Monthly Archives: January 2015

What a Pill

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These past few weeks have been pretty nasty for me health-wise. But it seems I have found the cause for some of the problems and I couldn’t be more grateful!!!

Several weeks ago, I began having some very uncomfortable and startling symptoms.  My heart rate, which is typically 65-75, started averaging around 85-90. And yes, for me, this is very noticeable and uncomfortable. When you have SVT, you are VERY aware of your heart rate without even taking your pulse. I also started having many more PVCs (what feels like a skipped beat) and constant adrenaline surges. And to make matters worse, I went from my regular crappy 5 hours of sleep a night to 2-3 hours each night. I would jolt awake whenever my body would start to go into a deep sleep. I was fucking miserable!!

My Dr. prescribed trazodone to help me sleep. I took a low dose the first night and my heart went INSANE. Not only was I having more PVCs than usual, I started getting them every 4th beat for HOURS. And I was tachycardic off and on throughout the night. Oh, and I didn’t sleep a wink. It was awful and I will never take it again. It has been known to have some heart rhythm side effects, so screw that noise. Anyway, my cardiologist had me come in for an EKG the next day and it was fine as the med wore off. But she said that my decision to never take it again was probably a good one.

During this time (and a little while before), I started a pretty strict diet. I was measuring and logging everything I ate – staying around 1200 calories a day. I also started exercising 50+ mins per day instead of my typical 30-40. During those weeks, even with large calorie deficits, I couldn’t lose even  1/2 of a pound. It was very discouraging.

Okay, so…I have been taking a beta blocker called metroprolol for over 8 years for my arrhythmia. It has worked great. I have taken the same dose and same brand forever. Suddenly, a few days ago, I realized that my symptoms started when my Dr. ordered a different brand. Same dose and active ingredient, but it was a different manufacturer and formulation. I have heard of this happening to others, but I never thought the difference could be THAT severe.

I had a few older ones left over and went back to taking those. Within two days, the adrenaline surges were gone, heart rate was down and the past two nights I have slept 6 hours each (with some interruption but nothing compared to previous weeks). Sleeping 6 hours after days and days of only 2 or 3 is like eating a feast after being stranded on an island with only snackable bugs. I am still on the look out for the perfect ear plugs but those and the mask do help as well.

I called the pharmacist and she said she also has a bad reaction if the brand of her medication is changed and she sent a med change request form to my Dr. right away. Wow! I wasn’t crazy! Well, in this case anyway.

So another weird thing about this…and I am not sure how it relates…but something odd happened with my weight. Those weeks of working so hard, being so strict and losing nothing, even with such a significant calorie deficit, was depressing. This past week, I didn’t exercise AT ALL. I mean, with only 2 hours of sleep, screw that. I also didn’t log my food or cut out carbs. I suddenly lost 6 pounds. In ONE week. It makes no friggin sense.

Also, around the time of the change, my muscle relaxer (given for severe muscle tightness/spasm and pain) just stopped working. I am not sure if this is related as well, but I may give it another try.

I absolutely am shocked that such a thing could make such a life altering difference. I really hate having such a sensitive body. And God help me if they ever stop making this brand of my medication. Wowzers. That SUCKED. Yea, I still have my other issues and we are in the process of figuring all that shit out. But holy hell I am so glad I can at least feel a little better while I limp around aching and moaning.

But I Get Up Again…Eventually

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It’s been a rough couple of weeks. So much for 2015 being the great comeback year. Well, I suppose there are still 343 days for that to get into gear. But, so far, suck city.

If you have known me for a while, you may remember my mentioning that I have, at times, had physical symptoms just before learning of bad news. Precognitive symptoms I call them. Do I really, truly, fully believe this is what goes down? I am not sure. But there have been some serious coincidences.

On Saturday, we ordered some food and after two weeks of strict dieting, I was super stoked to eat some carbs and red meat. Right before I started to eat I had some sharp odd pains in my abdomen. These weren’t familiar and not the usual scar tissue pains I have been having. I tried to eat a little but my stomach wasn’t having it. I took a bath and drank some peppermint tea. Still, yucky. So I decided to just go to bed. As I laid there listening to my audiobook, I received a text from my mother in law that her long-time and my new(er) friend, Sara, was in the hospital and may not make it through the night. She had been battling cancer. I told her I would meet her there, got dressed and left. My stomach then felt fine.

I later said to Charlie, “Maybe that is why I was having those weird pains.” He nodded. Cassidy asked what I meant. I kinda just told her it was hard to explain but that sometimes I think I feel icky right before something bad happens. She said, “Maybe it is a power.” I just smiled and said, “Maybe, hon.”

Though she was unconscious and finally (thankfully) free of pain, I was able to say goodbye to our friend that night. And she died minutes after we left. Needless to say, this is very sad and yet another in-your-face reminder of how short life really is. Her kindness, laughter and strength will be sincerely missed.

The next day, I decided to watch the movie Wild. I really didn’t have much desire to see it before and was never a big Reese Witherspoon fan. For whatever reason, the movie didn’t appeal to me until that moment. Something told me that Sara would like it,  so I watched.

In the movie, she quoted Adrienne Rich:

…her wounds came from the same source as her power…

For some reason, this struck a chord. I am still not entirely certain why. But it occurred to me that this was the second time in 24 hours that the term ‘power’ caught my attention. Power. This is not a word I use to define myself…like…ever. In fact, it is usually quite the opposite. I often feel powerless against my health, my weight, my past, my future, the opinions of others, my regrets, my desires…I could go on. Feeling powerless sucks but it is like one of those blankets of thorns you get used to as it pierces your skin while still keeping you warm. Kinda pathetic, but real.

