Thursday, 11 May 2017

24

It's been a week of birthdays in the house. First with my 24th on April 30, then my mum's 60th a week later.

We'd planned to go out for dinner for my birthday, and while it's something I enjoy, it doesn't make it any less stressful. Between the act of going out, and the hours it takes me to feel presentable enough to, I started getting anxious, edgy, overwhelmed. I leaned on my PRNs through the day, perhaps a little too heavily.

We went to an Italian place that I've been wanting to try. I was still full from the cake, but wanted to go out because I just enjoy the experience of going out for dinner, even if I couldn't eat much. I indulged in linguini carbonara, since I knew I wouldn't eat much of it.



The big highlight of my birthday was, as those of you on Facebook would've seen, I am now the lucky owner of a NES Mini. I was so disappointed when I couldn't get one, but he managed to track one down. I was so excited when I opened it, and spent the next few days playing it for hours on end.



But between the fear from eating so much and wanting to self-harm, it only made me more determined to go ahead with the laxative overdose that's been building for the past few weeks. Plus, I've mentioned before that the only times I don't drink are if I'm physically ill, in hospital, or smoking. Laxatives would mean I'd have some time off drinking due to being physically ill/in pain, and drop some weight (from not drinking or eating much because I'd be sick, not from the laxatives themselves - we all know it doesn't work that way).

I took them across three days, hoping to prolong the pain and sickness without needing to go to hospital from taking a whole packet, as has happened a few times before. I had 20 one morning, but still drank because the cramps didn't kick in until later in the night. The next morning, I took another 20, but still only felt sick for a few hours in the late night/early morning. Then, I took 60. That worked. I was too sick to drink anything or eat much for the next two, two and a half, days. It wasn't fun, but it got me two days off drinking.


Then, it was mum's birthday on Sunday. I had a fantastic homemade Indian dinner planned. Three mains and five sides, but it ended in disaster.

I coped well with most of the day. My dosa batter failed spectacularly, managing to melt the base of my KitchenAid blender in the process (and I was just blending uncooked, cold, soaked rice!). My grandfather's signature sponge cake collapsed. I managed to cope with hours in the kitchen cooking dinner, only to (accidentally) spill oil all over my hand at the last minute.

I got ready to serve. Everything was ready to be played up, and I'd just finished the pappadums.

I think it's probably because I usually use a different pan of the same size, and the usual one is heavier, but I used the old one because I didn't want mine tainted with oil. I just lifted it up on too high an angle, because it poured from the pan and over the handle to my hand. That's what I get for cooking with oil.

Thankfully I turned off the burners before I moved the pan, otherwise god knows what could've happened.

I screamed and ran to the sink for cold water, and my family came in. I felt so bad for fucking up, I just kept apologizing. My brother is good with first aid from his years of volunteer work, so he helped out, and wrapped the fingers in plastic wrap to protect them. They wanted me to to A&E, but it felt ridiculous, so I said I'd just see a doctor in the morning.

Mum went to buy a bag of ice as I'd used what was in the freezer, and Steve started tasting and picking at the food, and I nibbled on the hard-won pappadums with another glass of wine. I ate dinner with one hand with the burnt hand still in water. I kept my hand in water overnight in a bowl on a table next to the couch.


We had to close Billy out of the kitchen, as he kept licking oil off the floor after it cooled down. Not only was there oil all over the stove top and on the floor in front of it, but it spread as mum and my brother walked through it searching for first aid supplies. Between cleaning the benches/stove/floor, it took mum a full day to clear up the disaster.

I have oil burns all over my thumb, index and middle fingers, thumb web and palm on my left hand, despite leaving it in icy water for 12+ hours after the incident. Once I realized it'd take more than a few days to start healing (or stop blistering, for that matter), I started slowly typing this post on my phone instead of the laptop, since I currently can't type with my left hand.

Being a physical injury, mum actually offered to drive me to see my GP and get it dressed without even having to ask. A blister on my thumb had already burst by the time I got to the appointment at 8:45. They popped the others that had come up, and dressed them tightly. I had to get a tetanus/whooping cough booster, and they warned my grandmother's ruby and diamond ring might have to be cut off if it kept swelling.

More blisters came up through the next few days. It happened on Sunday, and I saw my GP and the nurse on Monday, Wednesday, and I have to go back tomorrow too. Yesterday, my fingers were covered with blisters, and again they were popped and dressed, as well as getting a flu shot.

Next week, my GP is doing another home visit, as I haven't had a proper appointment in two months. I'm dreading having to go for a walk, although it'll still be short. For now, I'm just resting and loading up with painkillers.

And, of course, more birthday picture-spam...



More gratuitous selfies from going out for dinner

I don't get birthday cakes much anymore. I used to make my own, but these past few years, it's been too much, and mum never bakes anymore. So this year, mum bought me a lamington sponge cake (for you non-Aussies: a lamington is sponge cake that's been coated with an extremely thin layer of chocolate icing and sprinkled in coconut). Not my first choice, but it was at least something everyone eats. I had a small piece in the afternoon, and the family devoured the rest over the next day or two. I didn't much care to have more than one slice. I just wanted the gesture.
(And, naturally, there's no eating in this house without two furry supervisors)

The cheesymite scrolls I made for mum's birthday

The oil burns as of yesterday


xxBella

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Facing Reality

Today, I thought I'd finally do a post about something that's been troubling me lately. Alcohol. It's been an increasing problem over the past 6 months or so, but this past month, I've only had a grand total of two days off. Most days, I wake up with no memory of the night before.

I don't like the thought of being labelled as an alcoholic or drunkorexic. When people ask if I drink, I tend to say “I enjoy a few glasses of wine with dinner.” as it seems so much more socially acceptable. But I am an addict, and one addiction became another when I quit smoking synthetics (10 months ago now!)

