Poppin’ In for a (heart)Beat

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Three years ago (holy hell time moving way too fast), I wrote a post about Anxiety & Arrhythmias. It is a post I like to share with people who are having a hard time with their skippy, obnoxious tickers and/or their anxious minds. However, some of that info is a little out-dated for me. So, I thought – why not write an update, you lazy ass?! So, here it is.

It Ain’t All About That Mag

The first thing I would like to mention is my incessant preaching about magnesium. I pretty much spoke like a dealer trying to procure new customers when it came to this mineral. I talked it up to everyone and anyone who would listen. It may have been slightly obnoxious.

It took me a while, but I started to notice trends. While I was keeping my magnesium intake high, Some of my symptoms would still persist or at least pop up every so often. And every time I went to the ER with heart issues – my potassium was on the very low end of “normal”. One time, it was even slightly below normal.

I have since learned the importance of mineral balancing (this is a link to a great article explaining this). Magnesium, sodium, potassium – they all interact with and balance each other. Too much of one could bring another down. And I was finding that I had nearly every symptom of low potassium. Even though my lab results would sometimes be considered “normal” – my body is clearly very sensitive and the slightest imbalance or decrease could set it off and turn it into quite the asshole.

Once I started to realize this, I stopped my very low carb diet and began adding in more fruits and vegetables. Coconut water is also helpful when I am feeling low. I do not lose weight as easily, but my heart has been behaving quite well. I just need to be okay with putting health over that unobtainable “perfect” body that I have always been seeking.

So, while magnesium is indeed very important. It certainly isn’t the answer to everything. Sodium and potassium are just as crucial and should not be ignored. Some bloggers and Facebook groups insist it is all about Mag – that more and more Mag is the cure for all that ails. But this simply is not the case. And I apologize for preaching so hard about soley magnesium in the past.

Beta Blocker Update

Since my previous blog post, I have decreased my metoprolol to the lowest possible dose – 12.5mg each morning. I will take an extra 12.5 if I am having racy heart or an uncomfortable amount of ectopics. But this isn’t too often. I will sometimes also take the extra if I am going to be doing something that raises my heart rate a lot – like dancing or having an alcoholic beverage. It just seems to help. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. In fact, do not take medical advice from anyone on the internet. You can gather information (from reputable sources), discuss everything with your healthcare providers, and use your best judgement. But no blogger has the ability to keyboard treat you!! I will go one step further and urge you to avoid many of the fear mongering, conspiracy theorizing, medical guru wannabe websites. Natural News, Alt Health, even Mercola. They are all selling either products or agendas. Just be choosy about where you get your information.

 

Tummy Triggers

For years, I have had fairly mild reflux off and on. Nothing too worrisome. But about a year ago, it started getting worse. Even water would cause that nasty burny bullshit. It sucked. And then I started having these crazy little burps ALL DAY LONG. Not like a real, satisfying beer belch – but these wimpy little nothing burps.

I was up to 300mg of zantac a day. And it worked pretty great for the most part. Since I have allergies – it was also helpful in that regard. And it was obvious that my reflux was very much associated with my histamine levels. So, bad allergy days always meant more reflux.

With more reflux came more PVCs. It was like clockwork. And it took me a while to figure out why. Here is my hypothesis (of which I am quite certain is fact, but whatever)…

Histamine &/or hormones triggered my gut which responded with reflux, GERD, heartburn – whatever you wanna call it. The reflux irritated my vagus nerve. When my vagus nerve was pissed off, it would activate the heart shit – PVCs, PACs and SVT. Doctors may not yet accept this cycle but I know it to be true for me. Don’t worry, they’ll catch up.

My doctor decided that I should be put on a PPI for the reflux. I really saw this as a last resort because many people become dependant and usually never stop taking them. Plus, PPIs can severely deplete your minerals. That was the last thing I needed. So, I researched my butt off and decided to try one more thing before starting the PPI.

As it turns out, low stomach acid activates pretty much the same exact symptoms as too much acid. So, people then take meds which decrease the acid even more. Kind of like throwing someone a brick as they are drowning. I purchased Betaine HCL and Digestive Enzymes. I slowly weaned off the zantac completely. And ever since, no more reflux, very minimal burping (usually only on days that I do not take enough HCL) and my heart is so much better. And when I say so much better – I am talking night and day. Honestly.

**When taking the Betaine HCL, you MUST take it with protein and DURING the meal. If you do not, you will feel the burn – and not the white haired Senator variety.

I am so grateful that I discovered these associations. I feel exceptionally better. Heart, tummy and mind. Who knew my tubby belly would be the cause of so much disruption – that bastard in addition to making shopping for jeans an absolute nightmare.

