Afford to Live

My husband and I have been fighting a lot more than normal.  It’s because my health insurance premium has skyrocketed this year.  Even though we are both moderately successful 30-somethings, we cannot afford for me to have health insurance.

I don’t know that this means for me or us.  I think he’s considering divorce – we didn’t even make it a year – I can’t work and treat the CRPS at this time and now, I can’t afford to treat the CRPS with or without health insurance… So I am literally fucked.

 

I looked into insurance for just me, but since Trump announced the government would not be offering insurance companies subsidies for lower premiums, I only have 2 options $103 a month with a $10,000 deductible and $50,000 out of pocket or $1,200 a month with a $2,500 deductible and $10,000 out of pocket.

If the next step passes and the provision for insurance for small businesses passes, I’ll go bankrupt, because everything I have is a pre-existing condition… which means nothing will be covered.

Sadly, I literally cannot afford to be alive. I make too much to get disability or Medicaid in my state, which would help, but I have serious issues working in an office – fluorescents trigger migraines in me.  Plus, I can’t focus, concentrate, deal with stress, stand very long, walk very far… Who the fuck would hire me when they know I can’t do any of these things?

Good lord, what the fuck are people supposed to do?

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Addiction Issues

My father is a recovering alcoholic.  I can say that because he doesn’t care about his anonymity.  He’s proud of his 34 years of sobriety and frankly, so am I.  It’s his greatest achievement.

As I navigate the world of chronic pain disorders, I am struck by how many medications are addictive.  I recently started Lyrica and there’s a risk of dependency.  I’ve been taking clonazepam for 18 years.  I’ve been taking butalbital for 10 or so to help treat my migraines.  I also take Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine).  Of my daily meds, the only one without an addiction warning is the cyclobenzaprine…

Yet, I seem to only have 2 addictions: nicotine and caffeine.  I can go weeks at a time without taking my clonazepam.  It helps me sleep, but I have this irrational fear of med mixing myself to an accidental death, so when I start screwing around and adding new meds, especially medications that impact my central nervous system (like Lyrica) or meds like Tramadol that screw with my seratonin levels or even opiates, I tend not to take my clonazepam.

I don’t have withdrawal symptoms.  My anxiety doesn’t heighten until I have been completely off it for months – at which point I suffer from a touch of agoraphobia and paranoia.  Which I had before I started taking the clonazepam, so I might just be returning to my natural psychological state at that point and it may not be a side effect of not taking my benzodiazepine.  As a matter of fact, I go off it often enough, that in a six month period, I always lose at least one month worth of prescription due to the cutoff date… sometimes, it’s two months.

Butalbital is a barbiturate and also addictive. I don’t need it to function.  It doesn’t cause rebound migraines.  I don’t have withdrawal migraines if I don’t take it.

Here’s the thing, opiates don’t make me feel good.  Just like my butalbital doesn’t make me feel good.  My clonazepam does, so if I was going to be addicted to meds, it would be that one. Opiates mostly make me feel like I need a nap.  Since I always seem to need a nap right now that isn’t an improvement in my situation and I don’t crave them.  I do like it when they help the pain by either bringing it down from a 600 to a 7 or when it makes it so I don’t limp… but it isn’t something I enjoy taking and I don’t know that I would get addicted to them anymore than my clonazepam.

Yet everyone is taking up pitchforks to fight addiction.  Except, I didn’t end up on any of these drugs without some serious and careful experimenting.  When I found out that if the Lyrica doesn’t help, my only other option is Cymbalta, I started to cry.  I can’t take SSRIs… actually, I can’t take any of the 4 classes of antidepressants.  That is why I take clonazepam for my anxiety instead of one of those.  Gabapentin has less chance of addiction than Lyrica, but it made me suicidal and weepy.  Hence the change to Lyrica.  So far the biggest side effect is drowsiness, but I take it with a muscle relaxer, so that might be more muscle relaxer than Lyrica.

Does anyone stop to think about the people those pitchforks are affecting?  My Vicodin prescription which treats the pain in my hips as well as the pain in my back from the torn disk in one of the lumbar vertebrae isn’t covered by insurance anymore because my prescription is for 30 tablets, more than insurance allows… So I pay for it out of pocket, I have to, because I get to the point where I am in so much pain, even my clothes hurt touching my skin and it feels like I have giant kidney stones in both kidneys (that’s a disk problem – yay torn disk!).  My doctor gave me samples of the Lyrica because he is going to have to fight with my insurance company to get it covered, for a couple of reasons: 1. there isn’t really a generic version yet and 2. it carries an addiction warning.

