Feb 18, 2009

another piece of the puzzle?

A few weeks ago, I was driving to class when I started noticing a pain in my right rib just under my breast. Over the next few days the pain got more and more miserable. It hurt to breath, it hurt to sniffle, it hurt to sit, it hurt to lie down.

I started popping extra strength Ibuprofen, and decided to visit my massage therapist to see if it was being caused by muscle pain. He evaluated my pain and pressed lightly on my sternum. HOLY FRIG it hurt!

For the life of me, I could not remember hurting myself. I mean, if you hurt so badly you can hardly sit or stand, wouldn't you have some idea what you did? Sleepwalking? Too much arm waving with the Wii?

His best guess is that I was suffering from a condition called "costochronditis."

It's been about a month now and I am starting to feel better, but interestingly, I was just "googling" it, and it looks like it has some relationship to autoimmune diseases. Perhaps the whole autoimmune theory isn't as crazy as I thought.

Feb 15, 2009

penelope escapes from the snow

It's a funny thing being in your mid 30s and finding yourself on "spring break" ... um, sorry, I mean "reading week".

Earlier this week I didn't think I would be well enough to travel; but tonight I'm lying in bed in a gorgeous hotel suite looking over the ocean...and life is good. Perhaps a few days away from my couch will be good for me.

Travel for me has certainly improved since my first time around as a student. My first road trip was spent searching for a Super 8 with the lowest room rate. This time I am happily ensconced in a four star hotel, munching on the complimentary wine and cheese and I no longer have to eat all of my meals at Taco Bell...hmmm...this mature student thing isn't really all that bad.

Hopefully, I will be a good student this week and crank out my midterm paper whilst enjoying the sand and surf.

Feb 12, 2009


My test results are back. It appears that they are all normal, except for one.

I tested positive for high anti-nuclear antibody (ANA). It seems that can happen in about 20% of the population for no good reason, so I may not have Lupus. But considering my symptoms, there is a good chance that I do have it.

My doctor's office is seeing me tomorrow morning for follow up.

I feel a ray of hope shining in. Maybe I will finally know what's been wrong with me for so long.

Feb 11, 2009


Sometimes I feel like this is how it will be forever. I don't see any hope of truly being "well" again.

As I've mentioned, I really do have a lovely life - certainly nothing to complain about - but living with whateverthef@ck this illness is has slowly eroded into my sense of optimism.

I am so sad today. I was thinking about babies, especially the babies we won't be able to have, and my train of thought crashed.

I was watching Oprah today telling women that if their husband cheats, it's obviously because of something they were doing wrong. And even though I cannot imagine my Dear Husband cheating on me; he felt so far away (and, well...he is...6 time zones to be exact) and I felt so lonely.

I didn't get any of my readings done for class tomorrow. In fact, I'm thinking of withdrawing from school this term. My brain is not functioning properly and I really need a break from worrying about how I am going to get through.

On the plus side, my house is really clean (and I got to sleep through the whole transformation). And my Mother brought me over blueberry waffles.

So why am I on the verge of tears? Why does it feel like I can hardly breath?

Feb 10, 2009

oh my speeding heart

So far today's withdrawal symptoms haven't been too bad. I'm definitely tired, but nothing new with that!

The odd thing is that my little heart-wreck is racing. I've taken my blood pressure a few times with my handy home blood pressure machine * and have found that my BP is a remarkably low 88/49 with a pulse rate over 100. Nifty. **

As My Amazingly Brilliant Husband is away on business this week, and I am at the bottom of the motivation pit, I have relented and hired a person to help me clean the house tomorrow. (by help, I expect that she will be doing most of the heavy lifting). I feel so guilty not doing my own housework. I mean, what else do I have to do all day? Sleep? Rest on the couch? Check my blood pressure? How flippin' hard can it be to throw a load of laundry in along the way?

Apparently, the answer is very hard as the mountain of clothing piling up in the bedroom closet can attest to.

My Fabulous Mother came by tonight with groceries for me and stopped in for some tea and a game of Wii golf. It might have been cold outside, but in the land of Nintendo, the sky was blue and the fairways were perfect!

