be my genetics, or my upbringing, first born child syndrome or the mom in me. I don’t know. But I always feel more comfortable on the “giving” side of care more than I am on the “receiving” end of it. So, who knows? Perhaps this illness is part of a larger lesson for me. No man is an island, and all that.

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what the point of this whole blog entry was, initially. But maybe I found it? Maybe it’s a reminder to me and so many others that it’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to admit you’ve had enough. It’s ok to “take the brave face off.” Because tomorrow is another day, and like my bestie said, I can always see how the mask fits tomorrow.

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Desperate People Do Desperate things

This bears repeating. I just saw another discussion on one of the boards I belong to regarding MMS therapy. If you look at the author’s actual book that peddles this panacea, I just don’t understand why you would even consider his treatment? Again, I’ll add the disclaimer that I haven’t read the entire book, just his snippet on Lyme disease.

In my opinion? Just. No.

Once Bitten Bella

So I’m a little worked up this morning. Last night I saw a post on Facebook on one of the Lyme pages I follow that started up my alarm bells. A patient with Lyme Disease posted pics of a page out of the book, The Master Mineral Solution of the 3rd Millenium, by “Archbishop” Jim Humble, along with pictures of bottles of Sodium Chlorite (basically bleach) and Hydrochloric Acid, which is a very corrosive acid. So corrosive in fact, that when I worked with it back in my pharmaceutical chemist days, it had to be done under a hood. You didn’t want it on your skin, you didn’t want to breathe in the fumes, and you certainly didn’t want to digest it. But this person was actively promoting the health benefits of taking both of these liquids, in diluted form.

I read the section that came from the…

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Balance, grasshopper…

Balance

I have some awesome friends. I really do. I don’t have many, mind you, but the few I have are just a blast to be around. And yesterday I got to hang out with one of them.

Socializing is such a double edge sword for me these days. On the one hand, I need it. I enjoy it. It makes me happy. In fact, sometimes it boils over into goofy-giddy territory. On the other hand, I’m usually wiped the next day. Or in pain. Sometimes it’s both.

I know I should probably take it easy. I should probably learn how to tone my excitement down a bit and do a little less than I’d like. But I’m not sure how to do that. And psychologically, I’m not sure I want to go there. You know. To ACT like a sick person. Because for a short time, my mind is not constantly on my illness or my struggles. Oh sure, I get the twinge of pain from my hips reminding me to sit down from time to time, or I have to interrupt our meal by rifling through my purse for pills, but for the most part, it’s a wonderful escape.

The alternative would be to have friends visit, and I’d be planted on the couch, inviting them to help themselves to a glass in the cupboard and something to drink, or explore my pantry for a snack that might appeal to them.

And that is so NOT who I am.

Balance.

I keep coming up against that word.

I guess ultimately it’s going to be up to me to find a balance between pee-on-the-floor-puppy-like-excitement, and resigning myself to creating a permanent dent in the shape of my ass on the couch… hmmmmmm

Depression Lies. Don’t Believe it!

Articulated perfectly. Beautifully. Truthfully.

Big Red Carpet Nursing

2010-04-06 00.09.26Depression lies, with tremendous talent and hate for life.

That’s what it does.

Depression, in a way, is a bully, a predator, a demon. It picks on you, torments you, blinds you to your good qualities and your potential. It makes it harder to concentrate or solve problems, and makes it hard to imagine life getting better. It attacks people physically: sleep, appetite, energy, motivation. It destroys joy in the things that would otherwise bring it. It brings on intense, unfair guilt and shame. It slows your thoughts, sometimes even movements. It kills hope. It convinces you that the only path for you is self-murder.

Depression is a serial killer, a horseman of the modern apocalypse.

Depression is awful indeed. I’ve met this demon, quite convinced all was lost, some decades ago and from time to time since. Life got better, much better in fact, after some stumbles: trial and much…

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Lyme Disease + Nursing School = WTH was I thinking?

Nursing shoes

Seriously, what was I thinking?

Well, I knew what I was hoping, anyway. I was hoping that my LLMD who put this crazy idea into my head would cure me by the time school rolled around. Sadly, though, that didn’t happen.

