Gratitude List (July 18, 2021) #TToT

Hi all on this beautiful Sunday. I used to have this rule that I had to write my gratitude posts on Friday or they didn’t “count”. Then I would allow myself to post on Saturdays too. Now it’s Sunday. I think it shows I’m pretty rigid with my rules of what is the “right time” for a certain post. I mean, the Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) linky is open till Tuesday and even if it wasn’t, that wouldn’t be a reason not to publish a gratitude post. Gratitude is always useful, so…

1. I am grateful my family and friends are still healthy and haven’t contracted COVID. Many are fully vaccinated by now too.

2. I am grateful I don’t live in the flooded area of the country, let alone in Germany or Belgium, where the flooding has been much worse. There’s been a lot of outrage at the way the Dutch handle the flood, but I think they’re handling it as well as they can. I am grateful we’ve not had any deaths due to it so far.

3. I am grateful for a sunny day here. Several, in fact. Since last Friday, the rain is pretty much gone out of this area of the country and we’re having warm summer weather.

4. I am grateful my GP took my abdominal issues seriously. Like I mentioned on Friday, I am back on a higher dose of magnesium. Here’s hoping this will work.

5. I am grateful I am still pretty motivated for creative endeavors. I’ve been making some jewelry, lip balm, as well as a melt and pour soap this evening.

6. I am grateful for the ability to online window shop without actually buying anything. I have so much I want to buy once my benefits arrive, but I’m glad I’ve restrained myself from spending any more money until then at least.

7. I am grateful for grilled hamburgers with cheddar cheese. We had those for lunch on Thursday.

8. I am grateful for a short chat with a woman from the care home a few doors next to mine. I mentioned her before, we used to talk a lot at day activities and she’s even had coffee in my room one time. Now due to COVID, we can only meet outside. I am however grateful I got to chat to her again and she’s well.

9. I am grateful my husband came by today. I hadn’t seen him in two weeks, as he had to work last week Saturday. Today, we went to Subway to have lunch.

10. I am grateful I found the Bible reading plan I’m currently following. It’s called “Hope Heals in the Midst of Suffering”. I can totally relate to the plan’s author’s experiences and they are so validating!

What are you grateful for?

July 2021 Health and Wellness Update

Today, I’m not feeling too inspired to write. However, I said last month that I wanted to make health and wellness updates a monthly occurrence. Here goes.

Last month, I was worried about my kidney function. My nurse practitioner was since able to reassure me it was within the acceptable range. I since have stopped using the Water Reminder app, as it was being a bit of a nuisance having to fill out my fluid intake each time. However, I still make sure to drink plenty of water.

The fact that my kidney function is acceptable means I have been able to start the topiramate too. Thankfully, like I’ve said, I don’t experience any side effects.

I also found out last month that I don’t have a UTI. The doctor still isn’t sure what is causing my bladder pain. I for a while took the max dose of paracetamol plus naproxen twice daily. Thankfully, I have since been able to get the naproxen back to an as-needed prescription.

As of last Tuesday, my magnesium, which I’ve been taking for constipation for a few months now, has been upped. I myself thought I suffered with diarrhea, but my GP was able to see that it was a result of constipation really. I am really hoping this will work.

To be honest, with respect to lifestyle, I’m not too satisfied with how I’ve been doing over the past month. I am still struggling to make healthier breakfast and lunch choices. This week, I started having crackers for lunch, which I like far better than slices of bread. However, we didn’t have those until Wednesday and yesterday, we already had a special grill lunch.

I did make sure to eat some fruit at lunchtime each day as well as some slices of cucumber. Overall, combined with my relatively healthy choices from the meal delivery service menu, I did meet my five servings of fruit and veg each day.

I got weighed in again yesterday and, sadly, had gained 400 grams compared to last month. I am still within the acceptable to me weight range, but I do need to make sure I really watch my diet more carefully over the next month.

