Musings, thoughts, and general ramblings of a random woman

Update

I hate being such an emotional person at times. I broke my blender today after washing it. I felt like bursting into tears. I still want to cry. Now, I have no blender. I feel so idiotic for how upset I am. I know there are solutions. I don’t get paid until the eighth.  I have been trying to eat healthier, make better choices and part of that has been the smoothies I have been making.

I am increasing my fruit and leafy green intake this way. I don’t like to eat much spinach, or kale, and both are good sources of nutrients. Today my smoothie was two bananas, two handfuls of spinach, a 6 ounce fat free strawberry yogurt, and 6 ounces low acid orange juice. I am trying top find other options as well. I found a broccoli slaw mix at Kroger, that I may just make a homemade vinaigrette for. I have to look at recipes though.

I don’t really like to cook for just myself. Plus with a budget of $189 for the entire month, making healthy choices is hard. I plan on calling this number for my health plan. They offer free access to a dietician/nutritionist.  I think between that and applying to the Y, I will be much better off.

However, I do still have 3 weeks of physical
therapy to go through before I can really get into the harder exercises, like training to run, and strength training. I just have to keep reminding myself.

Also, I have made the decision too return to Delta College. I just have to find out what I needed to chop to get my financial aid backdive I was on academic probation. I plan on applying for the scholarship through the Bay City Housing Commission as well.

10 week challenge.

Today, along with my friends Misty, Holly and Cammy , I am starting a 10 week challenge to increase healthy habits and become a healthier person overall. I am not setting a weightloss goal, but I still haven’t quite figured out my exact goals. I know they include increasing water consumption and becoming more active. I found a nice workout app for my kindle fire, that I could also put on my phone. The workouts can be targeted, or full body. Targeted workouts last from 5 to 10 minutes, while full body are 10 to 30 minutes I believe. I see my doctor this week and should be getting a referral to physical therapy. I had one before, but was unable to start, due to having to watch my sister while she was off school. Today I am going to make sure I drink at least one full bottle of water. I am using a water bottle from a friend, but I have a nice 28 ounce bottle at home. Another goal I am going to add has to do with mindfulness. I think taking care of my mind and reducing stress is just as important.

Today I have consumed my water, and plan on filling the water bottle again.  I am worried that this week is going to be a rough start to the becoming more active part, as I am having three teeth pulled tomorrow.

Cammy and I did some seated yoga today, although I got bored during the meditation portion at the end.  She also has yoga for back pain, for beginner’s, and for MS (which she has).  I am going to try to get copies, or save them to my computer.  I also plan on saving some videos from sparkpeople.com.

I think today was a good day overall.  Thank you again to my friend Holly who had this wonderful idea!

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Something I need to remember!

I use to love to write, to journal.  I had a blog on Livejournal for a long time, though I never shared it with many people. I mostly shared it with strangers, and belonged to a few communities related to mental illness, specifically Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder.  I want to change that. I want to be more vocal about my thoughts and feelings, to find an outlet.  My friend Christi has a blog here as well, and she’s the one who has inspired me to start writing more.  I’m not really sure what direction this is going to take, so that’s why I chose the title and description that are currently up. “Kacy’s Random Blog” isn’t the most eloquent title, nor is “Musings, thoughts, and general ramblings of a random woman” an eloquent description. They describe me though. Anyone who knows me, knows how random I can be.  Is it a personality trait, a personality flaw, or something common of people with Bipolar Disorder?  I really don’t know.

I want to try finding a common ground in my postings, a purpose. I’ve felt lost and directionless for quite a while now. To be honest, since my heart surgery, which took place just over 2 years ago. I was finally back in school. I knew what I wanted out of life.  It isn’t just the heart surgery. There’s other things that have more or less gotten in the way of where I wanted to be in life.  I feel like I am at a standstill but I am trying to move on.  Trying to get things figured out. Hopefully this blog can help with some of that.  I have no clue whether anyone will be truly interested, I suppose it doesn’t matter. I need to do this for myself.  Knowing that I have some support though would be nice.

I already feel like I’m losing focus and I’ve barely written anything substantial.  It’s a start. Hopefully I can keep it up.

At the age of 19, in November of 2003, I attempted suicide by trying to overdose on Ibuprofen of all things. It was a huge cry out for help really. My stomach was pumped and I spent 5 days at a crisis intervention home, that was mainly for alcoholics and addicts who couldn’t get into a rehab program.  Soon after I saw a psychiatrist for the first time. I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder (type 1), and Borderline Personality Disorder. Diagnoses of Depression or Bipolar Disorder often accompany the BPD diagnosis.  

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The Greek Comedy and Tragedy masks should be the symbol for bipolar.  I go through ups and downs on a daily basis as part of the BPD though.

Most people know what Bipolar Disorder entails, so I want to focus on BPD.

Borderline Personality Disorder is hugely stigmatized. Those who suffer from BPD, such as myself, are often inconsistent with treatment. Around 2% of Americans have been diagnosed with BPD. Most of those are women.  A high percentage of attempted and completed suicides are performed by those with BPD. 

