Sunday, October 30, 2011

DH stable again (kind of)

Well now that DH has been officially restored to his "regular" dose of Lithium by the pdoc, things have gotten somewhat back to normal.  He's still on the higher dose of Abilify, and that seems to be helping his motivation too.  In his appointment, the pdoc said "Your case is one of the trickiest I've seen.  You are on high doses of several drugs and there aren't a lot left to try.  I've worried that as you grow older, this combination won't be as effective as it has been.  Clearly, reducing your Lithium was not a good change.  We need to hope this works, because I'm kind of at a loss here."  That was a scary thing to hear from the pdoc who (as I found out when I googled him last weekend to see what hospital to call) is a state-renowned expert.

So I'd like to report that all is well.  And surprisingly a lot of things are.  DH's paycheck this week was $91.00 (frankly, I can't believe he's actually still employed at all).  That's quite a drop from the $400 and $500 paychecks he was receiving a couple of months ago.  But compared to lean times in the past, DH has been surprisingly understanding about how little money we have.  In the past, he would be begging me to bring him out to eat, buy him pop, buy him cigarettes....and this time, he seems to have a better understanding that those are luxuries and there is no money for that.  That's been a relief for me, because before, when we were broke, and he kept begging for stuff that I couldn't buy, I always felt kind of bad for not being able to make him happy (but intellectually I recognized that there was no way I could).  So his new attitude has taken a little of the pressure off of me.

So what's the catch?  Things are great, right?

Well, some of you who've been reading this blog for a long time might have already guessed:  Last week, DH's "back went out" and he made yet another trip to the E.R., which resulted in yet another bottle of Percocet.  I'm not sure how or why, but I'm sure it's the Percocet that's responsible for DH's improved attitude.  I'm still doling out the pills, I keep the bottle in my safe and he can only have 2 or 3 pills a day, but as soon as he started taking them, once again, he was more easy-going, more ambitious and more alert.  Once again he's concerned about his blood sugar, and has started to try to take some little steps to try to lose weight. I had mentioned this to the pdoc, thinking that maybe there was something similar in the world of psychotropic meds that could bring about a permanent change without the addictive narcotic, but the pdoc was just as puzzled as I am and didn't offer suggestions. 

I know he's got a dependency problem.  And it makes me angry.  But really, things are so much better when he's taking them, I get all mixed up when I think about it.  If he's on Percocet, there's a better chance that he'll go to work, and we'll be able to pay the bills.  There's a better chance that he'll pay attention to his blood sugar, and that will enhance the quality of life for both of us.  But there's that addiction thing.  And shouldn't he be able to achieve these things without a narcotic to prop him up?  I don't know the answer.

I hate Percocet.  And once again I feel like I'm caught between a rock and a hard place.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"A realm like no other"

Just as a "postscript" to the previous post, when DH went to his Dr. appointment at 2:40 the other day....he...."felt funny" and ended up talking about back pain with the Dr. and not telling the Dr. about his mental health symptoms at all.  We had also put in a couple of emergency calls to the pdoc's nurse, who never called us back (but it's possible she was out of the office on Friday).  We really felt alone and didn't know what to do.

DH continued to become more and more unstable during the night.

While I was at work at the group home, he called me and told me he couldn't sleep.  I asked him what was going on, and he said "If it wasn't for you and my mom, I'd be dead right now."  Now there's something that kind of tends to set off the alarm bells.....but wait, there's more :-(

I asked him at that point, if he thought that maybe he should check himself into the hospital and he said he thought he could make it through the night.  A few hours later, when I had gotten home from work and was in bed, he woke me up and said "I don't know what to do, about every 15 minutes I just start crying for no reason at all and I can't stop.  And I don't know why.  And then when the crying stops, I get giggly for a while, then I start crying again.  I just wish I was dead.  I think it's time for me to check into the hospital."

I thought so too.

I asked him if he had had mood swings like this before he was on Lithium.  He said, "Carol, this is a mental health realm like no other.  I've never been so scared of my mind."  "The mood swings have never been this fast and the urges have never been this scary."

