Archive for September, 2008

Depression… it runs in the family.

I had no idea. No truly. NO idea.

I was doing a little research today, on a couple of my medicines, and I stumbled upon references to a depression questionnaire that medical professionals use to grade the severity of clinical depression. I don’t mean the down-in-the-dumps blues. I mean the bigtime stuff. The stuff that warrants, no necessitates, medical intervention in order to shake.

Yeah that kind of depression.

I say I stumbled onto a questionnaire… actually I found several different ones. Just for kicks, I decided to screen myself. Grade myself, if you will.

Mind you, this is after being on 2 different anti-depressants for about 3wks. Meds that, in all honesty, I was taking only because my doc told me to. NOT because I thought I needed them, but simply because I wanted to be a good patient and do what I was told. I looked up the usage of these two and found that when used in combination at the right dosage they were helping fibromyalgia patients with pain. That coupled with the fact that the doc had prescribed one of them to help me get to sleep… not for depression… made me feel so much better about taking them, if you know what I mean.

Anyway. I almost maxed out every single screening and questionnaire there was. No kidding. Severe depression was the result on every single one.

Do WHAT?!

Were they wrong? Did I somehow mess up and answer something wonky and skew the results? Are they flawed? What in the world?!?!

Nope.

Thing is, despite the fact that I have felt -emotionally and mentally- better in the last 2-3 wks than I have in I-don’t-know-how-long, apparently I truly AM still “severely clinically depressed”.

Talk about an eye-opener. I honestly, truly had NO idea that I was not ‘normal’. Ok, scratch that. I’ve known for years and years I’m not ‘normal’. What I mean is I had no idea that the way I feel about myself and the way I live day-to-day emotionally/mentally speaking was depression of any kind, let alone “severe depression”. That’s what I mean.

Turns out, I’ve been living with severe depression for a little over 20 years… probably 23 or 24. I’m not quite 30. You do the math.

So basically? I don’t have a clue how the majority of folks have been feeling/living. I don’t have a clue what is normal. I’m not “getting back to normal” so much as I am just plain ol’ “getting normal”.

Now, you might think “well gosh! Didn’t her mom think something was amiss when she was depressed at 7 or 8, or even by her teens? SURELY her doctor at least would’ve noticed something was up…”

Yeah, not so much. For a start, I didn’t see doctors much growing up. Major illness or something requiring a cast or stitches warranted a dr visit and well… none of those happened very often. Then there’s my mom.

See, my mom and I are a lot alike. A lot. It’s more likely than not that SHE would also come up depressed on a screening. I won’t say with 100% certainty because she might take offense to that, but knowing what I know of her… if she answered honestly… yeah it’s likely.

And here’s the kicker… Mom doesn’t “feel depressed” or see herself as depressed either. Know why? Cause she is “normal for her”. That is, she feels no different now than she ever has.

Catch that?

Yup. It’s a strange world we’ve been living in, though it does not seem the least bit strange to us. This, (that we know as “just life”), being the strange world is what is strange. Just the idea that the way I feel could actually be different, be BETTER is strange.

Matthew being depressed doesn’t come as a surprise per se, and I’m not even kicking myself in the rear too much for not catching it and doing something about it sooner. THAT is, in and of itself, a new experience for me. I’ve recognized that I really couldn’t have realized he truly needed medical treatment any sooner because I didn’t know better, and so I’m not beating myself up with guilt over not doing anything sooner. That’s simply amazing to me.

Always, ALWAYS, before even if I knew rationally that there was no way I could have been “at fault” or “guilty” about something with the kids (like not getting medicine sooner, for instance), I would still -despite totally and fully realizing it was not rational- feel tremendous guilt. I’m talking bone-crushing guilt. The kind of guilt that leaves you chewing yourself out in your mind for days, sometimes weeks, on end.

