#578 – Productivity and Devastation

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Today was a busy day. Got laundry done, did some pre-cooking for later in the week, finished an algebra quiz that’s due tomorrow, cleaned up the kitchen a couple of times, got all my usual stuff on my checklist done, watched V for Vendetta (“Remember, remember the fifth of November …”), then settled in for an evening of hanging out on the internet.

This evening my thoughts are in Sutherland Springs, Texas. I cannot fathom what makes a person commit such atrocities and why people defend his right to have the firepower to do it. At what point are we as a country going to stop and say “enough is enough” and take definitive action to prevent this sort of thing from happening again?

My thoughts are also with someone I know who’s a 20-year member of First Baptist Church. Today she slept through her alarm and that likely saved her life and the lives of her kids. I cannot imagine the flood of emotions that she’s experiencing, the pain that she’s going through. I’m devastated for her.

The random, senseless acts of terrorism and violence that seem to be happening every other week nowadays have got to stop, and soon. I wish we knew how.

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Perfect Storm

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Right now I’m in a headspace that I haven’t been in for some time.

For starters, today has been spent unsuccessfully fighting a persistent, nagging, unproductive cough left over from the cold. I feel constantly just on the edge of a coughing fit that makes me dizzy and causes pain in my right shoulder during the bad coughing jags. That’s been a wet blanket on my whole day, and honestly there’s nothing I can do about that except continuing to throw cough medicine at it and hope that it works for a while.

I’ve spent half the afternoon and evening being supremely frustrated at my algebra homework, and that’s led me to avoid reaching out to someone for help with what’s got me stumped. My brain’s been telling me “you go see the instructor tomorrow morning anyway, bring it up then” when there are multiple people that have offered to help me with any questions I may have. Continuing to avoid the situation has only served to make me more irritated at myself, which just serves to lock me into place regarding reaching out to someone. To top it all off, I’ve been dealing with someone online that I really dislike, and my mood from earlier has got me feeling quite confrontational – something that anyone that knows me well can tell you is very much not me – which is further aggravating my own anger at myself.

It seems practically everyone and everything is capable of getting under my skin tonight, and I’m apparently leading the charge.

It’s been months since I felt like this. I used to feel this way fairly regularly not that long ago. Since my mental illnesses have subsided in recent months, I’ve been virtually symptom-free, and it’s been glorious. To be going through this now, after such a long time of not experiencing this anger and frustration, feels like a bit of a setback.

But.

I know that what I’m going through is temporary. I know that even though I’ve basically lost most of today in productive study, I’m not quite yet in over my head, although my weekend plans are at risk if I don’t get this resolved quickly. The assignment that I feel so far behind on isn’t due until a week from tomorrow, so there’s time to recover, even though I’ve only barely started the assignment. (Note to self: time management skills are your friend. Use them next time.) Tomorrow morning instead of going into the classroom close to a half hour early, I’ll stop off at my instructor’s office to get things figured out, even though that means admitting I’m pretty much behind schedule. It’s not the end of the world. And my online frustration can be mitigated by not participating in and ignoring the conversation that’s got me so worked up. That’s an easy fix.

So while they’ve taken a little bit of time to get on board, my coping mechanisms are finally in place and my frustration and anger is easing off. Writing this post helped immensely with taking the edge off my emotions. Besides, the evening’s almost over, so it’s time for me to work on unwinding before bed and letting go of all that stuff that’s trying to ruin my day.

Tomorrow is a fresh start. I should be back to normal then.

Not Claustrophobic After All

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Today’s section in The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, Sixth Edition by Edmund J. Bourne, PhD dealt with claustrophobia. This was a section that I was looking forward to, since I’ve been dealing with what I thought was claustrophobia, but after reading the section, I have doubts about that.

My so-called claustrophobia started sometime last year, when I had to have an MRI done of my head. They put me on the table and started to put me in the machine, and I got stuck. (I’ve got a generous belly.) I panicked and yelled out to the technician that I didn’t fit. He was quick to pull me back out, so I wasn’t stuck in the machine but for a few seconds, but for months after that I would have dreams of getting stuck in claustrophobic places and wake up in a cold sweat, gasping for breath.

I’ve noted, however, that I’m not claustrophobic in enclosed places like the car or an airplane. The only real instance that I dealt with it was in the MRI.

I mentioned this to my therapist yesterday and she told me something I suppose I already knew, but needed it pointed out: everyone’s claustrophobic in an MRI. That’s why they invented the open MRI, to be able to service patients that couldn’t otherwise use a regular MRI machine. So she doesn’t think that I’m claustrophobic.

Today I read that section in the book and it made a point of noting that it is very common for people to experience claustrophobia in an MRI. So I’m really starting to believe that I don’t actually have claustrophobia.

