Medication update 3

My last update was just over a month ago. The fluoxetine is still managing my Raynaud’s symptoms well, and overall I am feeling great. I find it much easier to deal with social situations and my feelings about myself are a lot more positive.

I went to a meeting of a professional organisation I belong to. I had never met any of my fellow attendees. I had never been to the venue before. I am proud of myself for (a) actually going and (b) managing to come across mostly not like a wierdo. It felt like a big achievement. The next meeting is next month and I’m looking forward to it (I think).

The only negative I am experiencing with the medication at the moment is that it makes me SO HUNGRY ALL THE TIME. I’m like an eating monster. I could eat constantly. And I could eat pretty much anything and everything. I think I’ve managed to negate some of the hunger by taking the pill just before lunch – the really strong hunger hits about an hour after taking the pill and timing lunch for that point helps for the rest of the day.

Nougat

It’s amazing. No regrets.

Despite feeling well enough to do around one hour of walking every day, I have still managed to put on about half a stone in weight. I’d like to say I’m dealing with it by eating sensibly, but I’ve just noticed the pile of nougat wrappers scattered around me …  I must try harder.

Skills I don’t list on my CV

My CV is full (overstatement alert) of qualifications, achievements and skills that a potential employer might want to see. However,  I have some skills and achievements that I quite proud of, and would like to include on a sort of alternative CV. Here’s a taster:

  • I am an expert at deciphering cry-talking. I know exactly what people are saying when crying hysterically – a skill perfected by having a highly-strung little sister. The skill is transferable to other people and can be utilised on phone calls.
  • I have the ability to deploy ‘the look’. People talk about ‘the look’ in hushed tones. The recipient of ‘the look’ usually immediately reassesses their behaviour. Occasionally also works on cats.
  • I can identify most of the first generation of Pokemon from their silhouettes and don’t usually have to look up type weaknesses on Bulbapedia. This is a consequence of being a 90s child who was denied a Game Boy and made up for it in later life.
  • I have an extremely high hit rate of knowing exactly when meals are ready just by the smell. This skill has been developed because I’m a ridiculous glutton and food is my happiness.
CatLook

Cats are also masters of ‘the look’.

There are more. I might develop this further.

My visit to Wimbledon

I went to Wimbledon during the first week of play. I’m currently watching the build-up coverage for the Gentlemen’s Singles Final today, and the pictures of Henman Hill have made me think about what a wonderful experience it was to finally get to visit Centre Court.

IMG-20160630-WA0004

The view wasn’t quite as bad as this picture makes it seem. But I was jealous of the people at the front!

Could the seats have been better? Yes. We were right at the back – and I mean we were on the very last row of seats – with a slightly restricted view (I couldn’t see the arc of lots of the lobs because they were blocked by the ceiling). Is food at Wimbledon expensive and a bit disappointing? Yes. But next time I know it is perfectly acceptable to bring my own.

However, we were lucky to get a nice sunny day and the buzz of so many people was actually really lovely. I’m not one for crowds but it didn’t feel too much. We wandered around past the outside courts – I didn’t realise just how close to the players you are there – and explored the grounds. There are fish in the ponds at the top of the hill where people watch matches on the big screen and security people walk around telling people to stand on the grass (which is weird after years of visiting places where they definitely don’t want you to stand on the grass!).

The noise and atmosphere on Centre Court is pretty much as you would imagine. I was relieved my hands can now cope with that amount of clapping and air-punching (we got to see Andy Murray play and it just confirmed to me what a brilliant player he is).

I’ve just watched Gordon Reid do the double, and now it’s nearly time for Murray vs Raonic. I can’t believe it is all nearly over for another year.

A few reasons why having a cold is worse than you remember

WARNING: this post contains descriptions that are a bit icky. And self-pity.

I think colds trigger a form of amnesia when they are over because I never remember just how awful my last one was until I get a new one. I’ve contracted a “summer cold” which is dreadful and I need to have a little whinge about it. I’m sure you are thinking “oh Ellory, it’s just a cold” but you aren’t currently dealing with the following:

Loo roll

This is a roll of pure misery.

