Thursday, January 24, 2008

Two steps forward and one step FORWARD

I am remaining optimistic. I will remain optimistic. I have a wonderful supportive husband, family, friends, a good doc, health insurance, and all of these things working in my favor.


I went to the psychiatrist this morning. I took my little diary where I've been writing down everything (medicine, food, sleep, feelings, you name it). I told her how I've been--still with the brain fog, confused, brain misfiring. It's especially embarrassing in class when I'm reading aloud and I see a word and out of my mouth comes... chicken! Okay, that was kind of funny, but I'm afraid of saying something inappropriate and I cannot remember the children's names anymore. And they really are offended, especially the ones I've had since August. I don't really feel comfortable telling them why, they do know I've been sick. I have been fighting the flu or whatever everyone else has...

The doc said she's pretty certain that I do have classic Bipolar Disorder. She said it's sometimes hard to tell right away because the manic episodes can be so far apart. It's been years since I was as bad off as I was over the past few months. I'm reassured that she wasn't too quick to label me and has been watching me over the last year or so.

So. The Big-B. The scary word that people are afraid of. The one that people use to mean generically dangerously mentally ill and/or evil. I told her I was okay with it. I had to deal with that label 10 years ago and I thought I'd accepted it, but once I got into my car to speed back to school (I went during my conference period), I cried a little.

As I digest this news, which I totally knew was coming, by the way, my new meds are as follows:

"Ramp down" from Trileptal
Continue with Lamictal
Start Lithium Extended Release 450mg 2x daily if I can handle it

I took lithium before. She said I could experience nausea and vomiting at first (the "if I can handle it 2x a day" part), but that should pass as I get used to it. I remember feeling a little like I'd had one drink. Not really impaired in a way that anyone would notice, but you notice and you're extra careful to speak clearly. But I'm already shouting "chicken" for no reason. Haha. Really, I have to laugh at myself sometimes or I'd cry.

Other things to keep in mind:
* lithium is a salt (lithium carbonate-LiCO3) and it's all about electrolytes and not getting dehydrated or going on some crash low-sodium diet. Woo-hoo! I am all about my salt, baby!
* Drink a great deal of water.
* Drink very little alcohol (dehydration again, but also not a bad idea when your brain chemicals are out of whack)
* no/limited NSAIDs (Advil, Aleve)

Other side effects I remember:
* metal taste in my mouth
* conducting electricity better. How many times have I told you the story about the current I used to feel when I held the metal pull chain on our laundry room light in the old house with the glass fuses?
* NO BABIES while on it. BAD for babies. But it works, so the hope is to get to the point where I'm stable enough to actually have a baby. Later. I'll talk with her about that in two weeks. I'll do more research.

In the meantime...

In a certain sense, Project Baby is on hold. Mostly, though, this is part of it because Project Healthy Future Mommy is in full swing. I want to know that being a healthy momma is possible. I will worry about what to take if/when we're lucky enough to get pregnant. I pray that we're that lucky and that we're both healthy.

I am concentrating on today and tomorrow and maybe the day after that. Any drug transition can be difficult and I am gathering my support network now. I will keep reminding myself that it's worth it. And thanking God for wonderful friends and family and health insurance!

As I said, I am optimistic! Please think good thoughts and send some prayers. Say, who is the patron saint of cuckoos? Hmm...


zydeco fish said...

I am fairly certain that there is no patron saint of cuckoos, but there ought to be. It's great to hear that you are optimistic. That has to be important.

Loni said...

Oh love. My thoughts and prayers are with you!

Dare I say you are at the better end of the spectrum? Education and experience with a former manic friend tell me so.

I am so proud of you for working so hard at physically and mentally taking care of yourself for you, your hubby and for any future children.

Kate said...

Loni, It really helps to remember that it could be much worse and I should be thankful that it isn't. Sure, it's still hard, but I can still function. And it helps to hear that you're proud of me. However difficult this may be, it's worth it. =)

Many thanks for the continued prayers!

In-Between Panic Attacks said...

Kate! I've read thus far just gripped with anticipation to find out what's wrong with you. That's a little sick and twisted, isn't it? Wasn't sure what was going on with you in later posts were you were talking about not feeling good, so I have spent the past hour catching up... I am happy to hear that you and your doctor aren't too quick to diagnose.. my aunt is bi-polar and has been on lithium for a long time.... your story sounds very similar to hers. For a while, I was concerned that I might be more genetically like her than I cared to be- I started having all kinds of weird mental symptoms; depression, mood swings, general feelings of going crazy; anxiety, etc. I have done a lot- I mean a LOT of digging about what I was feeling, I finally got an answer at the local compounding pharmacy where the guys there suggested hormone tests. I came back with less progesterone than a post menopausal woman (I'm thirty), so they made me a compounding cream. My point, I think, is that I don't think enough mainstream doctors will look for the root of your problems in your hormones unless you press it. My doctor would have been fine keeping me on Lexapro for the rest of my life. To me, it should have been obvious to check me for not only thyroid problems, but real hormone deficiencies since I had a difficult time getting pregnant- I had one miscarriage and then as soon as I got pregnant again (a year later)I told my dr. I thought I needed progesterone supplments. He gave them to me, but only after he laughed in my face and made some comment about him being the one with the medical degree. Turns out, I had low progesterone levels then, as I do now,and it causes all kinds of problems. Anyway, I hope you are getting better as crazy can be a little hard to deal with.

Kate said...

IBPA--That is interesting about your hormones. I agree that docs rarely look into that, even when you have obvious reproductive issues. I've had a lot of friends with trouble conceiving and/or staying pregnant and I swear the docs seem clueless. Don't get me wrong, they know a lot more than people used to, but there's still a lot we don't know about women's bodies. I hope the hormones help!