That’s About It

That pretty much clears up some of the outdated info from my old post. Everything else I had written pretty much still rings true and those suggestions still stand. I will also add that diaphragm breathing and guided meditation are both extremely important for me. I do not do either one nearly enough but always feel physically and mentally healthier when I do. I LOVE the app, Insight Timer for hundreds of FREE guided meditations – huge variety of time lengths, topics, types, etcs. There is something for everyone. Download that sucka now and you will not regret it.

I also returned to therapy for while last year. She was WONDERFUL. I absolutely adored her and wanted to be her BFF. We were a perfect fit. Past tense you noticed? Yea. Because I have the greatest fucking luck – she left and moved to a practice an hour away. I doubt I will try another therapist. Maybe for biofeedback or something specific like that. But for talk therapy – she is the one that got away and I don’t wanna new one. For now, anyway.

But I do strongly encourage others to seek out therapy AND to find the right person because that is so vital. Sadly, our mental health industry is in a very pathetic state right now – countrywide. There is a devastating provider shortage in many areas. So many people are underinsured. Waiting lists are miles long. And people are actually dying because of it. It is an awful and heartbreaking plaque on our society. But if you are able and in need – please, please seek help. These people really do know what they are doing and it can do a world of good.

Alrighty, then. That is enough for now. I wish you all the happiest and healthiest yous yous can be. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Room Service Revolutionaries,

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When I was in grade school, I HATED dodge ball. I hated the violence of it, I hated getting hit, I hated having to hit others – I hated it all. I was philosophically against this horrible game and complained about it relentlessly. But I learned very quickly that as much as I hated the game – if I didn’t pick up a few balls – my ass would get pegged and I would most certainly lose.

I (and many others) have heard at incessant levels from fellow progressives over the past few months that because I am a Democrat: I am the “establishment”, I am “accepting of corruption”, I am “part of the problem”. I have been told that if I don’t say this or protest that – I am no true progressive or am some kind of traitor to other liberals. If I don’t chant so many hours per week, I guess I may just have my leftie card confiscated.

Just because I am not eternally beating a drum or shoving my fist into the face of the man – doesn’t mean I don’t have complaints. It isn’t that I feel anyone is owed an explanation of my feelings or beliefs – but I’ll try anyway.

I became a Democratic Party member at the age of 38. I almost always voted for Democrats but I avoided that label as though accepting it would automatically get me fitted with robotic body parts and a microchip in my brain. Honestly though, I didn’t want to “join” anything. I was an independent thinker. I didn’t vote for party, I voted for candidates and ideals. I was no Democrat!

Then came the Recall. I got to know other Democrats. I volunteered in their office. I read more. I witnessed more. I began to see that being a Democrat was indeed not the same as joining a cult. I realized that all Democrats are different. While they hold similar ideas and beliefs – there is still a very wide range on which one may land. Some have guns. Some hate guns. Some are Catholics. Some are Atheists. Some volunteer 90% of their time. Some never lick a single envelope. Some are obnoxious as all hell. Some are lovely as can be. For a “cult”, the Democratic Party is surely one diverse bunch of mofos.

Do I agree with everything the Dems do or say? Um, no. That would be pretty impossible. And weird. Dems aren’t some kind collective brain. Contrary to what some believe, we are not Borg. There are Dems at the national level, state level, county level and then there is each individual. All of these entities are different with different policies, different powers, different strategies, etc. Blaming all Dems for one entity or for one decision is akin to saying that all ice cream sucks because you don’t like cookie dough.

I have issues at times with each level of the party. I have even gotten into some pretty heated arguments with several individuals. Just because I do not call out each person or action in public does not mean I am twirling through a field of flowers convinced everything is hunky dory.

Here is another lame attempt at a metaphor…

My husband, sometimes, DRIVES ME NUTS. He has some qualities that really bug the shit out of me. Ask anyone who spends time with us…we do NOT always agree. But I still love him. We are still married. This is because I am adult and rational enough to know there isn’t a single person out there who wouldn’t piss me off from time to time. I even piss MYSELF off occasionally. There is no perfect person, candidate, organization…it simply does not exist. And I do not think that stomping my feet until Utopia appears is an efficient use of my time.

Instead, I decided to do what I can to make things better in the little ways I am able. Sometimes that is pitching a fit. Sometimes that is learning to work with those whom I may not always agree.  Sometimes that is waiting for a more strategic time to make a move. Sometimes it is listening and learning and, God forbid, accepting a new perspective (yes, that can be the most difficult for stubborn people such as myself).

What works for me may not work for you. And it doesn’t need to. I will defend your right to protest even if I think you’re kind of being an asshole. And while I am defending your right, I have the right to say that I think you’re being an asshole. See how that works? You do you. I’ll do me.

