Throwback Thursday!

This post is inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Prompt #1 Throwback Thursday: Choose a photo from a previous April and write a poem or a blog post.

Okay I’m taking some liberties with this prompt in that this post appeared March 31st of 2014 and there was no picture. But I was glad to read it and it made me happy that I’ve had my own blog since May of 2009 because I might not have remembered this.

The title of the blog was “Stupid” and it went into some detail as to the effects depression was having on me. Two years ago I was unable to read a book or a newspaper because my concentration was so poor, or I was unable to watch the news. I mostly just sat around watching “Golden Girls”, “Sex and the City” and game shows. I would do it for hours.

I wondered if I would be “stupid” for life.

Two years later my concentration has greatly improved to the point that I can read a book every three to four days and read USA Today every day online. I hardly watch any television, though I do admit to watching Netflix but I would say no more than the average person!

I also wrote about how difficult it was to find topics to blog on, I felt so uninspired. Two years ago I am still struggling with that.

But as I look back I realize how far I’ve come. I am still having trouble cleaning the house and managing my mail and getting going in general but I am a lot better than I was!

I search on Twitter every day for #depression and I read how really bad it is for some people and how horrendous it was for me, enough for me to attempt suicide four years ago. I also haven’t needed to be hospitalized due to depression since early 2013.

I am grateful for all that, believe me, but at the same time I can’t help wanting the sadness and despair to go away and I feel like it will always be with me. Is it too much to wish to be happy and have some energy?

One step I have taken is to switch psychiatrists. I feel like nothing is changing any more with my current one and maybe I can do better to the point where I consider myself a balanced person, neither depressed nor manic. I see my new psychiatrist in July. A long time from now but that’s how things go with the Cleveland Clinic.

Meanwhile, I do have a bit of a smile on my face. I was able to participate in the Writer’s Workshop, making me feel somewhat of a “normal” person!

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The Neuropsychiatric Test, etc.

After waiting five months, I finally took my neuropsychiatric test. For the last couple of years, I have been having difficulty with memory, including forgetting what simple things are called, forgetting conversations and losing the thread of a conversation if there was a pause.

I don’t know how I did on the test, which lasted about three and a half hours. Some of it was hard, but some of it was supposed to be hard. I had difficulty building towers from the largest to the smallest pieces while only moving one piece at a time. The administrator did say that was one of the harder tests. I was also shown designs for ten seconds at a time and then had to draw them. Then about ten minutes later I was asked to draw the designs from memory and I could only remember about three out of 20.

Other tests included being told a number of words and asking to repeat them, describing words shown to me and a test on a computer where you had to figure out the changing patterns of cards.

I am supposed to get the results from my psychiatrist later this week.

I also saw my primary care physician for a follow-up to the nausea that has plagued me since September. I take a lot of medications which have nausea as a side effect and she said a side effect can happen at any time one takes a medication, not just at the beginning. The medication that I take for diabetes, Metformin, is particularly rough on the digestive system and since my blood sugar levels have been pretty good, she took me off the medication to see if this was causing the problem. I feel a little scared going off of it because before I took it I was almost passing out when my blood sugar was too low.

I am also afraid to try going off some of my psychiatric drugs. I am leaning towards depression but for me it is much preferred to mania and I don’t want to upset the balance that I have.

I am also going to seek a second opinion from a Gastroenterologist for my nausea.

Have you ever experienced nausea as a side effect? Have any of the side effects started after you had been taking the drug for a while?

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Book Reviews!

This post is inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Prompt 2. Book review!

Here are a few books I’ve read recently that I really liked. I keep track on goodreads and I hope you will follow me there!

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Retired English man Harold Fry lives a quiet and unassuming life until he gets a letter from a former coworker and friend that says she is dying of cancer and wishes to say goodbye. Off to send a return letter to Queenie he finds he can’t stop walking and decides to walk the 600 mile trip to the hospice, believing that Queenie will live as long as he walks. I really loved this book. It’s interesting to be inside Harold’s head as he thinks about his relationship with his wife and estranged son, as well as Harold’s encounters with the people he meets along the way. This is one book not to miss!

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I read this book as a part of the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge. Rory Gilmore of “The Gilmore Girls” read and spoke about over 300 books during the series’s seven season run.