It seems that I might have overdone it swinging the "golf club", as I am now short of breath and thinking I need a nap before I can get ready for bed. Did I really just write that sentence?

Did I also mention that I am (or was, not that long ago) a reasonably proportioned, fit person? Who the hell gasps for air after playing Wii golf??

  • I am very happy to have my wonderful family and the sweetest furry creatures you could imagine.
  • I am very grateful that I am able to afford to have someone help me with the cleaning.
  • I am very grateful for my beautiful home.
  • I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to go away on holiday next week to a sunny beach.
One day at a time. At least I'm not feeling sad!

(*note: you might be suffering from hypochondria if you own a home blood pressure machine)

Feb 9, 2009


Wow. I feel as though I've nearly been hit by a train. Miserable!

My head hurts, my body aches, my eyes hurt. Either I have a horrible flu, or this is the beginning of withdrawal setting in. I was so tired today I could hardly make it up the stairs! I almost called my Mom over to make me some tea.

All this and I've only gone down by half. I'm not sure I want to see what it feels like to go off of them 100%.

On the bright side, my mood is fantastic!

Feb 8, 2009

could it be possible?

What if the depression I've been struggling with isn't depression at all?

Here's what happened: I shouldn't have worried about being "too well" for Friday's appointment with my psychiatrist. As it turns out, I crashed that morning and was barely able to drag my carcass across the city to see him.

He listened to my story of how things have been for me since Christmas, and seemed very perplexed. Thankfully, My Husband was able to attend this appointment with me, and was able to give some additional insight about my moods.

My doctor is concerned that I have not responded to any of the multiple treatments I've had over the past few years and that my physical health is worsening along with my moods shifting more rapidly.

I could care less about my moods; what I can't stand is the fatigue. The overwhelming energy it takes to get out of bed and make a pot of tea. The fact that I avoid showering day after day and have been wearing the same pajamas now since Friday morning. This is not me! After three good days, I feel like I have crashed. Sometimes I wonder if I have chronic fatigue (and depression?)

After my brief reprieve earlier this week from brain fog, it has set in again and made focusing on anything next to impossible. All I want to do is sleep.

Interestingly, my doctor is now wondering if there is something physical going on with my body that he hasn't picked up on.

So here are his recommendations:
  1. Consultation with another psychiatry specialist - (thought I was already seeing a specialist? how much more specialized can you get in mental health?)
  2. Testing for Lupus, Celiac, hormone levels, and a whole host of "outlier" illnesses.
  3. Tapering off two of my medications over the next ten days to see if any of them are causing the fog & fatigue.
I am very frightened of coming off medication. I've done it before and things got much worse without it. But I am grateful that he is still trying to solve the mystery of my downward spiral of health.

It is such a crazy thought after all I have been through that it's possible that none of this has been depression, but rather some strange autoimmune disorder. If you've been here, you can probably understand if I share with you that I would be grateful for a diagnosis that is physical in nature. Something objective that I could show to people and that they would be nice about.

I guess I will just have to wait and see what happens. Today was my first day of tapering off of Cipralex and Wellbutrin. I feel dizzy, sleepy, teary. I think this is normal, so I am going to find my sweet little furry friends and bring them to bed with me now. Everything always feels better when there is a soft, warm, fluffy ball purring next to me.

Feb 5, 2009

good news, or bad?

Three days. Three beautiful, blissful days of peace. My fog lifted for three days and I was able to:
  • wake up
  • read
  • think
  • smile
  • call a friend
  • have a shower
  • play with my puppy
  • clean the house
  • feel joy
  • stay awake for 12 hours
  • remember how wonderful life can be
This would normally be great news, fantastic news; except that tomorrow I see my doctor for a medication review. The last time I saw him was before Christmas.

The past three days have been so out of character from the past two months, I'm afraid that he is going to get the wrong idea about how I have been doing.

On the other hand, maybe I am doing better. I just hate to get my hopes up as my history has shown these brief windows of wellness that ultimately crash back down again.

How do I portray how bad things have been when it is all I can do to stop myself from beaming, glowing with joy that I finally feeling well again?