Life, On Hold

I guess late Friday night has become my new “time to write”. I have no idea when that became a thing, but let’s roll with it, shall we?

My big accomplishment this week was talking to my insurance company and getting an emergency reinstatement, all thanks to someone who knew what she was doing and was the kindest person one could hope to speak with. The best part was, as she was helping me, saying “I don’t know why they needed address confirmation. You already confirmed it twice. And I’m not seeing where they sent you a letter, but apparently they wanted confirmation by June 13th. This makes no sense.” She then told me to call back Wednesday morning. After four hours of not being able to get through to anyone (I love being on hold for an hour and then being hung up on. T speak to a person once this week, it was a six-hour wait on hold, in total, and constantly calling back whenever I was hung up on.), I finally got confirmation through the automated system that I’m “active”. Yay! The downside is that I still have to call again to see if they will reactivate the “child company” before September 1st (I spoke with them, they told me their system might update next week, but there are no guarantees.). It’s still early in the month and there’s no legitimate reason I should have an issue. However, this does mean canceling the neuro follow-up without the “child company” to pay for it, which, lets face it, I had no belief in, any way. When a doctor is out of the room before you’ve finished speaking, it’s not a good sign for things to come. He still hasn’t called me back, still hasn’t squared away medicine or ANYTHING requiring prior authorization, and I don’t see the point in going in without knowing I’m covered for the visit and two, to discuss what? Would he even listen to me? That’s a twenty-minute waste of my time and I simply don’t have the patience for it this month. I’ll reschedule, and maybe between now and then, he can figure out how to get his shit together before I write a scathing review.

I rescheduled one of the appointments I wasn’t able to get into last Friday, but the person who scheduled it informed me I would require the doctor to “discharge me as her patient” in order to see someone else. I listened to the message and “Are you fucking kidding me?” is all I had to offer. I’m a PATIENT, not cattle, not a piece of property “owned” by the overlord. I feel like it would be hypocritical to see this doctor for thirty minutes and then say “Can you discharge me to another physician because, after the way you treated me when we first met, I cannot in good faith work with you moving forward.” Doing so could cut me off from much-needed medication, and I am already angry that she put me in a compromising position with my current primary care doctor, who surprisingly came through for me. And if you’re going to practice what you preach, it is hypocritical to sit with someone you already know isn’t going to work out, merely to get a month’s worth of medication. Plus, how long would I have to wait to see someone new? The whole thing stresses me out and makes me ill. These are things I will have to bring up at my appointment next week, which is also stressing me out.

Every aspect of my life is on hold. Finishing up online classes for a certification? On hold. Starting new classes for a new certification so I can begin a career I actually want to work in? On hold. Being able to get up each morning with zero pain? Probably never going to happen. The issue with suffering from any form of chronic pain is that, if you sign a pain contract, you can be tossed from any doctor’s office if, for example, you decide to use Kratom or CBD oil as an alternative because they might look for it in a drug test. The pain I am in is so bad, all I want to do is go to the emergency room and scream until someone helps me. However, no one wants that put into their chart as “drug-seeking behavior”. I’ve never “sought drugs” in my entire life. The only addiction I’ve ever had in my life was to Polar Seltzer. I’m drinking my first bottle in months because I went off of medication based on sheer forgetfulness. In case you’re wondering, Toasted Coconut is as good as it sounds. 😉

I’m having trouble sleeping soundly. I’ve had a migraine every single day this month, and only had two migraine-free days all of last month. I’m hurting, stressed, frustrated, and fed up. I’d like to sleep soundly, wake up pain-free, and not have to struggle to push myself physically. I was hurting so bad last Sunday, I nearly passed out in public, but not before a woman who has never met me before stopped me at the grocery store to inform me I “look kinda pale”. I went into the stores’ restroom and took a look at my face. Nope, pale is my natural skin-tone. If you don’t know me and have no clue what I look like on any given day, it’s incredibly rude to approach a stranger and say “You look kinda pale.” I turned around and said “Are you being cute?” I was annoyed. It wasn’t the concern of someone stating I didn’t look well, it was something else, and quite frankly, combined with my eye makeup, I wouldn’t have approach ed me at all. The colors I’d used sort of made me look like a vampire. I didn’t notice it until after the fact and once I’ve finished with something like that, I am not taking it off and starting over.

I’m having terrible difficulties writing the things I want to write. After months of research and trying to get the ball rolling with an article revolving around chronic pain patients and the reduction of medicine we’re experiencing as a whole, I’ve had to focus more on my own health than I would normally be able to focus on a body of work. And since then, plenty of people have come forward and written things from their own perspectives. It sort of makes me wonder if I should bother at all, which bugs me, because I don’t like starting something I’ll never finish. It makes me feel like a fuck-up.

Yeah, I’m hard on myself. What might normally work for others in terms of decompressing only manages to stress me out more. I hate hearing these terms “breathing exercises” and “mindfulness”. It’s reached a point where I will throw something hard at you if you mention either. I cannot breathe past the pain I am in, so please spare me the nonsense. I’m plenty mindful, yet apparently not mindful enough for people who preach about it. And yeah, I lack the ability to “go with the flow” because the “flow” is monotonous and makes me want to walk in front of a truck.

