Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Unceasing Wonderfulness of the Pirate

Last week was shit. It was worse than shit. It was the bacteria on the shit. It was the shit from the shit-muching bacteria. (Hence the lack of posting.)

"Why was your week shit from shit-munching bacteria?" I hear you all ask.

Let me tell you.

Largely, it was the pain issue. Since December my back had been getting a lot better, and only popped and hurt occasionally. I was even doing some light sculling. (This was back in March.) Then, a couple weeks before Easter, things started going downhill, and fast.

By last Tuesday I was in constant, splitting pain. It was as bad as it had been back in November at the time of the initial injury. I had gone all the way back to square one.

Phyically, I was less than useless. I couldn't sit at a desk, which made working impossible. I couldn't bend over, which made everyday life impossible. And I was in constant agony. None of the painkillers I had helped. Wednesday I actually called in sick to my temp agency and told them I couldn't do the job they had scheduled for me. I felt like a complete heel.

And psychologically I was falling to pieces.
  • I hadn't rowed or been on the water for ages, which was making me miserable.
  • I hadn't been able to do any other significant exercise as a substitute, so I wasn't getting my usual regular doses of seratonin endorphins or whatever the hell the brain chemical is that's stimulated during exercise. That stuff is critical to my mental health, and I bloody well know it.
  • My inability to go about my daily life without assistance has been making me fell broken and a burden to those around me, espeically the Pirate. I've been fearful that he might leave me because he deserves a woman who is strong and healthy and who doesn't need looking after. I know this is irrational, but knowing it's irrational doesn't make the feeling go away.
  • My inability to sit and work for any long period of time was making getting research done difficult to say the least, and when I was sitting I was in pain which was making it all but impossible to focus.
  • Falling behind in the work was stressing me out.
  • My aunt fell and broke both her feet. She's 74 and morbidly obese. This is a problem.
  • My dad has just been in for surgery (well, you already know about that bit).
  • My other aunt has a lump and has to have a biopsy to determine malignancy.
  • The kid in the flat next door to mine dropped dead in the shower last sunday. We were friends. He was 23. Heart attack. No one saw it coming.
  • Did I mention my back hurts?
So not the best week of my life. All the things that have gone wrong are things I can normally cope with just fine, but my coping mechanism is not functional as a result of my lack of exercise. I've found that whenever I'm left alone I burst out into tears. I constantly worry about what people think of me, that they resent me, and because I feel weak, that they see me as a weakling. I'm eating too much and sleeping too little. I'm an emotional train wreck.

(Ironic aside: the people at the office where I work every Friday told me the love because I'm always so cheerful and sunny, unlike the girl who holds my post monday through thursday, who is apparently depressed and does nothing but whine all the time. It seems I manage a pretty good facade.)

I've been afraid to share these feeling with the Pirate because I don't want him to think I'm a nutter as well as damaged goods.

Friday I finally went for a mental health evaluation. I decided there was no point in living like this if I didn't have to. I filled out their forms and told them everything I've told you (and then some), and my GP's conclusion was that I am "significantly depressed."

Finally the NHS gets something right!

So now I'm on happy pills! whee.

Are you wondering about the title yet? So far this has all been "woe is me," and not much "hail the Pirate."

So Friday night the P came over, as usual. He knew it had been a rough week, (he even brought me strawberries to cheer me up) but he really didn't have any idea how bad I was. He found out pretty quickly when he arrived and I burst out into tears. I told him everything, including being on anti-depressant meds, which he seemed ok with.

I was in no condition to cook, so he took me for dinner to an Italian restaurant I like. Unfortunatley something I ate had a violent arguement with my stomach because I had barely finished my cappuchino when the churning started. I almost didn't make it home before the trots began.

Not being able to bend over, I had difficulty getting myself undressed, so the P helped me out of my clothes (he's got some experience at that), and got me into some loose, comfy jammies. Every Friday we listen to replays of our favorite radio programs on my computer (available from the BBC Radio 4 website), so he put on some soft lights, got the programs playing (The News Quiz and Genius), and settled himself on my bed where he let me lay against his chest, all propped up with pillows to make me still and comfy. And for 2 hours I just lay there, stomach churning, back aching, half-listening to the radio and crying quietly while he stroked my hair and kissed my forehead. Eventually the meds took hold and I fell asleep in his arms. At some point he got up and laid out the bedroll and sleeping bag for himself and went to sleep on the floor, but I was long since unconscious.

The following day, Saturday, was much better. The muscle-relaxant really seemed to help and for the first time in a week I wasn't in pain. Pirate had a cricket match, but I wanted to stay in Bristol to watch the Varstiy Boat Race between Bristol and UWE.

It was a glorious day to be down by the harborside. The sun was shining, there was a light breeze, conditions on the water were excellent, and University of Bristol Boat club kicked ass. We won 4 out of 5 races, the senior women being the only Bristol crew that lost. (I maintain this is becuase I was on the bank and not in the boat where I should have been.)

