If I had to sum up the last several weeks, that’s what I would say: in a way, there has been a lot happening. And in a way, almost nothing.
I’m still recovering from going off my medications too abruptly. It wasn’t a good move, at all, and I made myself pretty sick by it.
It’s been nearly four weeks, and in those four weeks, I have only been able to work about two hours. Not two hours a day, or two hours a week. Two hours total in nearly a month. I’m a freelancer and thank heavens I don’t work full-time, but it’s been bad. I have actually had to move deadlines for clients, something I never do.
I’ve been communicating semi-regularly with Tabitha, my psychiatric nurse practitioner, and she’s basically convinced me to go back onto the meds, little by little. First I went back to a half dose of Cymbalta. Then I added in a little Wellbutrin. But I’ve been incredibly exhausted with intense brain fog, so I’ve slowly agreed to keep upping the Wellbutrin. It works on dopamine and is supposed to help wake up my brain and get it going again. And really, compared to other things I have taken over the years, it’s a pretty benign and helpful medication.
Meanwhile, something else is going on with me physically. I have had a growing amount of pain in my pelvis, which I sometimes think is intestinal, sometimes vaginal. Or both. It’s very hard to know what is going on. And in this era of recent re-opening after all the shutdowns, it’s been incredibly hard to access medical care. Some health care providers quit because of all the stress around COVID. Others, including my primary care doctor, are seeing fewer patients per day so they can clean exam rooms and keep more distance between patients. And then there are all the people who didn’t go to the doctor for a year or more because of the pandemic, so there is a big pent-up demand.
Consequently, it’s really hard to get an appointment. I could tell you a long story about all the runaround I have had between the Urgent Care clinic and my primary care doctor’s practice but I’ll spare you the details. I have really had to summon up my best energy to advocate for myself to get in at all.
I finally saw a doctor I didn’t know at all. She was nice and listened but said it sounded like something gynecological to her–and she didn’t know a lot about gynecology. Maybe I should go back to see the urogynecologist who did my surgery five years ago? Ugh, I said, never. The doctor’s eyebrows shot up when I said that.
She referred me to get a CT scan. It took the insurance a week to approve the request. Then it took two days for me to get through to the scheduling office. First they said the next appointments were in September, but later I got them to find me a slot in two weeks at another diagnostic imaging center.
This is how challenging it is for me–and I have good insurance, know how to be politely insistent, have time in the day for multiple phone calls, and speak fluent English. What about the literally millions of people here who can’t do that?
So anyway, I’m hanging in there but not feeling so great and probably won’t know anything further until the end of the month, if then.
Another topic. My son’s new girlfriend, Patty, came to town on July 2, and I have hardly seen Andres since then. He’s currently at her house in Idaho, helping her pack for her move here to where we live. I have a good impression of her and hope this will be a good thing for him–but it’s been a huge change that has happened really fast. He’s so impulsive and makes huge life decisions that deeply affect my husband and me without giving us any real notice. And I suppose that’s okay, but my husband and I are planners. We are slow and methodical and systematic, so it’s challenging when all of a sudden Andes moves back in with us, as he did in November 2019, as well as when he suddenly moves out.
It’s not clear he’s gone for good, however. Plans seem to evolve from day to day, but it may be that he and Patty both stay with us for the month of August while they look for a place. I am trying to tread that narrow line, where on the one hand I am warm and welcoming and supportive, but on the other hand, I am making it clear that this is a short-term, temporary situation. They are supposed to be out by September 1. I don’t know if they realize, however, that they absolutely have the upperhand, because I know myself well enough to know I won’t have the heart to kick them out if they can’t find a place. But don’t tell them I said that.
E was on vacation, again, in early July. Yesterday was the first time I saw her since June. I was looking forward to it but it was not a good session. It wasn’t a terrible session; we didn’t have a rupture, thank goodness. But there was no emotional connection. She was not in her best form. I told her something–which I’ll write about in a separate post–that I am considering doing, but which feels hard and scary to me. And she evidently thinks it’s a good idea and spent a large part of the session encouraging / pushing me to do it.
