Thursday, August 7, 2008

Rage Update!

The afternoon at the hospital started out with one small tweak of my rage meter. The hospital I go to, to see my cardiologist, is new and maze-like. So I usually stop at the one place I can reliably find--The Heart Lung Center. I asked the woman at the desk directions to Dr. Weiss' office. She asked me if I just had an appointment with Dr. Weiss, or was I having a procedure done. I told her I was having a stress test. She said, "That might be done downstairs." She called downstairs, and no I was not scheduled for the test downstairs. Then she called the Heart Rhythm Center and got their answering service. They were at lunch and wouldn't be back until 1:30. My appointment was for 1:00 so this was the first real tweak of my rage button. Remember I had not had my latte, and I'm not doing well on Zoloft for my bipolar disorder. I can't sleep. Everything pisses me off.

When I got to the correct location, there was one lone receptionist at the desk. The first thing out of my mouth was, "Why would they schedule me for a stress test at 1:00 if everyone is at lunch until 1:30?!!" She said, "I don't know what you mean. The techs who do your stress test are here, and it will only be a moment."

They did take me back to get my stress test post haste. But once I was wired up, they did a pre-stress test echo cardiogram. The found something hinky and asked me if I had a lot of headaches. Yes, yes I do. I wake up with a headache almost every morning. Next question is would I mind if they do a couple of extra tests. No I don't mind. I want whatever they think they see to be definitively checked out. What they think they see is a hole in my heart that could be the culprit in my headaches, and might be bad enough to need repair. I say, "When they did the procedure to to check for clots in my heart, I remember being told there was a hole in my heart, but when I went to see the cardiologist there was nothing in the report on that procedure to indicate that they found a hole in my heart. No mention." Now I'm starting to get really pissed.

So they IV me to inject a dye in saline to follow it through my heart. This makes them decide to do another test. They take me all wired up with the IV in my arm to another room. They put some gadget on my head, screw it on tight at my temples and inject another dye. This confirms something and then they take me back for my stress test. Now I'm stressed. I chug away on the treadmill, huffing and puffing within a minute, but every three minutes they increase the incline and speed. My legs start burning, then my ass muscles start burning. "Can you hang in there, you're almost through." I gasp, "Yes," gasp, "I think so," gasp. I make it through that test but I'm light headed and chugging, gasping for air. Quick, hurry, get back on the table to do the post test echo-cardiogram. Once that's done, they send me to an empty room to wait for my cardiologist.

He takes forty minutes to get to me and my irritation is growing by the second. Remember, I like my cardiologist. He's an Obama liberal. But when he finally comes in I have steam shooting out my ears. My nostrils are flared and shooting fire. I'm wishing I had a shotgun in my purse.
He says, "You have a hole in your heart that might need repairing." I say, "Remember when I came in after the first procedure and told you I heard them say I had a hole in my heart, and when I asked you about it, you said there was nothing in the record about a hole in my heart, and that I must have 'thought' I heard that, but didn't really?" He says he remembers our conversation but there is nothing in the record to indicate that they did, in fact, find a hole in my heart. I said, "This is unacceptable. I consider this omission from my records negligent." Well, this is as close as I can get to blasting him with my imaginary shotgun. I tell him I'm having problems with the new antidepressant and am unusually irritable. He says, "please have your psychiatrist call me--I'll reassure her that the Doxepin wasn't the problem with the fibrillation."

He tells me he isn't the one to evaluate the seriousness of the hole, and that I need an appointment with another doctor who is the one to read that part of this testing and decide whether or not it requires repair. Bla bla bla. I can no longer listen. My brain has shut down, and now rage is all I feel. Funny how rage shuts down the rest of the brain functions. After he finishes his bla bla bla, he takes me into the area where I'm to wait for the receptionist to make an appointment with this other doctor. The desk is empty. The is no one in the hallways. I want to start screaming, "Jane, you ignorant slut. Where the fuck are you, you lazy, slovenly bitch!!!!" But thankfully don't. By the time I get out of the building I'm at swearing, screaming rage level.

When I get home, I eat a bite, fix my latte, and decide to call my shrink's office again and try to find out why she has taken so long to get back to me when I knew I'd lost my mojo, my sweet temperament, my ability to sleep at night and all fucking patience with everyone. I know it's the drug switch, and I want off Zoloft and back on Doxepin. Now! She gets me to stop screaming and is very patient, considering how angry and loud I am. She tells me to stop the Zoloft and to begin to go back on the Doxepin gradually. When I hang up I'm still furious, but with a bit of pacing, and some deep breathing, and watching Keith, I finally calm down.

In a couple of days when I'm not so irritable, I'll aim what fury I have left at Comcast, who has the nerve to call themselves Comcastic.

