Monthly Archives: April 2015

Brain and Body – One Unit

With my next surgery only three weeks away, any sort of mental stability has been… skittish, at best. The nice weather has helped instill some good hypomanic moments, but I have been randomly transforming into a raging hose-beast from anywhere to 5 minutes to several hours at a time. Highlights include when my lawyer told me to “call him back when I felt more emotionally stable,” (good luck there buddy), or my explosion at my boyfriend for [me] not being able to find a reasonable anniversary gift for him. Whoops.

Overall, pain and eating issues/the fact that my body isn’t interested in going more than 15-45 minutes without requiring a restroom has been a large stressful addition to an already jacked up mental state. Not being able to eat the food I want (that would normally comfort me in times of stress) has been pretty difficult, and the embarrassment of having to ask the deli clerk to watch my basket at the grocery store while I use the bathroom three times in one 15 minute visit doesn’t feel so nice either.

Ultimately, the issue that my surgeon found during the last surgery is that my uterus (having grown diseased endometrial tissue) has become connected to my colon. While this seemed weird (and the doctors expressed that feeling too) I imagined the two bound by a small, maybe quarter size area that could be sliced apart… case closed right?

Uterus vs. Colon

Unfortunately that isn’t the situation. My uterus is now holding my colon hostage and is connected for a long stretch of both. I am happy that this explains the pain, nausea, and inability to eat… as well as some other, less pretty problems I’ve been having, but the fix isn’t quite so quick as I might have imagined.

Why even write about that here? I mean, I thought about that, and I thought about not going so in-depth about a health problem that isn’t mental health related.

Oh wait! But it IS!

The biggest issue my doctors and surgeons have had to wrap their head around is that I have a pretty severe case of bipolar disorder. Because of this, many aspects of my symptoms, my treatments, and my recovery are different from most people.

My symptoms include physical pain, but this is a big purveyor of emotional stress for me, which means triggers for emotional outbursts and episodes . At the same time, my symptoms of being unable to eat a long list of yummy things (dairy, beef, spices that aren’t salt, fatty or fried foods, seafood, acidic foods, the list goes on…) disrupts my typical “self-care” routine when it comes to finding joy in what I am eating. Having less options to draw on in maintaining my mental stability means less stability!

My treatment of this health problem is atypical because all typical treatments (using hormone therapy) trigger severe emotional reactions for me. That means the best option I have is a procedure (hysterectomy) that is normally reserved for women much older than me. Granted, I have never been interested in having children (so I dodged a bullet there) but upcoming surgery is, again, stressful, and despite my disinterest in having children my subconscious is still grappling with the idea and I’ve had nightmares every night.

My recovery will also be different than the norm because I have the added risk of post-surgery medications triggering episodes (like last surgery). Once again, the pool of self-care resources I will have will diminish as I will be immobile, and feeling “trapped” has always been a big trigger for me. The physical pain will continue to be an issue for a while and there is the possibility I will need to be on a liquid diet for a while as well (depending on how much surgery is done on my colon). So, um… stress much?

All in all, there is no separating my mental and physical health from one another. Even though my brain isn’t down in my abdomen having tug-of-war party with my uterus and colon, they are connected. It’s called a body! It is generally considered one unit.

At any rate, this is a situation that I know will require physical work. It will require mental work. It will require emotional work. If that is the price it takes at a chance of feeling better, as usual, I will take it.

 

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There and Back Again; A Bipolar Surgery Patient’s Tale

While I’m not in a position to either calmly nor collectively express myself right now, I thought it important to pop in and let everyone know that at the very least, I survived surgery last month.

Healing from the surgery itself seemed to bring me no more pain than I was experiencing prior to the surgery, however I hit a number of speed bumps that have made it exceptionally difficult to write.

The first was a nerve in my abnormal cavity being pinched by my diaphragm post-surgery, and while this was very painful it was the fact that the doctors couldn’t rule it out as a blood clot that made things very intense for a short period right after surgery.

After that I had a really bad reaction to some of the medication I was given (not a new experience for me, given the reactions I’ve had to most psych drugs… I have the same problem with drugs in all categories). After being unable to consume anything but water for three days (including my normal medications) I slipped into a very interesting delirious state that quickly escalated into mania.

So the third hurdle was a bipolar one and frankly one I was rather expecting -though I can’t say I was expecting mania, more of an expectation for depression (given the pain). Things started out energetic and euphoric and after a couple of days without sleeping my boyfriend confronted me about his concern that I wasn’t resting properly. This was enough of a red flag for me to prepare myself for taking my as-needed I’m-kicking-mania-to-the-curb antipsychotic that evening, but even if it hadn’t been the paranoia and conversations I began having with people who were not present later that day were enough to get the job done.

After taking the emergency rispiridone I spent 48 hours in a zombified, half unconscious state. It wasn’t until the emotional void wore off that I found myself plummeting down the depressive rabbit hole.

I’ve gone back up and back down a couple times since, had probably twice as many panic attacks as usual, and I am honestly really struggling to find a balance between taking care of myself and resting. I expect that this is difficult in a normal situation, but resting when I can’t sit still and going to my follow up appointments when I am feeling exhausted has been doubly difficult. The emotional roller coaster isn’t fun, but not being able to rely on my body for information on how it is feeling at any given time (since my energy level fluctuates with my mood, not my level of health) is confusing, at best.

It is important to me to try and take a positive spin on this, and even though this has been difficult I am generally managing to claw my way through (with a LOT of outside help). Despite how overwhelmed I feel, finding out this week that I will need a second larger surgery in a month or two to address the issues found during the first surgery has left me with a loss for words. When it is hard for me to identify how I feel about something, it is even more difficult for me to write about it.

I have many thoughts and experiences I want to write about, and while they are things I plan to share I have no foreseeable timeline. In the meantime just know that I will be posting whenever I find myself in a place somewhat less tumultuous.

Thanks for reading!