Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ambien-Straterra Dance to Hell

I've been on Straterra for 8 days to help me with concentration, impulse control, school work, managing distractions, etc.

I stopped sleeping on day 2. It's not a stimulant so it's not supposed to affect me that way.

My heart started racing in my chest on day 5.

I was so hyped up I felt shaky on day 7. And I still hadn't had good sleep in 2 weeks.

So I filled the Ambien prescription I'd been avoiding and took it last night. The half pill of Ambien helped me sleep like I usually do: up 4 or 5 times in one night but only for 5 minutes or so.

Today I had a short temper and a headache but there were also clouds, wind, and rain (all of which affect my moods and head) so that's not proof of anything. I've also been unable to concentrate.

Not to worry, though--I'm on the intro-pack to Straterra so I'll take a bigger dose tomorrow. I predict I will be hyped up again. So I'll take a full Ambien. So I'll loose concentration. I 'll be glad when the Straterra dose is upped again...

You have got to be kidding me.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cooling the Lava

I think of my emotions as hot lava or magma--they're intense (I use the word "brilliant" in my own mind), they can wrap up the people around me before they know what's hit them, and my emotions can be slow moving or fast and dangerous. Whatever descriptors might fit, they are always right. under. the surface.

These lava emotions can be a great strength for me, especially with children who generally appreciate enthusiasm. I tend to have a harder time with adults because the conversations are more sensitive and adults are expected to contain themselves (or that's what I'm told, anyway). So I was very, very proud of myself for being the voice of reason earlier this week.

I had my first class with my education cohort this Wednesday. ADHD-wise, I did excellently. I had no problem staying seated or listening for 2 hours at a time (well... ok, I started feeling antsy after 90 minutes but I was still able to concentrate). I was able to keep my comments and questions focused and relevant. I felt like an adult student.

During the break, I was chatting with 2 of my classmates while getting some of my online work set-up on my laptop. I sat between them while they talked about an upcoming vacation in Mexico. The woman on my right was very worried for our new friend because "Mexicans are crazy." Without warning, she launched into a frenzied diatribe because "I hate illegals. We should just round them up, take them somewhere, and kill them all."

There are many, many things wrong with what she expressed. The immediate leap between the citizens of Mexico and illegal immigrants in the US, the extermination of any group of people, the insulting phrase regarding Mexicans, saying something so extreme to people you've just met...

My usual instinct when confronted with bigotry is to ask, "Have you lost your ever-lovin' mind???" It's also what I actually do because these people have lost their ever-lovin' minds and there isn't any other way to put it.

But this was the beginning of a 2 year stint with my classmates. We were just told "you'll be like family by the end of this program." I can't start that kind of relationship off with a row, even if the woman is a nutso. Plus there are only 7 other people in the group--I can't avoid working with her.

So I took a deep breath. Without thinking about it, I kept my eyes on my laptop and very calmly said, "That sounds pretty prejudiced." Not the most elegant rebuff but there it was: "you're not going to spew your hatred all over me for the next 2 years and in return I won't scorch your sorry butt like the vicious volcano the other crazies have to experience" neatly wrapped into 4 words.

She sputtered out a lame excuse, to which I replied, "Hm." I've been honing that 'hm' since I saw an excellent teacher/professor/mentor use it to quell 20 teenagers 5 years ago. Thankfully it worked for me. Everyone participating calmed down and I'd gotten my point across without shouting or spewing back (or beating anyone senseless).

For once, my emotions stayed calm; impulse and reaction did not rule the day.

Ritalin in October

I took Ritalin for 30 days before being moved to a different medication. Or rather, I took half doses for 3 days in a row and was ready to crawl out of my skin. But it takes a while to get used to any medication, right?

So I took 1 or 2 days off and tried again. Again, by 12pm on day 3 I was a jitter bug. I wanted to take it regularly to give it a fair chance. My distractibility was way down--a huge plus. But my impulse and hyperactivity both jumped, as did my general anxiety. Concentration doesn't mean a whole lot if sitting still is physically painful or I have to walk for 2 hours after doing any amount of school work.

In short, I did much better in school (earning an A- in Sociology was frighteningly easy) but couldn't enjoy it because I was anxious, jumpy, and had impulsively made (and eaten) chocolate chip cookie dough enough times to cause acne and bloat me right out of the skinny jeans I'd spent the summer working myself back into.

