Meanwhile, Caity went to the Dreaded Dentist yesterday, for my 6 monthly checkup and clean. I mentioned my TMJ (tempero-mandibular joint) problems (yet another legacy from my violent first marriage) so he sent me off for an X ray. Yep, there’s a issue there. Looks like instead of my CPAP machine we’ll be trying a different kind of splint at night, one that helps to keep the jaw in place…
Oh, and the xray picked up two decayed places underneath some older fillings, so guess who gets to go back to the Dreaded Dentist next week? ARRRRRRRRGHH! Break out the anxiolytics again… if there’s anything I really FEAR at the dentist it’s those needles right at the back of the jaw. *shudder* It was inevitable, I guess, since I’ve had some of those back fillings for an awful long time…
Right. Time to go print off my story and go to writer’s group. That’s a much happier thought!
Because apparently, I don’t get to have one without lashings of the other. Like sandwiches and ginger beer in an Enid Blyton Famous Five novel, they just go together. Only without the fun of a picnic.
So. I really haven’t done much this week, of anything. No uni work. No housework. I’ve barely moved. I managed to get to my appointment with the dentist – the tooth I was worried might have been cracked turned out to be ok, it’s just that the medication I had been taking (but am now off) for the mania caused the gum to recede a bit, so the tooth has become extra sensitive. Add in some sinus pain with the couple of storms we’ve had, and that explains why I thought something had gone very wrong. She did an x-ray (another one!) to check there wasn’t an abscess lurking, treated the tooth with some concentrated fluoride (which tasted oddly of tropical fruit – maybe passionfruit and rockmelon?) and sent me on my way. It was worth the $60 out-of- pocket for the reassurance.
I also saw my lovely mental health nurse. I’ve been having trouble eating, and this was making me anxious. Turns out that this is normal for people who are depressed – who knew? This is all uncharted territory for me, this depression after mania – it’s been such a long time since I’ve had a manic event to cope with. I’ve had to really be kind to myself about food, and not worry when I can’t eat very much, but still make myself eat SOMETHING – even if I can’t manage to eat an entire serving of rice porridge and have to waste some.
Mr Beloved has also been dealing with depression. The lovely mental health nurse reassured me that this, too, is normal: when two people who are prone to depression live together they often get depressed at the same time. Even the Very Helpful Psychiatrist said that she gets extra busy around the equinox.
But we’re getting better, I think. Slowly. Mostly by being very kind to ourselves and not expecting too much. There’s no point beating yourself up when you simply can’t manage to do much. The floor will still be there to be vacuumed tomorrow, after all.
Oh, and I had to see my GP yesterday to get a letter excusing me from jury duty – I got called up again – the fourth time in the last 12 months or so. If I was only so lucky in the lotto I’d bother buying tickets!
I’m hoping that this week I’ll be well enough to do some uni work and some housework. And there’s the Helpful Psychologist to see. And Connie goes to the groomer, which is a good thing – she’ll be very glad to lose her long winter coat.
The Carnival of Flowers is on so I might even take a wander down to one of the parks for some photos later in the week if I’m feeling better. Tonight, though, they’ll have fireworks which scare Connie. Ah well, it won’t last for long.
And I’ll watch Dr Who. And tomorrow night we’ll watch the next episode of ‘Call the Midwife’ – isn’t that a brilliant show?
Saturday. Recovery day. Friday is my big day at uni, where I go to my creative writing class and my mind gets completely overwhelmed and – ugh. I just get wiped out. It’s wonderful class and I’m excited to be doing it, I’m learning heaps, but it’s so much at once.
It starts with getting up earlier than usual so that I can get to uni in good time. Apart from the couple of weeks when I couldn’t drive because of the shakes (going away now that I’m just about weaned off the Saphrïs, thank goodness) I drive myself out there, and I’m not really used to morning traffic – even Toowoomba style ‘rush hour’ is a little bit anxiety-making for me, since I’m just not used to stop-start driving (and especially at the moment when the depression/ anxiety is kicking in, I get worried – oh, rapid cycling bipolar, how I love it – NOT!).
Once I’m at uni I have time to have a half strength skinny latte before class. This gives me time to settle down, open up a new document on my computer, and generally get myself set up before the 9 o’clock start.