Exercise-wise, I’m not doing as well as I’d like to. I would really like to make it to 10K steps more regularly again. I do know the weather hasn’t been great, but I still have the elliptical and can dance in my room. I would also really like to make weight training a part of my routine again. That might take some more time though, as, well, I want so many things.

Overall, I feel okay about the things I can’t control, like the fact that my kidney function is within the acceptable range after all. However, I could really do better on things I can control, such as eating a healthier diet and exercising more.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 2, 2021)

Hi everyone! Can you believe the first half of 2021 is over already? I certainly can’t. Today, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I just had my afternoon soft drink. If you want one too, I bet there’s still some left in the fridge. I can also make you a Senseo coffee if you want it. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first I’d talk a little about the weather. It’s okay. Most of the past week, it’s been raining, but I still got time to go outside inbetween rainfalls. It was a bit chilly for summer early in the week. Today and over the weekend, temperatures are supposed to rise to above 20°C.

If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you that most of the pandemic restrictions were lifted last week. They however had only been lifted a few days when news got out about the delta variant of the coronavirus soon becoming dominant. Thankfully, the Netherlands has quite a high vaccination rate, so I have my hopes up we won’t enter a full lockdown come September. After all, my husband and I celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary on September 19 and we really want to finally be able to do something fun.

If we were having coffee, I would share that this week was a truly mixed bag mental health-wise. I did enjoy some activities, like jewelry-making. Last week was my 35th birthday and I got a bunch of supplies as a present. When being engaged in creative activities, I do genuinely feel some level of contentment, if not happiness.

However, there have also been times when I felt incredibly left out and hopeless. Like I said two weeks ago, the manager indicated that I cannot get more support than I’m getting now. Sometimes, I’m okay with this, but at other times, it really frustrates me.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ll finally start my topiramate this coming Sunday. The longer it takes, the less hopeful I am that it will actually help. We’ll see though.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, on Wednesday, some type of staff support person came to observe and help the staff with some situations with other clients and with me. She offered some ideas for easing transitions for me. When I’m doing okay or sort of okay, they help, but when I’m very distressed, they don’t. I’m still unsure as to how I can ease the many transitions I face during the day.

If we were having coffee, I’d update you all about my situation with the possible UTI I talked about two weeks ago. Well, it isn’t a UTI. What it is, no-one seems to know or care about. I was told to take naproxen and paracetamol and, when this week I reported that they helped some, was just told to continue taking them for another month. A month! I mean, seriously?! I feel quite frustrated about this.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that my sister and her family are visiting me and my husband in Lobith tomorrow. My husband gave me the choice between taking a ParaTransit taxi and him picking me up at 10AM. Since my sister won’t visit till 3PM, I decided to take the taxi. I still have my entire kilometer allowance, since I haven’t felt comfortable yet using the taxi due to COVID-19. My taxi should arrive here in Raalte by 12:30PM. It’s normally a little under a ninety-minute drive to Lobith, but the taxi service might be late and/or combine my ride with someone else’s. However, if I schedule my ride earlier, I won’t be able to have lunch. Fingers crossed the taxi won’t be late.

How have you been?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 20, 2021)

Hi everyone on this sunny and comfortably warm Sunday. I didn’t join in with #WeekendCoffeeShare last week again. In fact, I haven’t been motivated to write much at all over the past week or so. Today though, I’m trying to get out of my rut and join the Coffee Share community again. I just had my afternoon coffee and will probably take a soft drink break midway through this post. If you’d like a drink, feel free to get one and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the weather over the past week has been beautiful. It was even a little too hot for my liking on Wednesday and Thursday and the nights were uncomfortably sweaty. However, I’m liking this much more than the rain we had over the month of May. We did get some thunderstorms during the night though, which scare me.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I went to the doctor with my lower abdominal pain that I’ve had for about a week now. I wrote about this on Tuesday, but hadn’t been to the doctor at that point. I went on Thursday and, even though the urine sample I’d sent off for checking, didn’t show an obvious UTI, I did get antibiotics just in case while the sample is being further cultured. The doctor explained that it’s unlikely I’ll develop resistant bacteria, as I hardly ever take antibiotics. I am also to take paracetamol for the pain.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been in a bit of a crisis over the last few days. On Thursday, while I was still in quite a bit pain, my care facility’s manager came by to inform me that I cannot get more support than I get now. I realize it may seem silly to get into a crisis over this, but I’ve been struggling with major anxiety lately and was really hoping that more support could help me.

