Monthly Archives: July 2009

Sleepy Sunday

The day was definitely low key at my house today. My daughter had a friend here over night, and the two of them had fun creating a movie on my MacBook Pro. They also played air hockey, goofed around, and enjoyed the Wii. My wife spent most of the day resting, but is getting to some of the chores now. She is definitely feeling some pressure because we are leaving on vacation this Thursday. Thus, we need to get the house cleaned and have a number of ducks in a row before we hop in the car. Not only is she thinking about the work at home, but also she needs to get a number of things done at her office. Plus, her husband with narcolepsy is not a big help in crunch times – oops!

I spent the day puttering, but I did get some things done. I washed some dishes and finally cleaned off our dining room table. I am still hoping to get a couple more things done before I head to bed. More than anything, though, I used the day to recharge a bit. I tried to let go of my worries, appreciating the things that I did get done. Hopefully, my lack of fretting will continue throughout the week, allowing me to maintain my energy and to accomplish a few more tasks in the process. I definitely need for that to happen, but sometimes my body and my narcolepsy make their own plans. It does not help that I have two six hour meetings on Monday and Tuesday up at school. In the end, though, things will be what they are, and we will still leave on our vacation regardless. Life is funny that way.

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Filed under Balance, Chores, Cleaning, Exhaustion, Family, Humor, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Travel

Sluggish, but Sane

I chose not to push myself at all today. While I desperately want to be more productive, I knew after yesterday that I would be a fool to drive myself today. Thus, I got up slowly and thoroughly enjoyed the long “talk time” with my wife. It amazes me each week how wonderful it is just to spend time in honest conversation with her. I also know that those exchanges are a huge part of why my love for her deepens every day. After we finished, I attempted the crossword and finished the sudoku in the StarTribune. Then, I played some Animal Crossing, which is rapidly becoming my favorite mindless past time.

My wife asked me today how I can enjoy it because there is no “objective” to the game. But, I think that is what I like about it. Before my narcolepsy became intolerable, I enjoyed fishing. What was good about it for me is that I could sit and do nothing, but not get stressed out. Ordinarily, lounging causes me immense amounts of stress because my brain wants me to do things. In fact, it uses quiet times to inundate me with a myriad of unfinished tasks, but fishing WAS something. I could be focused on the process of casting and retrieving, blocking out the normal litany from my mind. Animal Crossing definitely fills a similar role, partly because I spend a decent amount of my time in the game fishing. I will need to be careful of my time with this one, but it is a good way for me to use my downtime in a restful way.

I did manage to help clean our kitchen. I even put away a few of the piles from our dining room table. Hopefully, I will have a bit more energy tomorrow. The most important aspect of the day, though, is that I am at peace with what I did and what I left undone. Much of my stress earlier this week centered on what I have not finished yet for this coming school year. The reality is that I still have time to get things done, and I am a part of an amazing team. We made significant strides on Thursday and Friday. I am willing to guess we will have even more success on this coming Thursday. I need to remember that I have already been more efficient this summer than I have been at any point in my teaching career. I still want to do more, and I will. But, I deserve congratulations for the work I have done thus far. Plus, it will do me no good to make myself sick well before the school year begins. Summer has to be about me regaining energy so I can be effective during the school year. I truly do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I will do my best to get one or two things done, and I will make sure that I continue to take the breaks that my body needs to rebuild my reserves.

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Filed under Balance, Chores, Cleaning, Education, Family, Gratitude, Honesty, Humility, Marriage, Narcolepsy, Relationships

Pulsating Pain

My head feels like it is in a vice. The headache started around 3 PM today, and it is progressively building. Somehow, I managed to go get my daughter around 4 PM. Then, my wife, my daughter, three of my daughter’s friends, and I went to a play at my school. Thankfully, my wife drove. I survived the play and even managed to laugh, but the pain is making it difficult to see at the moment. As always the pain is completely centered in my sinuses. I have no doubt that something rotten is happening in there. My ENT’s office never did call with the culture results, but I am sure that they were negative.

