Clarity

I did something bad, and I feel really guilty about it.  Not guilty about what I actually did, per se, but guilty over lying.  Or, at least omitting the truth and being otherwise deceitful…

Because of severe exhaustion, both physically and mentally, I have been really struggling lately to be an active participant in my life.  And, whether due to injury from 9+ concussions, lack of blood flow to the brain, medication side effects, not sleeping, migraine pain and cloudiness or simply a bad cold or a long night of vomiting, my brain fog has been absolutely debilitating.  Unsurprisingly, this has significantly impacted my academic standing.  I love my major and will study for hours on end, but I cannot seem to retain information no matter how hard I try. My short term memory is laughable, and I just feel totally “out of it” overall.

So…I took some Adderall.

One of my physicians prescribed me Adderall in 2014 to trial for hypotension and chronic fatigue and it worked beautifully.

However, the Adderall I took this time was not my prescription. I bought it.

Yes, I BOUGHT IT from a guy in our apartment complex who I knew dealt drugs. I’ve never done anything like that before. 10 little blue pills for $50.

It was almost as if a weighted, fuzzy blanket had been lifted and someone cracked a window to allow in some fresh air. My thoughts didn’t feel as loud and chaotic. I felt peaceful and calm, yet alert and capable.

$50 allowed me to catch up and succeed academically despite my broken body, saving my semester.

I didn’t experience any negative side effects. No nausea, no noticeable increase in tachycardia, no shakiness, no anxiety.

Those pills pulled me from the deepest pits of depression – both with happiness and relief over finally succeeding and getting caught up with school and the fact that I actually had some energy for once.

Sitting up wasn’t a chore. Writing an email or replying to a text message was no longer a daunting task. I looked forward to reading once again. Homework and studying didn’t feel impossible.

I experienced mental clarity for the first time since I can remember (ha ha, accidental brain fog/poor memory joke). That in itself gave me hope.

I was honestly starting to believe that I’d never be able to think again and that I was somehow past the point of fixing…but this experience has shown me that the person I used to know and love (or at least like, haha) is still in there somewhere. While I may live in a broken body, I am not broken.

I’m not sure if my moral compass was bruised along with my brain, but my feelings of relief and excitement are overshadowing my guilt and shame, at least for the time being.

I still have one left…

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Urine-ologist With Mom

Today I had another slew of appointments, one of them being with my urologist at Duke South. It was a pretty uneventful appointment, but I am incredibly frustrated with the state of my urological health…

I have my THIRD infection in two months! The first two were complicated infections with uncommon strains of bacteria, and they really kicked my butt. This most recent culture grew Klebsiella pneumoniae which is a pretty common culprit of UTIs…but it is a difficult bacteria to get rid of nonetheless.

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I honestly do not remember what it feels like to not have a UTI! My bladder and kidneys are constantly hurting, with pain ranging from slight soreness to knock-you-to-the-floor sharpness.

My urologist reassured me today that I am doing nothing wrong to cause these problems.

These infections are a result of EDS causing my bladder to be ‘too stretchy’ and dysautonomia affecting nerve signals to my smooth muscles. She also said that prednisone is likely complicating things as it is an immunosuppressant.

As far as managing my condition(s) goes (in this case, taking prophylactic antibiotics and self-cathing), I am doing everything right. I suppose knowing that makes me feel a little better…but in a way, the fact that this is not my fault increases my frustration because there isn’t anything I can do to improve the situation… agh.

On a more positive note, appointments with mom are always an adventure! She’s truly a character, that one. Here’s a video of some post-appointment shenanigans with my partner in crime.. 🙂 Love this crazy woman so much! ❤