I've been trying hard to not keep drinking so much. Unfortunately, finishing the day with a few drinks has now become the norm and not the exception. If I have to drink, I've set goals of not drinking until 5pm, instead of starting in the afternoon, and keeping a tighter limit on how many standard drinks I do consume (ideally, 10 standard drinks max, instead of 14, 16, sometimes up to 20 drinks).

I'm eating less as I'm drinking more. The depression isn't helping with either. And with just a few hundred less calories of food and a few less drinks (usually around 500 now, before alcohol, which is usually around an extra 600-700), my weight has started to drop again after being fairly stable for the past few months.

In a way, I sort of justify my drinking to others because it keeps my intake higher. Truth be told though, the only real reason I want to cut back is so I can lose weight faster.


Last week, mum went away to visit friends for a few nights, and I decided to use the quiet time as an opportunity to have a night or two off drinking. I figured that, since I never eat dinner or set meals when I'm alone, as I lose all track of time, maybe I wouldn't drink either. I set myself up on the couch with my cigarettes, notebooks, chewing gum, extra meds, and water, and spent my days on the couch marathoning The L Word for the millionth time.

I can't lie – it was very tempting to get some smoke, since that's one of the few times I never drink (the others being when I'm physically ill, or in hospital), and when I'm home alone is the only time I can get away with it without it causing arguments. But after spending so much money on alcohol recently, I couldn't do it. It's funny. Everyone says I must be saving so much money since I quit synthetics (and rarely smoke the natural stuff), but in reality, I've been spending nearly as much on alcohol, especially in the past couple of months. At least smoke has no calories...

She was away for four days, and on the second day, I managed to get through without drinking – my first day off in a month. The next day, I drank early in the afternoon. I think I'm starting to get withdrawals if I try to have more than one day off. Even the first drink made me feel so much better. Being the weekend, my brother was home. Apparently I passed out on the kitchen floor for a few hours that night, for no apparent reason. I tend to pass out quickly and unexpectedly these days. Just a couple of nights ago, I had my soup heating up for dinner, my toast cooked, but passed out before I could eat it.

The last day she was away, I was sick. And no, it wasn't a hangover – it lasted through the following day. I couldn't even finish ¼ of a cup of coffee, and even cigarettes made me feel sick. I spent the day in dark and silence, my head pounding, quickly throwing up any thing I tried to drink. My body ached from the act of being sick so much. But it gave me another night without drinking.


On a different note, over the Easter weekend, I spent a few days with my friend R. It was so nice to get a break from the day-to-day life at home. I even managed to get out for a walk. It wasn't a particularly long walk, but with the pressure wounds from my last overdose still healing, it was a slow walk. It wasn't easy, but being a public holiday, there were very few people around, which was a bonus. So that was outing #4 for the year. It's the longest time I've spent walking around town in many years. Still, it was a nice little getaway from being stuck at home, and spend some time being social.


Tomorrow is my birthday, and I'm dreading it. Birthdays have usually ended in disaster for some years now. There's a sense of impending doom, and it could go either way. Will I be able to go out for dinner? Will I spend all day drinking myself into a stupor? Will everything fall apart? Watch this space.


I've been terrible with staying up to date on blogs these past couple of weeks, but I'm slowly starting to catch up, so please bear with me.



Easter Weekend supplies

Staying warm in a dressing gown before going out
(My black one was in the wash - please don't judge my backup pastel polka dot one!)


xxBella

Friday, 7 April 2017

Finding my Feet

My GP came for a home visit on Monday. After a chat, we did go for a short walk, as she's trying to help me build up to be able to walk to regular appointments. It was just 200 meters, down to the corner of the block and back, but for me, it's a lot. The thought of doing it alone makes me panic. Baby steps, though.

I've also got even more antibiotics and cortisone to help the pressure wounds heal, but to be honest, I've barely touched them. Taking antibiotics is something I've always struggled with – some weird form of self-neglect and/or punishment. So the pressure wounds on my feet from the last overdose are healing very slowly. I've not been able to do step aerobics for a month now, which is driving me nuts, and have only just started walking laps around the house again without hobbling.

She's doing another home visit in a few weeks, and the dietician will stop by occasionally on Tuesday after she's finished at work. So hopefully losing transport to appointments won't be quite as devastating as it could've been.


Also, I'm pleased (and greatly relieved) to report that Bill's surgery went well, and he's recovering nicely.

His surgery was last Friday, and for the eight hours he spent at the vets, I was worried sick, waiting for the phone to ring. Each hour that passed made me more and more anxious.

A few nights before the surgery, I broke down, hysterical about his health and his age, worrying that I've not done enough for him, that I haven't loved him as much as I could. I was still feeling a sort of pre-emptive grief from the few days there was talk of having to say goodbye.

The poor boy knew something was up. Usually, he runs out to the car and is happy to go to the vets. This time, he wouldn't move off the porch, and I had to carry him out to the car, where he sat shaking on my lap the whole time. At the vet, mum went to drop him in while I waited in the car. Again, he wouldn't move. He even climbed up on put his head on my shoulder. He used to do that all the time as a puppy, but he hadn't done it in a long time. It's the closest you can get to a hug.

We all thought he wouldn't have any teeth left when he came home, but it turns out it wasn't quite so bad. He had more teeth left than the vet thought, considering he wouldn't let anyone have a close look. Dogs have 48 teeth to start with. The vet drew a handy diagram of the 20 teeth he'd had removed (over several surgeries) in the past, the 14 they removed that day, and the 14 he had left.

I was worried about how he'd recover, how much pain he might be in, and how I'd cope with it. When we picked him up, he was so excited and energetic. Since then, he's just slept and slept. There's no doubt he's more comfortable now than before the surgery, even though he's still healing. 

