Counseling…Take 3

So I decided to go back to counseling. I’m tired of the condescending pat on the head from the doctors when they tell me my pain is not real. Ok, they don’t say it quite like that, but rather in more of a silver lining kind of way. “Sorry you feel this intense physical pain, but hey, you are 100% physically healthy 👍”.

This round is still in its early stages, but so far she’s different in that she jumped right in trying to correct my diagnoses. She didn’t insist on some non-existent abuse theory. Oh, and she didn’t ask if I saw an ENT for the screeching in my head, like counselor #2 did. That’s sort of a “duh” and I’ve seen several several times.

She doesn’t think I have MDD, and I agree. I have never really been a depressed person. Just apparently can’t recognize anxiety. I don’t argue that I have minor depression but I have never had it interfere with my life. At least not that I notice.

Somatoform disorder. But what intrigues me is how, after 50+ years of living with anxiety that makes me sick, will I learn to recognize it. Keep in mind for each and every imaginary ache and pain, I have the “what if” brain marathon of maybe this time it is real…maybe if I get it diagnosed now, I won’t die…or lose my fingers…or need a heart transplant.

She IS getting me at a good time. We are selling the house and downsizing to a townhome…in town (as opposed to farm country), and my husband and I are remodeling it. Together. ‘Nuff said.

She asked how I dealt with particularly bad days and I told her by sitting in a dark quiet corner until I could deal again. She complimented that and then the look of horror crossed her face when she realized that my one saving grace no longer exists. Silence.

No doubt I will have my work cut out for me but InshaAllah (God Willing) this will be beneficial.

Vacay

I’m not doing so well with this blogging to get the noise out of my head.

My husband and I went to Seattle this summer for vacation and to see my oldest daughter and her boyfriend. Of course we had to knock another park off the list.

We did the touristy thing the first day…up the Space Needle, rode the big wheel, visited Pike Place Market, stuck gum on the gum wall (then I clean gum off the bottom of my shoe), the pier and of course, Starbucks.

Gum wall

We spent the rest of the week going non-stop.

Crossing the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Canada Day:

Whale watching in kayaks (my first and LAST time in a tandem with my beloved):

Visited Leavenworth and had the best Bavarian pretzels and bratwurst with amazing mustards and sauerkraut:

Found gifts for the boys:

Watched fireworks from the Fremont Bridge after renting Lime Bikes and riding along the ship canal.

Visited the tide pools along Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach:

Haystack Rock

Feet in the Pacific

Purple star fish

Hiked in the snow at Mt. Rainier:

And finally, visiting Mount St. Helens:

My time with my daughter was not long enough and while the weather held for most of the days, my husband was happy to be back in 80+ degree weather. I’ve missed Seattle, but not the traffic. We made a lot of memories in such a short time. Crush spent a week at the boarders and I will end with a picture from them that sums up how much fun he had:

A little whine

My bracket is broke. Hell, it was broken in the first round…thanks VA.

My body hurts. Every wrinkled inch. I did it to myself and loved every minute, but still…ouch.

Tomorrow is Monday…boo.

It’s that time of year again…

when I become the same age as my husband;

when I fight when with my body not to accept the number;

when I promise myself this is the year I get into shape.

I don’t celebrate this time of year, but it doesn’t break my heart when I get good wishes. This year my husband gave me an awesome gift. A trip to PPG Paints stadium to watch the Pens beat the Maple Leafs. What a great game.

Hockey tickets, especially for 5x Stanley Cup winners (an current defender of the Cup) are not cheap. I was also gifted a Pens shirt and a Hot Chick sandwich from The Burgatory. The company was awesome.

My throat is sore today from screaming and after last night, I have been to live major sporting events except for football.

Hello 2018

It’s been a long time since I wrote. No fault of my own however, WordPress keeps crashing. Even if I save a draft, it’s all gone. I debated trying again, but what the hell, here goes.

At the end of 2017, I had started with a psychiatrist and counselor to attempt to learn how to live with this tinnitus. Unfortunately, it was too expensive to continue and I just wasn’t feeling it. I mean what is the point in “learning to live with it”? Is there really an alternative?

I did think I had a breakthrough with the tinnitus though. After seeing an eye specialist earlier this month, he diagnosed me with meibomian gland disorder (scary word for dry eyes) and has no idea why I have that thumbprint-like pressure feeling on my right eye. He suggested maybe sinus. So since the ENT said I’m congested and told me to take nasacort before she dismissed me (yes, I’m still angry about that) and now the eye doctor said I may have sinus issues, I asked the pharmacist for the strongest OTC decongestant. Sudafed. I started it Saturday morning and by Saturday afternoon, the screeching had subsided to a loud whooshing. My hopes soared. I continued with the full doses, but unfortunately the decongestant doesn’t treat anxious people very well and I was up most of Sunday/Monday unable to breathe. My heart was racing and I couldn’t catch my breath. I had to cut back the dose and not take it close to bed. The screeching is back. I see my family doctor in a few days and will ask her if there is something she recommends I can take to test this theory a bit further.