With respect to the anxiety, my husband tried to be supportive, but I ended up being triggered by some of his words. Like, he said he thinks I might have dependent personality disorder. This was the exact diagnosis I got in the psych hospital in 2016 and which was used as an excuse to kick me out. I don’t want to be kicked out of long-term care. I guess that proves I’m just being dependent though, as like I’ve mentioned before, I wasn’t dying living with my husband.

My husband tries to encourage me to do more things independently. While really I would like to be able to, the activities he mentioned (showering, for example) give me a ton of overload even now that my staff help me. Then again, who knows this isn’t just anxiety and dependency either? Apparently I’m not able, in my screwed mind, to make that judgment myself.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I’m almost certainly going to start taking the topiramate in early July. I started the depo-Provera injectible birth control last Thursday and I will be able to start the topiramate once I’ve been on this one for two weeks. Now I’m only hoping the antibiotic won’t mess things up again.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that today, my one-on-one staff took me to visit her family’s horses. I loved petting the horses. One of them kept reaching for my lower abdomen. The family member whose horses these were, explained that she goes for the person’s body part with the most tension. I guess she’s right.

How have you been?

Just Rambling

IWSG

I really should be posting my Insecure Writer’s Support group post today, but I’m not fussed. I didn’t write as much over the past month as I’d liked to and the optional question doesn’t appeal to me. For this reason, I’m just going to ramble. I will post the #IWSG link and image on this post, but I won’t really be sharing much writing-related news.

I mean, the optional question is how long you let drafts sit there before redrafting. The short answer is that I don’t really do drafts. I write my pieces in one go usually and publish them onto my blog right away. Of course, I do have freewrites and some works-in-progress that I haven’t published anywhere, but even my one published piece that I wrote back in 2014, I wrote in one sitting.

Okay, now that we have this out of the way, let me ramble about other stuff. Today, like most of the past month, has been mixed. I was okay for most of the morning and afternoon, but in the evening, I’ve really been struggling. My feelings that, if I drop my mask (figuratively speaking), everyone will run from me and no-one will want to care for me anymore, are intense. For those who might be visiting from the IWSG: I live in a care facility due to my multiple disabilities, including challenging behavior. Lately, I’m spiraling more and more out of control and this seems to create a vicious cycle of anger, shame, self-hatred and more anger.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my psychiatric nurse practitioner. We decided there that I won’t go the diagnosis route for dissociative disorders, but that off the record at least we agree that I have dissociative identity disorder (DID). We won’t do a whole lot of system mapping. Not only have I done this already, but it seems counterproductive to the idea of needing to practice being present.

Speaking of which, I looked up the learning to be present exercise in the first chapter of Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation and had my staff write it down. The book is in English (at least, my edition is) and my native language is Dutch, so I translated the exercises and where appropriate, adapted them to suit my needs. After all, one of the exercises is naming three things you can see around you. As I am blind, this won’t work. I do find that other exercises do help me. One in particular is the butterfly hug.

Tomorrow, my GP will get back to me about my medication. I would’ve gotten topiramate prescribed to me for my PTSD symptoms, but found out last week that it’d block my birth control pill from working. My nurse practitioner would originally have prescribed the topiramate, but now I need to work something out about getting on a different contraceptive first. This will hopefully be sorted tomorrow or at least then I’ll know when I can come in to see my GP about it. I really hope this medication (the topiramate) will help, since I’m on quite an emotional rollercoaster.

