Showing posts tagged health
I’ve had debilitating hot flashes for several years. I don’t get them all the time, but I will go through phases where it will be a constant threat. I’ve identified some triggers and I avoid them, and hot weather is a BIG one.
Last summer was particularly bad, even though it wasn’t a very hot summer. One reason I don’t want to leave the Pacific Northwest is the climate. I am miserable in temperatures over 65 degrees or so. I was squatting in the condo at the time, and there was one horrible three-day period where I had hot flashes almost constantly. Last June was quite cool, and one day it was even in the 50s. I was wearing a t-shirt and I was miserable with the heat. I started sweating so bad that my shoulders got soaked from the sweat dripping from my hair. I got a fruit smoothie and sat in my roommate’s car with the air conditioning on full blast and I was panting and I felt like I was going to faint. I had to go to the bank, and the teller asked if I was okay and if it was raining outside (I was drenched). I soaked through all my clothes and the sheets on the bed. My roommate observed that I had become quite pale. I had to sleep with ice packs. This went on for three days. If I’d had a job, there’s no way I could have gone. One time a couple of years ago, I went to a 4th of July barbecue and spent a large portion of the evening in the bathroom with my head under the faucet. I spent the rest of the evening in front of a fan on full-blast. I was on Medicaid and I went to the doctor. I told him I had hot flashes and they were extremely bad. He said “What do you mean by ‘hot flashes’?” and I told him. “So, what? You just…get really hot?”
No, I don’t “just get really hot.” Fuck you. I wasn’t always like this. The first time I went sledding wasn’t on snow —it was on a sand dune in the desert in summer. I know what a hot day feels like but what I felt was not external. It was all-consuming and I felt weak and faint and like I was being baked alive. I could barely move or breathe or do anything at all, and it’s not a matter of “just” feeling “hot.”
More recently, I was discussing how some of my problems affected me at my last job. In particular, I had issues with brain fog. I couldn’t remember what I was doing from minute to minute. My job had been changed to something really repetitive, and I kept forgetting my place and doing things I’d already done. I was in a haze and really did not know what I was doing. I was in slow-motion and the rest of the world was at normal speed. It was very frustrating because I wasn’t myself, I wasn’t able to think clearly or remember anything and I just wanted to cry all day and every day. This went on for months.
"Oh, that’s just like me when I get less than five hours of sleep."
NO, IT’S REALLY NOT. Do people really think I’ve never gone to work on a bad night’s sleep? I’m such a princess that I’ve never tried to function under those conditions? I never stayed up all night in college to write a paper? I never showed up to work with bronchitis because I couldn’t afford time off? I didn’t show up to work every day in pain because I couldn’t afford surgery? REALLY? It’s not the same thing. Shut up, people!
Night sweats are annoying, especially when they wake me up at 6am and then I know I’m going to be groggy by the time I actually have to do stuff. They are also gross.
I can’t tell if I’m having the worst allergy problems ever or if I’m coming down with one of my patented never-ending respiratory infections. Let’s hope for the former!
My stomach seems to have given up on trying to kill me, so I did not feel the need to visit the ER. I’ve had about three milder spells of it today, which is a great improvement over yesterday. A friend wants to hang out, and right now I feel fine and would like to go, but I’m worried that I’ll be doubled over in pain at any given moment. I would really love some coffee, but that too may inspire an abdominal revolt.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms or tightness, weakness in the limbs, and leg cramps
Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy
Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep
Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long
Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks (“fibro fog”)
Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)
Tension or migraine headaches
Jaw and facial tenderness
Sensitivity to one or more of the following: odors, noise, bright lights, medications, certain foods, and cold
Feeling anxious or depressed
Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
Increase in urinary urgency or frequency (irritable bladder)
Reduced tolerance for exercise and muscle pain after exercise
A feeling of swelling (without actual swelling) in the hands and feet
Painful menstrual periods
Fibromyalgia symptoms may intensify depending on the time of day — morning, late afternoon, and evening tend to be the worst times, while 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tends to be the best time. Symptoms may also get worse with fatigue, tension, inactivity, changes in the weather, cold or drafty conditions, overexertion, hormonal fluctuations (such as just before your period or during menopause), stress, depression, or other emotional factors.
If the condition is not diagnosed and treated early, symptoms can go on indefinitely, or they may disappear for months and then recur.”
I have been feeling particularly fatigued and brain-foggy, so I went to the pharmacy like a big girl. I didn’t even cry when I found out that one of the drugs I had planned to buy today was $200 more than I expected. I couldn’t afford that, but I managed to get some of the “important” drugs for some of my physical ailments. My psychiatric medications (excluding Prazosin and Vistaril, prescribed off-label for PTSD and anxiety, respectively), cost around $900 a month. And that’s after my dosages have been greatly reduced.
I didn’t get those drugs, but I did get the poor pharmacy tech to print out a copy of my prescription with a price quote. Dr. Shrinky-Dink said that that might count towards my spend-down. I have also decided that a three-month spend-down is a better option for me than a six-month spend-down. For a three-month spend-down, I would only have to spend $408 on medical expenses in order to get Medicaid coverage for three months. I already live on almost $500 a month more than I’m used to, so I can just live on food bank food for one month out of every three months and I can probably afford that. If I were in therapy, the bills could also go towards my spend-down. I am not in therapy at the moment, even though my residence in my apartment complex is contingent upon my cooperation in a mental health program. My case management agency finally hired someone to replace my old therapist, but I’m not too optimistic about that after what happened last time.
Since no one seems to understand Medicaid spend-downs, the next steps I have to take are unclear. I have to present my receipts and bills to an unknown person in an unknown fashion. I’m sure that I will do it wrong and it won’t count, but I’ve whined about that already.