I know I probably should've posted earlier, but I've been so worried something would go wrong or complications would pop up. Amazingly enough, his mouth hasn't even bled once, which we were told to expect. He had his follow-up appointment today, and everything is healing perfectly. There are no words for how relieved I am!




This fortnight's groceries – the bare essentials, after I found out about the surgery. 
Watermelon is always my No. 1 essential. 
That said, I always have lots of stew and soups in my freezer for evening meals.

His little paw print bandage from the IV


xxBella

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Difficult Decisions

My baby boy Billy has had a rough go of it this week. One morning, I woke up and his mouth had been bleeding. He's always had trouble with his teeth (and his ears... and his back). The conversation started about that it might be time to think about making a difficult decision. Yes, he's now 14, and after so many surgeries over the course of his life, we don't have that kind of money just sitting around any more.

I froze. My heart jumped into my throat as my stomach sank. I wanted to drink. I wanted to smoke. I wanted to cut and hit my head and overdose. I wanted to do anything to block out this pain. I can't bear the thought of losing him.

Ever since we lost Silky, just over four years ago, I realised for the first time that they wouldn't be here forever. I'd never considered that they wouldn't always be by my side. I've been petrified of losing Billy too. For four years now, I've said I could never get another dog as the pain of losing them is too much to bear. I've always said that it would be the end for me. That I really couldn't go on without him.

That night, he lost a lot of blood. Mum asked if I'd made a decision, and I just lost it. I sat on the floor and started bawling that I can't do this, I don't know what to do, I don't know what I should do. It felt like my heart was breaking. I spent the first few days in tears.

We took him to the vet. Due to my agoraphobia, I usually hold him for the car ride, and stay in the car while mum takes him in. This time, I actually went in for the first time in years.

We got a quote on the surgery, and depending on how many teeth need to be removed, it's going to cost somewhere between $1,400 and $2,000. He doesn't like his mouth being looked at, but it looks like he'll need all of them removed (what's left after the previous surgeries, anyway). I just hope he'll be okay without them. His teeth are diseased, and if they're not removed, it'll go into his jaw bone, which would eventually lead to a fracture.

I managed to find one company that would approve me for a loan while a) on a pension, and b) without going into an office in person. It's going to take a long time to pay off, and the interest rate is ridiculous, but it's worth it. I can't imagine life without him. Besides, after spending tens of thousands on various surgeries and medical issues over the years, I can't just give up. I will do anything I can to keep my baby boy safe.

He's been doing a bit better the past couple of days. His mouth only bled for the first two or so days. But for the first few days, it looked like we were going to have to say goodbye. I fell into mourning even though he was still right here beside me, and it's a hard feeling to shake. He's not a young pup any more. I guess it just reminds you of how fragile life it, and how quickly everything can change.


Tomorrow my GP's coming around for my first home visit appointment. She also wants to try getting me out for a short walk, which scares the shit out of me. I haven't even been able to walk around the block for years, despite wanting to. I know the goal is to be able to make the 5-minute walk solo to get to appointments, but even the first steps are terrifying.




On top of getting out to take Bill to the vet and tomorrow's walk, last weekend we went out for a family dinner for my brother's birthday at his favourite local Indian place. We haven't all been out for dinner since he and his girlfriend broke up a year ago, when we'd all go out together. I haven't had any reason to go out for dinner since then either, so it was nice for a change.

Samosas, Chicken Pakora, and Aloo Tikki for starters

Can you tell my brother loves naan bread?





xxBella

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Whoops.

Three guesses why I haven't written in two (closer to three) weeks.

I seem to be caught in a cycle at the moment that sees me landing in hospital every few weeks. Last weekend I had another overdose, on my psych meds, topped off with my over-the-counter sleeping pills.

There was a lot that triggered it. Between feeling so lost and alone without appointments, and the big trauma anniversary, I just lost it. I raided my stockpile around 8pm. I didn't think it would have the same impact as last time. Despite being a similar number of pills, it took longer for them to effect me. It didn't worry me, and I figured I'd just wake up the next morning feeling groggy.

I have no idea what time 000 was called, or what tipped mum off. I'd hidden all the pill packets. I did write the names of what I'd taken on the back of my hand, both for my benefit and in case there was medical intervention needed, because I know it's hard if they don't know what you've taken. I fell asleep sometime around 9pm. From what I've put together, I think it was around 11am the next morning that mum called an ambulance, after realising I wasn't just sleeping in.

I woke up some time around 9pm, but it took a while before I was really 'with it'. Again, I couldn't walk, but this time it wasn't only because of the overdose itself. After spending close to 24 hours unconcious, and 14 of those in one position on the couch, I had pressure wounds on my feet. There was five big blisters where they'd been resting against each other, plus five smaller ones on my right hand. My entire right side is still aching. It hurts to move my ankle, my knee, my hip, my shoulder.


One positive that's come out of it, is that I've reconnected with an old friend. We haven't seen each other in years. Like all friendships, we eventually lost touch.

We used to be good friends. These days, he works in patient assistance. You know, wheeling people around and all that jazz. The last time I saw him was probably close to five years ago. Again, I was in hospital. I was up for an early morning smoke and coffee, and saw him in the cafeteria. We spoke briefly, but never followed up on keeping contact.

He saw me being taken into emergency, and kept walking by my room on the ward until I woke up, hoping to see me awake and talk to me. He came to see me on breaks. He brought me chocolate, and wheeled me downstairs for smokes. We picked up right where we left off. Even just getting a hug felt so good. I can't remember the last time I was hugged.

The next day, he gave me a little vial of majick healing herbs. He even drove me home when mum wouldn't pick me up, so that was really nice.


