Tag Archives: Genetics

DIAGNOSES~ MAKING PUZZLE PIECES FIT

Time has always been fuzzy for me. I’m never really sure when I was first diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder or the exact date I stopped drinking. I do know my Mom passed away in 2008 and after that I spiraled faster and faster towards self-destruction.

It didn’t take long before I had a DUI, my one best friend feared for my safety, and although I’d done worse this was different.

In less than 6 months my Primary Care Doctor suggested I see a Psychiatrist. She had been prescribing me antidepressants but thought something else was going on.

I was drinking almost the entire time I was taking antidepressants. I gave them a month and when nothing changed I couldn’t handle it. Alcohol was mostly a stimulant for me.

The Psychiatrist looked at my file and asked me a few questions. He diagnosed me as Bipolar I and we started trying different combos.

WHAT SHOULD’VE BEEN DONE

  • I was never given a Mental Status Exam.
  • I was never given a Neurologic Exam.
  • I was never given a CT, MRI, or EEG.
  • A full family history was never taken.

The biggest thing that should’ve been done is a family history.

I would always tell every Doctor I met with that my family has a history of mental illness. None of them wanted details.

Even the psychiatrist I have now has never asked for a detailed family history. He should have. It’s possible he has a few things wrong.

MY FAMILY HISTORY

I love most of my family very much but some of them I could do without. I don’t know my father’s side very well. They’re like him, not sociable or outgoing. They don’t show emotions or give hugs.

My Mom’s side is the opposite. They’re loud, affectionate, emotional, and all have some kind of issue.

There were 8 children total on my Mom’s side, one was given up for adoption before the others were born.

My Grandmother was never diagnosed with anything but I can give examples of behavior that point to something. She did drink occasionally. When she did she was like a sailor, playing cards and knife games. She could be cruel, deliberately pitting one child against another for her affection. She left them for awhile when they were all very young. My Mom quit school very early to help take care of her brothers and sisters.

Like many mothers, her sons were her favorites unless they were damaged. My Uncle Jimmy was in a car accident which left him in a coma for a short time. When he woke up he was different. It didn’t help that some friends slipped LSD into his drink in too large of a quantity. He became a different person and was left for the State to deal with. Drug induced Schizophrenia that became worse over the years with hallucinations. He was homeless and used Heroin to self medicate. He passed away from complications of pneumonia AIDS related.

My Aunt D was diagnosed as Paranoid Schizophrenic at a young age also. She had just had a baby. She left the baby with my Mom and was Institutionalized. She has been in and out of places for as long as I can remember. She was recently in the Hospital for Lithium toxicity. Her daughter disappeared a few years ago. She started hearing things and believing people were following her. She was living in a tent in the woods somewhere in Florida. No one has heard from her in 3 years.

My Uncle B is an alcoholic and as far as I know that’s it. His daughter has recently had problems with her mental health. I haven’t been told what the diagnosis is. I was told some of the situations she had been in and they sounded familiar. His son is an alcoholic.

My Auntie J is an alcoholic in remission for a few years now. I’m sure there are other things going on but I don’t ask. Her daughters have both had issues with alcohol.

My Mom had a virus while pregnant with my sister and I, women infected with the influenza virus during their pregnancy are more likely to give birth to children who will develop Schizophrenia.

My older brother is an alcoholic and addicted to gambling. I’m told he was polite and quiet as a child. I remember him always getting into fights at school and eventually he was expelled. He’s done many things that rational people don’t do. He was stationed in Germany while in the Army and decided one day he hated it and hopped on a plane and came home. He caused a 2 hour car chase in the middle of the night going the wrong way on a highway. He was married with children at this point. He’s impulsive, too smart, can’t hold a job and it’s never his fault. Both of his daughters are drug addicts. One has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD. The other I don’t know about because no one talks to me about her. 

The brains of Schizophrenics also contain larger fluid filled areas than other people. I happen to have this in one area of my brain.

There’s also the problem of reduced brain volume (Gray Matter) which on my last scan 10 years ago it said “significant loss of gray matter for patient’s age”. There was also loss of white matter which is connected also.

SCHIZOAFFECTIVE DISORDER

Schizoaffective Disorder is a hybrid of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. There is a chemical imbalance in the brain. There are usually different types of the disorder.