Gratitude List (February 12, 2021) #TToT

Hi all! It’s freezing cold out here, with temperatures dropping to -18°C tonight or so the weather forecast said. I don’t like winter one bit. Even so, I have so much to be grateful for right now. Let me share. As usual, I’m linking up with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. I am so very grateful to be alive. Last Monday night, I started to feel sick and, among other things, experienced chest pain which was unusually severe for me. I can get chest pains when having a panic attack, but this didn’t feel like it. I immediately worried about my heart, since even though I’m far too young especially for a wooman to experience a heart attack, I’m still obese. I felt too scared to press the call button though. Thankfully though, I was able to go to sleep and actually woke up the next morning!

2. I am grateful for my supportive staff, who helped me through my time of feeling out of sorts.

3. I am grateful for a very understanding GP. My staff scheduled a doctor’s appt on Tuesday afternoon because I still wasn’t feeling well. The GP was reassuring without being dismissive.

4. I am grateful for magnesium. The doctor thought, as had I when in my rational mind, that despite the Metamucil, I was still constipated. She switched me to magnesium tablets to be taken twice a day. They are chewable tablets, but thankfully my staff were able to grind them and give them to me in some custard. I’m not sure the magnesium is working yet, but it at least doesn’t make things worse.

5. I am grateful the roads and cycling routes are now snow-free. We had a lot of snow on Sunday and Monday, so there was no point in shoving it. Thankfully though, it stopped snowing by Monday evening.

6. I am grateful I was able to go for some walks today thanks to the snow-free cycling routes. The pavements were still largely covered in snow, but thankfully I live in a quiet neighborhood, so we could walk on the street too.

7. I am grateful for large stroopwafels. These are a kind of waffles filled with butterscotch cream or honey. We usually have the mini ones at the facility and I’m the only one who eats them, because they are a choking hazard to the other residents. Today, we had the large ones.

8. I am grateful for pajamas. A staff, the same one who often brings me stuff (I may’ve mentioned her before), brought me pajamas she no longer wore. I am so grateful, as with these deep freezing temperatures, I’d like to keep warm at night.

9. Speaking of the cold, I’m grateful for central heating that actually works. We had a power outage on Tuesday and this meant the heating was off for the rest of the day and most of Wednesday. I’m so glad it’s back on!

10. I am grateful my husband got through the hectic week at work. He’s a truck driver, so his job was very hard during the snowstorm. I’m so glad I was able to support him and am so grateful he made it home safe each evening.

Really, I could probably go on. I am grateful for cellular Internet (because our WiFi was out during the power outage too). I am grateful for sleep. I am grateful for food. I am grateful today in the European way of writing the date, it’s a palindrome (just had to say that). I am grateful for Day One, my journaling app. I am grateful for the YouVersion Bible app. I am grateful for Jesus. All these could make it onto my gratitude list. Really, I am truly blessed!

What are you grateful for?

Early November 2020 Health and Wellness Update

Like I said a couple of weeks ago, I had a physical health check-up at the mental health agency. That wasn’t good. That is, my blood pressure was high and so was my weight. Even though the nurse said I might not have gained any weight compared to the last time I stepped onto the scales, as each scale is different, I was pretty alarmed. So was my husband. He asked whether I could be put on a diet. Well, no-one can force me, but I did agree on a food plan with the staff.

Now we’re a little over two weeks on. I didn’t get my blood pressure taken today, as my GP recommended we wait three months and then check it everyday for a week. I did get weighed in though. And guess what? I lost 1kg compared to the last time I stepped onto this scale in early September and 3kg compared to the health check. Only two more kilograms to go and I’m no longer obese.

Overall, I’m doing okay sticking to the food plan. I eat bread rather than crunchy muesli for breakfast, make sure I eat enough veggies and fruit and drink at least 1.5 liters of water a day. That plus coffee, which contrary to common belief does hydrate the body to an extent, and occasionally green tea. I do usually eat a cookie with each coffee break, while my food plan says I can only have a cookie with my evening coffee. However, each day that I skip a cookie, I’m proud of myself for making a healthy food choice. Same each morning with breakfast, which is a real struggle, as I’m not a bread person.