Then the lecturer arrives and it’s BAM, full on,until he calls a break at about ten thirty. He brings so much energy to the room, deliberately making the room a safe place to ask questions, but keeping the pace fast and fun so that we are learning HEAPS about the writing process and whichever topic we’re up to this week. I take lots of notes on my computer and listen hard. We get a quick loo break and then steam on again, usually with group work or exercises, full pace until we finish at twelve, by which time I am wrung out – my brain is full.
Yesterday I knew was going to be stressful because we were warned the week before to bring hard copies of our 2000 word stories, to share in groups. We did a process called ‘creative development’ where you read your story to a small group, who provide critique, but you’ve asked for some direction beforehand – in my case, I’m still not sure that the end of my story is working, so I wanted some feedback on that. The idea is that the group expands your thinking, they might throw in some ideas that you wouldn’t have come up with on your own.
And if I had been more confident yesterday I think I would have enjoyed it more. As it was, I don’t think I have EVER been more nervous reading something in my entire life. My hands were shaking, my knees were knocking, my voice was tremulous, my nose was running, my eyes watered. I was a mess and instead of it getting easier the further I read, the more difficult it became. ARRRRGH! The other five students in the group noticed but were kind, and had useful comments to make about the story. At the end of the session when the lecturer came around and asked for comments I said that it had been exceptionally nerve-wracking because it wasn’t just reading something to ‘people’, it was reading work to other WRITERS.
After we finish our group work, the lecturer usually has some sort of video thing to wind down, tries to leave us with something funny, something that reinforces the points that he’s spent the lecture making. The whole structure of the three hours is really carefully thought out so the class gets the best use of the time, but it is full on and really tiring for me. I love it – I have never enjoyed a class so much, and it’s very different from the stressful time I had last semester – but it’s exhausting.
After class I usually go to lunch with some friends from the class. We kept talking about how cool the things we’d done in class were, and one of the girls who hadn’t felt able to read her story during class time was able to share it around the lunch table once we’d all eaten, which was amazing – so we had our own Creative Development session for her there. She was just about as nervous as I had been, which was oddly reassuring for me – I didn’t feel like such an idiot for being apprehensive. And I felt like I was able to give her some useful feedback.
Then off to my small scrapbooking group – not because I was going to work on anything (although I do have a small project to start on, a birthday card for my brother) but because I owed them a visit and they are dear friends, and I wanted to see them. I called to check it was still okay to come, since by now it was after two o’clock, and the hostess said ‘please come.’ Only problem was I missed the turn, got lost, and spent another fifteen minutes trying to find my way back to where I should have been – I don’t know that side of town – arrgh! A cup of tea and a chat, a sit down for about an hour, and then back home in the almost-rush traffic again and I had to put myself to bed.
I was quite shaky and anxious. I know part of this is the depression, I know normally I can manage this level of driving, but just at that moment I needed to lie down under the quilts and be warm and not do very much. And it was my Dad’s birthday yesterday – HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! So I gave him a quick call before I fell into bed. I did manage to call the dentist and get an appointment about a sore tooth, so that was at least one more thing taken care of, but – phew, I had had enough of Friday.
Meanwhile, Mr B had had a very productive day – he’d used the pots and potting mix we’d bought on Thursday and split up some of his carnivorous plants; he’d re-potted some succulents that were well overdue; planted out some nigellas that needed to be moved from pots into the ground, and sundry other garden jobs. I’m going to steal some off his photos from his blog, since he took some marvellous pics.
So that’s about it. We have a two week semester break now, but I have homework – editing the 2000 word story – and by editing, the assignment is really re-writing the whole thing again to try and make it better. I think I’m going to try it in first person instead of third person, that sort of thing. And I’m meeting with two of the girls from class on Tuesday to see how we’re all going with that.
Oh, and I mustn’t forget – tomorrow a group of us are going to see the lecturer’s latest play performed at the local theatre – we all decided to go to the Sunday matinee. Looking forward to that.
So it’s Sunday again, I might as well find some things to post about. Here we go:
Things that I am enjoying now: Mary Beard’ s TV series ‘Meet the Romans’ – the last one of this 3 part series is on SBS TV tonight, and she makes me wish that I had time to do a classics degree. Which I don’t. And without the wherewithal to travel to Britain and Italy, it’s not really worth it, but she makes it seem so brilliant.
