Sunday, September 17, 2006

Rainy Sunday

One of the things I forgot about Arkansas that is a joy to come back to…rainy days. “The sun shines 360 days/year in Colorado.” Its no BS line. It really does, the few days without rain are in the winter…snow days. There just aren’t any days when it is cloudy and rains all day long. These days are strangely refreshing.

My mood has been pretty good and level since I found out about my SSDI approval. Amazing what a little financial security will do for a wobbly mood. At least I know we can make ends meet now and we are no longer sinking. Someone asked after my last post whether my Social Security Disability was approved on a “mental illness” or a brain damage from ECT” basis. Simple answer: I don’t know. I was told by my caseworker that it has been approved. My back-pay check has come. But my paperwork identifying my approval is yet to arrive. The commenter said that an approval on a brain damage basis would “set precedent and might be helpful to others.” “Bonzer” (a random commenter), back in April, claimed to be the first and only case in which SSDI was approved for someone with brain damage from ECT. So, mine wouldn’t be precedent setting. I’ll let you know when I find out what the findings were. Does that record come automatically?

Mic’s illness/mood continues to be uncertain, but things are in the works for him as well.

Work at the liquor store (which is easier, making $8/hour, now that I know I have some other income behind it) continues to be interesting. Wine snobs, to winos, to grungy hillbillies with no shirt on, to sorority girls. We get the full spectrum. “Bill from the Hood” suggested I keep a journal of liquor store stories and that there would enough anecdotal entries from which to write a book in no time. Not a bad idea.

I’ve begun to look for somewhere in NW Arkansas to play racquetball. Its not as easy as I had hoped it would be. There aren’t many places which have courts and offer some kind of organized play (leagues, challenge courts, ect.) Spoiled by Denver. I’ve found one place, which is a dump and not terribly close to my house, which has three courts and claims to have 25-30 players that play in there. I think I’ll give it a go at trying to put together some way to get 2-3 days/week of play in.

I’ve started looking into Vagus Nerve Stimulation (“VNS”) as a back-up in case I need an adjunct to ECT. For VNS, a little “pacemaker” device is implanted in your left chest and hooked up by wires to your Vagus Nerve (main cerebral highway to your major organs, I think.) The device is programmed externally by your psychiatrist, and it “stimulates” the nerve on a set schedule and for a set time. This is another case of “we don’t know why it works, but it does.” The bad news is that it takes up a year to really begin to show the benefits (according to my ECT doctor who calls to check on me from time to time.) The good news is that there are really no known side effects of the magnitude of ECT. More on this later.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Just when it looks like all is lost...

Below is an entry I wrote last night, but hadn't posted yet. The last several days have been very difficult. My son's mental health is very much in crisis and, with all of the financial stresses and the move and everything else, his effect on my mood stability is magnified. So, needless to say, my mood has been in a very bad slide, up a little, down a lot, up a little, down a lot. One step forward, two steps back. Read last night's passage, but read on afterwards:

Things are, well, pretty shitty. Mic is very ill, probably in connection with his lack of success at reintergrating into a public school setting. He's psychotic (the "clown people" are back, telling him to kill himself.) He's told me that he's tired of "being here" and that he wants to "go on up to heaven now." He's out of control, screaming, punching walls, throwing things, and telling us that he hates both of us and calling us names at least once a day. He told a therapist today pretty much all of this, but that he isn't a danger to himself, so they didn't hospitalize him (which is what needs to happen...Melissa and I disagree.) My mood directly correlates to his, thus, I'm not doing really well either. Add to that financial stress because our damned house won't sell and you have a pretty lovely picture.

I had an experience today unlike anything I can remember. I wasn't sad or crying or desperate...I just mentally shut down when I got home. I had dreaded being home with Mic all day. When I got home, I just checked out. I lost the ability to concentrate or think, I wandered around sitting in room after room and staring at the floor before moving to the front porch to avoid the ruckus that Mic was causing. I sat and stared at a clump of grass for nearly an hour. It was like I was just in a shell or elsewhere.

I'm worried about Mic. I'm worried about Melissa. I'm worried about Maggie. I'm worried about me. I'm worried about how I feel about Mic. I'm worried about how I will feel if Mic hurts himself. I'm worried about finances. I'm worried about insurance. Enough. There seems to be no part of my life that I'm happy with or which allows me to escape the drag of all of the worries.

That was last night. Today, after some phone calls to Social Security, I found out that I have been approved for Social Security Disability! That takes a big part of the financial stress off of things. We still have a house payment AND rent to pay, but the SSDI monthly payment isn't bad, and the "back-pay" to the date I became "disabled" according to SSDI is a nice chunk of reserve cash. Legend has it that good and bad things happen in sets of three. Mic was approved for medicaid last week, social security was approved today, and hopefully there is one more thing to come. Its amazing how having just a little of the dark clouds blow away makes the world seem a lot brighter.

Those people out there disabled by mental illness and those going through or who have been ECT, take heart. Getting SSDI without a lawyer and appeals and years of waiting CAN be done. Stay after it.