October

This is my favorite season and favorite time of year, but after an emotional, rage-filled moment yesterday, I am questioning EVERYTHING in my life.

To be fair to myself, I reacted via a triggering comment made to me, and new medication that, without my knowing in advance, causes people to occasionally react in a volatile fashion. I’ve stopped the medication, obviously. I don’t ever want to be the type of person who uses her medication as an excuse not to behave properly. That’s unacceptable to me. It’s going to take a week or so to get it fully out of my system, which isn’t a common issue for others, but apparently, for me, it builds up. For most people, it it out of their system within 12-24 hours. I am feeling is gradually leave, but nowhere near fast enough. 😦

I never ask my doctor about trying new medication unless things are bad. This was “new to me” medication, and I should have done extensive research before taking my first capsule. I openly admit to feeling stupid, but relieved that I quickly found the info and said, “I can’t do this anymore.” I had JUST spoken to him yesterday about the drug and was trying to tough it out past the side effects, but that one moment was one moment too many.

When you’re suffering and working solo on your pain/trauma/harm, anything can resurface and cause you to react. That’s what life has been like for me for the past few years, but I haven’t mentioned it. I’ve tried to cope silently, and in turn, I’ve retraumatized myself in several different ways. It is sad and upsetting, and I wish I had the energy to discuss it at length, but I don’t. I feel empty because this is an exhausting process. It’s made worse by no one asking how you’re doing or reaching out to you out of any kind of genuine concern or love for you, which I find SO insulting.

In times like this, I take a huge step back from people. I stop reaching out to them because, quite frankly, enough is enough. The world doesn’t revolve around others who have zero interest in doing the same for you. At the start of quarantine, I reached out to all of my friends to make sure everyone was doing okay, and I let damn near everyone know I was available if they needed to talk. I was mostly ignored. And then, at the end of July, my cousin passed away from terminal lung cancer. I reached out to two of her children, with whom I have solid relationships with, but I know they will call or text if they are having a rough time. They have their support systems. I do not.

I don’t speak to 96% of my blood relatives, and I have my reasons. If you have to find out that your Aunt passed away by finding her obituary online (after not being able to reach her by phone), that is a testament to how your cousins actually feel about you. My father’s side of the family baffles me. My mother’s side isn’t much better, but at least a few people value me enough to maintain a relationship of some kind. One of my cousins is sending me distantly related cousins via Facebook because she uploaded her DNA onto 23andMe and located people this way. If I wanted to upload my DNA to find family, I would do it myself. The truth is, I have enough distant relatives to last a lifetime and no deep-seeded need to “connect” with people I don’t know at this stage in my life. Especially with people in their 70s, 80s, 90s, etc. Let them live and be well, but I would much prefer a few peers. I don’t want conversations about who died, and when. Hard pass.

So yeah, I am struggling. I am suffering. I’m in a dark place. I am usually on a telehealth appointment once a week with my doctor, and despite writing and doing research for various projects I have in the works, I feel like I am mostly achieving nothing at all.

I am either asleep or not sleeping at all. I am in a lot of pain, so I have extremely limited what I do and where I go. After getting sick last month for a while (and having my symptoms suddenly disappear), I wonder if I need to be tested for Covid. It’s hard to tell if my cough is “just allergies”. I might have a minor cold, but it’s the feverish feeling with no fever and insane chills, that make me worry. Yes, this could be a major Fibromyalgia flare-up, or something valid. Unfortunately, when I did call my doctor’s office about this, they weren’t the least bit concerned. The fact that a persistent cough makes me feel like there’s eucalyptus living inside my chest was of zero concern to them, but they thought they were doing me a favor by letting me know I could go and get tested, and they’d fax a request in wherever I decided to go. Instead, I called a local Urgent Care and they said, “Just come in. We don’t need a note or prescription from your doctor, and it’s covered by your insurance.” There’s also free testing being done in the area, so I’m covered if I do need to go. My insurance has called, texted, and sent letters to let me know any testing or treatment will be 100% covered. If I go, I will verify it over the phone, just to be on the safe side of potentially receiving an astronomical bill.

As it begins to dip into the 40s and 50s here, my entire body feels like someone poured -30 degree blood into my veins. Even if it’s 70 degrees outside, I am bundled up like it’s about to snow. I can’t seem to shake the chill. And yet, this could just be my new normal. 😦 I will not know until Spring, pretty much.

