To my Mom…You are a hero

I didn’t get a chance to write this yesterday. I wanted to but my head wasn’t in the right place. I pondered for weeks what I could get my mom for mother’s day. She isn’t your typical mom, much less a typical woman. Her needs and wants are hardly expressed and mostly, she is content. Except she misses her grandbabies. ūüėė

My mom is human this she is flawed and imperfect. Her biggest flaw to me though is not seeing just how incredible she is, how strong she is, how intelligent she is, and the most loving soul I have had the privilege to know.

My mom fought so hard against mental illness and stigma. And there were days she failed, but she found a way to keep going. I’ve been there Mom, I know how hard that is. I know how much it hurts and the guilt and the fear that envelopes us.

Your fight, your strength, your bravery (yes you are incredibly brave) helped me through my darkest and deepest hells. I don’t need to compare our life experiences, there can’t be but we have both been in hell and clawed and fought our way back. We still traverse the pits at times but we go through it together.

I see soany other daughters have horrible relationships with their moms. I want to cry for them. Regardless of what happened in our past we hold on to each other and we are more than just.mother and daughter. We always will be. Mom, I couldn’t think of anything to get for you but I can give words to just how proud I am to be your daughter. How you have helped me through the worst times, watched over our little angels with more love than I could have hoped for, and held me when I needed you most. I love you and I miss you every day. You can never know what kind of hero you are because you can’t see what the rest of us see. Thank you for everything, thank you for your unduing love and support. Thank you for being my Mom.

TMS day 6 – 11

TMS day 6 – 11

It’s been awhile. Sorry, been a bit busy what with 13-16 appointments per week and exhaustion, burnout, and well life. Had a couple medical issues from family members and they are tearing apart my apartment wI love those moments when I feel like loving life again.hich is driving absolutely crazy. Yes I used the word crazy and no I don’t feel guilty, I have a right to that word because I have been crazy and insane and it applies. It’s mine, back off!

Anyways, the TMS has been working for a few hours after each treatment. I have had a few setbacks due to missing days or because my medicines or hormones got screwed up. I found I cannot take Vistaril for anxiety. It creates this simmering pool of rage just below the skin that overwhelms me and terrifies me. Yeah, little known side effect. I’m also off today to get my new GP to increase my estradiol because if I don’t get my levels up then I’m not setting up the TMS and ME for the best chance of success.

I have gotten so used to that stifling mess that having it lift and come back is akin to being in solitary and given a glimpse of another person who smiles at you, then taken away before you have a chance to smile back.

I’m up to full strength on both sides. I definitely can tell it helps with my anxiety and I feel lighter after each treatment. Currently that feeling does go away in the evenings and I feel like this stifling fog has layered itself back over me. To be honest, I hate that. I have gotten so used to that stifling mess that having it lift and come back is akin to being in solitary and given a glimpse of another person who smiles at you, then taken away before you have a chance to smile back.

I want desperately to feel well, rested, and like I can live again. I was both elated and crushed when I got my response from my disability review… “Your disability is continuing.”

I cried both out of relief that I wasn’t going to be shoved off the deep end and possibly back into psychosis but at the same time so sad that this is me now. I am that person, with a truly invisible disability, constantly judged by society who has no inkling of what my life has been or continues to be. I miss work, I still dream of walking into one of those beautiful high rise buildings in downtown Bellevue and sitting behind a desk going over year end financial statements. I want to be that powerful individual who provides for their family and can whisk away to great vacations and buy the car of my dreams. I want to earn an income to allow my husband a chance at retirement.

Stress though can lead me straight back though. It affects my hormones, thus I can’t allow more stress until there are better answers to my hormones issues and resulting mood disorder.

I love those moments when I feel like loving life again

So far, no side effects from TMS. YAY! I am truly thankful for that as I seem to be so sensitive to so much now.

