…now you don't.

I feel like I'm losing my mind. There's no other way to describe it as accurately and succinctly.

April was a hard month. Lots of pain that just wouldn't be budged, increased sleep walking, further weakness and increased discouragement and depression… and all that after getting my wisdom teeth out the month before. I cannot pinpoint a specific time that things turned for the worse, but that's always the case isn't it?

Nothing, though, nothing could have prepared me for the experience of this past week. I have trouble when I'm particularly weary with full body muscle spasms that jerk me around like I'm having a seizure, and I also have a tendency to fall into a half-sleep that's deep enough to dream a little but not awake enough to know that the situations are fictitious. I end up with these conversations I've had with other people, but they turn out to be one-sided. It's quite embarrassing, actually.

This week, I've had a lot of fantasy conversations, but more than that… I've begun hallucinating again. Auditory hallucinations are commonplace for me, and have been my whole life. I tend to hear music playing that no one else can hear but me, wherever I'm at. Visual hallucinations started as a child as well, because I remember distinctly having to take naps in my step-grandparent's spare bedroom on Sabbath afternoons, but I hated nap time so much because I was at least 6 or 7 and I wanted to be up and reading or something! The walls were covered with portraits of family members throughout the years, as bunches or singles. As I lay there in the afternoon half-light that filtered through the drawn curtains, I had nothing to do but stare at the photos and watch as they talked to one another. Their lips would move, heads turning, facial expressions would change; full blown conversations were going on, but I didn't know to read lips so I couldn't follow along. There was no way I could tell anyone about that, ever, because I knew that it would sound super crazy and the line of success/dysfunction that my family crept along was tenuous, at best. I didn't want to be made fun of or told that I was crazy, so I kept it to myself. I finally told my psychiatrist this past year, though.

And now we come to my current dysfunctions, the ones that are giving me so much trouble and leaving me questioning my own senses. In truth, the problems are much the same, but now they're the adult version, having apparently grown up alongside me.

One of the big problems with my diseases is the fatigue. Sometimes I deal with insomnia, but more often than not I sleep more than the average person is supposed to need to. When my mind is fuzzy with fatigue it is much easier to space out, but when I come to I remember snippets and snatches of conversations… or thought sequences… or were they dreams? Yeah. Dreams. That's gotta be it. And so it goes.

What will happen is that if a friend says something, I will formulate a response in my head, and then they'll answer, and I build the experience on the back and forth that comes next. Only… lately, I've been actually hearing what before used to be just thoughts in my head. And when that conversation is playing in my head (the one that stopped being relevant about 20 seconds prior) I join in with my retorts and comments, of course! To the other person, it seems as though I'm just spouting gibberish and nonsense, which, to be fair, is the truth when you can't hear the other side of the conversation. For instance: Drogo was playing a computer game he purchased through Steam called Elite: Dangerous. It's about space, but it's really well done and I love watching him play it. Yesterday, however, while I was watching him attack another ship in the particular solar system he was occupying, I noticed that there was some kind of theme music that seemed to "caption" each shot he laid on the other ship with a funny taunt laid out to a simple tune. (I don't remember any of this, just a few moments here and there.) I laughed at the awesome lyrics and said something about how I loved the captions to his shots, and he looked at me very strangely. I was like, "There is a song playing right now that emphasizes the shots your getting off… right?" Well, no. No there wasn't. And throughout this past week I have been hearing more and more things that aren't there.

I'll hear Corey say something and without really processing it my brain will formulate a response that just tumbles on out… and makes, like, zero sense. It's a lot like playing "Telephone", except that the other person has no idea that they're playing or indeed what they said in the first place! Often I'll jerk myself awake out of a doze because my body is trying to physically imitate what my shallow dream has me doing, like eating ice cream maybe, or handing a stack of paper to someone, petting the cat, whatever. The physical action has loud noises or words that accompany it, and the combo of those will jerk me awake so that I can try to play it off as myself coughing or rolling over or something hide, but a split second later and I'll be off chasing the White Rabbit again. Even if I'm awake, I can find myself grabbing for whatever is bothering me without realizing I've even done it yet, or suddenly breathing hard and blinking rapidly to jerk myself out of doze mode and back to the present.

