Soulful Saturday: Daddy Dearest

Hey guys. Welcome to another Soulful Saturday! Today, I thought it’d be really good to talk about my relationship with my father in a bit more detail.

Most people know me as being very close with my dad- we tell each other everything, and we get told we’re a lot like a sitcom family by people that meet us and see us together. We make fun of each other a lot, but it’s all in good fun. In fact, my dad encourages it. But, before I talk about how close we are, I feel I should talk about a time where we weren’t so close… Which would be the time when I was a small child.

See, my dad used to yell a lot, especially at my mom. With my hyper acuity syndrome (that makes me hear up to ten times louder than normal), I could hear it through the walls and make out words being said. I didn’t understand many of them, mind you, but… It wasn’t just yelling I heard. I heard thuds like someone falling.

I know it’s sexist to assume the man is beating the woman, but that’s all I saw in the media at the time, so that’s what I wondered. It made me fear him, both from how my head and ears hurt from overhearing things to fearing the thuds were my mom being harmed. I also had androphobia after around the age of 6 caused by nightmares I had- all of which were about being assaulted by men sexually. I’d never had it happen to me, but somehow I saw it clearly when I was in my sleep… And it terrified me. So yeah, I had a lot of things on my plate that made my dad seem like a monster to me.

I forget when I found out, but dad finally told me that, while the thud was my mother, he was just trying to push her away from him because she was hitting him! She attacked dad verbally and physically, even if she was fairly weak. My mom wasn’t in perfect health by any means, and she also was very inactive. She constantly used her medicine as a drug rather than what it was intended for, lied about quitting smoking constantly, and just generally wasn’t a great role model. She was my main role model at the time though- dad worked insanely long hours on and off based on the job he was consulting with, and there were times I didn’t see him at all because he’d go to work before I woke up and come home after I was already asleep. So, my neglectful mother was what I knew best. And sometimes, in some ways, I’m a lot like her. Just saying that makes me detest myself, but let’s get back to dad.

While we weren’t super close, we did grow closer after my mom left. Dad was my rock, always taking care of me during my crying fits, and reminding me my mom, who had supposedly just left to go to rehab in Florida, was doing a good thing by going there.

Then, 9/11 happened. I was in… third or fourth grade at the time. Dad saw it on the news and immediately took me out of school just before the school went into lockdown mode. I was really confused at the time, because dad just took me home out of nowhere. Then, he sat with me to watch the news of what happened. He wanted to be there for me when I learned about it- so, he took me home to see it in a safe environment where he could relax me more easily.

I cried a lot that day. I didn’t know anyone personally that was there, but something about it just terrified me to the core, likely the visuals of explosions, which with my hearing and pyrophobia scared me shitless. Hell, they still scare me shitless half the time. Watching Mythbusters, I always had to alter the volume or cover my ears to handle them remotely. I digress again though. Let me return to the story at hand.

My dad became disabled when I was in 4th grade. We were in a number of car accidents when I was a kid, and the lingering spinal/nerve damage he had from a previous accident was emphasized by the most recent one at the time, and he had to get surgery to use things together. Dad couldn’t work for a while because of it, and with his pending divorce, he wasn’t going to be able to keep our condo or car. He also wasn’t allowed to drive since he had to wear a neck brace, so we moved in with his parents for me to go to middle school in a stable environment. Not that it was stable at all.

The house was chaos. There was constant arguing and shouting. Then, dad got sick. He just started having trouble staying awake, and slowly but surely, he started going in and out of comatose states. I was scared he was going to die, honestly. By then, my fear of him had dwindled down, so I spent a lot of time in his room at the back of my grandma’s house, wanting to be with my father. But slowly, as his health deteriorated and he was constantly bedridden, I found it too hard to watch. So, when my aunt offered to take me in to live in California for a while, I agreed.

The transition wasn’t smooth and my time with my aunt was a mixed blessing that I won’t get into today. Point blank, after my last year of middle school ended there, I was sent home to my grandparents house. My dad’s health had turned around after he got a special blood test: it turned out his blood ammonia was the highest ever seen in our county hospital! They called him saying he had to be in a coma while he happened to be awake. It was insane! This happened while I wasn’t around, of course- but when I got home, my dad being better than he was was a godsend.

