World Mental Health Day

(Just got done writing this one. Heh… sorry, it turned out way longer than I anticipated, but here we go…)

Any time you get on Twitter and scroll through your feed, you see any number of people posting something because it’s a “National (whatever) Day” of some sort. Usually it’s not… but it gives folks a good excuse to post cute pictures of their cat, dog, kid, or whatever – but after seeing several posts and doing a quick google, it turns out today really is World Mental Health Day.

It’s meant to raise awareness, show support for folks getting or needing mental health care, and to also reduce the stigma that’s sometimes involved. Often involved, actually. πŸ˜’ For example, a while back at one of my primary care doctor appointments I was discussing some of the things in my life that were causing me anxiety. My disability, pain, the (then) newly discovered cancer, Mom being sick and now having passed, other close friends dying from cancer, dealing with workers comp, etc… 😟 like I told her – stuff that would probably cause anyone to feel stressed. I was just telling her so she’d have the full story, but she said she could refer me to a counselor if I wanted to talk to someone about it. πŸ‘©πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Seemed like a good idea to me. Sometimes just being able to let out your stress or anxiety to someone that’s not involved in your life in any way… it can just take a little bit of the weight off. I saw her like once a month for a few months, and she said she could refer me to their in-house doctor to see if there was any medication that might be able to help. I wasn’t really interested, since I was feeling an appropriate amount of “bleh” in regards to the stuff that was causing it… but I went ahead and took her suggestion.

I now see that doctor about once every six or eight weeks, and I’ve actually got an appointment with him tomorrow where I’ll need to make a decision. πŸ€” Because, despite this feeling like a normal series of doctor visits – just as if I was dealing with a physical health condition – the fact that this doctor gives me medication to help with my anxiety is now being used against me. 😠 And being used against me by the last person that I would expect to further the stigma surrounding mental health care… another doctor. ☹️

And when I say “mental health care” … I don’t even take any type of super serious medication, and I haven’t been diagnosed with any extreme disorders. Until this hiccup happened, I looked at this doctor and my treatment there as “Yeah, I guess it makes me feel a little better maybe… or at least I know it’s not making me feel worse… so I guess I’ll continue going.” Like, in my mind, it was barely a thing, but I continued going since it was now part of my current medical routine.

But when I had to go to the independent medical evaluation for the workers comp system (a week or so before getting that second radioactive iodine dose and scan for my cancer followup) one of the things discussed with that doctor was what medical treatment I was currently getting, and from who. (Regardless if it was related to my WC injury or not, to get a complete picture…) So of course I talked about the cancer doctor and treatment, my WC doctor and treatment, and then my PCP doctor and referral regarding the mental health care.

Now, these exams, they’re initiated by my former employer’s insurer, so of course they’re rarely going to be helpful to my cause. So I expected him to say certain things, but I never expected that being treated by a doctor for occasional anxiety would essentially be “weaponized” and used against me the way that it is. 😟😞 Because this doctor took the names of the two meds I’m prescribed, and picked some of the absolute worst possible reasons that I may be taking them. You know how almost every medication has one “thing” it is known for treating, but then it can also be used for treating a half dozen or more other things?

You could even do this test on yourself. Just grab whatever meds you take, get on WebMD, pick out the most extreme, “worst case scenario” possible uses for each medication, and see how close that sounds – compared to what you’re actually taking them for. 🧐 That’s what this doctor did to me. Taking what is run-of-the-mill, minor anxiety treatment to me, and twisting it into all sorts of implied, speculative, “concerning” mental conditions that could be so severe that they even affect how I interpret / talk about my pain and disability. πŸ˜§πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜  Reading those things in his report was honestly shocking. πŸ₯Ί

The funny thing is, for most people… just the pain that I deal with each day, and the sheer amount of things that I can no longer do due to the disability in my left shoulder and arm… just those things alone are enough reason that a person might want to include anxiety treatment in their normal medical routine. And I was doing it mostly because another doctor suggested it, and it sounded like a “might as well” thing, rather than me desperately needingΒ it or seeking it out. And now it has bitten me in the ass. πŸ™„πŸ˜’

Well, maybe it has bitten me in the ass. (Maybe the commission will see right through it, as they should.) I won’t know how his report will affect my worker comp case until the hearing is scheduled and all of the doctors’ information (from both sides) is reviewed. But now I’m stuck, wondering if tomorrow I should let this doctor know that I no longer need his services. πŸ˜ŸπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ He probably helps me a little bit, but it’s certainly something that I could do away with if it’s going to damage the treatment that I get for my work injury. It’s obviously more important (and logical) for me to want to keep the treatment that keeps my pain to a minimum, which also helps keep my stress and anxiety to a minimum.