The visual hallucinations, well, it's that moving picture thing again for certain. There are no portraits on the walls of my home, but there are plenty of other things to distract my eye. Generally, it is the movement of stationary things, like shadows scooting across the floor or at the outsides of my vision, sometimes right in front of me; spots of dirt or some-such, even the natural patterns in the walls or tile take on movement and writhe like small insects. There doesn't even have to be a pattern to it when all of a sudden a dark blot of movement streaks by your thigh, and  by the time you look over it's already long gone. Or how about seeing the blankets themselves move of their own volition right at the back corner of your vision, only to find them stationary when you whirl to look. Let me tell you, it is freaky when all of a sudden you think you're surrounded by bugs! Ticks and ants and other creepy crawly things! Aaaaugh! I'm always relieved to see the truth of that one. Another common one is thinking that I see one of the cats walk past and then be obscured by the table, but when I go to look at that corner there, it's empty. No cat there. Gahhh. Y'know, maybe I'm not crazy. Maybe my cats are just ninjas!!! Occam's Razor. Yep. That's got to be the answer, then. :P

Yesterday was bad. Like, bad bad. I was very actively hallucinating, more than I ever have before, visually, audibly, and with sensation on my skin as well. That one is common, but it never ceases to be startling when you suddenly feel drops of scalding water or ice water flick against your skin for no reason, or when you are positive that there is a bug crawling on your arm/leg/toe/face/etc. I am definitely going to be bringing this up to my psychiatrist tomorrow, but there are some other physical symptoms that I feel are connected somehow and are giving me just as much trouble as the hallucinations but are more alarming. My eyes… for some reason, they'll just stop focusing, and everything gets blurry, especially anything from the end of arm's length toward me. Can't read, can't write, can't tell which pill bottle is which sometimes… It's terrifying. Each time I wonder if that will be the time it lasts, that my vision won't revert. I don't know what to make of it at all. Frequently I will be struck with what I have dubbed "eye seizures", which is where my eyes won't focus right, but they're still mostly in focus. My vision simply shakes from side to side and prevents me from latching on to a more distant focal point. Eye seizures are for further distance, and the unfocusable eyes are impossible for

The next problem I'm having is that my legs will just collapse beneath me. As I mentioned before, I do sleepwalk, more and more intensely these days, and it has been while sleepwalking that I've noticed the most collapsing. More so this past week, however, Friday being the worst of it, I have a split second's warning that my legs are about to give way when I feel this pulsing throb of weakness that shoots through my entire being. As the spasm of weakness passes, my legs buckle after the apex and I must clutch something, anything to keep me upright. Even then it's not pleasant, for my heart is pounding, I feel weak and exhausted in every inch of me, and my chest is tight while my heart hammers away. Sometimes there's chest pain, sometimes no, but always it feels like a dark balloon expanding within my chest, and once it pops a thick, sludgy wave washes through me and pulls me to the floor. Dizziness explodes behind my eyes and the room swims around me in crooked, clumsy laps.

Even as I type, I am struggling with some of these things. The dizziness, the throb of weakness and pounding heart, the rapid drift back into dozing only to be woken up again and again. I snap awake, limbs shaking and heart pounding, eyes blinking rapidly and looking around for context clues as to where I am.  My lungs pull in the sharp, short breaths of one who has forgotten to breathe just a bit too long. My head jerks around, the ratchet movement keeping me awake for the moment, my outstretched hands moving likewise, rapid but aimless, as I find myself trying to grasp for a literal lifeline. The searing moment of clarity is driven into my skull like a railroad spike, but I know that all too soon I will be adrift upon the shallow, troubled waters of this unsatisfactory sleep.

Also, as a side note, I just want to mention that my mouth is all kinds of ulcerated and painful on the inside; sores on my tongue, roof of the mouth, cheeks; abrasions and tender and inflamed areas that leave me clenching my jaw in pain when anything other than water passes through my lips. My glands have been swollen for a week or more. I cannot feel much in the skin from my cheekbones down to my collarbones. It is cold, and it is numbed, though I know not how. My memory is absolutely shot. I lose track of sentences while I am speaking, fumbling to a stop because I'm not sure how I wanted to end it, much less what the idea I was trying to convey was. I finally got my first menstrual cycle since December, which had me freaking out and hoping I wasn't pregnant and that the tests I took weren't faulty. I think I really scared Corey yesterday with my inability to remain standing and the severity of my hallucinations. Sometimes I can play it off like I'm talking to the cats, but usually not so much.

