Saturday, January 13, 2018

Here's To Happy Health!

The time has come for me to share with you that I have finally gotten relief from the hell I suffered from Major Depressive Disorder. I capitalize those letters to add emphasis to the serious pain caused by this not all together understood ailment.

You might recall that I started experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety after going through some distressing family problems last winter. The symptoms only became worse after trial and error with medications that only made the downward  spiral more dramatic. By summer time I was barely able to leave the recliner let alone the house.

Then I finally found the right doctor who put me through careful paces to come up with the right combination of meds. It was a slow process but things started to swing in the right direction about a month ago. I feel strongly that I'm on the right track. The symptoms have subsided to a very low point and I can almost say they're gone. I say "almost" because I know now that I am "hard-wired" to experience anxiety and depression and will stay on meds for the rest of  my life. There are still a few things that are hard for me to  do. For example, handwriting doesn't come easy for me anymore. It's easier to type.  For things that need to be handwritten, I have to get help, but that's no big deal. 

Altogether, I declare myself happily on the path to being my cheery self again thanks to my own diligence and that of my good doctor.

Remember: Be ultra careful with your medications no matter what you take. Know everything you can about them. Also, always be proactive about your health asking every question you can think of when you make any visit to the doctor. You are ultimately the one who bears the most responsibility for your health.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Good-bye, Kristi!

Kristi Lechner passed away early yesterday morning. She was near to being a perfect human being, as far as I can say. Her hair was always in place, her stylish clothes were from the best stores. She was in every which way appropriate for whatever the occasion called for in dress and demeanor.

Above the level of appearance, Kristi had a kind heart. She was on the shy side which many people didn't understand. She had a good word to say about each person in her realm. She was generous and understanding.

Kristi's handwriting was excellent. Whenever she sent me a memo or a card, I always studied her brand of cursive and thought about what a good student Kristi must have been from the time she entered the classroom until she left it at retirement. 

This was a woman who truly understood how school politics worked. Think back to her "good word for everyone" policy.  It worked so well for her as she spent all those years as an effective leader at OCHS.  It was not possible to discern her prejudices, if there were any.

She had an instinct for understanding her students to their very cores. I don't think she forgot a single one of them in 30 years of teaching. I never heard her say, "Oh, I just can't  remember her name." She knew every time. She also graciously passed on hints about the best and worst things about students we'd receive from her classes so we could best serve them.  

She loved to go out to lunch on in-service days. Her classroom was always tidy and tastefully decorated. She kept meticulous to do lists.  She was on time for everything. She took everyone at his or her word. She participated in student activities with dedication and energy.

Whenever we were out and about, she always left first because she wanted to get home to Lance so he wouldn't miss her. They were devoted to each other.

All of us will miss her forever. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Depression, Doctors, and Drugs

(I need you to know right off that I have omitted doctors' names and exact dosages of drugs mentioned in case any of my readers are even remotely connected to depressive disorder. It is so tempting to self-diagnose or to diagnose for a loved one. The internet is ultra-loaded with information about the treatment of depression and it is hard to resist self-medicating. In addition, I want to remind you to be careful about willing acceptance of what doctors have to say. Sometimes they are wrong. Question them politely but thoroughly before you follow their directions for medication. I believe that I was given reasonable advice but that the advice was not appropriate for my personal situation .Be careful with your health. It is truly the best thing you have.)

Notes from my log:

6/16/17-Bad night with wakefulness and bad anxiety. Woke with feelings of doom and gloom. EXTREMELY shaky.No appetite. Unhappy.Took a xanax around 4:00. Anxiety calmed down a bit within 20-30 min. But noticeable brain zaps, sluggish  movement. 

7/7/17-Up at 7 feeling shaky and full of dark mood. Jittery at breakfast. Decent appetite. Felt better after a long nap. Less shaky. Not horrible in p.m. Arm relaxed a little. No xanax today.

8/1/17-Shaky, moody wake up. Started my daily stint in recliner in the middle of  the a.m. Pat brought me a small lunch and I slept most of the afternoon. Small dinner and a restless evening on the couch watching TV with Pat. Cannot get comfortable.

8/21/17-Eclipse day. I cannot forget this day because this is the day I noticed I was feeling better. The improvement was only slight but doom and mood were both a bit better. My appetite is back!

9/11/17-I definitely feel better. Meds have been adjusted one more time and another one added. Doc said I'd feel better within a week and I did! Doom and gloom are GONE. Totally gone. I do get extra focused on things but not to a point of anxiety. And I can dial down my racing thoughts with some effort. Love feeling happy.

10/1/17-Am declaring myself nearly well. All that's left is shakiness and slow motion movement. Those symptoms do present some problems. I can't write very well and typing is slow with many corrections needed, for example. But I am dealing with the problems.

I am currently under the care of an excellent psychiatrist and a neurologist who is working on my shakiness. This is still a bit of a mystery but we'll figure it out. We're also still working very conservatively on my meds and making good progress.

My message to you is that I caution you once again to question every medication you take whether prescribed or over the counter. Be proactive about your health. Nobody cares about it as much as you do.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Granny Then, Granny Now

When it was then I was a Granny who supplied the bubble box which became the frothy lake Mary used to let the Fisher Price Wee People swim around in while she enjoyed her bath. I was a Granny who taught both grandgirls how to make Play Doh bird nests with eggs and birds in them. I pushed kids skyward in their swings for what seemed like hours. Alicia and I played store on her little patio table and we used bark chips for money. Mary and I "played dogs" with stuffed ones or pretend ones most of our times together because dogs were her favorite things. I stroked Alicia's arms and back at nap time and watched her drift off to sleep.  One time when I was on the bed beside her, she curled her little self against my chest and went to sleep with a little happy sigh as a fresh spring breeze wafted  over both of us from one of the season's first open windows. We played Barbies endlessly. Remember Boobs Clea and her sister Boobs?  They left us by means of a garage sale along with the  books we read (good-by, Bing!  So long, Spot! We won't forget you, Otto!). Some other lucky girls are arranging furniture in the doll houses that moved away. Puzzles, games, Lite Brite sets and all manner of art supplies and projects are gone, gone, gone. 
But the fun things at Granny's are still at Granny's. What happened at Granny's stays at Granny's. She's not ready to give them up.

