Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Out for the count

Yesterday was a better day in terms of pain levels than I've had in a while. I think it was a result of my physical therapist putting me on electrical stimulation and a heating pad for twenty minutes. For the rest of the day I managed pretty well, aside from some ongoing emotional problems resulting mostly from being in pain all the time and not getting things accomplished (see my last post). It wasn't until after dinner that I was noticing enough discomfort to take the medical van or the Ride.* I didn't. I walked home. I even managed to get a solid night's sleep without being awoken or kept awake due to pain or discomfort.

*The medical van is available in the daytime for students with disabilities or injuries like a broken leg who have permission from the health center. The Ride is a nighttime shuttle service available to all students.

Today I started getting mild pain as I did my morning routine, and then went to my Hebrew class. I think that was what started the problems. I have a heavy textbook for Hebrew, which we work from in class, which means I have to carry it with me. The class is a ~7 minute walk from my house. From the class to lunch is probably 3 minutes. Then 5-6 minutes back to my dorm. I was somewhat okay sitting through class. Lunch was terrible and I finished as fast as I could. Went back to my dorm, started crying.

Pain is extremely difficult for me to deal with. I hate it, I fear it, I can't think around it. I ended up not going to my voice lesson in favor of meeting with one of the doctors at the health center about pain management. I start a low dose of amitriptylene tomorrow. In the meantime, the doc said to take Tylenol regularly for a while to see if it will get me over the hump because that sometimes works better than taking it occasionally. I asked for and received a couple of handfuls of single-dose packets of acetaminophen (my Tylenol bottle is probably going to run out soon...).

I also emailed a couple professors, the Dean for Students with Disabilities and my Class Dean to work out how to hopefully set me on a better track. I'm going to set up a weekly meeting with one of the deans (I haven't quite decided which, but I'm thinking probably my Class Dean) in order to strategize and deal with new things as they come up. I expressed the need to have someone working with me because I can't self-advocate easily when I'm already having trouble keeping up with things, and cry every time I explain things to a new person, to boot.

I'll be doing something about my textbook, although I haven't decided what yet. I've had suggestions to photocopy, get a rolling bag, cut the binding from the textbook and just bring in the pages I need from that, or share with a classmate. I don't think I'll be cutting the binding. I'm horrified by the suggestions, and honestly am not sure how to do such a thing without having to do a lot of hard work. Most likely I'll end up photocopying, even though it's wasteful and will make me run out of ink pretty fast (or coins, if I decide to use the library copy machine).

These are some of the things I'm doing to deal with the pain, but I hate that I have to work so much harder than my friends to do simple things, I hate that I keep spending my weekends doing bedrest, because even though I don't party, I still usually do something on weekends, even if it's just go visit a friend somewhere else (often it's board games).

Right now I'm laying in my bed with my laptop on top of the covers and wishing that I could make my wrist pain go away, too. I'm sleepy partly from crying earlier and partly because I took vicodin to get some relief. I think I'm pretty coherent and able to think, which is not my past experience with it (I once took vicodin and then tried to tutor someone; I would not recommend this). I suspect that the fact that I can still feel what's going on with my knee has something to do with why I'm more clear-headed; the pain is bad enough that the dose I have isn't quite as strong as I need, so it's not affecting my cognitive function. Though I'm not a medical official, so I don't know if that's actually something that happens.

My physical therapist says that this kind of pain shouldn't result from Sjogren's syndrome. Maybe she's right. Maybe my unofficial diagnosis isn't correct. I certainly don't have that many problems with things like dry mouth, which is a common symptom (I have plenty of saliva, etc, although dry eyes are slightly more of a problem). However, I reject the notion that this is my fault from doing something wrong; as far as I can tell, I haven't done anything different except that I'm not in a dance class this semester, and the summer ended so I've started school again. Granted, I'd love agency and to be able to pinpoint something I could change to make this all go away, but...I have a hard time right now with being told X thing you're not doing is wrong and there's no excuse for not doing it. I feel like I'm failing on so many levels and it's hard to combat that feeling. Being told that by two different people within two days (even if they didn't mean it that way), especially two authority figures, is just making things worse.

What I need is to get back on track and not struggle every day to keep up with my studies. What I want is to not be in pain.

I can only take things one little bit at a time, but at least that gets something done when I have a very limited number of spoons to work with.

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