Before I am accused of mincing words or not fully putting it out there – let me tell you where this is all coming from at the moment. This is about a group of people who claim to have the authority to designate whom can or cannot label themselves a progressive. A few of the hangers on of the Bernie or Bust crowd – those booing at inspirational leaders and young children at the convention, those taping their mouths claiming they’re being silenced, those bullying every Hillary supporter they can find – these are the people of whom I am speaking.

Apparently, at some moment in their lives, they were canonized in the church of Liberal and were given exclusive rights to decide just what a true progressive means. Oh the tragic responsibility of it all. Even when their chosen deity expresses his wish for unity – they decide the deity has fallen and only they know what is best – disruption and tantrum disguised as revolution.  I can just imagine all past revolutions rolling over in their history books. They claim oppression; they claim they have been silenced. What I hear is a big white “whatever” (with a vocal fry, of course) towards those whom have truly been victims of injustice. SO. MUCH. PRIVILEGE.

We had a primary. You voted. Delegates were invited to go to convention. You voted. That is not being silenced. You simply did not win. And it fucking sucks! I know! Believe me, I do know. But there was no injustice here. It’s politics. It’s dirty and strategic and, yes, some of it is corrupt. The system is far from perfect. But this is not how to create change. Sometimes the squeaky wheel is effective. That ain’t gonna cut it here. Their wheels are bigger, stronger and much louder.

We need legislators in place who are willing to listen. We need civics courses in school. We need people to be involved at the local levels. You cannot blow up an entire building by throwing firecrackers from the outside. Get in there. Run for office. Help others run for office. Learn to pick your battles. Do not sabotage the candidates most likely to implement positive change – even if that change isn’t good enough for you. Do you really think a Trump presidency is going to push us in the right direction? No. It will tear down decades of progress pushing us further away from what it is you truly want. Again, that is not a revolution – it is a tantrum.

So how about this…you protest all you want, for whatever reason, 24/7 until you die. Go for it. Totally your right. You can even call names, roll your eyes and put on your tin foil hat as you claim we are just establishment tools. But don’t expect us not to retort. Don’t expect us to take you seriously when you avoid reasonable dialogue at a time it is most crucial. And don’t think WE aren’t paying attention. Because we are far more aware than you give us credit for – we are listening, watching, reading and remembering.

On that same token, you are lucky because many of us are extraordinarily forgiving and understanding. We are compassionate and generous. Many of us keep open minds and accept other perspectives. We even, at times, evolve and progress. We are fluid and constantly changing. So, when you want to work together – we will be here. When you want to come out from behind your anger – we will listen. When you realize that unity makes us stronger – we will fight with you.

In the meantime, we have work to do. So excuse us if we seem too busy to concern ourselves with your conscience and latest conniption. There are too many lives at stake.

 

P.S. I voted for Bernie.

That Damn Ticker

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So, my stupid heart is being stupid again. It is such an asshole sometimes.Stupid asshole.

I should start from Sunday night. I was having a weird scratchy throat. I didn’t feel sick and thought maybe it was allergy induced. Zyrtec made no difference so I TRIED not to worry about it and finally went to sleep a little after midnight.

I woke up around 5am sweating and feeling unwell. As I sat up, I realized my heart was beating too fast to count. Well over 150 bpm. I got some water and took my usual daily, tiny (12.5 mg) dose of beta blocker. I tried some vagal maneuvers and splashed cold water in my face. After a little while, it was clear that none of that was helping and that I needed to go to the ER.

I was put into a room and hooked up to machines within 10 minutes of arrival. My heart hovered around 150 – even after trying more vagal maneuvers (directed by RN). Doc came in within a few minutes and right away wanted to give me adenosine. This is a med given via IV that basically resets your heart. You feel as though your heart stops and from what I have heard, is an awful feeling…like you are dying. Needless to say, I did not want it. I have been terrified of that med since reading about it 12 years ago after my first sustained tachycardic event.

The doc was really pushing for the adenosine and seemed irritated that I wanted to wait. I knew I was able to convert (eventually) without it in the past and drugs always give me weird effects. So I was just not ready to try it yet. I will say, the RN seemed very supportive of my decision (both RNs and the tech I had were wonderful) and was super helpful.

I was given an IV and they drew some blood. She turned off the light for me as I laid there with my meditation app – trying like a crazy bitch to calm down. My rate would fluctuate between 130-150 for a while. As adrenaline surged through my body, I could not stop trembling. It was as if I was naked in the tundra. The shaking was insane. But I couldn’t control it regardless of a major effort. This is not great for my already pain in the ass muscle issues, by the way.

The new doc came in (she was also great) and we decided that I would take another 12.5 of my beta blocker. She also gave me a children’s dose of benadryl just to see if the throat thing improved (just to determine if it was allergy related). The benadryl did nothing but the beta blocker slowly decreased my heart rate over the next couple of hours. God, I am so damn thankful I didn’t do the adenosine.

