Times are Changing

Yesterday was one of the most intense days I’ve ever had. My entire afternoon was spent with a psychiatrist and my psychologist. I didn’t get out until after 5:30pm. They have started working on some trauma therapy with me recently because apparently the presence of Complex PTSD has become very clear during my counseling appointments.

Blanking out/dissociation, which I was not even aware of, plus several other things that have happened, has led them to switch the DBT to Trauma therapy. And I fell apart at the seams yesterday. Now, for safety, since things are surfacing and I’m having it freshly opened up every week, they have asked my husband to remove all medications so that they aren’t accessible to me. I am furious over this. I do not think its necessary that they have involved him. My husband and I have an incredibly close relationship and I want to be able to open up with him at my own pace. Mind you, nothing was disclosed to him but obviously he knows that something big has been going on for them to request this. He has been looking at me alot all evening and I think he’s waiting for me to tell him what’s going through my mind. But I’m in no place to talk out loud about anything else today.

So anyway before he went to work this morning he handed me my meds for the day. I had to bite my tongue because it’s not his fault. He’s just following a doctor’s order. Yet it doesn’t change the fact that it makes me feel so incompetent as a human being.

Moving on. After I got home yesterday I spent the evening wearing 2 shirts and wrapped up in 3 blankets because I felt stripped and vulnerable and it was one of the harshest things I’ve ever ever felt. My phone wasn’t touched until I took the blankets and hoodies off this morning and my phone rarely goes more than an hour without being picked up.

My friend was talking to me this morning about dealing with a lot of changes. I hear ya. I feel in some ways that the changes in my therapy lately has been changing everything else in my life. Right down to the clothes I wear.

But they are promising me that even though things might be even harder as we go further in depth, I will be so grateful later on because they feel that I have so much trauma that has never truly been processed, many of my actions, behaviors and thoughts have been tainted and that I am always in defense mode. Always suspicious, unable to trust, unable to rest, or relax, or even truly have fun with things that I like.

I’m punishing myself in ways I have not even been aware of. And even though I don’t be going around thinking about any aspects of the various traumatic events in my life, they told me that I have been shaped by it all. Dbt is not going to work for me.

Ive only been in counseling for the past 6 months and during that time she has seen things and learned about my ways of thinking and even just my behaviour in the sessions and has concluded that that following a DBT style of therapy will not be the best choice for me. (She’s obviously very good at reading people far beyond the words they speak, like body language, expression, and even the things I wear and how my choices in makeup change with my moods!)

So here I am today, still feeling that heavy, large sweaters are necessary because I feel so …. exposed.

Should I expect to feel like this every week, now that I’m going to be involved in trauma therapy?! I’m starting to have second thoughts ….

Living Without A Limb

Falling asleep, waking up and everything is just like it was before – the wish of many  amputated people. But unfortunately, an amputation is an irrevocable change. Any  amputation of a limb means a loss off the body and, consequently the loss of his/her physical integrity. “The loss of a limb is equivalent to the loss of a close relative,” says Dagmar Gail, chairman and founder of the Amputierten-Initiative e.V (Amputees Initiative) in Germany. Even the most sophisticated technology is not able to fully replace the loss that one experiences through amputation. A toe, or a finger. A hand. A foot. Or an arm or leg. Each one is as extreme as the next. Cleanly removed through a planned surgery or ripped from the body by some extreme, unexpected catastrophe.  No matter how hard you work on accepting your new body and learning a new set of skills, and no matter how long you have lived without your limb ….

There will always be days when you will wake up and wish like everything was like it was before.

Brrrrrr.

I got a feeling that this is gonna be a hard winter. The pain is already setting in my bones and we haven’t even had any snow yet. But the chill is in the air. The frost is covering everything in the early mornings. And my spinal cord has become tight as a result. The back of my head and neck are stiff and pull against the skin when I move. Both of my knee joints feel like they each need a can of WD40 connected to a steady IV drip as they are unable bend properly. Making walking really difficult.