I feel like a brand new babe, learning feelings and experiencing things for the very first time. I’ve never seen life like this before. That probably sounds cliche, but think about it for a minute. Your earliest clear memory, I mean really clear memory, probably isn’t much further back than your sixth or seventh year. I remember a few snapshot-like moments from the time I was 3-5, but the memories don’t really become clear, fully defined, complete with emotions, until I was closer to 7.

Second grade. I remember fleeting moments of first grade, but not enough to hold onto and evaluate in terms of emotions and thought-processes at the time. That doesn’t come till second grade.

It was second grade that I talked about killing myself and of wishing I was dead. It was second grade when Mom took me to a counselor to make sure I didn’t really mean it. The counselor assured her I was just “throwing a fit” and offered the suggestion of encouraging the tantrums when I had them. The ol’ “reverse pyschology” ploy at work… if Mom wanted me to throw a really good fit, then I wouldn’t want to anymore and so the tantrums would stop.

They did… mostly. My behavior just morphed. I have been told that at times I appeared to be possessed because of the “pure hate” pouring out of my eyes. Mom did not know then, what I did not know with Matthew… that depression in children often manifests as anger, frustration, aggression, etc.

She also did not know (nor did I with Matthew) that depression in children can also cause the child to “be a loner”. I did not play with many other children. One or two at a time, at most, and frequently I played alone. Well, mostly I read, but that’s beside the point.

The point is, I can remember feeling and thinking in second grade pretty much the same as I do now. Or maybe I should say, have up till now. It’s like… I’m almost thirty, but I feel the same as I did at 17 or 18. I’m sure most people are that way. They don’t feel thirty, they just feel like themselves… they way they have for years and years, since high school is generally what people say. I can take that back further. To second grade.

Oh sure, as a kid I felt younger in that I was well aware I wasn’t an adult. I mean it’s not like I felt or thought in a mature manner as a 7 year old, not at all. What I mean is I have felt the same emotionally in terms of feelings overall since at least second grade. I’ve felt the same way about myself since at least second grade. I’ve felt the same way about other people since at least second grade. I don’t remember feeling any other way. I can remember how I felt and how I thought in second grade and it was no different than the way I answered those questionnaires and screening tests earlier today.

That’s what I mean.

So when I say I’m learning feelings and experiencing things for the very first time… I mean it. At least for the first time in my memorable history anyway.

The good news? The meds are definitely working. I know because if you’ll recall I said way up there that I “almost” maxed out the screenings. “Almost” being the operative word, here. Being honest I can say that a few weeks ago (or at any point in the last 20+ years) I would have maxed out the screenings. A few points lower today and I would’ve pegged out for “moderate depression”. So while I’m still falling in the “severe” range, it’s headed towards “moderate”.

It’s going to take some getting used to, for sure. I think I’m kinda scared of it, in a way. I’m hesitant to “let myself” feel different, if you will. Almost like… I’m afraid it might all be a dream. It’s like I’m being offered a butter rum lollipop…  and I’ve gotten a tiny taste, but I’m afraid to close my mouth around it lest the lollipop will be jerked back out of my reach, knocking teeth loose, leaving me battered, bleeding, and aching for that delicious buttery sweetness.

This is so weird. But then, weird is normal. Weird is what I know. It runs in the family.

I’m just sayin’.  =)

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Roast Beef… it’s what’s for dinner. And lunch. And dinner…

It’s a good thing hubby and I like beef. A lot.

We bought a package of 2 roasts from Costco when we went the other day. I immediately put them in the freezer when we got home so they wouldn’t spoil. I pulled them OUT of the freezer about 3 days ago so they could thaw so I could cook one and refreeze the other.

Problem: Hubby thinks one should not REfreeze meat.

Solution: Cook BOTH roasts.

Since I forgot to put the one in the crockpot this morning, I had thought about doing a sausage gumbo kind of meal tonight and postpone the roast till tomorrow. Then Mike comes up with this cook both roasts idea.

So, at 6:30 tonight I popped one roast into the oven, the other into the fridge awaiting a slow crockpot cook tomorrow.