Mr B has been enjoying watching it too. He was actually subjected to some Latin in his education, so sometimes he gets to play along as Mary translates.
I am enjoying being on the lower dose of Saphrís again because my tongue doesn’t feel quite so burnt. I do worry a bit about going to the next lower dose because I am scared of dipping into depression again, especially at the moment while this hassle with the neighbours is going on. It’s very easy to get sick and isolated again and I don’t want that.
I’m enjoying the feeling of having my assignment for CWR1000 finished and handed in. It was 99% written but it took me until Thursday afternoon (it was due Friday midnight) to find the right ending but when I did, the whole thing fell into place. Those last three sentences made it work. At least I think they did –we’ll see what the lecturer thinks. Poor man has 110 students, each handing in one of these 2000 word stories to mark. I do not envy him his job. Meanwhile, our next assignment is to edit these pieces, and we have been given some instructions on how to do so. We have one more week of lectures then a two week break, during which I need to find a new story to write so I don’t go mad with nothing to do. (There is always, always the front room, which I am determined to get to. Soon. My study-buddy and I have agreed to meet during the break to work on our stories so we keep each other going, and I think this will be a Good Thing.)
I am enjoying seeing Mr B writing his story, too. He says he is encouraged by my uni work (and I hope as I learn how this editing process works I will be able to pass on some knowledge to him). I really admire his determination to get his book written, he also struggles every day with back pain and neurological pain from his accident, so his writing time is limited, but he is determined to at least get some words down most days. As my Dad says, any day you’re vertical and ventilated is a win. Some days that’s about all we manage, and we have to accept that. I have to remind myself of that.
I am enjoying re-reading the Harry Potter books. I’ve been reading other things in between, so this is a slow project, but I’m halfway through book three (Prisoner of Azkaban) and the storytelling is wonderful. Will I bother with the new ‘for grown ups’ JK Rowling book? Probably not, unless and until I see it remaindered for a very cheap price or on the new releases shelf at the library. But the Harry Potter stories are just the thing for me to be reading to get to sleep at night right now – I don’t have to think too much, and I still get to admire how cleverly she’s plotted and how simply she’s used language.
I’ve been reading more Ray Bradbury stories too, but they’re not as good for getting to sleep – short stories never work as well for getting to sleep because they STOP, dammit! And also because Ray Bradbury is possibly the writer I admire most, so I find myself really concentrating when I’m reading his stuff. Not that I don’t enjoy the stories, I do, but I read them differently now. Unless they’re ones I know really well.
The Formula 1 race is at Monza tonight. Not quite as fun a circuit as Spa, but still usually worth watching. I’m a bit worn out so we’ll see how I go, I might not last race distance.
Things I am not enjoying right now: the ongoing harassment from the next door neighbours. We’ve had to call the police numerous times. Sometimes we then have to call the police back to cancel the complaint, because they can only act if the noise is still happening when they arrive. (I find this embarrassing and upsetting, both the initial call and then the call to cancel.) The noise from next door resonates from their sub-woofer stereo through both wooden houses, since they are built so very close together, and you would think after the police showing up so many times the neighbours would get a clue that it’s an issue but no, they don’t. Living with the DOOMF DOOMF DOOMF is like being dragged back and forth over a hacksaw blade (as Mr B put it last night. I cannot think of a more eloquent phrase to describe it.) I just want a quiet life, is that too much to want? Really?
Last night I let it get to me to the point where it made me sick. My body gave in and did that ever so charming panic attack instant dysentery trick (noooiice) and afterwards all I could do was lie on the bed and cry, even thought that wasn’t what I wanted. I took a lorãzepam because there comes a point where I do not want to sit and observe my feelings, even if that is the right, proper, ACT therapeutic thing that my psychologist would like me to do – I just have had enough of being dragged back and forth and it’s after 11 at night and all I want is some peace.