The RN at the Neurology office was very frustrated to hear this pattern continued for the entire month. "It only works if you take it regularly."

I guess I was supposed to take the sleeping pills regularly too, huh? She covered her face and breathed slowly for a minute. But the sleeping pills were a similar story--I'd take them for a couple nights and then I'd stop sleeping through the night. Some nights I'd wake up for hours at a time. It just didn't seem worth it.

She moved me to straterra and ambien. The straterra has been a nightmare and I've put off the ambien until tonight. I'll write about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Current WIPs

**I came across this post from 9/13/2010. Even my new blog has a drafts build-up. Le sigh.**

These are a few of my current Works In Progress. I'll update one or two of them on Wednesdays. I'm hoping this will help me track my progress (goals have to be measurable, right?). We'll see how far I've come in a few months.

When I need to get back to an e-mail I mark it as unread. Sometimes I'll read and then mark it as unread again several times. Every few months I go back and delete these e-mails (or I'll just read them and leave them that way). 60 seems to be my limit before it's really bothering me.

I also save passwords as replies to companies but then never send them. This way I can just search my draft box for that company when I need the password but have forgotten it I don't have 40 passwords so there are probably a few e-mails hiding in there that were supposed to be send. I accidentally press SAVE instead of SEND more often than I'd like to admit.


Several months ago I had $100 set aside for yarn. I bought several skeins of yarn, all of which I'd been in love with for months (even years!). I spent a few months just enjoying actually owning the yarn. Then we spent some time organizing it (and the rest of our office closet) so I spent some time owning organized yarn. But now it's time to use some of it (because I can't buy any more until I've used some of what I already have). This project from shouldn't take more than 7 evenings.


This lovely bundle of organized yarn is for a knitting compitition. I signed up for it 9 months ago! I have to have it done before Christmas. I have to make balls out of the yarn before I can start making the stole.


Maybe my e-mail is just a symptom of a greater problem: I save to sort later. These boxes haven't been unpacked in years but I still keep them at the ready. Just in case. In case of what, I don't know. I'm trying to keep the other piles from becoming box situations but any time I go through them I'm left with a trash/recycle pile. ...and another, albeit smaller, keep and organize later pile.

Neurology #2

3 weeks ago, I returned to Dr. Cellphone's office ready to eat someone, anyone (everyone!) if I had to. I had a bulleted list of points to make while dishing out some emotional whiplash  to the cellphone talking, misogynistic, assumption making, fat-hating idiot.

As it turned out, I didn't see the Dr. Instead, I saw the RN. She spent a few moments reading through my file--my medical history, the notes I'd given them about my life, and the ADHD test and "sleep" study results. The longer she took to get the whole picture, the less angry I felt.

Not less upset, mind you. I just wasn't in the mood to eat anyone alive any more.

She started with, "Your test results would indicate you have ADHD." I cried.

The RN paused a moment and then moved away from the Dr. Seat into the other Patient Seat and said, "Tell me what's going on."

I cried more.

And as I continued to cry, I told her how Dr. Nomanners threw it out there that I need to weigh 110 pounds, sleep 3 hours more than I already try to, and exercise "more" than who even knows what because 1) I work out with my sister regularly and 2) I weighed this much when I played rugby, swam, and rode my bike to work. I told her how he accused my husband of not doing enough, like he should be up until 12am with the baby and then up again at 5:30am because Baby's, well, a baby.

By then I had stopped crying and I was able to move seamlessly into the fact that, beyond the general waste of investing in a bad doctor, I can't invest in all of these tests and trying out different medications because there is a very real possibility that we're going to lose our health insurance by 2011.

And, just for good measure, I threw in the strange sidenote Dr. Insane had about "restless leg syndrome" because, honestly, what do you expect a woman to do when her entire body and her brain pulse with the need to move but the only socially acceptable action during conversation is a small leg movement or two?

The RN listened carefully. She nodded, she empathized. She started with, "I think you have ADHD. We can start you on Ritalin because it's the cheapest without health insurance. If you lose your insurance I can change the appointment codes and space them farther apart. You can afford this. You can do it."

And she ended with "You're beautiful."

