Anxious? Who me?

Anyone who knows me well will know that I battle with anxiety. I always have. I had trauma in my early years and then a chaotic childhood. Apparently this contributes a great deal to anxiety disorders. Over the years, I did much counselling and much healing but it was never enough to eradicate the anxiety and hyper-vigilance in my life. I have always been incredibily observant and I rarely ‘miss a beat.’ In fact, it is quite annoying to lots of people. I meticulously plan everything out and I rarely deviate from routines. I have knots in my shoulders and neck and I have even developed tendonitis as a result. I have always been able to manage my stress and anxiety with a small supply of ativan – not anymore.

Since my really bad bout with colitis, I have not been the same. My anxiety has escalated to the point where I am having muscle spasms, knots in my shoulders that can’t be removed and my jaw has been so sore because I keep it tensed. And then there is the fatigue – it has been so hard to work everyday with this level of stress and anxiety. Apparently chronic and serious illness also contributes to the development of an anxiety disorder.

Finally I went to my doctor a couple of weeks ago and she diagnosed a Generalized Anxiety Disorder. She started me on medication. One medication for a short time to get me through until the other one kicks in. I am now on 3 meds for anxiety. The good news is I am steadily feeling better. They symptoms of stress and anxiety are slowly melting away and I have actually ‘missed a few beats.’ What has really surprised me is the actual physical manifestations of mental illness.

Now, some of you may wonder why I would blog about this. I believe there is no shame in mental illness. I will blog openly about it as I have about my colitis. The more of us who come out and say we have these illnesses the less power there is in the stigma. I really don’t care who knows and I will talk openly about it to whoever wants to hear. Maybe someone else will get treatment as a result.

Dog Rant

To my neighbours:

Perhaps you enjoy the sound of your barking dog at 8:22 am on a Sunday morning. I, however, do not. Why do you think it is necessary to put him outside at the crack of freaking dawn and allow him to bark all day, every day? Is your house sound-proofed? Are you not aware of the annoyance he is causing on the street?

We have a lot of dogs. Our dogs know that if they bark they will be brought in, end of conversation. Our dogs have learned to go outside, put up with being barked at by your dog, and they rarely bark back. This is unnatural for dogs. Most dogs bark back at dogs who bark at them.

Once again, I have been woken from a dead sleep to the sound of your barking dog. We need our sleep over here due to fatigue caused by chronic illness. You are interfering with our ability to get rest. It would be appreciated if you could keep keep your barking dog in the house, where he belongs, with his pack. It is not his fault he is an asshole – it is yours. Why do you keep your little dogs in the house but put him outside? He knows he is being separated from you and he does not like it. Dogs are social creatures and need their families in order to feel secure. Putting him outside for 10-12 hours at a time is torture for him.

Please, for the sake of your dog and you neigbour’s sanity, stop putting him out at the crack of dawn, for hours at a time.

Thank you Dr. Coodin

Never underestimate the effect a good dentist can have in your life. I have never had easy relationships with dentists. Going to the dentist has almost always been a huge trauma in my life. I could never stand to have my teeth scaled nor could I stand it if they ‘tapped’ on my teeth (why do dentists do that anyway?). Dental hygienists have caused me great amounts of agony as they tried to ‘clean my teeth.’

My dental fear is well-grounded. The dentist I had as a child looked like Vincent Price and had all the bed side manner of the Marquis de Sade. My bottom teeth do not freeze. So I have endured more than one filling without anesthetic. I would tell this guy that my teeth were not frozen and he would mutter, maybe give me some more anesthetic, and then carry on. I have also not been blessed with good teeth which means I had a lot of cavities in my childhood. Plus I had too many teeth. I had to have 2 teeth ‘pulled for space’ when I was about 8 years old. I learned young that dentists were to be feared and that I would suffer a great deal of pain every time I sat in the chair. Even if the dentist was really sympathetic it did not matter. My level of anxiety was so high that there was nothing they could do to counter it.

As a result of my full-blown dental phobia I avoided the dentist for many, many years. Finally, in my early twenties my teeth were so bad the choice was pull them all and get dentures or fix them – the cost was going to be the same. I opted to keep my teeth and went through months of painful appointments at a dentist’s office where they ‘catered to cowards.’ They were pretty good but my mouth was a mess. It was here that I learned my bottom teeth do not freeze. I would endure needle after needle and still the teeth would not freeze. Finally, they would try and intercept the nerve in order to get some semblance of anesthetic.

Over the years I only went to a dentist if absolutely necessary. Every time I went a dentist would tell me that I needed 8-10 crowns and my teeth were in horrible shape. I would let them fix whatever was wrong and I would run away.

Eventually, Deb found Dr. Coodin when she was in agony and she needed at tooth fixed. They agreed to come in early the next day because they were fully booked but they could not stand the thought that she was in pain. It turned out they could not do anything for her tooth and she had to have it pulled. They referred her to an oral surgeon that day. She was impressed with how kind and gentle Dr. Coodin was that I decided I would go and see him.