And it’s not even winter yet.

Sigh.

I Didn’t Get That Memo

There are plenty of things a person should not be able to do after they lose one of their arms.

But I guess I didn’t get that memo ….

I know I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

Yes. My physical situation makes me stand out from other ppl. A lot. But Being told I can’t do something just makes me work harder and more creatively.

My life is very complicated. But you know what? Thats ok. I’m lucky to even be alive right now!

I’m different then you. But that’s what makes me who I am!

I’m An Amputee With PLP

Don’t know what PLP is? Well here’s some info about what I’ve been experiencing since losing my arm in a car accident a few years ago. 

Phantom Limb Pain (PLP) refers to painful and lasting sensations that seem to be radiating from a limb, extremity, or other body part, that is no longer connected to the body. The suffering that PLP causes isn’t uncommon, either: between 60-80% of all amputees experience some kind of phantom sensation in a lost limb.
A mysterious condition that is still being researched
Though the exact cause of PLP is unknown, the pain is thought to be caused by signals traveling from the brain to the spinal cord getting crossed. Nerves that originally sent impulses from the limb to the brain continue to send information, until the brain “rewires” itself and adjusts to the changes in the body.
Identifying the pain and symptoms of PLP
The length of time in which this pain is felt varies from person to person, occasionally lasting only a few minutes, to hours, days, or more. Phantom Limb Pain most often occurs soon after amputation surgery, rather than limb loss due to accidents or sudden injuries. The feeling of the pain can vary from tingling or burning sensations, to itching or pressure.
Pain can arise from once normally routine activities
While the brain is adjusting to the absence of the body part, it finds new nerve pathways to send neural “information”. This can cause PLP to trigger from activities that did not involve the original limb, such as touching another part of the body, going to the bathroom, changes in outside barometric temperature, or fluctuations in blood pressure.
The pain can sometimes be avoided by identifying the activities that trigger it, which may include:
Changes in diet

Irregularities in the gastrointestinal system

Smoking cigarettes, drug use, or alcohol abuse

Spikes in blood pressure

Sudden rises or drops in barometric pressure (such as storms, or traveling between low and high elevations)

Not necessarily always a pain
The feeling derived from a phantom limb may also be a non-painful”or even pleasurable”sensation, as the brain works to “understand” the newly-modified nervous system. Documented reports have painted the spectrum of sensation from feeling like wearing a piece of jewelry or clothing, to feeling like the limb is attached and still moving as it used to.
Treatment and living with Phantom Pain
Fortunately for most people, Phantom Limb Pain is a fleeting experience, with symptoms that disappear over time. In some cases, however, lingering pain may persist for quite a while. Some studies have reported that medications such as acetaminophen and other NSAIDs can help reduce phantom sensations, and there have been reported successes involving low-frequency stimulation of the brain with electromagnetic therapies.
Other reported ways of easing PLP include:
Gently massaging the area that the missing limb was once attached to, or the other existing limb

Supplying cushioned support to the afflicted region

Changing the surrounding atmosphere to a more relaxing one with music or lighting

Most sufferers are unwilling to report phantom limb pain, believing it’s just in their head.
Phantom pain isn’t just in the mind, it’s the body’s way of adjusting to a new experience. Though patients complaining of it used to be dismissed in years past, PLP is a real, medically-recognized problem, and can be treated with a physician’s help. Phantom Limb Pain should always be reported to a doctor; it may be an indicator that something is happening during the body’s natural healing process. Together with your doctor, your body may be able to say goodbye to the departed limb more quickly and with less discomfort.
Sources: 

Limb loss resource center: Amputee Coalition.Phantom Limb Pain (study): Lone Nikolajsen MD, PhD & Troels Staehelin Jensen MD, PhD.Phantom Limb Syndrome: NYU Langone Medical Center.Significant Reduction in Phantom Limb Pain After Low-Frequency Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to the Primary Sensory Cortex (study): AMSUS.

You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.

