How My Life Fell Apart and How I’m Still Putting It Back Together

Ok so this is probably going to be a fairly long post but I don’t do that often so please excuse me this one time. What I’m about to talk is something very few people know about me and what happened in the fall. Last year was hard enough but in October, I felt like I just lost it. I had a mental breakdown that resulted in severe depression and anxiety. I was put into an Intensive Outpatient Program which, as some of you might know, is one step below inpatient psychiatric care. I managed to hide it from most people, really my amazing boyfriend is the only one who knew. He supported my search for help and did whatever he could to take care of me. I really do have one of the best boyfriends ever. So here’s a little bit about what happened.

I went to the ER in Sept. with stomach pain and some other issues. I was told they found what they thought was a cyst on my right ovary and fluid in my pelvis that they assumed was from a ruptured cyst. They said it was completely unrelated to my other symptoms and sent me home. Apparently, the two were not unrelated. In October, the 4th to be exact, I went for my GI follow up for my stomach. He didn’t think anything that needed urgent care was required so I went home. Thank god Scott was there because I sudden;y started getting this pain that just got worse and worse. Eventually I was literally screaming in pain every time he moved me. Off to the ER we went. After a whole big fiasco there that I won’t go into, I was finally taken back. I was told that I was about 2 months pregnant and that it was an ectopic that had ruptured. I would need emergency surgery and there was no guarantee they would be able to save my fallopian tube. Turns out that spot the first ER thought was a cyst? It wasn’t, it was an ectopic that could have been taken care of with medication had they realized what it was. Instead I had internal bleeding and one less tube.

For anyone who knows me, you all know how much I want kids. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. This was a huge blow for me. Just imagine wanting something so much and being told you have it only to have it ripped away within 10 seconds. It’s not that surprising that I was depressed after the fact but how deep that depression was is surprising. I literally woke up and went to work, came home and fell asleep, and when Scott got home he woke me up and forced me to eat and take my meds. I cried a lot. I didn’t want to do anything or see anyone. I didn’t even have the energy to turn the TV on half the time. Work was extremely difficult and it was taking me longer to finish normal tasks. Finally, after a month we decided I needed professional help. And so started my journey back to normalcy. I hid therapy from everyone, I didn’t want anyone thinking I was weak or overreacting. I have this immense fear of people thinking I’m overreacting (that would be why we didn’t take the ambulance that day….very stupid decision on my part). I’m still working on it but I’m much better than I was.

Depression and anxiety are very real and very hard. It takes a toll physically as well as mentally. Don’t let the fear of people judging you ever stop you from getting help before it gets too late. God knows how much worse I would have gotten without getting help. Also, just in case this happens to a friend just keep the following in mind – I know that you’re worried but for the love of all that is holy DO NOT YELL AT YOUR FRIEND! Don’t yell at them, don’t tell them what they should have done, don’t say anything at all negative. Hearing that does NOT help, it just makes things worse and makes me (or whoever) shut down even more. I know I completely retreated inside myself and that led me to not tell anyone or let anyone else know that something was wrong. Not even some of my closest friends.

Slowly but surely I’m getting better and I know I’ll be a mom someday. It wasn’t meant to be that time. I’m still working on believing that but I feel that I’ve come a long way in getting back to where I used to be and I bet all of you can as well. As always, feel free to contact me if you ever need someone to talk to!

Danielle

Published in: on February 1, 2014 at 7:55 pm  Comments (2)  
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Some Friendly Advice for Loved Ones and Friends

First things first, everyone should buy one of these awesome shirts!

Hope to fight against lupus

Our Awesome Hope Shirt!

The profits will be go to my Walk for Lupus Now Team, Frickin’ Rican Lupies, and that will be donated to the Lupus Foundation of America Piedmont Chapter. For a donation, go here: http://walkforlupusnow.kintera.org/raleigh/danipinol?faf=1&e=5572260654 $20 will get you a shirt, just email me or FB message me the size! Thanks in advance!

Okay, now, this post is certainly not meant to offend anyone but it is something that should be said. We all have our support systems and those systems consist of people we love. The hard part about being there and taking care of someone is seeing what they go through and not being able to stop it. Because the supporters (this includes us lupies, we’re not just the ones being supported) are so frustrated and usually do not know how to help, they sometimes say things that really just don’t make us feel better. It’s certainly not their intention to make us feel bad. I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of some of the “don’ts” I’m about to write about. But how will they know these things if we don’t tell them and explain why something makes us feel bad? Or the opposite: how will they know what really helps us out if we don’t tell them that either? This list is not all inclusive, not even close, but I hope it will start people thinking about what they do and what they can do to help those in pain.

