Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Anxiety Adventures: Back to Square One?

It's been almost a year since I started taking 17.5 mg of Venlafaxine (Effexor) for my anxiety, and at first it was great-- it seemed to really help a lot. Then it didn't anymore. About 6 months in, I talked to my doc and she suggested increasing the dosage to 37.5 mg, so I went with that. 6 more months have passed and guess what? Yep. Tolerance, so it's not working anymore. 

Instead of increasing the dose again, I've decided I want to just go off of it. It is such a nasty drug to stop taking that I don't want to have even MORE in my system at a future date to have to stop. Plus, if I build up a tolerance to it that quickly, I will max out very soon and then what? So I'm stopping, but it's a nightmare to go off of, so I need to talk to my doc and see if she's ever heard of the "prozac bridge" method. I've got an appointment with her in January, so I'm biding my time.

In the meantime, I'm beginning a slow tapering of the current dose. I'm going to try just removing a few beads from the capsule each day (like 3 or 4) and then a few more after a week if I don't notice anything awful. 

The worst experience I've had happen with this med was each of the two times I've missed a dose. Oh the dizziness! It's horrible, debililtatingly bad-- and since I already have dizziness issues, (which I think is anxiety-induced), the room-spinning madness of a missed dose is torture. Plus my body feels all achy and I'm extra tired. So it's a good time to go off the meds and see what else I can try.

Last week, I started taking a couple of supplements suggested for anxiety, but I'm not sure they're helping. They are L-Theanine (which I may need a bigger dose of) and Licorice root. So far, I haven't noticed any great reduction in anxiety symptoms, though. I might try St. John's Wort, too, but I've heard that can cause fatigue, which I don't need any help with. 

Anyway, as things are, I'm doing okay. I've noticed that most of my old symptoms are back (feeling like it's hard to breathe deeply, some light-headedness now and then, tension throughout my body, but especially in my head, neck and shoulders, etc.) so it's time to try something else. Maybe I need to get a massage each month or something. That sounds divine...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Adult Tonsillectomy: My Day by Day Recovery Journal

Some of these entries were, admittedly, written while I was on pain meds, so if I sound less lucid or articulate than normal, that's why. :)

5 Things That Are More Fun than a Tonsillectomy

I've lived about half of my life, and I've had a bunch of unpleasant experiences. These are things I would rather do again before I would ever have another tonsillectomy. (Thank goodness you can only go through it once!)
  1. That time in high school when I kicked a vending machine (that stole my money!) and my big toe nail turned black, died, and fell off. It was very painful and took months to heal. I learned my lesson about kicking things in anger while wearing sandals...
  2. Food poisoning. While extremely unpleasant, at least it only lasts about a day.
  3. Root Canal- I've only done this once, and it was awful. I couldn't let them put the wedge thing in my teeth to help me hold my mouth open because it gags me, so I had to just hold my jaw stretched open for the full hour and a half. Fun times. Still better than my tonsillectomy.
  4. Wisdom Teeth Extraction. I like to do things the hard way, so I also waited to have my wisdom teeth out until I was an adult. I was about 30 when I finally got them out, primarily because one of them was growing sideways into a molar and had caused a huge, gaping hole to form in the molar. (Hence #3...) Following the extraction of all 4 teeth, my face swelled up and was all bruised looking and I couldn't eat or talk for a week, and then not normally for another two. After everything else had healed, I had a TON of pain where one of my stitches poked into my cheek and made canker sores. When even that was finally healed, I had a funny numb feeling in the lower front jaw area on one side. Still today it isn't normal in that area. It isn't numb, but it isn't 100% normal, either. 
  5. Childbirth. Times 4. I've had 4 babies, three of whom I had some pain meds with, but one (my biggest baby, who got stuck a little on his way out) I decided to try "natural" childbirth and had no drugs with. It was agony. But even that was better than a tonsillectomy. Plus, I got to take home a sweet baby afterwards, so... bonus!
I'm on about day 21 after my surgery, and I'm still having some discomfort in my throat. My uvula is still swollen and I keep feeling like I need to spit out phlegm (TMI, I know), but spitting doesn't help. I can only assume this is scar tissue or the last, lingering scabs coming off. It's been an awful, horrible, terrible journey. One I'm glad I will never have to take again.

In a few weeks, hopefully I will begin to feel some positive effects from having had the surgery-- including sleeping better and hopefully my body will start feeling less fatigued all the flipping time and I can get back to living life like I was meant to.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

10 Tips For Surviving Adult Tonsillectomy

I recently chronicled my experience having my tonsils out at age 41. Here's a handy guide for the rest of you. If you are an adult planning your own or your child's tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, these are the best tips I found and used:
Source: http://jessreyn90.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/sore-throat-acid-reflux.jpg

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Bad Good News

I've been neglecting my blogs for a month. It's been a month full of emotional roller coaster stuff and busy end-of-school stuff. But I'm still here. :)

Yesterday, I finally dragged myself to an ENT (I was SO anxious beforehand, I don't know why I'm such a chicken!!) and I was surprised by how well it went. 