We moved out of my grandparents house since dad was doing better and my grandmother didn’t want to have to take care of us anymore (I’m just assuming that’s why she demanded we move). We had to stay in town due to custody issues, but we had our own apartment and it was just the two of us again, meaning less yelling by a longshot. I had a rough time throughout high school and even now am still struggling as an adult… But my dad has always been and always will be by my side, cheering me on, giving me advice when I need it, and just generally be there for me.

With all that’s happened in our lives, I still worry dad will get seriously ill again. He’s had MRSA twice now, has psoriatic arthritis, and a laundry list of other issues and conditions. He takes more medications in a day than I take in half a week most likely. However, while he has his off days, he does his best on the days he’s well to be with me and work through things together. He may be disabled, but he doesn’t define himself that way… And I’m grateful to be able to have him by my side.

To me, he’s everything: my father, my mother, a good friend… Everything.

How do you guys get along with your parents? I’d love to hear how different people have different relationships with their fathers and mothers. What have you guys been through together with them? Leave me a comment so we can learn from each other!

I Made a Thing

I’ll be talking more about my planner tomorrow, but I just made a page for my planner all my own. See, I have to check my blood pressure and pulse every day due to having certain issues. The thing is, my dad and I have only one blood pressure checker that we have to share. So, I decided to make a very basic blood pressure/pulse tracker. And, proud of my work, I decided to share it with you all today! There’s one for 30 days and one for 31 days.

P.S. You’re welcome to use it if you might need it yourself! If you have any ideas for other interesting printable planner pages you think I should try making, comment and let me know!

Throwback Thursday: Mental Health Diagnoses

Hey everyone, how are you? I’m doing alright myself, but I’m having some issues that regard my mental health. After looking back quite a while, I realized that I never actually told you all of my conditions and how they affect me in my daily life. I have a lot of diagnoses on my rap sheet, both physical and mental, but I was thinking that today, I could look back on my mental health issues and share just what happens when they act up. On that note, let’s begin. In no particular order:

Schizoaffective Disorder: Not my oldest nor my newest diagnosis, this disorder is essentially a two in one type of deal. People with schizoaffective disorder, from how my doctors have explained it to me, is when a person has schizophrenic tendencies (psychosis and the like) along with a mood disorder, such as my bipolar type 1 (the kind with full blown mania). It can also be schizophrenic tendencies and major depression disorder.

  1. In my case, this means I have hallucinations- mine tend to be more auditory, but I occasionally see people in a scene that aren’t there, which leads me to tugging at my dad’s shirt and asking if someone is real or not. My meds help with that now though, for the most part… So that’s good.
  2. Unfortunately, though, I also need meds that control my mania (which my anti-psychotic is actually additionally useful for). I once went to Walgreens on a walk and ended up spending eighty bucks I didn’t intend to spend. I was energetically leaving the store and gave myself a once over realizing what I’d just done. I didn’t go back though- instead, I kept it as a reminder to myself what happens when I shop alone (that, and I’d intended to get some cosmetics, just didn’t expect the price!).
  3. I have a fairly unhinged cycle when it comes to my mania and depression- but when they hit, they hit hard. I spend depressive cycles fighting my urge to self-harm, crying uncontrollably over the tiniest thing and basically just look and feel like a total nutjob.

Borderline Personality Disorder: I can’t help but bring this up again. Yes, I have a personality disorder. It basically means my ability to trust has been warped by my abandonment issues. And let me admit: I’ve been abandoned (emotionally) by a lot of people, all starting with my mother. By age thirteen, I had a psychiatrist wanting to label me with the disorder, but legally unable. But basically, I see the world in black and white, metaphorically speaking. There’s a fine line between good and bad and I can easily place people on one side or the other at the drop of a hat. It’s far from something I’m proud of, and I’m trying to fight it- but it’s still a problem, and it’s still part of me.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (with Panic): As the name suggests, I have a strong tendency to be anxious over things that don’t require/normally trigger it in people. And, at times, my anxiety gets so bad I’ll have panic attacks over said things. I can get overly anxious over things like being late or spilling food. If it’s something to worry about, I can find it.

PTSD: I’m telling about what lead to those on Saturdays for a while, so I’ll just explain there. Besides, you probably know this one too.

