Friday, June 20, 2008

Stop the World

I have been meaning to write a blog by this title for some time. What that means is that I have been feeling overwhelmed for a long time. I'd like to stop the world long enough to hop off, do a long list of things, sleep for about 6 weeks straight, and then hop back on. Stop it turning and stop time flying long enough to catch up (whatever that means).

I know that "falling behind" is purely psychological and that whether I accomplish anything today is really irrelevant (perhaps only to my boss). But still, sometimes it seems to me like the world is going so fast that I can't keep up.

In the past month or so I've had terrible headaches, worse than normal, which has knocked the wind entirely out of my sails.

Two weeks ago, I started a new drug (for pain) called Nabilone (also known as Cesamet), which is a cannabinoid. Nabilone is a synthetic form of THC, which is the active compound in marijuana, and has been found to help with all sorts of things, mostly with the nausea and pain of chemotherapy.

For the first few days it just made me sleepy and relaxed and a little "out of it" at work, but when I increased the dosage last weekend, I felt definitively stoned, for lack of a more euphemistic term. I'm not sure if it's helping my headaches, but who cares! I want to sleep all day, eat the whole time I'm awake, and I feel great! In the last week, I think I've gained about 5 lbs from having the full-time munchies.

Seriously, it's a dirty drug with a side effect profile that isn't great. And my pain hasn't really subsided by any great measure. Anyone who experimented with "mary jane" in their 20's will recall the (a) spaciness and lack of focus (also called happiness) (b) the general relaxation (c) the pasty dry mouth (d) the slits-for-eyes (does anyone else find it bright in here?), (e) the sense of joyful well-being and (f) the insatiable hunger for junk food.

If I manage not to lose my job and gain 100 lbs in the next month, I think this drug will be a success.

A few weeks ago I started to feel seriously depressed, and luckily that seems to have passed thanks to lots of sunshine (after two weeks straight of rain) and, perhaps, my new drug. I think my deep psychological rut (which felt like an abyss only a week ago) was a combination of my depressing trip home, the exhaustion of chronic headaches, a third round of sinusitis, a serious bout of the flu, and some miscellaneous work and home stress.

I don't think I actually fantasized about killing myself, but I did think a time or two how nice it would be to drift into a nice, warm fuzzy sleep and never wake up again. Or what I should say is never wake up with another blistering headache and have to go to work again. Plus, six weeks straight of post-nasal drip and sinus congestion is enough to make you go postal.

That being said, of course I would never willingly "do myself in" but I was pretty close a couple of weeks ago to checking myself into a nice hospital for a total and complete nervous breakdown. I think this would be an effective way to Stop The World, as they say. Plus, how lovely would it be to have an IV bag of liquid valium and a friendly nurse to change my bed every day and volunteers to bring around books and magazines and ice cream on little carts?

Yes, the chronic psychological stress of headaches and family worries took its toll. I was totally lost and didn't know where to turn. So I cried and slept and didn't sleep and raged and wept and got up and went to work every day anyway.

Oh, and did I mention I am now officially fat? I am not sure when it becomes official, but let's just say that my little cute micro fat rolls I developed this winter - they now have their own little rolls of fat, making double rolls. Seriously, I probably weigh about 150 lbs which isn't obese and isn't the end of the world. But after years of working so hard to stay at my ideal weight, I am not happy with this extra 20-25 pounds. But I have zero energy or desire to take it off. Well, I have the desire, but I don't even know how to start modifying my diet. I was always so strict with myself and exercised religiously, and now that I have let it all go, I don't even know where to start.

I don't mind the way I look, really, but the social pressure is ridiculous. Everyone is so thin these days and the teenaged girls are positively skeletal. Buying stylish clothes is hard, even at this weight (hello thighs!). And don't even mention bathing suits to me. Sometimes those burqas (burkas) that Muslim women wear don't seem like a bad idea. Imagine not having to do your hair every goddamned day? No more ridiculously complicated and tight women's clothing! No more shopping for ridiculous shoes! No more worrying about stupid outfits! I would consider this a blessing at least 3 days a week. I love fashion, but I hate trying to be fashionable when most stores don't seem to want to dress my (now very) curvy hourglass figure. Fuck 'em. I'll just wear my burka today.

