Tag: bipolar

End of a fucked up year

End of a fucked up year

My facebook feed is full of people saying things like, “This is the worst year ever!”

I’d planned to write a post that was a bit more uplifting. You know, talk about some of the good stuff that happened this year and maybe my hopes for next year.

Then Carrie Fisher died.

I know, I know. We’ve had a lot of celebrity deaths this year. And sad as I was about Prince, Alan Rickman, David Bowie and some others, I felt the sadness and moved on with my life. No more new music or movies from them. It’s sad, but that’s life.

But I cried for Carrie.

Yes, I’m a Star Wars geek. And of course, I imagined myself as the tough warrior Princess  growing up, blaster in her hand, riding the flying scooter and looking Darth Vader in the eye without fear, even though she was a tiny thing.

But that’s not why I cried for her.

She had a life beyond Star Wars. She had bipolar disorder and addiction issues. While it may seem like those were in her past, some things you never get over. As she says said:

At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.

She discussed her mental health issues the same way she discussed anything, frankly, matter-of-factly, and with a large dash of sardonic humor.

While her writing style and genres were not in my normal repertoire, when I was trying to come to terms with being bipolar, I looked at some of her work: Postcards from the Edge and The Best Awful. I mostly found her characters kind of flat, 2-dimensional, and again, not my usual genre of reading. But they are obviously semi-autobiographical as the main character tries to come to terms with her addiction and mental health issues while maintaining a career in the public eye and raising a daughter.

There’s a couple of chapters in The Best Awful where the main character goes off her meds. She has what seems like a good reason for not taking them one day. But the next several days, she comes up with some other justifications. You’re in the character’s head, so you see what she’s thinking. You can tell that she’s acting a bit outrageous. She sort of knows she’s acting odd. Her friends/family ask her about her meds and she tells them that she’s taking them.

And the whole sequence reminds me of some times that I’ve gone off my meds. It made sense to me in a way that reading other books didn’t. I’d read Kay Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, and her descriptions were sort of there, but not in the way Carrie’s were.

I have another New Year’s post running in my head, but wanted to write about Carrie. Then her mother died, upstaging her once again. Seemed. . . fitting, somehow.

Cycles 6 & 7

Cycles 6 & 7

 

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Relaxing with my kitty blanket getting cycle 6 meds. And wearing my Unconference tshirt!

Cycle 6 – Half-way!

Well, cycle 6 really kicked my butt.

I was nauseous the entire time, needing to take the nausea medicine every day. I was also really tired. I literally slept from Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, getting up only for potty breaks and to try to eat something. During the week, I left work early and came home and went right to bed.

I’ve been getting massages every couple of weeks, on a non-chemo weekend. During this cycle, I stopped at a shop near my massage place. They were having a sale and one of the items was something I thought they’d stopped making. They only had a handful, so I grabbed a couple and stood in line (a longish line). I started to feel sick while standing in line and couldn’t stay there long enough to make my purchase.

I barely remember those two weeks at all. Except, the second weekend my daughter and her BFF came over and we had a henna party. Chandra taught herself how to do henna patterns when she was still in high school and she’s really good at it (I think!) She’s considering maybe starting a little side business doing them.

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Cycle 7

In cycle 7, the doctor said I’m holding up “remarkably well”. I’m still

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Roomie, sleeping while I get treatment.

maintaining my weight after the initial weight loss in the first two cycles which means I’m eating. My blood counts have been good. I can see my test results online through MyHealtheVet and I know my white blood cell count is low. I mentioned this and he said, “Well, there’s low for normal people and then there’s low for chemo. You’re doing great for chemo.”

Not like it’s anything I can control, but each cycle that I’m doing well with means the quicker this can be over. When I started, they told me the plan was for 12 biweekly treatments, which is 6 months, but to plan more like 8-9 months. That’s because almost everyone at some point along the way gets too ill or their blood work says they aren’t healthy enough to receive treatment and it has to be postponed. We haven’t had to postpone any yet, and now I’m more than halfway through.

At this cycle, the doctor reduced one of the medications, Oxaliplatin. This medication causes the cold sensitivity (which is really freaky) and “peripheral neuropathy.” You know that feeling you get when your foot falls asleep and then starts to wake up? The pins and needles feeling that actually hurts for a minute? The neuropathy is like that – and you can’t really control when it happens, and it can be hands or feet. My neuropathy has been lasting longer into the cycle, but it only lasts for a short time each time it happens. It’s normal to reduce or even eliminate this drug partway through because the neuropathy indicates nerve damage – and can become permanent. They use the drug because it sort of boosts the effectiveness of the main medication (5-FU), but only slightly.

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My BFF since middle school sent me this. It says, “She believed she could, so she did.” I love it!

My appointment for cycle 7 was earlier in the morning than usual, and Roomie and I both mostly slept through it. Usually, I’ll read or knit or watch something on my phone, but this time, we both conked out.

I’m starting to leave work early a little more often now, but I’m still working most days.

At work, I was working on setting up a desktop computer for someone, and old tower style. I was surprised at how weak I felt lifting it. I had to put it on a cart to get it to my desk instead of just hauling it over like I normally would. Then, today, I was in the stock room looking at inventory, and I couldn’t stand up for more than a few minutes. This felt like when I went to the store and couldn’t stand in line. The walk out to the parking lot at work is pretty intimidating now, especially in the afternoons.

With everything going on, I haven’t been consistent with my psych meds (for bipolar). I’ve been taking the mood stabilizer and the anxiety meds, but I’d dropped taking the antidepressant. Apparently, this is fairly noticeable. My roommate talked to me the other evening about it, mentioning that I’ve been moodier than normal and downright grumpy and asked how I was doing on my meds. This is something that my BFF, roomie and daughter are all “authorized” to ask me and tell me if they notice changes. I try to be self-aware, but sometimes I don’t see the changes until they’ve gone on awhile. So, yeah, getting back on those.

Cycle 8 starts on Wednesday this week. That will be 2/3 of the way done. I just want this over with. I’m tired of being sick and tired and WEAK.