Archive for December, 2012

OstrichSyndrome I keep hoping (even thinking) that I am feeling better as the days and weeks pass. However, I tend to sink back into a very dull and dismal thought process that I am extremely uncomfortable with and I fall into what I have categorized as “Ostrich Syndrome.” I find it akin to, but rather separate from, “Fibro Fog” that is generally associated with Fibromyalgia.

Now, by no means did I coin this phrase, but I did Google it to ensure that I’m not just insane. The 31,600 results that followed assured me that this ideology exists, although mainly used to characterize business management and how this “Syndrome” pertains to the inner workings (or lack thereof) of a business plan or organization, or political denial. Or so I have gleaned from perusing some of the said Google results. (On a sidenote: it’s also the name of a band with a track called Prince of Babylon produced by One Million Heist, “a non-profit independent netlabel, with various genres and artists with one goal, to be heard.” Some very interesting tracks are found on Sound Cloud).

Urban Dictionary has the first result and closest description of Ostrich Syndrome as it pertains to myself and how I feel when I just want to close the shudders (as though anyone has shudders anymore), not answer my phone, eat snacks instead of meals, and couch potato it all day – which may include an afternoon nap while I wait for night to come just so I can go back to sleep. Ineteresting enough – no anxiety that I can tell. I know I have responsibilities, I know I have bills to pay, I know that there are things to do that really shouldn’t be put off until tomorrow – I just can’t seem to make myself give a damn. Hell, I was supposed to hang out with a friend today who is off from work (whom I’ve been hounding to hang out with me). I was also supposed to go to a performance tonight that two of my other friends are in only once a month. I just couldn’t pull my head out of my ass to do these things – because I’m busy hiding – hoping that hiding will make my problems go away. Newsflash: it won’t.

I would like to give a shout out to a fellow Word Press blogger, Jackson Quigg Associates, who gave me even more insight into Ostrich Syndrome and a term I was previously unfamiliar with: Permissibility. The blog states that it “occurs when someone allows something to continue to happen, even when they’re in a position to stop it or have a significant impact upon it.” I am allowing this to happen. I am my own enabler.

“First step is realizing you have a problem” so they say. Great. I am aware that I am this way. Now what do I do about it, especially when I allow it to happen and don’t give a rat’s ass? I’m stumped. How does a broken one fix themself? That’s worse than “the blind leading the blind.” And is this something that I can fix? Is it a part of my diagnosed Depression, Anxiety and/or Fibromyalgia? Or did I get blessed with other shortcomings as well? Only time can tell.

Have you felt this way before? How long did it last? Any suggestions?

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As anyone with Anxiety, Depression, or frankly, active brain waves knows, it’s good to have someone you can trust that you can talk to about anything. Among those I consider in my life – my psychiatrist, a man I trust beyond words who, other than diagnostically speaking, doesn’t judge me. I can be completely honest without fear of being alienated due to my unfiltered verbal regurgitation.

I value his sessions so much that even though I’ve moved to Los Angeles, I still go down to the San Diego VA (Veterans’ Affairs) just to see him. I had an appointment just the other day. I had almost not gone due to how piss-poor I’ve been feeling these last few weeks and seriously considered a phone call to him instead. Thankfully as the appointment drew near I’d been feeling better and made the trek. I spent two hours and forty minutes driving and I just made it on time. We had one of the most productive sessions to date and I even told my doctor about starting a blog. He is very supportive of my efforts.

My last trip to San Diego I mentioned to people too late and no one could hang out; this trip I thought ahead and had plans to see one of my friends and his family and then dinner with a few old teammate’s of mine (I used to play Women’s Pro Football – but that’s a different story). I wound up not having much time before getting to dinner and my friend had to get his exercise in before the evening was out so we went for a walk with one of his sons and caught up on the last few months. Low and behold, forty-five minutes and 1.8 miles later it was time to go. My ankles had been hurting since about half way, my legs were relatively on fire with the onset of circulation in them for once and I hadn’t eaten anything all day. Not the best way to take care of a chronic pain/headache/mental condition such as I have, but I like to live dangerously.

