Friday, June 17, 2011

Taking care of Me day (179.0)

I had my first acupuncture appointment in 4 weeks today.  I mentioned in an earlier post this week that I think it must have been making a difference.  The 4 weeks off were probably a good test to confirm that yes, it is helping to keep my moods stable and my energy up.

The treatment I get is called GAM, which stands for Great American Malady.  My doctor studied under the acupuncturist who "created" (whatever that entails) medical acupuncture.  That guy created the GAM treatment.  It treats stress, anxiety, and exhaustion.  Think that's an accurate description of the American malady?

Speaking of which... I noticed today during the treatment* that when my mind wandered to future stuff I need to do, or wandered to stuff I'm worried about, I didn't feel it working.  When I brought myself back to the present, I could feel the needles and pulsating energy doing what they are supposed to do--bringing peacefulness to my mind and body.

I have left there more than once feeling completely high--or what *I* would call high, being that I've only tried pot once in my life and I hated it.  It is more like a runner's high, only without the sweat and exertion.  Or like the nose gas you used to get at the dentist's office. (Remember nose gas?  They gave it to me when I was a kid and had to have fillings.  I had never heard of Pink Floyd at age 9, but I remember my hands feeling like giant balloons in Dr. Witgen's reclined dental chair. And it was goooood stuff.)

Today I got into the relaxed state when I kept my mind in the present, for a good 20 minutes. I left feeling more centered, less stressed. 

I have my next appointment in 20 minutes with the nurse practitioner who prescribes meds at my therapists office. I had totally forgotten--she's not a psychiatrist, she's a nurse practitioner.  I am going to talk with her about the OCD, the mood swings that happen hour by hour some days, the intrusive thoughts, and not wanting to try yet another SSRI.  I also am having trouble regulating my sleep, so we'll talk about that, too. I'm not going to mention the bipolar spectrum stuff unless it makes sense to go there, or if she brings it up.

If she doesn't help me, my acupuncture doctor is a psychiatrist, who is in practice with his dad.  So, all is not lost if my appointment this afternoon is fruitless.

Busy weekend. VBS starts Sunday night, runs through Thursday.  I am teaching the 2-3 year olds.  I will have help  in the class room, but all the prep is on me.  Sophie is going to help me decorate and come up with craft ideas.

I didn't run this morning.  I was awake at 1:30 am and couldn't get back to sleep until 5 am.  Not going running on less than 4 hours of sleep, no thank you.

Vickie, my mom picked up Luke at day care today and took him to her house from there (Sophie is not going this weekend), so no scale conversation today.   I like it being out of my bathroom, though.  It's not staring me in the face every time I am in there (which is a lot).  I am still weighing myself regularly, as noted in my posts, so it being in Mark's bathroom (which is attached to our bedroom) is no biggie.

*Acupuncture consists of this--The room is like one you'd find in a massage place/spa.  He plays peaceful yoga-style music.  I strip to my undies, get under a sheet on my back.  He puts a pillow under my knees, and I have one under my head.  I like the eye pillow, so I am in complete darkness and don't watch the needles.  He puts needles in my feet, ankles, 1/4 up calf, inside knee bend, wrists (arms are facing up), inside elbow bend, 1/4 way up arm, three across stomach.  Then he attached electrical energy cords, turns it up until it's pulsing (I tell him when it's enough); if you've ever felt a tens machine, which manages pain through electrical stimulation, it's kind of like that.  He also lights some kind of fire stick (eyes covered, don't know what it looks like) then heats every needle point around my body, twice in succession.  Then he leaves, and I chill.  I try to relax every muscle in my face and body.  I try to focus on the present.  I repeat a chant if I can't stay in the moment.  It's what I use when I meditate, which is hardly ever but it happens when I need it.  "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy, on me,"--breathing in and out on the commas.  The deep breathing really works for me, too.


Laura N said...

Met with the nurse practitioner. I laid out my issues, she asked some questions, we talked about all the SSRI's I've taken and my experience with those and how I didn't want to take another SSRI, she mentioned a couple medications that were mood stabilizers that she has used with patients (she also works in the hospital and clinics with in-patient patients, which I didn't know and it reassured me of her experience).

