That was sarcasm.
Headache currently 9 out of 10. Possibly 10 out of 10, but I think I'll save that in case it gets worse. Because that's always possible, right? Yay.
This afternoon I saw the pain management doctor, Dr. Zereshki, who is not the best communicator, I guess, though I was certainly not the best judge of that today. I had an appointment at 3:00 & needed to leave the house at 1:39 (according to Google Maps) because the trip takes a long time on public transit, but around 12:30 or 1:00 I found myself so incredibly loopy that I knew it wouldn't be safe for me to go out on my own as I'd planned. In that state, it would have been extremely inadvisible for me to even just walk 1/2 mile through our own neighborhood, but the trip to the pain management center involves taking 2 different buses & some walking in an unfamiliar area in Emeryville, and so it was pretty much just NOT OKAY TO DO ALONE.
So I started calling and emailing friends on extremely short notice, asking if anyone could drive me there or just take the bus with me pretty much immediately, but no one was available. I asked Crystal, Julia, Lisa, Katherine, and Debbie, and by this time I was crying a lot. I had a few more people I could conceivably call to ask if they might possibly be willing to drop everything to accompany me (Jay, Andrew, Anika, and possibly even Lisa's girlfriend Akasha or Shannon's boss—Jay would normally be a good choice, but he had already done this drop-everything-with-no-notice-for-me thing once, not too long ago, when I was going to a post-cataract-surgery appointment, so I was hesitant to ask again—I'm a pretty fucking high-maintenance friend these days), but time was growing short, which in turn was ramping up my stress/anxiety/distress, and so Shannon just decided that he would abruptly stop work for the day and go with me, because he's like that. He's my hero.
It's a good thing he came with me & that I didn't just take a cab, as I'd been beginning to think that I might have to do. In the waiting room, I was actually having hallucinations, though I didn't think of them that way, probably because the word "hallucinations" is so terribly frightening. It's CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY!!!! But I kept sort of falling asleep while sitting or standing up, and having what felt like very brief dreams, in which I thought random things were happening, and then jerking "awake" and feeling disoriented, not really sure what was going on. Like, at one point, I was sure that a couple across the room had a baby with them, and something random was going on with the baby, and then I jerked "awake" & there was no baby there & I was confused. I told Shannon & I expect he was pretty freaked out. Probably more so than I was, since he was seeing the situation from the perspective of a rational person.
When I talked to the pain management doc about these "mini-dream" experiences, he seemed to think the phenomenon was a result of doubling my Neurontin dosage (300 mg/day to 600 mg/day, because it's supposed to frequently help with headaches) from one day to the next & advised me to reduce the dosage back down to 400 mg/day (so it's still increased, but not doubled so abruptly) to see if this gets rid of the problem. He seemed fairly certain that it would.
Since the gum graft surgery is happening on Friday & I'll have a week of recovery and probably pain (though an email from the periodontist said that some parts of my recovery would actually last 2 weeks instead of 1—more about that in a moment if I have the energy to expand on it), we aren't going to reduce my Tylenol #4 daily max dosage any more right now & will only increase the Neurontin by 100 mg/day each week (as long as I can tolerate it & don't go around hallucinating & shit like that) until I'm back up to 600 mg/day (again, only if I can tolerate it).
It's very good that Shannon was with me, because he was able to take in everything the doctor was saying, while I was not. My head was hurting so very badly & I was so loopy and confused—I kept getting frustrated and upset because I couldn't understand what he was saying or remember/express my own concerns effectively—I eventually just broke into uncontrollable sobs, hiding my face in my trembling hands, for a good 5 minutes.
The doc warned me that the gum surgery may very well make my headaches worse during my recovery. Even more fun!
Things the doc agrees I can do to help with the headaches when I've used up all my Tylenol #4 (when I've had all I can & I can't have no more, as Popeye might say in my situation): caffeine, additional Regular Strength Tylenol (since it's the codeine we're reducing, not the acetaminophen), and acupuncture (he's putting in a request but didn't sound tremendously hopeful that it would be approved). In a pinch (no pun intended), they can give me an injection directly into the nerve in the back of my neck during one of my visits. The fun just keeps on coming! But it's nice to know that there are options.
Apparently, doing this whole detox thing (and doesn't the word "detox" just make me feel fantastic about myself) on an inpatient basis would only be a very very last resort, very unlikely. Instead, this tremendously enjoyable process is most likely going to drag out over months, just as my neurologist had predicted. Even more so than for your average person, apparently, since my body is totally funky in its relationship with medications (as has been proven over the course of decades).