Ok so there has been this thing going around on facebook lately regarding self esteem and self love. People are being tagged and asked to post 5 pictures (aka selfies) that represent 5 different times in which you felt beautiful; pictures that reveal your own true genuine beauty – in your own personal opinion.

I don’t think it should be just kept to facebook so I’m bring my post here as well. Healthy self image is something that should be encouraged every day. A lot of us, including myself, struggle daily with being able to see our reflection and not cringing, muttering some very cruel things in response, because loving ourselves is something we have never been able to do. We don’t want to feel this way and it feels as if there will never be a day that we will be able to look in the mirror and think, damn! I look good! I say ‘we’ because I know the majority of us feel this way.

How can we change this? How can you start loving yourself and stop the self hatred? I’m not sure, to be honest. I haven’t figured that out. But going through some pictures and picking out 5 that make me feel beautiful could be a start.

Now I challenge YOU. If you’re reading my post right now, you can do this too. 5 pictures. Let all of us see how truly radiant you are, even if you just crawled out of bed and your hair looks like a haystack. If you accept my challenge, link back to me because I would love to see your pictures.

Here are mine:

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This is a rare picture because I simply refuse to have any taken of me that show from my shoulders down. But I felt so proud that day. I had just married my soulmate and I had my mom, the most beautiful woman I know, standing right beside me.

 

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I am an amputee. I have no left arm. I do not wear a prosthetic device of any kind. A part of my body was torn away from me in a car accident. But I am still beautiful.

 

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I love experimenting with my hair. The funkier the colors, the better I feel. Different is beautiful.

 

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I am enough.

 

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This picture represents a different kind of beauty. I am strong. I am a fighter. I. Am. Alive. And now, I consider life a beauty in itself. After several suicide attempts and then a near fatal car accident, I accepted the fact that I am meant to live. So I began fighting. After 10 weeks lying flat in a hospital bed with a broken body, with the aid of doctors and therapists, I was able to sit up on my own. My mom took this picture of me the first time I was lifted from the bed into a special chair. After many tears, she wiped my face and I smiled. I was a survivor.

The room triggered the PTSD

I’m trying to make sense of what exactly is happening to me right now. I spent the night in hospital last night. It all started with some dull chest pain that wouldn’t go away. As the day progressed it kept getting more crushing and it was starting to get difficult to breath so I begrudgingly went to the ER. It ended up being a pulled chest muscle.

But spending the night in the exam room triggered the PTSD and the portal opened. Images of my unconscious, lifeless body lying on the stretcher with people running in and out, trying to stop my bleeding (when I had a car accident and lost my arm) Connecting me to catheters (which I unfortunately remember clearly) … and sometimes I wake up in a panic because I dream someone is standing at the foot of my bed trying to put a catheter in me.

Another incident was when I was lying on the stretcher with 2 nurses working on me, one on my arm and the other on my feet. Trying to get needles into me. So I lay there on my back and just glanced up above me on the wall at the bare bulletin board. I was immediately brought back to the many many times I have been there, in such a horrific mental state, and the boards had to be stripped for safety reasons. Staples and all tacks were things I’d grab and hack away at my skin.

Those are just 2 of the things that kept happening to me throughout the night. And now, at home, it continues.

My psychiatrist has diagnosed me in a full blown manic stage now. Maybe this is a part of it?

Look At Me … Now

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It’s not every day that I stop and view myself like this. I don’t like to stare at the scars. Especially the big one with the little marks on each side from the staples. If I ever develop skin cancer it would go unnoticed for a while because I don’t like to look at my skin. I shower, dress, undress, have sex … without making direct eye contact with my body. It’s not all due to self image problems, though much of it is. But I don’t like the memories ….

Of life before I became a broken, scarred, torn body. Of my arm – before it was ripped to shreds and torn away from my neck. Of my breast – when it was round, voluptuous, full … intact. When my nipples were parallel with each other. Now I have a partially concave area of skin that is rippled with scars and a nipple that is far from centered. A breast that while it should be a very sensuous part of my female body, is nothing but a dead, mangled, shapeless piece of useless flesh. Serving the purpose of none other then to remind me …

Of the car accident that almost took my life several years ago.

