chronic illness

Coming Out Of The Fog

::dusting off the cobwebs::

I knew I had been way from the blog awhile but it was not until I logged in today did I realize just how long it has been. It was another reminder of the dark place I woke up in this weekend.

I have not hidden my struggle as I tried to make the adjustment in beginning the disability process. It was definitely a challenge to figure out a new sense of normal for this next phase of my life. The new diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy brought along with it a new treatment. With Cymbalta, I did experience a big decrease in my neuropathy symptoms but it also had some unexpected side effects. Whenever I have seen the TV advertisements about anti-depressants actually increasing depression and anxiety versus treating it, I never understood how it could be possible. Its like taking an anti-nausea medicine making you nauseous. It doesn’t make sense, does it?

I didn’t realize just how far I had slipped until this past weekend. Beyond living with the physical pain and fatigue of my illnesses, I felt like I had just become a shell of the person I used to be. It was almost like I was watching life from a distance. As each day passed my world was becoming smaller and smaller as depression and anxiety continued to take more of a hold on my life. I knew something was off but I couldn’t figure out why I felt the way I did.

On Saturday during an honest, deep, and heartfelt conversation with my husband, it was like something inside me clicked. For the first time in weeks, I feel like I was able to connect the dots. I was finally able to fully hear and understand my husband’s concerns that he had been sharing but I had previously been unable to take in.

It was a hard realization. I had such a flood of emotions. I felt so sad and angry about what I had “allowed” my life to become. I felt like a failure as a wife and a mother. I felt weak and insecure. But I think the most important thing was that I felt something.

I am currently working on weaning off the Cymbalta and finding another treatment for the neuropathy. The withdrawal side effects can be nasty but I already feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I spent the morning elbow deep in paperwork and making phone calls to my doctors’ offices and while it is overwhelming (and exhausting), I feel like I am moving forward and feeling positive again. I am looking forward to being more active and writing again. I am reading to take back the reigns in my life. My daughter deserves it. My husband deserves it. I deserve it.

My word of caution in writing this post is to take the possible side effects of medications seriously. All of them. I think its so easy to write off some of the potential side effects because they are considered rare or unlikely. It is important to know as much as possible about the medicines and treatments you take and be in tune with your own body.  I have found myself questioning why I did not pick up on the problem sooner. When you have chronic illness, especially if you have multiple illnesses, it can be so easy to attribute symptoms to a previously diagnosed problem versus them alerting you to a new problem or imbalance. It took someone on the outside per se to help me notice that something else might be going on. Not only is it important for you to be aware of your mediations and their side effects but also your family and support circle.

I want to say thank you to each and every one of you for the support that you have given me over the years (can you believe that A New Kind of Normal has now been around for over 6 years?!?). It is because of your support, love, and encouragement that I am able to share my story and hopefully help others who may be traveling a similar journey. You are amazing.


bloggingchronic illness

Rediscovering Me

The past two months have definitely been a struggle. When I knew that I would be leaving work and would be on medical leave long-term (and pursuing disability) due to chronic illness, I thought that I would just have this huge load lifted off of my shoulders and things would magically fall into place. I wouldn’t be as stressed. I would have more energy. I would have the freedom and passion to write and I would be on my way to fulfilling my dream of writing a book.

I could not have been more wrong.

I knew the fight for disability would be tough, especially SSI. I thought that my private short-term disability would be smooth, my private long-term disability would be a challenge, and SSI would be a battle. Two things surprised me right out of the gate. The good surprise was finding a lawyer who wanted to represent my case right off the bat. The bad surprise was the unexpected pushback from my short-term policy. i have had this policy for many years and have worked with them on many occasions but have never had any type of difficulties. It is so hard to not completely freak out as it is so overwhelming and is obviously a very big deal. The logical part of me wants to curl up in the corner rocking in the fetal position but the other part of me wants to take a deep breath and trust that God is in control. I knew upfront that the decision to pursue disability was a leap of faith. I felt with everything in me that God was leading me to take that step and I still feel like He is leading the way. Is it incredibly scary? Abso-freaking-lutely. All I can do right now is cling to His promises and know that He is in control and He is faithful to provide.

I also had the understanding that medical leave wouldn’t completely alleviate my symptoms but I had expected a quicker adjustment to being at home. I thought that I would definitely notice a relatively immediate decline in the chronic fatigue that I had been experiencing while I was working. I knew that my pain wouldn’t disappear but maybe it would become a little more manageable. What I wasn’t prepared for was a new diagnosis. Earlier in the year I had been experiencing some numbness and tingling in the outer portions of my hands and feet on occasion. Because it was symmetrical, my rheumatologist concluded that it was likely a manifestation of my fibromyalgia. Right before Abby’s birthday, the numbness and tingling had spread to my entire hands and feet and had definitely begun to interfere with my daily life. When I was driving, I constantly felt like I needed to shake my hands and feet awake. I struggled with typing (which was one of the reasons for my time off from blogging last month) and I had issues with my grip opening doors and jars. It was definitely very alarming. After consulting my pain management doctor and my rheumatologist, I was given the diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy and we started treating it with Cymbalta. Thankfully after four weeks of treatment, I have experienced a significant decline in symptoms. Hallelujah! A treatment that works right off the bat! I was due for one of those! It has also had a positive impact on the joint and muscle pain related to my fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, my pelvic pain and nausea have been crippling but you’ve got to focus on the good things in life right?

Then there is the writing. I’m not sure what is going on there. I thought that once I was home full-time that I would be completely uninhibited and that the words would just flow through my fingers. I have had so many things going through my mind but when I sit down to write, I feel like I just stare endlessly at the blinking cursor on the screen. It is like I have a brick wall in my mind. Words cannot express how ready I am for Type A Conference! Only 112 days! I really need some refreshment and revitalization!

I think the main thing with all of these concerns is the struggle to rediscover my identity in this new chapter in life. I’m no longer a working mom. After our trip to the beach in two weeks, Abby will be with a sitter three days a week through the summer so I am looking forward to (but a little nervous) about taking on a more SAHM role. I’ve never done it so I am a little worried about not being able to fill the shoes I have created for myself. I love Pinterest but man can it put some unrealistic expectations about motherhood in your head. Can I get an amen to that?

There have definitely been a lot of changes in my life and I’m sure there are more to come and while I am a little apprehensive, I am also a little excited. It is an opportunity for discovery and growth as a mom and a wife and more importantly as an individual (which I think sometimes we as women tend to overlook). Here is to discovering a new kind of normal!