No one wants to “exist” and wonder what their purpose is. People keep turning to me with “pain advocate” or “pain activist” issues and here’s the thing; I am having a hard enough time advocating for myself. For someone who has been told I am “always incredibly articulate”, I feel like an absolute moron trying to explain how badly I am suffering and how all I want is relief. I imagine this is what happens when your body is experiencing too much pain on a daily basis with no break. I have NEVER outright said to any doctor “Give me pain meds.” Never, and yet I feel distraught at the thought of being forced into a pain contract or worse, having a year-long (possibly longer) wait to get into any form of pain management. Pain management in Massachusetts is everything BUT pain medication. They will even prioritize surgery over managing your pain. If you will willingly implant a pain pump into my body, but are afraid to give me real medication in that pump, then there is no valid reason for me to put myself through surgery. I’ve never had surgery in my life. I still have both of my wisdom teeth, mostly because I’m stubborn. I know they will likely have to come out by the end of this year, and I’m kind of okay with that, but that is far less invasive than something being implanted into my body that may, or may not, work. See how stressful it all becomes when you think about it?

This is, by no means, the life I signed up for. I had dreams, goals, and things I wanted to achieve. And yet, as I sit here, my entire fucking life is on hold. I, for one, hate it.

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Stressful Sleepless Nights

I have long since passed “tired” and have reached a state of pure “painsomnia”. No matter what I do, I am in too much pain to sleep properly, if at all. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I’m not in the correct head-space to allow my body to rest as it needs to. It’s twisted when anyone who suffers as much as I do is completely unable to sleep at times.

Most nights I am sound asleep by three a.m., if not earlier. Last Wednesday night, no matter how many times I tried, sleep alluded me. I had my alarm set and finally got frustrated and said “Fuck it!” I knew there was no way I was going to fall asleep because I couldn’t shut my brain off and the pain I am in is over-the-top excruciating. When you cannot see past the pain you’re in, it’s bad. Pain, as it turns out, is a definitive breaking point. It is exhausting, it is draining, and it makes you feel insane. Your entire body goes on high alert.

I have tried everything to break this cycle, and yet here I sit, trying to figure out how to reach some type of “pain-free” state. But really, what are my options? The emergency room? Kratom? CBD oil? I have NO idea. If I understood the root cause of the pain escalation, I could at least handle it from a medical perspective and make a decision as to how to proceed. However, I am being waylaid by every single doctor that is supposed to be treating me. And lets face it, Kratom and CBD oil aren’t covered by insurance and they can be quite expensive over time. Yes, they are natural methods to relieve pain, but I can say I know very little about CBD oil, despite extensive research. I only know some people swear by it and others say it doesn’t help them, which definitely makes me question the enormity of such an investment. A friend even found a company willing to give me a huge discount, but still, it’s a lot of money for a “What if?”

I have an appointment in a few weeks with my soon-to-be fired primary care physician. The first time I was in her office, I noticed she had pain contracts for her patients in each room. It left me sour on the whole thing because I also noticed an influx of patients that were clearly there for monthly drug tests and new prescriptions. The restrooms are FULL of testing supplies. It looks more like a lab. So, while prescription pain medicine is covered by my insurance, do I want to subject myself to monthly drug tests? No. For one, I’ve never taken narcotic pain medicine daily, and if I did, it was in much lower quantities than prescribed. I’d fail a drug test because I don’t take six pills a day, or however many might be prescribed if I were lucky enough to be taken seriously. Asking me to “bring my bottles” so my pills can be counted and “pee in a cup” each month is treating me like a drug addict when in fact, I am a pain patient. Moreover, I find it interesting that I had to wait two and a half months to be seen for something serious, but she can see other people monthly if they’ve signed a pain contract. It’s insulting. She flat-out said, via that infamous e-mail, that I should “go to the emergency room” when I have a paralytic attack. As if they happen daily and I am able to call for help during said attacks. Instead of being a responsible physician who orders the correct tests prior to my coming in, she blew me off. I will be printing up the entire exchange before she has the opportunity to delete any such evidence. They might just be e-mails, but I honestly never know what a doctor might do to cover their own ass.

I have ZERO trust or faith in this woman to properly treat me, and that is precisely why I have to move on. The second I have a scheduled appointment with the new physician, she will no longer be listed as my primary care doctor. I can still switch at any time. That is a comfort because I’m sick of not being taken seriously.

