Well, it's been a week since I've blogged. I'm sorry because I know some folks check here to see how I'm doing and, thus, I've sort of left you hanging!
The first part of last week was really pretty bad for me, but from about Wednesday on, I started feeling better than I have in a long, long time. The pain in my legs and feet started to go away, at least, the most intense part of the pain. It's still there, but not like it was. When the pain is not there, I don't feel as weak, and I feel like I could actually build up some strength in the future.
It's funny, when you are in constant, chronic pain, it's so hard to see anything very bright about the future. And if you are getting worse, it becomes very difficult to have a happy outlook. You just hold on by faith, tooth and nail, just believing that a better day will soon arrive.
But just give me one good day, or less, and my mind starts thinking immediately about how the future could be, how maybe next year I could do a little hiking again, maybe do a little work, maybe get a miniature horse for the back two acres. It's the indomitable human spirit...I have a book about ranching and it's called "Next Year Country." It tells how ranchers and farmers are always fighting the battle of bad calf crops or droughts by saying, "Next year, it'll be better." That's how I've been feeling.
But, oh, the first of the week was bad and I had thoughts of truly wishing I could be with my Dad in Heaven.
A topic hard for me to write about is depression. And antidepressants. But a discussion of my journey through injury and partial recovery would not be complete without a mention of this.
I always had such an even keel on my emotions. I never could imagine needing medications to get through a day emotionally because I was one of those people who appreciated even the most minute detail of that day. I smiled a lot, joked a lot, laughed a lot. And felt happier than I ever even let on.
Suddenly, my injury happened. And with it came brain damage, and no one to help me understand all that I was dealing with. I had no understanding of the seriousness of my injury and no one to explain, or even admit, that I had suffered brain injury. It was a very tough, lonely road.
Eventually, after extensive neuropsychological testing, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was told that this is a diagnosis that is too-often given to patients, but that it applies to those who have been close to death or seen death.
I fought very hard against any diagnoses such as depression or PTSD or PCS (post concussion syndrome). I was a cowboy and I was tough. I could handle this myself. And anything like depression or anxiety was a sure sign of weakness, something I would not allow myself to believe I could have.
And besides, I'm on the edge of a generation that believes that anti-depressants are for drug seekers. Many of my peers probably still feel that way. It is a taboo subject still today. I know it is, because it is hard to write about it right now as it applies to me. I mean, I have all the compassion for someone else who needs to take ADs. But myself? Let's not mince words. There is still a bit shame.
Finally, my doctor and my therapist talked me into trying an AD. The first one wasn't right for me, but the 2nd one, Cymbalta, was. It helped me immediately. I thought it was a great drug, because I felt no side effects and only felt relief from anxiety and sadness. I could cry when the time might call for crying. I didn't feel flat emotionally like I did with the first AD.
Recently, I went off of Cymbalta. Even though I had one therapist and one neuropsychologist who both said I should stay on it the rest of my life, I was feeling very strong emotionally. I felt perhaps I'd lose weight if I went off of the drug and also, I wondered if some cognitive challenges might be eased without it.
Cymbalta is a drug that was originally created for diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain). They found it helped with depression, and then authorized it for use for those with emotional issues.
I can't believe that the improvement in my leg pain is due to the fact I'm back on this medication. After all, the legs got better the same day as I started back on a very low dose. But I do wonder if getting off of Cymbalta showed me just what pain this drug was alleviating. I think it was a lot better at relieving some nerve pain than I understood.
So, I'm back on the med....and I'm feeling much, much better. I got to revisit what my brain does without it, how the injury affected me emotionally, and I don't ever want to go back there. I'd rather have the extra weight...and admit I am taking it, than to live in that sad world without the ability to recognize the joy of each moment and the journey to a bright future.