Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Journey of Nine Hundred Days

It's day nine hundred of my headache. 900. I've had a headache for nine hundred days straight. Without pause. Without a break. Without ceasing. Without end.

Sometimes it's had me in tears. Sometimes it's just been a dull ache and I've been able to function on some level. But it's always been there--ever present, if you will. For 900 days.

Never in my life did I think I'd have to say that. But here we are. And it's not like I've spent the last 900 days making a paper chain, keeping track. Or marking it on my calendar. That would be sadistic in the extreme. I don't mark off every day since my concussion. It just happens that a couple of nights (mornings, actually, since it was 3am) I was having trouble sleeping so I was running a book idea around in my head and the subject came up: how long has it been? If you'll remember, I posted on my Author Blog back in October when I hit 800 days. And it was the same basic thing. The subject came up when I was kicking ideas around in my head--how long has it been since I hit my head? And it happened to be a few days before a fairly significant number.

And yes, I cried again. It was after 3am and I was tired and emotional. And, somehow, 900 is so much closer to 1000. One thousand days. I'm a writer of fiction and fantasy, but in real life I'm essentially a pragmatic person. I don't see a miracle cure happening in the next three months or so. You can fully anticipate seeing the post of One Thousand Days. If I remember.

I'm still trying to stay positive, but it's been a struggle. My anxiety and depression have really taken hold. Writing has become next to impossible for me. My doctors are all aware of my struggles, as is my bishop, and we're working on finding me a counselor to help me. I've had to increase my anti-depressants and also start taking anti-anxiety medication. But that's only part of the equation. I also need to talk to someone. You can't just rely on medication to fix the problem.

Let's be real: Before anything happened, I was already a person on anti-depressants struggling with issues I wasn't talking to anyone about. You didn't know that, but it's true. They were things I felt I had control over--but did I really? Maybe, maybe not. Then I hit my head. And we went through almost a year of worker's comp stuff, Dr visits, trying this prescription or that prescription, the emotional whammy of being a burden on my family when I'm the MOM and supposed to be helping my family, etc. The tests. The lawyer. My disastrous first neurologist. The second one who said they'd help but then wouldn't take me as a patient. The third one who was court ordered to treat me but refused. The physical, emotional, mental turmoil ALL THE WHILE being in pain. Every day. All day. Pain you can't turn off or control. The holes in my memory. The confusion and difficulty with my speech.

And then the blood clot. The night my leg hurt so bad I wanted to cut it off rather than endure the pain. That whole year my head hurt so badly from the concussion (post-concussion syndrome) that it redefined pain for me, and then in one short week to have pain wholly and utterly redefined again. It didn't make my headaches go away but it sure put them into perspective. Even knowing narcotics would make my head hurt worse I didn't care that the nurses at the hospital gave them to me if it meant my leg would stop hurting. Doctors came in and told me they were going to do a procedure. Would it stop the pain? Make the swelling go down? Okay, let's do it.

Will it kill me? Oh, then maybe we shouldn't...

I'm lucky to still have my left leg. I'm lucky it still functions as a leg. It doesn't feel like a leg. I know that sounds weird, but they basically went in and roto-rootered my vein to get the "significant" clot out. I have to wear a compression sock on my leg all the time now, except when I'm sleeping. That's to keep the circulation going. Without it, when I'm up and about gravity basically takes over and my blood doesn't flow like it's supposed to. It feels most odd when I'm standing in the shower too long. Very uncomfortable. But again, I'm lucky to have my leg at all. Each visit with my surgeon after he saved my leg he couldn't get over how normal it looked and how well it functions. The thigh high sock makes my leg feel better than the knee high ones, but I confess I wear the knee high ones more often because of convenience.

In a little over a year, mind you, I lost my ability to work, write, function normally, vacation, play, laugh, and then I nearly died not once, twice, but three times. And I've spent the last year trying to process all of these changes in my life. Changes like last April when we found out my body is making clots even while on blood thinners, which means I'll be on blood thinners the rest of my life and the filter they put in my body to catch clots from going to my heart and lungs is a forever thing. I spent the first year after my concussion thinking I'd get better any time. Now we're going on year three, and I'm still barely managing my pain symptoms. And the blood clot issue has changed my life  forever. Forever.

So, yeah. All of that caught up with me and I crashed hard. I just couldn't stay positive anymore. There are a lot of great things in my life, but depression is a demon that doesn't play fair. And anxiety is a symptom of my post-concussion syndrome. I couldn't fight it anymore. I felt so robbed. I turned 40 and my body fell apart on me.

All because I was trying to help. If you remember the story, I got the job that resulted in my head injury because I was trying to help my family because my husband was having trouble finding a job. And I'm still trying to help, through my aprons on Etsy and my published books, but it doesn't seem to matter. I can't even tell you how it feels to just be a leech in my own family. I've only ever wanted to help.

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