Similar to Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder can have a Manic Type and a Depressive Type.

Manic Type: Elevation of mood, not sleeping much, concentration is affected, talking too fast, unrealistic ideas. In later stages speech can be incomprehensible. You become irritable and neglect your health.

Depressive Type: Sad all the time, lose interest in what you once loved, loss of motivation/energy, taking care of your personal appearance or hygiene. Irrational anger or fearful response to loved ones. Increasing withdrawal from society.

There is a third type mentioned where you have both. It’s considered Bipolar Schizoaffective Disorder. This doesn’t make sense to me but what do I know?

For some reason more women than men are affected and with women it’s usually the Depressive Type.

Early onset or having a family member with Schizophrenia usually leads to a poor prognosis.

Now I wonder if Doctors have it wrong once again. Looking at my history and seeing that Schizophrenia shows up often and I had a virus in my brain while my mother was still pregnant with me, it would make more sense. I don’t think I’ve heard voices. I have had a hallucination or two brought on by medications, alcohol and I think nearly dying when my kidneys failed. Do those count?

What I know is that I’m not getting better. I’m going backwards. I was better a few years ago.

Now, I don’t leave the house, no one talks to me, I’m isolated, I do get crazy ideas but it’s ok because I’m too afraid to act on them. I want to get dressed up and go to a concert but I can’t. I want to fly to Vegas, L.A., N.Y., but I can’t. It would mean leaving the house. Expending energy to pack and do my hair and make up. Judas Priest is coming to the Casino and I usually go. I’ve never been as a thin person. I could wear whatever I want. Even that isn’t enough to get me going. The lead singer for Buckcherry is coming to Providence and I love him. He’s a mash up of Denis Leary and Steven Tyler. It’s a small place and the tickets would be free. Guess what? I don’t feel like it.

RIDICULOUS!schizophrenia-5-638

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PSYCHIATRY 101 (Kind Of)

CLARIFICATION OF TERMS/VOCABULARY

I thought I knew what most of the language being used around me or in medical reports meant. Turns out I was wrong and so were a few of my Doctors. It’s obvious who keeps up with new research/education/diagnostic criteria and who doesn’t. All you have to do is look at some of the exams used in 2017 for Psychology/Sociology/Psychiatry/Neurology/Pharmacology to see there has been a change in thinking.

PSYCHOLOGY: The scientific study of behavior that is tested through scientific research.

SOCIOLOGY: The study of human social groups and society.

PSYCHIATRY: The study, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, of mental health disorders.

PSYCHOLOGIST VS PSYCHIATRIST: The each have different approaches and degrees/licensing. Psychologists are nonmedical professionals who train in methods of Psychological Testing, Psychotherapy, Analysis, and Research. The can not prescribe medications or ECT. Psychologists look at behavior and track sleep patterns, eating patterns, and negative thoughts. Psychiatrists do have medical degrees and graduate from medical school. Psychiatrists tend to look at biology and neurochemistry ruling out vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems or other medical reasons for mental health issues before making a diagnosis.

I’m going to focus on Psychiatry/Psychiatrists for now. It can be overwhelming when you read all of it so I’ll stick to the basics. These are some things I didn’t know and was afraid to ask.

What is the DSM?

The DSM (volume 5 now) is the standard classification manual of mental disorders published by the AMA (American Medical Association). A Psychiatrist basically uses this more for billing than anything else. When it comes to Psychiatric Disorders there is no one size fits all so they come as close as they can.

NOS

NOS means Not otherwise specified, again more of a billing thing and because you might show most of the symptoms of a disorder but not all of them but the Doctor is certain that you probably will in the future.

INVOLUNTARY ADMISSION

If you are admitted to a Psychiatric facility involuntarily you must be released in 72 hours. A probate hearing needs to happen within the 72 hours if they want you to remain an impatient involuntarily.

YOUR RIGHTS

As a patient you have the right to refuse treatment (including medications), the right to privacy, to keep personal items (except in cases of self harm), enter into legal contracts, and informed consent. It’s important to know this. I always felt I didn’t have the right to ask questions because they were the Doctors and more educated than me. But there were many times I should’ve spoke up and didn’t. This only added to my problems.