There are nine main criteria considered for a diagnosis of BPD according to the DSM IV. A person needs to meet 5 of the 9 to be diagnosed. 

The following is from the DSM IV as taken from http://www.borderlinepersonalitytoday.com/main/dsmiv.htm

Borderline Personality Disorder DSM IV Criteria

 

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:  
  1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
  2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. 
  3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. 
  4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5. 
  5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior 
  6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days). 
  7. chronic feelings of emptiness 
  8. inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights) 
  9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

I have always met 8 of the 9 criteria. Before my open-heart surgery, I really didn’t have many anger issues, as I turned it all in on myself.  Now, I do meet all 9 criteria.  I have battled with self-injury since I was 13 years old, my close relationships (romantic, familial, and friend) have been intense and unstable for as long as I can remember, I constantly fear being abandoned by those I care about, and I have difficultly regulating my moods without relying on self-destructive behaviors. I think in black and white, and am often all or nothing with my feelings.

For the last 9 years, I have been on and off medications, and in and out of therapy to treat both the bipolar disorder and the symptoms of my BPD. For most of these 9 years, I’ve defined myself by this.  I have educated myself on both Bipolar and BPD.  There are times I recognize what is going on, and feel helpless to stop it.  It’s utterly frustrating and hopeless at times. A week and a half ago I had one of those moments where after hearing yet again that I am on too many medications that I decided to stop taking them.  I dumped all of my psych meds down the toilet. While the person claimed they made the statements out of concern and care, later on the same person told me I was unstable without them (NO DUH).  

I have learned, that quite frankly, I am an utter mess without my medications.  Over the summer I went almost a month without my mood stabilizer, and I thank God that I didn’t end up in inpatient mental health.  I was throwing tantrums like a toddler, and one night I screamed at my best friend over and over again to “Get the F— out of my apartment”.  I destroyed my magnet collection.  I felt like a completely different person. 

It’s hard to explain what goes on inside my head. All I know, is my medications keep me grounded.  I am tired of people telling me that I don’t need them, or that I am on too many. I take 2 medications on a daily basis, and 1 as needed.  An anti-depressant called Cymbalta, a mood stabilizer called Lamictal, and an anti-anxiety called Klonopin.  Sure, I am tired and I have to deal with side effects like hot flashes and dry mouth, but they are worth it.

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One of the meds that keeps me sane…

There’s so much more I could say, but right now my attention span is waning, so I am just going to close with this:

I am not my diagnosis and my medications are as necessary to me as insulin to a diabetic.

My heart surgery

As my first post, I’ve decided to share the journey I underwent in December 2011. Some things may not be in chronological order, but I’ve tried to keep everything that way as much as possible.

For years, I’ve suffered from daily exhaustion, anxiety, and other issues.  I would always attribute my chest pain to GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) or my anxiety. I would easily get short of breath going up and down stairs. This was attributed to my asthma and weight. I’ve also had Costochondritis (inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone), caused by stress, crying often, and severe coughing.  The exhaustion, I thought was due to depression.  It’s possible that these symptoms were due to these factors on occasion.

However, on December Eighth, 2011, around 8-9pm I began to experience chest pain.  I tried every remedy I knew.  Steadily, over the next few hours, it progressively turned into the worst chest pain of my life. Around 4:40am I finally called 911, since my roommate refused to take me to the E.R.  The E.M.Ts were rather rude, asking what I had to be so anxious about at my age, since at that point I was thinking it was my anxiety still.  I later reported this to my nurses in the E.R. and was given a card for who to contact to make a formal complaint. However, I never followed through on this.

I was in admitted to a room immediately, around 5am.  Soon I was seen by Dr. Klosowski, the resident on call that day. He’s also one of the resident doctors working at the Family and Child Health Clinic on Center Road in Essexville. He took my concerns seriously, and didn’t automatically attribute my chest pain to any of the above reasons.  As he performed his initial exam, he detected an arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) and ordered further testing.  I had an EKG (electrocardiogram) followed by an ECG (echocardiogram, also know as an ultrasound of the heart). At this point, I had called my mom to let her know where I was. I had also posted on Facebook that I was in the ER. My friend Laurie came to sit with me, so I was not alone.  Soon after, Dr. Klosowski came in with the news. I believe this was around 9am. I still thought I was just having anxiety issues, and possibly another bought of costochondritis. He informed me a tumor was found in my heart, and I was being admitted to the hospital. He informed me that I would have to have surgery to remove the tumor.

My next step was to call my mom.  I told her the news, and started crying over the phone. I had never been so scared in my entire life.  I think my mom must have sped the entire way from her workplace in Saginaw back to Bay City.  Laurie left shortly after, as to give me time with my mom.

My mom called my Dad to let him know what was going on, but he waited until I was placed in a room.  I waited until my sister and brother were informed about my needing surgery before posting anything to Facebook.