My primary care doctor has to see me every couple of months just to fill my clonazepam prescription because it’s a controlled substance.  Same on my butalbital.  I even had to fill out a questionnaire for my insurance company about why I take the meds and how effective they are for me.  Some of the questions were kind of invasive, especially on the clonazepam questionnaire.  I’ve also learned that any time I travel and take my clonazepam or butalbital, if I am stopped for any minor traffic offense, the police have the right to count my pills, they can also report any irregularities to the DEA… so if I should have 16 clonazepam left and I only have 15 because I had a really bad anxiety day, this is considered enough “abuse” that I can be reported to the DEA and have my prescription taken away.

All these laws to keep people from becoming opiate addicts are ridiculous, because I’ve done the research.  If I’m willing to drop the cash, I could have 120 Vicodin, Morphine, or Percocet delivered to my door overnight (I was researching for Ritual Dreams & Demonic Dreams).  It’s outrageously expensive and I would never buy illegal drugs over the internet, but they exist in massive easy to access quantities.  All we’ve really done is make it harder for law abiding citizens with real pain problems to get access to medications to help them.  I feel like we are all getting a middle finger and being told to suck it up by those in charge.  My research also turned up Xanax, Klonopin, and a host of other addictive non-opiate drugs that can be bought on the internet without a prescription and cause fatal overdoses in higher quantities in the US than opiates.

Sometimes, I feel like we are creating more problems than we are fixing. Sometimes, I also think we should just bring back the days of laudanum and say to hell with it.  People will be opiate addicts even if every doctor in the US stops prescribing them.  They are mostly just hurting the people that need them, not the ones that are using them recreationally or abusing their prescriptions.

For Those Not in the Know

If you look at my Facebook or Twitter profile, they both say “protector of armadillos”.  This is because despite 6 Dysfunctional Chronicles, I have yet to kill a single armadillo…

While writing the third book in a series that was never supposed to happen, ie: The Dysfunctional Honeymoon, I needed something for Nadine to be afraid of that most people aren’t.  It took hours of brainstorming for me to figure it out… Armadillos.

They don’t seem scary.  But I have never seen a live one, just roadkill.  This is weird since I live in a state where armadillos do exist.  When I travel, I tend to text my bestie, Beth, every time I see a dead one on the side of the road.

This meant that adding them to the Dysfunctional Chronicles seemed perfect.  However, even though Nadine is terrified of them, I have never killed one and Nadine does live near a place where armadillos are beginning to infest.  They are among the fastest spreading invasive mammal in the world.  They have begun to adjust to cooler climates which is why they are moving north.  Ten years ago, we didn’t have armadillos in my home town.  Now I see them dead on the side of the road about once a month…

Which is why author C. Patt brought a huge smile to my face by sending me this sign:

armadillos.jpg

Never Do Anything Half Way

I was taught that if I was going to do something, I needed to give it my all.  That’s why I’m so hard on myself as a writer.  This is what I do for a living and I need to do it to the best of my ability, never compromise and just release something to release it.  I have to believe in it… except the first book of every series I have ever released, most of which I hate.

At the moment, I can’t give writing my all.  I’m easily distracted.  I have trouble staying focused.  It’s like the creative centers of my brain are being blocked by pain.  It’s why I’m taking some time off from writing.

In the meantime, I am working on other things.  One author has asked me to go through her book and check it for some historical accuracy.  She’s giving me a bit of money to do it which is nice.  I thought about offering that service to other authors, but I’m not sure how much demand is there for it.

I’m also selling Scentsy.  It doesn’t require my creative side as much as writing.  My critical thinking skills don’t seem to be impacted by the pain or the medications.

I’m doing all of this because I know that the longer it takes me to release a new book, the less money I’m going to make on book sales.  That’s how the world works.  Unless I am spending four or five hundred a month on advertising, I will see a decrease in sales around January.