Today it started up again and I had had enough. I got dressed and took the dog out in the car to the park. We no longer have an off leash area in Queens Park (which means that entire area of the park was deserted – well done, Toowoomba Council – Sunday arvos used to see happy families frolicking with their pets there, but no more) but Connie was quite happy to trot around the flowers and paths of the plantings which are almost ready for the official start of the Carnivore of Fowls – excuse me, Carnival of Flowers – and then sit on the grass with me. I probably walked a little bit further than was good for me (I really need to be building up gradually, not doing 30 minutes of walking at once, my hips went clunk CLUNK clunk CLUNK) but provided I can manage the pain tonight it will have been worth it. Even sitting amongst screeching children was better than being home and hearing the DOOMF DOOMF DOOMF. Plus, I got some Vitamin D, which is a Good Thing, and Connie got some new smells, which probably helps her brain too. It’s paralysis tick season so she will be gone over with the very fine comb tonight – lots of growls but lots of treats, and yes, we do check between her toes, in her ears and underneath the tick collar as well. Can’t be too careful.
That’s about it from here this week. The egg carton foam mattress topper is still making a big difference – I am getting up to 4 hours of unbroken sleep some nights. I was supposed to go to a fashion show thingy at a shop today but was too down to go. There will be other times when they have discounts, so it won’t matter too much. We’re supposed to get another cold night here – back down to 6 degrees – brrrrr – but the days are sunny. Nearly time to get Connie out of her winter coat (and you know as soon as we make the decision to do that and get her clipped, we’ll get a week of really cold nights!)
Now, I have been accused in the past of sharing over much on my blogs, but I can assure you that this time the plumbing I refer to is NOT mine – not ghastly stories of leaking fluids from ME this time (although if you’re REALLY interested, I can point you over here…)
No, this time we’re talking about the even more expensive kind. The kind where you call the man who charges even more than hospitals and doctors. The kind whose absence can leave you even more miserable – truly, is there much more misery making than a lukewarm, low pressure shower on a freezing cold morning? Brrrrrrrr.
(I particularly like how this logo is GOLD PLATED. Kinda says it all.)
We had a lot of plumbing work done last year when we had the house re-stumped and re-roofed and the new water tank put in. ‘Righty-o!’ We naively thought, ‘We’re done!’
Because a couple of weeks ago we had a tap in the bathroom that decided to just start trickling instead of turning off. And then the trickle turned into running. Which of course happened on a Friday arvo… so we watched litres of water going down the drain all weekend, not wanting to call a plumber out on the weekend ($$$!) and having discovered that for some reason an ordinary washer wouldn’t fix the problem. Turns out that some sort of ‘water saver sleeve’ had been fitted that had caused the problem. ARRRRRGH! $101.20
Then last week we noticed that in order to have a hot shower you had to be QUICK and not turn the cold tap on at all. And it was getting worse – to the point where a hot shower was becoming impossible. Soooooo… call the plumber again. Some sort of problem with the ‘tempering valve‘ (and here I begin to wonder if it’s called that because it causes me to lose MY temper…) which is fixed at great expense… $429.30 (ouch!)
Except…. it’s not fixed. Because after a few days of HOT showers (bliss!) we start noticing that the problem of COLD showers is back – only now we have a ghost in the pipes as well – a whiiiiine that can only be fixed by turning off various taps until you find the right one where the ghost is caught. ARRRRRRRRRGH! And now the hot water heater is spurting cold water out one of the drain valves at over a litre a minute… constantly. Which adds to the whirring noise in the pipes.
So as I’m writing this we’re waiting for the plumber to come again… and dreading how much our water rates bill will be next time, with all this excess water just running away.
Part of the problem might have been caused by the council themselves – the plumber reckons some of this might have been caused by muck in the pipes and our expensive problems started AFTER the Jellicoe Street mains was reconnected a couple of weeks ago after being out of service for 18 months (when it was knocked out in the January 10 floods). Who knows how much gunk was flushed through and into our system then. Ugh.
But I suspect it’s the new tempering valve that’s caused the problems.
And the BEST part? The plumbers we paid THOUSANDS to, not twelve months ago ? Have gone out of business, because they were a husband and wife company (as so many small businesses are) and their marriage went kaput, so the company has folded. So much for our guarantees.
(And now the plumber has arrived… and Mr Beloved has just informed me, has gone away again to get parts for THREE – count ’em, ONE, TWO, THREE, valves on the hot water system which have gone wrong – turn off, hot blowoff and cold blowoff.
Good thing we bought those tins of baked beans when they were on special for four tins for $5… because I think that’s all we’ll be eating for a while. Holy hot cheese jaffles, Batman, I can’t WAIT to see the bill for this.
