Gratitude List (July 30, 2021) #TToT

Hi all, happy Friday! I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) today with a gratitude post. Let’s get started.

1. I am so grateful my benefits arrived. Oh well, I spent a significant amount of money already on crafting supplies and my yearly premium subscription to Day One, a diary app. I have once again resolved not to make unnecessary expenses for at least a week. I am however grateful that, even if I do end up spending some money, I won’t go broke anytime within the foreseeable future.

2. I am grateful my staff try to find me things I need or want for free or at a heavily discounted price. For example, one staff was able to get a music pillow for just €1. Another staff gave me some cookie cutters and ziploc bags she didn’t use and her daughter’s old duvet cover. Oh, it feels off to say this right after I’ve told you about my spending my benefits money on crafting supplies.

3. I am grateful to retain my creative mojo. I have really been loving doing some crafts lately, particularly polymer clay and some jewelry-making too.

4. I am grateful that my creative juices flowing means I have something else to talk about online besides my disabilities and health conditions. I am truly loving perseverating on polymer clay in particular.

5. I am grateful for organized storage shelves. Okay, I think I decluttered them a month or so ago already, but with my new crafting supplies, I had to do it again. I’m really satisfied with the space I created without even too much throwing out.

6. I am grateful for pasta salad. My day activities staff and I made this for lunch on Tuesday and there was still some left on Wednesday.

7. I am grateful I haven’t gained any weight in the past week despite not walking as much and despite the pasta salad and other treats. In fact, I lost 200 grams.

8. I am grateful for a nice fill-in community psychiatric nurse. My regular CPN will be on vacation when I was originally next supposed to see her in two weeks, so the other one will fill in. She joined me and my regular CPN for our appointment on Wednesday and she seems nice.

9. I am grateful for a nice new student staff. She is already older, so it’s easier for me to trust her than the young interns.

10. I am grateful my husband is now fully vaccinated. He got his second shot yesterday and he seems to be doing okay.

What are you grateful for?

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?

Currently (July 2021)

I usually don’t participate in the Currently linkup, in part because the prompts don’t always inspire me and in part because the posting day coincides with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I still follow Anne’s blog in my feed reader though and today, I decided to check out her post. It’s quite an easy one this month, so here goes.

Eating

Way too much. When I would initially be prescribed my currently latest medication, topiramate, the psychiatrist told me that it may cause me a decreased appetite. So far, not so. It’s not a problem though, since, even though I’m overweight, my weight is stable.

Today, my day activities staff took me to the local marketplace and we bought fish and chicken wings for lunch and I bought a giant waffle called “stroopwafel”.

Now in case you’re thinking I’m chronically overeating, I normally eat a pretty balanced diet.

Feeling

Okay’ish. I’ve had a few rough weeks, as regular readers of my blog will know. However, I still find moments of joy, particularly when I’m crafting.

Going

To Lobith. For those visiting from the linkup, I live in a care facility in Raalte, Netherlands. My husband lives in Lobith, about a ninety-minute drive away. I normally go to Lobith about twice a month, but I went there both last weekend and the weekend before for my birthday celebrations.

Ordering

Most recently, some jewelry-making supplies. However, I already have my eyes on a number of relatively affordable essential oils too. I mean, oils that would cost over €50 for a 10ml bottle normally but I can get for €20 at some stores apparently. Think Roman chamomile. I know, it’s probably not the best quality, but my wallet has a will of its own. I need to restock my sweet almond oil too, as I just used most of what I had left for a massage oil yesterday.

Realizing

That I may need to stop evaluating my life and start living. This is sort of the take-home message I got from my psychiatric nurse practitioner at my last appointment on Monday. I was talking about possibly wanting to find myself another care home and compulsively looking for it. I mean, checking out care agencies’ websites on a daily basis for suitable homes. This really isn’t helping, since even if I need or want to leave my current placement, I’ll need guidance on finding myself another place to live. As my nurse practitioner said, I’m evaluating my life each day again rather than seeing each day as just the day it is.

Unfortunately, part of me is feeling as though his message means I need to accept a rather difficult living situation just because it isn’t time to evaluate yet. I can see his point about not checking out care agency websites daily, but the compulsion is also hard to break, as this is what I’ve been doing pretty much my entire adult life. For those not aware: I lived in one temporary placement or another from age nineteen until I moved to the current care facility in 2019. It’s only natural that I cannot believe that this is where I can stay.