Now, the universe might align between now and then allowing the creative part of my brain to start functioning again.  I don’t know.  But I want to be prepared in case it takes longer than three or four months for that to happen.  I do know that without other sources of income, I will end up needing a cardboard sign and a comfy camping chair to survive.

I haven’t abandoned my readers, I think of you daily.  I also think of the book I need to be writing daily.  It stresses me out that I stare at the page and wonder what the hell I’m supposed to be doing.  I’ve even stopped telling myself bedtime stories, something I’ve been doing all my life… it’s where Aislinn Cain and her merry band of misfits came from.

As you wait for Demonic Dreams to be finished, realize that the reason it is still not there is because I know I can’t make it what it should be.  It should be terrifying and fast paced, like Fortified Dreams, but so far the scariest part is a moose.  I’m also fairly certain that the ending is currently written into chapter 3 of the book, which sorta sucks. Raphael, Aislinn, and Gabriel deserve better than what I have given them so far. At some point, most of it will be deleted (the moose will stay, he lends something to Aislinn’s character).

Mostly Been Sleeping

My husband has been out of town since yesterday.  I have mostly been sleeping with my two wonderful pups who can’t seem to share a king size bed with me.  Last night, I had to sleep across the top because Lola the Destroyer wouldn’t move her 65-pound body out of my spot.  I tried moving her, but couldn’t… once she’s asleep, she is just dead weight.

Kelly has discovered that if a chair is left pulled out from the table, she can climb up there.  That’s fun and exciting and got her in some serious trouble tonight.

Thanks to someone’s wonderful donation, my Scentsy business is up and running.  I’ve made a little money and achieved a few of their beginner goals, which makes me happy.  I need something to distract me while I adjust to the Lyrica, Flexeril, and pain medication routine.

I attempted to write tonight, but got nowhere fast.  I feel a little off.  Today was my first day taking a full 150mg dose of the Lyrica and I think that caused me to be a little flightier than normal.  It isn’t helping with the pain yet, but I was told it could take a few weeks to build up in my system and bring my constant pain from a 10 or higher to a 6 or so.  It won’t work miracles, but I can live with a 6.

Most days, I think it would be better if my leg was amputated.  I know that sounds weird, but the pain I feel is hard to describe.  I try to explain it by saying I feel like a mean girl’s barbie doll.  Or that the drawing and quartering didn’t work.  For the last four months, I have been experiencing pain on a whole new level.  I used to think I was pretty pain tolerant, but not anymore.  I gave myself a Toradol shot over a week ago and the spot in my thigh where I injected it is still sore.  And yes, I have experience with self injections.  I’ve done it with migraine meds and allergy meds for most of my life.  Toradol isn’t my favorite thing to have injected, but I’ve had lots of them… a side effect of having migraines but not being able to take NSAIDs orally.  Usually they are only sore for a few hours.  The Toradol itself burns like fire as it’s injected and it can leave the spot sore, but nothing like what I felt this last time.  The awful burning medication was less painful than jabbing a needle in my skin.

I think what bothers me most is that my normally upbeat and optimistic pain management doctor wasn’t very optimistic or upbeat when we had a short discussion about the CRPS.  He told me I was going to have to make some serious lifestyle changes, including not throwing darts.  Standing is hard for me.  So is walking.  I’m considering getting a cane to help when the pain is bad because right now, I walk holding my hip joint like I expect it to fly out of my body with each step.

We had friends in town this weekend for a huge dart event.  I had made plans to go to a festival with one of them and the morning of I had to cancel.  There was no way I was going to be able to sit in a car for twenty minutes and then walk around a festival all day.  I felt bad because she mostly just sat at my house and played on her phone because I couldn’t go do anything. I was told that was pretty much what she wanted to do because she’d had a busy week, but I still felt bad.

November 4th and 5th we are supposed to go to Springfield.  I have concerns about it.  It’s roughly a 3 hour drive from our house, depending on traffic.  I know we’ll make a stop or two on the way down and on the way back, but I’m not sure I can sit for the ride without being put through hell.