Yeah, so anyway, it’s a bit of a clusterfuck… and, unfortunately, anyone that reads my story here… anyone that may have been considering seeing a counselor or psychiatrist for the first time… they’ve now got something to add to their mental “nope” list when it comes to the pros and cons of seeking any type of mental health treatment. πŸ˜’ I don’t take it personally, what the “independent” doctor wrote. I understand that his job is to come up with all of the “worst case scenario” stuff that he can, since my doctors will obviously be talking positively about all of the ways that my current treatment is as effective as the WC situation will allow.

I guess I look at those types of doctors the same way that you might look at public attorneys who are appointed to defend obvious criminals in court. They still have to give that defense their maximum effort, even if it goes against what many people would consider to be “right.” That doctor has chosen that job for reasons only he would know… so I can only hope that sometimes he stops to think about the effect that his actions have on us folks who rely on our WC treatment to keep our pain and lives at least tolerable. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜Ÿ

Happy World Mental Health Day 2019. πŸ˜’πŸŽ‰

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See, I’ll Still Ramble…

I had a good day out of the house yesterday. Well, afternoon anyway… did some “chore” running that I had to do, stopped off at a couple thrift stores, and then went out to visit with Dad for an hour or so before heading back home. πŸ™‚ Did quite a bit, relative to the same time several weeks ago, and it didn’t take too much out of me… but I did fall asleep way too damn early yesterday. πŸ™„πŸ˜ It wasn’t that “drained” type of sleep… I just went back to the bedroom early, figuring I’d watch a couple movies before I sacked out, but I ended up actually falling asleep around 7pm. 😴

Woke back up at midnight, watched the 2nd and 3rd Matrix movies (since I watched the first one again a couple days ago), then fell asleep near the end of the last one and didn’t wake up until around 10am this morning. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ So it’s 11pm now, I’m in bed, and I’m tired – but not sleepy – so I really have no idea when I’m gonna fall asleep or when I’ll wake up. πŸ€ͺ Luckily the only thing on my agenda tomorrow is going out to see Bri at some point. She’s one of my friends that I didn’t want to see me in as bad of condition as I was for those several weeks, especially considering that she lost her mom to cancer last year. 😟

Two totally different kinds, so any symptoms shouldn’t be compared at all – but I just know that if people saw me during the really bad week or two, they could definitely get the wrong idea about how good or bad I was doing. 😳 But anyway, I’m feeling “better enough” now that I don’t think I come off as “concerning” anymore… at least no more than usual. 😏 So I’m 99% sure I’ll still end up seeing her tomorrow, it’ll probably just be later in the day than I was thinking when I talked to her earlier. She’s great though… and a little frustrated with me at the moment… because like she repeatedly tells me – she’s been through the worst of the worst with her mom, so she doesn’t want me to feel like I have to hide anything from her for her sake. πŸ˜ŠπŸ’•

But my little thrifting trip… it was productive as well. I got a couple shirts, picked up some cheap stereo speakers for Cassi’s receiver that she got, and then found this strange, lone drinking glass with the silhouette of just a woman’s black hair and old-school glasses. 🧐😯 It immediately reminded me of Mom… from a few of her photos when she was really young… and when I showed it to Dad, unprompted, he immediately saw the same thing that I did. 😊 So that was kinda neat, and such a random thing for me to have spotted on a shelf where I normally wouldn’t have even been looking. I’ll have to take a better photo of that glass and then find one or two of the pictures of Mom that it resembles. πŸ™‚

Even more random, Genesee was heading back home from a trip she had taken with her family over the long weekend – and at the same time that I spotted that glass, she sent me a photo of an exit sign that they had just passed under, showing that they were only a couple of miles from the Atlantic City Expressway. 😊🎰 So, yeah… even though I think about her every day, it seems like Mom wanted to make sureΒ that she definitely got our attention that day. πŸ™‚Β And it worked…

Focusing On The Positives

Went to my follow-up appointment yesterday with the endocrinologist after my full body scan. I dunno, I guess it was mostly good news, but it wasn’t the “all clear” that of course anyone would prefer to hear. πŸ˜• But honestly, the chances of a doctor saying something like that are probably pretty slim anyway – since the last thing they probably wanna seem like they’re doing is handing out “guarantees” when it comes to something with such serious potential consequences.

The Negative: The scan did show a few tiny areas that lit up, meaning there’s some remaining thyroid cells there – as they had absorbed the iodine radiation and blew their cover during the scan. πŸ”¬πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈΒ Also, there’s no way to determine if those thyroid cells have cancerous cells in them as well… it just confirms that thyroid cells are there, and that we’ll need to periodically keep an eye on them. πŸ˜’

The Positive: The tiny bits that lit up were where they should be, where my thyroid used to be, meaning that none of those cells had migrated to any other locations where they could cause different kinds of trouble. The radiation that made those cells visible to the scan also serves to continue killing and shrinking those cells, so even over the next month or so they should continue to decrease in their already small size.

