Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Bone Scan and the Horrible Psychiatrist

Yesterday I had to go into the hospital to get a bone density scan done, which I was much overdue for. I'd been anxious about it all week because it was my first time setting foot in the public hospital since my last encounter with the Horrible Psychiatrist* three years ago.

I joked with the dietician that I should wear a disguise.
"If I just wear bright pink, no one will recognize me."
"If you were wearing bright pink, even I'd walk straight past you."
Spoiler alert: I didn't wear bright pink.

She tried to reassure me that it'd be highly unlikely that I'd run into him, until I told her about my last admission to the private hospital this June (for my lungs). They'd just opened their new emergency room that very day. I sat as mum sorted out the paperwork, feeling relieved that I could finally just go to the emergency room when I need to. And then he walked in, the Horrible Psychiatrist. Cue panic. He wasn't even working there! So yes, stranger things have happened.

The lady who did the test was nice. She explained that the scan would check my spine and hips, and fired questions at me. I had to stop and think when she asked how long I've been without a period. I was 16 when I first went on birth control and lost my period completely, so five years. The Implanon lasted for three years, and by the time it was due to be replaced, I'd had anorexia for over two years. It was never replaced, as an 'experiment' to see if I could actually get a period. I still haven't.

She asked if I'd ever had a bone scan before, which I have, when I was in ED inpatient three and a half years ago. She asked if I remembered the results, and was shocked when I said no one ever told me. I just assumed they were perfect (I don't think I'd been sick for a full year at that point).

The scan itself was quick, maybe 20 minutes, and I'll get a copy of my results in about two weeks after the endocrinologists look at it.

The rest of the week has been pretty shit. I had a hard time getting to see the dietician on Tuesday. I don't know. Everything just kept building and I broke down at a not-so-convenient time. Mum cajoled me out the door five minutes late after I gathered myself enough to change my Minnie Mouse pajama pants for some leggings.

I did okay-ish with her goals from last week, I guess. I only ate under 400 cals on two days (although that's about average anyway). I didn't manage to eat by 12, but I ate before 1pm twice.
After weighing me, she said I really need to aim for 600 minimum or else I'm going to run into trouble.

"I need to know that you can do it."
But what if I can't?

And I know that's what she's there for. That's why I first started seeing her - to help me slowly raise my intake to a level that's sustainable for my health so I can avoid certain risks.

But I don't know if I'm ready to start raising my intake again. Now it's 600, but what next?! 800, 1,000, 1,200? I don't know if I can do it. I mean, I eat up to 800 on some days, and can eat over 1,000 on occasion. But it's certainly not an everyday thing, and the thought of it being an everyday thing makes me panic.

*It's a long story that's hard to tell in full, but I posted a little bit about the Horrible Psychiatrist here, but it doesn't include all of the horrible things he said. I'll try to remember to write a proper post about it soon, since his words and actions still effect me so much.

One that really sticks with me was when he was sat opposite my mother and I, and he told me that everyone I love and care about, including my family, would get tired of me and leave me. My mum told him that "no, you don't know me, and I will never leave my daughter". He basically told her that yes, she would.
I still believe every word he said.


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Back Pain and the Breakfast Challenge

I've had a constant pain in my back for a few weeks now. At first it was just a slight twinge when I coughed, and my GP thought it was a pulled muscle. But last week it started aching all the time, and when I cough or bend it feels like my body's about to break in two.

When I saw her this week, she immediately asked if my chest was okay. It's uncanny how she can tell just by looking at me. I told her about the back pain, and after some discussion she thinks it's from some joint in my spine. I can't remember what it was called, but she showed me on the little anatomical model. She said it's 'referred pain' from my lungs, which is why it hurts the most when I breathe deeply or cough.
"Like when your left arm hurts when you're having a heart attack", she said

Painkillers don't help with this sort of thing, but I kinda figured that out when the 60mg codeine + paracetamol she gave me last time didn't make any difference. There's no position I can get in to that makes it hurt any less. So now I'm on an anti-inflammatory and hopefully that'll start helping soon, but for now I'm spending a lot of time horizontal on the couch.

Apparently physiotherapy would help alleviate the pain quicker. I can't stand being touched at the best of times, and to make it even harder, the physio is a man. I could see a woman, but that would involve going somewhere that isn't my safe little clinic, and that's just not an option right now.

She offered to show me where his office was and offered to introduce me, which I panicked at. She does her best to accommodate my anxieties, which means a lot to me. She still lets me wait in an unoccupied office if the waiting room's busy, and she's the only doctor who's never pushed me. She said the physio wouldn't have to touch me at the first appointment, that I'd only have to move my shirt up a few inches, or that it could even be done through a light t-shirt. I said I just wanted to think about it, but the more I think about it, the more impossible it seems.