Frankie McCourt was born in depression era Brooklyn, son of Irish immigrants who think they might be better off back in Ireland. Frankie grows up in a slum with his brothers, very poor and hungry and with an alcoholic father and a long suffering mother. Frank McCourt paints a grim picture and although the book is a bit of a depressing read, you will find some humor in it, particularly if you are Irish Catholic!

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Have you ever tried a cozy mystery? Cozy mysteries are those that are a series of books written about the main character and supporting players. They’re fun to read because they lack the typical harsh violence of other mysteries or suspense novels and they are easy to get into because after you’ve read a few, the characters seem like old friends.

Needlecraft store owner Betsy Devonshire gets involved in antique cars and one of the drivers is murdered. An amateur sleuth who is getting a reputation, Betsy is asked by some of the victim’s family to find out who killed him. I love the Needlecraft cozy mystery series, there is always a good story to them. If you wish to try the series, I would recommend starting out with the first one which is “Crewel World”.

These are just a few of the ones I’ve been reading lately that I’ve liked. What have you been reading?

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Patty Duke: A Spokesperson for Bipolar Disorder

(Trigger Warning: Patty Duke had bipolar disorder. Some of her symptoms discussed in this post may be upsetting to some.)

When I heard that Patty Duke died earlier this week at age 69 from sepsis of a ruptured intestine, I felt we had really lost a great actress and a spokesperson for mental illness. Since I know many of my younger readers might never have heard of her I wanted to show just how important to the cause she was.

Patty Duke was born Anna Marie Duke in 1946. She played the role of Helen Keller on Broadway and won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing Helen when the play became a movie. She was the youngest person at that time to receive an Academy Award. In 1963 she was given her own show, “The Patti Duke Show” where she played identical cousins. Although she had not been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, show creator Sidney Sheldon noticed that she had two distinct sides which inspired him to create the show.

Until she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (then known as Manic Depression) in 1982, Patty’s depression put her in bed for weeks at a time and she had multiple suicide attempts. Her mania caused her three failed marriages, one that lasted only 13 days, throwing herself out of cars, hitting her kids and delusions such as hearing voices and acting upon them.

Patty explored Bipolar Disorder in her two books; “Call Me Anna” and “A Brilliant Madness: Living With Manic Depressive Illness”. She used lithium to treat her illness along with therapy but said lithium was not for everyone.

But Patty was not just her illness. She continued to have a successful acting career and was president of the Screen Actors Guild for three years and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame” in 2004.

She was described by her son, Sean Astin as a “warrior” who fought for mental health issues during a time where mental health had even a stronger stigma then it does today. “She would do fundraisers and she would lobby Congress…”

Married to her fourth husband since 1986, the two moved to Idaho and adopted a son. Her son, Sean, has organized a charity in her name and those who wish to donate to the “Patty Duke Mental Health Project” may do so here.

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Right! Click! Paste!

This post is courtesy of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

2. Open a blank blog post and “right click paste” in the body of the post…what was pasted? Explain it.

I am rereading a few of Sue Grafton’s alphabet mystery series, but most I have not read, and plan on going through them all. The woman who was found guilty in the death of her hotshot lawyer husband is out of prison and she wants P. I. Kinsey Millhone to find out who really did it. This is mystery writing at it’s finest. I can’t believe the first book was written all the way back in 1982!

What I last pasted was a Pinterest book review I have from one of my boards, “Books I am Reading/Have Read.” It comes from a longer review from Goodreads.

I’d love for you to follow me on Goodreads or Pinterest and meanwhile I will be working my way through Sue Grafton’s alphabet!

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Max is Back!

After five weeks, my kitty Max has come back to us! Jacques was looking out the window and he said, “There’s Max”. He was on the street looking at the house. I ran outside and cried, “Max!” and he ran to me and practically leaped into my arms!

He looks good, well fed and clean. Ever since he’s been home he’s done little else but eat and sleep on my bed. He doesn’t seem interested in going out. Did he even know he was lost? Was he with someone else? Max is telling no tales.

I really thought I’d never see him again, I was just praying he was with another family and not running around cold or hungry. Every night Tyler and I would pray for Max’s safe return and his prayers were heartbreaking. He ran over to Max and hugged him, he was so happy! Max is really good and patient with Tyler who has a tendency to be a little rambunctious.

I had thought we would get a kitten for Tyler but there is no substitute for our Max!