First of all, I told him that I had been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue 8 or 9 years ago (though I suspect I've had it since my third son was born in 1999... so it's his fault, right?) and that I had this Strep Titer thing showing up in my blood back then and when I recently went back for more tests, it is still there and the numbers don't go down, even if I take antibiotics, etc. but that I haven't had strep in years, etc. I was afraid he would tell me I'm nuts and that he couldn't help me with that.

Instead, he said exactly what I've been thinking: that if my immune system is constantly chasing some strep thing around, that could cause CFS.

He also asked me if I wake up a lot at night, which I do, and he said that since my tonsils are chronically enlarged, that they will cause me not to get enough air at night-- not quite like Sleep Apnea, because I am able to breathe normally, but my brain won't let me sleep as deeply as I should because of the airway obstruction. Wow. Makes sense that I'm always exhausted!

So he said since I have two valid and pressing reasons to do it, I should just go for it and get my tonsils out. 

I've felt prompted to go do this for a long time now and I've been so afraid that I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Now I'm really regretting that. Now I have to have it done at my age (I'm 41, which is very old for this kind of procedure... but I like to do things the hard way- I had my wisdom teeth out when I was about 31) and I've heard the painful recovery lasts 10-14 days and will make me wish I was dead. 

I don't like pain.

I'm not going to enjoy this. I will probably turn from Sleepy into Grumpy...

However, I've found some good tips online about using ice packs or heating pads to help with swelling and ear pain, staying on schedule with pain meds, even setting an alarm during the night so the pain doesn't have a chance to overwhelm me, making sure to drink something at least every 15 minutes (even at night?), etc.

I've also read horror stories. I won't lie to you-- I'm terrified.

I will probably go into hibernation for a month after the procedure (on July 2). If you miss me, bring me a smoothie or a milkshake... oooh, or a wild cherry shaved ice... I could live with a Slurpee or popsicles, too. Hey, on the upside, I might lose weight during this process. 

So wish me luck and I'll let you know how it goes. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Three Cool Things: 05/15/14

Guess what!? I have three very cool things to share with you! I know you're so excited, so sit back and enjoy.

First up is the Water Gardens movie theaters.
from ksl.com
Water Gardens have four locations: three in Utah and one in Hawaii and they boast a few unique characteristics. First, they are closed on Sundays (which we Mormons appreciate-- maybe some other Christians do, too?) Second, they only show G, PG and PG-13 movies. No Rs. (Parents appreciate this, I think...) And third, the movies only cost $3.50 per ticket, and snacks are all under $5. Most items are $1, $2 or $3.

Granted, the films shown are not first run movies, they are in transition between first run theaters and dollar houses, but these are still nice screens, comfortable seats and at these prices, we can actually afford for the whole family to go to the movies and get snacks. 

Second, in thinking about Summer Vacation Planning- use Tripadvisor and mapquest
from todaymade.com

If you are planning a vacation, make sure to check out reviews from other travelers for hotels and venues on Trip Advisor. Although they aren't always 100% accurate, it's good to have an idea about what you might be getting in to before you arrive. In addition to reviews, there are forums where people share tips and favorite places to visit and restaurants that are great for any event. It's a great resource. I use Trip Advisor along with Mapquest to plot the traveling, gas station stops and print maps before we go. Planning a vacation, even just a short weekend away, is a lot of fun, so get to it!

from apptweak.com

Third: Speaking of vacations (how's that for a segue?), when we recently took our kids to Disneyland, we saw a lot of people in lines playing this app game where they would hold their phone up to their forehead and the other people in their group would give them clues to what word appeared on the screen. It looked like fun, so when we got home and I remembered, I got it on my iPad. Basically, we play it like Catch Phrase, trying to get each other to guess a word without saying any part of the word. We don't do the hold-it-on-your-forehead way, though, because for some reason the iPad has a hard time scoring correctly. You are supposed to tip the screen one direction for wrong answers and one direction for correct ones, but the iPad doesn't like to tally correctly. We still enjoy this game, though, even just for the fun of giving clues and guessing words. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Anxiety and Chronic Fatigue Adventures #11: Mysteries

After experiencing some initial success taking Venlafaxine, I have reverted back to some of my old symptoms (especially fatigue) without relief. I let it go on for 3 weeks, until I have finally relented and called the doc to see if she will increase my dose to the more normally scripted 150 mg. to see if that is any better. I suspect that my initial excitement was a little bit actual success and a lot positive energy and hope. The fatigue, especially has crashed back in, re-affirming that something more is going on. Only it may not be related to my anxiety.