The Traumatic Journey: Part I

I’ve been quiet for what seems like forever, and anyone who knows me knows I use my platform to communicate and inform; even if my subject matter isn’t popular.

It’s likely obvious to my regular readers that I am going through some heavy shit. I am. Unfortunately, I am also numb to a lot of the things other people are talking about right now. Not because I lack empathy or compassion; neither is true. I am trying to work through a 747 full of trauma, and through that journey came more trauma, and more, until I reached a breaking point.

Let me be clear: I’m okay. I am on the other side. Mostly, I am angry, in a lot of pain, and trying to be strong. A lot has been going on for me, and it will come out in the pieces I am writing, just not all at once.

I am coming off of a fresh set of nerve blocks and once again, I am sorry I did it. Once I feel better, I get to begin to fight for occipital nerve blocks. My doctor has already heavily documented occipital neuralgia in my chart, but my insurance has refused to pay for these injection sites, claiming they are experimental. They aren’t. She actually told me not to fight for it. Any doctor who would say that to me clearly doesn’t know me very well. I know it’s a covered procedure. The nerve blocks they immediately agreed to pay for are actually far more expensive than the one’s they don’t want to pay for. It makes NO sense, and I’m nothing if not a fighter.

This was my third time getting supraorbital nerve blocks. These hurt like I cannot explain. There are multiple injections, and they go under and into the brow bone on both sides. Because of the dose, it’s not quick. You’ve got a needle jammed into your bone for a good 45 seconds or so. The majority of my facial structure is bone, as so observed by my doctor. For me, I then have to apply pressure because these locations bleed heavily. There are a few which go into the supratrochlear nerve, a series goes into muscles in my shoulders, and she chose to add extra starting at the top of my spine, under my hair, going 3/4’s down the spinal column where I already have arthritis and Lord only knows what else, because my doctors won’t order additional tests if an x-ray will do. If she didn’t give me the medication, she’d have to throw it out. They are paying for an entire vial of medicine, but telling her not to give me a particular set of injections. One day she mentioned, in her frustration, how she is forced to account for every drop of medication she tosses, and how it’s incredibly wasteful for them to only pay for small amounts of these medications, and then ask her to throw it out. My nerve blocks are steroid free and are supposed to last 6-12 weeks. I was asked to give it a year before I say yes and continue, or decide to stop them. I don’t know where I stand on this moving forward. It’s a lot of work suffering from chronic migraines and worse with a spine that’s badly damaged. I’m definitely not having any fun on that level. 🙄

As she was injecting my shoulders and spine, my doctor told me she could feel how tight the muscles are. Mind you, I am also on long-term muscle relaxers for a full body experience. I’m careful with them because too many, “relaxing” medications can cancel each other out. If I don’t take them, I can’t always move, and if I do take them, I don’t always feel them working. 😔 I worry they will be taken away because so many doctors are making pain patients choose between treating our pain and treating our mental health. It is wrong, and I am vehemently against any doctor who tries to pull this on anyone. Mental health IS healthcare, and if doctors ask you to choose, find another doctor. The fear-mongering in medicine has got to stop. I’m sick of it, and I know I am not alone.

Much of the time, I factor in how long I’ve suffered from migraines. It will be twenty-five years in December. That’s a long time to suffer from anything, but imagine daily migraines. I was given my diagnosis at my very first appointment, a diagnosis most people wait 1-5 years to get. I tried all the usual suspects medication-wise, and they failed me. Each time a new symptom surfaces, I hesitate to bring it up with my doctor. I asked about a medication I had never heard of and she shifted her tone and behavior immediately, because the medication in question is a narcotic abortive nasal spray. I’m glad she decided she, “Won’t be prescribing THAT,”, but I wanted to say, “What if it REALLY helps me? What if that drug is the only medication to stop my suffering?” She was so dismissive, she wouldn’t even look at me. I immediately felt less trusting, overall.

Most doctors require a reminder of the Hippocratic Oath when they make such bold refusals. “Do no harm.” They absolutely, be it intentionally or unintentionally, ARE harming their patients. I have seen things in my medical record that make me want to scream. So, many doctors are harming their patients, en masse. As is the government, which needs to get the fuck out of my health care, as well as the insurance companies. Our pain is a political business to them, nothing more. All they care about is money, and if you don’t believe me, look into how much the government paid for your Covid vaccinations. They don’t come cheap. Doctors at hospitals are on salary and insurance, along with the government, dictates what they can and cannot prescribe. That is NOT okay. Pretty soon, they will be regulating alcohol and killing off millions of dependent alcoholics. Just like with pain patients, the only people who care will be those who get left behind. And the brands who depend on the business. It could all come crashing down.