So anyway, that's my self-pitying essay.

In other news, and there is always other news as the world continues to turn, with or without me:
- We have a wonderful trip planned for September (two weeks!) that I'll tell you about soon.
- My young cousin Alex graduated from university with his education degree and so we're hosting a little grad party for him and his girlfriend Chelsea (who also graduated!) tomorrow night. I've ordered a Congratulations grad cake and we will barbeque buffalo burgers and have salads and enjoy our glorious back yard.
- We've done plenty of gardening in our yard and it looks lovely. This includes working on all the beds, planting new perennials and annuals, and lots of containers. Despite my bout of depression, I managed to get lots done in the garden! Spending money at garden centers is a wonderful cure for the blues. I will post photos soon.
- I've done virturally no decorating. I did temporarily hang lovely new silk curtains in the living room but still have to get the appropriate rods rigged up. I hate window hardware!
- I went to my dermatologist today and he removed two annoying little moles (right near my bra straps) that have been rubbing and annoying. He also prescribed a medication for my face - I've had no end of dermatitis since moving to Calgary - which he said will clear up my skin beautifully. Unfortunately the medication is Accutane, which is a horrid drug that is a teratogen and causes birth defects and dry mouth and prevents you from healing properly (causes scars if you need surgery, etc). It is a nasty evil drug. Luckily I do not plan to get pregnant soon. But still, do I want this toxic drug in my system? Would I rather live with a flaking dry peeling red face or liver damage? I'm not keen to take this drug, but he's prescribed a low dose for 2 months and will see me again. I'm torn, because my skin looks great one week and awful the next and I'm tired of its rebelliousness! I'm tired of zits and red rashes and itchness and rosacea. That's what I get for being a fair-skinned english rose, I guess.

Oh, and to top off this wonderful month, I fell down the stairs on Tuesday night! I bruised my tail bone and all the muscles in my hips and butt. I could barely walk before today. As I was going downstairs, I reached out to pet the cat (who was coming up!) and lost my balance and started to fall. Since I was wearing slippery gym sockettes on my feet and my Lululemon yoga pants (very slippery), this did not help with stopping. So I fell all the way to the bottom. I really thought I had a broken back when I landed. Let's just say, I've learned how to put on my socks without bending over this week. And I've also learned that when you cough or sneeze, your little tailbone wags just like a puppy! Ouch! Coughing kills my coccyx. Who knew?

So, after that shitty month, I'm happy to be alive (and still employed and able to barely fit into a few of my once-baggy clothes). And thanks to my new Mary Jane drug, I'm fairly happy.

I still wish I could stop the world long enough to get back in shape and do some of my summer projects, but the world doesn't work that way, sadly. So back on the horse for me until the next wipeout. High ho!


  1. It sounds like you've been to hell and back this last while. Wow...I just hope you find relief not only from the pain, but the mental anguish you have been feeling. Talk to someone who has even a remote inkling of what it is like to suffer chronic pain, depression, family struggles...
    I don't know what resources are available to you where you are, but you need some support and understanding in dealing with the heavy load that you bear each day.

    Fingers crossed this medicine will give you some relief and have the snowball effect of giving you more emergy to exercise, garden, focus on your overall health, and basically enjoy life more. Your weary body needs a rest so that you can get in stride with the rest of the world out living life in a more carefree manner. You deserve to take a breather from this hectic treadmill that you are on. I hope your vacation will rejuvenate you and lift your spirits.

    Take care,

  2. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry for you over this post! (there were some funny parts)

    Ever think about just smoking weed? It might have less side-effects. And you could possibly meet some groovy new friends! :-)

    The world is spinning out of control in many regards. Sometimes holding on just white knuckles your hands and that's about it. I kind of admire the insane who can just let go and consequences be damned.