When you feel you are being held against your will and someone threatens to keep you as long as they want if you’re not a “good girl” it’s demeaning and terrifying to say the least.

To find out what is going on a Mental Status Assessment is done which is a view of Psychological Function in time that changes interview to interview. Doctors also use the following:

GENERAL APPEARANCE: grooming, how a person is dressed, hygiene, eye contact, posture, appearance vs stated age. (If you show up in your pajamas and you haven’t showered in weeks and are shuffling into the office most likely it isn’t going to go well)

ATTITUDE: (toward examiner) cooperative, warm, friendly, suspicious, guarded, hostile, apathetic, distant, combative, aggressive, seductive. (Pretty sure if you act seductive you’re receiving that 72 hour hold. Same with combative. I’ve been distant, guarded, hostile and cooperative I think)

BEHAVIOR AND ACTIVITY: Psychomotor Retardation (medical term), restless, agitated, hyperactive, tremors, tics, unusual movements/gestures, catatonia, gait and coordination. (I’ve had all of these at one time or another. It took a long time to figure out it was mostly due to my brain and trauma)

SPEECH AND LANGUAGE: Clarity, Speed, Volume, Relevancy, Pressured, Hesitant, Coherence and Fluency (So I really don’t do well in this department. If I am manic I will talk fast and go from topic to topic, I will also repeat myself. If in a depressive episode my voice is quieter, I have trouble finding words and if it’s a really bad day I will stutter or hesitated before saying a word. Either way it’s embarrassing when I’m in public I usually have to sit in my car and cry for a little bit before I can drive.)

THIS IS IT FOR NOW BUT THERE WILL BE MORE. I HOPE PEOPLE ARE INTERESTED. I ENJOY LEARNING AND RESEARCHING I ALSO DON’T THINK I’LL BE TRAVELING ANYWHERE SO I NEED A PROJECT. BBA3eDB

 


RICKETS, SPINAL STENOSIS, OSTEOARTHRITIS, & A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE

960ab49b065b1e31d26a566fb4959679I’ll start with what I have been diagnosed with and know for sure is accurate. There are a lot of big words with small definitions and some with more complicated explanations. I’ll try not to put you to sleep.

  • Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Familial Hypophosphatemia (vitamin D resistant Rickets)
  • Bilateral Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

I have had problems with my back since my late teens. I never really thought about it. Most of my family has back problems. Mostly on my mom’s side.

My mom went to many, many, doctors. Almost all of them told her if she lost weight her pain would go away. I did not want the same said to me. So I ignored the pain.

In my late twenties I had begun to have back spasms and in my right hip I could hear a clicking when I walked. The spasms sometimes left me stuck in one place for long periods of time. When I was eventually stuck on the bathroom floor for 5 hours I decided it was time to see the Doctor.

There were X-rays taken and tests done. The verdict at the time was I was riddled with Arthritis in my hips, pelvis, and lower back. My Doctor also mentioned that a Hip Replacement wouldn’t be too far off. Hip Replacement? I was only in my late twenties.

There wasn’t much to be done about the Arthritis but deal with it. It wasn’t until my 30’s that things took a turn for the worse. I was working 50-60 hours a week, my mom had just passed away, I wasn’t taking care of myself, and I decided to lift a giant TV from the floor to about a foot above my head. Not one of my best ideas. I knew as soon as it happened. It felt like when you hit your funny bone only not funny.

Like everyone in my family except my mom, I waited to go to the Doctor. When I did she sent me for every test possible and while waiting for the results physical therapy. I managed a few sessions of physical therapy but when my back seized in the parking lot they refused to touch me. One of the therapists asked if my Doctor had talked to me yet. It had been a month. I told her no. She looked frustrated and said she couldn’t touch me until she knew what was going on. I gave her permission to call the place that did the imaging. The look on her face as she listened said it all.

A ruptured disc, 2 bulging above and 2 bulging below plus a lot more other problems that would have to be worked on. Who doesn’t let their patient know immediately that they are walking around with a ruptured disc in their back for over a month? I wasn’t happy.

I finally got answers. Some of it is genetic, some of it is because I have Celiac Disease and my immune system plays a part but it’s been a long road.