  • The trauma of brushing your teeth twice a day while battling a runny nose. You can’t tell what is snot and what is toothpaste, and you have to breathe awkwardly through your mouth while you do it. It gets even better when you try to floss between sneezes.
  • The inability to sleep properly. The sneezing won’t stop until you have been lying there for what seems like centuries and then when you do sleep, you can’t breathe through your nose. Breathing through your mouth makes your sore throat worse and gives you a mouth that feels like sandpaper. You wake up because you are thirsty, and then start sneezing again.
  • There are snotty tissues seemingly everywhere and you lose track of where you have left them. The box of tissues is soon empty and you find yourself using loo roll instead because you can’t face the supermarket. The loo roll is fine for its normal purposes but it isn’t nose-friendly. Your already sore nose gets worse.
  • A nose that runs as soon as you attempt to do anything. This is particularly inconvenient when picking up dog poo or putting the washing out. You have to wash your hands every 5 seconds for fear of spreading your horrible germs to others.
  • The annoyance of sneezing. Other people start to get annoyed because you keep sneezing all the time, but there is nothing more annoying than being the person who is doing the sneezing. Your stomach muscles start to hurt, and you spill hot tea down yourself during a particularly violent sudden sneeze.
  • Well-meaning relatives or friends suggest you drink whatever their version of a hot toddy is. If you are really unlucky and they really love you, they will make it for you and then sit with you as you drink it. You will attempt not to look as stricken as you feel. If you are really really unlucky, you will be given a lemsip.
  • The inability to do anything without feeling sorry for yourself and whining about it like a small child. I’ve developed a whiny sort of self-pitying laugh that occasionally drifts into a mucusy cough.

Next week I will be back in the ranks of those who have forgotten just how miserable a cold is and I can’t wait.

Medication update 2

So, I have been on fluoxetine for nearly two months and I have secured a repeat prescription because it is working so well. I had some initial concerns about how it was making it me feel a little disengaged with serious situations – I caught myself looking at the sky instead of the road when I was driving and from then on I had to make myself really concentrate. That seems to have sorted itself out now; I’m not easily distracted or careless. I am also finding it a little hard to sleep at the moment, but that could be because I am worried about the political and economic situation in the UK, but most of all I am worried about my cat (he won’t eat). The insomnia is something I might have to monitor.

Alcohol

Goodbye, alcohol. I won’t miss you.

I also know that I can’t drink any alcohol while I’m taking fluoxetine. I know it isn’t recommended and I found out the hard way why. I didn’t think a couple of glasses of fizzy wine would affect me as much as they did. It was like having a terrible hangover mixed with heightened anxiety: a deep feeling of sicky dread. I couldn’t really speak to anyone or handle being in public the next day. It was just awful. Alcohol is not worth it.

However, most of the time I feel great. I’m starting to get a little annoyed with the sound of my own voice though. I’m not really a talker, but that seems to be changing. I chatter on quite a lot more and I find myself seeking the company of others when previously I would have gone to bed and watched TV. I talk to my friends a lot more and I have no problems reversing my car when people can see me (my three-point turn is particularly excellent again). We went out for a meal with the extended family last week, and my aunt said it was nice to have the ‘happy’ me back. Maybe I was more down than I thought I was. I do know I haven’t had such a good laugh with my cousin in a very long time.

I had to have a hot water bottle last night, but I think I just will have to occasionally. My anxiety manifests itself as Raynaud’s, and there will never be no anxiety.

I left my cat at the vets this morning

He should be coming home this evening, but it isn’t all good news.

Cat

This isn’t my cat but he looks a lot like this.

My mum woke me up this early morning by coming into my room and almost yelling at me that something was wrong with my cat. He has diabetes so my first thought was that he was hypoglycemic. I have nightmares about him being hypoglycemic. It’s my job to regulate his blood levels and if I don’t do a good enough job, then he could die.

I couldn’t sleep last night and I saw him at 4 o’clock. He’d been out all night in a thunder storm – he looked like a drowned rat. I dried him and he did his usual happy purring and then bumped his head against me repeatedly. He was bolshie, sturdy and sparky, but staying out in the rain is not like him at all.

By 06:30, he was wobbling about all over the place, unable to stand up properly, and determined to pace round and round in circles. If you have ever seen an animal after they have had a stroke (unfortunately I have) they look and behave just as he did. I rubbed a solution of sugar and water onto his gums (which was difficult because he has a tiny mouth for a big cat) and then phoned the vet. They were able to see him straight away; they have always been excellent with all of our animals and it is such a reassurance to know we have them nearby.

The vet was brilliant with him and said they would do some tests to see if it was a stroke because his diabetes was so well managed.

It turns out they can’t tell if he had had a small stroke, but he was definitely hypoglycemic. I feel so guilty. I don’t know how it could have happened. I measure his food and I’m really careful about doing his injections. The vet said they are doing further tests to see if his insulin dosage is too high.

The other bad news is that the tests have revealed that his kidneys are starting to fail. He is over 18 years old and he has done so well so far. We are going to discuss diet options when I pick him up this evening.

The vet told me she had started him on specialist food already, and that he was stuffing his face happily. I hope we can get the diabetes back under control and the kidneys can be helped. He’s such a happy cat, even when he is pretending to be in a grump, that it wouldn’t be right to lose him just yet.

