The one thing about being off sick but in that semi-recovery stage is that the brain weasels like to pop out to play. The latest conversation with my GP has basically set me on the path to investigate what they suspect are stomach ulcers, but so that the first set of tests aren’t skewed I need to stop taking the drugs they put me on to stabilise me.
As a result, the worries about the next week are about a repeat of the weekend rather than on looking after everyone else, and the what if scenarios that are mugging for the camera despite my best efforts to remain grounded. In no particular order I could be facing a regime of pills, diet changes (again), or surgery, or the discovery of nastier causes of the blood upto and including cancer (thank you brain for that very unlikely option)
So, I’m focusing on being well enough to at least work remotely the next couple of days before my booked leave, on celebrating Lady M’s birthday next week, and on not letting fireworks freak me out, and generally getting past this year’s unpleasant memory day. Yay for complex PTSD.
So, big lad pants on, focusing on the positive, here we go.
Today’s been a bit odd, but positive. I was up early to go get my first vaccine shot and needed to get to the Harlequins Rugby Club which is the nearest centre.
I hadn’t slept well because I was worried about sleeping through my alarms, but that was fine because roadworks meant I was delayed and got there ten minutes late anyway. That said, nobody batted an eyelid.
From there it was a smooth conveyor belt of positivity from volunteers and staff alike, and I was soon headed back home, freshly stabbed. They gave me the Oxford AstraZeneca jab, by the way. The second dose is due at the beginning of June.
Since then? Tiredness and aching joints for the most part, but nothing more than annoyance level discomfort. Just feel out of sorts, and reminded of the illness I had about this time last year. So that’s a thing…
I’ve had to change my weekly injection to a new drug as of today because the Byetta has been withdrawn as a prescribable drug due to supply issues. I have now been switched to using dulaglutide under the brand name Trulicity at a dosage of 1.5mg in a 0.5ml solution.
Apparently this drug works in a similar way but also assists in the treatment of related cardiovascular conditions so thats a bonus. I’ve got to say, for something that looked complicated when I unpacked the first one I’m reasonably impressed by how fuss-free it ended up being.
Its another pre-filled pen device, but I think this is more akin to a traditional epipen in as much as usage consists of popping the end cap, pressing the circular end against my skin and twisting from locked to unlocked state before pressing the big green button.
There was a click, the feel of an impact like an elastic band and seconds later another click as the needle withdrew. And that was it. There was a small bead of blood that I wiped away and it was all done bar disposing of the pen.
I think that because there’s a wide opening against the skin that it simultaneously stretches the skin tauter and fools my nerve endings with what signals travel back to my brain: It feels the pressure of the barrel opening but doesn’t have the bandwidth to feel the needle jab in the same location. That’s my take on it anyway. Its certainly less of a rigmarole than the old pen and needle assembly was.
I think its just another example of how our medical tools and medications are continuously evolving and being refined. A positive thing to recall under the circumstances I believe.
My partners and I often joke that we’re often surprised that I don’t rattle, given the number of medications I take on a daily basis. Nearly every day there’s some variation on a theme of “have you taken your meds?” or “do you need to order more meds?”. Once a week we also have a chorus of “have you injected today?”
Yesterday I realised that my erratic grumpiness and energy levels, and irregular sweats this week may have in part been down to forgetting to actually take my injection on Monday.
So my injection day is now a Thursday rather than a Monday. What fun. Because what better to do with a compromised immune system and a race inside my body to see what will fail first than to not take the medication that helps keep me operational?
Yay! Now I’m tired and want to sleep. But it’s only lunchtime and I’m at work, so that’s not an option.
I thought I was being so clever with the timings for my Exanitide – an injection I need to take once a week to prod my pancreas into waking up and producing insulin on its own rather than needing to inject shop-bought (so to speak). If I took my injection in the Saturday before driving up to Hartlepool, that would tide me over until I got home and therefore sidestep the need to refrigerate any medication on my travels.
Instead, I forgot to take it, or even pack it, and I’ve instead had to try and sort something out while i’m the opposite end of the country from my GP.
And this is where the wondrous NHS takes centre stage. I was able to phone their helpline this morning and explain the situation. From there they could look up my details, and were able to give me the number of a prescribing pharmacist local to where I currently am. I called them, confirmed a few details, and was able to walk round half an hour later to pick up what I needed.
All I had to do was show them my exemption card, and on the app where it showed that it’s a regular medication I receive.
