Tag: sickness

to sleep, perchance to dream a little less

Boy, am I having a strange year.

Several weeks ago, I found myself in my doctor’s office in tears, telling him that I Felt Like Crap. I didn’t have a much better way to describe it. I just Felt Like Crap, and I had been for months on end. I was exhausted, and my head hurt, and my sleep was terrible, and no matter how much I slept I wanted to sleep more, and I didn’t know if we needed to adjust my depression medication or what but seriously, I Felt Like Crap and I wanted to Not Feel Like Crap.

I think most of us deserve to spend most of our time Not Feeling Like Crap. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask, right?

For a seemingly healthy 29-year-old woman, I’ve had an awful lot of health problems over the last couple of years. I get sinus and ear infections so regularly that you can predict the weather by my ailments. Thinking that I was probably allergic to everything on earth, I had a full allergy testing panel, which revealed that of all the 90 million allergens in the world, I am sensitive to exactly three of them: ragweed, dust mites, and dogs. No tree pollens. No grass pollens. Oh, and by the way, they said, you also have asthma. You should probably carry this rescue inhaler so you don’t die. So I went through a hundred batteries of drug regimens to see what might improve my breathing, and settled on one that sort of did, and that was one thing. Well, two things. Oh, and there was this cyst on my hand that kept me from being able to do a whole hell of a lot of anything. So I had surgery on that. And then, of course, there was that whole depression thing.

The depression, of course, has been around for a while, and the thought that it might be time to tinker with meds was nearly enough to make me throw in the towel. I hate tinkering with meds. Tinkering with mood meds makes me feel like I’m trying to paint my house by randomly flinging pudding at it. But I Felt Like Crap. And so there I sat in June in the doctor’s office, and I asked my doctor if we were going to have to go through the meds thing again, and if by any chance there was a chance that I was just a nutjob hypochondriac, and if that was the case could we please just put me away in the loony bin and be done with it?

No, he said. I think you’re actually pretty stable, he said. (oh happy day!)
He said, You need a sleep study.

My doctor has sleep apnea. He’s had it for a long time. He talked to me about how many years, through college and medical school and residency and whatever, where he thought, “well of COURSE I’m exhausted, I’m in college/medical school/residency/whatever.” He told me about how he finally got his apnea diagnosis and began treatment, and he looked me right in the eye and told me that it literally changed his life. He said he thought we might be on to something here, finally, and that if this turned out to be the problem, treating it could actually improve or even solve a lot of the other problems I’d been having. So he signed me up for the sleep study, and I went.

It was totally weird. There were four other people with me, and they grouped us and walked us to the study area together, where we were offered a choice of caffeine-free drinks and had to watch a video. Of course I had researched apnea to death for weeks before the study, but watching the video was the first time I thought, “this sounds exactly like me.” I could have scripted the video. Then I went to my study room, got loaded up with head goop and electrodes, and put to bed. I’d never stayed overnight in a hospital before, so ringing the technician to help me go to the bathroom or get me another blanket was a totally new experience.

I spent the two weeks after the study alternately wishing I had apnea, and hoping I did not.

I’m lucky, I guess. I have it.

So next month I have another sleep study where they’ll determine the amount of air pressure I need to keep breathing through the night, and then I get a CPAP machine, and then, theoretically, I get the restful sleep that I may have been missing for years.

I worry because it’s all expensive and my medical bills are looking ridiculous right about now. I worry because it seems complicated and difficult to manage. I worry because how am I going to sleep snuggled around my Seth if I am wearing an elephant mask and sounding like Darth Vader? And I’m sad, a little, because the apnea sufferer I knew best was one Frank Lauro, and once again, still, for the rest of my life, he’s not around to give me his sage advice and reassure me.

But I’m hopeful, too. Maybe this will let me sleep through the night. Maybe this will force my dreams back a little to make room for the delta sleep I’m not getting. (Did you know that too many vivid dreams are a bad thing?) Maybe this will let me wake up feeling rested and ready to face the day. Maybe this will help me have the energy to focus on my job, on my health, on my relationships. Maybe this will let me function again.

Maybe. Maybe. We shall see.

6 Comments July 19, 2009


So, hi.

I’m having surgery tomorrow to remove a cyst I’ve had on my left wrist for many years. In the last several months, it had become troublesome to the point that it was severely limiting my range of motion and interfering with my daily activities, so I went to my doctor about it and then to a hand specialist and now tomorrow I’m having surgery.

It’s not a big deal, but it kind of is a big deal. In the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty minor. I won’t be undergoing general anesthesia because I had an adverse reaction to it once in the past, so instead I will be heavily sedated with a regional anesthetic to numb my arm. The incision will be just an inch or two long, across the top of my left hand, and the surgeon says it will be a simple, quick surgery. It’s outpatient, so I’ll be home tomorrow and out of work for the rest of the week, and hopefully back Monday.

