Day 63 – Alone is best

Alone. By choice. I’ve decided to be alone. It’s easier for me to decide to be alone than to risk being discarded or abandoned yet again. The feelings of unworthiness and being tolerated by others only if I am that girl I used to be is more than I can tolerate.

You know…that girl! The one that never stopped. The one who was always there. The one that continually took care of others for years and years, but God forbid I can’t pull it together physically to take care of myself, let alone the shame of when I have mental disasters.

It’s really not surprising I have no self-esteem left. What an embarrassment I am. I’ve been homeless for 5 years. Yes, I have had a roof over my head, but no stability. I hop from one place to the other trying like hell to be worth at least enough to live on. Yet, for a variety of reasons, I can’t seem to manage. I can’t even manage to do what is required to keep my trailer somewhere and earn maybe $300 a month for my basics.

It seems I have a 6-7 month window. I go in doing my very very best trying to make a good impression, and then when I have a bad pain day (which is the primary reason I’m in this situation) or my depression flares up and they ask me to do something I can’t hardly do on a good day, they (whomever is my landlord) become disappointed and say things like, “well, it’s obvious you can’t manage the work here so you need to move along”.

Recently, where I have been parked for the last 9 months (a record), no one has said that, yet it’s been like a big billboard in my front window for a few months now. I really should have left back in April. Before I started the gardens. Before I felt vested in things I was doing on the property.  Before I got a cat, or started feeding the hummingbirds or planted flowers for all the other bugs.

I feel so dumb now. I should never have believed that I might truly have some security and stability. I never have had it so why should anything be different now? Especially since I can’t maintain the performance that the world requires of me in order to do more that just get by.

I have to laugh. I remember so many people saying if I would just stop gambling I could have the life I always wanted. Well guess what, I haven’t placed a bet in 6 years and 5 months (in 5 more days). I have worked my butt off recovering from a disease that nearly took my life. In the mean time, the person in charge of my medical care has done a great job of getting me dependent on pain pills and anti-anxiety meds and pills for my muscles and pills for my depression and pills for allergies and pills for diarrhea from my allergies and meds for constipation from the pain meds. That’s just the prescription things.

So, on my own I have weaned myself off everything except for the anti-depressant and one Xanax (anti-anxiety) at bedtime. I do still occasionally need my Lomotil (prescription anti-diarrheal) because I still sometimes try to eat at somewhere new and invariably it gets me or my nervous anxiety causes it. I have one Xanax left. So…that leaves just one medication daily and one for as needed.

Guess what? I’m not living the dream. It’s always just beyond my reach. It always has been and it isn’t going to change anytime soon. The big sign that continually flashes before my eyes says “That isn’t for you”. Stability and relationships that last and managing to live among others is out of my realm. It has been since I was less than double digits in age.

I can’t ever be what has been expected of  me.  So I’ll be alone, and try to figure out who I really am.

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Self Care for PAWS

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Up and down and up and down and around the bend and back again. Battling through PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome) is like being on a roller coaster ride, on the mixer, walking around in the funny house and sick with the flu at times. Add to that my PTSD being triggered and it’s been a rough couple of weeks.

To be honest, there are periods of time I don’t really remember much. I have pieced some things together from those that I’ve talked to on the phone or who saw me during those days as well as various texts and emails.  I wasn’t very nice.  I lashed out at those I love the most during the worst of it. Including myself. PAWS can be a serious medical condition. There are times I have felt very disconnected and it’s taking all my ability to maintain some semblance of “normal”.  I’m sure there are a few of my people that would have liked to see me be hospitalized for a few of those days.

While I did have a long morning in the ER after one of the most rough days/nights, (un)fortunately they let me go home. There had been paperwork filled out to put me on a hold, but I know what the hospital means if you are detoxing and/or going through PAWS. It means being stuck inside, put on benzos and who knows what other meds as well as starving because they don’t have any food I can eat. So I pulled myself together and talked with a little intelligence and very nicely and they literally dumped me out in the waiting room. They know what the PAWS crazies are like. They wanted me out of there!

