UPDATE

As I wrote last time, oh so long ago, I was waiting results from an ultrasound, as my liver enzymes were all elevated in the blood work I had. Unfortunately for me, I wound up with excruciating pain in my right side, right under my ribs, that started radiating around to my back. Which freaked me out a little. I called my doctor, but he was out of the office for the day. So I waited until evening, hoping it would go away. Sat on the phone with Telehealth, waiting for three hours before I said, “Fuck it”, and just went to the hospital. Nine and half hours later, I had a prescription for antibiotics for a suspected UTI (no symptoms but trace blood in the urine and a lack of kidney stones showing in the CT scan) and was sent home to follow up with my doctor.

CT scan of my kidneys showed my liver to be fatty. Non-alcoholic fatty liver. It’s a good thing I don’t drink. He said to just keep up with the metformin for my recently diagnosed diabetes, and to follow up with more blood work in two months. Some research from reputable sites has led to me believe that I can manage this somewhat with a radical diet change. I have always joked about being a carnivore, but really, I hate most vegetables. And they hate me. My system does not tolerate most vegetables unless they are cooked pretty thoroughly. I’ve already made some changes with the diabetes diagnosis, so we’ll continue with that. The prognosis of letting it go is kind of scary.

THE UNKNOWN

It’s finally caught up to me. My failure to nourish myself; to take care of myself. My doctor finally took notice of my extreme fatigue and sent me for a battery of blood work and an EKG. I don’t get to go over the results with him until the 9th, but I was able to get them online. Not looking too good. Red blood cells indicate there is inflammation somewhere, and liver enzymes indicate that is where it is. Been doing some reading on the potential outcomes of what that means. Anything from non-alcoholic fatty liver to liver cancer. Obviously. Everything on-line these days is cancer. But the fatty liver is a definite possibility. I eat a diet heavy in red meat and carbs, and very low in fruits and veggies. Most of what I’ve read indicates that the results can be changed by diet. So that is good. Also, my blood sugar count and A1C were high. Indicative of diabetes high. Now that being said, the inflamed liver could be causing artificially high results. So it’s a waiting game. I’m not changing anything major until I talk to my doctor and we figure out exactly what is going on. My therapist noted that I’m not beating myself up about it. I figure it is what it is. I can’t do anything about what I’ve done to my body, the only thing I can do going forward is take better care of it. Now if only I could apply this the trauma stuff.

This came just at a time when my therapist was really starting to address my disordered eating. I started writing down everything I eat, just to get a benchmark of where I’m at. And that benchmark is very poor. Very poor. One vegetable all week, and that was corn, the worst vegetable ever. My therapist asked me what my self care plan was for the week. I’ve already given up pop mostly, so now it’s time to had a few more greens to my diet. And drink more water. Coffee is not a water substitute. The caffeine negates the hydrating effects of the water. I jokingly said I was going to make a coffee using a Monster Energy drink instead of water. She jumped all over that and told me to stay very far away from them. Well, suggested very strongly. She no longer couches things gently. We’ve been working together too long for her to tiptoe around.

A BIT OF A WOW

Had an interesting weekend this week. Thursday, my therapist suggested I investigate something called Yoda Nidra. Found one my a woman, Jennifer Piercy, on DoYogaWithMe. Had the best sleep I’ve had in a very long time. So that was a cool start to the weekend.