Oh! I broke my phone last night. See, the twitches aren't just about my legs jerking around as if they'd been hit with the rubber reflex mallet. That's part of it, but another, much bigger problem is that I will be holding something normally, say a mug of tea or a bowl of cereal, but suddenly my entire arm with jerk wildly and I now have hot tea all down my front, or a puddle of cereal and milk in my lap. It sounds funny to read, I know, but in actual practice? It sucks. Do you have any idea how many times I had to start the washer recently?! Too many. Anyway, yesterday I picked up my phone from the couch, and bam! Arm and hand jerked, my (admittedly ghetto) phone flew to the tile flooring in a very direct manner, and it broke in half, exposing the guts. Later that night I figured it out (still not sure how, really), and while I'll need another phone, I still have this one… even if it is being held together with black electrician's tape ;)

So that, my friends, is what is going on with me right now. I don't know where the boundaries of reality and fantasy intersect anymore, and I genuinely feel like I might be losing my hold on reality. Seriously… how scary is that?! All I know is that I keep resurfacing, gasping for breath and shaking my head rapidly to clear it. It works for a few microts, but it's scary as hell because down, down, down I go as soon as I'm not actively forcing myself awake. Even so, there are times that doesn't work either. How can I trust anything anymore when I can no longer rely on my 5 senses to guide me? Funny how the brain is so powerful, but not powerful enough that it can escape when turned upon itself, eh?
What do you do, when everything comes crashing down around your ears? I don't mean literally, of course, although I had my doubts while Corey was up in the "attic" crawlspace to install the ceiling fan we bought for our bedroom (go tax returns, yeah!) and trying not to fall through the ceiling.

I dunno. Sometimes it all just kinda hits me, you know what I mean?

What do you do when you hate every second of your disease, but it's so imprisoning that you can never forget that you have it for any of those hated seconds? I'm talking Ehler's-Danlos here, although Addison's has been giving me a run for my money lately too, trying to manage my adrenal glands manually. Always a tough challenge for me, even more so lately.

So do you just hate your life, then, because the two are so inseparable? Usually I try to wrap my world in beauty, to find it, create it, whatever I have to do. Sometimes, though, the cold stones that weigh in the pit of my stomach overcome me and all I can see, all I can feel, is the destruction of the life that I had, the life that we planned, the future of my personal dreams and our mutual hopes. And it's hard, really hard, to not hate your life when every moment is agony and you know that there's no cure, there's no hope, there's no remission, and it keeps getting worse. I try not to think about what it'll be like in a year, 3 years, 25 years, but when I'm huddled on the bed and sobbing into my husband's pillow while trying not to move because it hurts, I think about those things. I think about them, and I am afraid.

I don't want to do this. The weight of the agony that waits for me is too heavy a load for me to bear. It's scary, but more than that I hate hate hate HATE what this agony has done to me personally, to my husband, and to our relationship. I hate what it's going to do. I appreciate, in a circumspect way, how it's going to make us better people and probably already has--as is the nature of suffering--but that thought remains rather subdued.

When he came to bed tonight and I lay next to him, trying to relax and mayyyyyybe get some sleep (no sleep to be had this night, alas), I eventually spoke up. (Choked with tears, of course.)

"I'm sorry for being so sick. I hate every second of it. I think I hate it more than you do. I hate what it's done to our life."

He didn't respond.

Not a word.

In my time of desperate emotional need, he stayed completely and 100% silent…

…except for the soft and sudden rustle of bedsheets as his foot sought out my two feet, entwining them beneath his leg and covering them with his own as he rubbed his instep against the top of my foot a few times.

All I could do was blink away the tears, sigh softly, and let this renewed sense of peace settle deep into the center of me where I will lock it away tightly and hold on to the hope that it's going to be okay… somehow. Three feet of peace--my two feet and his comforting one-- to remind me so.

"I love you."