I don’t want it to sound like I take this lightly. I don’t. I am scared out of my sometimes too smart mind. I just can’t see any way through this other than just doing it on my own using medical marijuana. I can’t go to a treatment facility because they will put me on pharmaceuticals and that is what has been making my life a living hell for the last few years. I can’t go to the hospital because that’s all they have to treat me also. I still am taking my anti-depressant and would be happy to consult with a psychiatrist about my PTSD if I could get a referral. I was supposed to have one over 4 months ago, but that’s how it’s been with my PCP, we talk about it and then a year or two later after me reminding her multiple times it finally gets ordered.. Right now I just am doing my best and trusting that those that love me will still be around when I come out the other side. Cuz this ain’t pretty!

 

I’ve been through PAWS before with my gambling addiction. I vaguely remember the jitters and the crying jags and the frustration with having my brain not working right. I remember getting upset easily and feeling a little “out of body” at times when I first started trying to live life without my addiction activity. What is different about this is I didn’t realize that I had any emotional attachment to my medications. Also, when I was detoxing off gambling (yes, you detox off gambling just like alcohol or drugs, it is truly miserable) they were giving me pain medication and anti-anxiety medications.   I was just doing what the doctor ordered. I was taking medications in order to be comfortable living life. Now that I have been off the opiates for nearly 60 days, I don’t crave the pills…but I wish so much for something to make all the bad feelings go away.  I am not feeling comfortable at all.

What am I doing to take care of myself through this you might ask? I admit, I haven’t been that great to myself. One thing is I have absolutely NO appetite and so making food is a challenge. Fortunately my son has been around and so I occasionally feel a motherly calling and will cook for him and then I’ll eat too.

Tonight I was finally able to drive to town to get a few things at the grocery store. I bought some good healthy foods to cook and eat, including a few easy things like soup and cheese and crackers and avocadoes. Things I don’t have to think about to create something to fill the empty spot in my belly. I also found some specialty teas to help me relax and to be positive. Additionally, I am following suit with millions of others around the world and have embraced the idea of coloring for therapy. I bought myself a coloring book and some colored pencils. Combined with a little medicine that should be a great way to be creative and reduce my anxiety at the same time.

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I am really proud of myself for driving to town. Driving has not been a good thing during this particular time in life. I either find myself extremely anxious while driving or I get road rage. These are new things for me. So, I have not drove much at all the last couple weeks. But, I needed groceries and food for the plants and animals too!

The other things that are keeping me grounded are my furbabies and the other wildlife around here and my gardening. I have my dog who is the best. I freaked her out a little the night things got so crazy for me, but she came around in no time after she saw I was home and okay. Then there is my partially feral kitty that was indoors but escaped just about the time everything else took a dive for me. I am slowly encouraging her out of her hiding spot under the deck. I also love keeping the hummingbirds happy by having their feeder full and water nearby for them to drink or play in. They are so beautiful and I love to hear them buzzing around. Then there are the butterflies and the snakes and lizards that catch my eye. They are beautiful and I thank them for letting me get so close to take their photo. Watering the gardens and tending my first few medicine plants helps keep me focused outside myself also.

Many of the things I have growing were started from seeds. I love watching things grow. It gives me hope. Even the flowers that are less than perfect or the cilantro that bolts before I can get any of it…..they all are such a support and source of encouragement to me. They give me some purpose when I am feeling so out of touch with the rest of the world. The living things that rely on me for their care give me so much back. I am so grateful that II have been able to stay here, where I can grow things and be in nature.

It’s the end of the day now. I have much to be grateful for. I know I have a number of people that are praying for me. Thank you. That is another of the challenges with PAWS and the PTSD.  It seems to darken the spirituality part of my life. I trust your prayers will be sufficient, for praying is a challenge for me right now.  I still have hope and I know that comes from something outside myself.

I thank those who have not been scared away but have said “I love you, how can I help?”. I’m grateful for being able to drive myself to town and for a full fridge and pantry. I will do this!!! If there is one thing I know about me, I perservere! I don’t know what it’s all going to look like on the other side, but I choose to view the future as very lovely and peaceful and full of promise!

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Past all judgement

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I sure am grateful when I read about other’s who have made the transition I am undergoing now. I’m especially thankful when I read about other former RN’s who have made the switch from a traditional pharmaceutical western medicine approach to using medical marijuana and other natural and holistic approaches for improved health. Having a little validation from my former peer group is important to me.  I read a great blog post from a nurse and of course, now can’t find it.  When I do, I”ll put it right HERE!

