I’m now able to walk short distances without the walker although I’m still leery of trying any significant walking. I’ll be taking the walker with me when I go to school next week. I discovered I’m doing way more walking on campus than I thought.
I bought a yoga video that’s supposed to have poses that are good for your back. I suppose they are. I overdid it, and strained something. No lower back pain today, but the leg feels weaker. Sigh. I’ll be glad when this is over.
I finally got to do some baking yesterday. There were seriously over ripe bananas on the counter and the pastry chef textbook says the secret to great banana baking is to use very over ripe bananas. The muffins came out really good. The recipe is here:http://www.firsthomelovelife.com/recipe/maple-banana-muffinsif you want to give the muffins a try. We loved them.
The iris is blooming! Here in the desert, iris blooms last only a few days. These photos are straight out of the camera. Today is the first time I’ve been able to do photography since the sciatica started.
This closeup is me playing around. I wanted to see if I could get a good shot of the innards of the flower. It’s sort of successful.
If you have ever wondered just how accessible the world is, try getting into and out of a restroom without using your hands. Putting a blue sign outside a restroom does not make the restroom accessible. There is only ONE restroom I can use on the entire New Mexico State University campus. It’s on the first floor of Foster Hall. The handicap entrance to Foster Hall is on the second floor. I have to be careful how much water I drink and when I drink it. It can be a long walk to the only restroom that has a door opener.
Sidewalks are death traps. Expansion joins that have moved will stop the walker’s wheels. Then I try not to go flying over the top of the walker. Elevators are death traps. There’s a gap between the elevator and the building. That gap also stops wheels. Area rugs are death traps. Try wheeling over the edge. The rug lifts up and refuses to lie flat. Throw rugs are death traps. They are worse than area rugs. Construction zones are death traps. A main road on campus is torn up. There’s an 8” drop to the exposed dirt that used to be under the pavement. I’m not supposed to try to use the walker on stairs. Getting across that road was a near death experience.
For some reason, the handicapped entrances for buildings on campus are the farthest from the sidewalk. Go to the college book store? Nope. The parking lot is on one side of the building and the handicap entrance is on the other side. The curb cutout for the sidewalk that will take me around the building is on the far end. I’d have to wheel myself across the parking lot, walk along the entrance to the bookstore, walk down the side of the bookstore, turn the corner, and there’s the handy handicap entrance.
I got a cup holder for my walker. That allows me to bring tea from the kitchen to the office. I have to put the tea in a travel mug, but at least I can have tea. I thought the cup holder would allow me to go to Starbucks by myself. I could order my drink, put it in my cup holder, and wheel myself to the table. That works if the Starbucks isn’t crowded. Not that Starbucks has a door opener. I’d have to wait for someone to come along and open the door for me. The never crowded Starbucks is on a road that has been ripped up for the last year. It’s quite the driving experience. That’s why that Starbucks is never crowded. I tried going to Starbucks without my walker. My leg feels better and I can walk short distances without the walker. I discovered that I can’t stand long enough to get my drink. I was in pain by the time I could hobble to the table. I had an hour in which I could drink my mocha and hope my leg recovered enough to get out of Starbucks. Fortunately, I could get back to my car.
I wanted to go to Sprouts, a wonderful grocery store here. It’s got the best produce, a large organic produce section, and a large selection of fruit. Except I can’t push my walker and a cart at the same time. Yes, they have the little motorized things for people who have difficulty walking. I need the walker to get from the car to the store entrance. So what do I do with the walker if I use the motorized thing?
Taking the shuttle bus from the free parking lot to near where I have a class is…..interesting. The newer busses have a ramp that unfurls and makes it easy to roll onto the bus. The older busses have lifts. The bus this morning had a broken lift. My choices were: try to get up steep stairs (not in this lifetime) or wait for the next bus. I waited. Frequently, I have to tell the driver to unfurl the ramp. No, I can’t jump from the sidewalk to the bus while pushing a walker.
I had a botany lab this morning. The lab isn’t designed for a walker. I managed to get around without the walker catching on a cord and knocking a microscope off the table. Getting prepared slides was easy. Prepared slides have the specimen and the cover slip permanently glued to the slide. I got the slide, put it in my pocket, and wheeled my way back to my table. A slide I prepare by cutting a thin piece of fruit, putting it on a slide, adding a drop of water and putting a cover slip over the wet fruit required imagination to move from the counter to my table. Which is across the room. The ability to hold onto a slide and the walker simultaneously is a useful skill. I managed. I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment.