    Love to you. a

  3. oh terri. :( what a trip. i'm sorry. the exercise thing just makes me want to through my hands up in the air - i'm in pain all the time, and the exercising always makes it worse. but i know i will live longer and be stronger if i can push through and exercise through it. what's a girl to do?

    coincidentally, i just went to the dermatologist today, regarding acne -- he said he wouldn't put me on accutane b/c in his experience it made migraines worse in patients who had them. hopefully this doesn't include you or your headaches. but it's something to keep a watch out for, right?

  4. Anonymous8:50 pm

    The wind has really been knocked out of your sails. I'm sorry to hear that - you have had a lot to deal with over the past month. I hope this new medicine does help you and I'm glad to read that you have been gardening as nothing helps the soul like puttering in a garden.


  5. I think its normal for everyone to need a bit of a break sometimes. Don't feel too down about that.

    I hope you don't mind me saying this but it sounds like you could need someone to talk your anxieties with, a therapist or doctor who can maybe give you some advice or just listen.

    Im not sure you know this or not but Accutane is known to cause or deepen depression. If you are not in a good state of mind, I'd probably wait it out.

    PS: Ill take being 150lb anyday :)

  6. I'm so sorry that you are going through this tough time. When you have any type of chronic pain, such as your headaches, it only makes sense that the anxiety and depression would come along with it!

    I pray that they can find something to help you with the pain. I agree that having someone to talk to might be the best thing. I know that's hard to initiate..


  7. Not accutane! Not with the headaches that you already have!! That stuff causes hellish migraines.

    Terri, I am so sorry that you are dealing with all of this. I truly am. Wish that you had a good doctor who would tuck you under his/her proverbial wing and get to the bottom of it all. No wonder you are stressed.

    Please do consider taking some down time just for yourself and getting the rest that your body is craving. I'd can the cannibis or whatever the heck that stuff is. Doesn't sound too helpful at all.

    Send me a line any time, my friend. I'm thinking about you and praying for you. Gentle hugs...

  8. Hi, Terri,
    I was very interested to hear your comments on nabilone--my doc just suggested I try it (I also have chronic tension-type headache.) Not sure I like the sound of the non-stop munchies though--I just managed to lose the 10 lbs. I put on when I was on elavil. And if it doesn't really do anything for the pain, what's the point?

    But if you want to stop the world, Terri, is taking sick time an option? Like you, I was feeling like I had reached my emotional limit with the headaches, stress at work and at home, etc., so I went and talked to my doctor. She authorized a medical leave (for a diagnosis of depression). When the idea first came up, taking time off work seemed inconceivable, but I am now two weeks into it and I really think it was the right thing to do. It's gone a long way toward making me feel like things aren't quite so out of control and overwhelming. Who knows, maybe it will even help the headaches.


  9. Oh, Terri, even though all this misery you still are able to joke and have not lost your sence of humour. You make me smile at the same time I just want to hug you.
    Love from Poppins

  10. Oh Terri, You're blog reads like such a good, good book. One where the main character is someone you know you'd want to be friends with and who you are cheering on through all of the challenges and triumphs she goes through. You read eagerly to the end with your fingers crossed that the last pages will be filled with peace and happiness for her.
    I do hope that this chapter ends soon enough and you can just feel good again.

    Incidentally, I just refused the perscription my doctor gave me for accutane for the very reasons you listed. He wanted to give me something that he thought would help my acne until I see a specialist in November. I'm seeing a medical herbalist tomorrow instead.
    I don't know if one of the previous comments about smoking weed rather than taking pills was tongue and cheek, but in case it wasn't, I'd have to agree, it's probably a much better idea.

    Here's to the next chapter my friend. You really are fabulous:)

  11. oh boy! I feel for your pain! My husband has been so sick too. but then, he always is with his migraines. Have you tried methadone for your pain? Maybe it wouldl help more than the thc. yecch - such bad memories for me. Remember, i'm 54 - a child of the 70s. hehe - methadone might be better for pain managmement - you should look into it. I feel so bad for you.

