chronic illness

My Thanksgiving & Overcoming Adverse Side Effects of Medications

My Thanksgiving holiday didn’t go quite as planned.

By Thursday night, I had spiraled into an anxiety-driven level of crazy I have never experienced by after starting a new anxiety medicine (Remeron) after seeing my rheumatologist and going over my symptoms. I tried really, really hard to keep everything I was feeling hidden and not show my family was was going on under the surface. The last person you want carving the turkey is a crazy person. I became very aware of what was going on Wednesday and consulted my doctor which resulted in a change to a new medication but in the midst of the troublesome medication making its way out of my system and the new medication going in, it made for an explosion Thanksgiving night.

From my research and the conversation with my doctor, I learned that Remeron is one of those medications that either works really great at controlling anxiety or makes you feel like a psychopath. I was the latter. It was a scary experience and thank God I’ve got a husband who is patient, supportive, and involved in my treatments and who recognized what was going on and helped me get in touch with my doctor versus putting me in a padded room (although it might have been a good idea at the time).

I am happy to share that since the old medicine has moved completely out of my system and my new medicine (Wellbutrin) has started to take effect, I am feeling much, MUCH better. I feel like my balance has been restored and I am in much better control of my anxiety and emotions which I think will only get better as the medicine takes full effect.

The sad truth with a lot of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications on the market can have a negative impact on your mental health versus making it better. I had an adverse reaction to Cymbalta at the beginning of the summer summer which made me foggy, depressed and antisocial. The reaction to the Remeron was much more intense and happened very quickly (within a couple days) after starting the medication versus over the course of weeks/months. After my experiences I was a little hesitant to try another medication but I knew I needed help to regain control of my anxiety and my emotions.

The moral of this story is to read the materials that come with new prescriptions, take time to talk with the pharmacist, and have your spouse (or someone that lives with you or is close to you) read the materials as well so they can be aware of possible adverse side effects of medications and be able to recognize signs of trouble.

Every medication affects to each person differently so what works great for one person may not work at all for another. My experiences with Remeron and Cymbalta are just that, my experiences, so I am not saying that someone should never try them if their doctor and themselves think that they may be an affective treatment to his or her illness.

I am sharing my story in the name of both transparency to show the whole picture of life with chronic illness (which includes much more than physical health) and most importantly to stress the importance of being aware of side effects and precautions of prescribed medications, listening to your body and recognizing when there may be a problem, and having the strength and courage to ask for help. I don’t want anyone to experience what I went through and hope that by sharing I can help raise awareness.

The informational content of this post is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

chronic illness

Coming Up For Air: Reclaiming Life With Chronic Illness

This past week may have been the hardest week of my life. I don’t think I have ever been so low before. I felt like I was in the bottom of a deep, dark pit and life with chronic illness had become suffocating. Until now.

As you know, I am in the process of fighting for disability due to my multiple chronic illnesses. In addition to filing for SSI with the help of an attorney, I have been trying to file my claim with my long term disability company as I have paid on a LTD policy for over eight years while working for my previous employer. When my doctor put me out of work, I thought that SSI would be the headache as I believed paying into a policy in case of circumstances such as this would provide necessary resources. After all, is that not the point of purchasing short term and long term disability policies? Needless to say, working with my LTD company has become a complete nightmare.

After months and months and 28485620 pages of medical records, I received a letter from the company that hit me like a ton of bricks. It felt like so much more than a denial letter. I am not sure if I have ever felt so judged, belittled, and demeaned not only as a patient but as a person. I am too young. I am too put together and look too well to be as sick as I am claiming. I am exaggerating my symptoms. I haven’t been to the hospital enough. I’ve worked this long being ill, why stop now. There were six pages of statements such as these.

Obviously feelings are probably at the bottom of the company’s priority list and avoiding making payments is at the top but the picture that they painted with the words they used of my life and the impact that multiple chronic illnesses have on every aspect of my life could not have been farther from the truth. They even tried to pin the doctors not only against me but against each other which added to the hurt. I had always bragged that I had such a great team of physicians supporting and advocating for me so it was almost a double whammy. At that moment, not only did I feel judged and disrespected by a faceless insurance company but betrayed by doctors I had grown to respect over the last ten years.

It was the hardest thing I have ever had to read. Thankfully my husband was home when I read the letter because honestly, I am not sure how I would have reacted if I was alone after reading the letter. It was like I had been stabbed in the heart and I plummeted very quickly into a very dark place.

I felt completely empty and even the smallest things took an enormous amount of effort. My anxiety was through the roof and I began to question everything.

The only thing I could cling to was the promise that God was with me through even the darkest moments. I had to believe that He was with me and had plans for me despite the hardships I was facing. Clutching Hope in one hand and the hand of my husband in the other is what got me through. He supported me in a way surpasses understanding.

So here I am a week later working to put the pieces back together. I had an appointment with my rheumatologist yesterday which helped to put me back on the path to healing (at least mentally and emotionally). He listened patiently and compassionately as I emotionally regurgitated my feelings and fears about the current my state of health and the disability process. He reminded me that no matter what the letter said that I have his complete support. He was worked with companies like these for years and they with exploit every loophole possible while pinning the blame of denying the claim on the doctors versus themselves. He had my back.

For the first time in a week, I feel like I can breathe again. I am ready to start reclaiming life with chronic illness and ready to start feeling like myself again. My true self.

I have purple dye on my hair as I type. I have plans to overhaul the blog design to get a fresh jumpstart. I am full of ideas to pour myself back into writing.

I am ready.

Fresh air feels good.

Photo credit: spinster cardigan / / CC BY

chronic illness

Anxious About Reoccurrence

I am not going to lie. My anxiety is currently sky-high.

263 days ago I had emergency surgery for a small bowel obstruction caused by adhesions from my latest laparatomy for endometriosis.

Every day since I have lived in fear that I would have another.

Lately my fear has been even greater as the nausea, inability to eat, and pain that I experienced in the days and weeks leading up to my obstruction have returned. Friday I was thisclose to heading to the ER.

Prior to this obstruction experience, I was a surgery vet. The biggest anxiety I had about the whole ordeal was whether or not the nurse would be able to start an IV without resticking me a million times. Once the IV was set, I was good to go.

Not anymore. I think that everything progressed so quickly from the moment the doctor announced I needed surgery to the fact that I cannot remember the initial 72 hours post-op to having to knowing how hard the whole ordeal was on Abby has scarred me.

Another scary thought? There isn’t a darn thing I can do to prevent it from happening again. Actually because of my history, there is a likely chance that it will happen again.

Tomorrow, I see my gastroenterologist. I’m not sure what they are going to say or do but to say that I am not scared of my mind would be a lie.

If you have a moment around 3pm, please say a prayer!