I was on crutches when I came home, thanks to the pressure wounds. It was only a couple of days ago that I managed to get back on my feet again. For the first few days especially, until the blisters started to heal, I wasn't moving much at all. When I could start to walk a little bit again, it became a battle of whether my foot hurt more hobbling around or if the rest of my body ached more using crutches.

I'd come home on Tuesday night. By Wednesday, I was in so much pain, I was in tears. The blister on the base of my right foot was the worst. It was the largest of the blisters, and it was in the worst place. From when I woke up until this point, it had just kept getting bigger day by day. If my foot so much as twitched, it was agony. The skin was so taut, there was no flexibility.

As it was causing so much pain, mum actually drove me to the doctors so I could get it seen to. My GP wasn't working, but they could get me in to see someone else. He was my GP from the time I was born basically until my mental health reached a certain point, and he wasn't doing anything, and I had to find someone else.

He had to pop the blister, because like he said, it was going to pop anyway. So he drained this mass of fluid, but it just closed over and refilled by the next day. I had to go in three mornings in a row, plus this Tuesday after the long weekend. It was only the third time it was popped that it stopped refilling, as they used a blade instead of a needle.


I'd texted the dietician once I realised I could no longer get to appointments. She was shocked, and said she'd come for home visits. She was going to come around this week, but I actually managed to get there. I had to see my GP for the dressings anyway, so I'd made the appointment just before in case I got lucky and mum agreed to take me down earlier since I was going to be there anyway. By surprise, she did.

This is why I absolutely love her. Not only did she give me her personal number longer ago than I can remember, but she actually cares. I can't express how happy and relieved I was to see her text. She said again to feel free to text her any time. Even she gave me a hug when I saw her this week. March must be the month of many hugs for me.

My GP is also going to come for home visits, and there's one booked for the 27th. But she also wants me to go out for a walk with her, which is scary as hell. I know it's with the intention of building up so I'll be able to walk the five minutes to appointments by myself, but that doesn't make it any less scary.


I promise my next post won't be overdosehospitalohwoeisme.


Magick herbs
Words keep piling up on my hand these days
Prior to popping
To end on a positive note, here is a picture of the cat hiding in a garbage bag full of weeds.


xxBella

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Beginning of the End

I've been struggling to write for a couple of months now. Even my journal has been seriously neglected. There's something about having the words written down that makes it so much more real, so much harder to ignore.

Over the weekend, I was informed that my mother will no longer be teaching me how to drive, and on top of that, will no longer assist with transport to appointments.

It's barely a 3 minute drive away. But I can't walk there. I can't take a taxi there. It scares me more than I can find words to explain. Walking around the neighbourhood alone makes me terrified - I can't tell you how many years it's been since I went for a simple walk around the block - and don't even get me started on the fear of getting into a car with a stranger (isn't that what we were always told, anyway?).

I'm just going to miss my dietician and GP so, so much. With the dietician, that's a five-year relationship turned to dust in an instant. But that's how great the fear is

I guess she might change her mind about teaching me to drive, but I doubt it. I don't know what's going to happen. I'm scared, and it all just feels so hopeless.

I've lost all access to every kind of help and support I had. If I can't see my GP, I'll probably lose my meds. I was supposed to keep seeing my new psychologist for my GP to be comfortable continuing meds as it is, but obviously that's not going to be happening. I cancelled another appointment with her last week, again due to the taxi issue.

What do I do when I have another COPD exacerbation?

After this, I told mum I was scared. That I felt unsafe, like I was falling into a deep dark pit, and didn't know what to do.
  "I think you need to talk to someone."
I wanted to laugh.
  "And how the hell am I supposed to do that now?"

She would call an ambulance. She would even drive me to A&E, but I'd have no way of getting home. When I was there a few weeks ago, I was given a 24/7 phone number for the youth mental health services, who can do immediate risk assessments. I can't talk on the phone to call up for one, and neither would mother dearest.


Sometimes, like now, it feels like I have two sides of my head fighting to and fro. An angel on on shoulder, a devil on the other.

One side is wanting to get help, desperate to talk, devastated that I can't.
The other side asks me why I'm still bothering. All that I've wanted for as long as I can remember is to disappear, so why am I still trying when it feels like everyone else has given up?

My head is screaming, fighting, bursting against my skull.

Then the latter half takes over, and I feel an eerily complete calm. I stopped panicking and crying and breaking down, I sit myself up, the emotions stop, and a small smile comes across my face. I don't have to do this anymore.

At the end of the day, part of me is kind of relieved, you know? It's kind of like getting permission to throw in the towel. And I feel free.


I don't know what will happen with the ED without the support I've had from my dietician for so many years now. I'm just devastated that it's all come crashing down at once. I'm in free-fall and I'm so scared and I don't know what's going to happen

Now that I've got my thoughts somewhat together, I guess it's time for the part I've been dreading - writing the 'break up' text. I'm going to ask about occasional home visit appointments, and I'm pretty sure my GP does them too. But really, I'd settle for giving her a hug and saying goodbye,



On another note, I was home alone for a couple of days last weekend. For the first time in months, I ended up cracking and smoking. Not synthetics - that stuff's gone for good. But I spent six days in a blur. Between everything that's been going on, I felt like it was either that or self-harm/overdose, and at that point I wouldn't have been able to get help. After the past few days, I wish I had more to numb the fucking pain. But I can't fall back into the 'all day every day' trap, and considering the cravings/withdrawals I'm still feeling, I know I can't risk it.

Since I finished it, I've been drinking for the past four nights/afternoons because I didn't want to deal with sobriety, I didn't want to feel. I never drink that many days in a row. But when I had weed, I went eight days without a drink, which is better than I've done since... well, since I last smoked, to be honest.


Probably the last time I'll be all dolled up for... I don't even know how long. Without appointments, or learning how to drive, there's nothing left for me to get out for. They were the only access I had to the outside world. 