I’m learning more about natural ways to help me. Meditation and I’m looking at essential oils, even if it just helps me feel a little calmer I’ll take it. My vitamins/minerals are crucial and cannot say enough about a good magnesium and vitamin D3 with K2.

I’m doing all that I can to set myself up for success. I’m hoping my insurance will approve maintenance TMS treatments for me if I should need them. The hope is eventually my brain will be trained to keep the activity level changes TMS is making to my neurons. Keeping fingers crossed and I promise to keep updating when I can!

I love feeling light. I love that the racing thoughts disappear for awhile. I love that I am able to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine and not care what others think of me. I love those moments when I feel like loving life again.

TMS Day 5 – I’m so tired!

It was a long weekend! Day 5 TMS treatment was Monday, but I wanted to wait for 24 hours to give me time to analyze a whole day. So like I said in Day 4 my hormones got messed up and my worst days would be Friday and Saturday. Saturday proved to be a doozy for me, I was all over the place and it was bad. I also had a damn virus and felt physically miserable which just exacerbates everything else.

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Monday I was still recovering from the weekend. I panicked in the morning because apparently, I forgot to turn my alarm, but my body faithfully woke me up right at 7 AM. Got my kids ready, my TMS appointment was at 9 so I decided since I had to leave pretty early I could also take my kids to school. They were thrilled with me. They don’t really enjoy the bus, it’s too noisy and busy for them. I don’t blame them at all. I got them dropped out at school, got me a drink from a local 7-11 and headed into traffic to get downtown.

Going in I had to do my weekly mood/sleep/anxiety questionnaires. For the past several months I didn’t really have to think about it, because my answers had always been the same. It wasn’t getting better. Now though, instead I had to actually think about certain questions. It wasn’t that it was huge improvements, but that it was a noticeable difference under certain categories. Like my sleep wasn’t as disturbed, I had periods where my thoughts weren’t jumping to anxiety-inducing thought after thought. I was still sad a lot of the time, but not all the time. I didn’t feel hopeless all the time either. I had more than one bought of hope, of clarity, of when breathing wasn’t a chore. I had occasions where I could see a break in the cloud of depression and pain. I noticed even though I had a horrible weekend, I did not have any panic attacks. My mind didn’t keep poking at the constant annihilation anxiety that keeps sitting back there and laughs at every hopeful thought of mine.

I struggle with depressive realism, yeah it’s a real thing, and I come off as extremely jaded, cynical, and completely the opposite of the happy go, lucky person, I used to be. I mean that is what usually happens in life right? You grow¬†from your experience and become jaded? But jaded to the fact that you should try to find something in life to enjoy? That there is even a reason to experience happiness in life if you are just going to die and your whole self is tossed into oblivion? Yeah. Happy thoughts.

Anyways, back to the topic brain, stop running away.

Treatment was easy Monday. Its becoming routine now, I go in, get settled in, chat with the TMS tech about how I’m feeling and any adjustments I need to make. I plug into and watch my heroes on Supernatural, my Winchester Brothers, and Castiel, my guardian¬†angel in a trench coat and ignore the tapping on my head. Max strength and frequency on the right and I was at 115% on the left. Nearly to 120%.

I was in an out faster than I thought. I enjoy just going and sitting and not really having to think about doing anything for 40 minutes total and enjoying my show without guilt.

As I left, I made sure to pay even more attention to my mood and anxiety levels. I noticed it all day. I checked in with myself often. I am often hyperaware of my thoughts and emotions anyways, but usually I get bogged down in them. I didn’t today. I could check in and move on.

Until around 4:30-5:00 pm.  I burned out at that point and my mood noticably dropped. My sensory issues came up, my irritability came up, and so did my anxiety. It was the cloud lowering back down and enveloping my mind. I knew though I just had to get through to the next day, the next treatment. I knew that the TMS was making a difference, just for several hours, but maybe my brain could learn to what it needed to do. Maybe this old dog could be taught new tricks.

Much love my peeps.