Celebrated my poetry being published on Friday with some of my closest friends. Went to my buddies cafe after, ostensibly to do some writing. But inspiration is a fickle mistress, and so I started cleaning up old emails. By old I mean back from 2014 to the present. When I got to February of 2016, I opened one that was just titled WhatsApp chat. I didn’t recognize it, so I opened it. And there, in is full shirtless glory, was a selfie of the rapist, with the accompanying chat where I told him not to contact me anymore. Instant trigger. Immediately brought me back to that dark place, with his forearm on my throat, knocking me unconscious. I go home and create a nest out of my two king size comforters and five pillows. Freaked right out, I start grounding. Touching my books, reading their titles and authors (I keep a small pile of books beside my pillows). My therapist is always saying, “Do something different.” The purpose of this directive is to let yourself know that you are no longer in trauma time, that you can escape, that things are different right now. I struggle with this. My trauma responses are fairly hard-wired in my brain. It has taken many years of therapy so that my first response isn’t always to self-harm. Glad to say this weekend that wasn’t even an issue. So what did I do that was different? Put on my new found sleep friend, Ms Piercy, and guess what? I fell asleep before she was even finished. Woke up sometime late Saturday morning. Feeling fine.

So fine, that when I went to visit friends on Sunday, I had no residual effects. I was able to go to an antique market with them, without taking any tranqs. Which in itself is amazing. To do so after a trigger response, well, to quote my therapist, “It is a bit of wow isn’t it, Squirrel”.

SO IT’S NOT BIPOLAR…

I guess I should have read the second part of the last p-docs report a little more closely. She says it’s not bi-polar, but Persistent Depressive Disorder. I’ve never been manic and the hypomania symptoms I’ve experienced are common with Borderline Personality Disorder, especially as one comes out of a deep depression. So the official diagnoses are as follows: Borderline Personality Disorder, C-PTSD, Persistent Depressive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. What I’m really curious about is how, if I’m not bi-polar, the atypical anti-psychotic is working. I’ve done some research into it, and as best as I can figure, it acts as a mood stabilizer, even in the absence of bi-polar or schizophrenia, as an adjunct to the anti-depressant. Which may or may not work without it. I’ll find out soon enough. My GP has a referral in for me to talk to the p-doc about lowering my medication. I’m on 20 mg of escitalopram (Cipralex), 20 mg of aripiprazole (Abilify), 4 mg of prazosin, and 1mg of clonazepam (Klonopin) as needed. The prazosin and clonazepam I’m fine with. I enjoy my nightmare free sleep. And I only use the clonazepam once in a while. I’ve been using a lot of it for my dentist appointments, but now that I have my partials, I only need to go every four months for cleanings. It’s the aripiprazole that I’m mostly concerned with. It’s a strong dose to be on, especially if I’m not bi-polar. I’ll probably need to be on an anti-depressant for the rest of my life, I can understand that. But if possible, I’d like to minimize the doses. The longer I’m on the aripiprazole, the more likely I am to get Tardive Dyskinesia. I’m already starting to get very slight hand tremors. Not bad enough that my doctor is concerned, but they’re still there. We’ll see, I guess.

THE PAST CIRCLES ROUND AGAIN

Mom had her first round of chemo Wednesday. It was an incredibly long day. A doctors appointment and then three hours of infusion. It was very weird. I couldn’t concentrate, but was bored out of my tree. The incongruence of this made my therapist go hmmm. This is not a common phenomenon.

The reason it came up was Wednesday night I had a complete and total need to flee my house. I don’t know what happened, but I was laying in bed, looking for something to read. Stopped on “Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation” by Suzette Boon and others. “Don’t you think when you’ve been through something like you were with your mother, you should read something NOT trauma related?” “Ninety percent of my book shelf is trauma related.” “Then you need to expand your bookshelf.” So that happened. The other theories are that I’m empathic and picked up all the energy of people around me, the six people and their care-givers, all getting cancer related treatment, and it hit me when I finally had a chance to unwind.

Likely, though, it was a somatic flashback, harkening back to a time when I felt trapped. Only this time I wasn’t trapped. So I grabbed my bag and bugged out. But it wasn’t a thoughtful, I’m leaving because I can, it was a mindless flight. Which is not good. Fortunately, I had enough sense to go someplace safe, which was my friends cafe. Straight to the basement. Where I just typed up the last of my poetry. We had a mis-hap a few weeks ago, where I didn’t realize my poetry was only on the cloud, with links on my desktop. I deleted everything off the cloud, only to watch in horror as my files disappeared one by one. By the time I had finished that, I was feeling somewhat human again. It’s very frustrating how the past keeps circling round, often in unexpected and out of the blue ways.