1. DON’T tell us not to take a medication, to take it “only if you REALLY need it,” or explain to us all the ways it’s bad for us. For the most part, we usually know what the side effects are and what the medication does. Most of us have been on them for years so we may know a little better what to take and what not take. Where this really comes in is pain meds. Yes sometimes doctors give us prescription pain killers or muscle relaxers or whatever. We are not getting these just for fun, if the doctor has given them then we are in a whole lot of pain. Over the counter hasn’t worked. Most of don’t take them everyday but we take them when we need them. We know narcotics are addictive and people do take them just to get high but we don’t. Please don’t lecture us about it and make us feel bad. All that happens is we decide not to take and sit in excruciating pain all day trying to hide it from you. Also, don’t make comments about how the country is over medicated and no one needs these drugs (this comes from a friend’s ex-boyfriend). Especially after you know how many we take a day. This just makes us feel awkward, then annoyed, then angry. And then you get broken up with.

2. DO offer to do little things around the house. I have an extremely difficult time doing certain things around my house like scrubbing the tub and changing the bed sheets. Obviously I do them but it takes me twice as long. If you’re not busy, why not help your friend out by doing one of these things? Or maybe ask if they need something from the store like milk if you happen to be going there. Chopping food is another one, a lot of us have trouble with our hands and having someone else chop makes it so we can all have a lot more laughter at the dinner table.

3. On that note, DON’T force your help on us. If you offer, that’s fine and a lot of us will take you up on it. However, please don’t assume I need you to do every single thing for me. It drives me insane! If I can’t do something I’ll ask for help. But I don’t want to feel like I can’t do anything and I know a few people who are like this. You have to encourage us to be independent. Part of that is letting us do the things we can and ask for help on our own for the things we can’t.

4. DO invite us out to different activities! It’s really not fun always feeling left out or only being invited to go see a movie all the time. Don’t get me wrong, movies are great, but if you’re planning a picnic, or a beach trip, or even a hike and invite everyone else, don’t exclude us! Sometimes, you think it’s just easier on everyone if you don’t invite the person with joint problems – you think you’re saving them from the embarrassment of saying they can’t. Honestly, it hurts us worse to find out later that we were left out than it does to actually be invited and get to say we can’t go ourselves. And sometimes we are up for going. Sure we might need a couple of extra breaks but that doesn’t mean we can’t go and enjoy ourselves!

5. DON’T ask us about certain things and them yell at us! Oh man, I can’t tell you how often we do this in my family. Between my mom, my sister, and I, I don’t know how we don’t drive my very mellow, level-head dad insane. None of us really know how to handle the stress that comes with worry or bad health news so what do we do? We all yell at each other. “Well you should do this, and not this!” “I don’t want to do this or I would have done it already!” And many much more colorful things come out of our mouths. Don’t do this. Please. It solves nothing. It makes us even more stressed out which just makes us even more sick. If you don’t think you can say something without screaming at the person, then just say ok. Or even “That sucks!” Seriously, sometimes that’s all we really want to hear.

6. DO remember that what you do right now for us is and will always be enough. It’s hard loving someone who is sick. It takes a toll on the whole family. I can only imagine how my parents, sister, and brother feel every I call them to say something else is wrong. There is a need to do more, to take all the bad stuff away. Please, PLEASE believe me when I say that you just being there is enough. Knowing that we have this support system to fall back on gets us through so much more than you’ll ever know.

My wonderful family

Okay so not the best pictures because most of us are in PJs but this is my absolutely wonderful family who I have NO idea how I'd get along without!
Left to Right: Pop, me, Jon, Abuela, Mami, and Jolene

Published in: on March 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm  Comments (2)  

“Looks Can Be Deceiving”

This article is from Invisible Disability Advocates and is so true.

http://www.invisibledisabilities.org/educate/invisibleawareness/lookscanbedeceiving/

If you have a handicap placard, how often have you gotten dirty looks getting out of your car? It always makes me so angry when people try and stare me down. I just wish they would actually say something to me…they’d be walking away with their tail between their legs!

Published in: on December 13, 2011 at 5:16 pm  Comments (1)  
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Achy joint relief? Yes please!

I found this article and thought it might be helpful. I’ve tried some remedies on my own but not these (except physical therapy which I have had) yet. I plan on trying them, I’ll let you know how it works out!

From http://www.everydayhealth.com/arthritis/chronic-pain.aspx?xid=aol_eh-arth_1_200111003&aolcat=AJA

Living With Chronic Joint Pain

Ease arthritis pain and stiffness with these smart tips — no medication or surgery required.

Medically reviewed by Ed Zimney, MD

There’s no doubt that arthritis — and the joint pain that goes with it — can be difficult to live with day in and day out. But there are ways to make life easier that don’t involve medication or surgery.

Here are some alternative methods to ease joint pain and discomfort.

Physical Therapy for Joint Pain

Many people with arthritis have stiff joints, partly because they avoid movements that can cause pain — but immobilizing joints will only increase stiffness. That’s where physical therapy comes in.

The goal of physical therapy is to get patients back to the point where they can perform normal, everyday activities without difficulty, says Bronwyn Spira, PT, a physical therapist and director of physical rehabilitation at New York Physical Rehabilitation & Wellness in New York City. “It surprises many, but exercise will help your joints feel better, not worse,” says Spira. A physical therapist can prescribe exercises designed to decrease stiffness and improve muscle strength, as well as show you how to move and change positions (for example, getting up from a chair or out of bed or picking up something off the floor) with minimal pain. She can also demonstrate how to use walking aids, such as a cane, walker, or crutches.

