Personal Notes: Health Issues
April 4, 2012 Leave a comment
Ok, so this twitter storm this morning about Mental Illness and how people should just “get over it”, “work to rise above it” etc has got me to the point where I’m going to put in my ten cents (that’s the smallest coin we have over here now). A bit of “pre-reading” is required though. You should also read about “Spoon Theory” as there are times when I run out of spoons or end up operating on a low spoon level (I’m fortunate that most of the time I never have to worry about that limit).
Right then. Let us begin with the slightly analytical run down of what exactly is Wrong With Me. I don’t have any official diagnoses yet, but what I do know is that I have low calcium levels and low vitamin D levels, neither of which are critical but I’m usually operating at the very low end of the recommended levels, which results in daily calcium supplements (500mg) and fortnightly vitamin D supplements (can’t remember the dosage). These reduce the muscle twitching I experience, which are usually small 2-6 cm regions that twitch repeatedly until I tense the muscle. I also experience some levels of depression, which can be directly correlated to whether I forget to take my calcium in the morning or when my vitamin D fortnight has almost expired.
We think (me and my doctors) that I also have Cluster Headaches in a particularly chronic form (it’s unusual for me to not have a headache in a day). Luckily most of these don’t make it over a 5 on my personal pain scale, which works out fairly similar to the Hyperbole-And-A-Half scale except without 11 and Too Serious For Numbers. However, I do get to experience 6-7 level headaches on a multiple-per-week basis, which as you can imagine are Not Fun. These headaches are also somewhat irritating in the fact that most painkillers do nothing to alleviate the pain (certainly none of the over-the-counter ones anyway) which means I just have to deal with the pain until it goes away of it’s own accord. The worst one I’ve had, which was many years ago, apparently caused me to slur my speech and sway on my feet. The typical behaviour of these headaches is to start off at the base of my skull on the right, and build it’s way up over my head until it ends up around my right eye/cheekbone.
In addition to this (but wait, there’s more!) I have muscle pain issues too. Some of these are biomechanical issues relating to how I’ve been favouring one knee for a number of years, or the ever prevalent back issues that many people have. The others are just mystery shooting pains that could be referred pain from tweaked nerves, or something I can only describe as “low level sharp non specific pain” mostly in my arms and legs. This latter one could possibly be something like Fibromyalgia but I’m hesitant to go as far as saying it is. The scientist in me wants to eliminate the more simple & easier to confirm things first.
It’s not really that much, is it? Well, when it gets split up like that it’s not too bad, but everything moves in cycles so some days can be fine, others can be rather dismal. For example, if I run a quick inventory of sore spots, there’s my left knee & one of the tendons (old injury), my left shoulder (maybe I slept on it funny?), random pains/tingles in my arms (left biceps most) and a fading headache at the base of my skull. This is a mostly light spot. Other times I can have flare ups in all four limbs, a bad headache and something going on with my back all at the same time. It gets worse if I’m low on my neurotransmitter reserves (aka Calcium/Vit D) and start heading down that depression slope. I can usually hold that back from a complete breakdown, but I’d ascribe that ability to briefly “dangling my feet in the pool that is Depression” because as long as I keep on top of things I’m mostly fine (and by mostly fine I mean I vary from being right on the edge to being just out of jumping distance).
I also have a bit of a problem with anxiety and possibly some form of PTSD, but these shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that knows where I live (Christchurch, New Zealand, where we’ve had over 10,000 earthquakes since September 2010). I’m mostly ok with these two now, but every now and then it pops up to say hi (every small earthquake or truck rumbling past results in that “oh shit, not again” moment). The anxiety bit does feed into a slight paranoia that I’ve done something wrong, messed up, that some non specific comment is about me, or that slight twinge of guilt that an unfollow on twitter was intentional and because of something I’d said and done.
I am doing something about it though, getting regular massage sessions to work on muscle tension & those biomechanical issues mentioned earlier, getting blood tests to keep track of neurotransmitter levels, and I’ve been given some herbal supplements suggestions as well. I’m also employed full time (40 hours/week) which is both a help and a hindrance at times. Sometimes I will get home from work to find that I’m actually pretty tired and will occasionally skip dinner to crawl into bed early.
So there you have it. Now you understand a bit more about me and my situation. Some days can be fine, other days not so much.