All tests (including strep and urine) came back negative except for low potassium and phosphorus. Both of which can cause heart issues. However, the doc didn’t think that was the cause since they weren’t THAT low. Though she did make suggestions about taking Vitamin C to help my minerals absorb, because clearly they are not – which I already knew. I have not been taking Vitamin C, so I will be getting some today.

I do think the low minerals could cause this for me. I am super sensitive to any changes and I think I may have been a little dehydrated as well. This probably was enough to piss off my heart.

They said they think they saw some SVT in the beginning but most of my time there, I was in sinus tachycardia. This would be referred to as Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia – since I wasn’t exercising or doing something to make my heart race. It all may have been triggered by SVT, however.

I was told to double my daily dose of beta blocker. This, I do NOT want to do. It makes me groggy (already exhausted as it is) and it affects my weight loss. Ugh. I just do not wannnnnnaaaa!!!

I will be seeing my cardiologist on Thursday. In the meantime, I am dumping the very low carb diet and adding high potassium foods. I think I feel better with fruits and more veggies. I wasn’t losing any more weight anyway. It is time to just eat a healthy, balanced diet – even if I stay the same size that I am, I think I will feel healthier.

I have had many heart issues in the past. Mostly with short bursts of SVT and PVCs. In the past two years, even those have been under control. Taking zantac for reflux has helped A LOT as that was a big trigger for my palpitations. I have been very proud of my heart up until yesterday. Right now, I am pretty pissed off and disappointed.

My last SUSTAINED (more than 20 mins or so) tachy event was about 12 years ago. So, I shouldn’t assume this is going to be “a thing” now. But it is difficult not to fall back into negative thinking patterns. My instinct is to catastrophize and assume this is the beginning of some fear filled rabbit hole. I need to really work at not letting this happen.

When this occurred 12 years ago, it literally robbed me of years – I was consumed with fear for so long. It took a lot of work to get away from that and I refuse to go back there. But I may need help. And I may have some brief set backs. So, I hope the people in my life can bear with me for a hot second.

We are going on vacation soon. We will be in the Dells. It is difficult not to worry about being away from a large hospital or going on a boat ride or drinking a bloody mary. I want so much to enjoy this trip. I cannot worry about my heart freaking out the whole time. So I need to figure out just HOW to make my brain work for me and not against me.

Today, I will rest, putter around the house and try to take it easy mentally and physically. I am slathered in benadryl and hydrocortisone creams because the damn EKG stickers give me a terrible (and ugly) rash. I am also drinking a glass of high carb vitamin C. And I am not feeling remorseful about it. I am bummed/guilty to be missing some events and meetings this week, but I gotta take care of myself. Priorities and all that.

Sigh. Stupid heart.

 

Scrooge of the Fourth

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Getting all share-y with lots of words for a second here…

I hate the 4th of July. I always have. Since age 12ish or so – it’s been filled with bad experiences. Its always sucked but even more the older/achier I get. And I don’t just hate it like in the way some may hate grocery shopping. I hate it in a way that gives me utter anxiety and angst weeks prior.

I think a major part of this is expectations and the fear of disappointing others. I always want to make my people happy and feel I often suck it up to try to make that happen. I have done this for many years – and not just in regards to holidays.

I can deal with the parade – sometimes. But if it is really hot or we have to do a lot of extra walking – it will take so much more out of me. I simply cannot handle things the way I used to. Even the noise wears on me to a point that I need to actually recover as though my senses were violently assaulted.

I don’t drink like most. I can’t. I am a two drink maximum chic. So it is usually a sober Heather hanging around tipsy everyone else. That in itself can be annoying and lonely.

Not only is one expected to last through the whole day – My husband loves taking the boat out onto Lake Michigan for the fireworks. And I gotta say – I think it’s kinda awful. You sit out there for hours in this tiny confined area (still sober) with a cranky tween whose main concern is WIFI access. Dusk seems to take an eternity. The show is pretty – I will give you that – but then it takes FOREVER to get back to the launch and actually drive thru insane traffic and crowds to get home in the middle of the night.

I think it would be awesome if we could take our summer vacation through the 4th. That would be ideal. Especially if that vacation included a quiet beach with cabana boys and misters. Ahhhh.

A few years ago, I was able to suck it up much easier than I am now. I simply don’t have that many spoons (are you familiar with The Spoon Theory?). And I wish there were a way I could get more spoons so that I didn’t feel like I was a constant disappointment AND so that I could feel a part of the fun once in a while. I just wanna be “normal” and I want my old body back!!!

GRUMBLE. Ok. Thanks for letting me vent. Now, off to set up my rummage sale because, clearly, I hate myself.

Thanks, Therapy. You’re Swell.

