The Rehab Diaries Redux – Admission

So, I’m in hospital again.

What went wrong?

Well, I was actually doing really well but then I was faced with some major life changes and instead of dealing with it in a healthy way like say, hashing it out on this blog, I started to drink.

Alcohol has never been a problem for me. I used to joke that I had a relationship with alcohol that I wish I had with food – it could sit in my fridge for weeks or months waiting for a special occasion.  But no more.

I’ve only been drinking heavily for a couple of months but it’s taken its toll on my health and I’ve had a couple of incidents that gave me pause for thought. One day I passed out in the toilet and bit a chunk of flesh off the inside of my lip, then the next day I nailed myself while my boyfriend was over and passed out.  He had to hunt for my key to let himself out of my place.

I woke up the next morning covered in vomit.  Have you ever woken up covered in vomit?  It’s a low moment.  As scrubbed the remnants of last nights spaghetti out of the carpet, trying not to hurl again from the combined scent of vomit and omo, I realised that I needed intervention.  I could still keep going.

It just so happened that I had an appointment with my psychiatrist that day. As soon as I sat down I told her “I think I need to go to hospital…” and explained what had been going on.  She cancelled my ritalin because apparently it promotes addictive behaviours and agreed to write the referral.

The referral process took the longest this time than it ever has before, including times when my referral hasn’t actually gone through and I’ve needed to get another one. It was two weeks between getting the referral and getting the call to come in to hospital when before it’s been an average of one.  It may have something to do with the time of year; for some reason I usually go to hospital in the summer.  To be there in June is a first for me.

I was admitted yesterday and there are a few changes to my care plan because I’ve never been here for a drinking problem before. I have to do an AWS questionnaire every six hours – I think that stands for alcohol withdrawal symptoms – which scores you according to what withdrawal symptoms you are experiencing such as anxiety, tremors, agitation etc.  If you score highly they’ll give you valium.  So far I’ve done it twice and scored zero but I’m told it sets in after three or four days.  Also one of the rules of admission is no alcohol and as a problem drinker I will be subjected to random breathalysing.

I saw my inpatient psychiatrist and she said she wouldn’t change up my meds as yet. She asked me if I was looking to reduce my alcohol intake or stop it altogether.  If I wanted to stop she would put me on antabuse, that drug that makes you violently ill if you have any alcohol.  I said realistically I was looking to cut down.  She said she would wait to see if I started craving alcohol and if I did, she would prescribe me naltrexone.

I saw the ward CMO who went through my medication and ordered the standard blood work. I thought everything was fine until I went to get my medication that night.  They tried to give me half of what I normally take.

The problem was, I take 160mg of zeldox, 400mg of lamictal and 50 mg of Topamax in a day. That’s how doctors read it out when they’re talking about my meds and that’s how she read it out to me so I agreed with her.  It actually is 200mg of lamictal and 25mg of Topamax in the morning and 200mg of lamictal, 25mg of Topamax and 160mg of zeldox at night.  She wrote down 50mg of Topamax, 80mg of zeldox and 200mg of lamictal in the morning and 200mg of lamictal and 80mg of zeldox at night.  When they called her to get her to fix it she wouldn’t change it.

I was livid. These aren’t freaking skittles I’m taking, these are strong drugs with many systemic effects.  Without the right amount of zeldox I don’t sleep.  The staff saw how worked up I was and broke protocol to call my psychiatrist at home and have her change it.  I took the right meds last night but it isn’t fixed properly, my chart is still wrong.  I have to see another doctor today to sort it out.

I don’t know how this admission is going to go because I’m not nearly as unwell as I was during my last one, apart from the problematic drinking. I’m expecting to be here for about two weeks, I don’t expect it will become as long as my last stay (because I was climbing the walls by the time I left.)

I will be doing a rehab diaries though so stay tuned.

Mac

Cracking the Breakfast Dilemma

Oh hey, long time no blog post.

Solving this breakfast problem has been ongoing over the past year. The problem started when I began taking the antipsychotic Zeldox and mood stabiliser Topamax which supressed my appetite.  I can’t remember what I was doing for breakfast before that – I tended to sleep in until past midday so I probably wasn’t having it, although if I stayed up late enough I would get Macca’s breakfast before I went to bed.  Is that breakfast?  Or dinner?  I don’t know.

Anyway so I’m on this new cocktail of drugs and between the nausea and low appetite, I’m not eating much. When I do eat, it’s usually the wrong kind of food – something fast and easy.  And it’s usually in the middle of the day.  I never ate breakfast, even though on these meds I developed some more reasonable sleeping habits (mostly.)