My migraines are still eating away large chunks of my life. It took the neurologist quite a while to get back to me, but when he did, it was a short message to tell me he could put me on another class of medication. I called him back and said “I’ve been on all of those already; they don’t work.” If he’d requested my chart from my previous neurologist, he would know all of this already. He did not address my request for Relpax or a new anti-nausea medicine, he skipped over it like I hadn’t said anything in the three messages I left for him. I’m sick of playing phone tag. If he can’t get this straight, I can’t keep my appointment at the end of next month. It’s an inconvenience to begin with and the man lacks the ability to listen and actually hear you. It’s not my job to do his for him. Why should I repeat, and pay for, previously failed medications? I care about the crazy chemicals that go into my body and as a patient, I have the right to say no. I played stupid when I said “My insurance does cover Relpax, they just need to hear from you.” and “I belong to a migraine support group and this anti-nausea drug is talked about a lot, do you think I can try it?” A close friend also recommended the anti-nausea medicine, but he only needs to know the basics. Instead of appreciating the fact that I’m an educated patient, he would much prefer for me to be a moron that simply says yes to everything he says. Yeah, that’s not going to happen on my watch.

I’ve decided that if I can’t survive this coming week on over-the-counter pain medication for my back and neck, that I am going to the emergency room. The doctor can kiss my ass if she doesn’t like the decision because ultimately, the hospital CAN admit me, even if only for a few hours, and run all of the necessary tests. If they did, for example, do a drug test, they would find I am 100% drug-free, so they wouldn’t be concerned about giving me pain medication, providing they deemed it necessary. Trust me; I’ve never thought it was more necessary than I currently do. I’ve had broken bones hurt a hell of a lot less than my back and neck do. 😦 I can’t even sit up straight or do anything to stretch my muscles out gently without causing the pain to worsen. And yet, I am the moron popping Aleve, using a heating pad in July, and alternating with ice packs because I am also running a fever. But according to the physician’s assistant “It’s probably just the weather or like your allergies.” If you are trying to be any kind of professional, drop the Valley Girl routine. It’s not cute.

This week I get to meet a new doctor and someone who I believe will be temporary. I’ve once again been handed over to a student, after specifically requesting “no one temporary” (I heard myself say it, so I know it’s not my imagination.), and I will likely have something to say about that after the fact. I am on an incredibly short fuse, so I’ve decided that both people get exactly two chances with me, if that. I legitimately don’t want to go, don’t want to discuss a damn thing except the outrageous amount of pain I am in, and don’t want to waste my time, but again, two chances. If I’m feeling nice (I’m rarely nice.). I hate forcing myself to do things I am not okay with. Chances are if I can’t stand the sound of your voice on the phone, we will NOT get along well in person. I know precisely how intense I can be, and I’ve only recently realized it’s because I’ve been badly burned by certain types of people and I won’t allow the cycle to continue. While some people will say, and have, “You enjoy giving off the impression that you’re a bad ass.”, I don’t think it’s actually occurred to them that I AM a bad ass. You can be a lovely human-being and STILL be a bad ass when you have to be. Believe me, being a bad ass is far better than wearing “the bitch card” 24/7. A bad ass is a position of power where you make all of the important decisions and stand your ground, and it trumps being a bitch every day and twice on Sunday.

I once questioned who the hell a person was without passion; without something they stood for and believed in. I said this in observation of someone else. I said something along the lines of “What does she stand for? She lacks passion. She’s too worried about what others think of her to concern herself with what she thinks of herself.” I vowed not to become a person like that, to always know who I am and what I stand for. So whether it’s advocating for my health or speaking my mind about something specific, I want to come in fighting strong. I feel like hell, but I do not have to look like hell and I don’t have to ever act weak because I am NOT. I am human. I have horrible, bad days. I am stressed, functioning on no sleep and very little caffeine, and there are days I want to break down and hide. But ultimately, I don’t have a choice in the matter. I am doing my BEST. It sucks, it’s not easy, and there are days where I live in pure fear of how far I have fallen, but no matter what, no one will ever be able to say I had zero passion or thought.

She is brave, she is strong.
She will get up whenever she falls.
She knows herself inside and out.
And though she may face challenges, 
she will face them with courage and hope.
And though she be but little,
she is fierce. -William Shakespeare

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

My Mind Works The Night Shift

“I’m an insomniac, my mind works the night shift.” ―Pete Wentz

*I didn’t fall asleep today until roughly twelve hours ago, and even then, it was fitful and short. Too short. Tonight I was determined to “go to bed early”. Early turned out to be far too early because I am now wide awake, ready to tackle “the night shift”. Hopefully the insomnia will straighten itself out soon otherwise I am going to lose what’s left of my mind!*

Insomniac City & Other Feelings

There is something about summer that causes terrible insomnia for me. It’s not just the blistering heat & humidity of the days (and many nights). Even on cooler nights, I find myself completely and utterly unable to sleep. It’s awful, especially when I’m yawning at 7:30 PM thinking “I can’t wait to be in bed before 9:30.” I typically have to be in the midst of an excruciating migraine, Fibro flare, on allergy meds, or take a hefty dose of Melatonin to be in bed early these days. And let me tell you something; I’m not the least bit entertained by it.

