This past week has been one of the most intense, rewarding, thought-provoking weeks in my life.
It started on Monday with my first appointment with a new, amazing acupuncturist (Lynnea, who is also a medical doctor.) I knew that the visit would prompt positive changes, but I had no idea how badly I needed them.
Here is how it went: I arrive slightly short of breath. Lynnea asks if that is normal for me, I say yes. She right away gives me about 10 needles in my neck and shoulders while we sit and talk for the next 30 minutes, which seems to help my breathing. Over the next 3 hours we discuss my entire life's medical history (illness, surgeries, mental states, drug experimentation - everything!)
When she finds out that I am a regular alcohol drinker, a 20-minute digression ensues into the harm that alcohol is doing to my body - liver, kidneys, brain, it's especially bad for people with diabetes.
This led to a minor breakdown - and I have to say that ultimately it was more helpful than any single session in my years of therapy. Lynnea hit upon very raw and sensitive spots for me - she has a knack for finding those from what I can tell. It's not about judging me, she is speaking up for what my body wants. And, she said, I am sometimes going to hate her for it. Tough love!
There is a Chinese saying:
people with a strong constitution
people with a strong constitution
tend to abuse it.
She spelled out how my fortitude - which has done so much to help me cope and manage my disease thus far - has also allowed me to 'plow through' some other issues without really stopping to let them sink in. As in, coming to terms completely with the fact that I have a chronic disease that is going to eventually kill me. Not just my brain, my brain and my heart. This stuff's not for amateurs.
How do I know she was right? Now that I have quit for 7 days, I see all of the mental energy it has freed up. Before, I was constantly caught in these cycles of wondering, how much is okay for me to drink today? Should I drink today at all or is that bad? Fuck it, I feel like drinking today! And then... Did I drink too much yesterday? Because I'm feeling a little dehydrated this morning, maybe it's beer last night, I must drink extra water today! ...My body feels tired because I have been drinking too much lately - bad me! ...I was good yesterday, I only had two beers. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
All of that was just an illusion - a (very successful) game that my brain had invented to avoid sometimes having to think about how difficult and shitty it can be to navigate life with a chronic disease - in part. In part, it's just that I really really love Blue Moon (and beer in general.) Which is why it isn't my intention to never ever drink again, good lord. I honestly don't know how this is going to play out, all I know is that right now I need to not do it at all.
I could go on and on... But to wrap up this story, Lynnea had a lot of other good suggestions of things for me to try and/or ask Dr Coakley about. I was impressed with her medicine/supplement/physiology knowledge about everything! After over 3 hours of talking, she finally examined me - taking several pulses, drawing a diagram of my tongue and its various markings, listening to my lungs. I finally got on the table (which prompted a small lung bleed - what a first impression!) for a little needling and electricity. And I rounded the whole thing off with a good coughing fit for which she adjusted my chi and pretty much instantly stopped the coughing.
It has last but not least been thought-provoking not only because of my internal work but also because I am being forced to begin the process of researching my options for further disability assistance should I feel that is necessary. This is not only very tedious in terms of paperwork and bureaucracy, but also emotionally difficult as well. I love my job, I love my co-workers. I am incredibly fulfilled by my work. I do not want to give it up.
There is also potentially a huge effect on my health insurance - I'm not sure all the ins and outs of this yet, but if I were to lose my work insurance (hopefully not!!!) I would be in an entirely different situation when it comes to medical insurance, prescription coverage, and, especially, transplant. So that will no doubt be a big part of my decision. It would be nice to be able to make the decision based entirely on what is best for me, but unfortunately that is not the world that we live in, Obamacare and all.
So yes: busy week, crazy week. I didn't even mention that our dog Sam finally had surgery to remove some lumps, that we are Finally preparing to see a lawyer to get our wills done and that we are FINALLY planning on starting to renovate our bathroom next week!! Stay tuned.