I would guess that this headache is my body’s signal to me that I have pushed far too hard at the end of this week. I have not rested much, even on my “off days,” and for the past two days, I have had intense three hour meetings. My colleagues and I have been planning, which has been a blast. Because we are making significant progress, I have no doubt that this coming school year will be even better than last year. That said, though, I overtaxed my body during these past two days because I wanted to get even more done for school. Hopefully, a night of sleep and an extremely low key weekend will allow me to recuperate, so I can work toward a healthier balance next week. Of course, I have two all day meetings on Monday and Tuesday, a evening gathering on Wednesday, another team planning meeting on Thursday morning, and a road trip to Tennessee immediately after that Thursday meeting. I do not have high hopes for my body “settling” within the next week. Oh well, this too is just another joy of narcolepsy. I do get better at rolling with punches like this one (but I still don’t like them).

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Filed under Balance, Exhaustion, Family, Frustration, Narcolepsy, Scheduling, Sinuses, Travel

Doctor Downer (and difficult decision)

Seven weeks ago, I got a letter from my sleep doctor’s office. Bluntly, it told me I better get in to see him, or they would stop filling my prescriptions. I called immediately, and today was the earliest appointment available. Given the tone of the letter, I checked if an appointment today would suffice. The individual assured me that things would be fine, as long as I had this appointment on the books. And, she was right. I got my July prescriptions in the mail, and my Xyrem was renewed without any hassle. Now, I have been wondering what my doctor would say, since I was basically 5 months late in coming into my appointment. Also, given my current state of mind, I was not completely sure what I would hope to discuss with him. I am handling things well, but I certainly would be open to exploring a different med, or looking at how my days tend to ebb and flow.

Invariably, I was ten minutes late to my appointment. A nice physician’s assistant brought me back and did the initial intake. I told her that things were about as good as I thought they could be. I did not go into significant detail because I figured that I would have to say things twice. My BP was a tad high 130/90, and my weight still remains far too high. Their scale had me at 198, and I was 195 at home this morning (wearing fewer items of clothing). I did mention that I might want to discuss a different med, but also noted that NuVigil might not be the right direction since I had a terrible time with Provigil. I mentioned the relative success of my two medication holidays. She then left the room to let my doctor know that I was ready.

She then returned less than 5 minutes later. My sleep doctor felt that “as long as things are working, we should not switch meds.” He also told her that unless I “needed” to see him, I was free to go. Now, I debated briefly about asking to stay so I could at least see him, but quickly decided that there would be little purpose in doing that. After all, I was still unsure as to what I hoped to discuss with him, and I was late for the appointment. So, I gathered my things and took my leave of the office. In the ultimate irony, the physician’s assistant ask ME when I was supposed to return. I informed her that I had stretched my previous six month check-in by five months. I then said six months might make sense. And, as happened the LAST time I was in that office, the receptionist informed me that they do not schedule February appointments now. I need to call in November.

Of course, my PWN brain managed to put off that previous November phone call until I got the stern letter. I also was a tad flabbergasted that after the nature of that correspondence, I was not even SEEN by my doctor. I am sure that the physician’s assistant is a sharp young woman, but she is not a specialist licensed to practice sleep medicine. It also does not help my mood that I did have time when she left the room to flip through the clinic’s latest newsletter. While they “might” have cover Dr. Mignot’s ground-breaking discovery in their Spring newsletter, the Summer one that was in the room had NOTHING about narcolepsy in it. It had lots on obstructive sleep apnea and lots on restless leg syndrome, but nothing about this wacko disease of mine. Of course, the clinic only employs pulmonary doctors, so I should not expect much. Except I do! If a clinic is supposed to treat narcolepsy, shouldn’t they know something about it? Now, my doctor is a good guy, and he does know a decent amount about narcolepsy, but I think today is strong indication that I need to find a new doctor/clinic. Unfortunately, there are not other options, at least not good ones. Most other places in the Twin Cities are also pulmonary clinics. The one that is not tends to have a ridiculously narrow view of narcolepsy, meaning that they might actually tell me that I do NOT have narcolepsy. The added complication is that if I go somewhere else, they might be worse and could possible change my drugs in ways that make it impossible for me to work.

