Depression

Depression I’ve heard described as a deep sadness. For me it’s more than that. I’ve felt plenty of horrible sadness in my life, most notably when my grandfather and father died. But as sad as I was, I was not depressed. Grandpa was 100, and dad was finally breathing easy ๐Ÿ˜‰

I remember the first time I told a doctor I was depressed. I was in my mid-20’s and he told me I smiled too much to be depressed. He even brought in another doctor to see my smile. What neither of them knew, or took the time to find out, was that that smile was permanent and as fake as the waiting room flowers. I grew up in a household where if you weren’t smiling (except for mom, she never smiled) you were hounded about what was wrong, and geez louise if you actually said you’d be beaten down for being ungrateful, etc. So I smiled.

I’m 49, and I still catch myself smiling out of habit.

Somewhere in my late 30’s a doctor took me seriously about being depressed. He put me on Paxil. Then I went to counselling, which I wasn’t ready for. At my first session I told her I already know its all my mothers fault so what’s left to discuss? That was my last session,

I stopped the Paxil shortly after. In the intervening years I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and GAD. I was on Lexapro for awhile, dropped that and now I just take Xanax on an as needed basis.

Some days though I’m just the seeds at the bottom of the pickle barrel – nothing can pick me up. Usually it’s bc of one of my medical conditions. Either my blood sugar is going high for no reason or breathing is difficult.

My family has as much patience for my depression as those first doctors. My husband has even asked what I have to be depressed about, after all I don’t even have to work. Kind of shows you his mind set :/.

I don’t want to go back on medication and counseling is clearly not for me. Not sure how I’ll handle this.

Let me be clear in that I am depressed, NOT suicidal. I’m too damn lazy for that ;). Besides I’m fighting every day to see the finish line with my last two kids grown up. Some days I do wake up thinking damn, another day I have to slog through. But I slog…

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A little levity

The following is a true story. Even I can laugh now ๐Ÿ˜‰

Our family is from Pennsylvania and we used to live in Bucks County. They had a big waterpark there called Sesame Place, based on all the Sesame Street characters.

Our son was receiving early intervention services from the Intermediate Unit there, and every year they gave all the families a set of 4 passes for a day at the park before the official opening of the season. The year our son was 3 we went but could do very little because it was a cold, misty day. Sesame Place felt bad and gave us all a free day in season which is where this starts.

It was my husband and I, our 3 year old son, and my 16 year old daughter. The kids had fun on lots of climbing equipment, mesh bridges, etc. As it got hot we decided to try some water features.

Our son wanted to go down the super long water slide that is a giant tube, but this one lacked a cover. We decided hubby would stay with the stroller and cooler. So I had my daughter first, son second, then me.

As we are climbing this incredibly high platform the speakers bellow out “do not ride if you are pregnant, have back problems, have heart problems, or if you are obese”. Ok so I was somewhat overweight but people way bigger than me were climbing up.

I get up there and when it’s my turn to sit down the water feels like its really pounding my back. I should point out here I was wearing my 3 year old hot pink maternity bathing suit that looked good on a tan, frightening on pasty indoor skin!

Finally I get the go ahead to push off. I *fly* down that shoot, seems fast but it’s my first time. As I bank into the first turn, a left, I feel my body being pushed up by the water, my butt is going over the top of the ride and I see tree branches coming at me. Then I see my life flash before my eyes! I’m going to fly off!! Luckily I come back down just in time to SPEED past my son.

The next thing I hear is “Oh shit!” which I later found out was the guy at the bottom who helps you land. All he saw was a hot pink fireball blast by him!

I landed, butt first, about halfway across the pool at the bottom. I hit so hard my sunglasses landed about 100 yards away in a totally separate attraction ๐Ÿ˜‰

I finally manage to climb out and as we are walking back my son says “again mommy?” and I said no, never again!!

I never wore that bathing suit again and have since lost a lot of weight, but just seeing similar rides still terrifies me!

Hospitals!

I’ve just returned home from my 7th hospital stay since July 2008. This doesn’t include an ER visit where I wasn’t admitted.

Hospitals are a great place if you are acutely ill. You suddenly awake in agonizing pain, you fall and maybe broke a bone, can’t catch your breath.

They do a pretty decent job in the ER of getting you evaluated, tested, and even starting treatment at times.

If you need further acute care, as I just did, getting admitted to the hospital gets you cared for quickly.

I happened to need a little surgery, had to beat down a severe infection first. When you’re feeling that ill all the in and out, lights on at 4am, isn’t a big hassle, you want to be better, fast.

Even after surgery, those first 12 hours are good to have skilled care.

After that it’s all about recovery and recuperation, none of which will happen in the hospital!

You need relaxing, uninterrupted sleep. If the sound of your neighbors nurse call going on every 10 minutes doesn’t prevent it, then the frequent bright light wake up calls for vitals (please just listen, you’ll hear me breathing!) and the 5am X-ray trips will.