Day 2 & 3 of TMS

I didn’t write up my experience yesterday, not because it was bad, just because I ended up running all over the place in the afternoon and made a mad dash to Costco in the evening for some badly needed groceries. Rather than having to go into Downtown Seattle for my treatments I can no go to a more local office, so traffic is much better and its closer. No parking garage either! My car will be much safer! Yay! ūüėÄ

Anyways, back on track now. I did take my Adderall today, I promise. Just not responding very well.

For Day 2 and 3 my treatments both took about 35 minutes total. That is 15 minutes on both sides, plus the setup and finishing. Very simple, I walk in to the office, the tech usually is ready for me and takes me back to the treatment room. Again same chair, which by the way has a very adjustable headrest, which is nice. I’m on the taller side for my gender and I have a long neck so having the ability to adjust it is helpful for comfort and being able to sit still for longer.

They are starting treatments on the right side, which is still like a tapping metronome to me. It still makes me drowsy. My therapist suggested I put a metronome app on my phone for moments with heighted anxiety if that is really soothing to me.  I get to now watch Netflix on an iPad with ear buds during treatment, which means I get to watch my favorite show Supernatural! This makes time go by very quickly and keeps me focused on things other than the tapping.

The area where the “tapping” is a bit sensitive to the touch now. I am currently at 105% of the threshold strength. Therapeutic levels are usually around 110-120%. On the left, they are going to keep building up slowly to 120% and on the right for me it will be 110%.

Both days I did experience mild pain behind my left eye due to the placement, meaning that the frequency is hitting a nerve. They did work to adjust it and most of the pain was greatly reduced. I did still have mild pain behind the eye, but it was very much bearable. This is due to just where my nerves are and where the placement of the coil needs to be to be most effective.  The tech was very accommodating and understanding. After the treatment I have not had any residual pain and though I have a mild headache, I usually do most days anyways so for me it is not an issue.

I found out yesterday my estrogen levels are low, which is definitely impacting my mood given my history and what I know about myself, so hopefully between getting into see a new doctor who specializes in hormones and TMS over the next few months I will start seeing improvement. I hope I get some semblance of energy back soon, we will be moving in June and that process is already driving my anxiety and fatigue.

I’ll have more to share this weekend after the first four days of treatment. So far its pretty simple and essentially painless.

Mismanaged

I can only truly remember a few things that followed in the next years. I am not sure in what order they actually come in. They are like six second GIFs. They are¬†not connected to any particular time. There are a couple I know approximately when they happened but nothing concrete. I has placed in inpatient hospitals at least 5 times in 5 years. Probably should have been a lot more. In those 5 years I had tried 50 different anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, and other psych drugs to try to level out my moods. I also wasn’t sleeping. We tried every sleep aid on the market, including Zyrem a form of GBH. I couldn’t have more kids without triggering post partum psychosis again so we tried a lot of birth controls but they did horrible things to me. For example, continuous bleeding for months and they told me¬†to¬†just ride¬†it through, it would eventually end, it didn’t. My mood was already so unstable I¬†don’t know¬†what to attribute to the birth control, the medications, or¬†just me.¬†My husband ended up getting a vasectomy.

From the moment of my Bipolar diagnosis they had me on mood stabilizers like lithium or Zyprexa and my weight started going up and up uncontrollably, devastating me even more. I was going to be that horrible, insane, fat person who should have never been a mother. I didn’t bond with my infant daughter the way I wanted to. Maybe she knew inside herself how messed up mommy was. I was an ugly person now. I was irritable. I had rages, and though I was so scared of hurting anyone else, I tried to turn it all inwards. I became impulsive and compulsive. I took all kinds of risks. I stopped caring about what was best for all of us and cared only about what was going to get ME through that moment. I devastated our finances at a time I was on¬†medical leave because I couldn’t take the stress from work without becoming suicidal. I told lies, lies, and more lies. I hurt my husband over and over again claiming he was abusive and didn’t care for anyone but himself. If he kept me from things that “made me happy” he was perpetuating the cycle.