This week, my leg is significantly less painful. I can take a shower standing up. I can get from the living room to the bathroom without using the walker. No, I can’t ditch the walker. I’ve tried. And regretted it each time when the pain returns.
Three weeks down, three to go. I will be bitching a whole lot for the next three weeks.
My psych meds have been tweaked so I can avoid serious depressive episodes. Last week, I had brain fog. This week, the fog is gone but I’m having a hard time remembering how to do things.
I finished another scarf. And I can’t stand long enough to block it and photograph it. And so it won’t go in my store for a while.
Having exhausted my supply of Shawl In A Cake yarns, I got out my hand dyed yarns. I did the hand dyeing. I knit a length of what looks like a scarf. Then I dye the length of what looks like a scarf. This requires measuring water, salt, dye and fixative and taking the bucket out to the back yard. Put the length of what looks like a scarf into the bucket and wait. Eventually, fetch the length of what looks like a scarf, rinse it, wash it, and let it dry. Then, I unravel the length of what looks like a scarf and wind it into a ball.
I worked out a lace pattern and I’m now knitting a for real scarf with one of my hand dyed yarns. Yes, this scarf will be priced accordingly.
I have sciatic pain. Apparently two major depressive episodes in three weeks is not healthy. The second episode was scary because I caught myself thinking being dead wouldn’t be so bad. I called my doctor and now have my psych meds tweaked. Meanwhile, I woke up in severe pain last week Monday. I couldn’t walk more than a few steps. I had to push a chair around because I didn’t have a walker.
Now, I have a few life adjustments. I use a walker and will likely need it for at least 4 more weeks. I have to consider how far I can walk. I tested out my walking ability in the grocery store this morning. I want to go back to school on Monday and I needed to know if I could walk from the shuttle stop to my class. I’m pretty sure I can get that far. I was afraid I’d get halfway to where I need to go, my leg would give out, and I’d be stuck. I’ve missed two weeks of school and I don’t think I can catch up. I know the grades don’t matter; I’m not working towards another degree. I’ve seen too many retired people taking classes and all they are doing is taking up a place in the class. I don’t want to be like that. I want to get as much as I can from my classes.
One of the main roads on campus is torn up. As in removed right down to the soil. I have to cross that road to get from one class to the other. I’m not looking forward to pushing a walker through an uneven, messy, wet, muddy road. I’m not looking forward to trying to get in and out of buildings that don’t have door openers. The university is asking the state for a few million dollars and one of the projects to be funded is $40,000 for a patio outside the football coach’s office. I’ve been taking classes since 2000 (I’m the poster child for the over educated) and in that time, I’ve seen only one student in a wheelchair and only one student using a walker.
If you ever need a walker, get one with a seat. I didn’t, and I’m regretting it. If I have to stand for any length of time, it sure would be helpful to have a seat on which to place my knee. My walker came last Friday. My cupholder came a few days later. That cupholder allows me to go to Starbucks by myself. Such a little thing but means so much to me. I’m used to being independent. Now, I have to wait for someone to open the door for me so I can get in and out of buildings.
We now have a collection of night lights. I got up in the middle of the night Friday night because my foot hurt and I wanted to get my TENs unit. I’m not sure how this happened. I lost my balance, went flying to the floor, banged my head on the wall, and scraped up my hand and arm. Then the lamp fell down on top of me. Jim had to rescue me. I have positional vertigo and I do what I call ear exercises. The exercises help to reset the fluid in my ears. I did my exercises after my deep tissue massage and I feel steadier. I’m not old enough to be this old.
Eating dinner at Chili’s was….interesting. The fellow who was about to seat us asked if we wanted to sit in the bar. I asked him if he saw me using a walker. He did. “Do you really think I can climb up on those stools?” If I gotta be disabled, I’ll make darned sure to educate people on how not to be stupid.