While I do have many moments of feeling weak or powerless – I still hold with me the knowledge that I try. You remember that horribly annoying song from the 90s…well wait…here it is…

Anyway, I remember a friend telling me that this song was like my anthem. Whether it was getting knocked down by my own dumb self or some other asshole or shitty situation – I always found a way to get back up. I may whine about it, but eventually, I stand. So, you can have your complaints about me and my demeanor…but don’t you dare tell me that I don’t try.

I received a diagnosis yesterday that I have seen coming for quite some time. I am not happy about it. I am quite angry, actually. And I am not going to get into it right now because I am still waiting on some tests. It isn’t anything life threatening – but it is life altering. Just, crappy really. And I will write about it later.

Along with this, I have been experiencing some pretty serious insomnia. On a very good night I will sleep 5 hours. But mostly, it is around 3 hours of actual sleep. This is seriously messing with my emotions, health, heart and mind. Along with other symptoms, I am in the pits lately. Could it be worse? Fuck yea. And I say that all of the time. But that doesn’t make my pain invalid.

What is another thing you can say to me that might get you a kick in the neck, aside from “Try harder”? “Cheer up” or “Relax” or “Turn that frown upside down” or any other motivational 80s poster platitude that was hanging in your high school counselor’s office. When a person has depression or an anxiety disorder or a chronic illness or anything else that you may not really understand…it would be best to keep the trite bullshit to yourself.

You really want to help? Listen. Validate. Or just offer a hug. Because saying things like I mentioned above implies that we do not have a right to feel the way that we do. It implies that we are choosing our pain. It implies that not only do we have to feel bad about our circumstances but that we are also doing it wrong. Do not deny me my feelings. And ya know what…if it were as simple as flipping a switch…I would have done that a long fucking time ago.

Just because a person is down or even severely depressed, that doesn’t mean they do not appreciate what they have. In fact, it is often true that we appreciate these things even more. So many of you take those beautiful moments and gifts for granted. We savor them and are thankful more than you could know. I see the wonderful things in my life and I am thankful for them every day. Some days I am more verbal about them than others. But that gratitude is most certainly there.

And one more thing, the fact that some of you view me as some kind of oddball isn’t news to me. I share a lot. I do not hide my sensitivity and my flaws. My Facebook wall won’t be full of cheery self congratulatory applause or exaggerated life descriptions. You get what you see and you see what you get – for the most part. I mean, there are some things I will not share, so no – you don’t get the FULL picture. But I am me, warts and all. And I won’t hide it because I think that is inauthentic and annoying. So you can think I am weird…but I know there are things hiding in your heads and closets too. The fact that you hide them doesn’t make you any specialer. (yes, I know that is not a word)

Today sucks. Tomorrow will probably not be any better. But I know things will lift eventually. In the meantime, allow me my sorrow, accept me for who I am or get off my lawn.

Unplugged Racine: Death to a Radio Station

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car radio

I have listened to WRJN’s (our local radio station) morning talk/call-in show for a long time. Throughout these past years, the most common reaction I have received other than a “are you freakin kidding me” look has been, “Heather, I am pretty sure you are the only one who does.” Even I, while listening, would constantly harp about the need for change on that station. I mean, it sounded no different than when my grandmother listened 30 years ago. It has been stuck in some radio waved time warp that often annoyed and frustrated me. But I continued to visit nearly each morning because it has been the only option for local talk radio. And what a fucking shame that is.

It is pretty obvious to anyone not living under a pre-historic rock that older forms of media are hanging on by a thread. With iPods, Pandora, satellite…local radio is becoming extinct.  But aboard this sinking ship remains a buoyant format: News/Talk Radio.

Recently, WRJN fired it’s station manager and morning talk show host. And I am not really crying over this because the guy could be offensive, uneducated about current topics and was just really out of touch with the average listener. 75% of the show was about him and his life. He often bragged that he never once sipped a beer or smoked a cigarette. And he clearly saw him self as superior to most. He spent half of each show bumbling around trying to work his computer and seemed to have no clue how to navigate Google. Several times, my husband made me turn off the radio because I wouldn’t stop yelling at it. Hey, better than yelling at him, right?? Anyway, I have not shed tears over this change.

However, this change did not turn out to be a positive one. In fact, I no longer listen at all. Not only did they fire above mentioned dude, they changed the format. Apparently, their only demographic is the nursing home bound and the life support dependent. Most of their programming is now music. And the most contemporary song I have heard is at least 30 years old. Music? Really? This is the route you want to take? We have other music stations and I don’t know anyone who listens to those either.

Pretty soon, WRJN’s demographic will be 6 feet under. Dontcha think appealing to a younger crowd might be a desired path? 65 million millennials listen to radio each week. And many of them seek out news/talk formats. If they want to listen to music, they will do so through the internet or their many MP3 devices.

What I wouldn’t give for a decent morning call in show with local topics. Intelligent discussion and sharing of ideas would be ideal. Give us a host who is prepared and hasn’t lost every news article he wanted to mention. Give us a program we can relate to and of which we can feel a part. For the love of all that is transmitted…we do not need a station that plays 50s bubble gum noise peppered with boring jokes and one-sided banter.

Sorry, WRJN, but you have lost one of your last listeners. At least I rarely feel the need to yell at NPR – so maybe that’s a good thing.

**Quick afterthought…
I rarely apologize for what I write. I have before, but certainly not often. And while I meant everything I said, I feel I was a bit harsh in my critique of the program director/host. He did have some good qualities too. He is clearly a hard worker and an experienced DJ. He seems like a decent person. He did say many things in the past that I thought were pretty cruel and prejudice…but I don’t think he is evil or deserves bad things. I am sure being fired from that job after so many years had to be heartbreaking. So…my compassion kicked in a little. I do wish him well.