By 2012 we had tried so many things and I was getting worse. Late 2012, my doctor suggested ECT treatment. I was willing to try anything to stop this. I underwent 22 extensive ECT treatments between December 2012¬†and February 2013. I remember very little. I don’t remember taking my oldest daughter to her first play of the Nutcracker for Christmas. I have pictures, but I don’t recognize them. I remember they always had a hard time getting the IV in before each treatment. I remember them struggling to get right strength of treatment and were worried because they kept pushing it up and up. I remember the sadness in my husbands eyes when I would collapse in the car afterwards for the long trip home. I remember the hopeless when we decided it wasn’t working for me. It had been my last hope.

In 2013, I managed to get a little strength at some point. Documenting when I was hypomanic and when the depression hit. I found a cycle. Every month. Near the time I would ovulate I was hypomanic, when ovulation hit I would crash and suddenly become despairing and suicidal for awhile. My period would come and something happened, I wouldn’t say I was normal but I was better than I was the previous weeks. Something told me that this was hormonal. It was tied to my menstrual cycle. Excitement!

My husband concurred with me and we went straight away to my psychiatrist. I presented the information to him, with my husband backing me up. I asked for a hysterectomy. The next words out of my psychiatrists mouth destroyed me. “They don’t do that.”
Then he talked about rapid cycling, which I probably had since I did cycle through hypomania and depression more than 4 times a year. I wanted to argue. And yes he did agree that hormones could have some impact on my moods but they were not the cause.
So on we trudged down the list of pills, trying old ones in new combinations, trying just released to the market, trying off label pills. Pills, pills,¬†and more pills. I had been trying therapists but never made a connection with them, I didn’t feel it was in my head.¬†It felt more like¬†that something else was taking over my mind and body.

I began to get really hopeless. The suicidal ideation came much more often, multiple times a day. I was hurting myself more. Trying to stop the thoughts and just feel physical pain. Cutting was hard for me but that didn’t stop me from bashing my head against walls or punching myself. I don’t remember what year it was but I remember one night in particular, I think my husband had just gone to sleep, I got up with the intention of cutting off my hand. Why? Because then people would believe that I was I truly handicapped, that I was truly sick. They could see it and they wouldn’t dismiss my pain.¬†My husband woke up before I did more than grab the knife but he had to fight me to get it away from me. I think I might have gone to the hospital that time.

Things kept getting worse and worse for us. In 2013 my husband was laid off. I panicked and tried to go back to work, but someone had told them I was dangerous, they filled my position, and I was out of a job and no longer on long term disability as a result. I looked for work, my husband looked for work. Bills had gone unpaid for a long time but we had always managed to pay our mortgage. I put on a happy face and pretended I was well enough for this. I actually got a job. I lasted three months, barely, but it came down to every day I was driving to work I wanted to drive the car across the highway median into oncoming traffic. I was scared I wouldn’t stop myself one day. I had to quit. Shortly after this happened we got a reprieve, a small one, but it helped. I was granted disability after a second go at it. However, it depressed me even more.

In 2013 and 2014 I started drinking, binge drinking, and taking more pills than I should at a time. I would steal some of my husbands pills too.¬† My husband would go to sleep and I would sneak out of bed and start drinking to drown my thoughts, however, it usually just made the thoughts worse. I think it was 2014, I don’t know if I was actively suicidal or just no longer cared. I took about 100 clonazepams, 2 mg with half a liter of rum. This is where my past is important. I had weight loss surgery. Which meant I do not digest things very well at all, in fact I am missing part of my digestive track. Malabsorption. This fact alone saved my life that night. My husband found me moments later and called 911. They got there, stabilized me, something about my blood pressure being low. That’s all I remember. They had me on lots of IVs to flush out my system, you cannot stomach pump someone with gastric bypass. Amazingly, my stomach prevented me from killing myself by overdose. I went into inpatient treatment after that.