"I love you too, lady."
You know what they say: A silent blog is a sign of a busy life! Well, that's sorta true in this case. What happened is that I was pounced upon by a very nasty flare, one that lasted somewhere around a week, give or take a couple of days. In the midst of that I've had doctor's appointments, medical tax stuff to hunt down and appropriate and relocate to our tax lady, a trip to Tucson for to see a cardiologist, a Celebirthsary/going away party dinner, and my second wedding anniversary. Even with all of that, I'm still pulling out of the flare, so thank goodness for that! In all honesty, I was worried that it wasn't just a flare, but rather my new mode of existence. That would have been horrible, because I was in such terrible pain that the painkillers would do nothing but blunt the edge of it a little bit, enough to keep me from going crazy and screaming while I hobble down the streets of downtown naked and slicked up with mayonnaise, which I'm allergic to.

Clearly, that didn't happen, or else the government is really good about redacting highly amusing incidents. I would say that I would remember if that happened, but that's not actually the case. Something else I've been up to in this interim (and before, if I'm being honest) is that I've been having some major troubles with sleep and sleepwalking. First the waves of overwhelming fatigue so I'm sleeping 18+ hours a day and exhausted down to the pores of my bones (y'all know what I'm talking about!), and then BAM! Insomnia. Sort of. For a day or two. But now I'm being hit with really bad sleepwalking, something akin to narcolepsy that pulls me into these dream trances when I'm tired, but when I am deep enough into the standing-sleep I go limp and collapse, usually forward, which jolts me out of sleep and usually I can catch myself on whatever counter or corner is nearby. Not always-- I hit my face on the metal shelving of the pantry last week, and my head on the bathroom mirror.

I also do scary stuff, like get into my pain medication thinking it's Benadryl or something else. I recently woke up with six 100 mg morphines in my hand, thinking in the dream that it was Benadryl I needed to take, but thankfully I was lucid enough upon snapping awake that I realized what was going on and put them back. I get food out and leave it.  I open windows and surf Facebook and all kinds of shit, and it TERRIFIES me. What if I buy stuff without waking up or remembering? I don't have any spending money! That could be bad.and screaming while I hobble down the streets of downtown naked and slicked up with mayonnaise, which I'm allergic to.

In a "dream sequence" that I vaguely remembered upon waking, I had--for some very legitimate reason, I swear--gone into the kitchen, pulled out my husband's new package of bratwurst, opened up the plastic covering, then left the whole thing sitting on the cutting board. If Corey hadn't checked the kitchen before going to bed they would have been out all night and spoiled! (He woke me when he came to bed with a forceful yet bewildered, "What's wrong with you, woman?!?") Two days ago I found a strawberry in the pot and pan cupboard. Fortunately, it had only been there for a day or less. I'm not sure when it got there, or why, but it was there all right… and it was delicious! :)

 So there you have it.What might I possibly do to myself during these "episodes"? I'm scared to sleep, but the more I stay up and try not to, the worse it gets. I called my neurologists office, and when I explained the situation to his assistant A, she was freaked out and said that she'd talk to the doctor immediately, when he was done with what had him busy at that time. So she sent him a note, and now I've got a referral to some place here in town to do a sleep study. They want to see if I have narcolepsy, because these symptoms are awfully similar. In a perverse way, I was glad to hear the concern in A's voice and to see how seriously she took my phone call.  Corey has been annoyed by it, sometimes even amused, but he doesn't seem to think it's that much of a big deal. I had been minimizing it as not so bad, but I knew, I knew, that it is not something to ignore. It's a scary thing, and I could get seriously hurt one of these days. A recognized this a well, and obviously my doctor did too, because the call from A informing me about the referral came only 2 or 3 days after my initial phone call. For those of you who might be professional patients, you know that this time frame is practically unheard of when dealing with the medical system! The cogs move ever so slowly, but this was rapid fire. I'm grateful. The symptoms of this sleep-problem, however, wax and wane, so I'm really anxious about the test, hoping that I'll be malfunctioning during the test so they can see exactly what's going wrong instead of sending me home with a clean bill of health, as so often happens. (On paper, I'm really quite healthy! Oh EDS, you so stealthy!)

The extra-exhausting fatigue appears to be returning, as I slept the entire afternoon and evening away, after being awake for only 2, maybe 3 hours this afternoon. I've been up since 12:30 a.m., and Corey and I took a walk together, which was so nice! Work tires him out so much that he is in no mood to walk anymore, mostly because he's been on his feet and moving around all day. I don't blame him a bit. His feet hurt when he gets home, and I totally understand that. But we walked tonight, and it was very nice. So anyway, back to the fatigue. Yes, it's here, at least for today, but I doubt that it'll confine itself to only one day. I've been tired down to my bones for a long time, and now I just feel… heavy. Maybe the cycle of fatigue and sleepwalking is starting over again, and I just gotta hope that the timing is right for that sleep study to see what they need to see.