Once I was admitted, I was placed on a 5-lead portable heart monitor that was placed in a pouch that I wore around my neck. This made it easier for me to move around. I was placed on a fall alert, so I was asked not to get up without assistance.  They also started giving me 2 mg morphine through my i.v. for the pain. They alternated the morphine with Motrin 600 and Ultram, since I have an adverse reaction to Vicodin. Surprisingly, the Morphine neither made me loopy, or tired. I did have an upset stomach for a few minutes after taking it, to the point where I would have to lay back until the nausea passed.

The first day I was admitted, I had visits by my Aunt Pat, and my best friend Stephanie. I’m not sure who else came by.  I emailed my community group through my church, and I did have a few people come by during my stay, before my surgery.

On Saturday, December 10th,  something called a PIC line was placed in my arm, instead of a regular I.V. An ultrasound had to be used to locate the best vein to use. It was placed in my right arm. It was a bit painful, and I did end up crying while it was being placed. I could feel the tube traveling through my vein.  It was one of the strangest sensations I have felt, other than the breathing and stomach tubes that were placed in my throat during and after surgery. Just as the nurse was finishing placing my line, the surgeon, Dr. Cherukuri, visited me briefly and scheduled my surgery for Tuesday, December 14th. I broke down at this point, and cried for a little while with my mom, exclaiming over and over how I just wanted to go home.  He was then going to sign papers for my release until my cardiologist, Dr. Reed, showed him the echocardiogram. The tumor, called an Atrial Myxoma, was taking up 80% of my left atrium. As my heart beat, a small portion entered my left ventricle through my mitral valve.  This was a very dangerous situation, as it could get stuck in the valve, completely blocking my blood supply.

I’m not sure when this was explained to me. We knew by that point that my situation was very serious. The tumor must have been in heart for years, for the size that it was.  After surgery, it measured about 8 centimeters long, by 2 centimeters long.

I was a medical oddity among the staff at Bay Regional. They had never seen such a large Atrial Myxoma. This could have affected my quality of care. I was well taken care of in the hospital, the entire time.  I had many students come to see me, as well as others in the cardiology department.  One cardiologist, Dr. Lee, offered to show my mom, Aunt Pat and I the Echocardiogram.  It was scary yet fascinating. I wish I would have asked for a picture of it.  He explained what we were seeing on the echo as it played, and I could see how large it was compared to my left atrium. I could also see the small section that was dipping down into my left ventricle with every pump.

Dr. Lee was the first one that really explained the gravity of the situation. The tumor was at the point it could have killed me, either by a piece breaking off, or by blocking my bloody supply.  I could have fainted suddenly, or died in my sleep. Talk about a scary thought!

My parents brought my sister to see me on Sunday. I was so happy to see her. She was in her wheelchair next to my bed, and I was able to hold her hand for quite a while. Normally, she pulls her hands away often as a reflex, but this didn’t happen as often that day. She knew I needed that contact I think.

The night before my surgery, my close friend Mike, stayed the entire night. I have to thank his girlfriend and close friend Cammy for being comfortable with the arrangement.  Mike didn’t want me to be alone that night, and I was very grateful he was there. My mom and dad couldn’t stay, nor did I expect them too. They have my sister to take care of after all.  Cardiac patients automatically get private rooms, and there is a really nice reclining chair in the room.

December 14th was the day of surgery. That morning, I had quite a few visitors. A pastor from Hopevale visited that morning and prayed with me. He wasn’t the first visitor from the church I had though, one of the community group hosts, Karrie, came within the first couple of days. Mark, our community group leader, visited the day before surgery.

There is one thing I want to say, that I haven’t told many people before now. That morning, I felt an amazing sense of calm and peace.  I was ready for surgery, and knew that if God decided to call me home, I was ready.  I wasn’t scared of dying during surgery. I guess to some that may sound morbid. To me, it just made sense. God was with me, I truly felt his presence that day. I also had this feeling, that because of the recent deaths in the family, including my paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather, that I was going to come out of surgery just fine. Mom and I had already discussed what I wanted done with my belongings if something should happen to me. I had my family and friends around me.  My mom, dad, Aunt Pat, Mike and best friend Stephanie were there to see me off to surgery. On the way to the elevator, Stephanie made a comment to me, about a joke we have with one another.  I was cracking up. I was almost in tears from laughing with her. How many people can say they were laughing on their way to a major surgery?  That was God working in my life. In the pre-operating room, my mom and dad sat with me, and the nurses began to get me ready to go down to the operating room. Towards the end, as they were getting ready to wheel me out, I had to shoo my parents out of the room. My mom was starting to cry, and I saw that my dad was on the verge of tears as well. I told her if she stayed any longer she would make me cry too. I told her it would be okay.

After the tumor was removed, while they were closing me up, my family got to see the tumor.  They were surprised at just how large it was.  I was only able to see a picture, but it measured about 8 centimeters long, once it was sort of flattened out.

I’ve decided that this entry is quite long, and have decided to continue the rest of my hospital stay, and subsequent recovery in another entry.

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