So I called the hospital that his Pdoc was affiliated with, the one that the Pdoc had wanted him to go to last month when they started "tweaking" his meds.  I told them that DH was a patient of the pdoc and was having a crisis and the pdoc had wanted him to check into that specific hospital.  They were very kind, but unfortunately all of the beds were full there, so if he was going to go to the hospital, he'd have to just check himself in and he'd be transported to wherever they had an empty bed.  DH didn't like that idea, because he was afraid things would get even more "messed up" without the pdoc that knows him.  I understood and was unsure as to what to do--I knew DH was in a real bad spot.  But since he seemed to be still able to recognize that things were bad and he needed help etc., I didn't want to just call 911 and have them take him away.  We talked about it for a long time.  I didn't get any sleep.  I looked up Lithium and Abilify and there was no big red flag "DO NOT TAKE THESE TWO DRUGS TOGETHER" or anything like that, and, since DH was already taking Lithium with his Abilify, just that the dose had been lowered significantly (by half!), and since we couldn't find a pharmacist or a doctor who would tell us for sure if it would be ok or not, as a last resort, I said "go back and take the dose of Lithium that you were taking before it got cut" (he had been on that high dose for over a year).  I hoped it was ok to do that.

All day the moods played across his face.  "That Guy" came out often, for silly reasons, like a dog licking his hand or something.  And "That Guy" would get angry with the dog.  DH usually loves the fact that the dogs and cats love him and he usually tolerates their affections much better than I do, even.  Then he would get so down that he was just paralyzed.  He couldn't get up out of his chair to smoke.  Then for a minute, he sounded fine.  Then it would change again.  I was really afraid.  I knew I had to work all night and I was very worried about leaving him.

I had to leave for work at 8pm.  At about 6pm I noticed that I wasn't seeing his expressions change like they had been.  And his eyes weren't closed.  I asked him how he was feeling, he said "I think I feel better."  By the time I left, we had conversed enough where I was confident that he was, indeed, doing better.  I don't think I've ever been so relieved.  I asked him if he thought he would be ok when I went to work and he said he would be fine.  And I believed him.  So I went to work.

At about 3am, he called me at work and told me that he had felt so much better, he had cleaned our bedroom and bathroom.  He said he was going to take his "old" bedtime dose of Lithium (the higher dose), along with his other meds, and go to bed.

So it appears, that Lithium may be a miracle drug once again.  I'm not looking forward to explaining to the pdoc that I/we changed the dose of a med without authorization, but I honestly didn't know what to do. It seems like right at this moment, anyhow, that it was the right choice. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

DH is becoming more unstable

I am seeing mood swings often.  Yesterday, DH called me at work and was in such a good mood, he was so happy to hear my voice, he was going to make me supper and clean the kitchen, and he couldn't wait until I got home.  I drove home feeling like it was a rare day when I could feel really good about my marriage--I was really happy.

Well, I got home, no supper, kitchen hasn't been touched.  I asked him what happened, and he got that cold "That Guy" voice and told me if I was going to lecture him about not doing things then he isn't going to do them (huh?)  So much for that.

But then this morning when I got up for work, DH told me that he's "having big problems".  He told me that his moods are going from happy to sad to angry in minutes for no discernible reason.  He said that yesterday he cut some firewood (yay!) and he looked at the chainsaw and had an overwhelming urge to apply the running saw to his foot.  This hugely alarmed me.  I suggested he go to his regular Dr. and ask for help, as the PDOC is 100 miles away (but comes to our town once a week).  DH also told me that thoughts of self-mutilation are popping into his head.  He says he's not suicidal and he believes he is strong enough to fend off the self-injurious urges.

I suggested that DH check himself into PDOC's hospital (as PDOC had suggested before) but DH doesn't want to let me down by possibly missing work and/or getting fired....he also is worried about the dogs needing to go out while I'm at work.  I told him neither reason was worth dying over and that we could and would cope with both.  He said he would just wait until the urges pass, as he knows his emotions will change in a minute anyhow.

I'm really worried.  I want to say "at least you were (mostly) stable when you weren't doing anything....lets go back to the old meds..." but we probably need a medical doctor to tell us that we can do that.

DH has a 2:40pm appointment today.  I hope we can find a way to help him.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hows this for a Blessing?

I'd been really stressing.  After the "can't wait" bills got paid, I was left with $11.00 to last for 10 days.  That's for food, gas, and any other incidentals.  I was slightly panicked.

DH's pdoc raised his dose of Abilify to 15mg and lowered his Depakote dose.  DH continues to be on less Lithium than ever before, as well as the Seroquel being totally discontinued.  Sadly, though, with the $11.00, there was no way I could go to the pharmacy and pick up the new med.  That helpless feeling like I was drowning was really coming on strong.

The only difference with this recent "panic" is that I've been here before.  I've done it all before, and cut things to the bone.  I know I can do it, and I know a lot more tricks to make sure I do it well.

I'm virtually certain that DH will be unemployed soon.  They took away another one of DH's scheduled days because of his attendance.  So right now he is scheduled to work 16 hours per week.  DH didn't even remember that they (his employer(s)) have a policy of doing that (cutting hours when you miss work at a certain point level), so when he found out he was only scheduled for 2 days, he asked for more hours and wound up looking foolish....I don't think the people who work directly with him know about his mental health issues.  He is going to have the pdoc write a letter to management and see if that helps.......who knows....