It’s now an hour later, and it’s dark… and the plumber and Mr Beloved are still out there. The plumber has phoned a friend. He keeps saying things like “Yep, you’ve get a really weird one here…”
I have taken One Of My Little P1lls.
And I’m still on the edge of tears because… well dammit, because! There are times when things Just Get Too Much and this is getting close to becoming one of them. ARRRRRGH! So I have left poor Mr Beloved to deal with the nice plumber and I had to walk away because I was just feeling too sick to manage. And I’m trying not to beat myself up about that but – ugh.
And now I am going upstairs and hiding under the blankets again until this is over. Or until I can have a hot shower again. Whichever comes first. The forecast is for ‘Frost then Sunny’ and 1 C overnight – but apparently it ‘felt like’ – 5 C overnight last night.
I had to leave the uni tute early today (just when we were were actually having a USEFUL discussion about the essay!) to go to the endodontist, because when I saw my own dentist the other week about this horrible big sore molar she said “no, that one looks too difficult for me, I’m referring you to to the endodontist, because if you need root canals or a crown he can give you a better assessment and quote and we can work out where to go from there”.
The problem being that this particular tooth is more (old, amalgam) filling than tooth and the small piece of tooth that is left had cracked, and was flexing and hurting. A LOT. Which was greatly contributing to my pain, misery, and general grumpiness. And anxiety. Because I have a well earned terror of dentists, reinforced by many traumatic experiences from Dubbo to Wagga Wagga, from Canberra to Toowoomba. (Hint: if EVER a dentist suggests you get your wisdom teeth taken out “in the chair”, unstrap yourself AND RUN.)
And tooth horror stores are everywhere – once you start, people just can’t WAIT to share them – a long time ago I had 3 long, slow, painful root canals on a tooth on the other side of my mouth, then the tooth had to be pulled out anyway. “Oh yeah, my husband paid $3000 for a crown, had to have 4 root canals to get it done, then it came off the next year and he had to pay another $500 to get it glued back on!” “Yeah, No, my Aunty Rita, she had a crown put on and then got an abscess under it, they had to take it all off again, and her whole jaw swelled right up and she had to have months of antibiotics and she could only eat soup ’til it healed!
(Oh, and if you have teeth issues, probably don’t read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which is a really good fantasy read, set in Prague, and elsewhere, but with teeth as a powerful magical metaphor… you can watch the trailer for the book here on Amazon …)
SO: the interesting things: apart from the OUCH $400 for just over half an hour consult (not sure how much I get back from heath fund yet because the paperwork got messed up and I have to go back tomorrow to get it fixed) *headdesk* And my answering the question on the form “Any other medical issues?” with “Extremely anxious patient (I AM REALLY NOT KIDDING ABOUT THIS)” and noting “There is not enough room to list all medicati0ns (Please see over for rest of medicat1ons) (And yes, I took an anx1olytic in the car on the way there so I wouldn’t freak out in the chair); it turns out that most of my teeth are CRACKED. The endodontist asked “Have you ever been in a car crash?” Ummmm… no… could it be from grinding my teeth? No, apparently this sort of cracking is more from a forceful coming together of the teeth. So possibly when I got hit in the jaw? Maybe. (Domestic Violence, the gift that just keeps on giving, 20 + years later…) The endodontist showed me with a special light and mirror that every single one of my teeth has these vertical impact cracks. EVERY ONE. So I’m likely to keeping having odd problems with my teeth as a result.
Next interesting thing – the endodontist was also surprised that I manage to grind my teeth while wearing a full face CPAP mask. Says that’s quite a feat. Shouldn’t be able to do it. Not sure it’s something the judges on Australia’s Got Talent would be all that thrilled to see, but there ya go. My own special thing. I’m such a snowflake.