One thing did come from counseling that I found beneficial. My OCD behavior is not weird. I mean it is to some, obviously, but my OCD behaviors are more a way of protecting myself from anxiety. I managed to keep most of my behaviors hidden, but now I’m out and proud. Dishwasher utensils are organized, clothes for the week planned with coordinating scarves before I go to bed Sunday, gym bag packed days in advance, color coordinated everything at work and home calendars, and routines are in full force and I’m defensive of them. The only warning my counselor gave me was that if OCD controls my life and threatens my health (like not eating because I missed that window for “lunch” or not using the restroom, etc.), then I need help for it. I have never been like that although I do understand how hard it must be for some who need that control.

My daughter suggested tracking my days as good or bad since the bad seem so overwhelming. No analyzing the days, just good or bad. Surprisingly, there haven’t been any bad. Sure bad parts…nothing a few choice curse words directed at a rude tractor trailer moron won’t heal…but my days are good. This is very eye opening.

I’m exercising again. My husband got me started at the gym and so far so good. There is a kickboxing-esque class called Strong. I guess it’s owned by Zumba. It’s ok. I still don’t like the Jackie Chan moves as none of my training involved fighting a crowd of ninjas in choreographed style. I also take a dance fitness class. I caught a glimpse of myself in mirror and shuddered. But I managed to work up a sweat and the instructor plays cool music…reggaeton and bhangra.

I’m still struggling with nonstop distractions. My mind never stops. I think the exercising is helping with that a little, but it just seems that constant changes keep me from feeling settled. One of my bosses resigned, and we have 4 new attorneys starting in March. A new paralegal (or two) as well. I just want normalcy for a few weeks but if I were honest with myself I would learn to accept that these constant changes are normal. I have a long way to go.

I’m neither excited for nor dreading 2018. I’m ambivalent. One day at at time.

Holiday spirit

We are Muslim so we don’t celebrate Christmas. But then again, we are both converts. Me from Judaism. Hubby a Christian. Anyway, the holiday decorations and holiday spirit still move us. We have had a full tree in the past, but with the hardwoods installed, we don’t want to risk water stains. Plus it’s just the two of us and the four-legged children. So this year, we went for a tabletop tree I dug out old vintage ornaments and by “vintage”, I mean ones from when the SOMH was a wee one.

Happy holidays!!

Picking at the seal

You know those sticky tabs that seal things shut? Well that’s the therapy stage I feel I am in right now. And I don’t like it. I don’t like it because I have to face my own ugliness buried deep under the “do everything perfectly for —- (insert boss, husband, daughter, mother)” sand dune I have lived under for as long as I can remember. And the really scary part is we haven’t even peeled the seal all the way off. I had a therapy session Monday. Tuesday I was sad, teetering on the edge (or so it seemed). I replayed the session and what I should have said or the direction I should have gone. My therapist doesn’t yet know me and has jumped to a few conclusions, but I set her straight. Nothing serious but assumptions that my need to be a good wife is somehow related to me being Muslim. It’s not. It’s related to the need to never give him a reason to leave me. Not that that has ever been an issue…in my mind I’m just waiting for the axe to fall. After all, I’m a needy, anxious, chubby, restless, indecisive, old lady and who would be able to look past my faults and love me? (Insert many paragraphs as to why I should be fired from my job, hated by my children, looked at as a terrible daughter, sister, friend.). MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT REALITY.

So today I am seeing the doctor (psychiatrist). I’m not sure why other than he is in charge of managing my medications. I have met him once before and he seemed very nice. I feel like I confuse the doctor and counselor because I was not an unloved abused child nor am I unintelligent. I am told I am attractive (wow that hurt to type) and I am a good person. I think he must find it hard to understand my low self esteem. Oh sure, I had a relationship with a egotistical, narcissistic sociopath who always criticized everything I did but this goes back long before that. Hell, I probably sought him out to validate the negativity I felt toward myself. Totally my fault…again.

Nevertheless, I almost want to stop counseling after only three appointments. I feel I would rather live in my world of apathy constantly trying to improve myself by setting unrealistic goals than pull my head out of the sand and face the reality that I am never going to achieve the goal of being the person I want to be. I am who I am. And she’s not that bad (yes she is).