Pills changed again and I went back to living each day just to keep breathing, to keep my children alive.

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These were some of my daily pills, some of which I took more than once a day. These were my psych meds and two supplements. I had other medications for other issues not pictured here. It was daunting.

In 2015, my husband found a job. Across country. It was only a contract for few months. It was in the field he wanted to work and might help him get experience so he could find permanent work. I pushed him to take it. We didn’t move with him. I couldn’t be left alone with the kids all day, I couldn’t be left alone with myself all day. Those four months I tried to live in my house alone, and keep my kids over a couple times a week, but mostly they stayed with their grandparents. I got worse. I never kept a clean house, but it got horrible. Unsanitary. I stole my husbands social security number to open credit cards and loans so I could buy, buy, and buy more things. I screwed up paying other pills. I didn’t take my medicine like I should. I just didn’t care about anything anymore. The lies were horrible and I am sure that everyone saw through me but were too scared to confront me. They canceled my husbands contract 2 months early, the project was a failure (not him). I panicked. He was now going to find out everything I had done. The stress and fear overwhelmed me. I now have two scars on my thigh, one 12 inches long and the other 8 inches long. The day after he got home, after the fights had already started, the hallucinations started. Auditory. Telling me exactly what they had told me after the birth of my daughter.

My husband took me to the hospital. Now let me be clear, inpatient psych wards are not a place where you go to get better. It is a place for you to be watched and nothing more. They are often hell holes and you feel even more fear and are scared of getting hurt the whole time. I did my best to tell the truth but I wanted out of there. I was terrified of this one patient muttering how he was going to tear the red headed fat women who had a rose on her back limb from limb each night, how she was a demon sent from hell to destroy children. That she needed to suffer. I did not hallucinate that person, other people heard him too.

After a couple days, I was “stable” and could go home again. I was scared, I knew what I faced at home. A broken family, a husband who was sick of dealing with me, and a lot of hopelessness. In the next weeks he was offered a chance at another programming job in another state with his dream company. It was contract again, but it was longer. He didn’t want to leave, I said he had to for the kids. We had to protect them. We had to do our best to provide for them. We discussed it with my parents and it was decided that the children and I would live at my parents house while he was gone. I was never to be left alone on my own again. We all knew I couldn’t be trusted.

So beginning in August 2015, I began living with my parents again, so they can watch me and make sure I don’t do anything stupid. Mostly.¬†Things are better then they had been in awhile. I can semi participate with my kids normally. No body mentions my lack of self care, but I am all too aware of it. I am lucky if I shower twice a month.¬†Taking care of myself is beyond my ability.¬†I no¬†longer care what clothes grace my horrible body. Make up and hair are a thing of the past.¬†I hid behind baseball caps¬†every time I left the house.¬†I was such a bad role model for two little girls.

Anyways, in the past year I notice that I am having hot flashes and night sweats and other symptoms. I look them up and they match perimenopause. I am only 32, how can I be in perimenopause? It’s something to latch on to though. I do more research and decide to try a phytoestrogen to see if they relieve some of the physical symptoms. I start taking it November 3rd. By November 7th I am convinced I am perimenopausal. I haven’t felt better mood wise in years! The hot flashes disappeared. So I go to the doctor and say I want my hormones tested because phytoestrogen shouldn’t have this big effect on me unless something hormonal is going on. Labs come back, I am not menopausal. It doesn’t change the fact that this estrogen is really doing something so I don’t let it discourage me for long.¬†It is turning my personality around! I have energy. The smile on my face is not by accident or force, it is just there. The suicidal ideation is falling away. My irritability is calming down and I actually want to do things!

I decide to test it further. I start tapering off my lithium and a couple of my other psych meds. I keep feeling better. Unfortunately, I have a reaction the phytoestrogen I am taking, it causes hives in my throat, so I have to find another one to try. I do, and it works as well. I am on to something.

