Make friends with Fear

3/7/2018IMG_20180307_0001_NEW

© Michelle Routhieaux 2018

Advertisements

Stroke Code Thursday

2/1/18 11:07pm

Today has been one of the most harrowing days of my life. I’m currently propped up on pillows on the couch staring, half-watched the tv. Mom’s falling asleep with Ellie in the chair, intermittently telling me random things. I’m trying to to type but it’s extremely difficult.

I went to the VA MH Council meeting this morning – no problems. I mean, I didn’t want to go and felt a bit out of sorts but no more than normal. I was running late but participated a lot and socialized with Jean & Howard and McCail after, walked down with everyone. I didn’t want to leave just yet, wasn’t sure about plans for the day, so I sat down in the lobby and journaled and charted. It’s something I’ve done before. I like having moments to myself, unrushed, and I like watching the volunteer interactions there at the front. I was starting to feel like my blood sugar was low, getting a bit weak and disoriented. I wrote it down. I was alarmed when I got up to leave and began stumbling to the right. My purse is heavy and I used it as a counterweight. I figured if I could just get some food I’d probably be just fine. I made it to the Valet, ate a glucose tab, made it to the Chipotle parking structure, thought things were fine. I worked on something on my phone before getting out of the car. But when I did I was still falling and stumbling to the right. I had a heck of a time trying to get up the broken escalator stairs. I was starting to freak out as I waited at Chipotle. It was hard to breathe but I wasn’t feeling anxious. I made it through the line leaning on the counter, could barely hold myself up. I held myself up on the table until I could sit down. A growing portion of the right side of my face felt pressure, then tingling, then burning. Lips sat in a pout. My right hand and arm were shaking so bad I couldn’t eat more than a few bites. It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever experienced and God in my head kept telling me, “GO.” I knew I wasn’t safe to drive. I drank half my soda, bagged the food, and called an Uber. Thankfully, there are many around me.

I was lucky to arrive at the hospital in an utter lull. I knew what would probably happen and did – Stroke Code. Front of the line, many nurses and doctors all around testing everything under the sun. I was having trouble speaking clearly, moving my right side purposefully, holding a steady gaze. I had no pain. I wasn’t anxious. I was actually quite peaceful. All I’d wanted to do that day was get my nails painted but that would have been after Chipotle. Lots of blood tests, urine tests, eventually an MRI.

They were much less interested when they figured out I’m a psych patient. Reminded me SO much of Adrienne and scared me, but I was exhausted – both from shaking so much and fear and from the Ativan they gave me to try to stop the shaking for the MRI. I couldn’t move if I’d tried in the MRI thanks to drugs but I couldn’t stop the twitching/shaking. It’s been like that sometimes in the past few weeks. I don’t know why. The MRI people were nice. The last doctor not so much. The nurse came in and said great that my mother was there and she could drive me home. Ummm, excuse me what? The doctor came in and said my MRI of my brain was perfect and there was nothing wrong. I looked up at him and said, “I’m gonna have to call ‘Bullshit’ on you for that one there but continue…” He gave no explanation of any of what happened or why, how to prevent it from happening again, what to do if it comes back. Nothing. He just left. Dickwad. It’s really hard to type this ‘cuz my fingers are unpredictably shaking and I’m mostly lying down ‘cuz I’m too weak to continue sitting.

I didn’t call my mom ‘til just before the MRI. I knew she was off work then and she’d want to know. I didn’t ask her to come or for anything. I specifically did not need people freaking out around me. Minus all the patient reports outside, that room was so peaceful. I prayed and watched and felt. I listened. I tried to write. It worked a little. There was no tv or music, just me. And that was okay. The Ativan toward the end made me really tired and I know it’s still making me tired now. I’m still getting waves of confusion and dizziness. I contacted Dr. M but I think he wasn’t there.

So what do I do now? I asked David and Soleil for cancellations tomorrow and David called me. After talking a little, I get to see Soleil tomorrow. He says if there’s nothing wrong with my brain then it’s all psych and I’m under a tremendous amount of stress. Don’t you throw that psychosomatic crap at me. When I’m stressed my pain gets worse. I don’t go ‘round fake believing I’m having a stroke. Too much work if nothing else. I told him I agree I’m under a shit ton of stress but ALSO that something neurologically is WRONG with me, STILL. Fluids don’t solve that. Neither does the Chinese food I ate after. Nor will a few hours’ sleep. Today, though, wasn’t stressful before this. I wanted to get my nails done!