I also make sure I get in enough physical activity. Last week, I felt really lazy, but, according to my Fitbit, still got more than the recommended 150 weekly minutes in active heartrate zones. This week, so far, I got 341. I broke my personal step count record yesterday by getting in over 16K steps. I don’t go on the elliptical as often as I’d like, but that’s because after walking two to three times a day, my legs are often tired.

In other health-related news, I talked to my CPN from mental health about sleep on Tuesday. I usually get enough sleep, but I have very vivid nightmares most nights. They aren’t your standard monster-chasing-me nightmares. In fact, most revolve around my sense of safety here at the care facility. My CPN may talk to my nurse practitioner about it. She said I might benefit from medication to help with this. Thankfully though, having discussed the issue has already calmed things down a bit.

We’re In Pain

So we’ve had a mouth ulcer for some days now and as of today, it really hurts. Our staff called the GP, since we can’t go to the dentist now due to our facility’s COVID-19 restrictions and also since they already knew it was a mouth ulcer. The medical assistant couldn’t decide what to do right away so she talked to the doctor herself. Our staff called back some time later. At first, the doctor said to just take paracetamol, but our staff nagged a bit, so now we’ll get some lidocaine gel. This will probably arrive tomorrow.

We somehow misunderstood the doctor’s telling our staff to just give us paracetamol as her thinking we weren’t in significant pain or that we were overreacting. This caused some of us a lot of upset. Over dinner, we were feeling really overwhelmed by the pain and also other clients’ noise. We somehow couldn’t speak until after we’d had a full-on meltdown. Then we got to express our pain and our staff fetched us some paracetamol. That did help some. We’re still in pain, but it’s manageable.

We generally feel very triggered of late. We’re currently reading a foster care memoir by Maggie Hartley called Who Will Love Me Now?. It’s about Kirsty, a ten-year-old being rejected by her first foster carers after they took her in from a neglectful biological mother as a baby. Understandably, Kirsty feels that no-one loves her now and is acting out a lot to prove this point.

I feel a lot of the more disturbed younger parts can relate to this. Thankfully, our parents never abandoned us, but they did threaten to institutionalize us a lot. Age ten was around the time this started.

I also showed a lot of the behaviors Kirsty shows. I mean, I would also often tell my parents that they didn’t love me. Though I didn’t experience the early abandonment Kirsty did, I do most likely suffer with some attachment issues. I can only speculate as to why this might be.

As we’re now in a place where at least so far the staff are saying we can stay, I notice we act out a bit out of a need to “prove” our point. Which is what, really? That no-one wants us, I guess. I’m not 100% sure how to let go of this feeling.

I did journal a lot in my Day One journals over the past few days. It feels good to let out my thoughts. I’m trying to make this a daily habit and hope my blog won’t suffer because of it.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 7, 2020)

It’s Sunday and I am feeling pretty lazy. I have quite a few ideas for blog posts, but I’m just going with the #WeekendCoffeeShare. I haven’t participated in that one in a while. Grab a cup of coffee, green tea or I think there’s some soda or juice in the fridge still too and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, of course I’d talk about my new iPhone. I already shared about it on Friday, but well, I’m totally in love with it! I got the iPhone SE 2020, which the info section in Settings just calls the SE. That’s pretty confusing, since I also have the old SE still. I haven’t prepared that one for reselling or donating to charity yet. Not even sure what I’m going to do with it. Probably donate it to charity for recycling, but I’m not confident enough to remove all data yet.

My husband asked me what type of case I want for my new iPhone. He’s going to buy me one for my birthday. I currently have a jelly case, but I want a bookcase.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I got over 50K steps this past week. Last week, I got nearly 65K, so this isn’t a big accomplishment, but it still feels good.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the weather is weird. Sometimes it rains, while other times it’s just slightly cloudy or even a bit sunny. Because of the rain, I haven’t been walking as much this week as I’d want to. Then again, I guess nature and agriculture need the rain.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Thursday, the staff intern and I made apple pastries. I didn’t do more than cut the apples into cubes, but it was okay. They were delicious!