What did happen was that I began getting tension headaches around the end of July. You know, because the fatigue and the pain and the brain fog was not enough. I have to admit, it makes life more interesting these days. These damn headaches that have plagued me since the last attempt to get me off my meds that are treating my Lyme Disease and co infections. Every. Day. So we added a headache med to the mix, which works just well enough to take the edge off so I can accomplish some homework. My symptoms are never completely gone, though. I’m reluctant to try something else because the current script isn’t interfering with my other medications, or giving me any noticeable side effects.

But sadly, my poor husband has never heard, “but I have a headache,” whined at him with such regularity in all our 17 years of marriage.

Nursing school is just as bit as stressful as people say it is. And since my life hasn’t had enough monkey wrenches thrown into it in recent weeks, one more was added to the bunch: we have new instructors who were apparently brought on last minute, and are trying to get their act together so that we are given a solid education. I chose this program partly because of the success rate of students to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Last year, for example, their graduating class had a 95% success rate (according to one of the instructors), which is higher than the state average. In this state, once I learn my RN, I’m eligible for a Master’s as an NP since I already hold a Bachelor’s degree, despite it being in Biology and not Nursing. Granted, some schools require time in the field as a pre-req into their Master’s program, and there are those pesky GREs I’ll have to retake since the last time I took those was in 1990.

Are you getting the picture that I’m a little older than most students? I’m not bothered at all by that fact. What does make more of an impact on my education is my health.

I have to stay more organized than usual, since a bout of brain fog can be an unexpected thing. This is harder when your new instructors are trying to organize themselves at the same time. (But I have to say, they have a good humor about it, and recognize the challenge it presents to everyone involved. Luckily, they really make themselves available to us, and are very approachable.)

Fatigue is another factor. For example, after a full day in class, I’m often wiped out and very little gets accomplished outside basic household responsibilities like dinner, dishes and laundry. The fatigue is the most frustrating part of this whole illness. I’m fine in lab and in lecture for the most part. I’m being mentally stimulated by my environment and I’m able to focus. The problem comes when I need to study, or do homework, because I’m just so exhausted. I usually work for 30-60 minutes at a time, then get up, walk around, or drink some water. Then I get back to my work.

My daughter, who is in her first year of high school, is virtually on her own for homework. I’m just too brain dead to help, especially after doing my own homework or being in class all day. But she’s a smart kid. She takes after her mom, if I do say so myself (hey if I don’t toot my own horn who will!) so she really is self-sufficient. She checks her grades online every single day, and she will panic when teachers don’t grade fast enough for her. Every day she gives me a report on her grades in all her classes, and she’s got a 95 or better in all of them. She really is ok. It’s more a matter of confidence, usually.

Then there is the pain. Sitting in a chair for 8 hours while we get through Fundamentals and then Pharmacology lecture is hard on my joints. I get stiff, my back aches, and the next day I’m hobbling around my home like I’m more than twice my age. My feet hurt after a 4 hour day in lab, despite the fact that I invested in Nursemate shoes, but those weren’t as good as they used to be when I wore them back in the day. I purchased an alternative, and I hope the program approves them for use in clinicals. Also, the strength in my hands aren’t as good as they used to be either, so getting on T.E.D. hose can be a challenge. Oh I get it done, but my joints do ache for a bit after the fact.

I try not to let it get me down, despite the potential for this entire entry coming off as whiny. My family has always just plowed through illness, injury, and other obstacles in order to get shit done. We’re tough stock. Besides, a negative attitude just exacerbates pain, tension, and fatigue. Well, at least for me it does.

I’m excited about my future prospects. I’m excited to be headed down this path. Years ago, when I was taking my MCATs and considering med school, it never really “fit.” Oh I wanted to do the work of an MD, and have the autonomy of an MD, and I met the requirements I had to meet to do so, but it wasn’t “right,” and something felt “off.” Now, I’m pursing my RN and will eventually finish as a FNP, and being in school for this fits. It feels right. It’s as if I was trying on shoes and the first pair looked cute, but pinched a little in the toes, only noticeable after a few hours of wear. But this new path? Oh yeah. It’s like a pair of shoes a cobbler made lovingly by hand, of supple leather, and in a style that fits my personality just a bit better.

Now please excuse me while I shine these puppies. ;)