And I have exceptionally good oral hygiene (preen, preen.) Given that I have such a range of mouth drying med1cations, and the CPAP machine, and asthma meds on top of that, I really am very pleased to hear that. Not a scrap of plaque or tartar anywhere. Go me! He has recommended that I use a special mouthwash three times a week to help with the dry mouth (I already use a toothpaste formulated for dry mouth, and my electric toothbrush has made a big difference, I think) and yep, I will give in and chew the dreaded chewing gum to help with saliva production. I don’t like chewing gum, which is weird -my Dad is always chewing it to help his teeth (and he is a mad keen flosser, too) but my Nana, his Mum, said something to me one day when I was staying with her about chewing gum being vulgar and it’s just stuck (ugh! sticky chewing gum!) in my head (UGH! CHEWING GUM IN HAIR!) ever since. You know when you see a “celebrity” photo and they’ve got visible gum in their mouth? VULGAR. UGH UGH UGH!!! That endless chomping like ruminants on their cud, round and around and side to side and it’s just…. UGH!!!! But If I have to use chewing gum I will. Just… discreetly. For the sake of my saliva production.
And now to the tooth. THE TOOTH. THE DREADED TOOTH that the whole of the last few weeks have been about, that my psychiatrist was trying to find a way to get me special Medicare funding for if it turned out it needed a crown, the tooth I wept about in group therapy, the tooth that I had been worrying about because my own dentist had said that it might need all that work and I was panicking about how on earth I would afford root canals and crowns and what’s more, maintenance on a crown further down the track (short answer – I wouldn’t have been able to, the only option would have been for the tooth to come out).
And guess what? After all that: the simplest solution for now (it’s not a long term fix) was to actually take away some more of the tooth so that I can’t actually grind the cusp and make it flex open and hurt. After an x-ray (that’s about the 6th? dental x-ray this year? Oh, goody) and the endodontist looking at it with his magic high powered microscope, he could see the fracture but the tooth was alive with no infection and he reckons if we can just stop the flexing then it should stop hurting and settle down … so the short answer is: hope it settles. Keep doing a good job with the dental hygiene. Try not to grind my teeth (even though the endodontist very truthfully and realistically admitted that if you’re a tooth grinder, you just are, and until you’re not as stressed, you won’t stop.) And he won’t do any drastic interventions unless they’re needed – the less he can do the better, which would be FINE if it didn’t cost quite so much but is still a policy agree with in principle.
That was what we heard non stop from about 5 pm last night until just before midnight when the police finally roused the neighbors (who I can only assume had passed out DRUNK and/or drugged) and issued a noise abatement notice.
We’d tried knocking on their door at 10pm, having been tolerant up until then… when no one answered, we called the cops. When it was as loud as ever at 11, we called the police station again, so they’d know the job still needed attention. The police tried the front door, then the back, then the front again for several minutes before they got any response…
Our houses about about 3 metres apart and made of wood. So they act like giant speaker boxes. Very resonant. Very LOUD.
I had a panic attack. And in case I haven’t mentioned it before, even with the magic “stop the panic attack” pill? I still get full on gastro symptoms. As in instant dysentery. Oh yeah, it’s GREAT fun. And takes me hours to settle down again. You can imagine. Thank goodness for a constant supply of frozen hydralyte pops.
(And now it’s nearly 6 pm and Sullenteena has started it up again.)
And of course I was supposed to go to my uni lecture this morning. Nope. Didn’t get there. Thankfully it’s taped, so once the video is uploaded I can watch it. Maybe after group therapy tomorrow. Hopefully before the tute on Thursday.
And in other fun news, the local council sneakily, without any community consultation or even changing the signs in the park, suddenly took away our dog walking park. Yes, I have written a letter expressing my anger. And sent it.
And with all this going on I missed my chiropractic appointment – but they were very understanding and rescheduled it for slightly later. Ahhhhh!
And it’s raining again. Looks like the clothes dryer is going to be bought THIS DAMN WEEK. I think it’s going to be a basic Fisher and Paykel model with the vent/lint filter in the front door – because it’s right price and the right configuration for our space.
But at least the flood peak at Wagga Wagga (where I went to school and where Mum and Dad lived until very recently) has hit 10.6 metres and is now receding – so it didn’t go over the levee!! There are in a declared State of Emergency with lots of evacuations, and I see on their live radar they’ve got more rain coming too – and a visit from the Prime Minister – sheesh, haven’t they suffered enough?!
It took me over two hours to write a short three paragraph response to the”Introduction” thread for my university subject. To be fair, there was a three part question that needed to be answered, and it involved choosing one or several of 14 headings at the top of a complicated diagram of “the genealogy of communication”, and the two hours included thinking time… but… *HEADDESK*!!
