Vertigo following eating, that lasts for hours and hours….from anorexia?

I have been experiencing vertigo now for a number of weeks following eating the first bite of food in the morning.  I have tried spacing out my food to no avail.  I have tried drinking 4 oz milk at 2am and this worked because I slept off the vertigo and then woke up and started my day.  Today it didn’t work.  I drank 8 oz skim milk at 5:30, and immediately the vertigo started.  It is 9:45 and I am still experiencing vertigo.

When this is happening, I feel a spinning feeling even while I am seated.  It isn’t really safe for me to be doing certain activities and I would NEVER take Puzzle for a walk like this.  So I refrain from eating until after Puzzle’s walk–always.  I can shower because I have bars in the shower, but I must do so very, very carefully.  I can wash dishes and lean against the counter.  I always stay in the apartment.  I have never walked outside while the vertigo is happening.

Today might be an exception.  I have to go to therapy.  I am not going to cancel.  Trust me, I will be careful.  I am bringing my cane so that I get a seat on the bus.  I was planning on taking the “early bus” and leaving the apartment at10:42, but that might be a bad idea.  For the latest bus I can take, I can leave at 11:32.  I will take that bus.  Maybe by then, the vertigo will go away.

Shit.

Spice

I may not have hope, but for now, I can spice up my life.  I can wear a different shirt every day.  I can rearrange my tiny apartment to suit me.  I can write many e-mails to people around the world.  I can write to my dog.  I can write to God.  I can write to myself.  One of these people might write back.

Although I eat very little, I can season my food differently each time I eat it.  My food is colorful.  I arrange it pleasingly on my plate.  I garnish it.  I eat with a fancy napkin.  I have several tables in my apartment, and I can eat at a different table at each meal.  I can choose to heat my food, or I can eat it ice cold.

Though it is a very small town, only four square miles, there are many streets here to explore.  I have lived here nearly 25 years and I have yet to see all the nooks and crannies of the neighborhoods here.  But every day, my dog and I take the same route.  Why?  Why not spice it up?  Well, I am a person who likes regularity, and they say that dogs like to do the exact same thing every day for some reason.  So we take the same route.

But I listen to different music each time we walk.  The weather is always different.  My thoughts are always different.  Whether I am feeling hopeful, sad, depressed, or full of anticipation for the day ahead, each walk is vastly different from the other.  Yes, our walks are spiced up.

Although I do not have hope, I can do things to spice up my life.  I can knit using colorful yarns with varying textures.  I can make dog sweaters.  I can make hats for myself to match.  My dog and I can go in style.

And going in style we do.  Because every day, when we walk down the street, I say to myself, “This is my dog.  This is my creature, that I care for, that I love and cherish, that each day greets me with a wag and a sniff awaiting a treat.  And I brush this dog’s teeth twice a day every day and she’s got the most shining smile in town.

I may not have a shining smile to match hers, but we go in style.  I may not smile at all.  I may not have a drop of happiness in me.  But I know how to spice up my life.  So I do so.  And this simple task is a comfort to me.

I am putting the Trileptal back to its original dose–Hello, Dr. P

I decided, after a horrendous three days of eating binges, to put the Trileptal back to its original dose.  According to my records, I sprained my ankle March 25th and subsequently lowered the dose April 8th without the blessing of my psychiatrist, Dr. P.  I never told her.  The main reason I lowered it was that I had a lot of trouble walking and running on the treadmill at the gym.  This of course was completely unacceptable to me.

One side effect of Trileptal is ataxia, weakening of the extremities, which includes the ankles and wrists.  The test for this is for the patient to stand with his/her feet together, hold his/her arms out in front, and close her/his eyes.  If she/he sways, she/he has ataxia.  It was obvious that I had this side effect.  I knew, knew, knew that it was from the Trileptal and not from my other medications, because it started when I started taking Trileptal.  After all, I was perfectly capable of using the treadmill before, wasn’t I?

However, I was given Trileptal to help with bingeing.  It worked.  When I lowered the Trileptal from 600 to 300 and the swaying stopped, I still promised myself that if the bingeing started up, I would think twice about having lowered it.  Bingeing Hell is not a place anyone wants to go.  Did I keep that promise I made to myself?  No!  I lowered the medication further a week ago.  I became miserable.

Last night, I put two and two together, that is…150 and 150, and 300 and 300 t0 make 600 together again.  I don’t want to muck around with my meds again.  After three days of utter Bingeing Hell, I have had enough.

Dr. P, I totally respect you.  Yes, you were wrong about the cause of the “swaying.”  But you were right that lowering the Trileptal did “destabilize” me.  I will go back.  I will go back to the security of the dose that you put me on, the dose that I left McLean at last winter, a therapeutic dose that works for me.