Normally when I cannot sleep, I read or watch something I’ve seen a million times. Eventually I get bored/sleepy and it’s lights out. Sometimes I listen to music and that will help, but other times it makes my brain even more responsive, and that’s not helpful at all. I have tried re-reading some of my favorite books and every time I do, the next thing I know it’s 5:30 a.m. and I’ve got at least one cat crying to be fed or both of them wreaking some kind of havoc that annoys me and lulls me into the belief that if I feed them, they will calm down. Generally, they just walk away from the food and go back for it later on, but much meowing or pawing of the Mommy occurs before the “calming down” process. It irritates the hell out of me. I am NOT a morning person. Hell, I’m not even a day person!

Thursday morning I sat here unable to sleep. Kitten was 100% OUT next to me. She’d been sleeping soundly for about four hours or so while I’d done everything I could think of to put myself to bed. I eventually got about 2 1/2 hours of sleep, but after that, I was a prisoner to the day. I was so sleep-deprived that when I went outside around 3:30 to water the plants and herbs, I kept visualizing myself being found there at some point, ravaged by the neighbor’s dogs. It wasn’t just the heat and the sun’s intensity, it was that delirious state you often reach when you’re so sleep-deprived, you’d kill for 12 hours of solid, uninterrupted rest. Lack of proper rest screws with your body over time. I can’t remember the last time I truly slept well.

Last night, severely determined, I took a dose of Melatonin and was in bed by 9:15. The downside? I was up by 3:30. Not what I had in mind, AT ALL. 😦 Despite suffering pain-wise, I’d prefer not to need a nap by 10;30 in the morning. I’d also prefer to avoid additional encounters where I cannot account for 2-4 hours of my day.

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For the next week, the forecast is 80’s and 90’s. Only one day is slated for rain and thunderstorms. Heat and humidity make me viciously cranky and unpleasant. It makes me feel even more like a prisoner than I already do. 😦 I cannot enjoy “the great outdoors” when the heat index dictates that I need to drink a gallon or two of water, especially when I feel like it’s so hot I cannot breathe, or when the heat affects my eyes and makes my contact lenses cloudy and/or gooey. My allergies are awful. Even just typing these words makes me feel like a kvetchy bitch, but I’d rather be honest than pretend. Extreme temperatures are NOT my friend. Insect bites and sunburns are not a badge of honor that you’ve enjoyed the summer. I NEVER enjoy the summer, and I’d like to avoid all things involving damage to the skin.

There are no good suggestions for “things to do” when it’s this hot. Sure, you can walk the mall for no reason whatsoever, you can go to the movies, you can mindlessly walk around the book store, you can hit up a museum, but all of those things require energy I don’t always have. My patience is nil and my ability to make small talk is nonexistent. I don’t want to talk about anything serious either, because I am up to my ears in serious and do not care for or want any additional drama. I’m doing my best, my best is never good enough, and that’s the way the cookie crumbles, apparently. At this point, I’d rather discuss absolute nonsense, and that’s sad, because I am NOT a nonsensical conversationalist.

On one level, I could take the opportunity to hibernate and watch the Olympics, but let’s face it; that’s not going to happen. I will watch what I can of the opening ceremony (I already have it set to record on my DVR. I do not plan on watching it live.), some gymnastics, and the closing ceremony. The problem with watching gymnastics is that, as a former gymnast, I do gymnastics in my sleep. I remember every routine I’ve ever done and my brain works in mysterious ways. I’ve been lucky to retain nearly my flexibility, but NO, stretching does not minimize the pain of Fibromyalgia and things like yoga annoy the shit out of me. I am a physical kind of person, so if I’m going to workout, I need to be punching things or doing something that brings about results. I do pay an immense price for punching things; it kills my arms, back, and muscles I didn’t even know I have or utilize, but it makes me feel better mentally. I have many creative outlets, but so few mental outlets. Clearly, it’s time to search for something new.

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The whole library debacle is ongoing. After sending a formal complaint to the Director, the only results I’ve seen was the removal of $50+ in late fees they slapped on to my account because no one ever picked up the 14 items that were sitting here, half of which had been delivered five days after being checked out. I was so annoyed that I didn’t have time to read any of the books (I started one and got about 100 or so pages in, but I really wanted to be able to finish it.) and I still haven’t listened to any of the music I burned. I do hope the issue is resolved soon. On the plus side, I am caught up on The Good Wife after discovering six seasons of it are available on Streampix as part of my cable package. I was able to watch season four, which is apparently when I started watching in the first place. That was precisely what I thought originally, so now I’m over it. I can barely watch an hour of TV most days. I am so focused on getting work done and acquiring more work that it’s easy for my DVR to fill up and for me to miss things for months on end. At one point, I hadn’t turned it the TV on in a few months. It’s new, so it had calculated the energy/electricity saved and how many hours it had been since I’d last had it on. I had one of those moments where I thought “Wow! You have NO life whatsoever.” Of course, I tend to think that daily, but realizing that my new flat screen is basically collecting dust pissed me off. It was a gift, a “sense of normalcy to help me transition” after my move, but nothing is normal, I am not “transitioned”, and I have little time to enjoy the things I normally love. 😦 My life feels like it is dictated to me, as opposed to my choice. That doesn’t make me feel good about myself and I suspect it’s not supposed to.

