Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Doctor's appointments & a long-kept secret

Doctor's appointments:
I never liked going to the doctor, even before I was diagnosed with M.E. But now, I absolutely hate it. There's the waiting room, for starters. At the G.P's, it's always so noisy, plus there's a tv on in the background showing inane daytime shows, or children's programs, depending on the time. And the people. I'm sure it's partially my sensitivity to stimuli, but the people are so noisy!! Some even shout, because they can't hear well. It's obviously not their fault, I'm just trying to give examples of the different types of noise. These noises bounce around inside my head ad nauseam, and I develop a headache and nausea after about 10mins in the waiting room. I'm always told my G.P. is running "on time" but, really, no one wants to admit that 99% of the time, there's a 30 minute wait. So that's 30 minutes of hell, and I haven't even seen my G.P. yet!
When I get in to see my G.P., things are generally fine. My G.P. is nice and understanding, but is reluctant to do much, as everyone says my specialist is practically God when it comes to M.E. I can tell you, she isn't. If she was, she would've helped me improve, not offered me Melatonin and AD's from the age of 13, to no effect. She still keeps asking if I want to try another SSRI! I hate the side effects, but worst of all, they never work!
When I see my specialist, I have to take a written list of my worst/newest symptoms and all the medications I'm on, because the records aren't electronic. They're one huge paper file bursting at the seams. And my specialist can never remember what she's prescribed me, at what dose, or when. I'm the one with the memory problems, and I'M meant to remember every time?! Then there's the requisite fight to try new treatments. The only one she's accepted was LDN. At the dose she put me on, it was just plain Naltrexone, with the added bonus of zillions of side effects. It's exhausting seeing any doctor, starting from getting up and dressing to fighting for medications like Ondansetron so I can eat and drink.

Good news!
My specialist retracted her order to all G.P's to "never prescribe anything to Alex, leave it all up to me." That was a nice idea, except for the part where she goes overseas with no warning, leaving me with no prescriptions, so I can't study, sit exams or go to school! This happened with my Year 11 exams. I was too sick to sit them, so I was passed based on my SACs and mid-year exams. I'm glad my real school is so accomodating. (By that, I mean, not distance education. They're okay, but my school is more on top of things and organised.)
Anyway, my specialist gave permission to my G.P. to prescribe most of the meds I'm on. And Ondansetron is no longer a problem! I just got another script for 10 wafers from my G.P. last week! I'm so happy, now it means I'll be able to go out with a friend to see a movie in July!! I've known this friend since I was a baby (well, our parents knew each other) but she's always there for me, and hospitals don't weird her out. Which is so nice. Basically, she's obsessed with Twilight, and I thought I'd see it with her. (I've never seen it, I don't like the look of it, but anything to get out of the house and see a friend! It's also a fundraiser, so other chronically ill adolescents will be there!) It also makes study and tutoring easier if I haven't slept much. So that's a weight off my mind.

As you can see from the time stamp, it's quite late/early, depending on how you look at it! But I managed to sleep somewhere between 1am and 3am. So I'm working with some sleep. My sleep "pattern" has changed again: I go to bed between 11.30pm and 1am, wake every hour, then finally wake at 6am/7am and can't sleep again until midday. It may sound manageable, but it takes me an hour+ to get to sleep, so most nights I've had 4hrs sleep, or 5hrs broken sleep. My body can't function on such little sleep anymore, so there's no point in me getting up; I've tried. I just get a terrible headache, feel dizzy/sick and must promptly retreat to bed! I hope this will change soon.
I've stopped "clock watching" as I know it's detrimental to sleep, but so many sleep clinicians told me to keep a sleep diary. And you have to "clock watch" to keep one. (You record when you eat, have caffeine, take your meds, go to bed, sleep, wake, and get up.) I hated it, but after so many years of filling them in, you get used to it.
The reason I'm so desperate to be able to sleep, virtually uninterrupted between 11pm/midnight and 6.45am/7am is that I need to be able to function for school days that start at 8.30am. And that's not possible at the moment.
I want to return to a real school more that anything, because they handle the forms for everything, and ensure I receive my work and have it in on time. Which is the polar opposite of distance education, in my experience. It's nice to be able to work whenever you want, but losing all social contact and support just isn't worth it.