But I’m nervous. I’ve never been cut before. I had laser surgery three times in high school on my feet, but that seemed different somehow, and it was a really long time ago so I’ve trauma-blocked most of it. So I have this whole feeling like I have to get everything in order before I go in tomorrow, just in case. All my work needs to be done and all my errands need to be run and my house needs to be clean and the cats need extra food and litter and blah blah blah.

And it’s my hand. My left hand – my dominant one. And I’m not going to be able to use it for a while, but I don’t know how long, and it’s going to hurt, but I don’t know how much, but on the other hand it hurts now which is the whole reason I’m doing this in the first place. So maybe it hurts more for a while and then not at all. Or maybe it doesn’t even hurt that much after surgery. I don’t know. But I use my hands every day, and I like my hands, and I want them both intact and fully functioning and I need to quit freaking out but it’s MY LEFT HAND and what am I going to do without my left hand? How am I going to hook my bra and tie my shoes and eat and brush my teeth and stuff?

Oy. So as you see, I’m in a bit of a state. Wish me luck. I won’t be able to type with my left hand, but I’ll try to give you an update somehow.

2 Comments April 7, 2009

sicknessandspiderstories.com is still available!

I’ve probably been making more use of the random post feature on the right than anyone lately. It’s been interesting to read about the things I found blogworthy back in the day, and I’ve been reading a few back entries at random most every day. While in this little Wayback Machine, I noticed two strongly recurring themes: illness and spider-killing.

And wouldn’t you know it, I have both to tell you about today. On the illness front, I would like to say that I took a sick day last week after spending the weekend unable to breathe, went to the doctor, and after waiting for two solid hours to be worked in was told I hadn’t been sick long enough and I should get a neti pot. And that it was probably just allergies. Okay fine. I’m so glad I spent $400 on allergy testing last month (AFTER insurance), followed by a monthly cost of $80 for two new allergy prescriptions and an asthma prescription, so that you could tell me that it’s probably just allergies and I need a damn neti pot.

When I’ve just spent $500 in a single month on medical treatment for something, I think we’ve passed the point where we get to flippantly call it “just allergies.” Plus, this wasn’t my regular doctor, and I don’t trust dudes under 70 who wear bow ties daily as a matter of course. Note to self: no more work-ins with bow-tied doctors. PS – It has now been 13 days and my head still feels like it’s full of mud, and I still can’t breathe through my nose consistently. OH WAIT I’LL JUST GO GET A NETI POT.

This morning when I dragged my ass downstairs to the kitchen for breakfast, I was greeted by a large black spider sitting on the stove top. It was one of those shiny menacing-looking ones that is probably completely harmless, but is all like “step off, bitches, I JUST MIGHT BE A BLACK WIDOW.” Like I’m going to flip it over to check.

It looked like the cats had already gotten to the spider, as it was curled up and two of its legs looked weird. They’re pretty good about torturing things to death, so I stood there and looked at the giant carcass and thought about how I would get it to the trash.

And then I blew on it to make sure it was dead. And then the carcass started to crawl, though lopsidedly, since it did appear to have two messed-up legs.

I stood there for a second all OMG OMG OMG and the cats were nowhere to be seen, of course, so I had to come up with another way to get rid of the spider. So I dove under the kitchen sink and got the spider-killing spray and hosed that mofo down with it.

Because what you really want to do to a food-preparation area capable of very high temperatures is douse it with toxic chemicals.

Side note: the spider-killing spray is emblazoned with a very giant, very realistic picture of a spider, and though I logically know it isn’t real, when I’m holding the can I try not to look at or touch the part with the spider picture on it.

So anyway, yeah, I hosed down my stovetop and its inhabitant with highly toxic chemicals, so of course that’s when the cats wanted to come investigate. I shooed them away and while I was doing so, I noticed that Robo-Spider was dragging itself toward the edge of the chemical spill. Yep. Still not dead.

Plan B: Smash with shoe.

I went in the other room and grabbed a flip-flop, and came back to deliver the killing blow. And I am a wuss, because my killing blow also failed to kill Robo-Spider. That bitch kept on army-crawling through the chemical spill, though partly squashed and a little more slowly than before.

It was clear that I’d have to be a little more decisive. So I got a bunch of paper towels and made a wad that, hopefully, would not have any gaps in it and would be thick enough to keep me from feeling the spider. And then I got a few more paper towels and wrapped them around the wad. And then I struck.

And I both felt and heard a serious CRUNCH. So I maybe screamed a little, because EW OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG THIS IS WHY I KILL BUGS WITH PHONE BOOKS.

I peeked. Robo-Spider was finally dead, and its guts were everywhere. EW. So I threw the wad in the trash, and I’d like to say I went about my business, except that I’ve been quite convinced that every stray hair or dust particle or puff of air is another Robo-Spider that is going to crawl on me and eat my flesh.

Is there irony in the fact that I used non-toxic, people-friendly, panda-friendly Method wipes to clean up the remaining harsh chemicals and spider remains?

3 Comments July 2, 2008

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