What’s up with you?

Birthday #WotW

Hi all on this beautiful Sunday! It’s already 8:30PM as I start typing my post. It’s my 35th birthday today and I spent most of the week stressing about it and the weekend celebrating it. For this reason, I’m choosing “Birthday” as my word of the week, even though the week is practically over already.

Early in the week, I talked over my birthday with my husband. I had already invited my parents to come over to Lobith today. They hadn’t seen the house since we’d bought it, or the inside of it at all for that matter. My parents need to drive over two hours from their home to Lobith and I’d asked them to drop me off at the care facility in Raalte on their way back. For this reason, I pretty much felt obligated to invite them over for dinner in Lobith. However, this also stressed me out, as it would mean I wouldn’t be in Raalte till like 8PM, by which time my one-on-one would’ve left.

My husband told me I could text them with a time proposal for them to arrive, like early afternoon. That way, they still had some hours to be with us and could still be dropping me off in Raalte and arrive home at a reasonable time. My father doesn’t text and my mother doesn’t drive, so I texted my mother to ask her if this was okay with both of them. It was.

Yesterday, my mother-in-law picked me up in Raalte and we drove to my in-laws’ house. It was good to be there. I in fact had only been there once since the pandemic started. Before then, and especially before I went into long-term care, I’d be at my in-laws’ at least once a week on average. I always loved walking their dog, a black lab called Bloke. My mother-in-law and I walked him again yesterday.

For dinner, we indeed had lasagne and indeed without celery. It was great! I also had a Magnum Billionaire ice cream for dessert.

I also got lovely presents. One of my sisters-in-law had been sent shopping for the largest Rituals gift box she could find. I think it’s amazing!

Today, like I said, my parents visited. I don’t have the greatest relationship with my parents. Like usual, my father kept infodumping on his interests, which he was able to relate to our house in Lobith, since he practically renovated my parents’ house on his own. I could hardly get a word in, but my husband seemed interested. I made some smalltalk with my mother.

The presents I got from my parents, were great though. I had asked them for a surprise box from my favorite beading shop, which happens to be local to them. Aside from that package, I also got another box of jewelry-making supplies they’d found at a thrift store, a turtoise soft toy and fresh cherries and strawberries.

When I returned to the care facility at about 6:15PM, I had dinner: noodles another client and staff had cooked this morning. It was good.

Overall, the day was good. So was the rest of the week for the most part. I seem to slowly be crawling out of the dark pit of emotional dysregulation I was in last week. I’m relatively calm considering the fact that my birthday is a trigger for my C-PTSD.

How was your week?

Word of the Week linky

Nurse Practitioner’s Appt This Afternoon

I had a brief meeting with my nurse practitioner this afternoon. Even though it was only half an hour, we discussed a lot of things. First we made concrete plans for me to start the topiramate. Like I said before, I would need to be on the injectible birth control for two weeks before I could start it. That would be next Thursday, but I proposed I won’t start with the topiramate until the Sunday after that, July 4. That way, I won’t be just starting out when I go to Lobith on July 3. This was okay with my nurse practitioner and he’d make sure the pharmacy would get it ready on time.

Next, we discussed my bloodwork results. In the part that measures metabolic health, nothing worrisome was found. I asked about my kidney function and first my nurse practitioner said that unless your estimated GFR is below 60, it’s no reason to worry yet. Mine was 81. He checked my previous lab results. My estimated GFR was 71 in 2019 and 82 in 2020, so there’s not a clear decrease either.

He also complimented me on my cholesterol level, which was completely normal. Of course, there is only so much you can do about high cholesterol, but apparently I’m doing what I need to. It probably helps that I don’t drink and try to eat a relatively healthy diet.

Then the other page showed my blood level for my antipsychotic aripiprazole and its active metabolite. These were quite high. This means that side effects may outweigh the effectivness of the medication. While I don’t experience any major side effects, we will try to lower my aripiprazole dose in the not-too-distant future. That’s been a long-time wish for me anyway.

Then we got to discuss my crisis last week and my conversations with my husband. My husband had suggested I might have dependent personality disorder and I eventually thought he was right. Of course, in my mind, this led to all kinds of additional conclusions that my husband hadn’t mentioned, like my not having trauma-related issues and my not even being autistic and my being one giant manipulator.