When I first started used cannabis for pain and other health issues I was afraid for anyone to know. I mean, you know, I was a nurse. Marijuana was a DRUG. I still had my license but had been unable to work for a couple years. I had tried pot a couple times and then my Nurse Practitioner asked if I would be willing to try it. I cried. I told her I had but I had such mixed emotions about it because of my nursing license. Her reply was “You aren’t working right now, and you aren’t able to, so why not try it?”. So I did. Just a little now and then to take the edge off. To get away from maybe taking one more pill.

The reality of it is that I was just as judged about taking a handful of medications as I might be using cannabis. That’s one of the certainties I’ve found struggling with chronic (invisible) health conditions, you will be judged on how you deal with pain. You will be judged on what medications you take and how much, you will be judged on not working or if you do work a few days, you will be judged on if you look presentable or if you are in your jammies all day. You will be judged if you are emotional or if you are friendly and outgoing. There is no pleasing others with how I deal with my health issues. I judge myself as well. Today, I’d much rather be grateful about using medical marijuana and only one other routine medication and one for sleep that I intend to wean myself off of next, than feeling how I did taking all those pills the doctors kept giving me. I was always scared of what if I didn’t have this pill or that pill and this happened or that happened? It was a horrible way to survive. Not live…just survive.

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I had been using marijuana as a supplementary medicine but not as my main regime for awhile. I decided to try to find a part-time job about 2 years ago. I quit using pot for over a month to make sure I had none in my system. I applied for a position in a Coumadin Clinic. Just running finger pricks and checking INR’s. I told them about my health issues. I told them I used narcotics for pain. I said that my own Nurse Practitioner had suggested this position for me.

They interviewed two different times, once with the various physicians present to question me. They wanted to hire me. They were very impressed with my level of knowledge, my professional appearance and attitude and that I would be willing to work outside the Coumadin Clinic if needed. They sent me on my way to get a urinalysis. I waited. And waited. Finally the call came. The woman who had interviewed me said “Why didn’t you tell me? We can’t have you here on those levels of medications”. I explained that I had told her and had explained that I would not use any medications before work and would just manage on Ibuprofen until after work. Nope…no way no how. They saw that I was using oxycodone and that was a no go for them.

That spring, when it came time for me to renew my license, I knew it would be the last time I would be able to unless I was able to get some hours working. I thought long and hard and realized if I hadn’t worked in 3 years and the one 15 hour a week job I tried to get wouldn’t hire me as long as I needed pain medications, it wasn’t worth it for me to try to keep it. I let it go. I just didn’t renew it. It was a very sad day.

The following fall was when I met someone who suggested I get my medical card and get myself off all those meds. Once I got my card, it was a matter of learning how much, how often, what is too much, what makes me more jittery. I am still learning. Especially now where it truly is my main medication. I have replaced so many medications with marijuana and overall have felt so much better. It’s just this time of going through the actual withdrawal and PAWS that is putting such a strain on me. I’ve reached out to the the community and it sounds like a couple friends are going to connect me with strains especially for anxieties and ptsd symptoms.

I did go to the dispensary the other day and bought some RSO (Rogue Soothing Oil) and two strains of flower for breakthrough (Light of Jah and Mango-Insane). The RSO has been helping me get to sleep, most the time. I still get stray heart flutters or racing thoughts, but not as bad as a week or so ago. I also haven’t felt any raging since I started using it. Thank GOD!!! Whew…that part was scary and no fun.20160630_165856_HDR

I haven’t gone to the dispensaries in general as I haven’t the funds to do that. I use what I received from my grower last year and that has served me well for pain. Now that I will need specific strains to help me through getting off the Xanax completely. I know it’s going to be difficult. I’m hoping I can find someone to do some trading.

If the laws keep changing making it so hard for people to grow their own, then I really will be stuck. Last weeks trip to the dispensary was $50. That was just for night time stuff. If I had to pay for all my medicine it would be at least $300/month if not closer to $400/month. About the same that all my pharmaceuticals were running. It sure makes me feel that the government doesn’t really want me well.

