I am still feeling stronger than I was a month and a half ago, but still so much worse than two and a half months ago. My energy level is holding steady. I’m able to walk 2,000 – 3,000 steps and have about 12 usable hours each day. I’m able to do house chores, work on the computer, watch TV and read. I’ve walked seven laps of our house the last two days and been able to play a little bit with the dogs. The last time I got hit by stronger pain and fatigue was when I cooked a meal that had me standing in the kitchen for an hour, chopping veg etc. That took its toll.
My pain level has also been steady since the Worst Headache. My muscles ache, my joints are stiff, my neck is always in pain, my head always hurts to some degree, but, in the last two weeks, I have not been immobilised, I’ve not been reduced to tears of helplessness. However, I do keep resorting to Solpadeine (acetaminophen/codeine). Not a lot ~ a quarter to a half of a dose to take the edge off ~ but, I’m aware that the longer chronic pain goes untreated by long-term pharmaceutical therapy (ie: drugs that change brain chemistry, like antidepressants or anticonvulsants), the harder it is to get on top of the problem. So, I have to stop the Solpadeine and start experimenting with long-term solutions.
My sleep is still poor. “Unhygienic”, as the doctors like to say. Sleep hygiene is very important! I have switched to the “nasal pillows” with the CPAP. It’s the mask that shoots straight up your nostrils as opposed to covering your nose or covering your nose AND mouth. It has a much lower profile, fewer parts, more minimal headgear, so it makes sleeping on my side much, much easier. But, if/when you open your mouth, a hollowing wind pours out. The air going up your nose comes straight out your mouth rather than going down your throat. You can feel your uvula flapping and it makes you kind of choke. I keep waiting for a colony of bats to fly out of my mouth… or a high-speed freight train. It’s like Charlize Theron sucking the soul out of those girls in that awful Huntsmen film… Or, even better, the dude in The Green Mile sucking the bad stuff out of me!! Anyway, with the nasal pillows, I have been taping my mouth closed with athletic tape. Yes, it’s true. It worked wonderfully for the first few hours, but, what you don’t know is, when you put tape over your mouth and go to sleep, you DROOL. A lot. Or maybe it’s the humidified water coming through the nose and condensing at the lips… Either way, it wakes you up and, when you pull the tape off, on top of hurting your delicate facial skin, you dribble and your mouth is all wet. Gross. They have chinstraps to keep your mouth closed, but, honestly, I can’t take one more strap around my head. Someone suggested I wear swimming goggles to stop my eyes from being dry and burny in the morning, so imagine this: Zeo headband, mouth guard, swimming goggles, CPAP mask, chinstrap, and tape over my mouth… Really?
Physically, my eyes are swollen and bloodshot (I think it is actually the pressurised air drying my eyes from behind ~ from inside ~ because there is no leak on my mask blowing up into my eyes), inside my nose is raw, ears are plugged and my throat is sore. All from the CPAP. Other than that, I’m having IBS issues again. I think it is because of the iron supplement and also because I have been adding back foods I haven’t had in months. Which brings me to my diet…
I am in the middle of a very long elimination diet. It’s been ten weeks since I eliminated all legumes, grains (except oats), dairy, starchy veg, fatty meat (kinda), eggs and tomatoes. And I’ve been gluten-free for seven months. So far, I have “challenged” myself with dairy, eggs, rice, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. I think rice, tomatoes and sweet potatoes are okay, but I am going to continue to eliminate dairy and eggs. After eating dairy, I became extremely exhausted ~ that indescribable inability to move or speak… So, I am going to re-challenge dairy and eggs down the road. Corn is next to be added in (oh dear lord, I can’t wait for popcorn) and then beans…
I’m back to acupuncture and using the light box, but still haven’t started Lyrica and I’m still waiting on supplements (besides iron and vitamin D and B). After talking to Z, my best friend here in Seattle, my goal is to be able to celebrate a teeny, tiny Thanksgiving. We spend every year at Z and her husband’s house and now they have a new baby. I was going to tell them that I’m not doing holidays this year, but she said, “What if we brought the mountain to Mohammad? We could come to your house and only stay as long as you’re up for it. Maybe an hour, maybe the whole afternoon and early evening…” I’m scared because I know I will want to put a bunch of effort into it ~ cook, clean the house, interact, talk, laugh, play games etc. ~ but, if I can hold myself back and relax and just think of it as a visit as opposed to THANKSGIVING, I should be okay. It made me want to cry that she would want to keep the holiday spark aglow and cart the whole family to our house. Good friends stick by you, even in housebound sickness.
I became sick exactly one year ago this week. I left work exactly six months ago last Friday. I will never stop trying to get better, I will never stop looking for my next career, I will never be okay or content with this new life, but I think maybe I’ve reached acceptance. And, for that, I am grateful. Emotionally, I’m calm. I have a lot of fear, but I’m not depressed, anxious or despairing. This is it. One day at a time.