A Glimmer of Light
This is the fourth and final of a number of posts related to the stroke I experienced in February of 2010. Before you read this post, it might help you to read Parts 1, 2, and 3 of the series.
In early 2013, there was some evidence that my medical condition was improving. For one, I decided that all the heavy opioids and benzo’s were killing me and had to go. I checked myself into a hospital for medical detox and began seeing a new primary doctor who, among other things, was a neurologist. After getting out of the hospital, my new doctor completely revamped my medication regimen. He experimented with some “off-label” uses of certain meds, and I started responding positively. Within a month or so after stopping all those meds, I started getting better… My gait improved; I was sleeping 3-4 hours every night; I stopped falling as much, the head pain was being managed sufficiently with non-narcotic meds; I didn’t want to die; the nausea improved; and I was starting to do some CE classes toward getting my license to practice reinstated, after having entered “medical retirement.” The symptoms were still there, but there was some relief. The symptoms were not as debilitating and intense. By early Fall of 2013, I had my license to practice back. Instead of trying to see clients right away, I invested in a year of studies that ended with my becoming a licensed clinical supervisor in May of 2014. One of the most amazing things that I regained was my ability to drive. I started wanting to be more involved with family as well. That was awkward at first though, because Karen and the kids had gotten used to my not being involved in family activities. So that was a transition to deal with, even though it reflected a positive change. In Fall of 2014, I was employed once again by a local psychiatric hospital as a PRN therapist. It was also about that time that I started seeing a few private clients. I became so euphoric with all the new things I was getting to do that I often bit off more than I could chew. Just because you “can” do something doesn’t mean you “should.” It would be early 2016 before I realized I had over-committed and had too much on my plate. Symptoms started getting worse, and I had to pull back from the full-time load I had taken on. I was having to reschedule a lot of appointments, and I found it hard to concentrate and stay on task.
And that leads me to where I am now. I still have symptoms, and they keep me from full-time work. I still only sleep 3-5 hours a night. I still stumble and occasionally fall. I still get depressed when I think about my limitations. My concentration still gets poor if I do more than I am able to do. I forget things. I still require a lot of meds to keep me alive and to keep the nastiest of the symptoms at bay.
For those of you who are in medicine or mental health, you will know what one’s Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is. In my case, the sympathetic part of the ANS, the fight or flight part if you will, is stuck on the “on” position. It’s been suggested that I have dysautonomia. This causes me not to digest food well and leads to some pretty serious nausea and frequent vomiting. It’s also why I can’t sleep much. And it keeps me feeling extremely anxious all the time. I’m not anxious or worried about anything in particular… It’s just the physical sensation of being petrified. And last but not least, my ANS problems cause me to have severe hypertension and tachycardia constantly. I take 4 different anti-hypertensives, including a beta blocker for the tachycardia, so my blood pressure doesn’t generate another stroke.
Yes, I have a lot of limitations still, but I have what I consider a “life.” I’m active in my kids’ lives. I partner well with Karen now. I attend church. I get to do supervision with interns and invest in their development as budding therapists. I have a lot to be thankful for. Oh… and I don’t feel like my medications are killing me. Getting off all the controlled medications and staying off them has been a godsend.
There is a lot of the story still left to tell, but I’ll tackle that in another series of posts maybe in the future. Thanks for reading my story.