Osteoarthritis- cartilage between joints breaks down causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. The bones can over time break down and develop spurs. Towards the end stages cartilage wears away to nothing leaving bone on bone. I was told by one Doctor that once you reach the bone on bone stage the pain lessens. Doesn’t quite sound right but what do I know?

Degenerative Disc Disease- Discs help absorb shock between the bones of the spine and help the back stay flexible. These rubbery discs can shrink and lose flexibility causing pain. If the disc is dried out it can’t repair itself and will deteriorate. This happens mostly in the lower back and the neck.

Osteoporosis- When tissue breaks down faster than it can be replaced in bones. This makes the bones thinner and more likely to break. It also causes loss in height.

Spinal Stenosis- This is a narrowing of the spinal column that can press on the nerves in the spine causing neck and back pain. It also causes numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, or pain going down the leg. To diagnose this they usually do a MRI, CT, and Bone Scans. I also had a liquid dye injected into my spinal column so they could see what was going on more clearly.

Familial Hypophosphatemia-  This is a somewhat rare inherited disorder. It has to do with impaired transport of phosphate and altered vitamin D metabolism in the kidneys. Phosphate may not be well absorbed in the kidneys, in others the intestines. It causes softening of the bones, arthritis, spinal stenosis, and hip problems. Other adult symptoms are muscle cramps, bone spurs, dental problems, and hearing issues.(aka vitamin d resistant rickets)

I’ve had 5 Epidurals, a TENS machine, Physical Therapy, and medications I can’t take.

No one will do surgery because of a “domino effect” and that’s ok. I’m more worried about my neck now. I knew the stenosis went to the top of my spinal column but I’m hoping that isn’t what’s causing the pain. First thing in the morning I have to lift my head off my pillow with my hands because my neck is in too much pain.

W’s mom had similar problems with her neck and had to have discs replaced with cadaver bone. It was a long recovery. But she’s great now. I think it’s advanced since then. I would get second and third opinions before surgery and it wouldn’t be in my state.

You have to get second opinions. One Physician’s Assistant kept telling me my back pain was due to my mother’s death. She kept referring me to a Therapist. I know pain and the brain and can go together. I had enough finally and exploded. “My mother’s death didn’t cause a ruptured disc, bulging discs, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, areas of my spine to be bone on bone or for me to go from 5’7″ to 5’6″ in a f*cking year!”. I never went back there for some reason.

Do your research but don’t over do it like I do. Always get a second opinion before surgery specifically with your back or neck. And never let the Doctor tell you what to do. There is no magic fix. Everything I read says Physical Therapy and Medications to ease Inflammation. As a last resort they will recommend surgery but most Doctors would advise against it unless absolutely necessary.


FROM THE BEGINNING ( ALCOHOL AND MENTAL ILLNESS~ From Junior High to

JUNIOR HIGH

My time in Junior High has gaps. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t want to remember or if I can’t. It is possible it’s both. I wasn’t the tallest in my class but close to it. I did have the biggest breasts and was the 2nd or 3rd largest concerning weight.

I met my soon to be bestfriend W in the 6th grade but we never had classes together. It wasn’t that I was unintelligent. I didn’t have patience to study anything I wasn’t personally interested in. W did what they told her. She scored higher on tests and was placed in classes for students that were headed in a “College” direction. I wasn’t. They didn’t put me in a class where students ate paste either. By the time I had arrived at 6th grade I had already read and understood books like Lord of The Flies, The Call of The Wild and various Edgar Allen Poe tales. My brother left his books for High School around the house and I read them if I was bored.

They didn’t know what to do with me. I scored off the charts for reading and comprehension but not so well in Geography, Math, or History. Go figure.

If anyone was to give me a map of the United States but left it blank and I had to fill in where all the states were, I promise you it would be a disaster.

I’m not very good with directions either. I have to turn down the radio to see where I’m going. It’s sad.

Young Adults are cruel little animals. I’m not sure if it’s the pre-pubescent hormones, home situations, social class, clicks, or if even the teachers should be held accountable. I do know that what was said and done to me and countless others should never have been allowed to go on for so long. The human mind can only take so much before breaking or shutting down completely.