Duke Syncope & Dysautonomia Appt

Had a good appointment at the Duke Syncope & Dysautonomia Clinic today! Being honest with doctors FullSizeRenderis not something that comes easy to me, but I think I did pretty well today. My blood pressure readings are looking MUCH better than they have in months prior! That is likely due to super high doses of Midodrine, & Fludrocortisone, as well as 12mg of Prednisone daily…but it is a good thing regardless. They were concerned with my heart rate, though. Despite taking all my Dysautonomia meds (including Bystolic, my beta blocker) & getting IV infusions, I am still experiencing significant tachycardia, especially upon postural changes. My orthostatic vitals today, for example: 113bpm lying down, 129bpm sitting up, 147bpm standing. Now, those numbers aren’t terrible…I’ve definitely seen worse, this week alone! But Jenn was not happy with those numbers & said that kind of increase upon sitting/standing is not good considering the medications should be taking care of those dramatic spikes. She was also a bit concerned because that was simply standing still, not trying to walk and carry on about the day. We agreed that the Bystolic is not the right med for me as it drops my blood pressure too low (causing me to need more Midodrine which I already take an overdose of each day)…so she is putting me on a new med called Ivabradine. I’m really excited because Ivabradine helps lower heart rate without impacting blood pressure! Only problem is it’s a med generally used for heart failure patients, so we will probably have to fight with insurance to get it covered. But Jenn says she’s confident we’ll win the case, considering I’ve tried almost every other beta blocker out there and my symptoms are so severe! Really hoping it is a quick process getting it approved, as I am super excited to try…especially because, once we finally get my heart rate under control, I get to begin physical therapy! IMG_9020Jenn referred me today to a PT who is familiar with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome & POTS! Nicole sees him and really likes him. Apparently, he understands the pain, dislocations, fatigue, weakness, etc. that comes with EDS & how to best work with/through such symptoms. Really looking forward to it! Also while Mom & I were at Duke, we met a fellow Zebra who was using a wheelchair with SmartDrive. We ended up talking with her about it (& other things) for a good 15 minutes, and on the way home from the hospital, mom decided we will have a fundraiser because I need one, too! More on that later.. 🙂 Now for a nap– that appointment left me exhausted!

 

 

Catch-22

Well, I am supposed to take an Anatomy & Physiology exam in 4 hours & 9 minutes…but that’s not happening. 😦

My health is much more stable than it has been in years past: I really have no right to complain. But things have declined since last semester & I feel so lousy 24/7 with dizziness, vertigo, nausea, migraines, joint pain, abdominal pain & distention, sharp pins & needles in my fingers, chest tightness, ulceration & bleeding in/around my stoma, feeding tube troubles, anaphylaxis, temperature regulation issues, bladder inflammation, UTIs, blood pooling, weakness, etc. etc. etc.

Academically, I am drowning. Studying for this test, I’ve watched videos, made flashcards, drawn pictures, constructed diagrams, read the textbook, took online quizzes– but NOTHING is sticking. My fatigue has been crippling & my brain fog has been worse than ever before. I am SO burnt out from fighting so hard to accomplish tasks most my age don’t even have to think twice about.

And the most frustrating part of all?

Being sick, taking a billion medications & supplements, doctors appointments, procedures– all keep me from giving 100% in school.

And then, on the other hand…

Being in school, going to classes, doing homework, studying, going to necessary meetings– all keep me from giving 100% to taking care of my health.

It is definitely a catch-22!

Anyway, tonight I made some big decisions about this semester & about my academic endeavors as a whole. I have a meeting with my advisor tomorrow, so we shall see. I am hoping to leave that meeting with a plan & some hope for the future…

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studying the cardiovascular system

Spoonie Sisters!

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Spoonie Love ❤

This evening, I finally got to meet my beautiful, sweet, strong spoonie sister Nicole! We’ve ‘followed’ each other & talked online for almost two years now, but we never got to meet in person despite living only a half hour away. She is INCREDIBLE– truly one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever met. She endures so much each & every day, yet somehow manages to find joy through it all. She is a superhero! She’s been a huge encouragement to me throughout this crazy chronic illness journey. My heart is so full after getting to hug her in person! We literally just hung out on her couch for like three hours, talking, laughing & commiserating about anything & everything. We could just BE- the good, the bad & the ugly- without having to explain ourselves or wear a fake smile. We both needed this so much. I’m beyond excited for our future spoonie adventures! Love this girl SO stinkin much!

Vertigo

The landscape seems fractured

      as the sky’s plates shift

on one another

 and the horizon tilts  

while bright colors swirl around me

 like paint on a surrealist canvas

and I cannot help but notice that

 the shambling creature

who once lurked in my shadow

now lurches in my shoes,

stretches her legs in mine

and trips up my feet

as I stagger through a swaying world…