And so, another day begins. Sun, heat, prepping for an interview for next week, being ignored by Cat (Kitten has already had breakfast and is sleeping peacefully beside me. She talks in her sleep. LOL.), and a zillion thoughts facing through my head. I’d like to go through the next few days without an interrogation, stress, deepening depression, or thoughts of walking in front of moving vehicles. I can’t afford to deal with broken bones (physically) and I really cannot handle dealing with anyone giving me the third, fourth, or tenth degree. I’ve bitten my tongue for far too long. One more push will likely send me over the edge and it won’t be pretty. However, it’ll feel damn good not to hold back the force of my personality any longer. I am only an opponent when someone forces me to be one. I make no promises if you continually push my buttons. In this, I think many of us are the same. We don’t actively go looking for the craziness that comes our way, but we won’t back down if you get in our face, either.

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Wishing you all an easy Friday and a wonderful weekend to come! 🙂

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Darkness, Light, & Slowing Down

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My precious…

Hi everyone! I apologize for being too tired and too sick to write this earlier in the week. I’m trying to get used to being back online. I legitimately hadn’t turned my computer on since my post on the 13th. I saw no point in tormenting myself. My phone allows me to check what’s going on here, but it does not allow me to login and/or post anything. I haven’t figured decided if it’s something I’m doing wrong or if I’m simply too stupid to figure it out. Anything, even a combination thereof, is a strong possibility.

I’ve battled a lot of Fibromyalgia pain and migraines since arriving up North. Every single time the weather was supposed to be a certain way, my body was the indicator that things were about to change. The pain index is slightly higher here, so adjusting to that is going to take some serious getting used to. Factor in some super cold days/nights that have occurred since my arrival, and I’m lucky I’m not in the emergency room.

I’ve truly spent more time in pain than anything else. At the moment, walking is the single most excruciating thing I can do. I don’t have out-of-network benefits, so I have to get my insurance squared away here ASAP, lest I end up with an epic emergency room bill due to my traitorous feet. 😦 I will be shocked if I don’t have fractured or slightly more damaged bones in both feet. Well and truly shocked. To add insult to injury, I’ve had some pretty brutal migraines. I am torn between desperately wanting to eat everything in sight and not wanting so much as a bowl of soup because I’m constantly worried something will trigger a headache that I cannot cope with. I’ve been slowly nursing coconut water to rehydrate, but I keep asking myself how many rounds of medicine I need to take to be rid of this insidious creature. 😦

I feel much like I imagine a caged lion feels; pacing back and forth in an enclosure at the zoo. I suspect I feel this way partly because Cat & Kitten are currently in a separate room to give OGK (Original Gangster Kitty, which is clearly not his real name) time to adjust to having “roommates”. They need time to adjustment too.

The first run-in had Kitten jumping up onto a windowsill to gain higher ground from him chasing her, but she was so brave and I was very proud of how she handled herself. She did not try to hurt or attack him. During the process of that moment though, he scared Cat so badly that she slipped under a spot in a closet that led to the insulation in the roof. I had no idea if it led to other places within the house, so I was deeply concerned, but trying not to panic because cats can pick up on your anxiety and I did not want to make Kitten panicked as well. After less than 48 hours (which is a LONG time because she doesn’t meow), a handyman had to be called to remove panels so that she could be safely located. I was SO relieved after she came out of that hiding spot. I needed to hold her close to me and let her know that she is loved, safe, and that I have not abandoned her. Unfortunately she spent a few days hissing and spitting, so I had to move her to a safer location with a blanket, after getting her out from beneath a dresser and blocking all other access points to dangerous hiding spots. I lured her out with a few treats (I figured after not eating for several days, she had to be starving.) and a small bowl of food. I gave her some space and now she’s not hiding nearly as much. In fact, she’s coming down the stairs and checking the place out. Mostly, she is marking her territory and making sure everything I own still smells like the person she knows belongs to her. No one is cute enough for me to cheat on Cat and Kitten. 😉

The second run-in was the other morning when Cat went flying down the stairs while I was trying to go into the room to feed them and spend some time giving them love and attention. I decided the worst that could happen was her running back to me, which she’s done many times, only because I had things in my arms and couldn’t scoop her up as I normally would. Of course, my “worst case scenario” is not what happened. They met in the kitchen, which I only managed to witness by dropping everything I was holding and going after her. Initially he was calm and laid back, but in the blink of an eye, everything changed. He chased her from the kitchen up the stairs into the room and there was a major growling, hissing, spitting period between both of them. He wouldn’t let up, even once she was quiet. I tried breaking them up so that she wouldn’t freak out (she was hiding under a different dresser where he’d cornered her) and he turned around and whacked me. Normally, he’s pretty laid back, sweet, and loving, but as an older cat who hasn’t had to share his domain at all since being rescued, he’s über territorial, which is understandable.