OCD: Another common disorder, but how it affects me may not be quite the same as other people. For me, it’s an urge to correct things: adjusting all the store products to be aligned just right when I don’t work there, my inability to ignore a typo without correcting it or I can’t concentrate. You’d think this would make me very meticulous with my room or desk, but it doesn’t. I have my routines, but it doesn’t involve cleaning up. I’m still a clutterbug- just one that likes things to be all facing the same way.

I do have some other diagnoses, but these five are the main issues. I may do another of these but for my physical ailments, depending on what you guys think. But until then, let me know: do you want more? Do you have any of these yourself? Ask any questions or responses in the comments. I love hearing from you guys! But for now, take care. See you Saturday!

Throwback Thursday: Health Month of Hell

Good afternoon, friends! Today’s Throwback Thursday is inspired by my recent decline in health due to medicine I’ve been on running me ragged. Rather than one memory, I plan today to share with you memories of a short period of time, a time going back all the way to my middle school years. That year, you see, I was sent to the hospital three times in a single month, for three different things… And here, I’ll tell you what was found, and how it still effects me today.

(Please note, I actually don’t remember what order they happened anymore… I’m just sharing the pretext in the order that I deem suitable.)

The first cause was my heart condition. I had been blacking out and finding myself on the floor one too many times, and finally ended up making someone take me to the hospital to get it figured out. It was at that time that they discovered something: I had a heart condition, WPW. The same WPW that I have since had removed through surgery to burn off extra nerves.

To be fair, though, that wasn’t the only reason for my fainting spells. I still get close to blacking out, but now it’s purely because of my low blood pressure- and my pulse, sadly, hasn’t gotten much lower since getting my WPW fixed. That said, there were a lot of things the WPW was affecting… And now, let’s talk about one of those things.

The second cause to send me to the hospital was my migraines. I was sent from school because I couldn’t concentrate and was holding my head in tears. It was a fairly easy diagnosis, but because of my heart condition and age, the options of what to give me were a bit limited and awkward. The first medication I was put on for my migraines, once my body got used to 800mg of advil regularly, was percocet.

Sadly, my migraines still exist. That’s why I’m out of sorts in fact, because of medicine to break a cycle that’s lasted too long. I’ve been hospitalized more than once because of my migraines, but I pray each time it will be the last. So far, last one was… So far.

And my final cause? My anxiety. I had such a bad attack at school that my body was affected- I lost the ability to use one of my legs. At the time, we didn’t know what the cause was. I was sent by ambulance to the hospital, and spent twelve hours there. It was after they talked about a spinal tap that my leg snapped back into working order. Apparently, the two anxieties fought over me, and the one fearing a spinal tap won. I was immediately told I required psychiatric counseling. I still have it today.

Now, the anxiety right now is familiar. Whenever my heart would go out of whack, my anxiety would join in and make it worse. Right now, I think that’s happening to me on a daily basis. I’m on steroids- steroids that have me as mentally unstable as I was off my meds (even if I’m taking them!). And from there, my heart is affected by the anxiety and immense emotion my body is dealing with, leading to my pulse rising and blood pressure dropping low.

Today, sitting or standing, my blood pressure had a diastolic of under 60. I was close to 90/50 no matter which pose I took, which for me is pretty abnormal. Either way, it’s leading to a dizziness level I haven’t had in a long time… And that’s what led me to these memories I share with you.

The moral of the story: If you don’t feel right, get checked out. Don’t be me and wait until the problem gets to an excessive state. Alright, that’s all for your little lesson. Take care, guys!

Throwback Thursday: My Trick Knee

It’s hard to believe the week’s almost over- but I’m honestly thankful for today. I’m seeing two doctors about two pain problems I’m having, all in one day! Realizing that, I decided a good memory to talk to you about this Throwback Thursday is the cause of one of my major pain centers: my trick knee.

You normally would think only an old lady would have a knee pain that varies by the weather, but here I sit behind the screen to tell you, mine does too. This past week, the weather has been fairly decent- but the changes in air pressure, amongst other things, made my week a living hell for my left knee. The thing is, thinking over it, I do know, generally, what caused my knee to end up like this. And today, you’ll learn too.

It was when I was in eighth grade, living with my aunt in California. I was in a number of extracurricular activities, including track and field, basketball and Model United Nations. It was a big track meet that started it all. I was on the team as a discus thrower (apparently I was good at it, since I got into the semi-finals). In the area of the grass that the discus was taking part, there was a ‘safe zone’ for people waiting their turn to sit. And, naturally, I sat on that grass happily, waiting to be called up to throw that six pound rubber disc as far as possible.