I so wanted to make something for Pi Day, March 14. But I couldn’t stand long enough to bake anything. I wanted to make decorated cookies for Hibernian Heritage Day. I’m that rare combination of Scott-Irish and Polish Jew. I can’t bring myself to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I can celebrate Hibernian Heritage Day. I still can’t stand long enough to make cut out cookies and decorate them. No, Jim doesn’t want to bake per my instructions. He likes his own version of baking. We have a running discussion on whose oatmeal cookies are better. Jim adds chili powder. I use dried cherries rather than raisins. Adding chocolate chips is also good.
I finished another scarf. I can’t stand long enough to block it or photograph it. On this one, I played around a bit. I had worked out the lace pattern for the blue scarf, and the lace pattern on this scarf is based on the blue scarf. I kicked it up a notch.
My doctor tweaked my meds. I go from 3 mood stabilizers a day to 6. I’m supposed to add another pill each week. I go from 1 antidepressant to 2. The change left me with brain fog. Yesterday was the first day I could think clearly since I increased the doses. I’m thinking waiting two weeks rather than one week between increases will make it easier to adjust. I feel….safer now. I’m not worried about sinking into a dangerous depression or becoming suicidal. I feel….solid. Like I’m not going to fall below center.
I can’t tell if I’m depressed or just royally pissed off. The muscles around my hips got tight enough to effect the sciatic nerve. I can’t get around without using a walker. I can’t take my vitamins because they are in a cupboard and I can’t reach them. I can get a glass out of the cupboard, but I can’t carry the glass to the sink to fill it with water. I can’t bring a drink from the kitchen to any part of the house because I need both hands to use the walker. My cupholder for the walker will arrive in a few days.
I didn’t go to school last week because I was waiting for my walker to be delivered. I won’t be going to school this week because about 98% of the buildings are inaccessible. I only know of one restroom that’s accessible. There’s an office set up to “help” accommodate students who have disabilities. Yeah, right. The office is only to protect the university in the event of a lawsuit. Even if the office actually gave a shit about students, they couldn’t help me. I’d need someone with me all day to open doors for me. The someone would have to be a woman so I could use the restroom. The restroom by my first class has two doors. One door gets you into a sitting room. The second door gets you into where the toilets are. There isn’t a handicap stall so I would be forced to use the toilet with the stall door open.
I’ve been working on a bag to tie onto the walker so I could carry stuff. I used three placemats piled onto my cutting mat so I could iron the seams. I am not sure I can put the bag together. I need to cut out a backing, cut out batting, and sew the whole works together. But…the batting is not in the sewing room. It’s in the guest room. I bought 10 yards a few years ago so I’d always have batting when I needed it. I can’t lug the batting to the sewing room because I need two hands on the walker. I can only walk a few steps without the walker. Cutting out an 18” x 36” piece of fabric requires standing up. I can only stand on my own for a minute or two before the pain in my leg becomes unbearable.
I need to photograph a scarf I knitted so I can put the scarf in my on-line store. But I can’t get the white board out of the closet and get it over to the sliding glass door and I can’t stand up while I focus the camera. This is the best I can do…and it’s not very good.
So much of my life right now is restricted. I see the world in terms of what I can’t do. I can’t make the bed. I can’t change the sheets. I can’t do laundry. I can’t put away my clothes after Jim washes them. I can’t stand while brushing my teeth or blowing my hair dry. I can’t bake because I can’t get the mixer or the ingredients out of the pantry.
My appointment with my doctor arrived before my walker was delivered. I got as far as the reception area where I could check in and doubled over from the pain. I think I may have traumatized the poor woman who asked if I was all right. No, I’m not all right. She offered to get me a wheelchair. Did you know that driving a wheelchair is a whole lot harder than it looks? I found that out real fast.
I found videos on Youtube for exercises to help with the pain of sciatica. The exercises work. I had a deep tissue massage yesterday and that helped. I have rice bags that I made. I put them in the microwave, then wrap the hot bags in a dishtowel. I put the bags under my right hip and right calf. That helps. I thought when we had the house built that a ledge in the shower was luxury. I thought it would only be used when I shave my legs. Now, I sit on that luxurious ledge in order to take a shower. Jim put a chair in the bathroom so I could brush my teeth and dry my hair.
Still, even with all the help, I can’t do so many things. I can’t fix myself a cup of tea and bring it into my office because I need both hands on my walker. I can’t fix myself a bagel and bring it into my office because I need both hands on my walker. I can’t cook because I can’t get ingredients out of the pantry. I can’t open a can of soup and nuke it. I can get up to nuking it if I can reach the proper size container, but I can’t carry my soup to the table.