Although it literally tore away several of my body parts, I’ve been known to be stubborn a few times in my life, and this was one of those times because I’m not ready to go yet. It’s going to take more then that to make me leave this world so sorry guys. You’re stuck with me.

Emotional Mayhem

I’m trying so hard to keep up with outdoor activities with my hubby. He wants to go to the derby pit to watch the Mud Mayhem. I know he does. He’s mentioned it a few times now. And what guy doesn’t want to watch the Mud Mayhem?? I really want to go too but ….

I’m scared.

I can’t climb up on the bleachers to sit and watch. Also you’ve got to walk a fair ways in on a trail to actually get to the pit and I can’t walk fast. I panic when there are others around me walking. I rush to try and keep up pace but I never can.

It’s discouraging.

And I feel guilty. My physical weakness gets in the way of a lot of things. I don’t want to be the reason David misses out on things. I tell him to go without me. But of course he won’t. He refuses to do anything that I can’t do. My husband truly is an amazing person.

I guess it’s just a sacrifice he has to make in order to have me as his wife.

The Past And The Present Collide

Yesterday was a very traumatic day. Some things happened which in turn left me in a state of uncontrollable crying, hyperventilating, and hysteria. I ended up at my psychiatrist’s office and he treated me with 2 sedatives immediately. Then he talked me through the horrible attack of PTSD that I was having. He helped me focus, get grounded, led me through breathing exercises.

Through all the years that I have suffered with PTSD and other mental illnesses I have never had to be brought to his office during the day because I was unable to cope through a crisis. But what I experienced yesterday actually felt like something that was going to kill me. Thank God for psychiatrists.

He also gave me a bottle with another 7 sedatives in it with the instructions to take them over the next 3 days, to help me get through all of the flashbacks and nightmares and anxiety attacks, all brought on from the head on car collision which we avoided by mere inches. The screeching of tires and getting a burn on my neck from my seatbelt was all too familiar, sounds and feelings that I experienced in the accident I was in 3 years ago, in which my left arm was amputated as well as many other broken bones and injuries. Needless to say, I have severe post traumatic stress disorder. (I was diagnosed with this years ago, from years of abuse and violation right up until I moved out on my own, the car accident just made it much worse, creating many more triggers)

Anyways today I am numb. I am a walking zombie. My eyes are so swollen that I cannot fully open them. And I have taken a sedative as per doctor’s orders. Only problem is that David is not impressed. He suggested that I go to bed since I’m not feeling well. Mind you, his mother and her boyfriend are on their way here for a couple of days and I think he’s afraid his mom is going to think that I am drugged up. He made a random comment to me earlier, telling me to not take any more pills today.

I’m just following my dr’s orders. Yes I am sedated. I took one, like I was told to do. My voice is scratchy. Side effects of morphine. I am numb. Not very talkative. Eyes are heavy and puffy and swollen. No. I am not well. But I am not spending the day in bed. If I have to I will just come out and tell my mother in law that in not feeling well today. Then she wouldn’t be wondering if I’m highly medicated or not. I’m just not well.

Which is true. I’m not well. Not at all. I feel like a walking zombie. I’m numb all over but every now and then I’ll get a big wave of emotion sweep right through me. I get super alert, very much aware of my surroundings, my pulse speeds up, I start having thoughts and flashes of memories, and I fill up with a feeling that I can only compare with that of a response one gets when hearing about the sudden death of someone. Like my world crumbles around me.

I manage to work through it as best I can with whatever coping tools I can think of at that time. And I do pretty darn good if I do say so myself. But it’s hard. It’s hard living every single day like this. It’s exhausting just trying to live my life.

So if you were me, you’d have swollen eyes and a general appearance of being worn out.

Because I am.
Worn out.