.....And of those small checks of his, $25 comes out of every paycheck to pay that loan for when he pawned Jim's rifle.  DH swears that since we made that contract, he has not pawned anything at all.  But basically his pay will only cover his cigarettes and not much else.  I know I need to be grateful that he is still employed at all, because I remember how frustrated I would get when I had to come up with money for his cigarettes when we were broke anyhow.... 

I'm going to have to buckle down again.  We really never got back to where it was comfortable to go out to eat, or where we could get TV again, but it was nice to be able to buy better foods at the grocery store and not juggle the bills so much.  It's better this time, though because this time I have a little warning.  The last time DH was out of work, he had been making about $50,000 a year, he came home from work and said "I quit".  And I thought (since I didn't know about his mental health problems at the time) that he'd just up and find another job right away, so I wasn't as worried as I am now.

Now, I recognize that there's a high likelihood that he will be unemployed indefinitely again, although maybe that would improve his chances of getting his disability approved.  The hardest thing will be to try to be able to buy foods that will be diabetes-friendly.  I can do it, though, I know I can.

So here's the blessing: 

Shortly after DH got home from the PDOC, I got a phone call requesting my services as a pet-sitter for three days.  At $10 per visit, that'll be $90!!!!  Just in the nick of time!
(I had started pet-sitting when I was laid off in 2010, since I wasn't confident that I'd find a new job so quickly, and this was one of my clients from back then).

I always try to tell myself that "the money always comes from somewhere"....which, I guess, is another way of saying "the Lord will provide".....but sometimes I have a hard time believing it.  Once again, I'm proven wrong and I'm happy to admit it.

P.S.  As requested, I'm putting a "donate" link on the page in the next few days.  But I feel kind of weird about it.  I'll see what happens and how I feel about it after I've had it for a while.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Somethings not working.

Well, we got the Abilify approved.  DH started back up on it.  I think we might've expected too much or something, but basically.....nothing happened.  Nothing.

His last paycheck was $65.00.  That's it.  And he now has enough "points" to lose his job, but because they like him, they are trying to give him one last chance.

While he was not on the Abilify, while things were messed up, I didn't expect much, because I knew that things were not going to be right.  It was back to the sitting around all day, nothing getting done, same old, same old...

When the Abilify finally went through, DH had been on a reduced dose of Lithium, and no Seroquel and no Abilify for 2 weeks.  He started back on the Abilify and we both expected positive changes.  But...

The diverticulitis does seem to be cleared up for now.  But he thinks he might be getting yet another cyst.  I'm sure some of these issues may be related to Percocet and/or poorly managed diabetes, but how can I/we get him back to the point where he would be interested in fixing stuff?  For a minute there, when he started taking the Abilify samples, I thought we might be there.....but.....

He sat around.  He did nothing.  As a matter of fact, things are so "out of whack" that DH even completely forgot that he was not out of Percocet and hasn't even been requesting them.   I caught him smoking in the house (even though that was a rule that has been in effect since before we got married, even).  He has completely (again) stopped caring about the Diabetes, even when I remind him of the possible ramifications.  And he's been getting mad at me again when I tell him we can't afford whatever it is that he wants at the moment.

He has a PDOC appointment today at 2pm.  We'll see what the Dr. says.....I know things aren't all that great right now, but I also know they were a lot worse before, too....I've got to be patient....or something.....

Right now I'm wondering how I'm going to make it another 10 days with $11.00 in the bank.  It'll work out somehow, I hope.  It usually does.

Monday, October 17, 2011

DH talks in his sleep

I guess I need to preface this with a couple of things-first, DH has a tendency to talk in his sleep, if it's funny, I tease him about it....secondly, despite how big DH is (about 400 lbs), he is very masculine-looking.  He has a beard and mustache, and basically looks like a massive lumberjack.  Oh--and when it comes to me picking on him, he's a pretty good sport.....With that in mind.....

I got done with my overnight shift at the group home on Sunday morning, 8am, I crawled into bed for a few hours.  DH rolled over and excitedly said "I've got great news!"

Me: (thinking we could sure use some)--What's going on?

DH: Remember those dresses I was sewing?  (um, no?) Well, I just found out that they're one size fits all!!!  They're interchangeable!!!!  They can be worn by cats or humans!!!!!!!!

Me (to myelf): oh brother.  (I'd love to see that).
Me (to DH): Wow, that's great!  Um...were you wearing one of those dresses?