By late December I am off all psych meds, oh and I have lost 20 pounds without doing anything else. I am feeling on top of the world.

I start mood tracking, because this is definitely hormonal.

Lupron and beyond…

The afternoon of April 26th, I was very tired and was forced to nap. This doesn’t usually happen so I consider it a side effect of the Lupron. The following day I was exhausted again. My period had stopped and it was usually a good day for me in my history. So again I attributed it to the Lupron was doing something! Which to me was good news. April 28 came and my anxiety levels were through the roof. It was pushing at my mind and at my heart. I could not sit still just like my mind would not stop racing. Again, I wasn’t supposed to have any PMDD symptoms on this day of my cycle, it had to be the Lupron. I ended up going for a 3 mile walk to work out the anxiety, it did help because it absolutely exhausted me. April 29 I was moody and irritable. I began doubting I had done the right thing. I had made another bad choice. April 30th I woke up feeling positive, a significant change from the previous day but things progressed during the day and I became angry and cranky again. May 1, day 8 of my usual menstrual cycle, I was doing better, but I was hot, which made me a bit irritable. May 2 came and went and I didn’t have a single complaint, the same for the next two days, even after getting a huge bill from the IRS.

May 5 arrived and it had its own issues. First off my dad was undergoing surgery and it really stressed me out and caused panic attacks. I was weepy all day. On top of that I started spotting, not too bad but it was more than just lightly and I never spot between periods. I also had bad cramps and it felt like my ovaries were being twisted and tortured. The next day the spotting and cramps continued but added to that was this heaviness in my chest, like I couldn’t get enough air. I called the doctor, they couldn’t treat me because of the chest issue and suggested I go to the ER. I did not want to do that. I was scared again. I was sure I had chosen wrong and that Lupron was going to be a disaster. I read and read, and realized what I was experiencing was the hormone surge!

Lupron works by working the pituitary glad and making it over produce LH and LSH in turn stimulating the ovaries to produce more and more oestrogen and progesterone until the ovaries go into panic mode and shut down.

I suffered bleeding, cramping, and body soreness one more day, May 7. However my mood was doing wonderful that day. Nothing could keep me down. Until May 13 I had no issues what so ever. I was even able to stop my caffeine and soda addiction cold turkey! May 13 I was doing great but that evening I snapped a bit, I looked in my journaling history and this is usually the time of my cycle that my progesterone is spiking. I should be off my rocker by now. May 14 was a hard day. I was very irritable, a little bit of rage, mood swings and crying punctuated by a horrible argument with my husband in which I could not seem to control what words came out of my mouth. Looking back on the episode later that night it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I had not once had suicidal ideation or an intrusive thought during this time. The rage felt blunted. The crying was simply frustration. I didn’t feel worthless. Something was different!

The next few days were blissful. I was calm, energetic, happy go lucky, and I felt alive. I could think clearly, my brain was working again.

On May 17, I spoke to my doctor again, I wanted to be able to make arrangement to go back and see my kids as soon as possible, so I was anxious to discuss the timeline for surgery, which I knew I wanted more than anything at this point. He understood and unexpectedly suggested we do the surgery June 9, 2016!! We got the ball rolling on that!

May 23, the day before my next Lupron shot, I was a little irritable under the surface but that is the only thing I could mention in all those days since May 14th. The next day I had my second Lupron injection. And off I went to live my life. I was still expecting at this point to have one final menstrual cycle, starting around May 26th, but it never came.

My days up to June 9 were wonderful. I was full of energy, happiness, and excitement. I had my bouts of doubt and anxiety but it was nothing, I brushed it off, talked with my husband and we went about our new lives together.

 June 8 my anxiety was very high of course. I was having major open surgery the next day. I have had major surgery before, gastric bypass and gallbladder removal. They were both laparoscopic, this was going to be open. Needless to say I did not sleep that night. I had instructions not to eat or drink after 11 p.m. which was actually pretty difficult as far as not drinking goes. I always have water sitting by me to drink throughout the day and night. It was also not fun because my husband had gone into work at 7:30 that morning and did not get home until after 9 p.m. and then had to continue to work until 1 a.m. before he could call it quits. Very frustrating and tiring for him on top of my nerves.