She prescribed lamotrigine (generic for Lamictal). I'm starting at a very lose dose to avoid the side effect of a serious skin rash. Otherwise this drug has next to no side effects, and has good results for major depressives (which I'm not) and OK results for depressives and good results for mood stabilization.

I've got my fingers crossed. I meet with her again in a month.

Also, drug cost is a factor. My individual insurance policy doesn't include mental health benefits. She mentioned Abilify, which I quickly declined b/c I'm sure it's a fortune. Lamictal/lamotrigine has been generic for a few years, and it still cost me $75 for 45 25 mg pills.

My therapist's office doesn't even take Anthem, so if my policy had mental health benefits I'd still be paying out of pocket for therapy. But she's worth every penny.

Laura N said...

weight gain is NOT a side effect. That is the other driving factor in what I will take. I will not take a drug that is going to fight my ability to be at a healthy weight.

when I was researching meds this week, I read about Topamax as a treatment. It's gotten mixed reviews at best for bipolar/depression. What it does do is kill your appetite, and it also can make your brain cloudy. Jenette Fulda wrote about taking it for her migraine (it didn't work, but she stopped wanting to eat, which was a big reason she stopped taking it--she wanted to like the taste of her food again and wanted to think straight). Topamax is nicknamed the California drug (sorry Helen! :), because it makes you skinny and stupid. Sounds pretty good to me on some levels, but obviously I'm not going to take Topamax just to get skinny.

Vickie said...

did you think to call around to see if every pharmacy had the same price for your RX?

keep your 'playing field' as level as you can while you try this med.

Get your exercise in and keep your food clean and get to bed on time and drink your water, every day.

Otherwise you are not going to know what is what.

(I know that sounds like a no brainer. But keeping it all EVEN, every day, is an important part. And I think actually DOING THAT is new to most people).

It would be interesting to know how much of the accupuncture is the actual accupuncture and how much of it is
1. having someone take care of you,
2. meditative state,
3. positive viewpoint (this is working),
4. much needed time out built into your day

I am not at all saying that you shouldn't continue with it. I am a believer in pressure points and accupuncture is a pressure points with a twist. But you can duplicate all four of my points listed above on a daily basis. (You can be the person taking care of yourself.)

It sounds like you need daily meditation or daily yoga.

I get you have kids. I have kids. Learning boundaries (which is usually harder to teach the husband than the kids) is part of learning to be in a family.

glad you posted, was wondering how things had gone

Laura N said...

I called three pharmacies: Sam's was cheaper by $13/month, but I hate Sam's (too crowded & loud--the whole big box store oppression thing. I used to get my wellbutrin filled there and every month I dreaded it). Plus it's time to renew our $30 membership & I'm not sure I'm going to. The grocery store in town that has a pharmacy was $200/month. Walgreens has a loyalty program that saves money on meds that insurance won't pay for (it's $35/year for family); my husband takes one that we will save money on, too. The cost for my new med at Walgreens was $130 without the program, so I figure I got the best deal I was going to at $75.

Thanks for the reminder to stay even with everything else. Hopefully I can make that happen!

I think you are right--I need a daily "take care of me" ritual, that feeds my body & spirit. That's what running used to do for me. And it still can.

The cool thing about acupuncture is that it's been around for thousands of years. Gotta respect something that's been around that long. And I know, for myself, there's more going on with the treatment than anything I could do on my own--at least at this stage in my life. But, acupuncture IS about energy and opening the flow of energy in the body, and yoga can certainly do that, too.

Yoga and acupuncture are both Eastern practices...I'm sure there's no coincidence there. Those folks know so much that Western doctors are only starting to scratch the surface of, I'm sure.

The kids are getting easier, as they are getting older. It's more an issue of making time in my day for taking care of me. More & more, that's looking like it needs to be a morning thing. I also think it helps to get home earlier. When I pick up kids at 5:30 or 6 pm, the nights are rushed and exhuasting for everyone. When I have picked up Sophie from camp at 4 this past week (b/c I had to--no day care at this camp), we got home by 4:45 and it was so much better for us all.