I'm trying to plan an outing. Maybe spend a few hours going to my favourite thrift stores, maybe going to the zoo. But right now, I can't even think about it. My head is overwhelmed with everything I need to do. But I'm so depressed, I rarely get anything done. I just zombie on the couch in my pajamas all day, re-runs playing in the background to try to distract myself from the nothingness.



xxBella

Monday, 13 February 2017

Will the cycle never end?

The thoughts have been building, becoming more intense and intrusive for over a week now. On Wednesday, I took 8 laxatives, hoping that'd sate the urge. But on Thursday, after an argument with mum, I broke.

She told me I should move out.
She called me a freeloader.

She told me to get off my fat ass and do more with my days. I told her she has no way of knowing, nor care, of how I spend my days, and that it's none of her business, that she doesn't dictate how I should spend my time or what is productive to my life or not. She doesn't care about the deep bout of depression that's left me frozen on the couch for weeks now. I struggle to do even the basics of brushing my hair, washing my face, brushing my teeth. She doesn't care that I do so little, move so little, because if I do I'll self-destruct. 

She wants me gone, but she has no right to decide on the terms on which I leave, whether it's moving out or death. Either way, I will be gone from her life.

I overdosed on laxatives, again. Usually, my overdoses have been one packet, 100 pills, give or take 10-20. This time was 2 packets, and my fourth big laxative overdose. Intoxication, self harm, and self poisoning are my only ways to escape. A laxative overdose gives me three days break from the world, three days of pain.

Mum called an ambulance. I barricaded myself in the lounger room, my heavy armchair pushed against the door.

The ambulance arrived with police in tow. So embarrassing - what will the neighbours think? It seems the police always turn up now if I've self-harmed in any way. They were all very nice about it though.

With people coming and going, Billy was put outside. He whimpered and cried - the poor thing has terrible separation anxiety.
When I did get home after hospital, he gave his usual excited welcome, then sat outside the bathroom door whimpering when I dropped my bag and made a mad dash for the toilet. 


But yet again, I land myself in hospital.


I got to the hospital sometime around 7pm, and the mental health team came to see me. I didn't get to see the nice psychiatrist, but their general mental health team are usually quite nice.

The head of the team actually remembered me from years ago. From how the conversation went, I'm guessing it was from my first ED admissions. Given it's such a big hospital, it feels weird that so many people there seem to remember me from one time or another.

He asked if I'd been drinking, as the paramedics noticed the bottle of wine on the table. I told him I had a few glasses of wine with dinner (…well, maybe a little more, truth be told). He asked to check my BAC, and it turned out at 0.089.
  “Well, you certainly wouldn't be able to drive.”
  “I'm on my learners permit – I couldn't drive at even 0.001.”
(Note: Since I'm sure it varies internationally, a result over 0.05 is the limit for fully licensed drivers).

They gave me a few bags of saline, and a constant stream of buscopan (for the cramps) and pain killers, although I refused many of the painkillers. I was moved to the short stay unit, and they would keep supervising me for a while, but there's really not much they can do (which is why it frustrates me that I can't just stay at home).

It took six hours for the laxatives to start kicking in. Within the first six hours of their effect, I had six bowel movements. Within the first twelve hours, I'd had 16. That was the worst of it, but the cramps, nausea, and runs to the toilet continued for the next day or two.


I feel like a balloon deflating. Shriveled, dry, and empty.


I was discharged later the next day. They wanted me to go see my GP the next day and get some bloods done to check my electrolytes, but as I found out, pathology wasn't open, so trying to get in to see GP seemed completely pointless.

Mum refused to come pick me up. The doctors were going to talk to her about keeping an eye on me. Checking in on me and keeping me safe, telling her what to watch out for and signs I might faint or need additional medical help.

After over an hour of panicking and crying while the nurses tried to find a safer way for me to get home, as I had no one to call on, the mental health team decided they'd help me to a taxi. Taxis are one of my biggest fears (getting in a car with a stranger? no,no,no,no,no). It's not something I'd do again. I wanted to cry on the drive home, but I was focusing all of my energy into keeping my bowels in check.


Between running to the toilet, cramps, OBs, meds, and mental health team & doctors checking in, I barely slept in hospital, or for the first night at home.

I had three quiet days waiting for the effects to pass. It seems to be 48-72 hours for my body to get through it. I was dizzy and weak for most of it, not to mention the cramps

I stuck to mostly peppermint tea (which has never felt so good, and worked amazingly to help with the cramps), yoghurt, and liquids for the first two days, hoping it'd minimize the strain on my digestive tract. Watermelon made me sick. Soup and bread made me sick. I could stomach small amounts of dry crackers, but that was about it without feeling like I had to throw up.


The youth mental health services have called a few times, to follow up on the admission, and to see if I need extra support. It seems kind of pointless when I have my psychologist (as useless as she is), but maybe if I do this, then my GP will let me drop the psychologist. They also gave me a 24/7 number, and asked for me to contact them if I feel in crisis or like I'm going to overdose again, and they can see me for a risk assessment any time, day or night. 

Tomorrow, I've got my dietician in the morning and GP in the afternoon, then the psychologist on Wednesday. There's going to be a lot to catch up on, so it'll be a busy few days. Maybe it's time to look at a new care plan. Because, obviously, something isn't working.


xxBella

Friday, 3 February 2017

Return to Normalcy

This week has been busy catching up with appointments.

On Tuesday, I saw the dietician for the first time in six weeks. I missed a couple of appointments, then she was away for a few, plus the stint in hospital. So it's been a while.

We talked about the overdose and drinking and what TV shows we've been watching. It was so good to just catch up and be able to talk to someone.

She asked about weighing me, and I said no, that the drinking has shot my weight up over the past couple of months. When she asked for a rough number, I just said
  “Too much.”