If we were having coffee, I would also tell you that on Thursday I went to my GP. I have a large itchy spot on my upper leg that won’t go away. The GP thinks it’s an insect bite made worse by my scratching it. I got some hydrocortisone cream for it. It’s slightly better now.

If we were having coffee, I’d share with you how happy I am that WordPress isn’t planning on retiring the classic editor anytime soon. I don’t hate the block editor as much as some other bloggers do, but I find it somewhat annoying at the same time. I never liked the WordPress.com editor, so am actually pretty happy it’s gone.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you that I’ve done a lot of reading lately. I’m truly in the mood again. I bought the YA novel Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett on Thursday and actually finished it in only three days. That’s pretty awesome for me.

How have you been lately?

My Medication Musings: Risperdal

I started this should-have-been-series a long time ago, but never got beyond the first post. Today I’m not very inspired to write, but I want to write something anyway, so I am deciding to continue with my medication musings. The medication I’m covering today, is the first daily medication I was evver prescribed.

Risperdal, which is now sold under its generic name risperidone, is an atypical antipsychotic. It was approved by the U.S. FDA for use against irritability in autistic children in 2006. I was not a child when I was prescribed Risperdal in 2007, but I was definitely irritable and autistic.

I remember very clearly when I saw a psychiatrist I’d never met before and who may or may not have read up on my psychiatric history on July 25, 2007. She had a strong Flanders accent. My CPN had referred me to her after my staff at the independence training home called her because I had been very irritable of late. Looking back, it’s no wonder, since I was due to move out of the home and into independent living the next week. But my staff were desperate and so was I.

My CPN had suggested a sleeping medicationor tranquilizer, as I was also sleeping very poorly. Not that the psychiatrist agreed, since when I reported how many hours of sleep I got at a later phone consultation, she said that wasn’t worrysome. The psychiatrist listend to my symptoms and suggested Risperdal.

I agreed without much further questioning. That evening, I wrote a blog post saying antipsychotics in autistics are a matter of really well-informed consent. The post was a response to the general consensus at the time among vocal autistics that antipsychotics should never be considered.

Looking back, while I don’t feel that antipsychotics are completely off limits for autistics – I still take one -, I do agree with another notion from said vocal autistics: psychiatric medication is no substitute for proper support. And yet, at the time, there was no convincing my staff that I shouldn’t move into independent living, so I felt I had no other option if I wanted to have somewhat of a life worth living.

And yet, I was scared. When, after two days, I started experiencing palpitations, I was extremely anxious. It happened on a Friday night when my staff were already gone. Don’t ask me how I got through that night. The next morning, I rang the out-of-hours GP, who recommended I stop taking the medication for a few days and consult my psychiatrist on Monday. Said psychiatrist didn’t believe that this could be a Risperdal side effect or I’d have experienced the palpitations right from the start. So back I was on Risperdal.

I was on a low dose of 0.5mg twice a day. My psychiatrist was in the training home’s city, so when I moved the next week, I had no psychiatrist nearby. My GP ended up prescribing my medication. When I complained to both the training home city psychiatrist and my new GP about continuing palpitations, both dismissed me. The psychiatrist even suggested I up my dose. I refused.

Because of the abrupt change in my living situation soon after starting Risperdal, I had no idea whether it was working. I was still experiencing a lot of meltdowns.

After two months, I took myself off of the medication. I more or less informed my GP, because she was really against me going off of it. I probably lowered my dose way too quickly, going from 1mg a day to 0.5mg for a week and then stopping altogether.

We will never be sure whether Risperdal worked for me, as I never went back on it. However, three weeks after stopping the medication, I started to spiral down into crisis and had to be hospitalized four days later. The crisis service psychiatrist didn’t say a thing about me having discontinued Risperdal.

An interesting thing I need to note, is the fact that Risperdal is notorious for increased appetite and weight gain. However, I experienced the opposite if anything. This could’ve been due to stress though.