It seemed to take forever to get control over the hallucinations and be able to sleep, and when I did, I slid into Depression mid-December. The fight to find balance between soaring highs and plunging lows has eluded me. Just when I think I am finding stasis, I slip by it and move to the next level of distress.
And here we are, mid-January 2017, and I am, once again, having hallucinations, staying awake for far, far too long.
Will I never find balance?
I’ve had increasing hallucinations for at least 2 weeks now. They aren’t terrifying yet, but they are on their way there.
Today I was visited by a bat!
Fucking thing was flying around the room then dove right for my head. I ducked and covered myself, but, of course, it wasn’t real, so if someone had been watching, it would have given them a hearty laugh. Other visual non-existent treats have been my clothes on the back of the door lifting off and swaying back and forth a couple of times and nondescript somethings sitting on the dressers or on my bed.
(I feel like a crazy woman sharing these things. How can I talk about what is going on so casually? I think it is just getting to be so normal, I am more shrugging than freaking out about it.)
The auditory hallucinations have returned, my hearing all sorts of crazy noises from windstorms to doorbell chimes. And the incessant whispers, always just out of earshot and too low for me to understand, but they are not happy noises. “Ominous” is the word I would use to describe them.
Oh, the goddamn tactile sensations. Again, feeling like I have bugs crawling on me. Not lots so far, but just enough to make me slap myself periodically.
Not smelling anything (yet) – olfactory hallucinations – but those are probably what’s up next on the Manic menu.
Writing writing writing
And so I write. Here, in my work blog, in Facebook. The words tumble out of my fingers even when I am meditating trying to sleep. I cannot keep them still as they search for a keyboard upon which to create.
This is the part of the Mania that keeps me from telling my doctor or taking more Risperdal because the deliciously creative period would be fleeting and, right now, the negativity of hallucinations is balanced by the verbosity of my words.
I’m pretty upset as I write this. I’ve known I spent money during the Mania… enough that I am in quite a hole I cannot seem to climb out of… but I did not know how much.
I could have gone and looked at my bank statement when I realized the money was gone so I knew where it went, but I was sticking my head in the sand, ashamed of what I had done… too embarrassed to even disclose it to myself.
But I found a pile of Blu-Ray DVDs 3 days ago; all 6 seasons of Northern Exposure and Season 1 of St. Elsewhere. I’m enjoying Northern Exposure (am on Season 5 now), it being one of my fave shows of all time, but I cannot help wishing I had the $400 back instead.
Today, I decided to be brave… and humble… and go look at the accounting of my spending during the Mania. It isn’t pretty. I didn’t have lots of new things in my small space, so was baffled what I could have spent the money on.
Apparently, I was benevolent.
Not needing to share the organizations I picked… I’ll just say I chose ones who were either in Syria or were attending to Syrian Refugees. 3 different ones.
1 of them twice.
Trying to put the pieces together, I looked here in the blog and, as the Mania was ascending, I had written about my utter horror and distress about the Middle East. Clearly, it affected me deeply considering the amount of money I donated very soon after writing those posts. There is no way I could say, “I wish I had the money back,” but I still wince seeing how much I sent out.
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to not have that happen again. As far as I know, I didn’t tell a soul I had done it. If I had, maybe someone could have questioned me? I have zero recollection of spending anything during that time. I don’t have a real life lover or anyone to watch over my finances (which Zack used to do). I don’t have credit cards, but spent everything I had plus more I had in the bank, so can’t even cut up cards to try and save myself from me.
I’m lost. Maybe someone will have some good ideas for not having that happen again?
You know that sound they make? That incessant buzzing?
That’s what I feel like.
And in perpetual motion.
I don’t know who I think I am fooling when I sneakily “forget” to take the Risperdal. Up for 25 hours, trying to sleep periodically and feeling like I am electrically charged, getting back up again a few minutes later.
I’m somewhat productive, writing posts for work and here, organizing my Kindle music library, pulling things out of drawers and stuffing them into garbage bags, but I feel sad all at the same time. Not that wonderful, blissful feeling of the last few weeks. My therapist, just like my Psychiatrist, reminded me that it was not all that “blissful” and my mind is playing games with me.