She wants to leave me on the new antidepressants for a few more months and see if they start to help. I just nodded and said nothing. I'm too tired to care. It's not like they'll try me on anything new until I can get to the psychiatrist anyway. She still thinks I need to work on my 'thought processes' with the mental health nurse, which I don't disagree with, but the MH nurse has been causing more stress than not. She's in the middle of a six week break, so more on that another time.

I wore my Tatters and Rags skirt on Tuesday to show both my dietician and GP, since I first told them about it months ago. I wore a light skirt underneath for when I had to get on the scales. The thought of getting weighed in such a heavy skirt made me panic.

She set me a couple of goals this week. She doesn't want my intake to get below 400 (even though some days I manage as high as 800 cals), and she wants me to eat breakfast or lunch each day, or at least a snack by midday. The earliest I've managed this week is a small snack at 1pm. Most days I haven't been eating before 3pm (I wake up around 5am). It delays one stress in my day, at least.

She asked if it would be easier to eat the same breakfast everyday so I wouldn't have to think about it, and I couldn't help but laugh. She should know how routinely I eat by now. I'd been eating the exact same breakfast everyday for two years, up until about 8 months ago. Every morning I'd have a small (20-25g) slice of wholemeal bread, toasted and spread with Vegemite, and 60g bowl of nonfat strawberry yoghurt for a total of 85-95 cals. Before that, I'd sometimes have oatmeal and/or fruit. Earlier this year I started just having the yoghurt, no toast, but I haven't even had that for months.

The kids skirt I bought in Warrnambool

I got my oximeter in the post on Friday. My GP recommended I get one some months ago but I hadn't gotten around to it. Now I have the full set -  thermometer, blood pressure machine, glucometer and oximeter.
The cuff that came with the BP machine is 9-13".
The bigger one, 13-17", is my brother's.
The smaller one, 7-9", is mine.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Pick Up the Tatters and Make Something New

This morning I put the finishing touches on my Tatters and Rags skirt. So, naturally, this afternoon I spent some time trying to get some photos of it.

There are 20 rows containing a total of 598 scraps (yes, I counted every single one). The bulk of the skirt is linen, with bits of suiting and polysilk lining for contrast.

Even though it was supposed to be a slack and simple project, it took forever. This was my first time drafting a real pattern (for the actual skirt and waistband) except for simple, purely mathematical things like circle skirts. It's taken a little over two months to complete from the day I started sketching it until now, but considering I haven't been working on it regularly, I'm pretty happy with it.

In other news, my dietician asked the pharmacist about supplements this week. I can get a calcium powder, but she forgot to ask about vitamin D, so I'm still waiting on that. As for the iron, both she and the pharmacist agree that injections would probably be the best option so we can avoid the challenge of oral intake for at least one of them. I'm still uncomfortable with the idea of willingly putting those nutrients into my body, but at least with injections I wouldn't have to swallow it every damn day.

I also caught a cold earlier in the week and have been feeling quite yuck. After much persuasion from my mother, I saw my GP on Friday morning, just to get it checked out. I told her it mostly just feels like a cold, but my breathing is very noisy so she's put me on antibiotics (yes, more) just in case.

Okay, pictures. Sorry for the spam - I can never choose just a couple.

Self-covering buttons are my new love
I had to handsew an extra scrap onto the last row, hence the
awkward '43' and '598'


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Warrnambool and the Cheese Factory

This week, I went on a day trip down the coast to the cheese factory. After my routine appointment with the dietician on Tuesday morning, mum and I set off for the two and a half hour drive to Warrnambool.

It's the fourth or fifth time we've gone to the cheese factory in the last couple of years. They have an amazing range of cheddars, and we usually come away with disgusting amounts of their vintage (this time we got 5kg/11lb) We ran out of our last haul four months ago, but this week was the first time mum could get me to agree to a day trip.

I wore my hair down for once, and everyone at the clinic commented on it. Back in the car, I swept it back up into a comb. Safe.
The dietician hadn't had time to ask the pharmacist about powdered supplements last week. She said she saw a few products online but didn't like the looks of them, so I don't think it's worth checking myself.

After two and a half hours in the car, we reached our destination. We went to Lincraft and I got to look around at all the pretty fabrics. I can't tell you how many years it's been since I've actually been into a fabric store.

We got into town and had lunch. I had quiche lorraine with salad, and the thing was huge (picture below)! I barely made it through half, and picked most of the pastry off because it was soggy and not worth the calories.