Which brings me to another thing… Not this June, when my hip decided to swell up, but June 2016, I fell out of a raft and went under a tree root ball.  After that, I started having trouble with my legs.  The facet injections helped with that pain, but could it be that incident is what led up to the hip problem this year?  How long has this been coming on?  Or were my arthritic-like condition hands the start of the CRPS?  I was checked for Reflex Sympathetic Disorder when I was 22.  The test came back negative.  However, they didn’t find the cause for my pain in my hands.  It isn’t arthritis, but it feels like it.  Now that I know testing for RSD/CRPS isn’t always accurate, I can’t help but wonder if that was the start and if so, going under the root ball just exacerbated the condition I had but no one had named yet?

I’m tired of feeling broken.  I’m tired of the pain.  I’m tired of the stress the pain creates.  I have a wonderful support system in place and an awe-inspiring support group, some of them with CRPS, but I still have days where I want to scream at the world.  I’ll adjust and this will get better.  I’m a survivor, always have been.  I might rage at the world a bit while doing it,  but everyone needs a good emotional release every now and then.

The opiate crisis

It should really me the Benzodiazepine Crisis. I went looking for numbers the other day to talk to my doctor about using opiates to treat pain and it was a real eye opener.

I have been on a benzodiazepine for 17 years, I take clonazepam (Klonopin) for my anxiety disorder. They are addictive and I’ve known that for a long time – like it was one of the warnings given to me when I started using clonazepam. And the rate of addiction for clonazepam is smaller than for its family members alprazolam, diazepam, or lorazepam (Xanax, Valim, and Ativan in that order).

Abuse rates of benzodiazepines are higher than opiates. There are more accidental overdoses of benzodiazepines every year than opiates because they are “party drugs”. They work on anxiety by lowering inhibitions, so they can also be used as date rape drugs in heavy doses. Finally, there are more overdose deaths in the US every year from benzodiazepines than from opiates.

While the feel good drugs are monitored and restricted – it’s considered a last ditch effort for anxiety treatment – no one is limiting the number of prescriptions a doctor can write for them or talking about it on the news.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why we are getting tougher on opiates, but I am beginning to wonder if we picked the wrong drugs to have a crisis about.

It is easier to get Xanax than Vicodin. Chances of most people overdosing on legitimate Vicodin and Percocet are slim. However, it doesn’t take a ton of Xanax to depress the central nervous system and cause respiratory failure.

Hell, the max dosage of clonazepam for a 24-hour period is 2mgs. Yes, just two milligrams per 24 hours. Abusing it makes you feel good because that’s what it is supposed to do, even in small doses. Where as opiates make me feel sick even at normal, mild prescription rates of 10mgs every 6 hours. Oh and in high doses, benzodiazepines make you feel high just like an opiate… It’s no wonder that people are more likely to overdose on benzodiazepines than opiates. Benzodiazepines make you sleepy, but they also make you happy.

I feel like patients like me, with pain issues, are fighting a losing battle at the moment. As opiates become harder and harder to obtain and quality of life goes down as a result, then isn’t the opiate crisis specifically breaking the Hippocratic Oath? If a doctor can’t prescribe an opiate pain reliever when nothing else works, can they claim to be upholding the doctor’s cred Do No Harm?

Once again, those are the people truly hurt by trying to stop the opiate crisis: people in pain. They can’t get the meds they need to deal with their pain because the government sees all pain medication users as potential drug addicts and overdoses. They won’t legalize pot on a national level even though it often helps with the same pain that opiates help with. We are cutting off our noses to spite our face.

New Normal

Now that I have to adjust to life with new drugs and the constant pain, I’ve been thinking a lot today about normal.

Normal for me has never been normal for others. But I need normal, at least some form of normal for me to put my thoughts down.

Unfortunately, this means books will have to wait until I find my new normal. I can’t write in my current situation, I can barely think most days. Between the constant pain, which is normally a 9 or a 10, which is why I am out of Vicodin and can’t refill until the 7th of November and the figuring out drug side effects, my concentration is shot.

It could be a while. I will do my best to keep everyone informed and find my new normal as fast as possible, but it could be a few months.

As such, I have erased my goals and schedules for the rest of the year and won’t be setting new ones for a while.

My apologies. Bear with me while I sort myself out.

Pardon My Silence

My life sucks.  I apologize for being so quiet, but I feel like I am now burdening my readers as well as my friends and family.