I need help but God only knows what with. I’m SOOOO tired and sore. God save the queen. Here’s to a tomorrow sans weakness, shaking, falling over and pretty large needles. Here’s to a tomorrow that’s not so scary and more easy to understand. Please pray if you do. Thanks.

Ⓒ Michelle Routhieaux 2018

Finger Spots

1/10/2018     10:44pm

IMG_20180110_223233

I wanted to share my latest coping skill – memory on my fingers. Ever since my drawing Spots of Self-Compassion I’ve been using my pink Sharpie to remind me to have self-compassion. I put dots on my fingers or the inside of my wrist or up my arm. When I see the dots I hear “self-compassion” and, even if just for the moment, I soften my stance against myself and breathe. I choose what’s best for me.

A friend got me a collection of a bunch of new nail polishes and I’ve had designs running through my head for weeks – literally. What I really wanted to do was way more complicated. In my mind I saw white with pink dots on my left hand with “BE” on two fingers instead of dots. I wanted my right hand to have a different color on each finger and for the fingers to spell out “CHOOSE” in black letters with an infinity symbol on my middle finger instead of the letter Os. That was way too complicated for me to pull off right now and I’m pretty sure it would cost way too much for me to ask for at the nail place. I decided to go with just white and pink dots.

Yesterday I had an appointment with my doctor in the morning and I was actually on time, except that she forgot I was supposed to be there so I didn’t get to see her. That gave me some extra time to pick up my shoes from the cobbler and sit in the car marveling at the rain. I had time, which is new to me. I sat in the car listening to piano music and started the process. I’d hunted down some cheap white nail polish. This has been on my mind for weeks. I didn’t try to make it pretty. What’s the use if I’m not finished? I needed to be on time for David’s anyway. I finished the white, which honestly looks like white-out, and went into my appointment. He was quite unkind about the messy nails. I think he should be more appreciative of coping skills that live on my hands.

That night I finished them. I tried making dots with nail polish but it was nearly impossible to make circles so I switched to Sharpie. Tip – If you put a top coat over Sharpie the color runs a little. I put glitter over the top of that and the parts that ran are less noticeable. I left the two fingers with nail polish dots as somewhat of an exposure. Each time I look at them I choose to accept that they don’t match and to keep them that way.

Are my nails perfect? No. Neat? No. Will the polish last a long time? Not likely. Do they look great? Not really. Will anyone else understand without an explanation? Not likely. But you know what? I don’t care. These dots on my nails have already proved majorly helpful in redirecting me from intense emotion or self-judgement or shame to self-compassion, to moments of breathing, to small reminders that in every moment I get to choose. I am grateful for the coping skill that lives on my nails right now.

I challenge you to put a coping skill on yourself somewhere you look often. Where could Sharpie spots help you?

© Michelle Routhieaux 2018

Strong Enough

12/13/2017     1:30pm

I’m sitting here scanning a box of poetry from high school. It’s been under my bed for years, now next to the couch for months. Today is the 17th anniversary of when suicide became real to me. I wish it’d never happened. And the impact of this writing I only read a few lines here or there of gives me ultra goosebumps, makes me extremely nauseous, and if I was standing I’m sure I’d collapse. (and the tears…) (“If You Want Me To” by Ginny Owens)

I want to be right in the middle of the pain. I feel SO guilty. I LEFT her there. But she was me. And I can’t get her now. And she just screams and screams and screams. I can’t imagine having been my teachers when I wrote or spoke emotional truth. (stare…)

The music is very loud and I’m not sure what to do. Supposed to give a friend a ride to a group I’m leading tonight, at which I anticipate there to be some problems. I can’t be this person, or get into this person, and then do that. But not doing it validates that she doesn’t matter and never has. (head in hands…) (“Stronger” by Mandisa)

I wish I could see David today. I need to write too. Something specific. This is really best done somewhere with a garden. ;) I have to be strong enough to stand with her. I have to be strong enough for her, strong enough for me. Strong enough to let go.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017

PLEASE

9/16/2017

It was the coolest thing. Usually I have trouble feeling connected, like I could be pressed hand to hand with you but not feel you – like there was a glass wall between us. But it wasn’t so at this yoga event I went to last Sunday. I knew the teacher and brought a few friends. It was literally us (the yoga people) and then the waves. And in between I lost the glass for awhile. I don’t know how and don’t care, but I found that girl from the other side wearing pink and saying, “PLEASE Don’t Leave Me.” This is her hand.
(Art from 9/12/17)

© Michelle Routhieaux 2017