This misery came about after two major depressive episodes within three weeks. The pain started last Sunday and got worse over the next few days. My doctor tweaked my meds with the hope that the new doses will keep the depressive episodes away.
I never let bipolar disorder or PTSD stop me from doing what I want to do. I almost never run from my PTSD triggers. The two exceptions are a series on Amazon Prime that deals with treatment of veterans who have PTSD. I could see a problem starting as we watched the show. Fortunately, the show sucked and we switched the channel before I had an attack. The other time I ran was watching the news. I couldn’t bear to hear a teenager express her admiration of her parents because they got her help when she was suicidal. I had to mute the TV.
I’ve never run from bipolar disorder.
Mental illness never kept me down. My sciatic nerve is keeping me from doing nearly all the things I want to do.
That’s why I don’t feel like slaying dragons today.
I don’t feel like doing anything. I don’t feel like making art. I don’t feel like studying although I enjoy my two botany classes. I don’t feel like reading. I just looked at a recipe for banana cake with maple cream cheese frosting. Certainly a combination of flavors that will be wonderful. I don’t feel like making the cake although I could probably be convinced to make the frosting and eat it with a spoon.
This was bothering me until I thought about the cause for the lack of ambition. In the last year, I’ve been through:
Deciding to commit suicide and coming back from the edge
Going on Cymbalta which I did reluctantly
Four infections in five months
Severe nerve pain
Having to report sexual harassment to the campus police
Having the joy sucked out of life and realizing the problem was Cymbalta
Coming off Cymbalta and going through horrendous withdrawal
Having cognitive deficits from the withdrawal and not being able to find the street where I live
Having so many withdrawal problems that I was sure I was going to be hospitalized so I drafted an advance psychiatric directive and packed a bag before I went to my appointment with my doctor
Having breakthrough bleeding and doing the research to find the causes, treatments and incidence of uterine cancer
Having to wait a month for a biopsy and another week for the results
Having severe anxiety resulting in many cookies and scarves
The dishwasher broke just after Thanksgiving
Someone I knew committed suicide
No sane person would have any ambition after all that.
I look back, and wonder how I managed when I was working for the Public Defender Department. I think part of survival was to do what I really shouldn’t do – ignore what’s going on inside of me and keep myself busy so I don’t feel much. Now, I don’t have an extreme stress and adrenaline job. Now, I have time to take care of myself and no excuse not to take care of myself.
In Sylvia Plath’s book The Bell Jar, she compares depression to being under a bell jar. From time to time, the bell jar lifts, but she knows it will always come back down. I had a mental health crisis this week. I sort of saw it coming on Wednesday night when I found myself thinking about suicide. The suicide rate for people with bipolar disorder is 20 times the rate for people who aren’t bipolar.
I am 20 times as likely to commit suicide as you. That’s terrifying.
Thursday morning, the anxiety and depression increased. I cried a lot. I needed an extra ½ pill of Wellbutrin. I needed to take all three klonopin. I’ve been on the same dose for klonopin for the last 12 years. Sometimes I don’t need klonopin. Sometimes, I need one or two. Thursday, I needed three to stop the flutters in my chest.
Today, I feel the bell jar coming back down. On Monday, I’ll call my doctor and talk to her about increasing my meds. I don’t like living like this. Suicide terrifies me and I want to live.
Bipolar disorder: the ability to feel like crap 80% of the time.
I’m still knitting to keep the anxiety down. Here’s my latest scarf and it’s in my store: Deb Thuman Art http://debthumanart.com
One of the tings I can do to make the bipolar crap go away is to immerse myself with art. Before, art was visual. This time, art is verbal. I’m working on the novel and just did a massive editing. I had Jim print out what I had written, and I went through the pages by hand. I’ll put all the changes into the computer when I finish editing. I’m playing around with an idea for something that I’ve never seen done before. Don’t know how well it’s going to work, but it’s an interesting exercise.
I’m also baking to keep the depression from getting any worse. I’m making croissants. Because of the time between turns and the amount of time the dough has to be in the refrigerator before I can turn it into croissants, I make the dough on Saturday and cut out, shape, and bake the croissants on Sunday morning.