Thanks to all who prayed and sent good wishes and thoughts. I am so happy to have my beloved kitty home!

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F*ck This Sh#t!

If you have been following along, you will know that I have been nauseous with a low grade fever since September and no one has been able to find the cause.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an Upper G.I.series which came back normal and it’s like my Gastroenterologist has washed her hands of me. I am going though perimenopause and I am taking something OTC for my hot flashes which has worked beautifully. Nausea IS a symptom of perimenopause, though not a common one. I emailed my gynecologist to ask her for something for nausea, I mean what does she give pregnant women who have morning sickness(?) and she told me I should follow up with my Primary Care doc, which brings me right back to the beginning.

I am homebound due to this. I haven’t showered in days because I am too sick.

A couple of weeks ago, Tyler, Jacques and I all came down with the stomach virus and ever since then it’s been even worse. In fact, this whole thing started with a stomach virus.

I cancel everything; dental appointments, appointments with my sleep specialist. I haven’t been to therapy in months. One thing that I did cancel that I could kick myself for is an appointment with my Rheumatologist. I am sick, but I have no Rheumatological symptoms, no pain or swelling. I thought he would laugh at me but he would have been a good doctor to go to and now I will have to wait until June.

I can’t go to Tyler’s doctor’s appointments and yesterday Jacques took him for a haircut, thank God for him! The last time I went out was for Tyler’s tae kwon do tournament, over a
week ago.

It’s also frustration with the little things; my eyebrows need waxing and I am in desperate need of a pedicure. Plus looking at my dirty self in front of the mirror does nothing for my self esteem. I can’t do the things I need to do to feel good about myself.

I am so desperate for relief that if I wasn’t afraid of the paranoia I would even try marijuana for nausea relief. I’ve never done an illegal drug in my life, I am the straightest arrow, so you know I’m getting desperate!

My day goes like this: wake up, the nausea hits immediately, get Tyler off to school then take some sedatives to make me fall asleep so that I can sleep through at least part of the nausea. I try to make calls and I’m ordering a lot from the internet. I do a lot of reading but sometimes I can only just lay. Even this laptop is bothering my stomach.

At this point I don’t know where to turn. I’m open to nausea remedies, possible causes of this, and prayers and good thoughts for this nightmare to end.

Very often I feel too nauseous to blog and I am not even going to bother to find a cute photo for this post. I haven’t even proofread this like 10 times. Deal with it.

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February 29th is Rare Disease Day

Did you know that there are approximately 7,000 different types of rare diseases and disorders, with more being discovered each day?

That 30 million people in the United States are living with rare diseases which equates to 1 in 10 Americans or 10% of the U.S. population?

And that 50% of those suffering from rare diseases are children?

19 year old Cheyanne has Dysautonomia. Dysautonomia is the term of an illness that describes the “malfunction of the autonomic nervous system.” The autonomic nervous system controls all of the body’s duties that occur automatically – all of the functions that most take for granted. This includes blood pressure, heart rate, breathing patterns, digestion, vision, the bladder and kidneys, and more.

In her own words, Cheyanne tells us how Dysautonomia affects her life.

“My case is one of the less fortunate ones due to experiencing symptoms practically my entire life and continually progressing with age.

The amount of support received by friends and family is immense, initially. That is, until months of treatments, pills, and intravenous infusions turn to years. “Healthies,” as I prefer to term them, do not have time to entertain chronic illness. They have lives to live. Lives that are not conducive to Dysautonomia induced sick days and the incessant cancelling of plans. I feel that this is an issue that greatly shocks the younger Dysautonomia population once diagnosed.

Illness at a young age (does) add a unique aspect to both friendships and romantic relationships alike. It forms closer bonds knowing that relationships do require increased effort. It easily rules out who truly cares. My current partner of over three years is a prime example. Although we are now both adults, what other teenage boy wouldn’t run for the hills as their girlfriend of only a couple of months begins hysterically crying after showing up to school or a date with a feeding tube plastered to her face?

Receiving a Dysautonomia diagnosis is undoubtedly harsh news to process. It does not indicate that life is over though. It is possible to pursue a future. However, education and work are definitely areas in my life that becoming ill has interfered with since my health decline began.