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Man. It sure has been a while. I am thee suckiest blogger ever, eh? Oh well. I will forgive myself.

I just wanted to touch base regarding my silly body. I am not sure where I left off, but in the past 2.5 years, I have been dealing with a lot of pain, flare-ups (usually due to spasms in various places) and joint issues. This all came about immediately after my hysterectomy and subsequent medication toxicity (which caused neuropathy and liver injury).

Anyway, many many many appointments, specialists, tests later – I am in physical and occuationational therapy and it is helping a lot.

I have said many times before that PT and OT have been helping me physically. The fact that I could make it through a trip to DC (a shit ton of walking in the heat) without a major flare is so encouraging. I seriously couldn’t be happier with the care I have been getting at PT Plus (in Mount Pleasant, WI – they also have an office in Elm Grove).

I also feel I should touch on how it has helped me mentally. Having this invisible, nameless group of physical issues has been a serious mindfuck. People roll their eyes, doubt my limits and even I start to wonder if I did all of this to myself (as silly as that is). Some act as though it is an effort issue. It is not. No, a gym membership will not make this go away.

At my OT appt this week, he said (almost to himself), “Man I feel bad for you.” He said this as he was working on my muscles and joints from the bottom of my feet to the top of my head. There is almost no part of my body not jacked up in some way.

When I heard him say this, I wanted to cry. To have someone validate what I have been feeling for over two years means so much. An untrained person cannot see or feel the problem. And since I do not want a prescription, regular doctors are uninterested. My PT said that most doctors are used to treating “horses” – that is what they know. She said, “Unfortunately, you are a zebra.” Zebras take too much time. And really, with the load physicians are forced to take on – I cannot really blame them. The whole system sucks.

So I may not know exactly how all of this happened – though most of it was clearly due to surgery/complications – I guess at this point, it doesn’t matter. I spent a long time searching for the whys mostly just so that I could attach a name to it – so that I could be taken seriously. But honestly, I don’t feel that is necessary – at least for now.

I do have a lot of pain. Thankfully, it isn’t usually a debilitating kind of pain that I have seen others deal with. When I am not in a “flare” – it is just more like chronic aching or soreness in a variety of places. The pain spots move around and sometimes only hurt when touched or moved in a certain way. This is because some of my muscles are hypertonic, some are incredibly weak and some are just not automatically responding at all. Part of my treatment is actually retraining my brain to communicate with certain muscles. It is all very weird and it can be super frustrating. But as always, I know it could be much worse.

It was upsetting that I couldn’t keep up with others in DC and had to take a cab a few times instead of walking. It is depressing as hell that a day on the boat could leave me with spasms for days. I hate that I cannot do and enjoy the things I could easily do and enjoy just three years ago. The disappointment I see in my husband and the frustration I carry within myself – it is extremely difficult for me to deal with sometimes. The exhaustion is a whole other aspect that is life changing. I hate this and it makes me very angry and extremely lonely. I really really want my body back. I am trying like hell to do everything I can and stay med free.

Thankfully, therapy is helping – both inside and out. And my OT actually said the word “promise” in regards to my getting MUCH better. So I do have hope. And I am grateful. And to have someone who understands is absolutely fucking priceless.

Making a Murderer & A Dose of Self Awareness

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On November 15, 2005, I wrote the following on this blogsite:

“I also had an idea about writing a book about this man in Wisconsin, Steven Avery. He was in prison for something like 18 years for a rape before evidenced proved his innocence of the crime and he was set free. There were then stories in the media about how this poor man lived in a small ice fishing shack because he had no money and his life was taken away. I remember seeing these stories and feeling so bad for him. Today, he is being charged with the rape and murder of a young Wisconsin woman. Tell me there isn’t an interesting story here.”

Charlie and I binged on Making a Murderer the past few days. It is a documentary series regarding Steven Avery’s conviction in the Teresa Halbach murder. I am still trying to reconcile my feelings now with my beliefs before the documentary.

At the time and up until a few days ago, I really felt that this was an evil man who got what he deserved. I did think there was impropriety within the justice system. But, in my mind, if it got him off the streets – I was okay with that.

So, why was I so convinced he was an evil psychopath? Because I am far more influenced by the media than I was willing to admit. It was actually without any conscious or active absorbing. In one part of the film, we noticed that a news reporter used the term “compound” in regards to the Avery property. We both chuckled at the absurdity of that. Switching terminology here and there can make a world of difference when it comes to the forming of public opinion.

Another thing that really bothers me about my own assumptions – during this very time, I was going through my own trauma within the justice system. I was accused of a crime I did not commit…of being something I could never be. It was one of the most difficult, horrific times of my life and probably the only time I have ever truly come close to considering suicide. Not long after, I was treated for PTSD due to that event.

