Monday, August 27, 2012

Make It Stop


That's the word that keeps coming to mind in the past couple of days.  The pain consumes me, eats me up.  Not much is left behind.

Last Wednesday was the best day, pain-wise, that I've had in months.  I went to PT that day and she did "skin rolling," which she said might leave me sore.  I've been in agony since Friday.  I'm not sure if it was the PT or some other thing that did me in.  It's followed the same general 24-hour cycle it's done in the past—mornings are tolerable and afternoons I contemplate going to the ER.  It's reduced me to a monosyllabic, glazed-over zombie the past few days.  Worse than usual.

Sometimes it feels like a horrible stomachache and I try to pacify it with food.  It's become a rather bad habit, feeding an ache that doesn't really need food.  I don't know what it needs.

Right now it feels like my entire pelvis is burning, pain level about an 8.  If I zone out and kinda become one with the pain, I can feel it take over my entire abdomen, burning a line through my core, out my arms, and leaving my head foggy and achy.  My legs have been spared for now.

I'm forcing myself to blog because I need to get out some of my angst.  The thought of composing an email to a friend or talking to a family member is ability to concentrate on conversation or care about anyone else's problems.

It feels very indulgent, this hyperfocusing on myself.  I know that might sound ridiculous, yeah, I can't control much about the pain.  But when it goes on for 6 solid months, it feels horribly egocentric and my world feels very small. 

I want to make a quick list of things I want to do when I get better, things I'm afraid I won't appreciate or take the opportunity to do once I'm able.  I want to hold myself accountable.  Here goes:  I want to run again.  I want to go to a yoga class.  I want to have my little nieces and nephews over for a slumber party.  I want to walk around the neighborhood.  I want the pharmacist's cashiers to forget my name (ok, not a goal but a wish nonetheless).

I'm doing everything right.  I'm doing my what my PT says, taking soothing baths, meditating, doing diaphragmatic breathing.  It is still hard to keep the panic at bay, and I don't see how anyone could stay calm through this.  It just creeps in, little voices telling me it might not get better, maybe this is the new normal.  Maybe I will always be too sick to raise a child.

I haven't responded to comments from my last post—sorry.  My infertility therapist is actually required by her workplace to have a certain percentage of her patients be IF patients.  I don't feel betrayed or anything; she doesn't really have a choice.  I'm fine with it mostly, just a little sad.

I'm taking the amitriptyline at night.  The nurse recommended experimenting with taking it at dinnertime to see if that helped with drowsiness the next day, and it hasn't.  I think I'm officially done with this med.  I don't think it's helping and the sleepiness is horrible.  I doubt multiple cups of coffee a day is helping the pain.

When I take a pain medication, I get some relief for about an hour.  Tonight I took it around dinnertime and actually talked to my husband.  He's been getting a lot of "don't talk to me but find something for us to eat" the past few days.

I'm scared.  When I feel the pain in new places, when the pain in my core seems to reach up through my chest and into my jaw and teeth, it's hard not to worry. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Somnolence, A Break-up, and Books

Y'all, I'm sleepy.

Side note:  I consciously made myself write "y'all" instead of "you guys" or some other y'all alternative.  My non-Southern college friends cultivated the "y'all" out of me (I'm Southern) but I'm trying to get it back.  I just like the way it sounds.

Back to being sleepy.  The amitriptyline (trycyclic antidepressant) is kicking my butt.  I am SO, so drowsy all the time, but not actually tired.  I don't yawn and can't fall asleep before my normal bedtime.  But when my alarm goes off in the morning, the struggle to stay alert begins.  And it is a fight. 

I'm trying to get in touch with my doctor to see if there's a different med I can try.  I don't know if the amitriptyline is even helping, so maybe he'll just wean me off of it.

My therapist is dumping me.  She tried to soften the blow by saying we'd slowly see each other less over time, that she wasn't making a clean break.  And all the usual "it's not you, it's me" stuff.  Since she specializes in patients seeking infertility treatment, I'm no longer in her wheelhouse.  I think she's required to primarily see infertility patients.  It makes me a little sadder than I expected.  She's really helped me through all of this.

However, my psychiatrist will not be dumping me.  She specializes in pregnancy and women who are nursing, but she has room in her practice for a two-time pregnancy FAIL survivor.  I've been seeing her for medication management, and maybe I'll transition to seeing her for talk therapy, too.

In the past year, I've read several books that are memoirs of infertiles or novels with strong infertility/loss/adoption currents throughout, and some stand out as my favorites.  I'm not too coherent now and am never literary enough to write a proper review, so I'll just list 'em.
  1. Life from Scratch by Melissa Ford.  Ok, this is not a book about infertility, but Melissa Ford is the web hostess of the largest network of infertiles around:  Stirrup Queens.  Her novel is excellent and many passages are simply beautiful, ones I would have highlighted if I'd known how to on my Kindle.
  2. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.  I strongly recommend this to women feeling like no one can relate to their loss.  Edwards explores loss so thoughtfully and she really, truly gets it.
  3. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.  Patchett is one of my faves.  She wrote Bel Canto, and while I couldn't decide what I thought about that one, her others have knocked my socks off.  Like Bel Canto, State of Wonder has slowly building suspense.  The settings are so vivid that I felt them, saw them, and smelled them.  The infertility theme in this is subtle at first, but keep reading and you won't regret it.
  4. Run by Ann Patchett.  Two brothers in this novel are adopted, which is an important aspect of the book.  I love Ann Patchett for passages like this:  The ache in his ankle was like an angry conversation coming from another room, something persistent, irritated, abstracted, something you should get up and take care of but for whatever reason you don't.  I connected strongly with that.
  5. The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett.  I'm on an Ann Patchett kick, can you tell?  This novel is about a woman who goes to a home for unwed mothers in the 1960's.
  6. Good Eggs:  A Memoir by Phoebe Potts.  I picked this up for a couple of bucks at Border's when they were going out of business (sad).   When I got home with it and opened it for the first time, I realized it wasn't a book in the conventional sense.  Instead of text, Potts uses cartoons to tell her infertility story.  She drew me in right away and her personality, wit, and ability to convey emotions.  Loved it.
  7. Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein.  Another infertility memoir and her story is beautifully told.  Loved it, too.
It turns out that you need to be awake to do almost anything.  Work, drive, blog.  I'm up to three or four cups of coffee a day and it barely touches my sleepiness.  Ugh.  I am reading your blogs and would comment if I could formulate thoughts.  I promise to be a better bloggie friend.