Off to the sports bar to see two of my dear friends and finally get something in my tummy; I ordered a huge greasy bacon burger (no tomatoes, no onions, medium rare as usual) with a side of tater-tots. Tater-tots always remind me of high school lunch, cracked plastic green trays, sporks and pints of chocolate milk (sometimes 2%, depends). Maybe it’s just me.

It was a great time and it’s moments like these that remind me that even in my darkest times, solitary confinement is not the best idea. It’s always hard when you’re in the thick of it to remember the good things and hold onto them.

By the time we wrapped up it was about 9pm and I was dreading the two hour plus ride home to Los Angeles. I decided since I was in the area and it was only about ten minutes out of the way, I’d hit up my old stomping grounds at The La Jolla Comedy Store. I got to see most of my friends there and had some great laughs. While I was there I realized I was starting to have a Fibromyalgia flare-up. This is when, instead of this or that hurting and the pain going from here to there throughout the day, it’s in multiple areas at once and it just won’t go away. The longer the pain goes on the more distracted and irritable I become. My arms were aching something terrible and the pain started to make my whole torso feel like I’d been hit by a train. I tried to stave off the pain with light-hearted conversation with my friends and continued to fidget over the next hour or so. As they were closing I decided to hit the road.

Since it was only about 10:30 I figured that by the time I made it up to L.A. that The World Famous Comedy Store on Sunset would still be open. It would be fun to hit up my new favorite spot as well as the old in the same night despite how I was feeling; it was relatively on the way back home, so why not? The drive back was shorter, just over two hours and I pulled up to the Store at around 12:30am. My hips were killing me from all the time in the car but I was happy to be there and enjoying more laughs. A few hours there and I was home by 3am.

Boy, did I pay for the prior day’s shenanigans. I couldn’t get out of bed until at least 1:30 in the afternoon and even then, I was a zombie. If it wasn’t for my too-smart-for-her-own-good dog, who has the wherewithal to let me know when she has to go out, I may not have gotten out of bed that day at all. I’m quite sure I only had some instant oatmeal and stared at the TV for an hour before deciding to go back to bed. I slept on and off for several more hours and finally had some strength by 6:30-7:00pm that night.

This is part of my many ongoing problems. I throw my circadian cycle off by having fun into the wee hours, or by being in pain or having racing thoughts and being unable to sleep so I toss and turn for hours. I’d rather do it by having fun, but the results are generally the same. Bedtime gets later and later. Wake time gets later and later. Afternoon naps come into play and nutrition, amongst other things, goes to the wayside.

Although easier said than done, I need to take better care of myself, that’s really all there is to it. I need to force myself into a routine and even if I maintain late nights I have to get up by a certain time and work – work hard – at taking care of myself. It’s not that I can’t try to live a full and fun-filled life, it’s that I have to work on making it healthier and more manageable. I need consistency in my life. Moreover, it’s a matter of having indifference for myself and daily – struggling against it.

cure-fibromyalgia-tender-pointsI was twenty-one when my Fibromyalgia started. Of course, neither I nor the doctors knew that’s what it was for quite some time. I was in the Navy at the time, stationed in Texas for a “C” School of my rate. It was spring going into Summer and temperatures were already on the rise to the point of several black flags during the two months I was there, which restricted our physical training outdoors.

Mid-April, I decided to go on a health kick; I quit smoking, started eating better (how could I not – it was an Air Force Base), and I stepped up my exercising; I even bought Susan Powder’s Stop the Insanity exercise tapes (not my first, nor last attempt to get fit). Being in the military, we’re expected to do PT (Physical Training) at least three times a week to keep ourselves fit for the annual PRT (Physical Readiness Test), therefore exercise can only make me better, right? Or so I thought.