I continue to stay close to home mostly and try to keep focused on doing just a little bit more each day. I did get out twice over the weekend and it was pleasant. I wouldn’t be able to do it without something to help me relax though. My nerves are still feeling a bit on the surface and the last thing I want to do is have another anxiety attack out in public. The one last week was bad enough.

So I close today giving thanks for a Higher Power that continues to show me a ray of hope on the darkest days. I give thanks to Mother Nature for providing the medicine I need from the earth. I am grateful for those that still see my light shine through when my smile isn’t as bright. I am grateful for others who have experienced getting off medications and using medical marijuana, you give me hope on those difficult days. I am very thankful for another day to do my best.

Another Day

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The view out back.

I believe the last day I had any opiates was May 10. That means today is day 51. Whew! What a roller-coaster it has been. Physical pain some days, other days tons of energy and low pain, emotional highs and lows, anhedonia, obsessive compulsive behaviors, restless legs, sweating, raging, sleeplessness, tearful, irrational, sensory overload, lonely (this is my own choice to be alone, yet it still is a lonely place).  Yet, here I am, upright, breathing and doing my best!

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Hidey Hazel kitty

Yesterday was a pretty decent day overall.  I started the day opening the blinds in my bathroom.  My veggie garden is my view out the back of my fifth wheel.  Its coming along nicely for what I’ve had to work with.   The best thing was my kitty that had fled the coop a week or so ago is living under the porch now and I got to see her.  I took her food and water.  I also filled the hummingbird feeder, watered the garden, took some photos, got a shower and went out for pizza with my son after we had a little talk.

I finally asked him about last Friday night. That was a really bad night. In attempting to be social and be out, I over-imbibed in alcohol and it was not a good thing. Alcohol while detoxing off narcotics is a potentially lethal mix.  In more calm and rational times having a glass of wine or two is not a big deal for me. What I learned over the last 2 weeks or so is that if you are removing something that has been part of your pain regimen, it is really easy to substitute alcohol. So a glass or two becomes 3 or 4 and then more. I would not make a good alcoholic.  I found that out in just a short couple weeks of doing some “substituting”. I was somewhat aware I was doing that, but I thought I could control it.  I let it get out of hand.  Right now I have to be very very careful of any thing that might be a potential replacement, other than the medical marijuana.

Even tho I’ve been on a taper for over 18 months, my brain knows that those pills are now gone. Those receptors are screaming for something to fill them up so they can relax. That is what causes me so many symptoms. What I am needing is some better guidance on strains of medical marjuana (MMJ) to use.

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My best forever friend

Since I started using MMJ, I’ve only had strains I received as compensation for work and what I received from the person who grew for me last year. I’ve been give a few names and very basic descriptions of what the strain is good for. What I need is some direction and expert knowledge of what strains will help with the anxiety and some of the other symptoms that I have been recently struggling with. I have decided I need to take a trip to one of the local dispensaries. Most the strains I have are good for getting me up and moving. Right now, I need something a little more calming. I’ve visited a couple with a friend once but have not had the resources to spend on what I considered as “extras”, when I have plenty here. What I have come to realize is that I need some specific components and for my health it isn’t an “extra”. This is my medicine now.

I am coming to truly understand that this is a science. I have much to learn. I know from the great success I’ve already had the last 18 months that it can be done. I want this to work and it is working. Had I been more mindful I may have waited to stop that last pill until I didn’t have so much stress going on around me. Yet, I could have made an excuse to keep that pill for quite some time. It was my medicine. Now it isn’t.

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Each day the smile is a bit more

I’m not good at “fake it til you make it”. My brain doesn’t grasp that. What I do have success with is keeping on keeping on. It might not look pretty all the time, but I’m not giving up, even when my head sometimes tells me that sounds like a pretty good idea for everyone’s sake. I have been through so much and I know that there is good on the other side of dark times like this.

My hope for my loved ones is they too remember that no matter what happens, my track record has been good for waking up and making it through the days. And for all of you reading, I wish you the best day possible. If it’s not so great hang on, because tomorrow can be, if you just get through what ever it is you have to get through.  Peace.

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Storms often bring heavy growth afterwards