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hey...I've Been Here Before

At my infertility support group last year, the therapist had us write down some of our negative thoughts (eg, "Everyone around me is pregnant") and use cognitive restructuring on them (eg, not everyone around you is pregnant—your 60-year-old coworker isn't pregnant).  I'm realizing that I'm in exactly the same place I was a year ago, except instead of infertility dominating my thoughts, it's pain.   Both have a lot of unknowns, an almost complete lack of control, and a loss of faith in your body.   And lots of negative thoughts.

Then (whilst TTC): "Everyone around me is pregnant."
Now (with pain): "Everyone around me can work out."

Wishful thinking (I think I made this one up)
Then:  "If I try doing a handstand afterward I'll get pregnant!"
Now:  "If I lie perfectly still for a week the pain will go away!"

Then:  "I didn't get pregnant last month because I ate a conventionally grown strawberry/struck the wrong yoga pose/drank a sip of coffee." 
Now:  "I screwed up my recovery by getting the mail/walking the dog/pulling a weed."

Fortune telling:
Then:  "This cycle will be a bust because I only have one follicle."
Now:  "The new physical therapist won't tell me anything new or helpful."

Then: "This will never end."
Now: "This will never end."

So, in terms of personal growth, at least I realize I'm having the exact same kinds of thoughts?  Heh.

One of the downsides of not being TTC is not knowing with laserlike precision when my period will come.  I mean, I know on my Outlook calendar where I marked CD1 for my last period, but I don't know when I ovulated.  I do know I'm well into PMS territory.  I think my pain is picking up in preparation for Aunt Flo, making me even grumpier than usual.

I'm trying a monophasic Pill after this period arrives.  When I took a triphasic one a few months ago, I got really weepy with all the pain, so I'm not too hopeful that this hormonal experiment will work. 

The super fun experiment with my moods will most likely occur when I'm at the beach next week with my family.  Lucky them! 

I wrote the above post last week—I'm at the beach now, which explains why I haven't been blogging and commenting.  I'm also trying to get ready for a trip for work the day after I get back. 

I won't start the Pill until we're back from the beach so my family is being spared the mood swings.  Or at least they are being spared the Pill-related mood swings...they're all my own right now.  And Pain's.  Everyone is at the beach this morning except me.  I'm hanging out at the beach house on CD2, with AF cramps added to my regularly-scheduled abdominal pain.  Good times.  Being here in pain beats being at work in pain, at least.

When I get back and work slows down a bit, I'll tell you about the adoption information session we attended.  And about my great new physical therapist. 

I just realized that my post title also reflects how yet again, my period has come in all its painful glory while I'm on vacation.  Thanks for screwing up another vacation, period! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Prediction: I Will Have Pain Tomorrow

After my surgery on 3/9, which I just realized was the ninth time my uterus had undergone an invasive procedure, I was optimistic.  In severe pain, yes, but certain that my pain would get better tomorrow.  Or after the balloon was removed.  Or by my next period. 

I've been at this long enough to realize that tomorrow is not the day that everything will suddenly improve.  I will be in pain tomorrow.  It might be less than today's, or more, but it will be there.

The ever-optimistic part of me gets faked out every morning, though, because I always feel best then.  Following is a typical weekend day.  I experimented a bit with Paint so you'll have to endure my attempts at artwork.  I realize it looks like a 5-year-old drew it.

7 a.m.:  Wake up feeling pretty good.  All I need is some coffee and I'll be raring to go!  I will do productive things like cleaning the floor and washing the dog!!  (had not figured out how to draw thought bubbles yet)

10 a.m.:  I will not be cleaning the floor. 

noon:  ...or washing the dog.  The afternoon is looking bleak, at least for me.  The dog is happy.  And on the upside, I suddenly grew hair.

3 p.m.:  My pain meds are completely inadequate.  Lie around listlessly and complain to my husband.  You can imagine what the stick figure would look like.
6 p.m.:  Dinner and meds revive me somewhat.
10 p.m.: Severe pain.  Must go to sleep to escape for a few hours.

That's pretty much every day.  Well, at least weekend days—a stick person sitting at a desk was too difficult to draw.

The pain has changed locations a lot; it's tricksy like that.  At first the worst area was burning below my ribcage.  Then it became a dull pain lower in my abdomen, and now my entire lower abdomen is on fire.  Lately the burning pain has been so severe that I feel it in the center of my body, where it radiates to weird places, like my lips.  They'll feel like they're pulsating.

This probably sounds very depressing, and it is sometimes.  But I'm ok.  I've found ways to block out the pain and get on with my life.  I'm not always successful, and when it's bad, I step back a bit and take a breather.

I don't want to end on a sad about those Olympics?  So excited that track and field starts today.  I love watching swimming but I love running even more.