I felt wonderful. I could move and bend and stand and sit without stabbing pain. I shouted myself hoarse cheering for my team mates, and saw loads of friends I havn't spoke to in ages, some of them in years. I even ran into a old team mate of mine from Manchester, Speedy. I havn't seen Speedy in over 3 years. What a coincidence! It was a great day. I was only sorry the P couldn't be there with me to share it.

Then I set out on my bike to the P's house. It's about 23 miles, but it's a really nice journey. Unless of course you get two punctures in your rear tire, you realize that your rear wheel is so warped that the brakes can't work properly. (See previous post.)

When the Pirate came to collect me I felt really guilty. (When I called he was hanging out at the club watching the world cup final on the big projection TV.) He was so cheerful about it, though. He pulled up to the curb, kissed me, and gave me an orange and a banana to much on while he futzed around putting the back seat down in the car and loading the bike in.

As we headed off home he said, "Right! Here's the plan: when we get home, you're going to get in the shower and get cleaned up while I unload the bike and put the car to rights. Then we're going back down to the club to watch Sri Lanka kick the Australians' smug asses on the big projection TV."

Problem: I hadn't packed any clothes!!!!!

I knew I'd be arriving late in the evening, and that I'd be leaving first thing in the morning for the boathouse, where I'd just be wearing my stanking cycling clothes again, and going straight home from there. So I didn't see the need to pack real clothes. All I had was my pyjamas.

"No problem!" came the reply from our cheerful hero. "You can wear mine! Lucky we're the same size, eh?"

So there I was at the Pirate's local cricket club wearing his black track-suit bottoms and a T-shirt that's slightly tight on him. They fit pefectly. Scary.

When the (disappointing) outcome of the match became apparent we went home and looked at the bike, where the (disappointing) state of the bike became apparent. Time for bed.

Sunday promised to be another lovely day. I was still feeling pretty good, not much pain, but the combination of the valium and co-codomol at night make it pretty hard to come awake in the morning. It doesnt' help that the happy pills i take in the morning also make me groggy. It's a bit like walking underwater all the time.

Normally when I have to get up early and the P doesn't I just get dressed, fix myself some breakfast, and sneak out. This time the P got up with me and fixed me an omlette for breakfast.

The significance of this is not to be overlooked.

In the 9 months we've been together, the number of times he's cooked for me can be counted on one hand, and he's never, ever made me breakfast. (Unless you count slicing the bread for my toast for me.)

But sunday he made me an honest-to-god omlette. It's the little things; it really is. That omlette said "I love you" more than a fancy gift ever could.


Loganoc said...

Sorry to hear you're not happy and still not well with your back. Antidepressants are a good thing. I know there's a bit of a stigma but there shouldnt be and they do work. It's probably not a good idea to take them for a very long time but they're great to get you out of a hole that you may find yourself in. All the best.

Loganoc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
llewtrah said...

Sometimes all the shit happens at once. That sucks.

Hannah said...

Urgh. A lot of that really, really, sucks. I'm sorry you had to go through it all. I hate it when you know you're being irrational but can't stop yourself feeling that way. Glad to hear things are on the mend, though.

And yay for the Pirate. Here's to many more omelettes.

First Nations said...

now that, my dear, is a man to hold on to.
i wish i could make things better for you. stupid atlantic ocean.

no shit, i am impressed as hell with the pirate. that's a man.

Homo Escapeons said...

I would have to join in and restate the obvious, this guy is a keeper.
I am very troubled that you are having such a rough spell..I hate it when anything goes askew on my body and a few years ago when my brain went on the fritz at the same time as my body was reeling from all of the stress that I was experiencing I just wanted to be put out of my misery.

I finally had to make a realistic list of short term goals and say to myself OK if I can do this, this, and this, then this will happen...and I couldn't do it on my own.

In the short time that I have had the pleasure to read you it has never occurred to me for one second that you would not be a huge success..remember, Thomas Edison found 1000 different ways that a lightbulb couldn't work...it's that perserverence thingamabob in the DNA and you have that in spades.

Da Nator said...

Ms. Excrement (heh), I know something about back pain and depression, and it is PERFECTLY NORMAL that they go hand in hand. Pain is depressing and anxious-making, and depression and anxiety exacerbate pain, and sometimes even cause it (due to tightened muscles, not exercising properly, etc.) So, all that said, here's what I advise:

1. Take the meds you need when you need them, and don't feel guilty about it or weak. I know it's hard - I have the same issues. But really, is you got a terrible case of strep throat, would you be thinking "oh, I'm so weak for needing care and it's so terrible that I'm taking medicine"? Our society treats both back pain and depression as different as regular illnesses. They are somewhat different, but really? Not as much as you'd expect. Also: everyone gets one or both some time. Trust me.