I had a diabetic checkup today and I’m pleased to announce it went well. Earlier this year I had one that showed elevated blood sugar levels and a further increase in blood pressure, and thus promoted an increase in dosages and frequency of checks from six months to three months.
Determined to get on top of it I made some dietary and habit changes, and did my best to stay on my new pills and potions regime. Today saw the payoff to that with a decent drop in both markers back to more reasonable levels, and tests for eyes and circulation in my feet both coming back well. My weight has even remained consistent – which is a bag of mixed blessings as I’d ideally like to lose another 10kg to be comfortable.
So all in all that was a huge relief, even if my resting heart rate still makes people wince. I’m hoping that losing some more weight as I take up walking longer distances again will help; but am mindful that another component may well be my generalised anxiety/PTSD twining round my depression and back again to feed on itself.
It sometimes feels a bit chicken and egg, so I’m trying not to focus too much on it, and hoping instead that the ongoing therapy and general physical health work help loosen both sides of it. In other words, stop worrying if the blood pressure and heart rate are exacerbating the anxiety, or if the anxiety is affecting the blood breasure and heart rate, and just work on both elements because it can’t hurt right?
The upshot of all this is that my sanity is still debatable, but I’m not a total physical wreck this month. After a month of aches, pains, and colds this is almost reassuring. I’m also back on the six month checkup routine again.
I’ve noticed over the last week or so that I’ve developed a twitch in my lower right eyelid. It’s not enough to be visible, but there’s a constant pulsing that almost feels like there’s something in my eye.
I’m blaming it firmly on the citalopram, or possibly on the frequent anxiety attacks that seem to have become part of daily life. Talking to my GP and talking to other people seems to suggest a common experience of it being one or the other. If you see me rubbing my eye, it’ll be because of that, nine times out of ten.
My personal semi-joking conceit is that it’s a manifestation of the black dog, squashed and penned into one place by the medication. It’s not able to run roughshod over me, but it’s wagging tail can be felt, concentrated in that eye twitch just so that I can’t forget it is still with me.
There’s probably a story in there, but I’m not recovered enough to be able to grab inspiration and run with it yet. Small steps, and hopefully smaller twitches
I’m on day six of taking citalopram, starting with a 10mg dose, and due to go up to 20mg for a couple of weeks on Wednesday. At that point it’s another conversation with the GP to see where we go.
So far the side effects have been some dizziness and a bit of a fog in my head – and a bit of nausea from time to time – but the good news is that it does seem to be taking the edge off the depression and anxiety.
I think what is really helping is that this time around I know what I’m dealing with and have far healthier coping mechanisms. I haven’t hoped that the pills will sort things out (spoiler alert: they never do), and have instead focused on trying to get on with as normal a life and routine as possible.
Well, not normal – stop smirking, I can see you over there – but you know what I mean.
Keeping busy seems to be the key to distraction, but at the same time I know I need to also not drive myself into the ground with exhaustion. Being kind to myself seems both a scary and difficult to achieve target, even though I know it really shouldn’t be. It’s something I shall continue to explore in counselling.
Anyway, so far so good, and if this helps someone unsure about mental health issues, or just needing encouragement, then all the better.
I’ve bitten the bullet and signed up for the gym run by the local authority just round the corner. I’d love to say that it stems from a deep-seated love of health and exercise and a desire to craft the body beautiful, but no – I’d be lying. Ever since my doctor put me on blood pressure pills my weight has started to pile back on again – and having had my back in spasm the last fortnight has reinforced my dislike of being unwell. I’m not saying the two things are connected, but I’d be silly to not consider the possibility.
Secondly my usage of Bydureon to manage my diabetes is dependent on managing to keep the weight off. If my weight hasn’t begun to go down again before my next check up in a few months then I’ll be put back on to daily injections of insulin and all the hassle and calculation that goes with that. That’s before we even get to the whole ‘stabbing myself with sharp metal every day’ element of that which I don’t want to get back to for a variety of historical reasons.
I already home cook most of my food, and I know that calorie counting alone isn’t going to cut it. I need to kickstart my metabolism, so a change in routine is called for. As I already wake when Lady M gets up to go to work, I plan to get up at the same time and go round to the gym to start my day. Even 30-45 minutes a day each day will give me some structure and get me started – and it’ll be early enough that I won’t be stressing about fitting it around work. I’ll be able to get on with my day.
So, a decision driven by fear and irritation rather than aspiration – but sometimes that’s what’s needed, especially as I know how lazy I can be. Oh well, what’s the worst that could happen? I just need to remember not to Google gym-based injury anecdotes or videos…