Even though I had first hand experience of being caught in the merciless claws of the justice system; even though I had people lie about me, turn against me and felt as if my life was torn apart – I didn’t consider that maybe this was also happening to Steven Avery. That makes me feel ashamed.

Did he kill Teresa Halbach? I do not know. I don’t know if we will ever know. But I do now think it is VERY possible that he did not.

I may write more about the particulars at another time. I don’t know. A lot being written lately – so probably no need. But I really urge you to watch this 10 part docu-series on Netflix. It will really open your eyes to what probably happens far more often than we would ever imagine. Power drunk egos with an axe to grind can ruin many lives and much too easily without consequence. Scary as fuck.

MTHFR: Motherfuckin’ Genetics

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I am such an asshole. Really. I am pretty mad at myself for not writing the second part of my addiction blog yet. I do promise that I will. And soon. I know what I want to write – it is just a matter of doing it.

I have been slow because…well…I am slow. I feel as though I have been trying to run through knee high mud these past two years. While some things have improved, others have not and the search for answers has been annoying and frustrating and I just want to kick a wall.

I had some lab work recently. One showed low levels of magnesium. This made no sense because I take A LOT of magnesium – knowing for a long time that my body needs it. I also found out that I am vitamin B6 toxic. Yea, because that’s a thing?? Seriously. My body is obnoxious as all hell. So, it was becoming clear that my body is not processing shit correctly. This led to testing for a genetic mutation called MTHFRAs it turns out, I have Compound Heterozygous MTHFR mutations. Meaning, one of my parents gave me two different mutated genes (probably more, but I cannot afford the extra testing right now).

What does this mean? Ugh. I am trying to figure that all out. But basically, it affects how my body processes, metabolizes, absorbs (or not) certain vitamins/minerals. It also means that my liver can easily become toxic/overloaded. And, really, this explains so much.

Throughout my entire life, I have reacted oddly or very sensitively to many medications, vaccines, supplements. I often have an opposite reaction. For example, melatonin keeps me awake. Same with trazodone. I could never really drink very much without getting violently ill. I suppose this is a good thing since it may have kept me from my genetic predisposition to alcoholism. (Silver lining, people. I DO see them once in a while!) So, this really does explain a lot.

Last year, when I had a toxic reaction to a very common antibiotic immediately after surgery (including many drugs, anesthetic, etc) – it was probably because my liver just said “fuck it” and couldn’t take anymore. Thus, causing my liver injury and neuropathy. And that alone took a LONG time from which to recover.

Now, I am fighting constant fatigue due to the inability to get restorative sleep. I have also been in physical therapy almost weekly (sometimes twice a week) for constant muscle tightness and spasms. This could be from not having the right amount of vitamins absorbing or the buildup of B6. We are not completely sure – but that seems to make sense. Along with this comes a very embarrassing brain fog that makes me feel like a Trump-esque moron (only with a heart). I have a very hard time writing or even carrying on a conversation at times. Finding words has been difficult. It is a very strange thing for someone who always has some fucking thing to say.

This has been a long, irritating road and it doesn’t seem like it will be ending soon. Treatment is a trial and error sort of thing. But I am hoping for the best. I have a Dr who has been helpful with her willingness to order the right tests and keep an open mind. Although, she is soon leaving the practice and I will start with a new,highly recommended doc in January. I also have the help of a nutritionist, physical therapist and chiropractor. I have my husband who does his best even though he is (self-admittedly) not the most sensitive guy in the world. And I have a couple of friends who have been there to listen to me whine. So, I think I will make it to a good place, eventually, with their help.

Anyway – that is why I am seemingly such a lazy slug. It sucks – especially when people look at me like I am nuts. But honestly who cares. The people who matter are the only ones who matter. And I also realize how much worse it could be. I am grateful for my progress, my intuition and all of the privileges (which I do not necessarily deserve) that I have been afforded in order to make it this far. I am grateful. Tired, sore and cranky – but grateful. And whether you like it or not, you’ll be hearing from me soon. So don’t get too comfortable with my silence (insert evil laugh and maniacal hand rubbing…and then a cough and probably a fart…while I trip on something and completely ruin my attempt at sexy badass).

When the Prescription Runs Out (Part One)

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In the next couple of weeks, I will be writing on the topic of opiate drug use. Particularly prescription pain meds, heroin, pain management, overdose and the loss of some really decent people. I think that people try to whitewash this topic out of embarrassment, shame, fear. And that is understandable. But it also will not help slow this epidemic. Brutal, honest conversations are where we need to start so that we can figure out how to break free from this fucking mess. New FDA pain medication laws are not helping. I do not have the answers. But I am going to ask the questions. I am going to speak the truth as I know it. And I am going to do my best to show you that these victims of addiction are not any different from those you love…or yourself.

