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Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Thinking has its place, but at some point it becomes a means of avoiding our lives instead of living them." ~Philip Simmons

I'm not going to talk in depth about the things on my mind, but I want to put them here.

1. Flu shot reactions, wildly fluctuating blood pressure, and medication.

I noticed about a month ago that I was waking at night, around 2 a.m., with stomach distress. It was an odd burning sensation that circled the outside of my stomach, rather than nausea or heartburn. I don't know how else to describe is. The burning then morphed into a pinching sensation. It was very strange and kept me awake for hours. In addition to this, it was not uncommon for me to be walking and suddenly feel faint. This usually happened in the late afternoon and as one of my kids were often with me, it freaked them out. They kept nagging me to go to a doctor. If I sat down, drank some water or breathed deeply, the dizziness would usually pass within ten minutes and I felt fine.

Between the two above symptoms, however, I started feeling miserable, so I began a process of elimination to figure out what was causing them. I finally narrowed it down to the medication I was prescribed to regulate my blood pressure after the flu vaccine sent it careening wildly up and down. I stopped taking the medication. The next day I felt better--in every way. Four days later I felt like a new person. I scheduled a doctor visit last week to make sure I wasn't being stupid.

When I described my symptoms to my doctor, he told me that fewer than 1% of patients had similar side-effects (not a big surprise to me--medicine and I do not agree most of the time). I also mentioned that since I'd stopped the medication, my difficulty with PTSD had all but disappeared. My doctor did a double-take, apologized to me, and said that in the rush to stabilize my blood pressure (which was bouncing between 225/115 and 80/55), he had forgotten I have an "emotional disorder". Apparently, the prescribed drug is not a good fit for people who have PTSD, and has the effect of exaggerating symptoms, often to the point of causing suicidal depression. Awesome.

So Doctor checked my blood pressure, which is normal, and said, "I think you need to stay off meds for now. We'll monitor you. You might need medication for something after a decade or two, but your blood tests don't indicate a predisposition to...well...anything, really. You're probably the healthiest person I'll see this year."

So I went home, called Tolkien Boy, apologized for being a beast for the past seven months, explained what had happened and suggested that we still be friends. He said okay. Next week I'll apologize to my kids. Hopefully, they'll let me keep being their mother. Then I'll apologize to Darrin and ask if we can keep being married. Life with me is never boring, but sometimes it's less than delightful.

2. Living without being consumed by irrational thoughts and feelings.

As I've not done this for seven months, I have to admit that I'm not quite sure how to handle the LACK of stress. That sounds weird.

Part of the problem is that when I'm overwhelmed by PTSD symptoms, there are many negatives (fear, insecurity, emotional pain, being certain that something bad is going to happen or that I will be abandoned by those I love, feeling worthless, not wanting to live...), but paired with that is an intensity of feeling that includes love and attachment. In short, I feel a greater depth of love and connection, but those "connection" times keep being interrupted by the less positive symptoms. The disconnect causes an increase in irrational thought--but when someone reassures me or talks with me, I feel an even greater intensity of love and connection...You can see why this cycle is unhealthy and difficult to manage, right?

If you can't, probably you don't have PTSD or any related disorder, nor do you know anyone who lives with those conditions. Or you are inordinately logical and all this sounds like a bunch of hooey--and maybe it is.

Regardless, now that the meds that were causing the problems are gone, I'm left feeling level and lucid, which is wonderful, but also not particularly in love with anyone right now. I'm guessing that's because I'm emotionally exhausted, having ridden the emotional roller coaster of the past seven months and trying constantly to manage the ups and downs without losing my mind. But no matter the cause, I'm still not really excited about people, in general. This is not the PTSD symptom that makes me run away and hide, it's just a lack of delight when someone appears in my chat box or sends me a message through email or Facebook. And even though I still make phone calls and chat with people, I keep thinking that I really have nothing to say and feel no compulsion to connect with anyone. I feel like I need a huge break from affection of any kind--which also means that hugging--cuddling--any physical expression of love, does not appeal to me.

I've thought about trying to decide what all this means. I've wondered how to handle it diplomatically, since I live with four people who expect me to hug them and one who enjoys having sex with me. But to be honest, I spent a great deal of time during the past seven months thinking of how to manage the drug-induced turmoil inside of me, and quite frankly, I'm tired of thinking about how to be a normal person.

So if I lack enthusiasm when contacted, please don't take it personally. It's not you. It's me. I'm completely worn out, emotionally, and I just don't have the stamina to pretend to enjoy human interaction--which doesn't mean I don't want it (well, I would want it if I had the energy). It just means that I'll be so much more delightful after about two months of recovery.

And now I'm done thinking about this. I'm going to go run, sit in a jacuzzi and stretch my silly, spastic muscles, work online, make lesson plans, decide what treats to make for an upcoming party I'm obligated to attend, and read something beautifully written, non-emotional, and fun.

The End.


  1. I'm so glad you were able to figure out the problem so that you can feel better. And do your doctors *never* read your charts? That is ridiculous.

  2. Me, too, for sure. And I think they do--it's just that this was sort of a crisis situation. When your patient's BP is stroke level,then plummeting to the point where she might lose consciousness, you don't really think of anything except stabilizing the patient.

    I think the original intent was to stabilize, then switch to a more appropriate medication. The reason it didn't happen is because I ignored the phone calls asking me to schedule a follow-up and when I had my physical with an OBGYN, he renewed the prescription automatically. So I have to take ownership of this. I also could have asked when the meds were prescribed, "Will there be any negative interaction with my PTSD?" I'm pretty good at letting things slide when I don't want to think about them.