To find a physical therapist who works with arthritis patients, ask your doctor for a referral. Most insurance plans cover a specific number of physical therapy sessions per year when prescribed by a physician.

Home Modifications

Another strategy for managing arthritis pain is to avoid twisting, pinching, squeezing, and pulling because these motions can stress the joints and exacerbate pain. Sharry Wallach, an occupational therapist in New York City, suggests the following modifications around the home:

  • Replace doorknobs and faucets. Lever-style handles are easier on the joints than knobs that require a twisting motion to operate.
  • Modify lamps. Replace small, rotating knobs on existing lamps with larger, grip-and-turn knobs. Consider buying lamps that turn on with a touch or are activated by voice or motion.
  • Opt for pump-top bottles. Pushing a pump of dish soap, hand lotion, shampoo, or toothpaste is easier than squeezing a tube or bottle.

Assistive devices — products specifically designed for arthritis sufferers — can make living with chronic pain easier too. These include wide-grip foam handles for eating utensils, scissors, garden tools, reach extenders, and jar openers.

Alternative Therapies for Chronic Pain

Complementary and alternative medicine can also help ease joint pain. For example, several studies have found that acupuncture helps reduce arthritis pain, may decrease the need for pain medications, and can help increase joint flexibility.

There are conflicting studies on the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin, but some have demonstrated a beneficial effect on OA, especially for patients with moderate to severe knee pain. Additionally, fish oil supplements may help reduce arthritis inflammation. “Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are natural anti-inflammatories,” says Beth Reardon, R.D., a nutritionist at Duke University’s Integrative Medicine Center. Consult with your doctor before taking any dietary supplements, because some may interfere with the actions of other medications.

You may also want to consider mind-body therapies such as hypnosis, progressive muscle relaxation, tai chi, and yoga, which have all been that have been shown to help people living with chronic pain. Best of all, these holistic therapies have no known negative side effects.

The Emotional Side of Chronic Pain

Finally, while you’re caring for your body, don’t ignore your emotional well-being. Depression, anger, frustration, and anxiety are common for many with chronic arthritis. Not only can these feelings make it tough to muster the energy and motivation to cope with joint discomfort, they can worsen pain, says Michael First, MD, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University. For those who find themselves overwhelmed emotionally, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches patients to recognize and correct their destructive negative thought processes, can be helpful, says Dr. First. Support groups offer another good option. “Being with people who understand what you’re dealing with can help you feel less alone, and you may pick up some new pain-coping strategies,” notes Dr. First.

Last Updated: 09/22/2011
Published in: on October 7, 2011 at 10:23 pm  Comments (7)  
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Migraine? Butterfly rash? Joint pain?

This was actually supposed to be posted back in the beginning of August, I just now realized it never posted! It may be late but I hope you find it useful anyway! 

Okay, so all us lupies know the deal – on really good days we’re only mildly stiff and achy and on bad days we can’t get out of bed the pain is so bad. Here are some things that have worked well to help with symptoms I experience.

  • Migraines/headaches – Migraines are probably my worst symptom, the pain sometimes is absolutely unbearable. I can’t listen to anything or open my eyes unless it’s dark. For these, my doctor gave me fioricet which works wonders when taken at the start of one. When I don’t have those with me, a can of coke and 2-3 advil (600 mg ibuprofen) work wonders. If I have any other type of headache, 2 advil are usually okay. I also put peppermint oil on my temples and behind my ears, it really helps the pain calm down.
  • Butterfly Rash/Nodules – I get the butterfly rash only rarely but my face does get red an puffy when I’m not feeling well. The Body Shop has this super rich vitamin E face cream that cools my face down a lot. Most of their stuff has worked pretty well so I’d take a peek around. Since that is kinda pricey, I use Oil of Olay for Sensitive Skin everyday. It really good on irritated skin from waking up with the rash or being out in the sun. I also get painful bumps all over my hands, cool water and hydrocortisone help these on milder days.
  • Joint/Muscle Pain – one of the main lupus symptoms. Who wants to feel like an 90 year old person everyday, creaking and cracking up and down the hallway each day? It sucks! At least there are some ways, besides good old advil again, to make it feel better. Hot baths with epsom salts are really good when my ankles are acting up. Also, peppermint pain spray is amazing, it cools your joints and muscles off almost immediately. I have a local brand down here but try looking in your local natural remedies store or a holistic medicine store. You definitely get your moneys worth. Sleeping with a pillow under my knees also helps my knees, hips and back when they’re acting up. If that doesn’t work, using my Back Buddy heating pad does, I suggest investing in a heating pad if you don’t have one already.
  • Restlessness – I don’t know if this is actually a common one to lupus but all those things above usually add up to me being anxious and restless all day. Yoga helps a lot if done in the middle of the day, it also helps in the morning for stiffness. At night, meditation really does the trick. It’s pretty easy to learn how to meditate, all you have to do is Google it :).
On that note, I’m currently wrestling with the overwhelming fatigue that often hits. My only solution for that is to listen to my body and head to bed! Sweet dreams!
Published in: on September 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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