Dad

When I realized that my father had a pretty serious drug habit, I felt little to no compassion. I loved him but all I could think about was how he was choosing it over me. He didn’t love me enough to get his shit together and be a father and that really pissed me off. I didn’t think about his spending months in a full body cast as a kid or the numerous back and knee surgeries he had throughout his life. I never considered the pain he was in or the frustration he must have felt when he could no longer stand or sit for any length of time let alone play the sports he once loved. I just knew that he would come in and out of my life as he pleased. I just knew that through my anger, I still had to be his defender. I just knew that I was never going to have the dad that I needed. And then, at the age of 46 (when I was 23), I sat in a room – just the two of us – as he took his last rattling breath.

He was a big, strong guy but even he could not survive his addiction. He didn’t OD like many. But had it not been for the drugs, he would have been able to meet his grandchildren. His addiction started with a prescription, a genetic predisposition to dependence and a long sought need for relief. I did not understand or develop my compassion until much later.

My dad had many legitimate causes for his chronic pain. I was told that he was a hypochondriac and that he just felt sorry for himself. And I suppose that may have been true. But his pain was real and he had many scars to prove it. That’s one part of having chronic pain that can be so frustrating – the need to constantly prove to others that it even exists. As if hurting wasn’t enough but having to constantly deal with people who think you are full of shit or weak or pathetic – yea, I was not the only one lacking compassion. Our society is a cold, heartless bitch.

I remember my dad showing me his bottle of pills that he kept in the kitchen drawer with the hand towels. “Just ONE of these would kill a horse! Never, ever touch these – got it?” he warned numerous times. Even in my pot years, I was terrified of pills – so that warning was plenty to squash any tiny curiosities. As time went on, the horse killing pills were no longer enough. And they probably became harder to come by as doctors grew increasingly frustrated with him. I knew he was trading pills and belongings for something else. I didn’t know exactly what – even though I found spoons in the bathroom and saw marks in his arms. Towards the end, I learned he was a methadone patient and that is when all of the oozing dots became connected.

To this day, I have guilt. To this day, I think to myself, “If I had been a better daughter…” To this day, I wish he had just loved me enough. But I know that is irrational. I know now the power of these chemicals. And I know that those drugs killed the father I knew long before his body gave out. As I child, I remember his flaws. But I also remember his hilarious humor, his energy, his creativity and how very fun he could be. Slowly, those parts of him began to disappear. I will miss those parts for the rest of my life.

He died in the late 90s. So far, this year in Milwaukee County alone, 189 people have died from overdoses. Many of these people started with a legitimate reason for taking prescription pain medication. There are many people you speak to every day – people you love and respect – who need daily pain relief. And this country treats many of them like criminals – if they treat them at all. There are also those who no longer need prescription relief but became addicted in a very short timeframe after an accident or a surgery. And once that prescription runs out, the patient is left on their own with very detrimental alternatives.

This is complicated. This isn’t about blame. This is a difficult tightrope for everyone involved. But let’s talk about it. Too many people are being lost and it simply does not need to happen. There is no “meant to be” in this fucked up scenario.

LCHF: Worth a Try…We Shall See…

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LCHF-Straight-Arrows

I have written about my weight before. Some may even think I talk about it too much. Or, at least, worry about it too much. I suppose I would agree. I certainly don’t want my daughter to be as concerned with her body image as I have been with mine. I get to the point of beating myself up mentally whenever I look in the mirror. I cry. I yell. I throw my clothes on the ground and refuse to leave the house (this isn’t a regular thing, but it has happened). I would never want Cassidy to feel this way – so why do I do it to myself? It has been ingrained in my head since childhood that how we look is the basis of our value. Cognitively, I know that is crap…but my subconscious sees my fat or cellulite or signs of aging as unworthiness. It truly is fucked up. And telling me “stop feeling that way” is about as productive as telling a depressed person to “cheer up”. Believe me, if I could – I would.

So, a little background…When I was pregnant 11 years ago, I gained 70+ pounds. Shortly before becoming pregnant, I went on a beta blocker for my heart – so that didn’t help. After having her – using a multiple of dieting methods – I was able to lose some but a big chunk wouldn’t budge. I honestly tried everything. Finally, I went off of a medication (cymbalta) and the rest fell off with sensible eating. I lost over 30 pounds in less than 3 months. And I kept it off for a number of years.

In 2014, my medical issues got worse, I had surgery and then post op complications (the whole antibiotic thing I wrote about a few months ago) – I gained about 30 in a fairly short block of time. And with my liver injury – my body has been holding onto fat for dear life. Again, it just wouldn’t budge. Over the last year, I have VERY slowly been able to lose about 13 pounds. But that stalled a few months ago and no matter what, the rest just won’t leave.