Unfortunately, it turned out the safe zone wasn’t so safe. I don’t know how it was rolled or thrown- I didn’t see it coming- but that rebounder’s return was sent straight for my knee. It wasn’t horribly fast- but getting hit by a moving six pound object on a ball joint isn’t exactly the best thing for your body. Still, I was fine… for the moment.

The problem is, it happened twice. I’d gone further into the safe zone where I was sure I couldn’t get hit- yet somehow, by pure bad luck, my left knee took another discus return head on. But it’s not just these two incidents that made my knee the way it is. No, it was a lot more.

That week wasn’t just my track meet. It was also a conference for Model UN with other Model UN groups from around the area. We spent a couple days in Pasadena, staying in a nice hotel meant for these kinds of conferences. In my case, the room I was put in for my part was a smaller room with a square made out of tables and chairs close to the support beam. Naturally, I ended up next to the support beam… And kept kneeing it as I tried to get out of my chair.

So first it was two six pound rubber discs, then it was me banging my knee when getting up into a support beam probably made of plaster or some other heavy duty material. And that wasn’t the end of it! I’m naturally clumsy- and when I got home and was trying to get into an under-sink cabinet, I fell onto my knees while trying to crouch. That was the worst pain it gave me that week- but my aunt said it’d be fine in a few days (if I recall correctly). She’s a doctor, so I trusted her judgment- even though I know her judgment isn’t always perfect in certain situations.

It’s been fifteen years now since then. My knee is probably where I get some of my worst pain outside my migraines and my back filled with spinal damage. When the weather starts changing, my knee starts to hurt so much it’s hard to walk or do almost anything. And so, today I plan to ask my doctor for a steroid shot in it. I got one in December, and it did wonders! Wish me luck I get that result again soon- because I clearly need all the luck I can get!

Throwback Thursday: My Heart (Part 1)

It’s Throwback Thursday, guys! That means it’s time to share with you a memory or two that has brought me to where I am today as a person and writer. For today, I decided to focus on a what may seem like a very vague topic: my heart.

I was born with a slightly unusual heart. You see, I was born with Wolff Parkinson White syndrome- a condition where the heart has more electrical pathways than it should, and causes various problems such as tachycardia. It also works with anxiety in a doomed tandem. There were some good jokes about my heart I always liked to make- but those are no longer necessary. Why? Well, I got it fixed two years ago.

My doctor, when I was a teenager, tried to talk me into a procedure called ablation. In an ablation, they run a thin catheter through your veins to take a look at the heart. When they find potential culprit nerves, they activate it with an electric stimulation- and, once they find the true culprits, they burn it off with radiation or freeze it to death. Point blank: they can rid you of the nerves sending your body into a frenzy.

That said, I didn’t go for the procedure until about ten years after it was recommended. I was too scared of needles, too scared anesthesia would kill me. I honestly felt traumatized for a while that they even wanted to do something to my heart. I suppose it was just my childish view that it was dangerous- because actually, most procedures are much safer on kids!

Well, two years ago in May, I finally got my ablation. I remember the procedure fairly well to a point: I remember convulsing on the table I was strapped down to as they tried to find the nerves with activation. Then, as they were prepared to take out the buggers, they put me deeper under the anesthesia than I’d been before. I was soon asleep.

When I woke up, they were already preparing to move me out of the surgical theater. The doctor smiled at me as I was rolled out on my hospital bed, asking me, “How does it feel not to have WPW anymore?” The words relieved me. It was finally over! Well, mostly.

The hardest part of that day wasn’t the convulsing on the table. It was the fact I had to stay in a very specific position and had to have my legs locked down so that my body could heal from the catheter. I had to stay like that for four hours, guys. FOUR. HOURS. It was so painful to move after growing numbed by the brace keeping it down. I can’t stress it enough. It hurt, bad.

That said, I’m glad I got the procedure. A year later, I was planning a trip to help my emotional heart without any worries that the three nerves I had burned would bother me. As for the details of that trip… Well, let’s save that for next time. Okay?

The State of Thy Heart [Sorry, No Challenge Today!)

It was brought to my attention in recent days that May is a very critical month to me. In the adage, “April showers bring May flowers”, it is a reminder to us all that even in the dark of times, there is light up ahead. However, this seemingly simple logic isn’t always how the world works.