Sadly, I don’t feel like I have any good choices here. I can stay where I am, continue to figure out on my own (and with my many PWN friends) how to handle this condition, and ensure that I can at least receive drugs that seem to work for me. The downside is that I might not EVER talk to my “doctor” again. And, if I do “need” to see him, will he honestly have genuine suggestions for me? Of course, leaving presents the possibility of finding a great doctor who can help me better understand myself and my disease, but that does not feel likely. In fact, I am honestly more worried that my current options (other than my actual clinic and doctor) would likely do more harm than good. The idea of having to re-tell my story (or even to be re-tested) while possibly being disparaged because my diagnosis is narcolepsy without cataplexy (or possibly mild/abnormal cataplexy which the guidelines still call “without cataplexy”). In fact, if that happened, it might be far more disrupting than just the mental stress. I might lose the meds I have, and if I can’t work, I would also likely lose the small chance that I would have of a disability situation (if I don’t have “narcolepsy,” I have some condition of unknown etiology which would mean in legal terms that people think I am lazy).

Fortunately, I am not freaking out over this, but I do need to ponder a next step. I am not sure where to start. I know that there is an excellent neurologist in Saint Cloud, but have been remiss to try to see him because I doubt that insurance will cover it. And, I have no idea of how I would prove to my insurance company that I can’t get proper care in the Twin Cities when many other PWNs “do.” I actually know that they don’t, but we are such a small population that it is easy to make blanket statements, particularly for large companies. Perhaps I am most frustrated by the fact that this brief stop in my doctor’s office has added yet one more level of stress to my already growing anxiety of late. I truly do not have the time or the energy to commit to the process of searching for a new doctor. I also know that I hate the idea of “popping” into this office once or twice a year to simply pretend that my doctor checked on me.

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Filed under Anger, Confusion, Depression, Exhaustion, Fear, Frustration, Healthcare, Honesty, Loss, Medication, Narcolepsy, Stupidity

Meandering Moodiness

While today was slightly better than yesterday, I have yet to find any traction this week. That said, I did enjoy my day. My daughter and I continued to enjoy her new Wii game. Animal Crossing is ridiculously silly. You essentially fish, catch bugs, run errands for your neighbors, and dig up fossils. At the same time, it is hilarious. I must admit that the best part is spending time with my daughter. Although we did manage to limit the Wii time, it was still past noon when we “finished.” We then went to lunch and took in a movie together. I do believe that things went well, but I still worry that I am not connecting with her enough.

I did manage to do one thing for my wife today. I got groceries, which we desperately needed. At the driving in the afternoon, I was a tad worried about driving again, but I rested for an hour before going shopping. Still, the trip to the store finished me for the night. I was able to let go of my anxiety over the things that I have not even started yet for my meeting in the morning. I think I can get a couple things done when I wake up, but I doubt I will have it all finished. Hopefully, my colleagues will understand and forgive me. I also have an appointment with my sleep doctor tomorrow. I need to pull together some questions for him. The appointment should go fine, but I also wish I had a firmer grasp on my current mental state. I am not sure how well my meds are working, but worry about trying to ask for anonther stimulant. We will see.

This needs to be short tonight because I need to get to sleep. I am painfully aware that my own inability to re-establish any sense of a schedule has been reeking havoc with my entire state of being – mentally, physically, emotionally. The good news is that I still have a week and a half of July. Then, I will get three weeks of August before school starts. That is a tremendous amount of time, but I must start moving in a better direction.

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Filed under Balance, Depression, Exhaustion, Family, Frustration, Honesty, Love, Narcolepsy, Parenting

Deepening Depression

Today was hard. I had an okay day, but I truly felt paralyzed when it came to doing any work. There is so much on my plate, and I have no idea where to begin. Confusing the situation is the sensation that I have not done much just for me recently. Many of my actions have “helped” me and others, but I occasionally have this burgeoning sensation of selfishness. I feel like I need to take a few days and just do things for me – read books that I want to read, watch movies that I want to watch, and let everything else go. Unfortunately, such an option is as unrealistic as my desire to clean the entire house in a day. One, I cannot afford for me to take those days because I need to help my wife and I need to get ready for the school year. Two, even if I COULD take the days, my brain would not let me. I would still not be able to focus even if I was doing things just for me. Instead, I would question whether that “me time” was warranted. If that sounds crazy, I can assure you, it also feels crazy.

