Always a silver lining

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It’s been awhile since I had something to write that I felt was worth sharing with the masses. These thoughts have been rolling around in my brain for a couple weeks now, so I figured it was time to share.

Nine months ago I was transferred to a new store (technically my old store) and I was outraged. I didn’t want to leave the family I had made in Redding. I didn’t want to commute 25 miles one way. I didn’t want to spend an extra hour in my car every day. I didn’t want to rack up the miles on my brand new car. I don’t like change! Needless to say, this unwelcome change made me miserable and unhappy in my work.

Only recently did I realize, that it wasn’t the move that made me miserable, it was ME. I had been making myself unhappy with all the bitterness and anger that I kept letting fester inside me. When I really sat there and thought about it, there was a multitude of reasons for me to be happy with where I was in life. Trust me, I thought about it a lot! When you commute an hour a day, that’s a lot of time to think, also a lot of time to rock out! Have you ever noticed how much Taylor Swift songs make you think about your life? It’s pretty crazy!

Don’t worry, I did not have an TSwift inspired epiphany. But I did find my silver lining while driving 50 miles a day.

Working in Red Bluff has actually been a lot less stressful than Redding was. This is especially wonderful, considering I suffer from Essential Tremor (ET) which can sometimes be stress induced. I can count on one hand, the number of ET days I have had in the last 9 months.

The schedule that I have now, allows me so much more time to work my Damsel in Defense business. January 2015 was my personal best month, but then May 2015 surpassed that, and I was #1 in sales on our Guardian Angels team! I love having a boss and co-workers who are super supportive of the Damsel mission and who are totally willing and flexible when it comes to scheduling conflicts.

I have an excellent working relationship with all of my new co-workers. It’s clear that we are all working toward the same goal. We’ve gotten really good at sharing ideas and brainstorming when needed. I absolutely love being on the same page with everyone I work with. It makes for a much more enthusiastic work place. In the 9 months that I have been there, we have had some set-backs, but we keep finding new ways to work things out. We brought our customer service scores up from “challenge” to “front store excellent” status! That’s amazing! I have been recognized for my “legendary” customer service two months in a row!

I can honestly say that I have never (in 12 years) been happier in my work, and it clearly shows. I love both of my jobs!

I believe it was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I have found this to be profoundly true as of late. And I don’t mean just comparing your life to your friends’ lives, which I know we’ve all done at some point. Quit comparing your life to what it used to be, what you used to have, and where you used to be. Live in the moment! Since I have started focusing on the blessings in my life right now, the things I have the opportunity to do, and people I get to share those moments with, I have been exponentially happier!

You should really try it. It’s good for you!

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Post-neurologist update

After showing up 30 minutes early for my appointment, and waiting another hour and a half to actually see the doctor, this is the deal.

I am going to start a new medication. First I have to gradually reduce the beta blocker (Inderal) I am currently taking, and then I will start with the lowest dose of an anti-seizure medication called Mysoline. I will slowly continue to reduce the amount of Inderal, while increasing the Mysoline, until we find a happy medium.

I asked him about the possibility of a referral to a specialist at a research hospital like Stanford or UCSF.

“First I want to cover all the basics, and try all the simple things. If, after those things don’t work, then I will gladly refer you. I’m also not one to stand on ego, so if you tell me flat out that you want to go there, then that’s what we’ll do. Both Stanford and UCSF are great options, but I don’t want to send you there until we’re sure none of these simple treatments will work.”

That made me feel a lot better about what we’ve been doing over the last year and a half.

I explained to him my frustration after calling almost 7 weeks ago (multiple times) to try to get an earlier appointment. He apologized, and said that next time, I should call every two days or so and ask to speak with him directly. He gave me his word that he would get back to me, and squeeze me into his schedule if need be.

So no real answers as far as “a cause” to my ET is concerned, but he did actually listen to all of my notes, questions and concerns this time.

I love having my hubby there with me! He helps keep me from getting too overwhelmed, even though he gets pretty cranky while waiting.

Hopefully my body will adjust easily with the change in meds. If not, work might get interesting over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more adventures with ET! And thank you all for all your love and prayers.

ET Update

It’s been a really long month to say the least. Breakthrough tremor started in late September, I increased my meds by one and a half times my regular dosage, but it hasn’t really helped. I tried getting in to see my neurologist right away, but he has so many patients and is always on call with the hospital, that I’ve had to wait. My regular 6 month appointment is on Thursday. I don’t think I have ever been more eager to see him!