The upside of Raynaud’s

The medication is still working, hurrah! I don’t want to get ahead of myself and think/say my Raynaud’s is under control – I thought that briefly when I was taking nifedipine and it didn’t last – but I’m feeling good. In fact, the medication is working so well I find myself almost missing some of my symptoms. Not the shaking or the terrible pain, but the coldness had its advantages:

  1. I’d forgotten what it was like to get uncomfortably warm and start sweating. I hadn’t had a sweaty back and a shiny face for at least a year before this week. I DID NOT miss that sensation. Yuck.
  2. “I don’t know what to wear today”/”Are my arms/legs/middle bits looking chubby?”/”I haven’t got a clean bra that is suitable to wear under that top”. These thoughts didn’t matter because I could just wear a jumper and some jeans. I didn’t have to worry I would get too warm because that never happened. Jumpers are great. Especially because I’m lazy. I also saved loads of money because I didn’t need any summer clothes.
  3. PillowsI could sleep comfortably under a 10- or 15-tog duvet during the summer. I could wrap up and be all cosy like a very cosy thing. I didn’t feel uncomfortable or worry it was too hot to get to sleep; I just slept.
  4. I could get away with not doing all the washing up and other attack-triggering chores. It’s not like the rest of the housework has stopped being responsibility now I’m feeling better.

Don’t get me wrong, Raynaud’s. I don’t like you, but sometimes you weren’t absolutely awful. I’ll give you that.

Why do we worry?

I have been listening to this song:

I like it; I do a little shoulder-dance and everything. And I get its message: why worry if it doesn’t help?

But I have long realised that worrying does help sometimes. Not to the extent that it makes me ill or stops me from doing positive things. But a little bit of worry is a really good motivator. It goes along with what I used to call ‘the fear’.

The fear is what used to make me do my homework, my research and my revision. It is the fear of living the moment in which I realise I haven’t done something I should have. The fear of living a horrible moment I had it in my power to avoid.

I worry a little now so that I don’t feel disappointment, pain or shame later. But that’s useful worrying and not a never-ending hole in the stomach.

When I don’t feel well

I have been fortunate to feel much better this last month or so. Today is a low day. I think I might have caught something that is making me feel bad, rather than the Raynaud’s resurfacing by itself. As a creature of habit (and routine), there are a few things I do when I don’t feel well:

  1. Take my contact lenses out and wash my face. I can’t nap with contact lenses in and there’s something about make-up on my face when I’m poorly that just makes me feel worse.
  2. Put my pyjamas on. I wear joggers when I’m home but even those are too uncomfortable when I’m feeling sorry for myself.
  3. Get into bed with a big warm blanket. Because being warm and comfortable immediately makes me feel a bit better.
  4. Eat something bad for me. Sometimes it’s crisps, sometimes it’s ice cream. Today it’s bread and butter pudding. (I’m trying not to think about how bread and butter pudding is bread + butter + sugar + milk + cream + egg with a few added raisins. Raisins are good though. I’ll focus on that.)
  5. Watch something funny, whimsical or scary. Sometimes it’s a film such as Hot Fuzz (“It’s just bolognese!”), sometimes it’s Criminal Minds (if I’m not the only one home). Today it’s Murdoch Mysteries (because I adore Constable Crabtree).

So now I’m off to eat some raisins, with added bread and butter … and custard. Enjoy a snippet of the two Andys:

I wrote a(nother) letter

When I was young, I used to write letters quite often. I usually wrote to my great aunt, but I also had a pen pal for a short time. I wrote a letter to include with a present I sent a few months ago to a friend I wasn’t able to visit for her birthday. It seems to have rekindled my interest in letter writing.

I have only one school friend left that I am close to, but she moved away because of work. It takes 9 hours to drive to see her and my bank account can’t take that sort of punishment at the moment. (Not to mention I don’t think my hands can grip a steering wheel for that long any more.) She has been struggling with a chronic illness and she is the sort of person who finds it difficult to talk about just how hard things are for her. It’s very easy to forget about people when you don’t see them regularly, but I wanted her to know that I haven’t forgotten her.

LettersShe contacted me via text a few months ago but didn’t respond when I asked after her health (she had asked after mine). So after some thought, I decided to write her a letter. It’s more personal than a text – I sound more like me; I can express myself more authentically. I also hope it might be easier for her to talk about how she is by letter. I wrote that I hoped to hear from her soon, after I had written about events in my life I thought she would be interested in and asked about hers, but I didn’t lay down the expectation that she should write back. I just wanted to give her that option if she wished to take it up. It’s a difficult line to tread: to let someone know you care about them and are there for them if they need you, but not to make them feel pressured to discuss things they may not wish to.

I sent the letter earlier this week. Now I can only wait and see.