But even if I decided that the pain was just too much & that I wanted to do this inpatient, Dr. Zereshki warned me that the inpatient docs might tell me no, that I was going to have to do it "the old-fashioned way" regardless of what I wanted, and so I should be prepared to have my wishes overriden & to be told (by others, not by him) that I was just going to have to bite the proverbial bullet & face more suffering than I'd decided I could stand. Does the fun ever stop? This particular possibility—me, with my personal issues about hypochondria and such, experiencing pain bad enough that it gets me to get to the point where I admit that I just can't do it anymore, and then being told, "Suck it up, whiner"—that prospect is more than a little terrifying.
So it wasn't a good day ... and that isn't even really including the badness of the headache. I'm feeling helpless and afraid.
God—I hope I'm not feeling like this at Melody & Jared's wedding next month. Maybe the whole "joyful wedding of people I love to pieces" thing would be distracting enough to keep me sane. They probably wouldn't want me coloring in my coloring book during the ceremony, though it's an amusing mental image.
But getting back to the issue of recovery from the gum graft surgery, I got an email today from the periodontist in which he wrote, "Routinely, I recommend patients to stay away from hard food completely and to avoid chewing on the treated areas (even soft food) for 2 weeks. Recommended foods are Smoothies, shakes, pudding, oatmeal, eggs, cottage cheese." My response upon reading this was um ... where did this "2 weeks" thing come from? You said 1 week. 1 week, dude. I made my decision based on the 1 week estimate! Bait and switch! Bait and switch! But it sounds like I can't eat anything that requires chewing for the first week, and for the second week I just won't be able to use my canines (which is where the gum grafts will be). So during that second week I won't be able to bite things, but I will be able to chew things in the back of my mouth if they're already in small enough pieces. And I probably won't want to eat anything that requires lots of chewing, regardless of how small the pieces are, just to be safe. I'm feeling a bit annoyed that this wasn't made clear to me before my decision was made. I might have still made the same decision, but still ... bait and switch. Bait and switch always pisses me off.
But in the same email he clarified that walking, stairs, and normal activities like doing laundry should be fine, as long as I don't overdo it. So I should be able to do a lot of my usual things & won't be as cooped up as I had feared I might. So something good happened today! Yay!
He also said—for the first time—that I should try to find someone to give me a ride home after the surgery instead of planning to take the bus by myself. Gosh, I'm getting REALLY REALLY REALLY TIRED of asking my friends to inconvenience themselves to give me rides to and from medical procedures. And this gum surgery will finish around noon on a Friday, which is not a good time for pretty much anyone. (And Crystal and Julia have both committed to a CWC event all day on Friday, including being responsible for transporting people to/from the picnic in their vehicles, so they are totally not available.) But tomorrow I guess I start making phone calls again. God. This is the most fun EVER! It's better than going to a Barenaked Ladies concert while eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream!
People who love me, if you want to make me happy, buy me art supplies. Seriously. I know it's totally inappropriate to say that & it's totally rude to ask people to buy me stuff, but I'm crying and afraid and art is one of the only things that makes me happy right now & I don't have very much money & I don't really give a fuck about politeness at the moment. I have plenty of art supplies on my Amazon wish lists (Stuff I Want the Most—which includes the especially exciting art supplies, among other things, like a stuffed Totoro :)—and Art Supplies—which includes the rest, including a lot of unrealistically expensive stuff that is just there so I can dream about it but would never expect anyone to buy for me). Some of the stuff costs less than $10. If you live nearby and want to give hugs (or frickin' rides), those are even better. I feel like a beggar, but I have no pride in this moment. I have shed all shame. My mom would be horrified. Maybe everyone will be. Maybe everyone will think less of me. But I just want CARE. I want people to take care of me. I want to be cuddled and coddled. I want to feel loved. And so I'm willing to actually say it out loud (or type in public), to admit what I'm thinking, to speak up about what I want, even though it feels wrong wrong wrong. In a weird way, it also feels freeing to just say it, just ignore what I think I should do, what I'm supposed to do, and say what I'm really thinking, what I really want, even if it's offensive and inappropriate. Even if it makes me wrong. I don't care. This is me in this moment, weak and needy and emotionally naked. I'm owning it.
Okay. I'm going to go color & try to calm down before bed. I've already taken my max amount of Xanax today, but I can try to comfort myself with the other means at my disposal. Send good thoughts my way, yeah?
I need a sadder icon than this one.