I told him before I opened my mouth that I was phobic. I let him know that I knew that I needed lots of crowns and that my teeth were in horrible shape. I told him he could look but that I did not want any tapping or poking into things with metal instruments. Dr. Coodin agreed to follow the rules and I opened my mouth. Here was the conversation:

Dr. C: You don’t need crowns.

Me: But I have all these big fillings and other dentists have said I need them.

Dr. C: Does anything hurt?

Me: No

Dr. C: Are your big fillings breaking?

Me: No

Dr. C: Then you don’t need crowns. In fact, putting crowns on your teeth will further weaken them and unless you are having problems I would not advise it.

Me: Then why do all these dentists tell me I need crowns?

Dr. C: Economics. They want to make money.

He told me I had gingivitis but he thought it could be reversed with diligent cleanings every 4 months. In the past, I have always needed anesthetic to have my teeth cleaned. Then he told me that he scales teeth himself and that he has no interest in hurting me or I won’t come back. He told me he would start slowly and as the gingivitis cleared up he could go deeper. He went on to say that many dental professionals make the mistake of going to hard and too deep on someone like me and that it would cause a great deal of pain because of the inflammation.

He was right. After about 6 appointments I no longer had aching, bleeding gums. My gum tissue was pink and did not bleed when I brushed my teeth.

I have now been seeing Dr. Coodin since about 2000. My teeth are stable and we take care of things when they come up. I just had them cleaned today and it did not hurt at all. Thank you Dr. Coodin!

Too Freaking Funny

THE CAT - Bella
THE CAT - Bella

I am seriously going to pay for this later but I can’t help myself.  A week ago, Deb went to the doctor. I wasn’t there. Deb told me that our doctor came into the examination room and informed her that she smelled like cat pee. Deb thought she was crazy.*  Today we were sitting in the MS Clinic and Deb exclaims: “The cat has peed in my shoes!” Sure enough, I get a whiff of it too. Then she goes into another exam room and when I opened the door to go in all I could smell was cat pee!

Now I would not find this so funny except it is divine retribution. Many years ago, Madison used to pee on my side of the bed. Deb would always blame me. She would say: “What did you do? You must have done *something*. She doesn’t pee on *my* side of the bed. Well, dear, the cat does not pee in my shoes!


*this was a week ago that our doctor said she smelled like cat pee!

Conversations with my Mother…

I have very odd conversations with my mother. Given that I call her every single day of my life this is bound to happen.

When my Mom visited us in July 2008,  I saw her toes and told her she had toe fungus. I advised  her on how to get rid of it. She asked my sister if she thought she had toe fungus and my sister said no. So my mother did nothing. Now, apparently, her toes are black and she can’t stand the pain it is causing when she cuts her toenails.

Here was the conversation we had yesterday:

Me: Hi Mom, how are you?

Mom: Not so good. I told you I had to go to the foot doctor today because my toes hurt.

Me: Umm, no you didn’t tell me.

Mom: I didn’t tell you because you always diagnose me.

Me: Was I wrong?

Mom: No, that’s the problem.

Me: What did the foot doctor say?

Mom: I have toe fungus.

Me: You have let this go all this time?

Mom: Yes and now my toes are black.

Me: I told you that you had toe fungus back in July.

Mom: I know.

The conversation then consisted of  her telling me what the doctor said and what she needed to do now to get rid of the foot fungus. Oh the joys of my life.

Update: Carol from SAINTS has a great blog entry on toe fungus.

Hello February!

I am so happy January is over. I hate January. Here, in no particular order, are the reasons I hate January:

1. January begins the long period of no statutory holidays (for most of Canada) until Good Friday. This is completely unacceptable. Now before everyone tells me there is a stat in January, I know that but it is the first day and then there is this long drought.

2. It is cold, dark and wet. This January has also been very snowy. We still have freaking snow out here from the big dump in December. Plus we got some more for good measure.

3. The days are very short. I spend far too much time driving in the dark and the rain. Anyone who battles the MaryHill Bypass every day will know what I am talking about.

4. January is one long-ass month. It seems to go on and on and on. This one was not so bad given that I was very busy but I usually spend most of January wishing the time would go by faster.

5. Our backyard is usually a swamp and our septic system reeks because there is no where for the water to go. This year has not been so bad as the swamp has been frozen.

6. The pug hates the rain. I usually spend way too much time trying to get her to pee. Thankfully, she is now sleeping with someone else and I don’t have to stand outside in the rain with her for long periods right now.

7. Another reason to hate January is that I am cold all the time. I have to layer and bundle up and that gets obnoxious. I am wearing wool socks and insulated shoes and my feet are still cold some times.

It is still winter here on the wet coast in February but hope is on the horizon. By the end of the month, the crocuses will be blooming. Then it will be March and things will start to get a little warmer and a little drier and then the cherry blossoms come…aaahh, the cherry blossoms, my favourite time of year!