Here’s hoping some of this lifts for me and I am able to enjoy the Fall version of October. Realistically, I’m not holding my breath.

copyright © 2020 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

I Don’t Know If You’ve Ever Felt Like That

“I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. That’s why I’m trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning.” ―Stephen Chbosky

Insomnia & Painsomnia: A Wicked Combination

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Whenever there’s something stressful going on in my life, it often affects my sleep, thus turning me into a shadow of my former self. Insomniac Lisa and Painsomnia Lisa are two very different beasts from the person I am when I’m able to prioritize sleep, and actually get into bed each night at a decent hour. I’m never 100% pain-free, but sleep is a crucial part of how my body recovers from what I do to it each day. I have worked my ass off this past month and lost roughly 20 pounds, somehow managing to strengthen my upper back muscles in the process.

Unfortunately for the past month, my sleep has been insanely erratic. First it was major moving stress, liable to affect even the calmest person in the world, of which I openly admit is not me. Then it was my brother’s pre-hospitalization health, closely followed by getting the phone call that he would need open-heart surgery or a transplant. It’s normal to have things like that affect you on many levels health-wise. Let’s face facts: No one expects someone young to be told that their heart is at 11% capacity. An entire team of doctors and surgeons and two different hospitals told him he was 10-15 years too early for such a severe issue. All of this crap has been screwing with me day and night and thus far, nothing I’ve done is helping. To add insult to injury, I have had a migraine since the day before Thanksgiving. I currently feel as if my head is in its very own torture chamber, taking my body along for the ride. 😦

When my brother was first released from the hospital, my sleep schedule had already shifted due to late-night texting and phone calls when he was still hospitalized and feeling lonely late at night, before his final dose of pain meds took over. There were many times I had to suggest he watch something on TV (“It’s almost 10 PM, here are three shows you can watch tonight. I have GOT to get some sleep!”), and then mute the ringer on my phone as opposed to allowing it to vibrate, so I could go to bed without the phone buzzing for hours. Now he’s here 24/7, and he’s driving me insane.

He’s not doing anything in particular to make me crazy (though I wish he’d remember that his legs are fine and he can get up and pour his own damn drinks!), he just happens to be in my personal space, and I crave privacy and silence. He’s mortified that I disinfected the remote, but since I don’t want him getting sick and he’s using it and I’m using it as well, I figured it was a wise decision. It is cold & flu season and while he is currently not in contact with other people several days a week, I am, and that can pose a problem for him if I bring something into the house that I did not leave with.

The other night he fell asleep while I was talking to him (I wasn’t boring him, he was simply in a lot of pain.). It was super early, but I felt that was the perfect time to cover him with a few extra blankets (It’s cold here most nights, and even when it’s not, he’s complaining that he’s cold.), and sneak off into the silence that is my normal routine. Alas, he got about three hours of sleep and I was wide awake. The second I thought about going to sleep, he was moaning in pain and when I checked on him, he was messaging someone on his tablet, with the TV on lighting up three rooms.

After a highly stressful week, I was finally in bed at a decent hour last night. As soon as I’d dispensed the last pain pill of the day, my head was on the pillow. Unfortunately, the previously aforementioned migraine decided to kick things up a notch and a little after 2:00 a.m., I woke up in unimaginable pain. I have no idea how I am attempting to type this, much less see.

My first line of defense is to attempt to get some caffeine into my system. It’s the only thing I haven’t sought out or used to treat this particular pain level, when it would normally be something I thought about a bit more closely. No, last night I was too far gone, so I took something less targeted that, as a last resort, often helps. Clearly it only helped part of me. 😦 So, I am nursing caffeinated tea and I took two Excedrin Tension Headache capsules. Not because I have a tension headache as opposed to a migraine, I know the difference, but because sometimes that combination works for me and nips the migraine in the bud. It’s not a permanent solution, but nothing really is. If it doesn’t start working in an hour or so, I will take a third.

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It astounds people that I have managed to learn how to work through some of my worst migraines, or that I put myself into the head space to focus on healing one. I look at it this way: I am not going out and triggering the headache to be any worse than it already is. I am home, I’m safe, I can control the environment (noise level, light, temperature), and I know not to move around too much, but can I sit at a darkened laptop screen and talk about it? Sometimes, yes. That doesn’t diminish the intensity of the migraine, it does not mean I don’t suffer from migraines (three neurologists and two other doctors are all in agreement that I suffer from migraines. They have gotten worse since my first diagnosis, so there’s nothing else it could be. Everything else has been ruled out.), and it also doesn’t mean it’s “just a headache”. On occasion, like most sufferers, I will get a dull headache. Unfortunately, dull can go to extremes pretty quickly, so I take all headache forms seriously. I don’t walk around denouncing other people’s pain either. If a person says they have a headache, but quickly says “I don’t get migraines like you do.”, I still wouldn’t tell them it was “no big deal”. Pain is pain. No one likes it and for those of us that endure it 24/7, I have seen people empathize with others openly, and I have also seen people blow off the pain of others because they somehow feel it is their right in life to be the one person on the planet who has it far worse than the rest of us. Sorry, but that couldn’t possibly be true, or you’d be dead. What may be indeed true is that everyone’s threshold for pain is different. In fact, I know this to be true.