TAKE THE FREAKIN’ RISPERDAL.
I hadn’t been to therapy in a couple three weeks because I was working with the doctor instead. It’s almost an hour to get there and the prospect of taking that trek twice in one day was too daunting. I did it today, but probably shouldn’t have.
I barely remember anything we talked about, knowing I wouldn’t even as my lips were moving. The whirring so loud in my head and coursing through my body.
What I remember is that I need to honor my Self and take my meds every day and on time.
Hallucinations have shifted. The tactile ones are all but gone, the olfactory ones haven’t returned since starting the Risperdal and the visuals are much less… smaller… less intense. The last nasty one was when a roach crawled out of my Diet Coke can onto my face (it was not real) and I threw the can across the room. That was… 2 nights ago? 3 now? Otherwise, the shadows are pretty small… more translucent. I haven’t had an auditory hallucination in over a week.
Even though all those horrible hallucinations have all but abated, I am sad I am not filled with energy like I have been. I feel like a sloth now… it taking inordinate amounts of energy to do anything. Still not sure if I am dipping down into depression or not. I see the Psych in the morning and will run it by him.
Medications At the Moment
Risperdal 2 mg at bedtime
Meds from ER Visit & GI Doc
Bentyl – finished (not sure it did anything)
Cipro – finished in the morning; feel MUCH better in my abdomen, diarrhea gone, suspected UTI gone
Lomotil – haven’t picked it up from the Pharmacy yet, but didn’t need it after the Cipro
Probiotics bid – helps keep the yeasties at bay with the Cipro
Work & Sleep
I’ve been back to work 2 days in a row now. Luckily, we can log in and log out whenever we want/need to, so when I get tired, I just log out and take a nap. I spent 3 days barely able to function as things slowed down. I felt like my brain was stuttering and I never knew, from one minute to another, whether I would be able complete a call or need to crash asleep, so I pretty much listened to music, did some work writing and watched Netflix or Amazon.
My hair-trigger anger seems to have settled some as well, but when I get upset, it is over-the-top, but simmers down quicker than it would have a week ago.
I’ll write more after seeing the Psych and my therapist tomorrow.
I joined MoodTracker this morning and have been inputting my meds and moods (thank goodness for writing things in the blog!). I had no idea I was struggling for so long. I’d been “productive” for probably 6 weeks before I started writing the distress on these pages, but had no idea, until writing it down just how long I have been trying to find balance.
Now I feel useless. I cannot concentrate… or stay awake… long enough to work. I am irritable as shit. Hair-trigger anger. I need to work so bad… the pay period ends tomorrow… but I cannot keep 2 thoughts together long enough to take even a 15-minute call.
And as if the mental crap wasn’t enough, the pain in my upper right abdomen. Fuck. I am tired of hurting.
What to Do Instead of Work…
… or read or watch tv or watch a movie or clean anything or focus for more than 2 minutes at a time?
The only thing I have found is listening to Disney music.
Disney is as much in my blood as my Dad’s Cuban heritage is.
I am sleeping 12-15 hours a day. Deep, deep sleep that leaves me groggy. I have not taken a Trazodone to sleep for 4 days now, just the Risperdal. I also re-added the Cymbalta and Wellbutrin (that was in the plan) to see if that would help me be more awake.
While I don’t feel like I have fallen into a depression, per se, I feel like this drawing… somewhat submerged… when, a few days ago, I was a colorful bird zipping and zooming over the meadow.
My body hurts so bad again. It was glorious to not feel pain for a few weeks. I am back to my plodding productivity cycle.
It feels like I am waving good-bye to a beloved friend who doesn’t have the Internet with which to keep in touch.
Intellectually, I know it is right to send the Mania on its way… all I have to do is read the past posts to see how terrifying the hallucinations were… which do remain, but on a physically smaller scale.
I am left with needing to sleep many hours a day, not being productive, in pain, have zero desire for sex and still having a completely scrambled brain that makes work almost impossible.
Written 10/12/16 about 10/10/16 Gastro-Intestinal (GI) doctor visit.