One day at a time.
I'm trying to learn to take my life one day at a time. But I've never done it before, so I'm finding it really difficult. Particularly when I'm awake late at night, and I can't stop thinking about my life: "What happens if I can't graduate from high school or go to uni?" "I'm never going to be able to support myself, and a pension won't even cover costs of living." "I just want to be normal. I want doctors to admit they don't know. I want apologies for the hell they've put me through." ... Those are some of my thoughts at about 3am, or whenever I start worrying. My whole life has been about my future: getting a great score in Year 12, going to the best and closest uni to study Arts, majoring in Latin or German, then studying Law.

A secret:
I need routine, and I need structure more than the average person. This is due to my ASD, specifically Asperger's Syndrome. This is my secret. I've got much better at social interactions, etc. but I still have a compulsive need to know exactly what is happening, and when. If my routine changes, I panic. Please don't stereotype me. You wouldn't be able to pick it if you met me. I just seem shy. The reason I've improved? My mum. She'd go through role plays of how to act in different situations, acclimatised me to sand and the colour white, (I used to tantrum whenever I saw/touched these things) and taught me how to cope with crowds, loud noises, and physical contact. I've overcome most of these things, but I still hate sand. Although, now, I probably just look like an (awfully pale) teenage girl who hates getting sand on her clothes. (I'm too sick to swim when we go to the beach.)
Does anyone watch "The Big Bang Theory"? I think Sheldon displays many traits of high functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger's Syndrome, part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder. (ASD) I'm definitely not that weird, but I am constantly angry. I talked to my psychologist about it, and, as always, doctors/psychologists don't believe me when I say I have Asperger's Syndrome. They do a double-take, and say "Who diagnosed you?" It was an expert in the area when I was 2 or 3. I don't tell many people because I don't want to be thought of as a freak. But I just got sick of keeping it quiet.

If people don't like me as I am, tough.

The anger is a real problem, and it's probably because I hold onto anger from doctors who denied me proper treatment when I was 12, or made me miss my Year 11 exams, or changed my sleep routine permanently when I was 14. All of this anger ends up being directed at my family. I just never feel calm; I'm constantly exhausted, and angry at the world and everything in it! I hope I'm able to calm down soon. We're starting family therapy todat, and I think that will help with the constant fights between me and my younger brother. We fight over everything, because basically everything makes me sicker or makes my symptoms worse! And it's wearing my mum out.

Great, another possible M.E. case in the family?!
I hope my brother's post-viral malaise doesn't turn into M.E. He insists on keeping up with footy training 3 nights a week, plus a match every weekend, and school sport, and P.E.! I try to explain he could end up like me if he doesn't take it easy and pace himself (something I was never told about) but he is in denial. He thinks he'll never get sick. He's got a G.P. appointment today. I hope they test for EBV; they give you a month of no activity after a diagnosis of it now! I was sent back to school as soon as I stopped showing symptoms. Grr.

Seing as it's after 4.30am, I'd better try to sleep again; goodnight everyone, and I hope you're as well as you can be!


  1. When I read this, I feel like you are describing me.

    I also have the problem of being over-stimulated and thus easily overwhelmed. I panic with the change in schedule and carry farrrr too much anger. I also need Ondansetron to eat and drink.

    Sending positive vibes your way!! xo

  2. Wow, I thought I was the only one! I'm wondering about posting this now, whether people will treat me differently, but, then again, they may not read it. Either way, my friends accept me as I am!

    I don't have enough Ondansetron to have it daily, as my doctor/specialist likes to ration it out. It does help me feel less overwhelmed at times, and it helped the nausea caused by Naltrexone so much! Your nausea must be terrible to have to use it every day. That would really suck. =(

    I think the thing I'm most angry about is that I've lost everything - my memories, my intelligence, (I struggle to get the marks I used to get so easily) my energy, and my social life. And all from a young age. I'm sure there are other people worse off than me or in the same situation, but I can't get past it right now.

    I'm sending positive vibes your way, too. Take care. xox