We did just get home from vacation. I had less tremor in that 5 day stretch than I have in the last 5 weeks! I felt practically normal by the time we came home, but as soon as I got to work on Monday, it was just as bad as ever.

Fingers crossed for a referral to an ET specialist in the city! I can’t keep living and trying to work full time like this. Something’s got to change soon, and that’s not going to happen unless we nail down a cause. I’m tired of simply treating symptoms.

Also gonna check out this neurological chiropractor my mom found!

Stay tuned for another update after my appointment!

ET & Me

Nope, not the sweet little alien who warmed all of our hearts when we were kids. This ET is quite real.

I’m talking about Essential Tremor. It’s a neurological disorder that causes a rhythmic trembling of the head, hands, and other limbs.

Prior to March of 2012, I always thought that any kind of shaking like that was caused by Parkinson’s or some kind of withdrawal. WRONG!

Visit the International Essential Tremor Foundation for more info

I remember it like it was yesterday. March 2, 2012, I was working the closing shift at work. I had been there for about an hour when my hands began to tremble. I thought to myself, have a soda, get your blood-sugar under control, and get back to work. I sat down in the break room with my pop, tried to relax, and that’s when things got crazy. My head, my arms, my legs, every appendage began twitching and shaking, completely involuntarily. My husband had to come get me. Everything seemed to be fine a few hours later when I went to bed.

The next day, I hopped in the shower, started to feel a little strange as I got myself ready for work. Again, about an hour into my shift, my hands and my head started shaking a lot.

The rest is history. I spent the next three months off work, with countless doctor appointments, blood tests, an MRI, and testing different strengths of my prescription, until we finally found the right dosage. Sometimes I get breakthrough tremors. My tremor is mostly in my head and hands. I have a continual “yes-yes” nodding of the head, and my hands shake like I’m nervous or having low blood-sugar. It’s pretty annoying.

The most frustrating thing of all, is that we never found a cause. Every single test the doctors ran came back normal. There is no family history of tremor.

I see my neurologist every six months or so now. He always asks the same questions and always gives me the same “field test” to check my reflexes and such. His answers are always the same, no matter my question.

“Any change inside your body can trigger a breakthrough in tremor. A cold, the flu, stress, not enough sleep, not enough food, etc…”

He seems to think that as long as I am tolerating my medication, and it is keeping the tremor under control, then everything is fine.

I have been able to pinpoint my breakthroughs to pretty much every time I menstruate. The neurologist said I could slightly adjust my meds during that time to see if it would help. It has been helping for the last few months. But every change in my medication totally screws up my internal clock. It’s miserable! The shaking makes me super fatigued, but the meds keep me from sleeping. Luckily it’s been working up until now.

If you’ll remember, I said I was taking a step back from the whole charting, and ovulation tracking. Well that also means that I wasn’t prepared for my period to start this month, so I didn’t start taking my extra meds to deter the breakthrough tremor. The first time I had a shaky day this month, I looked at my tracking app, and it was 6 days before my expected visit from Aunt Flo. The next two days, I was totally fine, and I got my flu shot on the second day. The following morning, Aunt Flo came a-knockin, 4 days early.

The next day, I started shaking again, and it’s been nonstop ever since. I have increased my medication 3 times now. It’s been almost 3 weeks. I am physically and mentally drained!! It’s almost as bad now, as it was last year when this whole mess started. My next appointment with the neurologist isn’t until November, but if there is a cancellation before that, they’ll call me.

I desperately need to find a new neurologist, but that is nearly impossible without a referral. Since my diagnosis, my lifelong family doctor retired (without my knowledge), and passed away shortly thereafter.

If and when we do conceive, I will have to stop taking my medication, as it is bad for the baby. I don’t know if I’m prepared for that. These last few weeks have been utterly miserable! Sleepless nights, extra long days at work, people staring at me, sore muscles… Imagine all of that, with no helpful medication, and raging hormones! The doctor has recommended stretching and yoga (de-stressing activities) to “naturally” help. I stretch a lot, and stay pretty relaxed when I’m not at work, but still, here we are.

Oy! So irritating to not have answers!! Oh well. We’ll just keep on keepin on, doing research, and praying for some real answers.