DH: (as if I was really an idiot) Of course!!!!!!!!

Me (trying so very hard to keep a straight face): Oh good!  What did the dress look like?

DH: It was brown, and it had "pirate flaps", you know?  And it had little pink hearts all over it.

The picture of this was just too much.  I burst out laughing and DH woke up.

I asked him what "pirate flaps" were, he told me they are the ruffles on the shirts that pirates wear.

It was like one of those comedy hypnosis shows where the hypnotized people have no clue how silly they're being....

I told DH that I was very glad that the dresses would now fit both humans and cats as now we won't have to buy all the cats new dresses.

He told me he wasn't going to talk to me any more.


Monday, October 10, 2011

DH's health issues

I mentioned that DH had a cyst and had been warned that the infection from the cyst could spread and if it did, it might necessitate removal of his manly parts.  This was a huge motivator for him to start paying attention to his diabetes (at least until we ran out of Abilify).

After that, though, it's been one thing after another with DH's health (or lack thereof), and I don't know what to think at all.  He's got so many weird health problems it's unbelievable.

After that first cyst, he got one on his tailbone.  Then one under his arm.  Then under his other arm.  Each time required a trip to the E.R. to have the cyst drained and a prescription for Percocet (please do a search on Percocet in this blog to learn about DH's relationship with that drug).  The doctors were baffled and have instructed DH to make an appointment with an infectious disease specialist to find out why all of these cysts.  The doctors keep handing out Percocet like it was candy.

Then of course the back pain is back with a vengeance, probably due to the state of the medications he was and wasn't on.....more trips to the E.R., more Percocet.

Luckily (or not), for quite some time now, DH has recognized on some weird level that he has a problem with Percocet.  So he gives the prescription to me and I keep the pills in my safe and dole them out one at a time. (The safe is now an integral part of my life, it's where I keep everything that DH might be tempted to steal from me--I know that's sad, but at least things don't get stolen any more....) but it kind of sets us up for a power struggle because he ALWAYS wants Percocet, and even though it was prescribed for cysts or back pain, he wants one because he stubbed his toe or whatever.  So it's stressful and I hate it.  But with the doctors pushing this drug at him every time he goes, I haven't come up with a better solution at this moment.

Then last weekend, DH went to work and was sent from work to the E.R. for severe abdominal pain.  Now he has diverticulitis, a painful infection of pouches in his intestine(s).  He didn't go to work all last weekend after that.  He didn't go to work yesterday or today either.  But he is under the belief that if he has a doctor's note, he won't get in trouble.  I hope he's right.  And....you guessed it....even more Percocet.

And the bills.  I cannot believe the hospital bills.  Things are never going to be ok financially for us, we are always going to have a bazillion hospital bills like this, unless DH loses weight, and that isn't going to happen unless I am there to cook every meal and force him to exercise.

I have never known anyone to have this many health issues consecutively like this.  It's crossed my mind that he might be faking it to get the Percocet, but how do you fake a cyst?  And the way he was breathing with the diverticulitis, I don't think you can fake being in pain like that....at least I don't think DH can......

So it's been a frustrating couple of weeks.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Abilify Saga

Not too long after we lost Tippy Toes, DH ran out of Abilify samples that he had gotten from his pdoc.  When he only had a couple of days worth of pills left, he called to get more, and they were out of samples.  So they gave him a prescription to bring to the pharmacy.

Unfortunately the pharmacy informed us that insurance would not pay for the pills, as the price comes out to around $15-20 PER PILL and of course they didn't want to shell that out.  And at $600 per month, there was no way that we could pay for it ourselves....DH's pdoc informed us that he was going to appeal that decision. In the meantime, we just had to wait and see.....

So there we sat.  The pdoc had reduced DH's Seroquel and also his Lithium, in response to DH being on Abilify.  And it had all been working out so good, he was getting out of bed, and what's even better than that, the Abilify had done something to make him less focused on himself and his own wants and needs and more focused on me and us.  And that was huge.  But with no Abilify and less Lithium and Seroquel, things got weird.

DH brought a bunch of stuff to the pawn shop to get money to buy fast food.  He even pawned an antique rifle that his friend Jim (the one who stayed at our house for so long, but who has helped us immensely) owned, it had belonged to Jim's grandfather, and DH pawned it to go to Dairy Queen.

He went to the liquor store and bought beer.

He started laying huge guilt trips on me when I didn't have (or didn't want to part with) the money that he wanted for (candy, ice cream, etc). 

When he had started the Abilify, he had started, for the first time, to check his blood sugar and he had started drinking diet pop (with the added motivation of the possibility of losing manly parts if he didn't).  But when the Abilify stopped, this stopped, too.