So, while I have been fat my whole life and have had my share of medical fat-shaming from fat-hating doctors, it has been a very long time since that’s happened… whether from their shifts in attitude via Continuing Education about inclusivity (or at least learning to keep their mouths closed about their attitudes) or because I learned to open my mouth to shut it down.
The GI Doc
I had signed AMA out of the hospital 12 hours earlier when the doctor, small, a person of color (no clue the origin, but shouldn’t matter),very pretty walked into the Exam Room.
“Oh, my! You look awful,” she said. I’d seen her 3 times before, but I am memorable by what I wear (tie-dye) and being bald. And I am very, very nice to care providers.
“You look like you haven’t slept in weeks!”
“Uhhh, I am at the tail end of a 2-3 month Manic Episode, so no, not sleeping much.”
She went over the paperwork, labs & prescriptions from the night before. She looked at me pretty harshly and said, “You really need to be in the hospital. You are extremely dehydrated.”
I told her no one said anything like that the night before, but I would probably still not have stayed.
She said, “Stubborn.”
The reasons she said I am dehydrated:
chronic diarrhea despite 20 Immodiums and 3 Pancreatic Enzymes a day
vomiting a couple of times a day
taking Lasix to pee! (because of the ankle swelling from the Risperdal)
I would have never recognized the signs of dehydration because they were in the labs! I guess the NP the night before didn’t think I was that dehydrated because she never even said the word to me. My pee is crystal clear; strange. She said that was why my HR was 124 upon discharge. I am sure I shrugged.
She said I needed to get the ER prescriptions filled (the Cipro and Bentyl) and she added Prilosec, Lomotil and Zofran.
This is what my New-Taking-Now meds look like (as they lay against my ballot which went in the mail yesterday!).
“Good-Luck with That.”
“You need to have your gallbladder taken out as soon as possible, before it gets infected.”
Okay, true. Emergency surgeries on fat people have an increased risk of morbidity and mortality.
But there was more to her sentence above.
She ran two of them together, “You need to have your gallbladder taken out as soon as possible, before it gets infected… but I am sure you won’t find a doctor to touch you because of your size.”
blinking as I watched the contempt drip from her lips
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t think you will find a doctor in our area to do the surgery because of (again with the disdain) – the risks.”
I told her I knew that Bariatric Surgeons (who do Weight Loss Surgeries) are ALL GI Docs and I would find one to take my gallbladder out.
“Good luck with that.”
She gave me my paperwork, prescriptions and her bulldozer-sized hatred of fat people… and walked out.
I sat there and cried.
raw Raw RAW
I am strong. Most of the time.
Right now in this (decreasingly) manic place, I feel flayed, nerves on the outer surface of my body. No ability to control what or who hits them. I merely react to the sensations.
This one was an animal claw dragging down my chest… slipping in and gashing my heart as it went by.
I had not felt such shame in eons. And I see doctors all the time! I mean, really, probably not for at least a decade have I been medically fat-shamed. (Many medical & personal fat-shaming experiences to come in future posts.) I felt hideous in those moments after she smashed shit down my throat, squishing it with her heel as she left the room.
I stumbled out of the building, crying still, and drove home.
I began to find my Power, many minutes too late and useless at that point, but I thought, “For fuck’s sake, I cannot possibly be the fattest person on the face of the earth who needs abdominal surgery.”
And then I got mad, but it was a gradual dilution of the mad into the shame where, for a time, if they were able to be separated, you could see they were half and half. Now, 2 days later, I am more mad, but in retelling it to my Insurance’s Case Manager, I cried from shame so hard she kept having to say, “Breathe. Breathe.”
I have been given 3 Bariatric doctors’ names… one in Orlando, one in Tampa and one in Miami. I told my Case Manager I would go anywhere in Florida to get it done. Even if I had to go to Shands Teaching Hospital in Gainesville. I called the doc here in Orlando, explained the situation to the Office Manager and she said she would talk to him and get back to me tomorrow. I told her I knew it was not his usual surgery, that I had had Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) in 2001, but was fat again and needed help, please.
I am a plethora of fucked up shit right now. The Bipolar Mania and my abdominal pain is getting worse. I went to the ER last night where everyone was as loving and respectful as possible. Oddly, two men I complimented on their bow ties, came and hugged me, both saying, “You’re beautiful!” That never happens.