I am frustrated as hell living with multiple diagnoses of pain disorders and only having a tiny percentage being looked after. Something I take, as needed, might be causing serotonin syndrome. I have to stop taking it, and this is something that costs a fortune out-of-pocket, until I speak with my doctor, who will almost certainly run lab work to make sure I’m not in the rare danger-zone. My symptoms indicate I might be, and that’s scary as hell.

The more I deal with medical professionals, the more I am marginalized and traumatized. It’s a system that is irreparably broken. It is rife with systemic racism and people who never should have gone to medical school in the first place because they have mind-blowingly limited knowledge in their chosen field. If you can’t do a little bit of everything and truly care about your work and how you are perceived by your patients, then please go the world an epic favor by going into a different line of work. We don’t need anymore crappy doctors. You’re embarrassing the few good doctors we’ve got!

With all of this going on, I am also working on two manuscripts. I wanted to make them a Spring/Summer project to see which one would be near completion by the end of October. They both have enormous potential, but I’ve written double the word count on one, whereas the other is about seventy thousand words. If either starts to get on my nerves, I’ll work on the dark urban fantasy material, instead. Because I’ve been in such crippling pain, I have written and read a lot less this year, but I am trying to get my shit together on that. Even if it’s just to challenge myself to get two thousand words written a day, that’s reasonable. Others would say to start at a page, but I am experienced enough to know I can accomplish the higher word/page count. There will be days when I double, triple, or quadruple on this, and days when a page will be enough. Know yourself, know your limits. It’s not dissimilar to the days when I’ve walked eight miles and it takes me a week to recover. There was a time when I wouldn’t stop until after dark, but those days are long-gone. Coming to terms with that, with the loss of complete health… It’s not easy. For people to insinuate that anyone enjoys suffering is just plain sad. For them. For the warped mind who dares to go against every doctor you’ve had to struggle through, for every diagnosis you’ve fought for. There’s a special place in hell for people of that nature.

And on that cheerful note, I’m on my way for now. I’ll be back as soon as possible.

Have a good week, everyone.

copyright © 2022 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Poison In Lethal Doses®™ is a registered trademark.

Wordless

Of late, the few pieces I began working on for all of you have seemingly gone off the rails. I find myself triggered, upset, angry, introspective, and a myriad of other emotions. These are not emotions conducive to writing the truth. It requires me to take a step back, work on healing, and then move forward slowly, and with grace. I hope you can remain patient with me, and when I do share what I’ve written, that you will be able to really hear me in the words.

Last week ended badly, the weekend was so traumatizing, and I ended up heavily triggered Monday into Tuesday, without realizing it until I was ass deep in alligators. This resulted in me returning home from a medical procedure yesterday afternoon, and actually having a bad reaction for maybe the third time ever. I found myself huddled under a blanket, writing, shivering, and physically shaking. I had eaten, but hadn’t hit the right amount of calories because I was so nauseous. It carried over into this morning with more shaking. Hell, I am shaking as I type this, and I’ve eaten a balanced, nutritious meal over an hour ago. It’s as if all my muscles are trying to detach themselves from my bones. That’s the only way I can describe it.

I made a decision a few years ago, when it all started, not to share what I am going through medically. Mostly because I don’t want to hear people’s judgmental comments, or ever feel like I have to justify my personal health choices/decisions to anyone. Let me be clear: I will not validate anything to anyone. They were not in the room with me when I received the information and they were not there to balance the positives versus potential negatives.

I have already heard how people perceive this without ever realizing that millions of people benefit medically from some questionable options presented to them. It is life or death. It is quality of life over torturous agony. They are making such rude assessments, all while not knowing I am doing something smart in order to help myself. The very thing they are sitting in judgment over. Judge away; I know my truth, and I know the person I am.

The percentage of personal information shared here is so minute, yet often seems like a lot. It’s made me question how much should be shared publicly. In fairness, I know what I am doing and saying, and I only try to share what absolutely matters. There are boundaries, though. Sometimes more than I ever imagined I’d need.

I am going to take a bit of time to step back and breathe. I need mental healing time. I need to get some restorative sleep. I need to talk to my tribe and truly heal the physical and mental aspect of all this, because before long, I have to turn around and do this all over again. I have very little support, but thankfully a friend is moving a few hours away soon, and this will bring forth some happier times ahead. It’s time to explore and find a balance because stress is breaking me down from head to toe. I feel it in my body and it’s not good. The amount of joint pain I experience every day of my life is beyond excruciating, and there is no end in sight.