So, I have decided to try the LCHF (basically, Atkins) diet to get things progressing. I do not know if this will work. I do know that I have never really tried this before. I want to lose 15 lbs but would be happy with 10. It isn’t like I have a shit load to lose. So, I realize my results won’t be like those who lose 10 pounds in one week. And there ARE a lot of people like that.

But I want to make this clear – I will never be a militant dieter. I am of the mindset that life is so very short and I plan on enjoying as much of it as I can until I can’t. And, yes, that includes cake. I enjoy food. I am not addicted. I am not obsessed. I enjoy it. It is a great pleasure in life and I will never be one of those people who simply use it as fuel. That just isn’t me. During those years when I kept the weight off – I basically ate healthy, fairly low carb most of the week. On weekends and vacations, I allowed myself to splurge. I am happy with that way of eating.

So far on the LCHF (2.5 days) – I have lost 2 lbs. And I can even see the difference already. We shall see where this goes as it is certainly worth a try. The food is most definitely limited – but also very filling. I am trying to keep my net carbs (carbs minus fiber) under 25 grams per day. This isn’t easy, but so far has been do-able. But if I have a piece of cake at a party or some corn at a fair – I am not going to torture myself as though I am some kind of failure. Because, really, what I want more than anything is to be okay with what I am and how I look in each moment. I am 41. I will never look 20 again. And it simply is not fair to myself to expect that and punish myself because I don’t.

If anyone is interested in learning about LCHF…I will put a couple of videos below. There is also a lot of info HEREBut, again, I am not pushing this diet…not even recommending it yet. I think the science is very interesting and I have seen a shit load of success stories and I am trying it. That’s all. At this point anyway 😉

Nurse Jackie: Addiction Fucking Sucks

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When the series finale of Nurse Jackie ended and the credits began to roll, I was kinda like, “Ummm…so, THAT’S it?!” My feelings were mixed and I felt dissatisfied. After a few minutes passed and I really started to think about it, I soon realized that it was actually quite perfect.

While the writers brought to us: colorful characters (Zoe was by far my favorite), tragically hilarious storylines and sarcastic one-liners – the show was about addiction.  There was no real beginning and therefore, no real ending was called for. They wrote, for us, merely a glimpse into the life of one woman and her illness.

We are spoiled, as viewers. We like to have everything spelled out for us and then wrapped up into a box of closure topped with a bow. We want that big shoot out or that island wedding or some cataclysmic lesson. When everything doesn’t fit back into the packaging at the end, we are frustrated. “Fuck that! What happened?!” Well, folks, life happened. And I guess we just have to accept that the end wasn’t part of the story.

The tale here was simple: addiction fucking sucks. And addicts just aren’t who we once pictured them to be. They don’t come with flags and badges. And no one is immune. Addicts are smart, creative, funny, successful, kind, compassionate – they bear the most wonderful human qualities. They are loved and respected. They live their lives like everyone else – until, they can’t.

Jackie was very good at what she did – a skillful and polished addict. Her lying was survival. Her manipulation – masterful. And Eddie was as textbook co-dependant as one could be. Where there is a Jackie – there is almost always an Eddie. “You are my everything,” he said. They almost welcome the torment – they feed off of it. At least, for a while. Then there are also Zoes – who will worry and tend and clean up until they are strong enough to finally break away. They still carry their love, only it is more and more carefully protected as time goes on.

I cannot count the addicts I have known and even loved. I cannot measure the impact of each blow by their actions. But I am grateful that I have been able to avoid being a Jackie, so far. And for the most part, I have not stood in Eddie’s shoes. I have, however, been a Zoe. I have also been various co-stars and extras standing in the background attempting to duck from the impending shrapnel.

I have my issues, that is for sure.  This bouquet of neurosis has sheltered me from personally developing the disease a number of times in my life – and for that I am thankful. Having had a father, step father, grandparents, uncles, cousins and friends who battle with addiction – I know just how easily it could come for me. My father died at 46. My stepfather has been sober for decades. Others I have known and loved have all lived (or are living) their own story – each with different outcomes.

Dependency is a tightrope and each acrobat comes with their own finite set of chances. Sometimes there is a net on which to fall but eventually that net will fray and become unreliable. Either way, the exact conclusion can never truly be predicted.

How does it end for Jackie? What happens after they run to her as she lies half-conscious on the floor? It doesn’t really matter. We have many options from which to choose if we wish to fill in our own blanks. Perhaps we can insert our own experiences. Or maybe we can just be okay with knowing that the story wasn’t about how it ends – but rather the tenacious grip dependency can wield.

We know what we need to know – that Jackie was enslaved by an illness – like so many we see, know and love. That this illness can creep on suddenly or take decades to evolve. That some people do gain their freedom – to a certain extent. And that many end their stories dreadfully. But most of all, we know that addiction fucking sucks.