My nurse practitioner said that DPD rarely if ever goes alone and that he wonders whether it even is a valid diagnosis. It is according to DSM-5, of course. He added that this is one of the most negative diagnoses to give someone. My nurse practitioner obviously didn’t mean my husband, as he didn’t really try to diagnose me at all, just wanted to give me food for thought. We will further discuss my issues with dependency in the future.

Overall, it was a good appt. As my nurse practitioner hadn’t read the E-mails we (meaning my inner people) had sent him over the weekend, we didn’t go into those specifically. Those E-mails had included a lot of self-loathing and self-doubt, including about our possible DID. I did explain about the dependency issue, like I said above. He also made sure I’m no longer in actual crisis. I confirmed this. This means I no longer need more frequent contact with the mental health team than I normally have.

Looking Forward to Summer

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is to share what you’re looking forward to about summer. Summer is my favorite season. I just love the sunshine and warm temperatures, even though I don’t care for temperatures above 30°C. In 2018 and 2019, we had a lot of crazily hot weather, with temps rising to nearly 40°C on several days each year. I don’t like that. However, usually our summers are warm but not hot.

The main thing I look forward to each year, is my birthday. My birthday is this coming Sunday – I’ll be 35. This year, I don’t really have much planned and am a bit apprehensive about it, but I bet I’ll still have fun once it’s there.

On Saturday, my husband and I are going to visit my in-laws. My husband talked about asking his Mom to make lasagne. Without celery, mind you. Yes, she usually puts a small amount of celery in her lasagnes and, while I am not so picky anymore that I’ll fish it out of my serving, I don’t like it at all.

I haven’t asked my mother-in-law for any specific present, so I’m not sure what I’ll get. Last year, she gave me a giant teddy bear.

On Sunday, my actual birthday, my parents will visit me and my husband in Lobith. They haven’t seen the house since we bought it, so my husband will likely have a lot to show them. I’m a little worried about topics to talk about, as I don’t want to cause tension by bringing up my own issues. My staff suggested I tell my parents that we went to the monkey zoo a few weeks ago or the like.

I asked my husband for an outdoors side table for on my balcony. From my parents, I asked for jewelry-making supplies. I really hope my creative juices will be flowing again soon.

I will probably return to the care facility by about 6PM. During our evening coffee break, I will treat my fellow clients at the care home to custard cupcakes or nut bars (those who can eat those).

As for my plans for the rest of the summer, I am hoping to visit some new places, like the local large playground. Aside from social distancing, most restrictions due to the pandemic will be lifted by this Saturday (hopefully not to return again by the fall). I also hope to go on many walks, as well as sit on my balcony some more.

What are you looking forward to this summer?

Mama’s Losin’ It

#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?

June 2021 Health and Wellness Update

I am feeling kind of worried about my health lately. To get myself a more realistic picture of how I’m doing, I thought I’d do a health and wellness check-in. I am hoping I can make this a monthly habit.

Firstly, the reason I am worried is one abnormal result on the annual bloodwork I had done last week. I get an annual blood test for fasting glucose, cholesterol and other indicators of metabolic syndrome. This is because I take psychiatric medications that can influence this. Last year, my mental health agency ordered it, but this year, my care facility’s physician did. This means I could see my results in the patient portal for my GP surgery that same evening.

The good news is my fasting glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides were all within the normal range. The one thing that wasn’t, is an estimate of kidney function. It should be above 90 and was 81. Because it is an estimate, one abnormal blood test doesn’t say anything. I may need to be retested in a few months.

I looked up what to do about decreased kidney function, hoping to find that if I drank plenty of water, I could get it back to normal. I’m still not sure that’s the case. I mean, I try to drink at least two liters of fluid each day, but can’t figure out whether that should be enough. Other than that, I do try to watch my salt intake more closely. That’s pretty hard, of course – harder than drinking more water.

I do worry that I might not be able to tolerate the topiramate though, because if I remember correctly, that medication is eliminated through the kidneys. I’m not sure though and will leave this to the doctors to decide.

Like I said though, all my other results were within the normal range. My fasting blood glucose was 4.3. It should be between 4 and 6 and was 4.2 the last time, but I’m not drawing conclusions about it increasing as of yet.

Today, I did send off a urine sample for checking for a UTI, because I’ve been having lower abdominal pain. It came back alright. My staff will likely call for an appointment for me to see the doctor, as the pain is still pretty intense.