2. Keep on enjoying the Pirate's attention. It's great that you have him to support you - having a terrific partner is a godsend when you're having problems. But also? That's something terrific partners are there FOR, and you deserve it. You'd do the same for him, mais non?

3. Just take good care of yourself. Take one day at a time, and don't try to push it.

Oh, and if your happy pills make you sleepy? You can always switch the time you take them or try something different.

The good news is that if muscle relaxants helped your pain significantly, you probably don't have serious nerve involvement. So, yay for that!

I hope you continue to heal. Hang in there, kiddo. This, too, shall pass.

Lorna said...

You poor thing - I'm so sorry things have been awful. I know from experience how utterly miserable a PhD can get at times, but that with all the other horrid things... Lots of sympathy to you. And a huge cheer for the pirate, who is clearly a very, very good sort of man.
*Big hug*

GreatSheElephant said...

that really is everything at once - poor you.

You are just settling into the happy pills though and they usually take about 4 weeks to start working properly so the fuzzy feeling shouldn't last (unless you are on tricyclics which I doubt). How about taking them at bed time?

hendrix said...

You poor thing you are going through the mill at the moment, but this will pass and things will be better soon. Hang on in there and don't lose heart.

Da Nators right, back pain (or any constant long term pain) and depression do go hand in hand and when you're working as hard as you do then it's hardly surprising that - even without the external events and worries which you have at the moment - that you're worn out and your nerves have got a bit frazzled so please don't beat yourself up over it.

Do you have any time to take a bit of a break? A week away somewhere quiet or even a long weekend? Some time you can use to recharge your batteries? It would probably do you good.

Also, please disabuse yourself of any notion that the Pirate thinks of you as either a "nutter" or "damaged" goods. You wouldn't think that of him if he were in your shoes right now would you? Apart from the fact that his actions have proven that he doesn't think of you that way, one of the plus points of being in a relationship (and one of the ways of knowing that the person you're with is a keeper) is that they look out for you when you aren't 100%.

Sending you lots of love (and you're always welcome to come up to Edinburgh and get my magic electroshock lady to fix your back)

Chaucer's Bitch said...

loganoc: yeah, i'm just taking them for a while to get me over the hump.

llewtra: when it rains, it pours...

Hannah: all I could think of was that scene from "Fargo" where the pregnant sherif's husband gets up with her in the wee hours to fix her some eggs.

FN: I do hold on to him, every chance i get!

Homo: i like that bit about Eddison. that's good; i'm going to remember that!

Nator: Thanks. Incidently, I can't take the happy pills at night because then they would interact with the valium i take before bed, and i have to take those two 12 hours apart to minimize the interatction. i seem to be getting used to it, tho. i'm not quite as fuzzy today.

lorna: exactly! i didn't even include the PhD in the list of gripes ('cause that's what i'm here for after all), but you can definatley add it on.

GSE: i don't know what tricyclics are. i'm on something called citalopram, whatever that is.

HC: i don't really have time for a break, but i will be going home for a week next week to give a paper at a conference near my home town, so i will get to spend a week with my parents and the beagle, which will be good.

Everyone: thanks for all your love and support. it really does help!

GreatSheElephant said...

Hmm, it appears to be an SSRI. If it makes you drowsy, I wonder why you need the valium too. Couldn't you just take the citalopram at night and cut out the valium entirely? Valium is not a good thing to get accustomed to.

By the way, you will be pleased to know that one unexpected side effect of citalopram is that it greatly reduces any problems you may have with premature ejaculation.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

the valium is a muscle relaxant to keep the muscles in my back from spasming, which was the primary source of the pain. it's worked, too. all the pain-killers in the world barely hepled, but after one night on the valium i woke up in the morning able to function for the first time in weeks.

Da Nator said...

Valium as a muscle relaxer? Niiice. One only hopes they'll be selling Xanax over the counter for menstrual cramps, soon. What, it's only a week into my cycle? I feel a cramp coming on... ;o)

Interesting that the citalopram makes you fuzzy. That's the one I take in the morning and it perks me up (I take trazadone at night; it knocks me out). Maybe it is just that you are adjusting to it.

Here's to feeling better!

Chaucer's Bitch said...

Yeah, I respond to everything by falling asleep. Stuff that's meant to make me wired makes me drowsy, and stuff that's meant to make me drowsy puts me in a coma. It's fun being me.

belladona said...

Ah, that makes more sense with the valium - I, like gse was slightly concerned by that. I understand the principle though, I take a tricyclic anti-depressant for my muscle pain. I've been on it for years which isn't great but it means I can do, well, anything I want. As opposed to staying in my house, permanently. Nice pills.
As others have said, don't beat yourself up for feeling bad - if you don't start feeling depressed when you have long-term pain then you aren't human.