21 comments:

Randal Graves said...

Well fucking hell man. It's good news - sounds weird, but bear with me - that they finally confirmed there's a hole, so that important bit of info isn't lost in their brains. Don't they use some kind of mesh to fix that shit up? At least I think that's what my wife's doc said. See, caffeine helps everything. Drink some more. And try throwing rotten vegetables at random passers-by, too.

DivaJood said...

URGENT URGENT URGENT. Did your shrink give you a regemin to get off Zoloft? You cannot just stop taking it, or you will have a psychotic episode - this is the one really bad thing about Zoloft that they sometimes forget to tell you. You MUST get off gradually. Please reassure me that she's doing this the right way.

Utah Savage said...

Be reassured Diva. I'm stepping down slowly. I was on my way to losing it, in that almost psychotic way. Zoloft was making me kind of crazy and completely uninspired--or n my terms, it was killing my creativity. She did tell me to back off pressuring myself to be creative in a hurry. Do a tiny bit at a time. Try to avoid contact with actual people who might piss me off. For me, that means staying in my cave. The only person who never pisses me off is Melea. Good thing she's the only person I see every day. I also take a mood stabilizer called Neurontin. I'm going to be fine and back to some semblance of normal for me.

Phillip is on vacation for the moment, so I won't have his sterling research and computing tune-up skills for awhile. But in the meantime I have to get Comcast to get my new digital phone system to work. I just went with the whole package. Shut-ins need their entertainments and speedy internets. And they need to have a way to take messages when they're napping.

Unconventional Conventionist said...

I'm putting on my non-existent Dr. Hat here, but a couple things from experience with others:

Diva is right - no cold turkey with that shit. You are supposed to have a plan to go from one regime to the other.

Plus, I have a suggestion [and un-asked for suggestions from busybodies are ALWAYS the best and so WELCOME, right? :)] Take a notepad and your favorite writing instrument with you on these excursions. Write shit down. That will help you from getting pissed off AND provide a record for you to look at. For instance, what KIND of hole did they find? Is it interstitial (between the heart walls)? Make them tell you the clinical terms, how they are spelled, and write them down, right then and there.

Arming yourself with information is such a sweet tonic. Really. Then your friends can help you find out facts and figure out other questions to bring to your clinicians on subsequent visits.

Bottom line you end up managing THEM, instead of the other way around. And that sounds much more like Utah to me.

Lastly, do you know how to meditate? Here's a beginner kind of suggestion. Take a random meaningless syllable, or even the classic "Om."

Close your eyes and silently repeat it to yourself over and over. Let your mind wander. And when you remember, "Oh I should be repeating my mantra" start it again. Try it for about 15, 20 minutes. You'll be surprised how refreshed you will feel.

There - hat off.

thepoetryman said...

Fanfuckingtastic! Which is the polar, pun intended, opposite of Comfuckingtastic!

Utah, You should heed divajood's warning! If your post is any indication you can ill afford to have an episode of the psychotic nature.

I can tell you that bi-polar (anti-depressants) do not work for me in the least, they do nothing, unless you count increasing my problems and psychosis thirty-thousand friggin' fold "nothing"...

DivaJood said...

Utah, picking up what Unconventional said - if you can, take a good friend with you, an advocate, along with the pad and pen. You need someone who is able to listen without emotion.

Zoloft in the wrong dosage will make you feel sort of flat, which you've been describing. It has worked well for me, and I continue to take it - but it took me about three months of feeling sort of "who cares" about everything before I was able to function normally. I've been on it two years now.

It is NOT for everyone. And it does not work for bipolar. It is for common, garden-variety depressives like myself.

Utah Savage said...

Thank you guys for the excellent advise and for your concern. I know I do need someone to go with me to these sessions. I have a friend who really needs a little scratch, and I might talk her into going with me for a bit of fun money. She does this for her husband, whose worse than I at following along once he's heard the bad news and then gets the complicated instructions.

enigma4ever said...

welll what fucking ordeal..anyone would be ready to break something with or without zoloft- lordy-what a day for you....sheeeesh....( I have never even heard of soloft being used for biploar, but I do think Diva is right about the taper....don't they use lithium anymore- I thought that was safe for heart issues...)
I hope the hole in your heart gets all sorted out and that you get the care you so need and deserve...but really how stressful, and that you can finally feel better...wow...

( randall is right - lordy cafffeine can fix so many things....)

enigma4ever said...

Utah:::
(1)I just read what Unconven said and DIva- they are right....someone with some nursing or medical experience to come with you would be great...can you call the American Heart Asso..in your area and ask them if you can have an advocate come with you and help you with your appointments ? they could write down stuff for you and maybe even drive you when stressed or not feeling well....email me- I might be able to think of other ways to get advocate...