  12. When it rains it truly pours! Does the weather or spring affect your migraines? Has this spring out there been different than past years? Dealing with any type of chronic pain is exhausting in, and of itself, then to have other aches and pains on top of it....well, CRAP. I get occasional migraines and they always wipe me off my feet; I can't imagine dealing with chronic headaches ~ give yourself some major kudos for functioning as well as you do with the daily pain you endure.

    Cycles of depression and fatigue are certainly understandable and let yourself acknowledge that! Your body is enduring a lot of wear and tear and has for a long time. I know exactly what you mean about halting the roller-coaster and stopping the ride for a bit. Life is such a whirlwind when a full-time job is held down all the while trying to devote some time to beloved activities.

    It seems that many of us are coping with exhaustion and depression; I've spoken with a slew of individuals who are just coming around to feel better. This past winter just did everyone in ~ maybe from frequent storms, much snow/grey/slush and all the icky other stuff that winter is about. That's the nice thing about working at a cash register; you meet the general public and get a feel for the pulse of the community. Right now we are coming out of something that was bleak, grey and tiring.

    That is without the migraines, sinusitis or skin condition, mind you. Doesn't it.just.suck that as adults we face the same acne/skin conditions that teens have? Honestly is there anything good about aging? I'm in my 40s and STILL get acne! AND my skin lost that lovely "youth" lustre. I get to see it in my kids every day of course. Just to add salt to the wounds. When I lived in Germany the acne came on with a vengeance and I used a topical steroid to keep the situation under control.

    And just so you know you aren't totally alone in that hole.... I've now had my period for over 4 weeks straight.... but with no primary care physician available in this place of "free and universal medicare" I'm just hoping it's the beginning of premenopause.

    I'm already "happy" due to the antidepressants I'm taking and have taken, for a few years now. Seems life with a kid with disabilities can pull down the spirits of the most average of us! Still, on a good day I enjoy the flowers, the lake, the clouds, my dogs...sitting absorbing the warmth of early summer....

  13. Terri, if you don't mind my asking, what is the dosage of nabilone that you're taking? My doc recommended I start at 0.25 mg/day and work my way up to 1 mg/day!


  14. Just a quick note for Christine - I am taking 0.5mg at bedtime and have started taking an additional 0.5mg in the mornings. But it makes me rather *stoned* during the day! My muscle pain does not seem to be improving (but then again, I fell downstairs last week and have some residual injury) but I think my headaches are a wee bit better the last few days.

    Let me know how it goes. You can always email me through my link!

    Cheers, Terri xo

  15. What a month :( I hope that you are in less pain now and that you are feeling somewhat better. And I hope that the the tablets start working better than just making you spacy. Oooh vacation :) Sounds lovely! I hope that you have a wonderful time!
    Have a great tuesday!
    Take care,

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  17. {HUGS} You poor dear. My heart just sinks when I hear what you have to go through just on a daily basis. You probably have already tried the homeopathic route, I went to one at one point in my life where I felt lousy every day and the end result was amazing--he really helped me. I know there isn't easy success for everyone.

    I know a little bit about feeling like you want the world to stop for awhile so you can regroup! Oh, if we only could! Sometimes that is exactly what we need to do, take time off and go away with nothing more on our minds than to just regroup and have fun. I am glad to hear you are planning to do that.

    I'm praying for you girl. I'm going to remember you often this summer.


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  19. It's been a few years since you wrote your pain post. I was so comforted to read it. Nice to know I'm not alone and that someone else has articulated the experience so well. I won't give advise as requested. I only get migraines when I have sour cream. I wish yours were so easy to get rid of. I suppose your bedside cupboard is much like mine stocked with medicaiton, arnica, tiger balm cream, tens machine, heat packs, exercise/stretching charts, personalised mattress, pillow, yadda yadda yadda. Would like to hear your update.