Sunday, May 25, 2008

The best stuff: puppy Blue and grandkids

top to bottom: Haley (age 10) Cassidy (8, and with cool new haircut) and Trevor (nearly 16!!!) all the first day they met Blue. ;-)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A small moment of clarity.

For those of you who have wondered where i've been other than Blog-land, i must say i've been in a very strange place. This strange place, Opiate-land, has messed thoroughly enough with my brain chemistry to send me Through the Looking Glass. i've been in some alternate place, close enough to be recognizable, but different enough to be a little frightening.

The super weird to me part is that i didn't even realize i was walking these different sidewalks. They were maybe a bit bendier than the usual sidewalks, and the other people beside me a little less recognizable. But still my streets, right?

Apparently not. i had a scare or two where i came very close to fainting--realized something not right was happening in my head, and went down to my hands and knees so as to not break furniture. Twice, i did this twice in a couple of days. Dean said later, "I think those were anxiety related." i just thought i was getting the flu, or getting a weird reaction to the higher dose of Fentanyl. i called the advice nurse who felt i should go right away to the emergency room. So we did, along with the rest of the patients on gurneys lining the halls. A bit busy. But once my blood pressure was checked in several positions and my pulse and my pee were taken (both of those in just usual positions) and then an EKG was done, it was determined i could go home. "If anything changes, let us know." i took home a smaller 112mcg dose of Fentanyl, which i've used in the week since.

Weird things in this new place i was living: i couldn't remember last week. i knew that in somebody's last week i did a few things--barbecued, picked up my granddaughters from school, showed them our new puppy, went back for a follow-up visit at the pain clinic, visited a friend. But it was like thinking about something someone else had told me, not like my own life. Bizarre. And i had spent a week doing crazy gardening--Must Dig! Must weed! Must trim all bushes on property! To the point that i've hurt my right shoulder so that i'm still feeling it.

So i decided to pass out again--hubby said, "Why are you panting like that?" joining me in the kitchen. "i don't know!" "Are you going to faint again?" "i'm getting that weird feeling again!" "You're hyperventilating, that's why." He helped me to the couch.

i then found myself in full panic attack mode, a place i have visited before and sworn to avoid forever after. And yet there i was on those dark, dark streets. i could feel the stripe of "fight or flight" adrenaline lightening run from toe to head, over and over. Hubby is reminding me how to breathe deeply, and dang it i was trying but it was so hard to do... All was dark and scary, and i couldn't see what scared me, there in the dark.

When i could finally track the course of events, i realize that when wearing Fentanyl patches, if you get hot, such as by doing yardwork in the sun then soaking sore muscles in a hot tub, the drug dumps into your system in a jolt. Bad business. But even before that final opiate indignity, strange things had been brewing.

Hubby and i went back over some of the strange actions of this person walking the streets of Through the Fentanyl Looking Glass and we enumerate: (hubby) growing detachment, confusion, dizziness and fainting, manic, (me) increasing sensitivity to sound like tv or my ipod's music, inability to remember recent times and events...the list went on. And none of these are things i want to cozy up with in a Crazy Land coffeehouse for a latte.

Not wanting to end up in a long list of not too mentally/emotionally stable people in my bloodline, i call the pain clinic and ask them to please begin to wean me off the Fentanyl.

i am now on my way to weaning. i will probably hurt. In fact i did this morning on my 100mcg patch. i will gladly use ibuprofen for my pain if it means i get to leave those dark streets where i lose my creativity.

It's been a long week. i'm still anxious--better at some parts of the day than others. i'm still walking, walking, walking (the dogs are loving it) and doing my exercises, both physical and breathing.