Now that it's now, Granny gets hugs and writes checks. And these are truly satisfactory things to do. But teaching Romeo and Juliet to Mary was amazing. It was a goal of mine to be the first person to present Shakespeare to her and I barely made it. I was just a few weeks ahead of her English teacher. And witnessing Alicia's passion for dance has stunned me with the chance to watch a person pursue a physical activity with the same energy that I pursue reading. 

The pleasures of Grannying are different now but just as fulfilling.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Getting Clean

DISCLAIMER:  This entry is about my personal experience with prescription drugs, i.e., anti-depressants. You need to know that there is no medical or scientific expertise involved at all. I did use the Internet as an informal research tool, but I caution you not to diagnose a physical or mental problem on-line.  Contact your doctor with even the smallest question and, just so you know, I kept in fairly consistent contact with my primary care physician. My caveat-BE CAREFUL with any medication you take whether it's OTC or prescribed. They can be dangerous if not used with precision.

I began taking anti-depressants during my dad's final illness and eventual death in 1988. I started with xanax (an anti-anxiety drug) and finished with a variety of anti-depressants on June 4 of this year.The decision to get clean of them started last winter when I sensed that my then current anti-depressant wasn't working for me. This was due no doubt to an extreme family crisis and a family member needing serious abdominal surgery on an emergency basis. Between March and June I went on and off  five different anti-depressants looking for the magic one that would help  me keep my nose above water as I made my way through this dark family time. I was in regular contact with my doctor. But. Make that BUT. I'm not so sure that either of us was really paying close enough attention to what was happening during this process.

Here's what happened plain and simple:  1.) acute side effects followed by 2.) ugly and tortuous withdrawal symptoms. Curiously, these two conditions can present themselves in similar fashion so it becomes difficult to know when (and if) one is beginning and/or ending. Confusing, huh? You have no idea. Trembling, shaking, brain zaps, weak muscles, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, inability to focus, racing thoughts, obsessive compulsive behavior, and anxiety supreme.

So why did I put myself through this pain? Duh. I needed mental and emotional relief from family strife that was overwhelming me. I'm a fairly tough person and have been through some life challenges in the past but for some reason (turning 70, maybe?) I have not been able to ride out this period of stress and challenge. When I finally realized what was happening, I figured out also that it was much too late to retrieve myself from "discontinuation syndrome."

As of today, July 4, I am beginning to allow myself some hope that I will eventually recover from this horrid experience. I don't know when or even how long it will take, but I will keep on keeping on. I have an appointment with a neurologist/psychiatrist in ten days. In the meanwhile, maybe one day really soon, I'll begin to feel a twinge of improvement. Right now things are still difficult.

And guess what? NEVER, EVER, EVER take even the most seemingly innocent prescription drug without a serious discussion with your doctor. And talk to your friendly pharmacist about any OTC drug you might feel you need. You have my permission to use my experience to make your case. And be careful with the Internet. Just because you read it on-line doesn't make it true.

I'll update my progress next month. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Things I Thought I'd Never, Ever Do

 1.  Get up at night to go to the bathroom.
 2.  Stop driving at night.
 3.  Play cards every day.
 4.  Call family members by the wrong names.
 5.  Talk to every baby I see.
 6.  Read Lee Child books.
 7.  Take a nap every day.
 8.  Hum along with songs from the 50's and sometimes even the 40's.
 9.  Not like walking on uneven surfaces.
10. Drive around looking for the closest parking spot to the door.

Life is different at 70.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Trump For Breakfast

Yesterday as I was eating my breakfast and reading about Trump's First 100 Days, the cereal box caught my eye. Somehow I strangely started to compare it to the Trumpster himself. Yes, it's weird, but follow me for a minute here. It was a box of Honey Bunches of Oats With Almonds which happens to be our favorite cereal. The box is a graphic success of blue and white lettering featuring a bold blue circle with a spoonful of cereal depicted under it. It is bright and attractive enough in a carton sort of way. A list of ingredients can be found on one side of the box. It is about 15 lines of small print. The first half notes the grains, flours, and sugars used. The last half lists vitamins and minerals included and the middle line reads "BHT added to package material to preserve freshness."
In other words, the product is highly processed. The whole package including the box with its list of ingredients and contents reminds me of Donald Trump who embodies his own highly processed brand of something that claims to be good for consumers.  Hmmm. . . .

Later in the day, another kitchen consumable reminded me of Trump. This time it was a cellophane wrapped package of stir fry vegetables containing yellow, green, and red pepper slices, zucchini rounds, mushroom slices, broccoli florets, onion slices, and celery pieces. Period. You can easily identify the ingredients without reading a list of them. No additives, sugars, flavorings, or preservatives are used.  There were, however, two stickers on the cellophane. One said "stir fry" and offered an idea for preparation. The other said "5$." The package and its contents were straightforward, informative, and honest.  To me, it represented the leader this good country really needs.

Food and Trump? It was a weird stretch of my thought process but I venture that it represents how much of my brain time is currently spent reflecting the absurdity of this crazy man and trying to make sense of him.

Maybe he isn't worth the effort.