It was all very frustrating, because I just kept thinking "I cannot go through this again.  I am just not capable of doing this again."  And DH knew something was wrong (in moments of lucidity), but he was powerless to stop it, and except for those moments of lucidity, he did not see how bad things got so quickly.

It was a very scary time, topping off the loss of Tippy Toes, and very painful to me.

When we got the word that the appeal to the insurance company had been granted, it was a huge relief.  That was just two days ago.  DH had been off of Abilify and on lowered doses of Lithium and Seroquel for about 2 weeks.  He told me that he had even been thinking about trying to get a credit card(!) during that time.

Despite the fact that DH had made the decision(s) to pawn those items while he was "even less right than usual", I was not willing or able to help him unpawn them.  I have had it with bailing him out (at least directly out of my pocket), and I'm done with it.  He wasn't happy with that, but too bad.  He, of course, in his deluded state, had been sure that he could make enough money to get the items out of the pawn shop, and when he started to come back to reality a little, he realized he had made a huge mistake.  He had to come up with nearly $500 to get the stuff back.  Luckily for him (but not really lucky for me so much), just in the nick of time, he found out about a program that the place where he works offers--he could take out a $500 loan, no credit check required, and they would take $25 out of every paycheck until it was paid off.  So that is what he did. 

I'm so very tired of this pawn shop stuff.  I sat him down and we wrote up a contract that states that he will not bring any items (no matter who they belong to) to the pawnshop without talking it over with me first.  And he signed it.  I guess whether he sticks to it is dependent on where his mental health is at any given time, but usually, for DH, no matter his mental state, a promise is a promise, and breaking it is a big deal.  So I'm hoping, but being realistic about it, too.

The one good thing that came out of this (if you can call it good) is that for all the times DH has wondered if maybe he should just go off all of his meds because he really was a lot better when he was off them, well, this little experience showed us how things could go bad really fast without proper medication.

Tragedy at the Kitty House (warning--extremely sad)

Well everyone, this event was kind of what started off my non-blogging streak.  I have so much wanted to share it with you, but the pain was so raw, I really couldn't bring myself to.  But somehow I was "stuck" on it, and felt like it was so important, I had to put it in here.  But I couldn't.

DH, on his new Abilify, was out of bed and (wonder of wonders), doing laundry.  I was sleeping (I go to bed at about 9pm on nights when I don't have to work at the group home).  I was happy.  More like thrilled.  DH was trying, and he was helping.

At about 2am DH woke me up, panicked.  "Carol, it's Tippy Toes, she's in the dryer".  I was asleep, so it didn't register with me at first.  "Carol, Tippy Toes is dead."

Tippy Toes, one of the more adventurous and mischievous kitties, and also a slender and dainty little girl, had somehow gotten into the dryer while DH had the dryer door open but was not paying attention.  DH had loaded up the dryer with a full load of wet clothes and run the dryer.

He heard strange noises, and opened the dryer to check, but didn't see anything unusual, so he started it back up.  He didn't find her until the load was done.

OMG, OMG.....it was surreal.  I couldn't bring myself to imagine what she must've gone through.  And DH, he was absolutely beside himself with guilt.  I tried to tell him that it could have just as easily been me, but he was just despondent.  And I can honestly say that I was, too.  In shock, disbelief.

I've been aware of the danger of cats and clothes dryers for years.  And in all those years, I've never even had a concern, as our cats never seemed interested in the dryer until Tippy Toes. 

We both cried and cried and remembered her and felt awful.  I felt awful, and DH felt worse.  I've never lost a cat to a preventable accident before, it's much more heartbreaking than losing one to cancer or kidney failure--oh the guilt. 

And the dryer.  I can barely bring myself to use it.  And DH hasn't touched it since.  We are looking for a new dryer on Craigslist (a free or extremely cheap one) because of the association of the current dryer, and because it doesn't run right any more now.

I buried Tippy Toes in the back yard.  DH couldn't bear to be a part of burying her.  He still can't think about her without tearing up.  I'm crying as I write this.

R.I.P. Tippy Toes, we loved you very much, and we're so sorry.



Um...hi, it's me......I think I owe you an apology.  No, I'm certain of it.  I have no excuse really, but for a myriad of small reasons and nothing I can really point a finger at, I have not been updating this blog.  And I have so much to tell all of you......I guess I get in these "ruts" where I put it off for a while and then starting back up (like this) is hard, so I put it off some more.....anyhow, I'm sorry.  You don't deserve to be treated like that.

I've missed you all.  I hope you can forgive me.