Sitting with mom at the hospital was a very intense experience in a way. You’re sitting there, with people in very stages of cancer, at different points in their recovery. There were tears, there was laughter. For me, it was an uncomfortable reckoning, coming face to face with my own mortality. I have been suicidal many times, have attempted once. Suicidal ideation is a near constant companion. But this was different. The facing of a slow, painful demise. And everyone there is facing the same thing. The cancer centre has everyone in what they call pods. Six people to a pod, with a number of nurses in each one. Each person can bring one person with them. So twelve people, plus nurses. All cancer patients. All receiving treatment. A lot of energy in the air. A lot of energy. I hesitate to say it’s negative, because it certainly isn’t all negative, but it’s very charged.

I guess my system was over-charged and went off the rails on Wednesday, and then again on Thursday. Thursday wasn’t as bad, I had the presence of mind to email my therapist, and I made the decision not to run, but to stay put, to prove to my system that it was safe, there was no danger, that we didn’t have to leave. My friend helped me over text with some flashback protocols, and then I was able to ground myself by touching each book on my bookshelves and saying the author and title. I did it under my breath, but the act really helped me calm down.

Last night I went out with the girls, and then went home. I had a small feeling of panic, but was able to breathe through it. Things never last forever.

AND IT BEGINS…

So much to write about. Not sure where to start. Since Mom’s cancer diagnosis, I’ve been avoiding thinking about it. I had no choice but to face it dead on today. Mom had an appointment with her oncology doctor and I had to go with her to take notes and make sure she doesn’t forget anything or get confused. She starts chemo next week. Going to most likely lose her hair. It has been down to her waist as long as I can remember. So she’s getting it all cut off on Saturday. Poor thing. She had tears in her eyes thinking about it. And my life is now, for the next six months, revolving around her chemo treatments. Three hours every second Wednesday. Plus the consult with the doctor before each treatment. Only Stage Two cancer, which is not too bad. A really invasive, aggressive cancer that was encapsulated in a mucinous pre-cancerous mass. She’s pretty lucky. Without the chemo, there’s a twenty-five percent chance that it will come back. With it, the chance goes down to fifteen percent. She is going to become very cold sensitive, to the point where touching things in the fridge is going to cause neuropathy for a while. Cold air, cold drinks, all no noes. She is going to be officially immunocompromised. And I can only imagine how tired she’s going to be. The chemo attacks fast growing cells, like the ones in your mouth and your stomach.

She is easily discombobulated these days. And dad just gets frustrated with her. If she is developing dementia, I worry about how dad is going to handle it and how the chemo is going to affect it. There’s a lot of good reasons for them to move to P.E.I. once mom is better, but my reasons for wanting to stay behind are just as, if not more, valid. So in a year I’ll be homeless with my boys. Hopefully I’ll be able to get into subsidized housing before then, but the wait lists are huge. I need to stay in my city because I likely won’t be able to afford a car, and my therapist, my psychiatrist, my GP, my youngest sons ADHD specialist, and my older sons therapist are all here in the city. The mental health support down east is even worse than it is here. At least I’ve been able to get the help I need. And all my friends are here. How is an anti-social introvert with mental illness supposed to make friends? It’s not like my sister and I get along very well. More than a week together, and things get really tense.