In the middle were minor details like, Dr. Whatshisface is some amazing neurologist and he's respected all over the world for his amazing inventions. The real point of all this was 1) she'll talk to him about saying stupid things to patients (again) and 2) he's so damned busy with all of this other not-me stuff that I won't be seeing him again, anyway. And she mentioned, "I'm not excusing him. It's unacceptable. Have you ever heard of a genius with no social skills?"

So long story short, I've been on Ritalin for 3 weeks. I was also given a pill to help me fall asleep but, as the time stamp for this post will show, I haven't been taking it regularly. My head feels like it's sloshing around 1/2 the time and I don't like that.

I'm not fond of the Ritalin, either. I have amazing concentration abilities but I can also feel myself moving 1 bagillion miles a minute (inside and out).

Follow-up appointment at the end of the week and health insurance prospects have improved somewhat. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


11 years after I was first diagnosed with ADHD, I had my information gathered and I was finally ready to face the truth: I have ADHD. Living untreated is an ongoing practice of failure. I recognized that my life, my efforts in school, and my marriage were all on roller coasters.

So I had my first meeting with a well known neurologist. I really can't put the resulting disappointment into words. Fortunately my husband was with me.

I was referred to Dr. N by a psychologist I saw for adult ADHD through my EAP. The recommendation was seconded by parents of children I've known for years. These credentials were misleading.

He's glad that psychologists like the one that referred me are starting to see that it's not ADHD, it's that people are tired.

In short, Dr. N doesn't believe in ADHD. Or at least that's what he said before I started crying.

There were other details but I'll skip them for now. I need to sleep.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hungover and Fortunate

I started a new history class last night. After much sitting still, there was 2 hours of heated discussion about politics. I LOVED it. It was a stimulant rush for brain. I came home at 10:30pm just humming with mental energy. I had so much to do, say, think and feel!

In fact, so many possibilities were in my energized reach that I made a mental to-do list, completely forgetting there would be other people at home. That single factor sent me spinning out of control. I was all revved up with no place to go and felt very surly. My husband helped with some of the chores but I eventually had to settle on reading by myself, lest I say something snarky (and undeserved).

Then I did a nose dive at 11:30. I crashed hard. It was difficult for me to pull the pieces together long enough to get my pajamas on and get into bed. The world seemed dull and slightly fuzzy

I woke up this morning feeling hung over. I wasn't hungry for breakfast (rare) and I had a very difficult time getting myself up and dressed (very rare). I'm fortunate in that my husband helped get our son the door without asking any questions.

I need one book for this class so I spent an hour wandering around Barns and Noble. I found the text without problem but couldn't really figure out what I was supposed to do next. A second fortune presented itself when I meandered into the psychology section: The ADD Nutrition Solution.

The ADD Nutrition Solution delves deep into the science of ADHD, brain function, and nutrition. There was discussion of the molecular make up of healthy and unhealthy fats, something I appreciated, but there were also tidbits anyone could easily apply to their life.
Example: saturated fats are bad. How we know? They're solid in our arteries. They're also solid at room temperature.

Serving suggestions based on age and sex and health (ie. pregnant, nursing) also seemed incredibly helpful. Daily meal plans and recipes made it into the the last chapters (ostensibly to make them easier to find).

I didn't buy the book but it's on my library list. In the mean time, I'm still going to see a neurologist next week. Food will help but I can't imagine getting to a place where I could manage my grocery budget (we've just switched to the envelope system), strict grocery lists, new recipes/menus and life without some kind of assistance. Maybe meds will help make the short term more manageable so I can get going on long term life changes like diet.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Class Participation

I don't just like to hear myself talk.

I need to discuss, read aloud, ask questions, debate....

Because I can't pay attention if I'm not doing!

Amazing, I know.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fear of Success

I'm almost finished with my first class at the new university. Tomorrow night will leave me with an A--I did the math after class last week. The next day I looked at the single assignment left to do and I had an anxiety attack over it.

A counselor talked about stress techniques at our first class so I shared my fear of success. They were all shocked. It sounds loony, right? But there it is: Everyone else in my class discussed their fears of failure, the counselor in empathy and offering bits of wisdom. But fear of success? No one has anything to say to that.

But what is there to say? I tell myself it will be over soon and then there will be another class next week. I also make sure to laugh with my family

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ups and Downs

My learning team was 35 minutes to prepare an impromptu 5-10 minute presentation tonight. We ROCKED it.