Now, I do have a phobia of suffocation. I can only hold my breath for a few seconds before I get panicky about not breathing, and that’s folded into my fear of death. That could run alongside claustrophobia, but in my case, I wasn’t worried that I couldn’t breathe in the MRI, and my subsequent dreams of being in an extremely tight enclosed space dealt more with being trapped than not being able to breathe. The whole thing seems complicated, but at the root I think I just intensely dislike head-first regular MRIs. (I got an open MRI on my head last year and my recent MRI on my knee was feet-first, so I didn’t feel trapped or stuck with my head outside the machine.) Fortunately those are easy enough to avoid – just make sure any head-first MRIs are done in an open machine.

Yet Another Family Emergency

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I’ll be waking up at 4:00 am tomorrow to get my wife on a plane to Arizona to see her dad. If you could keep her and her family in your thoughts we would both appreciate it. I can’t be very forthcoming with details at this point, but things are not good.

On a related note, I will be on my own this weekend and would appreciate company from my local friends, especially on Sunday, as that’s my birthday. Let me know through the usual channels.

I’m getting tired of family emergencies. They take a lot out of people, regardless of their mental state, but they especially affect me, when I can finally unwind from the travel and stress of the event. They affect my wife the same way, so I’m especially concerned about her essentially traveling over the weekend and coming back home just in time to go to bed for work the next day. She’s not going to have long to be able to process the trip at all and I worry about her, especially since I won’t be by her side for this trip.

Just keep us all in your thoughts if you would. Thanks.

Quick and Dirty Mom Update 4/19/2017

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My wife got a call from my mother earlier tonight, something that’s highly unusual for Mom to do. Mom asked my wife if she could be outside the front door to her facility in 20 minutes to pick her up. Mom says they’re recruiting an army from the residents in her skilled nursing facility and Mom doesn’t want to be recruited into their army. We had to let her down easy by telling her that we live in Austin, Texas, which is over a thousand miles from her in Raleigh, North Carolina, and that there was no way we could be there in twenty minutes. She said she’ll “have to figure out other arrangements.”

Apparently this is pretty par for the course when Mom has a UTI, but I’ve never seen things this bad with her.

I’m not sure how much of this is the UTI and how much is the stroke.

That’s about all I have energy for tonight. For some reason I am bone tired and really want to go lie down.

Mom Update 4/7/2017

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Today Mom had an MRI done to determine the cause of the speech aphasia and loss of motor skills. It was as I had suspected from early on.

Mom has had a minor stroke.

That explains all of the weird symptoms that she’s been exhibiting – the loss of communication, the loss of motor skills, the loss of connection to reality at times (today she told me that a fish on the ceiling helped her sleep last night and that there was a hat on the fence outside her 5th floor window, not to mention the black widow spider that was on my glasses at one point). At least now we have a direction to move in and to see what we can recover of what she’s lost.

I’m terrified for her at this point, because she’s unable to communicate even the most basic wishes when she’s tired or hurting, and she’s usually tired or hurting. I don’t know how her care is going to change at her nursing home, and I really don’t have an easy way of checking on her, unless it’s to check with Kenneth and get reports from him.

I’m more scared of what I’ve just inherited. As her financial power of attorney, it’s now fallen to me to make sure that her bills are taken care of and that things run smoothly for her with regard to her money. Fortunately I’m a signatory on her bank account, so that helps immensely. But her budget and all of her finances are locked away on her laptop at her facility, something that I’m likely going to have to get my hands on to be able to efficiently execute her finances. That will likely be something that Kenneth is going to have to retrieve for me and ship to Austin so we can get things done.

Right now, though, I have another priority that I need to look at – that being the trip to Arizona to be with my wife’s family over Easter weekend. With my knee in an immobilizer, this might be a long trip for us. I’m dreading the flight back to Austin, even though United was kind enough to not only put me on the right bulkhead aisle but to move my wife’s seat from somewhere else on the plane – our reservations were made at different times – to right beside me on the bulkhead.

I’m kind of numb given the news of Mom’s stroke, so bear with me if I seem out of it for the next little while. Life is too busy to be able to process this effectively and it’ll be over a week before I can really start to do that.

Mom Update 4/6/2017

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Mom has shown signs of improvement today. They’ve put her in the recliner for most of the afternoon, she was clearer with her speech in the afternoon, they’ve switched her from a wide-gauge nasal cannula to a narrow-gauge, and to top it all off, they’ve moved her out of cardiovascular ICU into a regular room.

That having been said, she’s having a very rough night. She’s barely able to communicate at all, she’s apparently hallucinating still, and she’s absolutely panicked that she’s dying and that she’s going to do it alone. As I write this, she’s been inconsolably crying and coughing hard. We don’t know why she’s so upset, and she can’t tell us, which is just upsetting her more.

I feel utterly helpless to do anything. I hate this feeling.