Now that I won’t be on the treadmill, what does it matter if I can use it properly or not?  What does it matter?  Really?  I know I can keep my balance on all the other machines at the gym just fine on 600 mgs Trileptal.  So what’s the big deal?  How can I function in my life if I’m living in Bingeing Hell?  If I’m bingeing, I won’t be at the gym anyway.  So there  you have it.

Today, I’m picking up the pieces.  Organizing my life.  Doing a bit of cleaning up around here and organizing my thoughts.  Just doing a lot of thinking and assessing my situation.  I woke up this morning not wishing I was dead, but determined to stop the bingeing and carry on with my life.  And that’s something.

It’s a start, anyway.

So now he decides to show up

My brother is coming.  He and my other brother have for years ignored me and pretended they didn’t have a sister.  Now, suddenly, he wants to show up today at 4-ish.  I don’t get it.  Just passing through town, he said, thought he’d drop by.

I spent the morning on the phone with the crisis team and was awaiting a call from my T when his call came in.  Honestly.  A visit from my long-lost brother is not “just what I need right now.”  I need him like I need an Easter Jell-o mold on the Fourth of July.

I feel as though my life is over

I feel as though my life is over.  I have felt this way for a long time, ever since I ended up with refeeding edema at the end of April.

Since the end of April, I have felt that my body is ruined.  I especially feel this way now.

I managed to get into the shower this morning.

My "new life"…without running, without walking….barely eating…depressed….

Well, this is it, I suppose.  My “new life.”  And they expect me to eat?  Eat?????

I got weighed today.  The edema is gone.  Of course.  I starved it away.  The edema is what stopped me from running in the first place, and got me so mad that I walked 14 miles a day and ended up with this injury.  But I am 12 pounds less than what I was the last time I got weighed.  My doctor isn’t pleased.  She said the absence of edema isn’t the only culprit, that my lack of nutrition is the other.  Well, yeah.  I confessed that being injured for a month hasn’t exactly inspired me to chow down.

I came home and took a nap.  When I awoke, I found myself in tears.  Just like that.  Weird.

Not only am I dealing with the inability to walk without a mobility aid (cane or crutches) but I experience pain–just about every day, sometimes for most of the day.  Sometimes, the pain is very bad.  Usually, it isn’t.  I take Aleve daily.  I also took Ibuprofen on top of that, but my doctor told me no to.  So I have stopped.  After another week, I won’t be able to take Aleve anymore at this high dose.  I might still need it. But medically, it won’t be safe to use it, because of potential kidney damage.  Never mind that it could cause stomach bleeding.

The orthopedist with whom I spoke said the pain would clear up in two weeks.  That was a week ago.  I don’t see much improvement….Maybe it will be another two weeks from today….  He also said that riding the exercise bike would be the “best thing for it.”  Well, apparently not.  I am either in pain while riding it, or in really bad pain several hours later.  So I’m not going to ride the damn thing again.  It puts too much pressure on my leg while my knee is in a bent position.  Some of the exercises hurt as well, the ones done with bent knees.  So I’m stopping those as well.  I’m just not ready.

“No pain, no gain” is bullshit.  My therapist says that pain is the body’s stop sign.  There is a difference between the muscle fatigue that you get from a good workout that tells you that you are building strength (and that your muscles need a rest before you go at it again) and joint pain.  I agree with my T about that much.

What I didn’t agree with her about was her statement, “This is a good thing, because it forces you to slow down.”  Well, that is bullshit.  I am only 53 years old, not 85. It is not time to slow down.  It is my body, and my choice when to slow down, not hers.  I am being forced by outside circumstances to stop, not by my own desire, not because I am tired or finished in any way.  After all, I was about to run a race when this whole thing started up!  So I told my T that I was angry about what she said, and she apologized, and acknowledged my opinion.

There is absolutely nothing good about this injury.  Nothing.  Well, one thing: the one upper-body strengthening benefit of using crutches for–yes–it’s been a month now.  Other than that, no, no, nothing good about being injured, being in pain, being unable to get around without a mobility aid, ending my running, long walks with Puzzle, fitness walks, and yes, my laps around the track at sunrise–for good–no, nothing good about this at all, no advantage, no benefit, no money to be won, nada.

It doesn’t even give me more opportunity to write.  I had just as much time to write before.  I am so damned depressed now and writing comes with such difficulty.  It took me hours before I could get up the motivation to write this entry.

I do have one activity that is helping me cope right now.  Knitting.  I have used my knitting to help pass that time that I spend unable to do anything else due to pain or depression.  I find it distracting and it engrosses me.  I am working on a hat for a friend that I e-mail.  I take comfort that I have a few friends left.