Yesterday, I saw my GP. She begrudgingly gave me back my regular PRNs after a speech on how I need to stick around, that she doesn't want to be responsible for my death, and is wary of giving me more meds in case I take a fatal overdose. I haven't been given them since the overdose, and as a result I've been skipping my regular meds and feeling horrible, so I have extra in case I need them.

She wants me to start returning leftover meds to the pharmacy after I build up five extra, but to be honest, I'm hesitant. My pill stash has become a kind of safety blanket. It's my way out. It's my way of getting a great when life becomes too much. It's my go-to for it I decide I'm just tired of it all. And that's a lot to give up.

Then, this morning, mum had gone to pick up her own meds, and the pharmacist told her that they now have to see me at the door at each delivery to hand back leftovers. I can't do that. Usually, they just quietly slip the pack behind the security door. I have so much trouble even opening the door for my fortnightly grocery delivery. I can't face some stranger stickybeaking twice a week. My GP knows this, and it wasn't the deal anyone. I'm allowed to have a reasonable amount of extras up my sleeve in case of emergency – not give everything back twice a week.

My usual meds have also been changed again. The lorazepam at midday is gone, and replaced with another oxazepam. Now I'm on 300mg seroquel morning and night, and 30mg oxazepam at midday and night, plus 45mg oxazepam for PRNS. They've been pushing me for a while to change to just one type of benzo, and hopefully it'll work better.

Even though oxazepam initially started as a sleeping pill for me, it's become one of the most useful meds I've ever been on. The only downside to having it at midday is that I'm not supposed to drive after taking it, which is going to make continuing to learn tricky at best.


I did tell my GP that it's not been going so well with my new psychologist, and she said she'd give her a call and talk to her about giving more active advice instead of just talking pointlessly.

I was actually supposed to my the psychologist this morning, but I didn't go. I'm just so tired of it all. I did actually write a note to give her last time, just a couple of days before the overdose, because saying the words was too hard, but I couldn't even do that. From the morning I sit down, she just makes me feel like shit. I feel belittled and laughed at. I can't talk to her like I should be able to.

An hour before the appointment, I just broke down crying because I can't keep doing this.

I don't care if I'm 'on contract' to see the new psychologist for six months before I'm allowed to say it's not working. I can't keep going and sitting there when she makes me feel even worse. I'm just tired of the whole damn system.

After cancelling the appointment, a few hours later I got a text from the psychologist's office, saying
  “[Psychologist] has been speaking with [GP] and both would like you to make an ongoing appointment. Please ring to make a time."
It looks like I'm not getting out of this one so easily. Ugh.

Speaking of – thanks to everyone for your feedback and love on my last post. Some of you mentioned seeing the hospital psychiatrist as an outpatient. Although I think it's not going to be possible, I think I might ask my GP if there's any way if it could happen. So, fingers crossed.



xxBella

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Here we go again...

I know I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. The Christmas and New Year season is always a stressful time. Last week, I broke, and ended up in hospital for four days.

Across Sunday night through Monday morning, I ended up taking an overdose of a mixture of oxazepam, seroquel, lorazepam, and an over-the-counter sedative.

After my morning coffee, I just gave up. My mum had gone to meet my Great Aunt for a coffee. Just after she left, I took the rest of my pills. She came home and found me snoring on the couch. A few hours later, she realised I hadn't moved a muscle in the time she'd been home. She looked closer and could tell it wasn't good. I wouldn't wake up. I only gave the slightest response when she yelled my name.

It would've been a perfect way to go. So peaceful, just falling asleep. No pain, no panic, no regret. I've overdoses on different combinations many times over the past 11 years. They've always kept me awake and have usually been painful, as if I could feel the poison burning through my body. I've always panicked and called for help. But this time, I just drifted away. I took the pills, lay down, and fell asleep nearly immediately. In a morbid sense, there was a certain beauty to it.

I'd meant to write a note detailing what I'd taken and put it on the couch or table somewhere, as I used to do for overdoses, but I didn't get around to it. It was worse than last time. I'm not going to post exactly what I took, but there was over 60 pills in a combination of oxazepam, lorazepam and seroquel, plus 10 over-the-counter sedatives. That's over two weeks' worth of meds that I've slowly stockpiled, plus the sedatives. It was my entire stash, so it was bound to be messy.

I don't remember the paramedics getting here. I don't remember getting into the ambulance. I had to be carried. The clothes I was wearing were cut irreparably as they needed access now.

Just like last time, the first 24 hours are a blur. I remember getting a blood test, but not the IV or urine catheters. I remember slurring my words when I woke up, speaking slowly and having trouble making the correct sounds, and the doctor reassuring my mum that it was just from the anaesthetic.

I don't know how a small breakdown escalated to this. Drinking on the Sunday night probably didn't help by the end of it, but when I first opened the bottle and danced around the kitchen, I felt free.

They kept saying “suicide attempt” in handover, but it wasn't. It was for a break, to ease the pain, to put a pause on the world in the same way drinking and drugs had. It was self-harm. It was getting out of my head.

From A&E, to ICU, then back down to a general ward. My legs were like jelly, and balancing seemed like an impossible task. Even with rails to hold, I wasn't allowed to make the 2-3 meter walk to the toilet by myself. When I tried to get up, the scale on the bed would set off an emergency bell because it was too dangerous for me to stand.

It was Tuesday morning they moved me to a general ward. In the middle of the night, I asked a nurse why I'd gotten none of my regular medication. When told I had nothing written up, they sent a medical doctor down to see me. He said I wouldn't be given any of my medication, which was very upsetting.

He asked “Have you been seeing or hearing things that aren't really there?”
I told him no. The thing is, you don't necessarily know when you're hallucinating. You don't know if something's not really there, until someone tells you.