I still don’t know why my tests like X-rays always have to happen at 5am? They should reserve that time for acute patients, I’ll be here all day!

True recovery doesn’t start until you get home. You sleep better, eat better, and aren’t constantly worried your underwear is showing!!

I am lucky, my urologist agrees with me. I was released less than 24 hours after surgery. And I feel better already!

Mulligans

Did you ever wish you had a do over in life, back to day one?? I sure do, there’s so much I would change!

First I’d be a stronger person around my mother. She’d berate me for being a follower, having no voice or ideas of my own. On the other hand if I tried to be any of those things at home she’d smoosh me like a bug. I was welcome to my opinion, as long as it matched hers. All my ideas were stupid or idiotic.

I wouldn’t have been such a good kid. It got me nowhere. When I left home I should have gone alone and never returned.

I should not have given up *me* for everyone else. I should have taken more time for what I wanted instead of doing what everyone else wanted.

I should have splurged on manicures and professional perms and coloring.

Instead, I always made sure everyone else was happy. Still do it. This Christmas DH had been out of work 20 months. I managed to scrape together gifts for the kids. Nothing for me, not even the pajamas I so desperately needed. But hubby went on Amazon and got $40 worth of CDs and DVDs. Our movie and music collection could pay off our mortgage. Not even joking.

Now, when I finally figured I’d have 20 years to do for me, to take trips, etc., I’m stuck at home. One foot in the grave the other on a banana peel.

I have been wronged, significantly, by almost everyone ever in my life.

Yeah, that’s fair.

Why do we have co-pays?

If you’ve ever been covered by a PPO or HMO for your health insurance you are familiar with co-pays. Charged on everything from doctor visits to ER visits and sometimes even tests like a CT scan, this is money you are typically out of pocket upfront for those services. But how did they start?

Many years ago (wow, about 30 years now!) a company was formed called US Healthcare. They were the first HMO, and they had just a small office in Willow Grove, PA. I grew up in Willow Grove and ultimately ended up working a while for US Healthcare.

Back then we only covered a region of PA/NJ, but they wanted to expand. Day after day I was on the phone with doctor’s offices, extolling the virtues of being a provider. After the law was passed that if a company offered traditional insurance they must also offer an HMO was passed, this got easier.

The way an HMO works is the primary care doctor gets capitated (or paid per head) every two weeks for each patient. The amount they got paid was based on a patients likelihood of utilizing the doctor’s office. This was determined via a matrix set up based on research. Children 0-5 and people over 65 were capitated at the highest rate because they used the most services. Men age 18-35 were capitated at the very lowest rate because they so rarely see a doctor.

Originally the patient was only responsible for paying any premiums their employer didn’t cover. However few people trusted the system. They felt that if they didn’t pay the doctor, they would get 2nd rate care.

Because of this US Healthcare instituted a $2 copay for primary care visits and a $5 copay for brand name prescriptions. US Healthcare became wildly popular and grew quite quickly. Eventually they merged with Aetna.

So you can thank those untrusting souls back in the 80’s for your co-pays today!

I’m glad we live here…

No my account hasn’t been hacked, and I do still hate Lubbock with every fiber of my being, for me. I hate that shopping is so limited, that it’s a two hour ride just to get somewhere else just like here, and five hours to civilization.

I hate that I have to buy my canned tomatoes by the case off the Internet. I hate that we have a so-called “international” airport but family from Philadelphia must fly puddle jumpers to and from DFW to get to Lubbock,

I hate small town life.

But, everything I hate about this place for me is nothing compared to what I love about it for my kids.

We’ve been here since my 11th grader started kindergarten and his baby sister was a baby. Now she’s in 7th grade.

By and large I’ve been happy with the schools. They’ve done right by my kids, helped when it was needed. The parts of the curriculum I find lacking I supplement myself.

I like the experiences they are getting, that closeness and camaraderie they feel. The memories they have that will last a lifetime.

Small town Christmas parades, 4th of July picnics and vacations you are happy to come home from.

In a very short time our son will be done high school and off to college, expanding his horizons. I can’t wait for him to see what’s out there, beyond these little houses with their little fences.

Four years later our daughter will be taking that path, heading where her interests take her.

I may leave, or I may stay. Only time will tell.

It’s a Miracle! Or is it?

You’ve heard it over and over again, it’s a miracle. But is it, really?

The newscaster comes on in front of a burned out house. “As you can see this home burned to the ground today. Miraculously the family of four all escaped unscathed”. Was it a miracle? Or was it really a family who took time to keep batteries in the smoke detectors and do the drills practicing monthly to get out of the house in under 3 minutes? Maybe instead of a miracle it was a family that was conscientious and dedicated to survival.

A young man learns to walk again after a tragic fall. His neurosurgeon and physical therapists pulled out all the stops and the young man did the hard painful work it took. Many would say it’s a miracle. Probably not the people who dedicate their lives to researching and learning what works.