The day of surgery is here. I am to check in at the hospital at 5:30 in the morning to go over the paper work and get prepped for surgery at 7:30. The hospital is only 10 minutes away from our tiny apartment so getting up at 4 in the morning leaves us a lot of waiting around time. I take a long shower, trying to get the hot water to soothe my worries about the next
few hours. My overnight bag is all packed but all I really need is my cellphone, kindle, socks, and chapstick. So glad I have a pixie cut for my hair!
We get to the hospital and the check in process goes very smoothly, no questions or glitches. I can’t believe that something hasn’t been screwed up, I really can’t! Am I dealing with insurance at all? We wait about ten minutes and a nurse comes out and calls my name to follow her along with one other woman. Off we go! We are each led to an individual pre-op room and the nurse who brought me up will be my pre-op nurse, getting me set up for the surgery and answering any questions I have. She is very nice. A couple of other techs work with me for blood draws, setting up the leg compression wraps, and getting more signatures from me. The gown is a joke, barely covers my front. Really people, you won’t offend me if you ask me if I want a bigger gown. I know I am fat, its a fact of my¬†life. My husband is calmly sitting by me the whole time.

Time for the IV. If nurses knew about me before they tried this they would cringe and go looking for someone else to do it, always. I tell my pre-op nurse that my veins are hard to get to and that they roll, a lot. That I often get stuck more than two times and I am sorry. They put a hot compress on my arm and let it sit for about five minutes and then make a go at it. My nurse is kind, has gentle hands, but the needle just cannot get my vein to sit still long enough to get through it. I still have bruises from the first two attempts nine days out from surgery. She makes a call to the IV team and puts the compress back on my arm. I’ve gotten use to this routine. No biggie. My husband looks ill. They put a warming blanket on me.

Time passes, I just sit in silence or talk about the small things with my husband. Nurse checks in every once in awhile to see whether the IV team has come in or not. Its after 7 am now. The nurse calls another of the pre-op nurses to try to do the IV on me, they can’t wait any longer. I tell her to go for the hand, I know its going to hurt, I don’t care, it’s the best option at this point. She gets it the first time and it barely hurt!

The anesthesiologist comes in to speak with me. He is rather shocked that I have been put under anesthesia so many times already in my life, 25 times. He is full of energy and it is apparent he loves what he does. He offers me options, I regent them all, and just want the basic no frills. We get along just fine. He gives me something for anxiety, which I welcomed though I wasn’t really feeling that much anxiety.

My doctor who is also my surgeon comes in and reviews everything with me. We are all laughing and making jokes. This is going to be a new life for me and my family, we should be happy! Neither my husband nor I have any further questions and in pops in the surgical assistant, the operation room is ready for us. I tell my husband I love him, he responds. We are beyond the need for physical affection at this point, we just know.

I am wheeled off to my operation room. Its a nice room, lots of light, sterile, and full of humming devices. My anesthesiologist is there with his nurse, there is the operating room nurse, my doctor, and his assistant. We get me transferred over to the operating room table very quickly and they ask if I am ready. I say that I am, and they put the mask on me.

The recovery team starts trying to wake me up. All I can think at that moment is I don’t want to wake up, I was sleeping so peacefully for a change. No dreams. Then I notice my throat is very scratchy and very dry. They ask if I want some ice, all I can do is barely nod my head. They spoon feed me a couple pieces and then I doze off again. This happens for probably a little over an hour. I do try to wake up but I am so groggy! Sometime during this period both the anesthesiologist and¬†my doctor¬†came to tell me how fabulous everything went, that¬†it went better than they had expected¬†and things looked great.¬†Finally I am awake enough to start noticing my surroundings, what is going on around me, and listening to other people, whether they be nurses or patients. Pretty soon after that the nurse comes to tell me they finally have a room ready for me and are going to be taking me there.