After he left, I started running through things in my head. By the morning, I realised I had been hallucinating, which continued for a day or two. I remember thinking there was maggots in my dinner the first night, and stopped eating after two bites. They were so vivid, I was sure they were there. In retrospect, I should've called for a nurse, and then I would've realised they weren't actually there.

The adhesives on the dressings were making me itch (and one arm still has a rash, a week later). For the first time ever, I took out the IV cannula myself. I peeled away the dressing, and one it was loose, started gently pulling it out. I only had one hand, but still managed to get it out and put pressure on.

The next day, more doctors came to see me. The first thing they did was listen to my chest and mention follow-ups of an x-ray I'd had done, which I thought was odd given why I was there. I guess it's coming to that time of year when my lungs flare up, and I had been getting a hoarse cough and sore chest. They told me I'd had IV antibiotics while I was in ICU after the x-ray. They also said my blood pressure was higher than expected, but gave no number.

Medically, I was okay, just very slow and shaky on my feet, and nauseated. I just needed my head to stop being so fuzzy and making stuff up. Most of the time, I couldn't answer the “what's your name, where are you, what year is it, what day of the week it is” questions.

The new psychiatrist at the hospital is brilliant though – so much better than the Horrible Psychiatrist. He came to see me later in the day. I asked him about my meds, and he said I should've been given them. That there was no point in punishing my by taking them away. I told him about the hallucinations.

He asked what triggered it, and I said I didn't know. Then I thought. I was meant to be catching up with a friend the day before, and they bailed on me. Looking at my record, he noted that my last overdose in November was after being discharged from the Clinic, then trying to get back in, but the psychiatrist refusing. He thinks one of my big triggers in abandonment and feeling like people don't care. I hadn't put it together like that before, but it makes a lot of sense.

I told him I didn't feel safe going home, that I'd just overdose again once I had more meds. He said we could look at an inpatient admission somewhere. He was supposed to come around the next morning before I was discharged, but he never did.

I ended up waiting longer to be discharged as the staff tried to find a bed at the Clinic for me. I spent three hours with my mind constantly changing as to whether or not I wanted to go there. In the afternoon, after multiple phone calls, they called back to say that they had no private beds, and couldn't take me anyway as I posed a risk to myself. They said they'd see what the mental health system could offer me, but they never called back.

Today I tried to make an appointment to see my GP, but she's away for the week. I regretted putting off doing it last week. The earliest I could see her is next Tuesday, but since I already have a double appointment on Thursday, it didn't seem worth changing it. The only problem is that, when the pharmacy delivered my twice-weekly meds yesterday, they gave me no PRNs. I have some left from the last one, but it's going to be a week without. I'll figure it out, somehow.

Outside having a smoke




The rooms had mini fridges in them! Perfect for keeping extra yoghurts, jelly, etc
 leftover from meals as back-up for future meals
(And, of course, a Coke Zero stash)
xxBella

Saturday, 7 January 2017

2017 Resolutions, and 2016 in Review

A week into the New Year, and everyone is reflecting and making their resolutions and goals for the next year. New Years doesn't really make a huge mark in my life. Still, I do usually like to set a few goals. I'm not a huge believer in January 1st being the only time to make standing goals – I set new goals every month, every week, every day. But for the longer term ones, it does seem appropriate to take advantage of the whole New Years Resolutions thing.


1. Engage in some form of online study – either VCE, TAFE (either IT or Sewing), German, or Auslan
Okay, so VCE is completion of high school. TAFE is tertiary study. I never made it through Year 10 in high school, and although I started a certificate in Information Technology, my mental health made it impossible to complete it. These are big goals though, so if not, I'd even just like to continue my German studies or Auslan (Australian Sign Language).

2. Start tightrope walking (either at home or circus classes)
This is probably a more random one. I dabbled in poi and staff twirling/spinning some years ago, when I'd go to Melbourne every Sunday to meet a group of twirlers and practice into the evening. But recently, I've started getting the urge to learn how to tightrope walk, something that fascinated me as a child. They would set up a tightrope at twirling, but I never tried it. I hope to change this soon, either with professional classes, or as the 'going out and socialising' part is a challenge, by investigating how to make a basic home setup.

3. Learn to dance
Again, this is something I've always wanted to do, but my skills are limited to drunkenly bouncing around the kitchen as I cook dinner. I've done some belly dance in the past, and I'd either like to get back to that and/or start ballroom dancing. I might be able to continue belly dance at home, although ballroom would be a bigger challenge as I'd have to go out.

4. Get my P plates (probationary license)
I've been learning how to drive recently, which will hopefully allow me to regain the safe place of the car. Up until early in the year, mum would take me on drives most days when I needed to calm down or needed a distraction, and the car was like an extension on the house. I could go anywhere, but still feel safe. After the drives stopped, I started fearing going more than a few kilometers away from home, which is something I'm trying to work on by doing longer drives as I'm learning.

5. Work on getting back to my monthly outings
This was a huge part of challenging my agoraphobia, a resolution that I set for the first time three years ago, but only suceeded in the first year. Usually I'd go out for bush walks, dinner, or occasionally shopping or new piercings. All in all, this past year I had 9 outings.

6. Reach one year off synthetics (June 27th)
This will probably be one of my most important goals for the year, and the one I'm most likely to suceed at.

I have also set goals relating to restriction and weight loss, more because I felt like I had to than anything else, but I think I'll keep those to myself for now.



After looking back through some of my posts from this year, there's a scary amount of incidents that I have no memory of, and wouldn't have remembered where it not for this blog. I had a rough year with my health. I've rarely needed ambulances before, but this year, I lost count.

In March, I had a nasty case of pneumonia and spent a couple of weeks in hospital. Due to having COPD and Bronchiolitis Obliterans, I've ended up in hospital once a year since I was diagnosed in 2013. Usually, it just involves IV antibiotics, oxygen, and constant OBs. The Lung Doctor Man sugarcoats nothing, and this time he told me I'm on the path to an early death with a consistent downward trajectory.