Other than this weird medical stuff going on, I'm doing okay mentally and emotionally. I am honestly excited for the challenge of growing up and into myself while so many diseases attempt to thwart my efforts. I mean, when I was relatively "healthy" (been sickly all of my life, and now that I know about the EDS a lot of my childhood makes so much sense to me now), it was pretty easy to express myself in my outward appearance and my activities. Now both of those have been compromised, and I must find new avenues with which to not only express my true self, but to have fun in life and to help other people who are hurting very badly. I tend to think of hurting people metaphorically, but maybe I'm supposed to help the literally hurting as well. I've gotten much encouragement on that subject. We shall see. Life will unfold at its own pace, and not before. I know it sounds all trite and cliched, but it really is all about taking life one day at a time. How can I know that I'll be alive in 3 months? There is no way. And if I try to think about the future and what I can or feel that I need to accomplish, or if I think a certain way about the past, it is then that I feel hideous and lazy and basically an awful specimen of humanity. I can't let myself think like that or send those messages to my psyche. It's twisted and tormented enough from all of the abuse I endured until I was old enough to move on by myself, and I don't need to make myself hurt even more. I would never say the terrible things that I think to a loved one, or even to a random stranger on the street (though I have a few nemeses that I totally would heap the verbal abuse on! *grin* The point is, if I can't say those things to other people, where do I get off abusing and harassing myself like that?

I practiced that "in the moment" stuff today. Day two of strictly couch time (though I did do dishes last night), and the temptation to lay into myself was strong. There was so much I could be doing, I have this many things on my checklist, god I'm lazy, I'm being a wuss so I need to suck it up and go achieve something, I'm not really that sick, etc. etc. So basically I made the decision to say "fuck that noise", and I continued watching my movies and taking my nap that turned into an 8 hour sleep. The urge to hate myself for not just pushing through feeling crappy is so strong, especially because it's not some cold or flu that I can nurse for a while and then return to the world perfectly refreshed, restored, and ready to rumble. Nope-- this'll be here for the rest of my life. So why coddle myself? And yet… there are times when I do push through and get stuff done, but it's because I WANT to, not because I've guilted or hated myself into it. Hating myself into doing something will generally lead to resentment, and that's just the first step onto the merry-go-round of Hell. 

What I've discovered is that, basically… I'm a grown adult and can do what I want! Whether that's spending the day on the couch with movies and tea and my cats or doing laundry and sweeping the house before answering mail, it all comes back to doing it of my free will and not letting myself lose my boundaries or letting them be breached--breached by my own self. How weird is that?! I'll tell ya, it's hard to find the balance that you need to be happy and productive while still being "lazy" because you need to be. And trying to find that balance is exactly the sort of thing that has led to a silent blog. Well, that and fingers too stiff and painful to type. That's a sticking point for sure.

Oh, quick side note: I have a mental health evaluation for disability on the 10th of this month, so I'm kinda nervous but mostly happy. This means that they didn't just reject me out of hand! Yippee! But I've also heard horror stories about how these things go, with obviously and legitimately disabled people being turned away without receiving the help they need. Most everyone has told me to lie, embellish how sick I am, because otherwise I won't get disability. I shudder to think that the system is so far gone that this is standard advice from experienced people. When I say that I won't and don't lie, they backpedal to "Well, just exaggerate then". That… isn't as repulsive, but I still don't feel comfortable doing it. I say that if I am exactly myself and they turn me away, then I will just appeal again and again and again until they are sick of me and give me the money to get me to go away ;) (Shawshank Redemption. Who says movies don't teach you anything?) I have strong speaking skills, and I know that I can be very descriptive and good with words when trying to communicate a point, so I'm counting on that to tip the balance in my favor. I'm told that I'm quite charismatic. Here's hoping it works! The inspector is a woman, and I have this mental image of an older blonde woman in a navy skirt suit, thin, wrinkled face, no trace of humor anywhere, lips pursed, very observant (hawk gaze) and totally crisp and pointed in conversation. I imagine her to be very intimidating. I wonder if my imagination will prove true? I'll have to let you know, of course :)