Get Thee to the Hospital Already!
I’ve known I have gallstones for over a year, but the gallbladder wasn’t hurting me so I haven’t had to deal with it. However, I’ve been having increasing right upper abdominal pain for months, thinking it was a hernia (incisional). I also considered the gallbladder, but it didn’t fit the typical gallbladder attack.
Then the Mania hit and all of my body’s pain vanished. I didn’t realize it was gone until I started taking the Risperdal and the dips down from the highs brought back the intense pain I live with every day.
Off & on again fever (highest 103.5)
Sweating profusely (not related to Blood Glucoses)
Diarrhea that 20 Immodiums a day and Pancreatic Enzymes don’t quell (so no bowel obstruction)
Upper right abdominal pain that radiates through my back, which then changes to a knitting needle feeling (the pain has no rhyme or reason… independent of food choices… making this Atypical Gallbladder pain
When the spasms hit, Pain Level is a 6
I am really good at using Dr. Google and self-diagnosing, but I had run out of ideas for matching my pain to a cause, so trekked off to the hospital.
Because I know hospitals are wary of people with pain, thinking they are drug seekers, I am clear with each care provider overseeing me that I am 2.5 years clean from opiates and do not want them. They visibly relax, relieved they don’t have to figure out how to have That Opiate Discussion. I use Mindfulness Meditation for my pain relief and did my best with it the past week.
They took me right in and, during my vitals, we see my Heart Rate is 118… double what it should be. Noted. I was taken right to a room, meeting a lovely nurse who got the IV in my fat, fat arm’s one-vein-I-have on the first try. Then the Nurse-Practitioner came in with two students (she didn’t ask permission to have them in there, but I couldn’t have cared less at the moment… and I always let students watch anyway). I was delighted to see an NP and she thanked me for that, most saying, “Where’s the doctor?!”
Quickly, I was given Toradol, which didn’t do squat, and then Zofran (for nausea), which helped a little more. Then I was wheeled down to get a CT, a fat girl wheelchair that held my body comfortably.
I was in tons (laughing about the word “ton,” seeing it in editing) of pain at that time (the pain coming in waves like contractions). The tech helped me onto the narrow table.
The scan had contrast, which I have grown to enjoy. I used to cry when they said I needed it, but now…. shudder of pleasure
I teach others how to enjoy it as well.
You see, when the dye goes through the IV and into the body, it makes a searing beeline for the groin. More specifically for me, my clit. (Men say it goes to their testicles.)
You know, when some people get it, they uh- they start to- well, they get an orgasm. Can you believe that?
While I don’t orgasm, I have learned to, quite literally, lie back and enjoy the short ride.
I even overlook the nasty iodine taste in my mouth. Too much of a hot party going on down south.
When the procedure was done, the sweet tech and the wheelchair pusher-guy helped lift me to sitting, grabbing the sheet behind me and pulling. I was zipped up quick as could be!
Missing My Pain Doula
It was going to take an hour for the results. I was texting with my fawn, then I got really, really sad about not having Zack with me.
Zack had been my medical doula for 2 decades. Longer. Even when he was pregnant (30 years ago), he was with me when I had surgery, loving me through it.
I began having another spasm, told my love I had to go for a few minutes, then cried as I did my Lamaze breathing, leaning over the raised head of the bed, my tears falling onto the blue sheet as I huffed and puffed in a sobbing rhythm. Big hot tears of remembering how Zack spoke up for me, protected me, gave me my meds on time, even wiped my ass after surgeries when I couldn’t reach. (That’s love right there.) I didn’t want to bother him with my pointless sadness, so didn’t call, but I could feel the emptiness engulfing me.
I was NPO, knowing surgery might really be possible, and how alone I was going to be if that happened. How would I get food? How would I remember my meds? How would my ass stay clean?
(An aside: I have been being terribly non-compliant with my Risperdal and Trazodone. I asked my love to help remind me/encourage me to take them about 11 or 12 at night, but I over-ride him and just stay up for 24+ hours. Zack was like a Psych warden… handing me my pills and watching while I swallowed them. Alone, I get to be a bad patient because I would rather feel GOOD than sleep. Even though there are bugs and shadows and such. Yeah, I know. STOP IT! One of my sweet friends sent me a picture of herself making a stern face that she said says, “TAKE YOUR MEDS!” Maybe it’ll help.)