In studies, it has been determined that women tolerate pain differently from their male counterparts. Not better, not worse, just different. Taking into consideration that the female body can push out a human-being during the process of giving birth, that’s not an immense surprise to me.

All of my heavily tattooed male friends had their jaws on the floor when I sat through my first four tattoos and described the pain as “No worse than a cat scratch.” You see, I chose a spot that most of them found to be extremely painful. They all told me to put my ink somewhere else, that the pain would be too much for me to endure, especially considering I suffer from Fibromyalgia, but I’d consulted with several artists who, like me, believed that my first tattoo should be someplace easily covered up with clothing. However, never to do things the simple way, I got my first four all at the same time. I wouldn’t even rate that a one on my personal pain scale. I’ve had more painful piercings.

As many of you also suffer from migraines, has anyone gotten a Daith piercing to try to combat them? Compared to all the medication, a myriad of supplements that may or may not be useful to the individual, various treatment methods, Botox, acupuncture, etc., the piercing itself, depending on where one goes, is between $50-$100. I am being told that it works for 50% of the people who get it, but I am also being told the relief is temporary, though some people are reporting themselves migraine-free 3-7 years post-piercing. I have decided to try acupuncture for a year to see if that spot along either of my ears responds to treatment. My insurance covers it, which is rare, so I am going to take the opportunity to use it first. I’m not sure I need another hole in my head, but I’d be interested in hearing whether or not the piercing has helped anyone. If you’re considering getting this particular piercing, please go somewhere highly reputable and have someone experienced do the piercing itself. The report of infection with this spot is very high, and I’d hate for anyone to go through that. I’ve only had three piercings in my life that gave me problems. Luckily they never got infected, but two of them bled for years if someone hugged me too hard, and the third still gives me problems on occasion (The fact that I share the piercing with a highly toxic person is probably why… I’m a big believer in energy. Sometimes we are healthier overall without certain people in our lives.). While most piercings are mainly decorative, there is no medical or scientific evidence that a Daith piercing is a cure for migraines, so don’t read into all of the Pinterest and Instagram “science”. Those are exclusively individual experiences, most of which are brand new. There’s no way of knowing what the long-term effects may be. For many, it is worth it for temporary relief. I’d rather explore a few additional options first.

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Are there any alternative treatment methods that work best for your migraines? If so, what are they?

The day insomnia can be cured in any way, shape, or form, I will be on a line for that! Right next to the line for the great Fibro/Chronic Pain cure. Here’s hoping we see it in this lifetime.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Sleep, Pain, & Stress

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Sleep doesn’t come easily for me these days. In fact, I often wonder how long I can function without sleep. Seemingly I can only sleep when I’m sick, upset, or exhausted beyond words. No one likes wasting time staring at the ceiling. Tossing and turning for hours is overrated and I’m not going to do it.

Over the weekend, in the midst of two straight days of research, I kept waking up to write additional notes. I already had about 40 pages of thorough, detailed notes. Apparently I am an overachieving planner. If I had a question, I immediately consulted my phone for the info so I could jot it down. If I had a new thought or idea, I got out of bed and consulted the appropriate chapter in the notebook I am using. It was in those brief moments where I realized that it wasn’t just lack of sleep, but OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) rearing its ugly head.

I’m not one to joke about things of that nature, but I am quick enough to see the signs within myself. It’s not textbook, it’s obsessively writing notes and planning, and there are other things I’ve been doing lately that are simply not me, but are happening just the same. If you’ve experienced repetitive forms of trauma in your life, especially when they haven’t been treated properly, or at all, other things can start surfacing.

OCD in varying degrees runs in my family. I used to think my Grandmother was nuts, always checking the stove to make sure the gas was off, even if she hadn’t used it, and making sure that every window was locked before leaving the house, even if she hadn’t opened them. It drove me insane, but now I see I have things I do before I leave the house that are similar. I don’t check my stove or windows religiously, but do I lock the door a certain way? Yes. Are there other things I do each day that come across as OCD in nature? Yes. I’ve never seen them as anything other than faith, cleaning, or “it’s better to be safe than sorry”, but now I am starting to see it for what it truly is There is no doubt in mind.

I have a ‘before bed’ routine that I’ve always considered ‘good skin care’ and/or ‘good hygiene’ as opposed to ‘ritual’. Most people simply go to bed. I spend at least 30-120 minutes “getting ready for bed”.