Then we looked around Target, with the intention of looking for a Christmas gift for my brother. The only thing I found was for myself, when I was browsing through the clothes section, and a comfy-looking plain black skirt caught my eye. I went over and started shuffling through the hangers for a 4 or 6, and I said to mum "What the hell's a size 9?"

I looked at the tag and realized I'd wandered across to the children's section. I felt like a bit of an idiot, but I picked out a 12, held it up against me, and decided it'd be long enough. Bonus - it was on clearance.
(Fun fact: when I was 12, I was already 5'10"-5'11", and obviously out of children's clothes. I'm 6'1" now)

I never try on clothes anymore. I hated it when I was younger, and when I developed AN I just stopped. I started trying on clothes at home and exchanging or returning them if needed. It's not that I find it overly upsetting, just needlessly tedious and time consuming I guess.

I had a look at the map I'd printed out, with six op shops marked. Even though I only made it to one before I panicked, it was okay. I got a little leather pleated miniskirt (well, fake leather), but that was it.

We had to walk through a small shopping center to get back to the car, and I started panicking. I would freeze for a moment, slowly moving forward again when I realized I could not in fact will myself to disappear. Mum offered to go get the car and pick me up, but the thought of standing there by myself was even more terrifying.

Once we reached the car I started crying and rambling and was a total mess. I spent over an hour in breakdown mode, pulled over on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere. I had an extra lorazepam, making four for the day instead of one or two.

We stopped for the cheese on the way back out of town, but I couldn't bring myself to go in. I curled up with my blankets and counted the minutes until we got home. It was a long day. We ended up getting home at 6pm, after leaving to see the dietician at 8am.

So that's my 7th outing for the year. I figure I might have time for one more before school holidays start, but we'll see.

I didn't take many photos when I was out, but I took some of the (fake) leather skirt yesterday. I was going to take some of the other skirt but I just didn't have the energy. Please excuse my messy study. 

Unfortunately it's a little short to wear without a long coat.
It's okay from the front, but I'm a little... cheeky from the back.

Fishnet, leather and lace. Feeling quite feminine here.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

November. How is it November already?

It's been a week. I don't really know what to say. I don't do much anymore outside of appointments. Everything just feels like too much.

The dietician was lovely this week, as always. She had some sort of a course to teach this week, and despite my repeated telling her not to worry, she insisted on coming by the clinic to see me anyway. It's not the first time she's done it, but it always amazes me that she actually cares enough to go out of her way. She knows I don't have much structure or routine in my days, so appointments are important.
"Well, I had to get in the car and drive past anyway."

We talked a lot about supplements and nutrients. Obviously it's preferable to get what I need through food instead of pills, but as we know that isn't always an option.
"You don't eat much red meat, do you?"
"Even if I ate it every day, I never have more than 50 grams. And most of the time I use veal instead, because it's leaner and more tender, but I found out yesterday that it only has half the iron of beef."

I can't stand the texture of red meat, unless it's slow-cooked and falling apart. Milo is my only real source of iron, but as my dietician pointed out, it's not the 'right' type of iron. Haem-something, I think she said. It was definitely something to do with red meat. She mentioned something about Ensure, and I just blurted out "Ensure doesn't have much iron". She laughed.

She knows about my troubles taking supplements, and I told her I tried talking to the mental health nurse about it and was told it's not important. My GP told me to get Caltrate plus Vitamin D, which I did, but I still haven't taken it yet.

She's going to look into what supplements are available as a powder to mix into your drinks. I don't know if I'll be able to take it, but pills and gummies and liquid supplements are out, and dietary intake is lacking, so I don't have a lot of options. We'll see how it goes. I take a fiber supplement in my coffee each morning, so maybe that's a gateway. Unfortunately, I'll probably be stuck with the vitamin D pills, but she thinks she can get calcium and iron as powders, and she's going to keep an eye on my vitamin C intake.

This morning I got on the elliptical for the first time in two years. It's been sitting gathering dust and cobwebs, a glorified clothes horse in the corner of the lounge room, for two years.

I don't know how or why it happened. I was tidying up my sewing things, thinking about maybe doing some yoga, and I just had the urge to get on. And I did, for about a minute, before grabbing my shoes and socks and actually plugging the damn thing in. I only lasted 15 minutes (I was aiming for 30), but for once I didn't feel like I was wasting time while exercising.

I bought myself another pair of shoes on clearance. I feel a bit guilty, but they were only $40 down from $140, and I hadn't bought myself shoes in so many years. They're my new 'flats'. Super comfy.