I’ve been trying to adjust to taking gabapentin and flexeril to treat my pain.  I feel disassociated from reality all the time.  I have a break down about once a day where all I do is cry.  Sometimes it’s because I have trouble remembering how to do small tasks, like opening a damn Ziploc bag and not the one with the slider, but the ones that pull apart or because I can’t remember how to put my bra on – never thought I’d forget that, or because even though it takes the edge off the pain, I still can’t do a fucking thing and I feel like I’m a burden to everyone in my life.

I’m severely depressed.  I’m thinking about admitting myself to an inpatient program for a while.  But then I wouldn’t be home to help my mom take care of my great nephew, further enforcing the notion that I am a burden on my family.

I’m stuck in a cycle of self-loathing and anger.  I hate the meds.  They make me feel like shit.  Taking a nap doesn’t make me feel any better.  Staying awake doesn’t make me feel any better.  It’s not just the disassociation with reality that’s the problem, they actually make me feel sick.  I’m chronically tired.  I’m chronically confused.  I don’t enjoy doing anything. I can’t decide if that’s a side effect of the meds or the depression.

I tried to read a book the other day and even though it should have been easily understandable, I couldn’t follow it.  I wrote the damn thing and I don’t remember being told Elysium Drams is confusing and hard to follow.

It is now straining my marriage, although my husband has agreed that couples’ counseling could be helpful and he’ll go if I want.  I don’t want to talk to any of my friends.  I don’t want to be most days, which also makes me cry and that makes me even more tired.

Hopefully today, they figure something out and start doing something for me that doesn’t involve me not being able to remember my own damn name or becoming addicted to opiates, because that is the only other thing that gives me any relief is Vicodin… No, not true, my butalbital also helps the pain… Also addictive.  So much fucking fun.

#MeToo Statements

The Me Too statements flooding social media are not complaints, they aren’t whining statements meant to get us attention.

Their purpose is to remind others they are not alone and help break the culture of silence that surrounds sex crimes.

I occasionally wonder if my former step sister has kids and if she has molested them. I also wonder if I had spoken up at six instead of 26, if she would have gotten the help she needed because I’m pretty sure the reason she molested me was because she was also a victim of abuse.

Yes the statements are sad and uncomfortable to read or look at, but they are positive messages of support. They say: it is has happened to us, you are not alone. If you are currently being abused, speak up about it, we have your back.

Please stop acting like they are hostile statements of whining and bitching. They aren’t. They are among the most positive thing I have seen on social media for a long long time. If you see one and feel the need to comment or express some emotion give it a like or a love or a retweet. If you feel the need to comment, express support and love, not negativity. It takes a lot of courage to write those two little words.

Saddening

As I scrolled through my Facebook and Twitter feeds last night, I was saddened to see so many of the women in my life posting “me too.”

Sexual assault is a serious problem in society. It isn’t just boys being boys and no woman deserves it.

It’s a violation of our most basic right: the right to be. Because sexual violence, abuse, and assault take away a piece of our souls. Something inside us dies a little when we are victimized. And not just by our attackers, but by society as well.

I kept my mouth shut for a lot of years because I was sexually abused by another woman. My step sister was several years older than myself. I didn’t know what to do or how to tell people or what people would think of me when I did finally starting talking about it.

And I was right to be afraid. The first person I ever told responded with “it was just sexual experimentation.” At my expense. I was 6 years old and not interested in sexual experimentation. Hell, I didn’t even know what sex was yet, let alone what experimentation with it was.

The worst part, victims of sexual assault or abuse or more likely to become victims of it at later times in life.

So far, I’ve been lucky. I was only sexually abused by one person and it has never happened again. But I am not in the majority.

Even after therapy, I can see some of the effects continue to exist. It isn’t something you just “get over”. All of those ladies posting “me too” on social media are proof that they might be dealing with it, but it left some scars. Some it might have made stronger, some it might have weakened, I know at least one person it broke completely and she committed suicide in high school as a result.

It was my first taste of being powerless. It is something I have strived to never feel again. It’s also why I have trouble writing about sexual sadists and child killers in my books. The feelings of the victims hit too close to home for me, even if they are fictional characters.

In my opinion, sex based crimes should be treated like murder with no statute of limitations, because all victims feel a piece of them has been killed. Which is why I said it violates our most basic right “to be”. Rarely does the person we were before the crime survive. We are forever altered by the experience and often the woman that comes out the other side is different than the one we were before.

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