Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Scarlet B

My name is not Hester Prynne. I don't think Ms. Prynne would be placing a scarlet B on her chest and placing gold threads through it if the following happened to her.

This true event happened to me in the end of June. I'm changing the names, like they do in "Dragnet" to protect the innocent, but also I simply forgot the names of the parades of doctors and nurses I saw.

Regular readers know I had acute renal failure in both kidneys back in November 2010. So this past May I found myself with edema in my feet and legs that were so bad I could not walk. I could not put on shoes. My first thought was kidney failure. Off I went to the kidney doctor for a full work up. Everything seemed to be fine, kidney wise. I was told to cut out all salt from my diet, check with my gynecologist to make sure I wasn't retaining water, and given a script for Lasix, a water pill.

One month later, and my feet, and legs were still elephantine from edema. I waddled off to see the GP. She suggested I go to the hospital for tests. Off I went to the Catttery to board kitty for 3 days. I checked myself into the hospital. I had 14 tests given, from CAT scans to ultrasounds, to tests with Doppler. They checked heart, and for blood clots, and more kidney.

And all the tests were inconclusive.

Here is where it got interesting. I was in the hospital for approx 38 hours. After about 6 hours I noticed something. The nurses and doctors were treating me different. Not as kind, but like I was a child. Not just any child, but a slow child, a child with an IQ say of 60.

All of a sudden, I was no longer, Susan, who was here for cardio and kidney, I was here solely for Bipolar. The cardio and kidney were pushed aside to tertiary status. Every doctor, every doctor, every resident wanted to bring out the DSM and play shrink until a real shrink came in.

All our medical records had been added to a computer about two years back.  Did the doctors, nurses, or residents see that my kidneys failed? No. The first thing the computer was spitting out was a hospitalization from 2003 where I was in the hospital for 5 weeks and received ECT. THAT is what they saw. And that is what they chose to address.An event 10 years ago which had no reference to what was happening to me at the moment, namely, to determine why my edema had been going on for seven weeks rendering it impossible for me to walk, or hold myself up to take a shower.

My mental health issues in the past had as much to do with my current prognosis as it did having my tonisils removed when I was four. Why weren't they dragging that fact out? It was just as salient to me.

No. I have been labeled Bipolar, and this label has bow been with me for more than half my life. It's my Scarlet B. People don't judge me for me, they judge me as someone who is Bipolar. Someone who is less than human. She should be shunned and locked away like they did a century ago. I saw it first hand with the doctors and nurses.

Never mind that I took nursing classes a few years ago when I though about going back to school for a nursing degree. What I saw made me mad. And broke my heart.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Paying It Forward

Readers of my blog know I've been M.I.A from January until the end of April, battling a crippling bout of depression that pretty much led me in bed unable to move. It was awful.

Everything went out the window. I stopped bathing. I stopped grooming. I stopped eating. My agoraphobia was off the chain, I left my apartment only to buy cat food and litter. I was sleeping up to 20 hours a day. I had no interest in anything including the cat.

It got so bad that every morning I would curse I was alive, yet I wasn't suicidal. I wasn't in physical pain. It was in my head, in my entire being, in my body, my viscera and soul.

It didn't really begin to lift til the end of April. Now that it is pretty much over, I never want to go through it again. It was clearly the worst experience of my life.

Which brings me to the present. Last week, coffee with mom at Dunkin Donuts. I told her I can't go through that again I have to do something with the second part of my life. But what? I'm clueless.

Long discussion with my social worker. Then it hit me. Pay it forward. I've been a peer councilor before. I was quite good at it. Why not try my hand at doing it for real?

There are for colleges/universities within a 20 mile radius from my apartment. I looked at graduate studies programs from all four and met with representatives from each school. Three were interested in me and one only offers a PhD but assured me I would not have a problem having access to it's wonderful library. Two schools offer Masters in Counseling and/or Psychology. One just offers a MSW.

However, when I explained why I wanted to get this degree, why I would be only taking one class per semester, they agreed it was a good idea.


I've had therapists and psychiatrists who don't understand what it's like to be in my shoes and I didn't work well with them.

Look at it this way. I'm a female and I see a female gynecologist.    I saw a man once but he was, lets face it, clueless to what it is to menstruate, how miserable water buildup is. Etc etc. A female understands, and offers not sympathy but a feeling of camaraderie.

Same with having a doctor or a therapist who's experienced depression, or mania or has a family
member touched by it. It's easier to talk to them, to relate. They have walked in my shoes.

I'm not saying its going to be easy. College was easy when I was 20. I'm slightly twice that now, it's going to be difficult. So is life. I just don't want anyone to go through what I just went through and if they do, give them the tools to get through it.  I don't even know if this is the right career path for me. The only things I have ever really been good at were school and writing. I can't pay the rent with writing, and writing by its very nature is solitary and I isolate too much. I have to stop that to get better for my own recovery.

 I'm going to try. I may fail but then I may succeede. I don't know. All I know is I cannot take another bout of depression like I just went through. Something tells me I won't survive it the next time.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I'm still here

I'm still here. I never thought I would be away for almost four months and I apologize.

I have a lot to write about, if I can find the words. Suffice it to say it was the worst depression I've ever had, though I've said that about most of the depressions I have had lately. This one started in August and continued to get worse and I did not want to burden Anyone by how bad it was getting.

Then one night the cat knocked the laptop over and broke it. I have not replaced it; I am torn between getting another MacBook or a iMac. Right now I am on an iPad.

I just haven't been on the computer as I said I pretty much just stayed in bed. I have a lot of work to do on the blog, I've lost hyper links and its difficult to blog or update Facebook on the iPad.

The latest blow was three weeks ago when I found out not only does kitty have thyroid problems but also some kidney ones. For now she's happy and healthy but she's on a special diet and gets shots from the vet.

Please bear with me I just need to figure out how much to say and how to use the iPad.

Why We Love Cats (Infographic)

Why Do We Love Cats So Much?
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