Then I made the kids’ day by offering them hot dogs for dinner.

Yes, I am serious. The older one had been whining and shnivveling about hating roast, so she was especially ecstatic. The younger, well these days most everything pleases him. It’s true!

Yesterday when he heard we were having roast for dinner he was all “Yea! Mommy, I love you! You’re the best mom ever!” and then tonight when I offered hot dogs instead (because said roast will not be done before their bedtime), he turned to his sister with his jaw dropped and literally squealed with delight! “Did you hear that? Hot dogs! Mom just said we could have hot dogs for dinner!”

It’s so out-of-character for him, I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. The exciting thing is… it just might not drop at all. Apparently my boy was NOT bent on making my life miserable all these years. (ok, I knew that… truly… but whatever. It sure felt like it sometimes.)

It appears that my boy was… of all things… depressed, thanks in large part to a systemic bacterial infection. He is doing/acting/feeling like an entirely different person nowadays. In a good, REALLY good way.

How about them apples?!

We’re not here to discuss apples, though. We were discussing the roastS hubby and I will be eating this week… by ourselves, it seems. It really is a good thing we like beef. A lot.

Note to self: When buying super mega family packs of meat to use over the course of the next several weeks (as opposed to 2 days in a row), do NOT, I repeat do NOT put them in the freezer until you have divided the meat up into however many packages are appropriate. 

More Blessings and Randomness…

The secret to a doctor’s appointment going well? Bathe it in prayer. A lot.

I was approved for the drug manufacturer’s patient assistance program. This means they will supply my meds (well, the ones they make) for the next year! Praise the Lord! We just picked up a 3mo supply of the Zithromax. God is good! He supplies our every need. =)

A seemingly simple 2-day project inevitably stretches into weeks at this house. The super secret surprise for the kids is proving to be MUCH more complicated than I’d originally figured it would be. =(

There are rumblings of a new Moms Night Out kind of thing happening at church. A monthly get-together of moms to do something girlie. I don’t even know what that is, but I’m game for learning! =) A night out sounds WUNDERBAR!

Matthew’s MedicAlert bracelet came in the mail today. He was so excited!

My B12 shot will not be administered tonight (yea! hehe!) because the solution has what looks like teensy tiny STICKS in it! YIKES! Will call pharmacy tomorrow to see what’s up.

It looks like not only is Mom a fellow Lymie, but at least one of her brothers could very well be also. He hasn’t seen a doc about it yet, so of course we can not say for sure, but he sure had a lot of symptoms off the checklist Mom read to him last night.

My two youngest brothers have an appointment in a couple of weeks to look into the Lyme and Co. problem.

Mike’s car is still not fixed, so Mom will be over this week to shuttle the kids back and forth to school on Thurs and Fri again. This is proving to be a bigger hassle for all of us than first anticipated. It’s just ROUGH having two different family make-ups or whatever. First just us, then Mom and the boys also, then us again, then them too again… repeat and repeat. The kids all get on each other’s nerves in about half a nanosecond, and my two get upset about the boys touching any of their things, etc. I’ll be SO glad when Mike gets his car runnin again!

Medicine Mumblings

I had another doctor appointment. Went much better overall, I think. He said I looked better… less drawn and more animated. I guess this is a good thing. LOL Still not sleeping worth a flip, so he upped my dose on a couple of things.

The Flagyl hasn’t whooped me yet, but I’ve only been at full dose for 2 days now, so it’s still a bit early to tell, I think. On the whole, though things have been better/nicer in the last couple of weeks. WAY less nausea and being off balance. Less twitching. Less overall aching, too. I did have a couple of days of some extreme pain in my knees and upper legs, and some really, really bad headaches, though.

We’ve had some interesting highs and lows in our medicine costs lately. One of mine (Zithromax) and one of the kids’ (Zyrtec, replaced by Claritin).