My therapist has given me a half price discount on my counseling so I can start saving and clearing up my debt. She’s wonderful. I love her so much. As my therapist. Yes, there is some transference going on, but it’s nothing I don’t recognize for what it is and can handle. It didn’t help at the beginning that she is my perfect fantasy. A petite pixie with silver grey hair. The type I would spend all night in the corner of the bar trying to muster up the courage to buy her a drink. Once in a while I get distracted by her attractiveness, but I can cover it up with my dissociation. Fortunately for me, she maintains such tight boundaries that there is no room for me to mistake anything for more than professional concern. I mean, after three years I still don’t know if she has a partner. I only know her potential orientation from the name of her partner in her father’s obituary (which I found when digging around the internet for her). Her mother’s obituary listed no partner, but Fariya, a couple years ago said “they” like to go skiing up north. So there was one. There was a picture of a kitten on her desk, so I assume she has a cat. That’s the sum total I know about her.

She starts next week. Going to most likely lose her hair. It has been down to her waist as long as I can remember. So she’s getting it all cut off on Saturday. Poor thing. She had tears in her eyes thinking about it. And my life is now, for the next six months, revolving around her chemo treatments. Three hours every second Wednesday. Plus the consult with the doctor before each treatment. Only Stage Two cancer, which is not too bad. A really invasive, aggressive cancer that was encapsulated in a mucinous pre-cancerous mass. She’s pretty lucky. Without the chemo, there’s a twenty-five percent chance that it will come back. With it, the chance goes down to fifteen percent. She is going to become very cold sensitive, to the point where touching things in the fridge is going to cause neuropathy for a while. Cold air, cold drinks, all no noes. She is going to be officially immunocompromised. And I can only imagine how tired she’s going to be. The chemo attacks fast growing cells, like the ones in your mouth and your stomach.

So our lives are about to turn upside down for a while.

AWESOME NEWS!!!!

I’ve slowly, tentatively, been submitting my poetry to a few publications. After a couple of no responses, and one very nice, personalized rejection letter, I am going to be a published poet. Poetry Quarterly is publishing a poem I wrote called “Empyreal”. This is virtually unheard of. It usually takes hundreds of submissions and rejections before you get accepted. But it happened. I’m so stoked. After the last few months of things being generally, all around shitty, this is a much needed boost.

Things actually got a little too heady. My mom told me she’s proud of me, for the first time ever that I can remember. Then she told me to post it. So I did, and she publicly told me she’s proud of me. And my dad showed a bit of interest, which he never does, so I was totally overwhelmed with that.

I’ve still been struggling with being present ever since that horrendous dentist appointment which triggered me huge. To cope, I’ve been overdoing it on the benzos. I’m allowed two a day, twice daily, as needed. I’ve been taking double that, and mostly all at night, to help me sleep. Which is leaving me out of it the next day. Which adds to the dissociation. My therapist was like, “maybe you should talk to the doctor about reducing your tranquilizer usage”, and I had to tell her I wasn’t taking them as prescribed, so yeah, that stopped. Back to normal.

I had a very bad flashback, but I knew where I was, so it was more like a remembering than a full flashback, but I was in it and couldn’t get out of it. Absolutely was there, being gang raped again, and again, and again. Over stimulated, over tranqed, overwhelmed. So I cut myself. Just a small mark on the inside of my ankle, small enough that it looks like I scratched a spider bite, but large enough that I had to disclose to my therapist. Who responded kindly. I emailed her, again. Third time in three weeks. The first about wanting to do some scarification on my calf. The second, I had to share with her that my poem got accepted. She replied to that one, and reminded me of my contract, so that was her way of telling me that scarification is a no go. She also said it was a wow moment. Which it definitely was. Then I had to email her a third time, to say that I self-injured. She thanked me for letting her know, and had some upbuilding things to say. Needless to say, I had some trepidation when I saw her this week. I really don’t know why. She truly is the embodiment of compassion.

There was no processing this week, but lots of talking. Lots of her reinforcing that I made a choice, but it doesn’t invalidate all of my work. And we talked about the trafficking, and about how I was having a hard time staying present, and how I was so up and down, flying high and crashing low with no in between. I have to work hard at “applying the brakes”, staying in that window of tolerance. Not too high, not too low.