Sometimes, I am able to walk the distance to the gym using my cane.  So I walk to the gym, and do mostly strength training for my upper body.  Yesterday, I used the triceps pull, set it at x pounds (just over what I weigh) and pulled up my body, and held myself up off the floor like that, my fists by my ears, elbows by my chest, just hanging there as if I was hanging from the gallows, swinging back and forth a little, and held this pose, just hanging and hanging, then let myself down, and realized that not too many people, even people who work out, can do this.  I couldn’t do that before.  When I came home and it was time to shower, I took off my shirt and examined my shoulder and arm muscles.  Yep, they’re there.

I might be lame, but I am strong.  Just you wait.

Mouthful! Open Mic Reading in Cambridge, MA tonight–I will be reading!

I received this in my e-mail today reminding people of tonight’s reading.  I plan to be there, reading from The Starvation Transformations.

Hello lovely Mouthful friends!

Just a reminder that tonight, the dynamic Megan Thoma will be the featured reader at the last Mouthful of the season!  Join us at 99 Bishop Allen Drive in our lovely reading space in the Cambridge Community Services Building (it’s the door closest to the corner of Bishop Allen Drive and Essex Street).  You can learn more about Megan by checking out her bio on our Features’ page.

Doors will open at 7 pm, so come by to sign up to read, nosh on delicious snacks and meet our amazing community of writers.  Bring your work to read at the open mic; we’ll need an extra big helping of your wonderful writing to get us through the summer!  A $3 donation is appreciated as your generosity allows us to pay for delicious snacks, our website and we donate all remaining proceeds to the Sudan Reach Women’s Foundation, an organization that helps Sudanese women and girls get access to education, medical care and entrepreneurial opportunities.

So join us for Mouthful’s kick-off to the summer!  We’ll see you tonight!

Best,
The Mouthful Collective
Dawn, Laura, Lisa and Meghan
Mouthfulreadingseries.com

An end to running, but never running out

I received bad news on Wednesday: I have arthritis in my knee.  This is a consequence of my 1999 fracture, and was recently aggravated by overexercising.  The doctor didn’t exactly say it was an “arthritis flare-up,” but I guess you could call it that.  I still choose to call it a sports injury, though.  After all, I did this to myself while doing sports.

The orthopedist showed me the x-ray.  It was obvious once he pointed it out to me.  Why this didn’t show up in the 2005 x-ray I don’t know.  It is the same pain, the same injury.  Or should I put quotation marks around it?  “Injury.”  There.

The doctor prescribed exercises, two Aleve tablets twice daily for two weeks, and ice at night.  The pain should clear up, and I’ll be able to walk fine after that.

Then he said, “No running, no walking.”

I said, “I can’t, right now.  I can’t walk much at all.”

He said, “If you do, you’re looking at a knee replacement.”

“Huh?”

“No running, no walking.  You can walk to the gym and work out like crazy.  You can work out on the elliptical, do the stairmaster, and the exercise bike.  As a matter of fact, the exercise bike is the best thing for this.  But no high-impact sports.  If you run or do lots of walking, your knee isn’t going to last much longer.”

“You mean, until this clears up, right.”

“Even after.  And by the way, you’re not a good candidate for knee replacement surgery, because of your nutritional issues.”

“Ever?”

Thus begins my new life.   Laps around the track with the sun just peeking up on the horizon is a thing of the past.  Victory Field track is past tense now.  I can kiss the treadmill goodbye.  My last run was May 16.  I ran two miles at the gym and walked seven.  Then…my last run was running after a bus.  Imagine that.

I have spent many minutes and hours grieving over this.  It didn’t hit me at first.  Yes, I cried on the bus ride home.  I always cry on buses.  I’ve cried on every bus I’ve ridden since I found out the diagnosis.  And I’m not done crying.

So I’m going to make adjustments.  Life is adjustment.  I’m going to work the hell out of the elliptical as soon as my knee can take it, and pretend that I’m running.  I’m going to climb the eight flights of my building.  I’m going to inflate my fitness ball and do core strengthening at home.  I’m going to work my upper body.  I’m going to strengthen my legs as much as I can, especially my quadriceps, which is the prescribed treatment for this disorder.  If it means showing up at the gym just about every day, well, I will.  So long as I can walk there, I’ll be there.

I have a secret to developing upper body muscles:  It’s not circuit-training or freeweights.  The secret is to get injured and spend about three weeks on crutches.  That is all you need. Get ripped, baby, get ripped.

I am able to walk Puzzle fast now.  My secret to this is to continue to use my cane.  If I place the cane down at the same time as I step with my right leg, I can lessen impact.  I’m going to teach myself to place the cane down a split second before I step, to further lessen impact.  I am going to set a limit at a mile, and this time, stick with it.