I started running several miles a day, for three days, and at the end of that third day my right knee was hurting pretty significantly. Despite rest and the Vitamin M (Motrin 800mg – the military’s usual prescript despite whatever ails you), the pain would not go away. It started to radiate above and below my right knee and felt as though my muscles and tendons had been damaged. Physical therapy was also of no use and in no time I was onto my next school in Florida for another two-three months and still on Limited Duty, which restricted my physical activity and exempted me from PRTs.

While I was in Florida the pain was spreading through most of my other muscles and joints and started to become the “widespread pain” that would characterize Fibromyalgia. I needed narcotic painkillers to feel any relief (which, of course without physical evidence of injury, they were hesitant to give me) and the unknown diagnosis spooked the docs and my detailer, the person who assigns you to your duty stations. Subsequently, I lost my orders to Misawa, Japan and instead had to choose between Ft. Meade, Maryland and Hawai’i. At this point, I had been in so much pain for so long that I just wanted to be close to my family in upstate New York. I chose Ft. Meade, Maryland. As anyone in the military knows, it seems they have no desire to accommodate needs or wants of military members and it is the “needs of the Navy” that dictate everything. That being said, I was cut orders to Hawai’i; had I chosen that in the first place – it would have been Ft. Meade for sure, I have no doubt.

Time and again we’d say to each other that something the Navy had decided didn’t “make sense.” The all-too-acceptable reply usually being “that’s the Navy for ya’,” as though common sense and military protocol are mutually exclusive. But I digress…

By October I was in Hawai’i and the pain had spread throughout my entire body. In November, there was finally a breakthrough when a civilian doctor working in the clinic ruled out all the usual suspects for my symptoms with a battery of tests: Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lyme Disease, you name it. I had nearly all the tender points indicated in The American College of Rheumatology 1990 Criteria for Classification of Fibromyalgia1 and he finally diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia.

When I called my mother to tell her, she informed me that she had been diagnosed with it just two weeks earlier. That was fourteen years ago in 1998.

 

1http://www.fibroassist.net/Diagnosis/ACR%201990%20FM%20Criteria.pdf

splatter-grunge-wordpress-logoI am a disabled veteran. I’ve gotten used to saying that by now, despite the stigmata I feel in my heart each time it passes my lips or even my thoughts.

Recently, I had a pretty difficult time with my health, all of my service-connected disabilities came to a head at once and I was overloaded with Fibromyalgia pain, daily Tension (possibly Migraine) headaches and crippling Anxiety and Depression. I had to stop going to work and got a doctor’s note to be out for a few weeks. For the first time I’m putting in for State Disability due to my conditions and for the second time I feel my conditions have hindered my work performance and my day-to-day, this time to the point of not being able to cope – with anything.

In between the days that I couldn’t leave the house, besides to walk my companion dog, I ventured out a few times. In the thick of it, I was so anxiety ridden that driving on the freeway was overwhelming for me and I wondered what I would do if that feeling got worse or didn’t go away.

One of the best destinations I chose when I was in a sullen mood was the World Famous Comedy Store. I have several comedian friends and my whole life I have considered comedy the greatest escape from my sorrows; I love stand-up more than any other form of comedy and really get to let my hair down when I go to shows. It was a conversation I had at the Comedy Store with a friend that spurred my interest with blogging. Being a writer and an English Major, you’d have thought I’d have jumped on the blog-train years ago, but something always stopped me.

My friend and I got into a pretty in-depth conversation about my Fibromyalgia, Anxiety and Depression and he emphasized the need for me to get support; he suggested blogging. The seed was planted; in the last few weeks the idea has turned into more of a mission than just an outlet to express myself.

I’d like to not only express myself, but offer up my experiences to others. I, like many other people with disabilities, somehow always still feel alone, even though common sense dictates that we are not alone. I would like to give my support and in exchange gain the support of others that I know are out there, but that I do not know… yet.