(2) Uncon..is right meditate...COUNTING and deep breathing can really keep one's head from exploding....( or getting angina or having arrythmias....I know it sounds like BS- but it works...)

(3) Yoga..okay- don't laugh or think I have gone new age for you....but you also will meet other people that are trying to control anger and maintain calm....it helps to meet other people wrestling with stuff....but they do alot of nice visual imagery, music and self calming skills at the classes...and DO NOT do the HOT yoga- not good the ticker...

(4) Ask that you have all copies of all reports sent to you after procedures....say that it so you can keep your records straight- otherwise they will freak and think you are a Suuuuing kind of woman...just explain that it helps keep you calm..and put together a notebook to take with you to appointments....and yeah- you will really feel empowered and in charge...

okay done my nurse nagging...sorry..but I have been thinking on this post since I first read it hours ago....

enigma4ever said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nan said...

Fuck. What a miserable experience. But, as randal says, the good news is they confirmed there's a hole so now they can figure out what to do about it.

Distributorcap said...

i swear -- taking it all out on cable companies is the best therapy

DCup said...

Shit. I hate it that your day was stressful.

Utah Savage said...

I just got a follow up call from my shrink. And if I weren't such a recluse, and so terribly anti group, I'd do the yoga thing. I have a neighbor who is one of Utah's best yoga teachers. I'm an asshole in a group. Groups make me grind my teeth. anything that calls itself vaguely "spiritual" makes me want to talk naughty. If I weren't such an asshole, the yoga would be right up my alley.

But the help listening to the cardiologist is very smart.

Utah Savage said...

Oh, Enigma, I have resolutely refused to try lithium. It's creative killing properties scare me more than almost anything. I have lots of group therapy experience with other bipolar people, and though they all annoyed me greatly, the bad experiences with lithium is not something I care to go through. Fat and uncreative? No, not that. Fat and creative I can handle. Those seem to be my choices. Drug weight is what sends most women off their meds. Loss of creativity and highly irritable, but thin is fucked.

enigma4ever said...

Hey there...I was only asking..cuz I had not heard of zoloft being used for bipolar ( I am probally behind the times...) I did have heart patients that were on lithium and it did okay with their other heart meds....I hear you... Creativity is key and it so much a part of WHO you are...you can't be on a drug that numbs your SOUL.....

About the yoga thing...I actually found a Yoga Teacher- a really good one..and heart wise I can not do the Hot YOGA ( and she ran a Hot yoga studio) so she was willing to meet with me for a bit and teach...and within no time we found some others that could not do a regular yoga class- 2 heart people, and a recovering stroke...and we did not have to go be with the GROUP- the graceful coordinated ones...

Maybe talk the yoga woman near you...most times they have people that they are training that are willing to do smaller classes and mentoring so they can get certified etc...

Yoga is not all that spiritual stuff...not always...it can just be soothing...and you are not qn asshole...nope at all ;-)

Ingrid said...

You know..you did make me smile with that line..'now I'm stressed'! Somehow there is still humour in it albeit the angry one (hey, Lewis Black makes a living out of it)..I think I would've been majorly stressed right of the bat when I would've heard the word; hole! You are still pretty strong woman!
good thing you have your friends here who know a bit about meds to advice you (divajood) but as you said, you were told to go off gradually. I've had experience with Lexapro and God almighty, it's freaky if it isn't done slow..

take care in your transition time, I've read a bit more of your writing and for sure, you need to get that mojo back because as always..I think it's evocative and addictive.. hang in there and glad you have Melea for some, non irritating people contact..

[doublehugs]

Ingrid

Ingrid said...

HAVE to comment on the yoga thing..I totally get it when you feel like talking 'naughty' when people get all 'spiritual'..especially the yoga-they're-so-chilled types.. and that's not a nice thing to say but it's just another group that needs reaffirmation of their own outlook on things. I would want to do yoga mind you, but sans religious stuff..just stretch and stretch that's it!

hugs

Ingrid

Utah Savage said...

Thanks for the understanding and kindness. Thank god I have friends somewhere out there. Remember I could be the weird old woman you hardly ever see who lives up the street and drives a junker when she does venture out. We're everywhere, smoking em cause we got em, and minding our own business when we're not napping.

Naj said...

Utah,

we love your rage. that's why you are such a great writer.

I am going to dedicate my career to anti-antipsychoticism!

The fact that so many of people commenting here are familiar with those medications is SCARY to me!

Mauigirl said...

Utah, hope your heart is OK. I was born with a hole in my heart but it has more or less closed up now; they couldn't see it on an echo I had a few years ago. I hope yours doesn't need repair and you can just live with it as I have. Best wishes.