"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And now the darkness

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I suffer from bouts of depression. Not running, sleeping maybe 90 minutes a day and pacing back and forth waiting for a break in the incessant pain has me at a point where I'm dancing on the rim of the pit.

It's weird and frustrating that I can't just blurt out what's going on here, but it's partly the fault of US medicine and insurance. I'm switching from one insurance to another, so if I say I have some problem it's a pre-existing condition and not covered and I'm paranoid enough to believe that some insurance company menial will check here (I would). There's a pile of paperwork that's all conflicting, so right now nothing's covered.

A word about pain levels: when you go to a hospital, you're always asked to describe pain on a 10 point scale, with 10 being the worst pain you've ever had. That's just stupid, as some people have experienced far worse pain than others. I once passed a kidney stone, which is often stated as unbearable - it's about a 3. I pulled one of my own wisdom teeth (wilderness, no where near a dentist) - a 5. I'd reserve 10 for end-stage bone cancer. The last time I was in the hospital for something painful (idiopathic esophageal spasms), they let me scream for 4 hours to make sure it wasn't drug-seeking behavior; then they gave me a boatload of morphine and said I was at the point where more would cause me to stop breathing - it was a 7 before the morphine, 5 after.

Note added: I just found a reasonable 10 point scale here. I'm at 8-9 on it.

Opiates simply don't work for me. I'm trying everything from acupressure to hypnosis, using medications to take the edge off. What works is packing the effected area in ice - and I'm spending my time indoors dressed for sub-zero temps because that much ice for that long is that cold.

I can't do anything, because I can't concentrate and I've been tired so long that I have no co-ordination. I almost make terrible decisions, thinking perhaps I should drink myself into passing out, just for the relief.

It's these times where you count your blessings. Loving family? Nope. Rewarding career? Nope. Health? Nope. Best to stop there...

Sometimes you struggle to get through the day just in the hope that the next will be better. Sometimes you struggle to get through the day without that hope.

Hello, darkness.


Psyche said...

I just started following your blog, so I did not know about such bouts. I'm very sorry to hear about the hell you are in, but from what I know of you so far, I have every confidence you will find your way through it.

ShutUpandRun said...

Awww...here's hoping for brighter days. You are one tough mother fucker.

Scream'n Turtle said...

Having watched a brother and sister deal with severe depression while going off their meds , I know what your going thru.
Drinking ( actually did this) till you pass out ,to escape the pain ,I've been there in 2005. Had a hopefully never again bout of 8 months in that pain state-smashed verabra ,several fusions,bolts, pins, metal cages in my neck,infection,throwing up weeks on end from med. reactions. NO FUN!!!!!
Hang in there Steve, we all have our finger's crossed for you.
Take Care!!

nwgdc said...

I'm not sure exactly what to comment on, but I'm pulling for you, know you're tougher than nails, and look forward to updates, if and when you feel like sharing.
Hang in there.

Matthew Patten said...

But you still have us.

And with friends like us.....

You have to get better so you can heckle me.

I fully expect to encounter you around midnight at an aid station at Zumbro, shaking your head, saying

"I told you it wouldn't work"

8am Afton Sunday. That should cheer you up

Londell said...

Holy shit... I bitch about being fat and now I think I am pretty lucky! As before, you fought through it... prayers to you.

trailgrrl said...

If I was close..because your comments always make me smile...I would bring you a peanut butter cup and leave it on your door step

wildknits said...

First off - sorry to hear about all that you are going through!

Thanks for the pain scale link - may use that with patients in the future. In nursing we like the phrase " pain is what the patient says it is". It is a vital sign, but can't see it or assess it objectively. Knowing what I do of you... well, if you are rating it a 8-9 than many folks would be off that chart.

At work I spend much of my day in the process of helping patients sort through the ever changing health insurance landscape. New year, new plans, new formularies mean that what has been working well for years is no longer covered. Hence much time is spent trying to prior authorize meds that a patient is in desperate need of.

Being in pain, dealing with depression and then having to f*** around with forms is cruel and a stupid way to provide health care.

Hang in there - pull in the support you have (and you do have some blessings in your life, though they may be hard to see right now). My thoughts are with you.

SteveQ said...

For those who are getting follow-up comments: things are getting better (just posted something not too bad). Down to 4 on the pain scale.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Man, that sounds like a boat-load of suck, but glad to hear you're feeling better.

And you're right about pain - it's a personal thing and there's something weirdly, blackly comical about these attempts to quantify it "objectively". I mean, if one claims he's at a 10 pain level, what's to stop the doctor from kneeing him in the nuts and asking, "Does that hurt more?"


"So you were lying before when you said it was a 10, then."

"No - you just Spinal Tapped me and it's only now that I realize pain can go up to 11."

Possibly beyond. Of course, my 11 may be your 2. How can we know?

I know Teh 'Dad, who is schizophrenic, said that the worst physical pain he ever suffered - and he suffered his share - was nothing compared to the mental torment he occasionally endured.

But despite that, he made a life for himself and just to be "normal" was, for him, a triumph.

So hang in there, Steve.

We do care.

joyRuN said...

Hey SQ. I'm sorry to hear you'd hit this point but looks like you were able to find what could work for you.

I'm glad you shared that list of possible ways to get out of that black hole, especially because while you're in it, it's difficult to see what else is out there other than this dark suffocating void.

SteveQ said...

@G: Just saw your comment. Didn't know about the Heisendad's schizophrenia; that's a tough one. The love of my life was schizophrenic and she reveled in her abnormalcy - until it killed her - then the mental anguish got transferred to me. It's the gift that just keeps giving.