The NP came in and told me they couldn’t see any hint of a hernia in that area. I was really surprised. However, the gallstones were present, but labs showed no cholecystitis, so surgery was ruled out for the moment. She said I did need to have surgery as soon as possible, though. I told her I had a GI Doc I would call in the morning (10/10/16… I did… next post).
She then said I had an infection in my intestines. (The paperwork is in the car, I can’t find what it is called at the moment.) She wanted me on Flagyl, but I am allergic to it, so changed it to Cipro. She also was prescribing Bentyl for the colic-like abdominal spasms. She said she would prefer I stay in the hospital for a couple of days, but I said I could take care of things at home. (Sheesh. Lyin’ through my teeth, I am.) She said, fine.
When she went out to do discharge paperwork, the sweet nurse came in and did vitals. My HR was now up to 124. She left, the NP came back in.
“I really want you in the hospital for a couple of days now.”
I asked what would they do. She said meds and pushing fluids. I said I could do that at home. She had me sign out AMA. I was told to return to the ER in 12 hours if I couldn’t see my GI doc, wanting to check my HR again. I said, “Sure, no problem.”
I left with the prescriptions and tried the 2 closest pharmacies, neither of which takes my insurance. I was exhausted, crying in frustration and went home.
I tried working, but was in so much pain, I laid in bed and boo hoo’d myself to sleep. I slept fitfully for a couple of hours at a time. Up for 2, back down again for 2.
I did not take my Risperdal or Trazodone last night.
I called my GI doc’s office at 7:50am and got an 8:30am appointment.
I, on the other hand, have been an up-down-up-down-sideways crazy person.
For fuck’s sake already.
I am really trying to be patient waiting for the meds and Manic cycle to even out, but in the meantime, my poor love. Gads. He is bearing the brunt of my bizarre behavior. Giddy happy (said in a sing-song voice) one minute, then dark and brooding the next ( almost whispered in ominous bass tones). How this boy copes with my craziness is beyond me, but goddess love him, he is still hanging around. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he just skittered back into the woods, blocking me from his life forevermore. Yet, he remains, devoted and a beloved pet for me to nuzzle. (And it is not obsequious submissiveness that keeps him tethered to me, either. Just thought I’d mention it lest someone believe that would be why. Our relationship encompasses more than that smaller, but equally as important, part of a whole.)
I have been up and down (har) with sleep. I will be awake for 23 hours, then sleep for 5. I took a 2-hour nap yesterday, without meds, and then was up another 20 hours, taking meds to get myself to sleep at 5am this morning. I was back up at 8am. Probably not enough sleep, but I am completely energized. (Or manic, however you want to say it.)
I’ve considered writing out a schedule, but now I think I am teetering on that Hypomanic State where it feels “normal”… not psychotic UP and not burying your soul down. I am in that so so good, without nasty hallucinations, pero conbastante energía… place.
I know some believe (and it is confirmed by Dr. Google) that Hypomania only occurs with Bipolar 2, but I will beg to differ. Over the years, I’ve had several episodes of Hypomania that created reams of articles and posts.
Where I am at the moment is a-WAKE, feeling positive. The hallucinations are on the periphery (not literally)… not terrifying, but not flowery, either. I can pretty much brush anything I see or feel aside… inconsequential gnats.
My written words are flowing easily. I am not spending money I don’t have (an enormous shift from the past 2 months). I have 18 half-finished posts calling my name; I want to do all of them at once.
And then there is talking to clients. I am still too speedy with them, talking over them, a huge no-no in phone sex work. My kids could even hear the difference when they called last night before the hurricane.
Talking to my kids and former partner Zack, I sobbed through the calls, acting like the hurricane was a freakin’ tornado about to take me from all of them. The tears come and go randomly. Have for 4 days now.
I know the goal is balance and that will probably come with a more regulated schedule.
I am just not ready yet. I don’t want to slow things down. Not yet. I feel too good.