Now that I am following the doctor’s advice, I am in a lot less pain.  I don’t need crutches at this point.  I use one crutch if I’m carrying a heavy load on my back.  I am going to take my cane on the bus tonight just to make sure I get a seat.  I should just be able to ask for one, anyway.  There’s a sign that says that no one can deny a seat to a passenger, or reserve a seat.  Except for once, I have always easily gotten a seat in the front “accessible” row of the bus.  I will only need to do to sit up front for the next couple of weeks.  I guess for now I’ll be special.

I don’t feel very special, though.  The high point of my day, my run, has been taken from me.  I am grieving.  Arthritis…an old ladies’ disease.  I feel ashamed.  Of course, I got it from a fracture I had at 41, not from being “old,” but still, arthritis is arthritis, and it is not going to get better.

I hope I don’t write about it all that much, but I fear that I will, only because it’s such an issue for me not to be running.  Exercising has taken on a whole new meaning now.  It serves a different purpose.

I told my therapist today that like my leg in 1999, I feel broken.  I feel broken by my eating disorder, which is responsible for giving me osteoporosis (thinned bones), which is the reason my femur broke in the first place.  My therapist said that my eating disorder is responsible for the arthritis pain I feel in my knee, because it was caused by compulsive overexercising.  My eating disorder has broken my life.

Well, Sunday I’m going to the gym.  I’m going to work out as much as my  a____ knee will allow.  Soon, I’ll be able to do more, after the pain clears up.  But Sunday, I’m going to find a bar somewhere, and, using my newfound upper body and arm muscles, I’m going to lift myself up off the floor.

Imagine that.

 

Update: News About Me

Last night I cut my dose of Trilptal in half, from 300 mgs each night to 150.  My doctor still doesn’t know that I cut it from 600 to 300 in March.  I cut it down further because of the return of the “swaying” a few days ago.  I plan to get off Trileptal in a few days, or maybe week.  I don’t see any point in taking 150 mgs, because that I know of, it is not a therapeutic dose.  I could be wrong about this.  Don’t take my word for it.  I feel okay about this because I am also on two other anticonvulsants, Lamictal and Topamax.  I take all these three medications for mood stabilization.  They also help me with bingeing (that is, an eating binge).  I found that the Trileptal lost its anti-binge properties after maybe six weeks after I started taking it, though initially it was quite effective.  Mood stabilizers are the only medication that help me with bingeing.

Right now, I am working on not bingeing by behavior techniques, and my special friend Frank has been very supportive and helpful to me.  We have hopes that I can stop bingeing, at least for a long, long time.  After I have not binged for 21 days, we are going to have a binge party!  We are going to binge together–on nothing!  We are so excited about this celebration!  Of course, I have no clue as to whether I will be able to do 21 days, so we are taking it one day at a time.  I am celebrating x days today.  This morning, I am listening to a Daughtry CD that I borrowed from the library, and celebrating.  I have never heard Daughtry before, because I don’t listen to the radio, but I understand he’s quite popular these days.

I will probably not keep you posted on my progress.  It will be too embarrassing if I screw up.

Today I will meet my case manager from the Department of Mental Health for the first time.  This will be mainly yet another intake meeting–the third.  We are meeting with the director at my home.

After that, I am seeing an orthopedist about my knee.  It is time.  It’s been three weeks now that I have not been able to walk 1) without pain, and 2) without a mobility aid (crutches or cane).  Frequently, I have pain even when I am off my feet.  I have spent little time outside my home.  I have been miserable because of this injury.  I can no longer do this alone.  I need specialized, professional help with it.  I got an appointment very quickly.

As to my anorexia…I am still restricting…eating mostly vegetables….My weight is dropping…again….

I still have edema and I hate it.  But it is lessening.  Today I said to myself, “Fuck it.  It is going to be hot out. I’m wearing shorts.”

I have developed these incredible upper body muscles from using crutches.  Forgive me for boasting, but last time I was at the gym, I was nearly able to lift my entire body off the floor using the triceps pull.  My muscles are larger now (muscles really show when you are very skinny) and I am absolutely positive that I can lift myself off the floor entirely now.  Next time, I’ll give it a try when nobody’s looking.  Of course, I’ll take the pin out of the resistance thingy after I’m done!

I still get vertigo. I get it about 75% of the time–that is, I get it ten minutes after the first morsel of food I put in my mouth in the morning, and it lasts for several hours, 75% of days.  There seems to be no pattern.  On Sunday, it lasted all day.  I swear I am not making this up.  I know it comes from my anorexia.

I have been keeping Microsoft Excel charts of my food.  I have been doing this obsessively.  I spend hours at it.  I print them out at the end of the day.  These are secret charts that I plan on showing no one.  I think the only good thing about it is that I am learning Excel!  More on this later.  I intend on writing an entire entry discussing these charts.

Okay, enough.  Have a nice day.