But I’ve now completed as much of the online work for Week 1 as I can until my other textbook gets here. WHICH HAD BETTER BE SOON. Ah well, next time I’ll know to choose my subject further in advance and order the textbook earlier. Yeah yeah, I know you probably don’t reaaaally do much in week 1, and I know I’m supposed to be all “P’s get degrees” BUT I’m trying to get a leeeetle bit ahead where I can just in case, you know?
First lecture is on Tuesday morning. I hope I can sleep on Monday night.
I am nervous about being able to take notes – but because the course is offered both on campus and as an external/distance subject, I should have access to recorded versions of the lectures. My fibromyalgia has flared up again, and I can’t hold a pen to write for much more than signing my name (and even that’s a bit dodgy.) Typing’s not too bad so long as I rest fairly often.
The university offers a LOT of disability support – it’s one of the reasons I decided to enroll at USQ. And I have my shiny new laptop, which poor Mr Beloved spent 10+ hours getting set up and making backup disks in case of catastrophic failure, and getting my desk all organised with the laptop at the right height, additional keyboard below and a second screen for ease of reading texts at home – everybody say “awwwwwwww!” – isn’t he the best!
[as always, clicky for biggy]. As you can see, a phone book brings the extra monitor to just the right height, and the hi-tech laptop stand is re-purposed floorboards from a long-demolished Canberra govvie house. (Nothing in the shed is JUNK. It’s all waiting for a use… well, most of it. I admit some of my stuff needs to go. Ahem.)
Shiny New Computer also came with Kindle for PCS already installed. Wheee! I am rapidly learning to do more screen-based reading – and since my assignments for uni can be submitted electronically (and get marked more quickly if I do so) I’m going to have to get used to not even printing out a copy to proof read. Another tree (and more expensive ink) saved each time…
And now, as usual, I have to go eat. I forget when I’m down here on the computer until I get reallllllly hungry. So nice to have that change now – I’m very VERY glad to be off the horrible Ser0quel, but I still need to up the d0se of the new med1cation – which I can’t do until I see the Nice Psychiatrist on the 5th of March.
And did I mention it’s VERY wet here again? I am really considering that a clothes dryer is no longer a luxury but a necessity – unless we want to appear in public in bedsheets.
…just HOW stressed and anxious I have been in the last 24 hours. To the point where the anxi0lytic which normally lets me get back to some mindfulness skills within about 10 minutes didn’t work and I was still FREAKING OUT three hours later.
So. Didn’t go to my group of scrapbooking friends today- called them up tearfully and said I wasn’t doing well, was worried that I might end up in the ward today – that’s how overwrought I was about these damn obsessive thoughts and anxiety symtoms (jaw clenching leading to neck-aches, worse back pain and fibromyalgia pain, and my usual gastro symptoms, which are SUCH fun…)
Got in to see my Very Helpful Psychiatrist today (suspect I stole some of her lunch time, she’s amazing at squeezing people in for emergency appointments) and with Mr Beloved by my side and my helpful notebook of what happened when (symptoms and med1cation changes) we worked through what was going on.
Yes, of course your anxiety symptoms are worse, what with every thing that’s been going on with your brother and your family being so far away and the university application but guess what? We can increase the med1cation we were in the process of changing, and that will help with anxiety, sleep, and pain. Of course as a responsible psychiatrist I won’t let you get addicted to the anxi0lytics. And you know what work you have to do psychologically to make room for these FEELINGS, yes?
I do. (Arrgh. Hard work… needs to be done. Good that I am seeing the Helpful Psychologist tomorrow.)
And from next week the Very Helpful Psychiatrist will have a Mental Health Nurse on staff (covered by medicare) so for these sort of crises I can see the Nurse and save the (expensive and time-precious) visits to the VHP for more crucial things like med1cation changes and BIG crises.
(and I also now know that if the anxi0lytic doesn’t work that in an emergency I can take another one within about half an hour. Good to know. )
In other news, I got my transcript in the mail today from waaaaaaaaaaay back when I studied at the Australian National University. But that’s a story for another day.
And Gordy is doing well, has his AICD implanted yesterday, still in hospital today.