As for some good news though, I stepped onto the scale this morning and am back at my average weight for the past six months or so. My weight usually goes up or down a few pounds. I’m now 72.1kg, which means 2kg to lose for a BMI under 30. I am unlikely to reach that goal, but it’s okay.

As my husband reminded me when I told him about the abnormal blood result, small steps go a long way. I am already trying to cut back on my snacking on the weekend. I also make sure to eat enough veg and fruit. I mean, the meal delivery company isn’t great on putting veg in its pasta and rice dishes, which I eat most days. However, I make sure to eat some cucumber, tomatoes or raw bell pepper with each lunch. For the upcoming month, I’ve also selected some potato dishes from the meal menu, since they usually are richer in veg.

My husband also pointed out that I get enough physical activity. I could go on the elliptical more often, but my walking is pretty good already.

I did feel a little depressed when my husband told me that it’s obvious that I’m not as healthy as the average woman in her thirties. Then again, he reminded me that I turned the tide on my weight gain in 2018 and am healthier in some ways than I was before. Besides, a century ago I wouldn’t have lived past infancy. That put things into perspective.

Disagree

Today’s prompt for Five Minute Friday (#FMF) is “disagree”. Initially, I was going to write a post about how (lack of) open disagreement with others was used against me. When my then psychologist diagnosed me with dependent personality disorder in 2016, she thought that my lack of open disagreement with many of her controversial opinions, proved I had this condition. It honestly to me proved that she was in authority even though she had no clue what she was doing.

I eventually deleted that draft and started over, but I still want to write along those lines.

In Christianity, we are often taught to not just respect, but obey authority. Children are expected to obey their parents in everything. Wives are expected to submit to their husbands.

As a survivor of childhood trauma as well as many abuses of power, I struggle with these commands.

That being said, the command to be obedient as a child and submissive as a wife, does come with its respective obligations on the part of the parents and husband. In Colossians 3:21, Paul writes for example: “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” In other words, the Bible is not a reason for harsh treatment and abuses of power. Besides, of course the Bible does not say anything about people in modern-day, informal authority positions, such as the aforementioned psychologist.

Now, five years on, I am very happy that I eventually did stick up for myself and sought an independent second opinion on that diagnosis. Then I applied for long-term care. Now that I have the right people (loving, respectful people) around me, I no longer need to fear authority. I can respectfully disagree with people, whether Biblically I’m supposed to submit to them or not. I am still working on feeling confident in my role as a grown-up woman. God and His Word help me on this journey.

Okay, this post took me much longer than five minutes to write, as I had to look up what the Bible actually said and also because I got distracted several times. I hope that’s okay.

Things That Made Me Smile (June 7, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hi all! Today is a mixed day. I am in a bit of pain and feeling a little triggered as I write this. I originally planned on writing a post for the Weekly Smile today. Then I wasn’t sure I could really write a positive post. That’s me, almost being unable to connect my emotions if they’ve shifted. As an exercise in positivity though, I’m deciding to give it a try anyway.

The main thing that made me smile over the past week, was going to the monkey zoo on Friday. I mean, I of course can’t see the monkeys and due to COVID-19, we weren’t allowed to get too close. Before the pandemic, monkeys would actually be allowed to climb onto people’s shoulders. Not so anymore, which was a bit sad. The positive about this though was the fact that at least the monkeys couldn’t steal my stuff.

At lunchtime, my one-on-one and I decided to have fries and chicken nuggets. We had to wait on our chicken nuggets for like half an hour. By that time, some of the fries were cold, but they were still good.

The best part of the day though was going to the souvenir shop and buying myself a stuffed monkey. I originally planned on getting both a gorilla and this one, but this one already cost €35. This one is a ring-tailed lemur.

I have loved sleeping with the monkey soft toy each night since Friday. I usually lie on my back with the monkey on my left side and its tail covering my stomach left to right. My husband joked that its tail is half my height. One-third is probably closer.

Another thing that made me smile this week, was going to the city of Zwolle with my husband yesterday. Zwolle is about half an hour’s drive from the care facility. Since restaurants are reopening now, we were able to eat a grilled sandwich at a place called Tosti World. I remember going there once before in Nijmegen.

On our walk back to the car, my husband took a picture of me beside a canon. That, too, made me smile.

Writing this post has me be a little more positive indeed. Thank you for reading. What made you smile lately?