I was in ICU twice this year – once in February and once in December – both from overdosing on my meds. There have been many overdoses, but these were the two worst.

There have also been multiple laxative overdoses. I've abused them in the past, but I'd never overdosed like I have this past year. The first time, I went in an ambulance to A&E, where they didn't even know what senna was, but they still saw fit to give me oxycontin. The other times, I decided they didn't know what they were doing, and I was just as well off at home and seeing my GP the next day.


I had many, many ambulance call-outs due to synthetics, both in 2016 and 2015. The main culprit was that they'd started to cause seizures, which in years of smoking them, I hadn't experienced until my last 18 months on them. For that time though, they happened multiple times a week. I guess that's the joy of constantly changing chemicals and never knowing what's in it.

The final straw was in June. Over three days, there were two calls to 000, resulting in not only an ambulance, but police coming as I was actively self-harming. Not just self-harming, but violently attacking myself. I was out of my head like I'd never been before. There were times that I didn't know where I was or what I was doing. Then, before I knew it, there'd be seven strangers – three paramedics and four police – standing over me.

After six years on-and-off them, I never thought something would happen that was severe and shocking enough to make me give them up. They'd always had a negative effect on my health, but after that weekend, I stopped cold turkey. Now, it's been over six months since I've smoked them, and three months since I've even used the natural stuff. I knew I had to break the pattern of 'all day every day' that I'd been in for seven years with the natural stuff, otherwise when there was a glitch in the supply chain, I'd run back to synthetics.

Since then, I've been drinking more, but it keeps the smoking at bay, as well as being an alternative to self-harm or abusing my medication.


In August, I finally met the psychologist who I'd been putting off meeting all year. I've only seen her a few times so far, but it's the most support for my mental health that I've had in years. For some time now, it's mostly been bouncing around to various mental health nurses, who most of the time have done more harm than good.

I was inpatient at the Clinic in November, which all in all was a total bust. Childhood trauma had recently bubbled to the surface, and each day was a struggle, constantly breaking down and finding no answers. Unfortunately, they didn't do much to help. I initially asked for the referral so I could start talking about it in a safe environment, where I wouldn't be able to self-harm or overdose, but after I got there, they psychiatrist told me it was more to have a break, and that they wouldn't be dealing with the PTSD, and I'd have to do that after discharge with my psychologist.

The admission revolved around getting me out of my room, going to groups and being around people. In nearly three weeks there, I never had a conversation with another patient. I only went to a handful of groups. All in all, I was worse when I was discharged than when I put the referral through.

I had actually tried to go there earlier in the year. Only a few days into 2016, I had my first ambulance call-out. At the time, I was actually at the Clinic doing an interview for an admission. I'd not even made it past the waiting room, and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor. I didn't know what day it was. I was threatened with being sectioned if I didn't go with the paramedics to A&E. But when I got home later in the day, I had another seizure and another call to 000.

After I was discharged this time, I broke down as soon as I got home, wanting to go back. Mum called the Clinic to see if there was any chance of readmission. They spoke to the psychiatrist, and said no. Distraught, I took the meds that had piled up at home during the admission. I don't remember much of the rest of the day, but I was taken by ambulance and was unconscious in the ICU for nearly 24 hours before I woke up, not sure where I was or what had happened.


As far as agoraphobia goes; as I mentioned above, a few years back I set a resolution to break my isolation, to get out of the house and go somewhere once a month. I continued this goal for each year since, although this year (and last year), I've fallen short. I had nine outings this year.

One of my favourite things to do was going out for meals, funnily enough. It wasn't even so much the food part of it. To me, going to dinner and having a bottle of wine, sitting around a table and chatting and laughing, was my alternative to going out for drinks at a pub or club. Prior to their breakup earlier this year, we often went out for dinner – my brother, his girlfriend, my mum and I.

We only went out once this year and I haven't been out for dinner since. I was hoping to go out to celebrate the six month mark off synthetics, but as it was two days after Christmas, I figured it would be too busy. I'm now planning to go out for a special dinner to celebrate the one year mark, and will finally open the fancy bottle of wine my brother gave me a couple of years ago.

I also got out for a bush walk in April, which is another one of my favourite things to do when I go out, but not something I get the opportunity to do often.

There was even a shopping trip with my Great Aunt, plus another time we went to a cafe. They often go out for coffee together, but I haven't tagged along. After losing my Great Uncle, and the immense guilt for not being able to go to his funeral, I felt it necessary to see her as much as I could.

He passed away when I had pneumonia. They are basically grandparents to me, and the only real family left apart from my mum and brother. I was so desperate to make it to the funeral, I put off going to hospital in hopes of making it. The morning of the funeral, I woke up in terrible pain, unable to move. I couldn't walk, and my breathing was too bad to safely stay at home any longer. I visited his grave when I was inpatient at the Clinic, and that was when the reality and grief really hit me.

In the real world, I have only two friends who I ever see, A and R. Going to their houses has always seemed safer and less threatening than going out in public, so I sort of count them separately to the real 'outings'. There were 5 times this year that I managed to be social, usually with the aid of alcohol.

There are also seemingly smaller accomplishments with the agoraphobia. I can go for a walk in the You Yangs, but I can't remember the last time I went for a walk around the block – something I've wished I could do since I developed AN and started exercising.

I've made some progress with getting further away from the house itself, but still on the property. I can now walk out the front door when the car's parked on the street, instead of needing to go out through the garage into the lane way. Going further down the backyard is still a huge challenge though. I can walk about a quarter of the way down the yard, but to get to the garage, I still need someone with me.


Let's hope 2017 will be better than 2016...



xxBella