But i'm starting to think i may live. i'm starting to think i will be able to create again. These are good things.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Introducing BLUE, hubby's new little guy, a red miniature dachshund. He's 3 months old now, and we found him near home in Modesto! It was a lovely experience--we were able to go sit on the floor and play with the him and his siblings and mommy and daddy for an hour before picking him out. He was the most rambunctious of the bunch, and seems pretty fearless, which is a good thing considering he was coming home to two big brothers. ;-)
It doesn't take away all the pain of missing Dynamo, but he is a lovely new addition, and helping us heal. As my friend LimboLady said, "there's no denying the healing power of a baby!" (She has a new grandbaby boy.)
So, all of my blog friends who have been wondering where the heck i've been, THIS is what i've been doing! Watching a new baby dog, and helping his big brothers get used to him. When i want to work in the back yard (which i've also been doing a lot of this past week) i put him in his doggy playpen out there with me.
And a Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!!!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Long time no see!

Wow. Some time has passed, things have happened to make big changes around here. Let me attempt a brief overview. (i hear some of you laughing at the word "brief" out there..)
i actually went back to attend my last week of how-to-be-a chronic pain class. The Monday found me in fear and trepidation, calling my hubby before class to say "i don't think i can do this!" He said, and rightly so, "if you just go in you'll probably be fine!" and i was. i guess i figured that in the land of Pretend and All Is Good that i'd have a tough time dealing with my grief. As it was the doctor, the nurse, and the psychologist all assured me i wasn't strange to grieve over a dog--the doc said, "they're part of the family" (true) and "you don't have to like it, you just have to do it" about grief. Think i'll quote him on that. i was pleasantly overwhelmed by their kindness.

The really really cool thing of the week, besides getting a nifty signed diploma of graduation, was inspired by a fill-in psychologist. The Wednesday "group" meeting was covered by the supervising psychologist of our usual young, sweet Dr G. He asked if any of us had questions, and went over the "This is what we can talk about, this is what we try to 'check'." Everyone was quiet, just looking at each other, or at the floor. He laughed and said, "Is this how it usually is in here?"

After a couple of tiny polite questions, i asked, "Can i ask you a question about the program itself?" He nodded. "Well, there's just stuff i don't get--like, today, Beverley said 'God bless you' to somebody who sneezed, and she got called out on it as 'helping.'" He leaned back in his chair and laughed. "Honestly, i just don't get why some of the things we're 'redirected' on are wrong."

He gave us the best talk on the sympathetic nervous system and the "Fight or Flight" syndrome, explaining how even positive comments can knock a person out of their neutral state into a state of heightened arrousal, which can also awaken their pain. Anyway, it was very comprehensive, and made the nurses' attempts at redirecting make some sense, in our positive as well as negative comments.

The psychologist asked me, "So, how have you seen the positive talk idea work in your regular life?" My response, "Honestly, i'll still in my regular life say the name of the movie and games 'Resident Evil," bringing T-shirt Boy awake--"My first day, right?" He had worn a shirt with the Umbrella Corporation on it, from that series on his first day. i had commented on it, since that's my son's favorite movie series ever, but when someone asked what movie or game it was from, when he said "Resident Evil" he was "redirected" on the word "evil." He's seen it as his personal mission to test the boundaries of T-shirt statements each day since.
"But on the other hand," i continued, "it's given me some freedom to tell people when i need to change the subject because i'm getting anxious due to what they're saying. And it's helped me see where times i think i'm helping somebody, i'm not AND i'm hurting me."

The doctor liked that.

At the end of the discussion, i said, "THIS is what i needed for all this to make sense! THIS needs to be part of everybody's experience in this class!" He laughed and said, "I'll take that suggestion to the powers that be." That made me happy, but on the Friday i got even more happy.

When i went to see the doctor on Friday, and mind you, this is the guy who heads up the program, he said, "We've taken the suggestion, and we're going to incorporate it into the program." i made some happy garbled noises, and danced my way out of the office. Then i graduated! Woo hoo!

i was proud of myself for returning to class, finding out that i could indeed do something when i thought i could not. And i was thrilled with the positive aspect of the whole "how your brain works" suggestion taken. i felt powerful for a day!

And now i'm home, and on my own, and tomorrow i will tell you the turn THAT has taken.