The thing with the Zith is that it is super duper expensive even in the generic form. At least it is if you have to take it for the length of time I’m having to take it. These TBIs (tick-borne infections) are some really tough bugs to beat and take BIG doses of antibiotics. Whereas most people will take a short 5 day course of Zith, I am looking at probably a couple of months… two pills a day. That’s a lot. It’s like a WHOLE lot. I had some massive sticker shock when I went to pick up the script for the first time. The gal said it would be $400 for a month’s supply. I asked about the generic and she replied, “That is the generic cost, the brand-name is $600.” Oh my!!

My mom bought 14 pills for $100 from Wal-Mart. That was enough to find out if I would even be able to take them (i.e. NOT have an allergic reaction) and to get me tied over for a few days while we tried to figure something out about affording this stuff. A couple of days worth of poking around and we managed to find the generic at Costco for a lot less. We also found that the drug manufacturer sometimes will supply meds for low-income, prescription-drug-plan-LESS people like myself. Sooooo, we’ve applied for that and in the meantime we bought another 10 days worth for $34 from Costco.

Yeah. That much less! I think I know where Wal-Mart is making all its profits now. =/ It’s in the medicines. Both prescriptions and OTC. Here is another example…

Another really good deal I found at Costco was the generic form of Claritin. The kids have both taking Zyrtec for about 6 years. Before Zyrtec’s patent ran out and they released it as an OTC medicine, that meant a $20 co-pay per kid each month. Once the patent ran out, it was about $1.50 cheaper per kid to buy the generic form OTC. Soon after I discovered we could get Walgreen’s generic version for about half the cost, so we switched to that. A couple of months later I found a generic Claritin at Wal-Mart that would be even cheaper. $7.50 for a bottle of 60. That would get both kids covered for a full month… at $7.50! Much better than the $40 it had been, so they got switched to Claritin a month ago.And then in walked Costco and sweetened the deal. I just paid $11.99 for a bottle of…wait for it… 300 tablets!!!! That is FIVE months for BOTH kids!! For twelve dollars!! So the kids’ maintenance antihistamine cost per year has dropped from $480 to $30! Oh my stars!!! =)

Anyway, while we were at Costco, Mike decided we’d buy a membership and he would drive me out (it’s a good hour’s drive) a couple of times a month. We made our first shopping trip last week. I spent $189 and came home with not a lot. LOL

No, really we did get some pretty good deals. Specifically in meats and cheeses. We got 10 pounds of ground beef for $18, a couple of decent sized roasts for another $20, a 2lb brick of Mike’s sharp cheddar for $5, and 5lb of shredded cheese for $11. I also picked up giant cans of diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, and spaghetti sauce to try freezing them. (I’ll split them into meal-sized portions and bag them, first.)

Our other medicine news…

Matthew is taking a new medicine to try and help him control his feelings and thus his behavior. He’s only been on it for a few days and the doc said it’d take a few weeks to notice any real effects, so I’m trying to just be patient. LOL

The kids both competed in the Putt-Putt event through the ‘league’ or whatever the school is in. They said that their school split into groups and both my kiddos placed FIRST in their group! Too cool! Of course, they don’t have any idea how that compares to the other schools, so no clue yet on whether they did well enough for a ribbon, but they had tons of fun. That’s right. They BOTH went and had fun.

I’ll say it again… clearer… MATTHEW, the kid who was terrified to even go on the field trips if I went with him and would not go play with the kids or even go to Sunday School class without me… went on a school field trip while I stayed HOME. There were several other schools there and HE HAD FUN! =)

Here’s where I drop my jaw, squeal with delight, and do a happy dance!

And no, the new medicine is NOT an anti-anxiety med and in fact he didn’t even start it until the next day. Meds ARE responsible, though. It’s the antibiotics. No doubt. Antibiotics, of all things, enabled a kid who has lived in perpetual fear and who was downright terrified of being around strangers, especially large crowds of them, to spend all day at a new place packed with strangers and far away from Mom. Amazing!