I know that my continued sleepiness is a major factor in my indecision. When I am this rundown, I do not do well with decision-making. Also contributing to my consternation today was the cool and rainy nature of the day. The atmospheric pressure was literally weighing on my mind. Sadly, tomorrow may be more of the same. I also MUST do a better job of putting some structure to my day. Without any, I meander all of the place. It is imperative that I make a daily schedule a habit for myself. By doing so, I will be able to manage my day and my sanity with far greater balance.

Of course, all of these thoughts must be framed within the reality of my narcolepsy. No matter how good I get at setting a schedule, or accepting the weather, or handling difficult days, in the end, I will always feel tired even with my medication, even with the best night of sleep that I can get. That is the hard truth. I also know that I will invariably encounter “off days” because of the nature of narcolepsy. It is impossible to believe that I will be able to accept the constant sleepiness that I will have every day for the rest of my life. Eventually, my frustrations will build to the point that I need to rail against my disease for a time. I do hope that I will spread out those rotten days at wider and wider intervals, but I must accept that they will never go away. I hate that, but it is my life.

To end on an upbeat note, I did have fun playing a new game on our Wii today. My daughter bought Animal Crossing: City Folk. The game is super cute, and she and I both have a character in the town. While I must be careful (because this type of adventure game could consume me), I loved playing and watching the game with her. It was a silly and light-hearted moment for the two of us. I am sure we will play a little tomorrow too, but we are also going to have an adventure. Hopefully, that excursion will provide some fun for the two of us AND some structure for me.

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Filed under Balance, Confusion, Depression, Exhaustion, Family, Frustration, Honesty, Narcolepsy, Parenting, Scheduling

Trouble Tracking

Today has been odd. I know that I got things done, but I just don’t feel like I did much. I had trouble getting going this morning. Some of that is residue from this weekend – I know that Mondays are hard when I have pushed during the weekend (and that definitely happened between the anxiety and the excitement of the play plus the physical exertion of striking the set). I also know that some of my discomfort today is connected to the numerous things that I feel looming in my life. Whether it is work for school or the multitude of house projects, there is much to do and the time is slowly dwindling. The hardest part is knowing that I probably can’t get to everything that I would like to do. Well, that and the fact that I want to finish everything within a day. I do find it funny that my baseline is still, “I should be able to do that by the end of the day.” At least I know it is ridiculous, but I still experience some emotional push back from my subconscious.

I did manage to take care of a few things for school today. Mostly, I got our writing curriculum books to two of my three colleagues. Hopefully, I will take care of the third person before the end of the week. I also did a little shopping for myself, and I had a great conversation with a couple of friends. While those interactions were unplanned, there were wonderfully refreshing. I just wish that I wouldn’t do my mental calculus after them (I just spent 30 minutes talking to that person, which means I can only get to this now…). Just one more aspect of my anxiety and my narcolepsy having a little party in my brain. More than anything, today is reminding me that I need to set schedules for my days like this. As nice as it is that my daughter does not have rehearsal every afternoon, that event forced a small amount of scheduling into my days. Now, things are too open, and I run the risk of that paralyzing me. Hopefully, tomorrow will feel more productive. I also have some time tonight that I can use to my advantage.

Finally, I need to mention that I did advocate for myself today. My wife just scheduled her conference for October. While we knew that her annual medical writers conference is in direct conflict of my Narcolepsy Network, we have already planned that we are both going to attend our conferences. However, when she mentioned signing up for hers, I then asked if we could get things in order for my conference. I definitely hope that we can do that soon. While it is not much, knowing that I have a flight to Jacksonville and a hotel room will take some pressure off of the many things on my mind. Silly, yes, but real.

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Filed under Depression, Emotions, Exhaustion, Family, Frustration, Honesty, Narcolepsy, Narcolepsy Network, Sharing, Travel