Once I separated them into different rooms, I did go back and calm Cat & Kitten down because, quite frankly, they’re still babies and have never dealt with such aggression. I barely even raise my voice around them (I once yelled during a sporting event and somehow managed to scare the crap out of Cat. Neither of them responds well to loud noises or voices, and I don’t blame them.) and once they both reached the proper size, they had free reign of their home. Separation, while for everyone’s best interest, is clearly upsetting all of us. Despite the Feliway diffuser (Thank you PetSmart for giving me 20% off because it was on sale and you only had one left. I was really impressed by the gesture, and I appreciated it.), things are not okay in “cat land” and it’s making me sick on a daily basis. While I do not expect perfection, I do need to reach a point where my girls are no longer being bullied and kept in one room where they spend 90% of their time without me. He doesn’t have to love the girls, they simply have to co-exist. Trust me, the little one can take him (She’s an Alpha.), but if you’re still growing into yourself and a big, black cat that isn’t your sister chases after you, your little butt is going to run for safety. I don’t like it though, not one bit. Plus, it upsets him and makes him sick, and as a diabetic cat, I have to watch out for his health too. At first he simply wanted to smell them, which is natural cat curiosity, so I gave him their blankets and some other things to help him acclimate to that, but now he’s feeling froggy and wants to intimidate. Not acceptable. They have another week or so before I will start to allow the girls out more and more so that he learns to share and adapt. They’re doing their best, despite setbacks. Me? Just this aspect of disruption to my daily life is making me ill. I have raised Cat and Kitten since they were tiny, so my love for them is borderline obsessive. I am happiest with them and they are happiest with me.

I have been horrible on a work-level over the past ten days or so. I’m stressed and sleeping horribly, so my creativity ebbs and flows in weird ways. Here’s one thing I have noticed, over time, about being a writer: I use my laptop damn near every single day. Last week I decided to pick up a pen and take some notes for ideas for things I wanted to discuss. I have no clue when my handwriting became damn near illegible, so I wonder if anyone else has this problem? Do you find writing a few pages by hand to no longer feel “right” and/or cause you physical pain? I only had one person to consult on this matter and he agreed that due to constant computer use, his handwriting has become worse and it actually hurts to hold a pen for longer than it takes to make a grocery list. I imagine this is more common than one might think. I do hope I am able to get more work done next week. I’m going to take an hour or so this weekend and map some things out for myself. When in doubt, PLAN.

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So, that has been my life for a while. I know things will improve. Without darkness there cannot be light, but it’s also okay to slow the fuck down and focus. That’s what I intend to do. I’ve been dragged down by a lot of horrible shit for far too long and I want things to improve. Part of improving means fully disengaging from that which has caused me agony.

On occasion, a person does not believe me when I say I’m done, but this time my words, my text messages; they’re the end. You cannot help everyone and you cannot save the world. Not everyone wants to be saved. Some people want to drown in a terrible abyss and you have to let them so that they learn their life’s lesson, whatever it may be. Good luck and G-d Bless. I’m done, you’re on your own. For the record, none of us are horrible people for expecting someone to have their shit together and not fuck up in horrible, irrevocable ways. But when they do, it is okay to set a limit and walk away. You do not deserve to be dragged down with someone who refuses to realize that everything they do is wrong. Slightly cryptic, I know, but this is something I needed to say for me.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Friday.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Insomnia & Painsomnia: A Wicked Combination

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Whenever there’s something stressful going on in my life, it often affects my sleep, thus turning me into a shadow of my former self. Insomniac Lisa and Painsomnia Lisa are two very different beasts from the person I am when I’m able to prioritize sleep, and actually get into bed each night at a decent hour. I’m never 100% pain-free, but sleep is a crucial part of how my body recovers from what I do to it each day. I have worked my ass off this past month and lost roughly 20 pounds, somehow managing to strengthen my upper back muscles in the process.

Unfortunately for the past month, my sleep has been insanely erratic. First it was major moving stress, liable to affect even the calmest person in the world, of which I openly admit is not me. Then it was my brother’s pre-hospitalization health, closely followed by getting the phone call that he would need open-heart surgery or a transplant. It’s normal to have things like that affect you on many levels health-wise. Let’s face facts: No one expects someone young to be told that their heart is at 11% capacity. An entire team of doctors and surgeons and two different hospitals told him he was 10-15 years too early for such a severe issue. All of this crap has been screwing with me day and night and thus far, nothing I’ve done is helping. To add insult to injury, I have had a migraine since the day before Thanksgiving. I currently feel as if my head is in its very own torture chamber, taking my body along for the ride. 😦

When my brother was first released from the hospital, my sleep schedule had already shifted due to late-night texting and phone calls when he was still hospitalized and feeling lonely late at night, before his final dose of pain meds took over. There were many times I had to suggest he watch something on TV (“It’s almost 10 PM, here are three shows you can watch tonight. I have GOT to get some sleep!”), and then mute the ringer on my phone as opposed to allowing it to vibrate, so I could go to bed without the phone buzzing for hours. Now he’s here 24/7, and he’s driving me insane.