In eighth grade I was given no choice but to begin a homeschooling education. As I entered high school, my schooling became more erratic. A manageable plan was concocted though. For an hour and a half daily, I would attend the high school for one class period. I was also granted permission to attend the local community college for dual enrollment after passing a test to do so. Two days of the week I would partake in a class there. The remainder of my education every semester was completed through the online college courses or through online high school. I fought to ensure that the countless appointments, sick days, surgeries, and medical interventions did not deter my dreams.

I did not have the normal high school experience. I never had the opportunity to become involved with extracurricular activities. I never, and still have not, had the chance to begin my first job. Pep rallies and high school sports games did not exist in my vocabulary. And only physically participating in one course a day does not necessarily lead to a strong social life.

Regardless, I graduated high school this last May as valedictorian and five classes short of earning my AA degree in English. I received nearly a full ride scholarship to Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Life was good. With proper accommodations, I was set to begin dorm life. Everyone’s hopes were that my high school situation did not foreshadow my college experience.

I never made it to Rollins. Instead, I spent what was supposedly going to be the best years of my life inpatient at the hospital after my Mast Cell Disease and Dysautonomia took a downwards spiral. As I write this, I am hooked up to J tube feeds, continuous IV fluids, multiple continuous IV medications and other IV medications scheduled every six hours. I do not get to leave all of that behind at the hospital following discharge.

My original plans may not have transpired. I may be paying more to go to a local college than I would if I were able to attend Rollins. My biggest worry may not be about the next midterm exam or which party I want to make my grand appearance to. But my life is not over because of Dysautonomia and other health conditions diagnosed. Sick or healthy, God has a plan for my life. He does for you too.”

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A Memorable Date

This prompt is in response to Mamakat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Prompt 1. A Memorable Date

I was a freshman in college and had a crush on a sophomore whom I was in a play with. “Peter” was handsome, talented and smart, but I was very shy and, while friendly with him, I didn’t know how to take it further.

We were both taking Art History and the professor gave us the assignment that we were to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, pick a piece of art and write two to three pages on it. One of my friends had the great idea that I should ask Peter to come with me since we had to both go there anyway.

So I got up my courage and asked and he said yes! I was over the moon! But was this a
date or a friendship outing? One of my friends said, “If he buys you a pretzel, it’s a date!”

I tried to dress like I wasn’t on a date even though I wanted it to be! We took the train into the city and took the subway to the museum. We looked around the museum and chose a Greek boy, or a Kouros. It was a simple sculpture and we chose it because it looked really easy to do!

We sat on the ground as many students do and wrote and wrote, both putting in all the b.s. we could, you know how you did that in college!

I was beside myself! Here I was in New York City in a romantic setting with the boy I loved!

After we finished we walked around the museum for a while, then Peter suggested lunch…and he PAID for it! Woo hoo!

When we took the subway home I was sitting and Peter was standing over me and he was looking at me and smiling with what we used to say “eyes of love”! I was freaking!

Eventually Peter and I did date. He was gentle and made me feel really special but my
hopes were dashed when I found out he was dating TWO other girls in the play. I guess I wasn’t so special after all.

I heard that Peter is married with kids but we never kept in touch. Still, I look back on our “maybe date” with fondness.

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Missing Max

I don’t want to think the worst, but Tyler’s cat, Max, has been missing for over two weeks. I feed and shelter a feral cat on my porch and Max is scared to death of her and lately has been having trouble coming to and going out my door.

I have never had an indoor-outdoor cat before, and I swear I never will again. It happened when Max was a kitten and he went out the door a couple of times by accident and came back hours later. After that he wanted out all the time.

I think it must be regional but having an indoor-outdoor cat is more accepted here. Even the vets think it has some benefits; the cats being fit and less anxious than the ones who are indoor only. And in Europe it is widely done.

This is not the first time this has happened with Max, but it has been the longest. We’ve had some really cold nights too, but the weather is warming up. Last night Tyler was praying to Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals, for Max to come home and he started to cry.

I refuse to give up hope. There are a lot of people who feed cats in my development and he can be eating that way. Plus he is friendly enough to walk into someone’s home and perhaps he’s given up on our house because he is so scared of the feral cat.

Prayers or good thoughts are appreciated that Max comes home safe and sound!

My handsome boy Max is on the right and my pretty girl Betty is on the left!

My handsome boy Max is on the right and my pretty girl Betty is on the left!

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