This month is Mental Health Awareness Month. For those of you unaware, I have always had a strong attachment to the idea of pushing away stigma towards the concept of mental illness, partially (okay, if I’m being honest, mostly) because I suffer from a number of psychiatric and generalized mental health problems myself, along with most of my family and many of my friends.

Mental health issues aren’t always easy to spot, and while you might not like to admit it, they can come on at any age. I started needing therapy when I was around six years old. To be fair, it was because a classmate told me I should kill myself (yes, six year olds say such nice things to each other when they’re mad!). But seriously…At the time, a six year old in therapy wasn’t uncommon- however, the concept that they had a severe problem was.

I was diagnosed with severe anxiety as “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” when I was 13, but I’d been classified with social anxiety well before that. I have always been prone to panic attacks, and also have a mild delusion tendency and whatnot. Basically, my head is messed up. When they diagnosed my anxiety, the doctors told me they wanted to classify me with a personality disorder, but it was illegal to do that with a minor. So, while I wasn’t “officially” diagnosed it until 18 years of age, I was already considered Borderline Personality beforehand.

I have a LOT more to cover today, but first some helpful hints from a mental health advocate that’s lived on the system most of her life.

  • If you aren’t sure a sound or sight is real, ask someone. Don’t be afraid to seem crazy! If a sound is scary, or a sight that might not be more than glare…Still make sure to ask someone if it’s there to them too. You might be hearing things, but you might also be hearing a real sound. It’s okay to ask for someone else to chime in. If they don’t hear it, it means you should try to talk yourself down about it…Or ask them to help find something to relax you.
  • Know what triggers not just you, but your friends. If you know you’re a very sympathetic person and tend to react to how other’s feel heavily, try not to bring up something that could cause them a panic attack- it’s better for both of you!
  • Medicine helps, but it’s not the full solution. While I have medicine for my anxiety and to help lessen my hallucinations and whatnot, it’s not a cure. My anxiety still exists. Try to remember that it’s just a part of you, not who you are- and that you need more than one tool in the toolbox to finish a job, such as taking care of your health.

I’ll try to post some helpful practices on a later date. Today, I’m actually in the middle of an anxiety attack as I write this…And I want to share why, because it’s actually kind of amazing.

If you weren’t aware until now, I have a heart condition called Wolff Parkinson White. This means my heart has an extra electrical pathway that does not belong there at all. Some people with WPW have medicine help plenty, or at least use it. However, WPW can be a problem in more than one way:

  1. If you have anxiety, your heart naturally beating out of sorts can make it worse, and vice versa.
  2. You have a higher risk of atrial fibrillation
  3. You cannot take a lot of medicines due to how they affect the heart (in particular note today, many for psychiatric purposes!).

While there is medicine, there’s one way to possibly eradicate the offending pathway all together: Ablation. It’s not a surefire method (there are some variables) but it’s fairly risk-free and minor surgery as surgery goes. I was told over a decade ago I should get it done…But I was too scared, and chickened out. I’ve been pushing it off far too long, and my heart has not been doing well with all the stress from my grandmother’s situation lately. So, I went to my EP (electrophysiologist, who would be doing the procedure)…And we scheduled my ablation. For next week.

While I’m an adult, I’m childish on many levels. One is that I am TERRIFIED of needles. I was proud of myself for making the appointment and even more so for not needing to death-grip my father’s hand when I got some blood drawn. However, I think what scares me the most about the surgery is the anesthesia and the fact that I’ll have tubes going up my femoral veins (the ones in your inner-thigh near your privates). I have to get pricked, obviously, to get them in- and it might not be just one vein either. It has a lot of variables, again. But…I won’t have dad to squeeze in the operating room even for the anesthesia, most likely. I can only hope the nurse will help me. Apparently, I will only be partially knocked out- it’ll be a conscious anesthesia. Hopefully, dad gets to videotape me afterwards to see my insanity? :’D

I plan to use my anxiety the next few days to do a lot more writing and to expand on mental health chatter. Books and Quills will be doing a lot of stuff focusing on mental health as well, and I plan to make a comic based on it along with tying in an old classic. I’ll tell you more as days go by. Because this is already long enough, I’m skipping the 101 Challenge for today at least. I won’t forget it, I swear.

To all of you, I wish you the best of health and happiness!