My husband accidentally bought the big box of frozen chicken which he realized after he opened it. Our son shows up with company for dinner. It’s not a miracle it’s serendipity at best.

I have seen things others might call miraculous. Usually they were far more a combination of dumb luck and hard work.

The next time you are tempted to say “its a miracle” take a moment and consider what went into it.

Grammar, spelling and social media

Has social media wreaked havoc on our grammar and spelling skills?

Because social media and text messaging require a limited number of characters in which to phrase your thoughts and comments, a whole new world of abbreviations and shortcuts have taken hold. What happens though when someone accustomed to texting or Tweeting finds themselves with the real world challenge of writing a business letter?

To me this feels like that movie where people could travel back in time so long as they touched or changed nothing. Someone accidentally killed a butterfly and when they returned to current time they found that all spelling and grammar had changed.

Are we on a slippery slope where apostrophes disappear altogether because no one can remember their proper use? Where for the efficiency of it words like “you” and “are” will be spelled “u” and “r”?

While 140 characters seems limiting, one can properly state a thought in such space. << Here I've done it in only 83. If you have expansive thoughts, break them up across multiple posts. There is no reason not to.

Perhaps it is just a pipe dream, but I'd hate to see our language skills decrease further.

What is luck?

I know that I am lucky in many ways. I am lucky to have met and married DH, he has been like a rock, stepping in to help me with anything I needed.

I am lucky to have my two youngest at home, they do so much for me, mostly just by being there!

I am lucky to have kept my house, through six months of neither of us working and the last year of DH being unemployed.

But when people who don’t know me well, or at all, tell me I’m lucky it’s very odd.

I used to run into a guy in the elevator occasionally who worked in my building for another company. He would often tell me I’m so lucky because I don’t have to walk all day, I have my powerchair. Oh yeah, lucky me.

Finally one day he stepped in the elevator and I said “you’re so lucky” and he asked why. I said you can get stuff from a top or bottom shelf without needing help, you don’t have to worry if there’s a ramp so you can get in where you’re going, and you don’t get decubitus ulcers from sitting in one spot all day. I never saw him again. Maybe he took the stairs, it was only three stories!

I’ve had a lot of older people lean on the back if my chair like it’s a park bench. I tell them to get off and they say I’m so lucky because I’m always taking a break. Really?! I worked two years sitting in that chair. And I will quite likely not live to be 60+, even 50+ is a shaky maybe.

Odds are good I will never know what it’s like for all my kids to be grown. Right now I have my sights set on seeing Mr16 graduate high school. Then Ms12 will start high school.

So yeah, I’m lucky. Just not how you think.

A day in the life…

During the week my day starts around 7:15 am, getting the kiddies going out the door by 7:45 am. Then I take 100 units of humilin insulin, and sit and watch tv or play on the iPod. DH is sleeping.

I nod off for a short nap until 11 am. Then DH gets me breakfast and medicine (another 100 units of humilin, 60 of humilog, metformin, B12 and calcium pills).

If it’s Tuesday I’m off to the shower. I can still manage myself until I’m out. Grab the oxygen, then start to get ready. DH combs my hair, shaves my legs, and helps me get my clothes on.

After shopping we get home and I am ripped! DH gets me a drink and I sit, staying in my recliner for all but the occasional potty break.

DD comes home from school and we go over her day, homework, etc.

Another 100 units of humilin after dinner and another B12.

DS comes home after band practice. We catch up for about 5 mins then he has dinner and heads to his room to do homework and/or game development.

DH and I watch a little tv, sometimes together. Around 10:00 pm he usually makes some popcorn. He goes to bed between midnight and 1 am. I am usually up until 3 am or later.

Before bed I take 100 units of humilin, 80 units humilog, B12, calcium, metformin, and 2000 units Vit D.

During the course of the day, DH will have gotten me numerous drinks in between doing laundry, making dinner, etc.

My entire day is spent tethered to an oxygen machine of some kind. Even with that my walking distance is very limited.

I can’t do my hair or shave my legs (or pretty soon brush my teeth!) due to the pain in both hands from osteoarthritis. It is worsening quickly. I have to be very careful with NSAIDs bc I have congestive heart failure.

I spend most days battling fatigue, swelling, and pain. When the ascites is bad I look 9 months pregnant and feel it!

My kids and husband do everything they can to make me feel included, but often if it involves leaving the house I miss it.

The couponing makes me feel useful. When we get a bunch of stuff we need for free I feel good about it. Despite the fact that I can’t actually cut out the coupons, DD does ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I do figure out the deals and such – stores don’t just hand stuff over LOL

My children I believe have learned empathy, and how to refill water on an oxygen machine!! Back when DH was working, DS sacrificed sleep to come out and unhook my infusions when I was recovering from sepsis. He knows how to do a hep wash now!

This is my life and I don’t see it changing soon.

PS. Did I mention I Twitter, a lot?!