And so it goes… A small dose of Kratom. A lot of ice water. Arnica for the obscene bruising. Bed. Maybe I’ll feel human tomorrow. That’s an enormous maybe.

copyright © 2022 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Genetic overlap between metabolites and migraines

I share this as someone who was supposed go in for treatment this week. Fifteen minutes before I was to leave, I got a phone call letting me know my insurance had denied the coverage (after initially approving it). After three stressful hours on the phone, treatment was approved, but not for the correct day. I’ve had a migraine for over the course of several weeks, and I still have to wait until next week to see my doctor. That’s why I’ve been writing less here. I haven’t been well, or myself. It’s not just my migraines, but you get the gist.

The Thirteenth Year

May. The month of darkness. The month of flashbacks, nightmares, anger at being robbed of loved ones… It’s hell. I suffer silently; no one is particularly interested in what I have to say. I remind myself it isn’t personal, some people simply aren’t full-fledged human beings. C’est la vie.

Thirteen years ago tonight, my mother’s heart gave out. I got the phone call, “We’re trying to revive her, but…” The BUT was my mother’s DNR; a point of contention between us for years. I had power of attorney and I remember saying, “Screw the DNR. If she can be revived, you save her life.” An hour later and I knew. I remember looking at the clock, in pure silence, and knowing the exact moment when she left. When I received her death certificate, the time was not a shock, but it jolted me. My life was permanently altered. I feel like I’ve lived a nightmare almost every day since.

One of the most important messages my mother instilled in me was to ALWAYS be honest and speak up for my beliefs. I am not a passive, gullible, peace-keeper; I was built for war and educated argument. My mother knew, before I was born, that I was strong and a force to be reckoned with. That’s the kind of daughter she wanted; one who would always speak her mind, one who would not pretend, and one who wouldn’t take shit from anyone, because she’d know her worth and would not be afraid of walking into rooms and being a strong, powerful, determined individual. I suspect she got what she ordered. 😉

My parents taught my brother and I to focus on facts, and to know when we were being lied to. Not everyone is blessed with intuitive education. I was not taught to hate. I am an intuitive person with a mind which pays attention to details others might miss. Micro-aggressions, body language, any shift in behavior or verbal tone is something I will notice. I am grateful for these things, because I know other parents weren’t teaching such things, and because much of this knowledge has saved my life in many situations.

My mother was the best. I was blessed with someone truly devoted to her children, imperfections aside, because NO ONE is perfect. We’re all human.

I miss you. There are no words for the amount of pain I am still trying to work through. Time does not heal a damn thing. Not in this situation.

Not Quite

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I’m still not doing too great post-treatment. I’m either sleeping too little or too much, and the amount of pain I am in may last another 7-10 days. The plus side of this is that I was approved to start taking Nurtec. I’ll figure this out as I go, but thus far, I haven’t heard a single negative thing about it. Considering all the migraine sufferers in the world and the suddenness of the CGRP drugs being pushed through slightly over two years ago, only hearing positive things is a lot like finding a unicorn. I will know more when the hospital pharmacy delivers it to me in a few days.

Beyond this, I am trying to ease up on myself. As someone who is harder on herself than anyone else could possibly be, I’m trying to take it easy. I am trying to tell myself it’s okay if I can’t do something immediately. I have to tell myself that if I needed to sleep, then that’s what I should be doing. I’m about 20% less stressed since I started this mantra of putting less pressure on myself to get things done, but that doesn’t mean anxiety and stress don’t rear their ugly heads, because THEY DO.

Today was an epic fail. Initially, I couldn’t fall sleep, so I took medication my doctor prescribed, at a higher dose that we’ve talked about over the past month or so. It doesn’t always hit me hard (or at all), but this time, it put me down for the count. I was awake just long enough to drink a lot of water and ended up back in bed for seven hours. This was after getting roughly eight hours of sleep, so clearly, this dose is too high for me right now. I will cut the dose down and see where that takes me, but I’ve already discussed the fact that I detest relying on it every single night. In most cases, it’s a temporary prescription, but I’ve been on and off of it for the better part of eight months. I haven’t taken it consistently because I don’t want to be dependent on any medication. It is frustrating because there doesn’t seem to be an exact science to the dosing (for me). The goal was for me to be sleeping at night and have better days, but I can’t have better days if the medicine is still in my system and putting me back to sleep. In hindsight, I do think I needed that extra rest. The downside? I am worried about when I will, inevitably, fall asleep and wake up. I don’t have to be anywhere, but I do have a considerable amount of work to get done. I know it WILL get done, but for this week, at least, I have to ease up on stressing myself out and making my anxiety worse. It’s so much easier said, than done.

There’s no crystal ball to tell me how the next few weeks will pan out, but I am hoping, and praying, for better days. I’m not quite there, yet.