You can think of the surgery in the same way as someone trying to carve a hunk of fat off the edge of a steak before grilling it. Someone like me, I’d want to get as much of that fat cut off as possible – but at the same time you don’t wanna accidentally cut away good, non-fat, steak meat. 😏 Same thing with my surgery. The surgeon tries to cut away all of the thyroid, but not at the expense of accidentally cutting away non-thyroid meat. 😳 I guess it’s not terribly uncommon for tiny bits to be left behind because of that logic.

It won’t be for quite a while, but next year I’ll have to have an ultrasound of that area, to see if those cells appear to have grown. And since thyroids don’t grow back, I’ll assume that would be a bad thing. So at least the next “next step” isn’t stopping my meds and getting dosed with radiation again. ☒️🀒☒️ That tells me that while there is reason for concern and monitoring, it’s not of the “oh shit” variety where one of the most extreme measures is the first measure taken.

So, like I said, I guess overall it was a good result. I mean, there’s plenty of ways where it obviously could have been worse, but it’s still shitty that my first radiation didn’t kill offΒ all of the thyroid cells – because there’s no way that this won’t be something that floats around in my thoughts more than I’d like it to. πŸ˜’ I guess all my other recent lab numbers are good though, and I still feel like I’m gaining back more energy with each day that passes, so there’s that as well. I just wish that was the only thing that was going on with my neck.

So, yeah… πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Pace Yourself, Dummy

Felt like I had a little more energy than usual yesterday, so I trimmed my hobo beard here in the living room (with a trimmer that allegedly catches all the trimmed hairs) but then of course I still wanted to vacuum up whatever it didn’t get. Turned it on, but the vacuum wasn’t sucking, and then it just shut itself off. πŸ˜’ Awesome. Didn’t realize how many filters were inside this thing, but they had become clogged with the flea dust that I spread and vacuumed up a couple weeks ago. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ”§ So I had it in pieces, took out and washed all the filters, and that was it for me.

Not that I had anything that I needed to do after that, since the filters needed to dry overnight anyway before I could even try it again… but yeah, went from “okay” to completely whupped without any warning. Took a shower to see if that would jump-start things, but nope… just made me ready for bed. 😏 And yeah, I was thinking about how I’d be missing the meteor shower, but there were enough passing clouds that I didn’t feel too crappy about not having the oomph to stay awake and set up the camera to do things properly. πŸ”­πŸ§ Looks like it might end up even more cloudy tonight, but we’ll see.

But yeah, as I was starting to fear as the time got closer – just a few days of being back on my thyroid meds hasn’t quite done the trick yet. I’m noticing a difference, so that’s good, but I just have to be patient and stop trying to do more than I should. I mean, taking apart the vacuum wasn’t even physically difficult… but yeah, I just gotta keep taking it easy for a while. That’s what I did today, and the most I plan to do tonight or tomorrow is maybe that time-lapse video and then getting through the current stack of mail. πŸ™‚πŸ° No physical stuff, even though I’ve got a basket-and-a-half of somewhat radioactive clothes that I will need to get to sooner than later. (But it’s out of the way and not hurting anybody, so meh…)

Only real obligation tomorrow is my workers comp appointment, which is typically just in and out unless we get chatty… but it’s my doctor’s assistant that will be seeing me tomorrow, so other than letting him know how run down I’ve been for the last month and why, it’s just gonna be getting those meds on track. I’m barely out of the window where I’m technically supposed to be avoiding people for extended periods of time anyway, so I’ll make sure to let everyone in the office know that when I get there, which should also help to keep this visit short and to the point.

And whether this jinxes me or not, I like that I haven’t gotten a call from my thyroid doctor’s office on either of the business days since I had the scan done. πŸ€” Different, unfortunately, from one of my friends who has been having some heart testing done – and she got one of those “Let’s go ahead and get you in here as soon as possible…” calls, which always makes your stomach drop. 😳😟 Can’t dwell though… all this shit is in the doctors’ and God’s hands, and we all just have to hope for the best. πŸ™πŸ»

Take The Hint, Weeds

Waiting for the sun to go down so I can go out and spray some more poison on the misc that’s now growing up where the spirea bushes used to be. Despite the heat from a week ago or so, we’ve also had enough days of decent rain – enough that there’s all kinds of green popping up back there. Some of it, I’m sure, is the grass seed that I spread… but most of it looks to be random shit that’s been growing like, well… weeds.