So I lost a lot of weight. After about twenty kilos lost my psychiatrist referred me to a dietician to help me develop a healthier diet.  And of course when I gave him my first food diary the first thing he noticed was that there was no breakfast anywhere.

His first solution? Drink Up&go.

up&go

It’s quick, easy and much easier to stomach than solid food when I first get up. So I started having the up&go in the morning, every day until it became a habit.  I bought up on the supersize 12 packs in the strawberry flavour – has to be strawberry, can’t do any of the others – and that became my staple breakfast.

This went on for months. Then recently the dietician tells me that up&go isn’t good enough anymore and I need to start eating ‘real’ food for breakfast.  The up&go has too much sugar.

Habits are hard to break for me. I was in the habit of not eating breakfast, then I was in the habit of drinking these up&gos instead of breakfast.  It was only meant to be a stepping stone onto something more acceptable but I found that transition difficult.  When I get up I just don’t feel like going to the trouble of preparing something.

He had a few suggestions of what I could do instead. Poaching an egg – I’m useless at poaching so that’s out – or some cereal because he wants me to take in some milk, or yoghurt with fruit.

So for a week I tried eating cereal. I ate low sugar cheerios, which aren’t that great but were the best option we had in the house at the time.  And I gained weight.  I couldn’t believe it!  How could cereal affect my weight like that?  Did I eat too much?  I doubt it because I was eating out of a mug for portion control.

So cereal is out. The next idea I had I got from this blogger, I figure she looks super fit so whatever she eats must be all right.  She uses chobani yoghurts to make overnight oats which looked super easy so I thought I’d try it.  I liked it, although it took me awhile to eat.

So far the overnight yoghurt oats are a winner. The problem with up&gos is eventually my appetite started to come back and I started getting hungry midmorning but with the oats that doesn’t happen.

I’m still working on myself and working toward eating a proper balanced diet and will continue to pull apart the puzzle one piece at a time. So far breakfast is looking close to solved, and I’m happy with that for now.

Mac

A Doctor’s Appointment and Lots of Hairballs

My hair is falling out.  In freaking sheets.

I can’t quite remember when it started – maybe at the end of last year sometime – but I’m shedding like cat coming out of winter.  I fill up my hair brush in just one brushing session.  There’s always masses of it on the back of my shirts.  When I wash my hair clumps of it can be seen on the floor of the shower.  I swept out my bathroom and created a massive blonde tumbleweed.

It ends up absolutely everywhere – all over my clothes, through my car, my boyfriend’s beard – everywhere.

I’ve been a bit concerned even though I don’t appear to have thin spots on my scalp, but I do have way more hair than the average person.  I’m not sure what’s causing it, my meds, my anxiety or bleaching my hair.  I’m pretty sure it’s not the latter because it appears to be falling out at the root, not breaking off.

My anxiety has been up and down this year depending on what’s going on in my life – I had a particularly stressful end to the college term, but the hair loss has been steady and constant.  As for my meds, I don’t know what could be causing the shedding.  I’ve been on meds before that did it – on epilim I nearly went bald – I had never heard of any of the current set causing hair loss.

After a frustrating afternoon of pulling my furballs out of his shower drain, my boyfriend insisted that I raise the issue with my doctor.  I had an appointment coming up so I promised to do just that.

I haven’t seen my doctor since the Zeldox discussions.  She’s only seeing me six weekly now, as opposed to three.  I’ve been handling things well I think.

On the day of the appointment though, it was obvious that I was having an off day.  I usually take my night time meds early in the evening so I can have a good long sleep and wake up early.  Even though I take the maximum dose of Zeldox I don’t usually experience a hangover effect, but this morning was different.

My boyfriend pretty much had to drag me out of bed when his normal alarm tactic – rolling a chilled can of diet coke across my face – didn’t work.  I slept in the car and when I got out I was immediately overcome with a wave of nausea.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my ginger pills on me.

It was obvious to my psychiatrist was soon as I came in that I was doped up, and she questioned whether I was on too much medication.  I assured her that this episode was unusual.  I must admit I panicked a little – I think every appointment I have with her I’m going to be worried that she’s going to take me off Zeldox.  It’s not just that it works, I’m keen to stay on it because it keeps me thin.

Shallow, I know.

I didn’t talk much because I was so tired but somehow I convinced her that I’m going ok.  We raised the hair loss issue with her and she told me what I already knew – that none of my meds were known to cause this.  She also said that while it might seem like a lot of hair falling out, if I can’t see any thin spots then I probably shouldn’t worry too much.

I was probably in and out in under twenty minutes, and that was me done for another six weeks.  It looks like I’ll still be scraping furballs off my shower floor for the foreseeable future but hey, at least I get to stay blonde.

Mac