He’s not doing anything in particular to make me crazy (though I wish he’d remember that his legs are fine and he can get up and pour his own damn drinks!), he just happens to be in my personal space, and I crave privacy and silence. He’s mortified that I disinfected the remote, but since I don’t want him getting sick and he’s using it and I’m using it as well, I figured it was a wise decision. It is cold & flu season and while he is currently not in contact with other people several days a week, I am, and that can pose a problem for him if I bring something into the house that I did not leave with.

The other night he fell asleep while I was talking to him (I wasn’t boring him, he was simply in a lot of pain.). It was super early, but I felt that was the perfect time to cover him with a few extra blankets (It’s cold here most nights, and even when it’s not, he’s complaining that he’s cold.), and sneak off into the silence that is my normal routine. Alas, he got about three hours of sleep and I was wide awake. The second I thought about going to sleep, he was moaning in pain and when I checked on him, he was messaging someone on his tablet, with the TV on lighting up three rooms.

After a highly stressful week, I was finally in bed at a decent hour last night. As soon as I’d dispensed the last pain pill of the day, my head was on the pillow. Unfortunately, the previously aforementioned migraine decided to kick things up a notch and a little after 2:00 a.m., I woke up in unimaginable pain. I have no idea how I am attempting to type this, much less see.

My first line of defense is to attempt to get some caffeine into my system. It’s the only thing I haven’t sought out or used to treat this particular pain level, when it would normally be something I thought about a bit more closely. No, last night I was too far gone, so I took something less targeted that, as a last resort, often helps. Clearly it only helped part of me. 😦 So, I am nursing caffeinated tea and I took two Excedrin Tension Headache capsules. Not because I have a tension headache as opposed to a migraine, I know the difference, but because sometimes that combination works for me and nips the migraine in the bud. It’s not a permanent solution, but nothing really is. If it doesn’t start working in an hour or so, I will take a third.

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It astounds people that I have managed to learn how to work through some of my worst migraines, or that I put myself into the head space to focus on healing one. I look at it this way: I am not going out and triggering the headache to be any worse than it already is. I am home, I’m safe, I can control the environment (noise level, light, temperature), and I know not to move around too much, but can I sit at a darkened laptop screen and talk about it? Sometimes, yes. That doesn’t diminish the intensity of the migraine, it does not mean I don’t suffer from migraines (three neurologists and two other doctors are all in agreement that I suffer from migraines. They have gotten worse since my first diagnosis, so there’s nothing else it could be. Everything else has been ruled out.), and it also doesn’t mean it’s “just a headache”. On occasion, like most sufferers, I will get a dull headache. Unfortunately, dull can go to extremes pretty quickly, so I take all headache forms seriously. I don’t walk around denouncing other people’s pain either. If a person says they have a headache, but quickly says “I don’t get migraines like you do.”, I still wouldn’t tell them it was “no big deal”. Pain is pain. No one likes it and for those of us that endure it 24/7, I have seen people empathize with others openly, and I have also seen people blow off the pain of others because they somehow feel it is their right in life to be the one person on the planet who has it far worse than the rest of us. Sorry, but that couldn’t possibly be true, or you’d be dead. What may be indeed true is that everyone’s threshold for pain is different. In fact, I know this to be true.

In studies, it has been determined that women tolerate pain differently from their male counterparts. Not better, not worse, just different. Taking into consideration that the female body can push out a human-being during the process of giving birth, that’s not an immense surprise to me.

All of my heavily tattooed male friends had their jaws on the floor when I sat through my first four tattoos and described the pain as “No worse than a cat scratch.” You see, I chose a spot that most of them found to be extremely painful. They all told me to put my ink somewhere else, that the pain would be too much for me to endure, especially considering I suffer from Fibromyalgia, but I’d consulted with several artists who, like me, believed that my first tattoo should be someplace easily covered up with clothing. However, never to do things the simple way, I got my first four all at the same time. I wouldn’t even rate that a one on my personal pain scale. I’ve had more painful piercings.

As many of you also suffer from migraines, has anyone gotten a Daith piercing to try to combat them? Compared to all the medication, a myriad of supplements that may or may not be useful to the individual, various treatment methods, Botox, acupuncture, etc., the piercing itself, depending on where one goes, is between $50-$100. I am being told that it works for 50% of the people who get it, but I am also being told the relief is temporary, though some people are reporting themselves migraine-free 3-7 years post-piercing. I have decided to try acupuncture for a year to see if that spot along either of my ears responds to treatment. My insurance covers it, which is rare, so I am going to take the opportunity to use it first. I’m not sure I need another hole in my head, but I’d be interested in hearing whether or not the piercing has helped anyone. If you’re considering getting this particular piercing, please go somewhere highly reputable and have someone experienced do the piercing itself. The report of infection with this spot is very high, and I’d hate for anyone to go through that. I’ve only had three piercings in my life that gave me problems. Luckily they never got infected, but two of them bled for years if someone hugged me too hard, and the third still gives me problems on occasion (The fact that I share the piercing with a highly toxic person is probably why… I’m a big believer in energy. Sometimes we are healthier overall without certain people in our lives.). While most piercings are mainly decorative, there is no medical or scientific evidence that a Daith piercing is a cure for migraines, so don’t read into all of the Pinterest and Instagram “science”. Those are exclusively individual experiences, most of which are brand new. There’s no way of knowing what the long-term effects may be. For many, it is worth it for temporary relief. I’d rather explore a few additional options first.