Matthew and I aren’t the only ones with new meds. Meagan is now officially starting treatment for Lyme Disease, too. She is on the same antibiotics Matthew is taking. My doc said something at my appointment about babesiosis being infamous among the co-infections of Lyme for causing nausea. I’m going to mention that to her doc who when I see her next, because that is the symptom that bugs Meagan the most. Every day since the virus or whatever it was in January that had her vomiting every hour for several hours, she has felt like throwing up at least once. She feels like she is going to collapse a lot, too. I think she’s trying to describe being woozy or lightheaded. We’ll see what her doc thinks about the babesiosis. I know she tested negative through a standard lab, but it doesn’t show up in the bloodwork very often, apparently.

Anyhow, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s babesia causing the nausea. After all, I did test positive for it and I have symptoms of it myself (nausea, severe headaches, air hunger, hot flashes and chills, sweats, and more). Personally I don’t see how I could have passed down only one of my infections to the kids. Seems much more likely that whatever I had/have got passed down to them both.

I’m going to be going in for a consult for Meagan’s behavior soon too, though for much, much different reasons than for Matt. This is more for the ADHD and CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) that I’ve suspected for years and years but had not been able to get the previous pediatrician to do anything about.

So lots of changes in the air… so far all for the better. We’re feeling better, we’re functioning better, and even better? The docs say it will continue to get better and better. =)

I didn’t get any of my projects done last week, but I might get a chance to work on the secret project for the kids this week. They got their room clean enough finally that I just might get to.

I can’t wait. They’re going to be sooooo tickled! =) I am absolutely planning on taking pics and blogging about it.

A Bracelet Blessing

Matthew being allergic to peanuts and several other nuts means he really needs to be wearing a MedicAlert bracelet at all times. He used to years ago as a toddler, but like a bad food-allergy mommy, I let his membership go because it was something like $35/year and he was NEVER not with me. As much as I would have liked him to be not with me some, it just never happened.

Now that he is going to our church’s private school this year, he IS away from me most days. I feel completely comfortable with him being there at the school without the bracelet (though I do send his Epipens) because his teacher’s son is also allergic to peanuts, so he is familiar with the whole “allergy scene”. The thing is… sometimes they go on field trips or to compete in different events and those are the times he would not be with me OR with his teacher, and so it was time to get him a new MedicAlert bracelet (his old one broke years and years ago, plus it had his OLD membership # on it… completely useless now since he hasn’t been in their computer in years).

Today I went to order that bracelet. His first field trip is this Monday (Putt-Putt… they are competing for ribbons… too cute!), so he will still be bracelet-less for his first ‘away’, but he should be covered for all subsequent trips now.

The blessing happened like this… I spent about 45min filling in all Matt’s personal and medical info (allergies, conditions, medications, emerg. contacts, etc), and had him pick out the design of his sports band (he can’t wear the stainless steel ones, as he is allergic to nickel). Then I went to the cart and saw there was a box to enter a promotion code. NORMALLY when I see this kind of thing in an online cart, I immediately open a new tab and start a google search for promotional coupon codes for whatever store it is. This time I did not. This time I instead clicked on a little link towards the top that said “Kids” thinking I’d go look in the kids’ section just to see if there was anything unique in there that I hadn’t seen yet. I’d already picked his bracelet out, so I really didn’t have a NEED to look, but went anyway.

I’m so glad I listened to that little voice that said to go check it out, because when I did I discovered a GREAT deal. The Food Allergy Initiative was offering free “new memberships and 1 bracelet” for low-income kids with food allergies! It said you could call and mention the code number or fill out the enrollment form online. Since I was literally in the middle of ordering a “new membership and bracelet” for a food allergic kid, I called and she said yes I could do it online, just put that code in the promotional code box in the checkout process. When I tried that, though, it came up with an error, so the gal pulled up Matt’s info and put it through for me. She said they’d ship out his bracelet and card in 7-10 days.

That’s it. Easy Peasy.

Praise the Lord! That just saved me $70 right now and $25/year, since the deal comes with a reduced renewal fee as well! God is so good!


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