My teammates are relatively easy going women but I asked them to jump up and take risks with me. A powerpoint wasn't required but we decided to go for it. It was beautiful. We had several resources and examples for each of our degrees (as opposed to the 1 required for the grade).

We strolled up to the front of the room amongst friendly accusations of being over achievers, I opened up the USB drive and the document wasn't there.

We ended up doing the presentation off the cuff. We still rocked it but I was very disappointed in myself. I was so sure I'd saved it! I was left with the very familiar adrenaline rush. The less desirable but still familiar heart pounding and let down than an unnecessary risk leaves when it doesn't bring a reward dampened things for me.

More than anything, I was upset with myself for dragging my teammates through all of this. I've been through it a million times but they trusted me to guide them to success and I didn't come through.

I realize now what I've been putting myself through. I say I've become comfortable with the adrenaline highs and the disappointments over the last 20+ years but disappointment is disappointment. Maybe they've just become part of the regular routine.

If this is the case, I've got a lot of changes to make in myself as a student, a professional, and as a friend and family member.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Here and There

As I walked to the restroom ahead of the rest of my class tonight, it occurred to me that I was lookin' good. Not just that, I was feelin' good, too. I made it to class, dressed well, on time, and with all required materials. Plus I was wearing my sexy dress, a hot little number that is fashionable yet appropriately conservative in a work/school environment. Hell, my hair was even done!

As I mulled these things over, I walked into the men's room. I realized my mistake in time to catch the door as it shut, turned on my heel, and managed to laugh at whatever a classmate was saying about the incident before we were in our respective--and appropriate--bathrooms.

What strikes me most about this scenario is not my distractedness but how in tune I was. I didn't see a thing in the men's room--I was hardly in before I left again. And still some part of me said "WHOA!" and stuck my arm out to keep the door from closing. Some part of me was paying attention, it just had to be heard above my distracted self.

I made an appointment with a neurologist for the end of this month. Maybe I'll be seeing more of myself soon.

Monday, August 2, 2010


"All of us are guinea pigs in the laboratory of God. Humanity is just a work in progress."

~Tennessee Williams

We are all, as individuals, works in progress. Or that's what I believe, anyway. It's certainly true for me.

I first encountered the term “work in progress” (or WIP) when I started following knitting blogs. Knitters categorize their projects as WIPs, finished, or frogged (gave it up, ripped it out, it was eaten by the cat, etc. It is an ex-project). I have many knitting or crochet works in progress. Many, many, WIPs.

In fact, my life has always been full of works in progress. The scrapbook with all but 3 pages filled, 10 diaries, each with 3 pages filled, the first 2/3 of a quilt measured, cut and sewn together, the dry ingredients for my favorite lemon scented pancakes measured, sifted, and in an airtight container as they wait for their wet counterparts... Of course these are all examples of projects started as an adult. My WIP history started years before I knew how to measure or craft.

One of my favorite games as a child was Reporter. My sister and I would taste tic-tacs and then write a news article extolling the many dangers of Tic Tac Addiction. Day after day, I would sit at our very large computer and edit, edit, edit the article. Sometimes I would even start with a completely fresh document. I can't remember finishing one.

This is not to be confused with Perfectionism. I'm sloppy, disorderly, impulsive. I enjoy mistakes. I'm just a lover of Beginnings. The first chapter of a book is my favorite. The first stitches cast onto knitting needles are the most interesting. The ideas and anticipation of writing is most fulfilling for me. I'm more excited in those first miles of a road trip than I am when I get to my destination.

So I love throwing myself into growth and progress as an individual. Few things are better than finding a piece of myself previously undiscovered and cultivating it. A certain level of self-awareness helps, of course; but this love of beginnings— this passion for the new— lives next to my avoidance of the end. I now wonder: What happens to the last 3rd of the project?

I'm not talking about death— I'm talking about making use of my growth. It's easy to set aside a lace shawl, to throw out unused ingredients for a new cooking recipe. I choose not to ignore things I learn about myself. My most recent self discovery sounds just as easy to finish as my other projects were to lay aside: my AD/HD has become unmanageable. I need to finish my degree. I need to take medication.

There's the idea. My journey has started. The path is laid before me.

But how do I continue?