A side. An emotional summer

3 Sep

Now that we have had the official last day of summer, I note with dismay that I haven’t written a single blog entry for the last few months. It has been a very odd summer, and I suppose I should write it all down. Where to begin? At the end of May, George discovered he had a hernia, and set up to have the operation almost immediately. AT the same time, I had a stubborn cold (the second long one of the year) and since my regular doctor wasn’t available, I had gone to a new doctor–well, a doctor we had gone to many years before. She determined that I had some kind of nasal obstruction and sent me to an ENT–a nose doctor–who made me have CT scans, and then determined that I had no obstruction but a deviated septum. She convinced me that I needed surgery to repair the septum, so I would breathe better. Reluctantly, I agreed. So George & I were scheduled for outpatient surgery about a month apart.

George’s operation went fine, and he came home thinking that insurance had been all taken care of, and he healed fast. Meanwhile, I talked to several people who had had operations for deviated septums, and got varying reports on the level of discomfort, and whether it was something they would do again.

As the time for the operation approached, I found myself getting increasingly anxious and depressed. Max came to visit about a week before I was to have the op, and by then I was having full blown bronchial asthma attacks–something I hadn’t had since I was a kid. The nose doctor put me on strong antibiotics and gave me an injection of prednisone. I had an immediate and strong reaction to that–full on anxiety attacks. Finally, I went back to my original doctor to get her opinion–in hopes, I realize, that she would talk me out of the operation. She did! I burst into tears. She wanted me to go on anxiety medications, which I was still resisting. But I knew that I was spinning out of control–I could feel that something was really off kilter, as I couldn’t control my emotions. Then I had more asthma attacks and, finally, a full on panic attack. I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t swallow. I had never had that happen before, although I now realize that my bouts of near-fainting while driving a year or so ago were indeed panic attacks. I decided I needed a therapist, and finally found one recommended by my nice yoga teacher (who is himself a psychotherapist). Attempts to find one in my insurance network failed, but I liked the one I found enough that I just decided to bite the bullet and pay for it.

I was hoping, of course, that the therapist would say I didn’t need meds, but nearly the first thing out of her mouth was “I think you should be on medications.” Sigh. So I gave in, realizing finally that this is a chemical imbalance, not a sign of psychological or moral weakness. I went back to my doctor, and said I needed some help–I agreed to try anti-anxiety meds, as long as the dosage was very low and, of course, not habit-forming. Everyone is aware of my recovering alcoholism. The doctor gave me Lexapro–which seemed to have an effect very quickly. A level of anxiety and fear and obsessive thinking just went away. I was amazed. The therapist also suggested I have Xanax–because it works so quickly on a panic attack–but I’m very leery of it, and haven’t had to use it at all–and hope not to. The psychiatrist I finally got to see also agreed that as a recovering alcoholic, I should not take Xanax, but my therapist believes I’m “hypervigilant” enough that I wouldn’t abuse it. I’m staying clear of it in any case.

So there you have it! A summer of emotional ups and downs. The next “down” was when George got a bill for $850 from the anesthesiologist for his operation! Despite making every effort possible to make sure the doctor and the hospital were in his insurance plan, his plan is saying that the anesthesiologist was not in plan! As if G. had any control over which one the hospital used! This is apparently the latest scam on the part of the insurance companies to get out of paying services. G. is now fighting it, in hopes that the amount will at lest be lowered. Absolutely maddening! This country’s health system is a shambles. We are trying not to let ourselves get too angry about this, but it really is enough to make us want to leave the country.

Now I am working with my therapist to find strategies to deal with anxiety. As a near Buddhist, her approach is to take up meditation, to work on relaxation techniques. Hmmm. I’m trying. She also had me write a letter to my mother–since a lot of my conversations with her ended up mentioning my mother, to my surprise. I’ll put up that letter in another entry soon.

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