I wish there was a pill to stop my racing mind constantly imagining the thoughts of others as though it was reality.

I wish I could take something to erase the need to complete the errant thoughts when I’m trying to concentrate. I do not need to figure out 311-68 at that very moment, but until I do…it won’t stop. I do not need to remember whether on not I put my keys back in my purse…at that moment. But I do. And if I try to push it away, the whispering is still there, behind my ear…”just figure it out, then you can concentrate” my brain lies to me. So I do…and then the next errant must-solve-now thought starts. It is maddening.

And I really wish there was a pill to stop the tinnitus which is seemingly made worse by the anxiety the counseling-to-help-me-deal-with-anxiety is causing.

Sneezing fit

while strapped into my CPAP mask.

Although this was not mucous filled sneezes (thank God), they were nuclear sneezes.

The first sneeze started deep down in my toes and from tickle to explosion was less than .00002 of a second. In that microsecond, my brain went through every scenario from “this is how I die” to “I’m going to pop my mask”. My brain froze all logical thought like hit the stop button or lift the nasal pillows. So I lay there…flat on my back…and sneeze air back into the CPAP as my CPAP forces 5-20 cmH2O air up my nose. As the air is forced up my nose, you cannot open your mouth or that air escapes. This my brain remembers. First 2 sneezes I kept my mouth clamped shut. But the battle of the pressures was overwhelming and quite frankly the hysteria was setting in. I started laughing. Sneezing, laughing and gasping all at once.

Thank God I peed before I went to bed!

Wow…

Copying the creative idea of a fellow blogger, I am at my local Starbucks. I had a very good, heartfelt, bare my soul blog written, but it is not to be. As I was finishing it, poof internet cut out and it was gone. No draft saved. I guess today will have to remain a mystery.

Elk

So this weekend we went to Elk County (aptly named) and stayed the night in Saint Mary’s so we could be out before dawn. When I say “we”, I mean me, my husband and his son…my SOMH. These two boys rival my two daughters in “not morning people”. Fortunately for the boys, I woke with a headache so my usual morning chipperness was muted.

We still managed to get up and as we headed to Winslow Hill to view the elk, we were stopped along the road by a very large bull elk and his haram. He desperately wanted to cross the road but the crowd seemed to make him mad. The bugling was getting intense.

We eventually made it to Winslow Hill and we were not disappointed. The elk are majestic animals for sure. There was one cow trying to make a break for it, so my SOMH, husband and I turned it into a soap opera. She was a tease, but then the tables turned and the other cows made a break for it while the bull elk was trying to corral the cow. There was some bugling going one in the lower field and we suspect he had a bigger rack. 😜

It was also fun to be the object of curiosity to the groups of Amish also visiting the elk. I am sure they often get the stares, and it was hard not to smile when they could not help but stare at me. I don’t suspect they see many Muslims.

We also took a short 2 mile hike but by this time my headache was a full blown migraine and all the tasbih (remembrances) couldn’t distract me. We drove a bit more but by then the elk had moved into the woods so we started the drive home. We saw a black bear but he was moving so no time to take pictures.

I sat in the back to rest my head, but it was unbearable and the winding mountain roads didn’t help. The pain was moving. The normal left temple, but also burning across the top of my head and heavy throbbing at the back/base of my head. The tinnitus was unbelievable and felt “trapped” in there. Very odd.

About an hour into the drive home I was torn between begging my husband to stop at a hospital or drugstore. Most small mountain towns had neither. We finally found a CVS and I blindly stumbled in for Excedrin migraine. I briefly thought about begging for an imitrex shot, but I suspected that would not go over well, so I got to the counter, barely able to speak and the chipper clerk asked if I had a CVS card. Uh huh, yes, no, I don’t remember, just um…no. I stagger back to the car and choke down a handful of pills. (Two pills, it was only two pills…the temptation was there tho.)

My husband, clearly irritated by the unexpected stop and getting grouchy from hunger, takes off down the road. Every sharp switchback, slow then fast, stop and go, the loud squeaking of Jane, the navigator GPS, and stifling air, had me moaning and groaning and wishing for a coma. I realize I hadn’t eaten and the pills hit my stomach. New problem. Ugh. 🤢

We finally get into Tyrone, PA, the boys decide to look for food. In Tyrone. There was a sketchy looking Subway (or Suay, according to the lighted sign). Or a Burger King. Fast greasy food. By this time, alhamdulillah, the headache was subdued. I ate a few fries and sipped some Sprite.

Over all the trip was beautiful. The leaves are almost at peak.

I dealt with the headache aftermath today – brain fog and leg cramps – and pray for no rebound headache.