Last night I decided no computer, no e-mail, no reading, no checking my phone. Absolutely NO wasting time. I did one part of the ‘before bed’ routine, recycled a bottle of mouthwash, and got into bed. No muss, no fuss. I fell asleep once it was quiet and my brain was able to shut the hell up. Unfortunately, I went to bed a little too early, because here I sit, and it’s not even 5:15 a.m EDT. No sane person wants to get up at 4:00 in the morning unless they have to be somewhere. I thought it was later than it was, but it’s not. In my attempt to get a healthy amount of “normal” sleep, I ended up confusing my body, myself, and cat and kitten, who both think it’s breakfast time because that’s what I do when I wake up in the morning; I prioritize their immediate needs. The birds are chirping, so other living beings are awake, but all I can do is sit here in a panicked state.

I woke up from a nightmare and it’s stressing me out. After checking the time, refilling water bowls, checking the thermostat (It’s unbelievably hot in here, but the thermostat says 64 degrees. Yeah, I’m not buying it either!) and making sure that dry food in readily available to my little ladies, I returned to my room and turned my computer on for the first time in well over 15 hours.

In my attempt to decompress and de-stress, I am trying to be on the computer during daylight hours only. By 7:00 PM, the only way I’m going to check e-mail is via my tablet. Nothing is SO important that it cannot wait. The app for my phone that allows me to check e-mail is also turned off, so even if I wanted to check or sneak a peek at incoming messages, I’m intentionally not allowing myself to read them. I started implementing this a few days ago to see if I could disengage. I know it will eventually allow me to sleep better at night.

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Pain, the constant ‘companion’ that is Fibromyalgia has been both restless and lurking beneath the surface, flaring up at inconvenient moments that cause me to get into bed for no apparent reason in the middle of the day, thus insuring I will not be able to sleep at night. I’d gone a few days without taking OTC pain medication of any kind, but I am still in pain. My body still hurts. My muscles scream for pain relief. And my allergies are so bad, it’s hard to function without wanting to rip my skin off. My face has only recently stopped burning. My eyes, however, are driving me insane and I am pretty sure my nails have scratched a path from the middle of one hand to below my wrist. My eye drops are not working and the Benadryl cream I’ve used is a temporary fix, at best. 😦

I wish I had something incredibly thought-provoking or witty to interject with, but I don’t. I have no pearls of wisdom to share, not even a splash of humor. I’m stunned into silence, unhappy in ways I cannot communicate. One of the worst parts of unhappiness is knowing that there are people who relish in your misery. They drink it as if it’s their morning coffee, because it makes them feel better about their own lives. It’s so negative and evil that the thought makes me sick. But I can handle assholes. In fact, I can handle everything I don’t believe I can handle. I just wish I remembered why I have to keep handling it at all. 😦

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Emerging From The Cave

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I woke up from a dream this morning that could have doubled as the weirdest movie EVER. Or a book. In fact, I’ll be writing it down later since my dreams revert back to a clearer picture within a certain amount of time. Rule #1- Never share your writing ideas.

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I’m exceptionally exhausted and in an extraordinary amount of pain. I was up late working for a client last night. I then referred her to a graphic designer, that way her product will look professional. If anyone is in need of a professional graphic designer for any number of things (banners, book covers, etc.), please let me know and I will put you in contact with her. She’s worked for Harper’s Bazaar and Disney and has been in business for 25 years. She knows her shit and can work with ANY budget. Plus, if I am going to pass business on to anyone, it’s going to be someone who I know needs the work.

All I really want is a nap. Unfortunately, I know full well that a “nap” will lead to me screwing up my sleep patterns. The storms that passed through my area last night knocked power out for a lot of people. As hideous as the sky looked, making me believe it would be an intense summer storm, there was merely some “scary to watch” lightning, a sprinkle of rain, and later on, a truly stunning sunset. If there was anything else, I missed it in between making dinner, decompressing for two hours, and then going back to work before bed (NOT a wise decision! The last thought I had was “Did she spell chili wrong on the product label!”). I’m running on fumes today, looking forward to the moment when it’s acceptable for me to simply fall into my bed.

My pain levels are off-the-charts insane. I am certain there’s a rod in my spine, that my right hip is disintegrating, and that my attitude matches how I feel. Being in pain 24/7, with no reprieve, is a challenge unto itself. If anyone would like to take it off my hands for a few weeks, I’d be happy to help you understand how real Fibromyalgia is. I am so sick of people saying that sufferers are “lazy” or “Doctors say it’s a fake disease.” I’ve got two words for that. Yes, those are the words.

I should be placed inside an insulated cave with running water, electricity, and WiFi. We’ll slap a label on me that says “Not fit for human consumption”, and I don’t mean that in a Hannibal-esque way at all.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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