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Are there any alternative treatment methods that work best for your migraines? If so, what are they?

The day insomnia can be cured in any way, shape, or form, I will be on a line for that! Right next to the line for the great Fibro/Chronic Pain cure. Here’s hoping we see it in this lifetime.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Struggling

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It is the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day here in the States. After spending hours preparing stuffing yesterday (which I highly suspect might suck today), I ended up with a highly stressful day which resulted in a migraine. That then turned into insomnia, which is the only reason I am awake at such an hour. Turns out, Patient X is not the only one in pain. 😦 Poor kid.

Lucky for him, he has a sister/maid who will go back to the hospital tomorrow to pick up a prescription and take it to the pharmacy on Black Friday, a day I avoid like the fucking plague because of the insanity that ensues, all because his doctor did not see fit to prescribe the appropriate amount of pain medication upon discharge. I thought it was an incredibly odd number seeing as how he’s supposed to take twelve pills a day until he’s healed enough to not be in such severe pain. He is healing, the swelling and bruising are almost fully gone, but he’s still in an incredible amount of pain. I couldn’t stand by as if it weren’t happened as the pills diminished.

I realize there are always pre-holiday emergencies, but it shouldn’t take a doctor’s office nearly twelve hours to return two phone calls where the words “pain management” are used. I find that unacceptable.

Moreover, not being able to call a prescription in to the pharmacy in an emergency simply because it is a controlled substance, even if it means faxing a hard copy from your office or sending the hard copy via FedEx, is a major time and energy drain on caregivers. I realize doctors and PAs are busy covering their own asses on this shit, that patients do NOT come first, but it makes me angry that my brother is in severe pain and that I, in my agony, have no choice but to schlep somewhere I don’t want to be in order to get the appropriate medication for him. It should have been done correctly the first time, except now, I am going to be fully present and since his voice still isn’t better, they’re going to have to put up with mine, and oh, how loud can I go?!

The physician’s assistant was the epitome of rude, dismissive, and unprofessional (I’d like to think she’s just stupid and/or had a stressful day that she would have preferred to be spending somewhere else with family, but I was then informed that she’s always like that, so I knew it wasn’t simply my perception.) and proceeded to lecture me on post-op appointment scheduling. Excuse me; I’m NOT his secretary. I was not handed the discharge papers, so outside of dispensing medication and doing a plethora of other things that contribute to my misery, I am also supposed to be a mind-reader. News flash: There’s no such thing as mind-readers. Also, the job of physician’s assistant to a surgeon is basically glorified prescription pad, especially when you don’t know how to communicate with people as if they’re human-beings. Instead of wasting time acquiring healthcare experience before entering the three year program, I strongly suggest going to medical school and then try giving me attitude. I get to say this because it’s the truth. If you happen to be a PA and you’re reading this, I can only hope you treat people the way you’d want to be treated and don’t hang up on people mid-sentence. When you work with the public in any form, it is crucial to be courteous and respectful. For the record, I said nothing to warrant the ‘tude. If anything, I was overly polite and respectful. I won’t make that mistake again.

Is it convenient that they only see patients on Tuesdays? No. Instead of being able to enjoy some semblance of a holiday weekend this snit tells me to “call on Friday to get him into the office on the 1st”. Because apparently, Lisa has no life of her own and can drop everything on Tuesday so as to miss her own doctor’s appointment. I would like to know precisely when I entered a life of servitude. I wonder if there’s a uniform…

At this point I can only assume I am over-tired, hungry, feeling the effects of the Full Moon (If anyone else saw it rise last night, was it uncharacteristically enormous?), and/or in desperate need of hitting something. It might very well be a combination of all of the above. I can deal with that because it’s honest.

However, to add insult to injury, Patient X is running a fever and might very well need to return to the hospital tomorrow to be certain he does not have another post-op infection. If he does have another infection (which would be lucky number three), I will be on the 10 o’clock news in the Philadelphia area demanding that this hospital be investigated.

I wish I were able to set aside real life and focus solely on fiction (it’s a far better world on paper, as is often the case), but sometimes a writer has to be supremely real and not gloss the serious shit over. I may not currently be writing about NaNoWriMo, WIP’s, my experience editing this or that, or spewing nonsense, but at the beginning and end, I’m going to be real. I’d rather be respected for that side of me than have someone fuss over something completely unimportant.

There’s no rest for the wicked. Only the good die young, so I’m going to be here forever!

Wishing everyone stateside & all members of our Armed Forces a Happy Thanksgiving. To everyone else in this world; have an amazing Thursday where your priorities in life supersede all the bullshit.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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