About 12:15 in the afternoon I am installed in my private room. It is so peaceful. I feel so calm. I hurt, of course I hurt, I just had open surgery in which they removed some pretty major organs. I am still pretty tired and feel like I could go to sleep at any moment, and when I am left alone I try to do so. My husband comes awhile after 1 that afternoon to sit with me for awhile, but he is hungry and very tired and stressed. I tell him to go home after about an hour, I am not going anywhere and I am doing really well. This is all true. I don’t even have an estrogen patch on me yet.

Things go pretty well for my stay in the hospital. They finally put an estrogen patch on me but then had to move it because they put it on my shoulder (I told them abdomen) for some silly reason and the doctor came in and said what the hell. Other than that I got my catheter out in the early morning following the surgery. I walked then too, used the bathroom on my own, was able to get up and out of bed, sit in a chair, and get back into bed all on my own. The next day pretty much more of the same. I walked as much as I could and was switched off the pain pump to oral pain medications. Saturday showed up, June 11, I waited all day till the afternoon to hear the sweet words from my doctor, you can go home if you want to.

It was a vey nice hospital and the staff overall was very kind and gentle but I hate hospitals. For me, they feel like a place where death is just lurking around the corner waiting for you. The smell of them turns my stomach and I have a natural reaction of just wanting to run away.

My recovery from the actual surgery is going to be slow and I will likely still feel the effects months from now. However, the effects of the surgery on my symptoms of PMDD were immediate and absolute. The demon that has plagued me for five years, the demon with my voice and all my secrets, has fled. I look in a mirror and I see a woman who could use some work but look at the color of her eyes, they are actually pretty. The way her smile turns up the edges of her lips is perfect and so sweet. Her eyes sparkle, her freckles delight and her eyebrows express so much. The woman in the mirror I can actually say is pretty. But beyond that I can see that I am worth so much more. Beyond that I feel human, hell I feel more like a woman now than I did before. I am interested in living again. My creativity is back. My fun, outgoing, happy go lucky nature is coming out more day by day. My jokes are no longer only sarcastic and jaded. They are corny and silly and shocking. I don’t feel the need to hide away anymore. My brain is useful once more! I am recovering from major surgery but I feel like a bundle of energy and want to get out there and do things. I have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to face the trauma and pain of the last several years. Now that I have treated my PMDD I have the ability to tackle it, to break old habits and start new ones. I have the ability to change and be changed.

What it all boils down to is that I was just hormonal. I know our society jokes about it and takes it way too lightly. I want that to change. I want to take back “being just hormonal.” Hormones can do crazy things to a person. Look at diabetes. Look at thyroid hormone disorders. Pituitary disorders. Hypothalamus disorders. Growth disorders. Why do we scoff at sex hormone disorders? It is no laughing matter. It is real. It should be prioritized. I nearly lost my life because of the attitude toward women and their hormones. I nearly lost my life because of ignorance and unwillingness to provide the right treatment to women. I nearly lost my life because my reproductive rights belonged to doctors, politicians,¬† and¬†insurance companies.

PMDD touches hormonal disorders and mental health disorders. It is very complex and needs to be treated on all fronts. I am happy that here in the USA that PMDD was recognized as a disorder in and of itself in the DSM V, but I feel that is going to steer the issue away from the root cause. Hormones. Many women cannot be treated for just the mental health symptoms. It is a half assed approach at best. There needs to be open and honest discussion between everyone about PMDD and the treatments for it. My solution is not the solution for all women, not even a majority of women and I don’t suggest it as such. I can only speak from my experience however and I never want to see anyone discouraged from a possible treatment that could change their lives. I cannot stop the pain that PMDD causes in the women who suffer and those that suffer along side her. I can stop the ignorance.