I’m starting to write this at 5:45 am after another sleepless night. WTF? Here are some things I know about my insomnia:
It’s not so much the lack of sleep that upsets me – it’s my struggle with my lack of sleep. I almost woke Mr Beloved to tell him “I CAN’T SLEEP!” but by the time I even thought of using that strategy, it was 5 am. *headdesk* If I had been brave enough to do that earlier in the night, say at around 2 am, I could have had his help while I took the dreaded val1um (and possibly had some rest.) But we know about my fear of val1um and I am even more wary of it after the Incident of The Neck in the Night-time. And by “brave” I am not saying that Mr Beloved is scary – just that I find it hard to be kind to myself sometimes and ask for help.
I have a repertoire of “tricks” that usually help me sleep. These include: slowly savouring about 1/3 of a cup of frozen raspberries; eating a small piece of cheese (protein helps? I dunno); taking off or putting on a layer of clothes; holding a cool wet face washer to my forehead; reading a cozy type mystery; playing the MP3 of the”Mindfulness of the Breath” exercise from The Happiness Trap (it’s not designed to make you relax but I find it very calming). Sometimes NONE OF THESE WORK. And I am learning to be okay with that – to stop struggling with not falling asleep. (Also, I have just reserved a book at the library that looks promising: Sleep Well, Live better: 3 Steps to Good Sleep. We shall see. I am not keen to add any more med1cat10ns because of interact1ons with all the stuff I already take.)
My sleep hygiene is important to me, even though some of the things I do (reading in bed!) are NOT recommended. I am careful about how much caffeine I consume and when; I take my evening med1cat10ns at an early enough time to let the sedat1ng ones help me get drowsy; I rarely nap during the day (sometimes to my detriment). Even when I am super tired, I can’t actually get to sleep without reading at least a few pages. (It’s a habit of at least 38 years, so it’s not likely to change!) The problems happen when I read entire books…which is something I did last night. (Damn you, Charlaine Harris, for making “Dead Reckoning” the best Sookie Stackhouse book yet! But my insomnia was not entirely the book’s fault – I knew I was very wakeful when I got into bed.)
I have times when the aches of fibromyalgia either stop me from getting to sleep or wake me up (and I can’t get back to sleep.) Now I’m thinking about it, what I need to do in those times is have a nice hot shower/warm bath. Hmmm. Or do the full body scan mindfulness meditation, that seems to help.
Sometimes if my nose is sniffly I can get really weirded out about putting my CPAP mask on. Often I can overcome this by lying quietly in the dark and then putting the mask on while engaging “observing mind” – pretending I am a compassionate and gently interested scientist observing the feelings of the mask on my face. (This is another part of the mindfulness training that the Unhelpful Psychiatrist dismissed as “just a bandaid”. I don’t believe it is. U. P. said I need to “address my underlying anxiety or the problem will never be solved”.)
Sometimes if I write in a journal I can get to sleep. Last night though, there really wasn’t any specific anxiety that was bugging my brain and stopping me from getting to sleep. In fact, the journaling seemed to be stimulating rather than soporific. So after three pages, I stopped.
I seem to have insomnia round the full moon. Despite scientific studies NOT finding any links, there is so much anecdotal evidence for some sort of link that I have to wonder what the scientists are missing. My bedroom has decent blockout curtains, so I usually don’t notice the full moon UNTIL I realise that I haven’t slept and oh look, it’s about a month since the LAST time I couldn’t sleep.
(It’s just started raining. I find rain on the roof is really lovely to help me sleep. I have to have a fan on in the bedroom to move the air and to provide white noise. The current pedestal fan was about $15 and the motor is SHOT so it sounds like a damn Cessna! I will be buying a new fan TODAY.)
AFTER a night of not sleeping, I get anxious and scared about not sleeping because I worry that it is the onset of mania. I know that this story is not helpful and it’s one that often plays in my head. So, hey, let’s give it a name – hello, Thelma! It’s you again! (This may be my favourite defusion technique. My Helpful Psychologist and I recently decided to name my “OMG I’m letting people down” story as “Myrtle”. The names sound silly, right? But it helps to show those unhelpful stories for what they are – just old stories my brain likes to play with. Those stories are not reality.)
The change of Seasons (hello, Spring!) is a time that manias can ramp up. So it’s a time I am more aware of (and more anxious about) mania symptoms. Now that I have expressed this, I can probably let it go more easily.
I am very angry that instead of taking my concerns about not sleeping seriously, the unhelpful psychiatrist wanted to talk to me about my childhood. WTF?!