Mowers avoided the area (with the new seed) last time they came by, but I’m gonna let Jason know that I’ve poisoned everything that’s trying to grow – so next time they’re out here they can go ahead and start hitting that area to keep everything knocked down. 🚜🌿🌾 And I know from the little circle area out front, where Aunt C used to stack all of the branches, clippings, and other yard waste… once all of that stuff was removed, it now gets mowed like any other part of the lawn and doesn’t look that different from the rest.

So even if that back line isn’t perfect with grass yet, and even though all the random misc is gonna try really hard to keep popping up – if I go ahead and turn the mowers loose on that area, even if it effs it up for a while, I’m sure that by the end of the season it will look enough like “part of the lawn, but rough” that both me and the neighbor should be okay with it. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Gonna have to pace myself, of course, since just going out to the garage to get the new jug of juice and bring it in here to prep overheated me. πŸ˜–πŸ˜ Β (I can’t even explain how stupid and frustrating that is. The overheating / energy… not the way the poison is packaged.) It’s all zip-tied and shrinkwrapped and the little hose part has to be assembled, but once that’s done it’s just pump and go. I’m not gonna come here and bitch afterwards, and I know it’s gonna get done, so at least I can check off the “not totally worthless” box today. πŸ˜’

Run Down

Not bitching, just noting… I’m really starting to feel the affects of going without my thyroid meds. πŸ˜’ I had every intention last night of doing those two things that I mentioned, and while I did get the grass seed down (and the rain clouds that were coming dried up, thanks) I absolutely crapped out as soon as I came back in.

I remember washing my hands, to get rid of whatever the “blue” is on all of that seed, but after that – I was just out. 😴 I don’t even remember falling asleep, but it couldn’t have been much past dark. I’ve experienced a wide variety of side effects from the various meds I’ve tried or been on, but never has my energy dropped to zero (in what felt like)Β instantly like that.

And surprisingly, even after sleeping a long time last night, it doesn’t seem to have done anything for my energy today. Thankfully nothing was on the schedule for today, so I’ve just been tending to Maven and hoping that this is just an anomaly – and not the lack of meds catching up to me and showing it how it’s gonna go for the next two weeks. 😬

I’ve yet to call my attorneys, to see if I should maybe try to reschedule the “independent” workers comp exam (which is currently scheduled a few days before the radiation dose) to another date, because up until last night and today things did feel sucky, but still manageable. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I suppose the next couple of days will help me figure that out on its own. I’ll admit though, this is gonna suck even if it just stays the same… so I really do hope this is just a hiccup rather than a sign of things to come.

The other symptom… feeling like I’ve got a much shorter fuse than usual, and less ability to bite my lip when I probably should. I guess it’s just a good thing that I’m not interacting with too many people right now. (But it is a good reason to consider moving my workers comp exam, I suppose.) Toni was the first person to tell me that I might notice that general feeling… and she’s still got her thyroid, but has that kind of reaction if she misses a few days for whatever reason. Makes me wonder if people with “anger management” issues might also have a funky thyroid and not even realize that could be part of the problem. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ€¨

Almost As Good As Medicine

When I’m having a bad day, and my energy levels just aren’t there, often I’ll feel bad for Maven. 😿 She’ll wanna play or follow me around or whatever… but since I’m not really doing anything – sometimes she’ll just sit and stare at me, sometimes she’ll flop down next to me, and sometimes she’ll just piss off to the basement to do who-knows-what for a couple of hours. 😏 But it’s weird that a cat, with just a certain look, can make you feel like you’re letting her down in some way.

But this weekend I’ve kept busy (off and on) and was doing enough “stuff” that she was actually getting a little bit twitchy. 😾 She doesn’t like change either, especially when it probably doesn’t have any reason to her, so whenever I would sit down and take a break she would join me. Almost as if she was relieved that I “stopped doing stuff” so she didn’t have to wonder what the heck I was up to and when I was going to stop. 🀨

You probably have to be a “cat person” to really get this… but this cat, when I first got her, she didn’t like to have her belly touched – let alone petted, rubbed, or scratched. 😯 But over the years, with just me and her here, it’s molded her into a critter who shares a lot of personality traits with me. Plus she absolutely trusts me now, and has turned into a kitty that (most of the time… heh) loves belly rubs. πŸ˜„

So, shortly after I finished folding, hanging, and putting away my laundry… using up the last bit of oomph that I had for that moment, I sat down on the floor for a short break and ended up with this in my lap… 😏😊

Sorry about the large blurred edges, but the only way I could record this properly was in portrait mode… and if I uploaded it “as-is” the video would be taller than the height of the actual page. But anyway, knowing how she used to be, seeing how she is now… this is one of the very few things that can take my mind off of all the bad things swirling around inside my brain, to where all I’m thinking about is how lucky she is to have me, and how lucky I am to have her… and that sometimes I don’t make too bad of a critter daddy, I guess. 😊