Bus rides were particularly unpleasant. There was a boy with orange/red hair on our bus.  He threw rocks at my sister and I. My brother was good for a few things. Scaring the shit out of people was one of them. My sister never bonded with my brother. Right from the start they butted heads. Rocks were being thrown in her direction but the hateful words were meant for me. I told my brother and he came out to the bus stop the next morning. Problem solved. Of course my sister wasn’t happy. She didn’t want to involve the person who had now become the “bully” and was feared by most people. The person she spoke about talked to me for hours and let me talk about how I felt hours. He didn’t think I was being a stupid kid. He knew my fears and pain were real because he felt them. In a year or two he would choose to numb his feelings with drugs and alcohol ripping our family apart. Until then he was my protector.

The boy with the red hair had moved. Unfortunately he moved where there was a girl with a bigger target on her back. I was lucky enough to have straight white teeth, eyes the color of the ocean that sometimes became lighter, and for someone as overweight as I was it didn’t show as much in my face. This poor girl came from a family that had given up on everything a long time ago. She was probably 275-300 pounds, her hair never looked or smelled clean, her clothes didn’t either. The boy had no compassion or mercy. I have no idea how or why there was a broom on the school bus. One day she had enough. She picked up the broom and wacked him over the head with it. At first everyone was quiet. Then blood started to pour down the middle of his forehead. He just looked confused. The medics and police came. No one asked us what happened. I wish they had. While I don’t condone violence everyone has a breaking point.

You ignore things so much it becomes a natural response. You grow a callus where your feelings should be. What you don’t know is that it’s all being put in storage for later. You might not feel it at the time, but you will later, when you least expect it.

I loathed all dances but went with W, my sister and her friends, anyway. I would stand as far from the light as possible. I had a habit of constantly pulling at my clothes as if they didn’t fit. The reality was I wore everything 2 sizes bigger than I was. I thought it would hide everything. I kept pulling my shirts down to hide my ass and front even though the shirt was already to my knees. I never wore anything that came higher than mid thigh. My brother jokingly said one time ” Do you even have an ass? Just saying sis cause those shirts are bigger than mine.”. He was trying to help in his way and I wasn’t mad. He was the only one who noticed what I was doing.

I stayed in the shadows for as long as I could. Then High School came.

Scientists believe when an inmate is sent to prison for any long period of time, that person stops maturing and stays at the intellectual and maturity level they were at when incarcerated.

They now believe the same is true for Alcoholics and Drug Addicts. As soon as you start to habitually use/abuse a substance you’re stunted intellectually and socially. 10131616112.jpg.jpg

I believe them.


STILL LEARNING

I think at a certain point in your life you come to realize that the things you always thought were true were really just your perception of the truth. You realize that those you once put on a pedestal are actually humans who have made big mistakes and wrong decisions just like you.

As my father grows older this has become increasingly clear. I’m not ignorant about my dad. I know he’s an alcoholic. He stopped drinking when I was about 10 or so. My memory isn’t very clear. I do remember him losing his car somewhere and standing in the doorway looking like death. I also remember him slapping my mom one night. It was the first and last time that ever happened. My mother drank with him and stopped when he stopped. She had given him an ultimatum. He either quit drinking or he wouldn’t have a family. He quit that day and never even had a sip of alcohol since.

Unfortunately my dad never talked to anyone about why he drank. He never understood why he drank. I never thought about it because I was busy drinking myself.

My dad has extreme anxiety and social phobia. He has an extremely hard time in crowded places. When people first meet him they think he’s mean or uneducated. People who really know him know that he’s quite the opposite. He has a crazy way with children. They are drawn to him for some reason. He’s so good with them it breaks my heart that he doesn’t see his grandchildren because he has survivor’s guilt.

My father and I are a lot alike. We both suffer from extreme anxiety, social phobia, self-medicating with alcohol, isolating ourselves, and lashing out at those closest to us.

I attended a wedding in Naples, Florida when I was 18. A man was there who knew my father when they were young. He said to me “I really thought your father would’ve pursued his art he’s got so much talent. Hell he could’ve even made a ton of money doing tattoos if he wanted.” I didn’t know what the hell the guy was talking about. When we returned home I asked my dad about it. He called the guy a few colorful names and then said that he did sketch and paint. He then showed me some of his work. Some of his work is missing which makes me mad but I can’t do anything about it. The Jungle Cat he did for me after I asked him about his painting.


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