Thursday, July 22, 2010

This is a test. This is only a test.


This was only a test. Had this been an actual emergency, the beep would have been followed by me yelling "HEEEEELP!"

Ok not really.

This is actually an update. Yes, it HAS been a while. I am here to report that July has been a month from the inner pits of HELL. Too much pain. Too much stress. Too much happening in general. I am at my wits end and feel like I'm losing my marbles, to be frank. Who is that Frank guy anyway?

(At least I haven't lost my stupid sense of humor. But I digress...)

So here it is - my big fat middle of the year update. Buckle your seatbelt. I'd say grab a beer while you're at it, but I don't drink. Although it's tempting right now. And you'll probably be tempted too...fair warning.

In a nutshell, I feel like death warmed over. I can't stay out of bed, yet I can't sleep. I am weak to the point of being non-functional at times. Sometimes I feel like I'm going to just drop dead. I have several pulled and torn muscles (one of many symptoms of systemic disease) that are causing me tremendous pain. I force myself to get dressed and go to school, where I am utterly miserable. I try so hard and still fail at meeting my own expectations. As a result, I fear that I've let everyone else down as well, and that breaks my heart. I am terribly discouraged and don't know what to do or where to go from here. As much as I love the JC studio and everybody there, I feel unworthy of being there while I'm in such a difficult place in life. My goal was to not only be a good student, but be a positive force and a friend to all and I've failed at that. I feel like an annoyance at this point, and while I've been told otherwise by someone that I look up to, I'm having a hard time believing it. No offense to him, of course...he's very kind and has taught me more than he'll ever realize. I'm just way too tired and can't seem to shake it. A person with systemic disease can only take so much pain, stress, activity, and muscle weakness before they completely crash. I knew it was happening and no matter how hard I fought, I couldn't stop it. It is more disheartening than words can adequately express.

The good news is that my heart rate and blood pressure were brought under control by switching back to a potassium-based angiotensin II receptor antagonist (Avapro, if you care). I was right about switching back and my doc agreed, and I am so thankful to not be in constant tachycardia anymore. Although I still have occasional episodes complete with shortness of breath, it has definitely improved and I am grateful.

My potassium intake has quadrupled. Sounds crazy to the average joe, but I was right about that as well and it has kept me from becoming completely bed-bound. Unfortunately, I am still experiencing HypoK attacks between doses on a daily basis, so my kidneys and muscles are not recovering as well as I was expecting them to. I was honestly expecting to recover and be back in maintenance mode by March, and it didn't happen. I'm very, very upset about this, but I'm not giving up. I am meeting with a new doctor on September 8th and I pray that this will help.

As for the pulling and tearing muscles and is the result of systemic disease, but also my meds. Meds that I have no choice but to take. Talk about a catch 22. All I did was sneeze, and cartilage tore in my chest. I have a history of pulled and torn muscles in my chest and back, and I am in excruciating pain all night and most of the day. Just when it starts to get better, I sneeze, cough, laugh, turn wrong, or breathe hard and it pulls all over again. It is absurd, and I can't help but wonder if there will come a day when the "wrong" muscle tears. Lungs are a muscle. The heart is a muscle. The esophagus is a muscle. All of these muscles are directly affected by Periodic Paralysis. I really can't afford to think about the what ifs, though, so I won't dwell on it. I just want the misery to cease so I can have a life.

Back to some good news...I'm not failing college. I have A's in everything so far except American Literature which has been the most ridiculous college experience of my life and I am currently in a dispute over my grades. The teacher has made many huge mistakes...HUGE...and although I avoid conflict like the plague, I can't let these mistakes go. I hope things work out and I don't lose my 4.0, but I'm not holding my breath. The other class I am currently taking is Drawing II, which is the class that I had to drop in January due to being ill. As I said, it is very hard for me to be there, but I'm trying my best and I am extremely grateful for my instructor who continues to deal with me with the utmost patience.

I'm also relieved that my artwork hasn't declined. I was concerned that after not drawing for seven months, that I would not do well at all. It's not easy and I have a LONG way to go before I am convinced that I know what I'm doing, but I am surprised with what I've accomplished so far (sleep deprived and in terrible pain, no less):

Charcoal study - apples and partial seashell on drapes

Charcoal study - trumpet and open clay jar on drapes

Charcoal still life final

Two weeks remain of the class, then I have to decide what to do about school. I have switched to part time, for sure, and I am currently enrolled in two history classes for the fall. If the teacher is competent and well-organized, it should be the easiest semester of my life. I do have a Design 1 audit on the schedule, but I am reluctantly dropping it as I don't have the funds or the health to handle it. Either way, I do have a lot of artwork in the plans and hope to crank it out at home even if I can't be in the studio. I'll miss my peeps, though.

My faith is definitely being tested right now, but I am hanging on to hope that I will pass the test. I have a lot more to talk about, including health (in detail), teaching, photos, feelings, family, and future plans. To those who are actually choosing to read all of this crap (ha), thanks and stay tuned for another blog shortly.


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