At one point I even interrupted her, “You forgot the part where you say, ‘I can see that this is really hard for you.'”
She gave a quick laugh, “Right! The empathy part. Yes, it is hard, of course. But you can do it and blah blah blah reason reason reason don’t disempower yourself etcetera…”
It just left me cold. The more she pushed, the more I felt I didn’t want to do it. And I didn’t want to talk to her about it. I don’t understand why she does this sometimes. She knows herself how crucial it is to first show me that she really gets it, that she knows why it’s hard. It’s important that I trust she sees my fears, or that she helps me unpack them myself. Just running over them, dismissing them, that’s no help. And I know this because she taught me! So why does she think she doesn’t have to do it anymore?
Argh. How long have I been saying that I need to end this therapy relationship? Not months, but YEARS. It’s crazy how hard it is for me to do it. But–here’s another interpretation of the title of this blog post for you–I keep going a lot and get almost nothing out of it. Just like I need to be strong and get myself care for whatever is happening in my pelvis, I need to pull together the strength to say, “Thank you, E, for the gifts you have given me, and now it’s time to say goodbye.” It’s time. It’s past time. It’s seriously overdue.
CREDIT: Photo by Mark Eder on Unsplash. (There's a lot of sand. And nothing at all going on.)
Pain in the body is so scary for me. So relieved you take the necessary steps to find out why despite the many obstacles.
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Yes, it’s an improvement. I used to just let things go out of some combination of apathy, overwhelm and fear. I’m glad I’ve come to value taking care of myself and learned to advocate for myself (i.e. be a little pushy) when the system is not responsive.
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Half the battle is knowing. My fears subside considerably when finding out. But in the past it took doctor after doctor to figure it out. Most are too busy to really even look and understand the history I so carefully fill out. Like they don’t even read it. Good luck. You sound like you possess the persistence needed to keep at it till you find a wise, capable doctor.
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Well done for advocating for yourself like that. It’s scary to think how many people wouldn’t be able to, like you say – I’m glad you did though, and hope it’s good results.
It really interests me that therapy doesn’t seem to work the same way and E just don’t reading the signs how she used to. I wonder if she’s winding down ahead of her retirement date? I’ve noticed sometimes that can happen. Also, you know that thing they the pupil is never about the teacher? Sounds like that WAS the case with you today! Do we naturally outgrow our therapists, I wonder?
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Thank you! I used to be such a wimp, so unable to advocate for myself. I feel a little uncomfortable but also a bit proud when I stretch myself these days and say, “No, it’s not okay to wait six more weeks. Please help me get medical attention sooner.”
I have wondered the same thing, if E is letting things go a bit as she drifts toward retirement. Or maybe it’s as you said, that I have outgrown her. Who knows? I have spent much too much time trying to analyze what is going on between us. Is she different? Am I different? Should I say or do something different to get a different reaction from her? But it shouldn’t be that much work, not in an intimate relationship and not in a therapeutic relationship. I shouldn’t be coaxing her into showing me some empathy!
It would be wiser, I think, to simply say, “I’ve grown so much from working with E. And now, for whatever reason, many of our therapy sessions no longer feel useful in the way they used to. The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is that I recognize what is and isn’t serving me at this stage in my life, and I put my energy into the things that help me continue to grow, develop, and be the person I want to be.”
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No, when you put it like that, it makes sense that you shouldn’t have to coax her into anything, empathy or otherwise! Your last paragraph makes it sound like you’re really ready to bring this to a close now, you’re talking completely differently about it. Also, I am drawing some parallels to my own relationships, particularly the marital one, and thinking its not just therapists we take stock over to establish whether it’s servicing any fruitful purpose anymore or not. Sobering thoughts, but also mature ones I feel. You sound like, even if there are lurking doubts (which, almost certainly is to be expected after so many years!) There comes across as an inner peace in the core of you, over it all.
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