Monday, February 06, 2006

Depression and Fear: Tastes Great but Less Filling

While using a beta of Flock, this column was deleted along with all of its comments. I was managing blog entries when Flock did weird and interesting things. The next morning a reader informed me that this column was gone. How fun. I won't be using Flock like THAT for a while. I have recreated the entry using Google cache (Thanks, Sandra) and gmail. Thanks for your patience.

See my trip at Flickr. Leave comments and notes

The new year is under way and I feel like it's dragging me along underneath. Nothing can set one back quite like a succession of illnesses. The deep bags under my eyes are like rolls of cloth. The flab around my waist is gaining character. Energy is a faint memory as if I had it once in a former life.  Back then I was on this earth as a wind turbine but now I've come back as a wind sock. If I'm not careful I could develop a full blown depression, but what better way shake off depression than to contemplate my upcoming MRI?

Before I get into that I should mention what I've been up to last month instead of writing my column.  There's been wringing of hands over goals.  I rediscovered donuts.  And I've been helping my daughter with her American Idol blog. It's virtually a part time job with no insurance benefits but plenty of quality time spent in front of the TV.  She's trying to win a $250 prize, and did win it in fact, but may be disqualified because we faked her ID to keep her personal data secret.  I've also been busy with my other daughters' Irish step dancing, being Mr. Bus, etc.  No time for blogs, especially when I spend so much of my time being sick.

I did manage to see a neurologist, however. He told me my type of tic disorder was rare, and that I'd probably need to see a specialist.  Silly me.  I thought he WAS the specialist. Now I have to see somebody even more special. The interesting thing about being told you have a rare condition is that on one hand you feel relief because you now understand why nobody ever knew what the heck was wrong with you, but on the other hand you have that bittersweet feeling of isolation because nobody will ever really know what the heck is wrong with you. I could join a support group to fight off the loneliness, I suppose, if I didn't mind being the only attendee.

Somebody asked me recently how I fight off depression.  Well, as the tagline says, I use attitude and humor to stave off the Moody Beast, even if the humor is as black as the beast's heart.  Here is a perfect example.  I'm only slightly anxious about being shoved head first into a hi-tech coffin tomorrow with a brace over my face for 30 minutes.  Just slightly.  But by making wry jokes about it I can lessen its effects on me.

Here's another example where I chose to laugh instead of despairing. When the hospital called on Friday to verify my appointment, the young lady recommended I get a prescription for a muscle relaxant so my ticking wouldn't affect the readings.  I replied that I'd be driving myself there so a muscle relaxant wasn't an option. Our conversation then went somewhat like this:


Me: How much can I move in the tube?
Her: You can't move.
Me: No, I mean if I wanted to move, how much could I move?
Her: You can't move. We need you to be still. 
Me: Look, I'm just trying to find out if I can move should I wish to.  It will make all the difference in the world versus not being able to move at all. 
Her: We can't have you moving, Mr. Cootey. 
Me: I understand I'm NOT SUPPOSED to move, but if I know I CAN move I'll be a lot more comfortable choosing NOT to move than if I am UNABLE to move which might be a bit awkward for me.  (At which point I sound like a crazy person no matter how much sarcasm and wit I use.)
Her: Oh, well, how much do you weigh? 
Me: 225. 
Her: OK, and how tall are you?
Me: 5'10". 
Her: Oh. (There was a bit of silence...) It'll be a little snug. 

Snug. Great. Not only am I being entombed in a Las Vegas coffin for half an hour, but I'll be shoved in there face first with a tight squeeze. I can just see the orderlies pushing my carcass into the infernal machine like a scene out of the Three Stooges. Nothing to get worried about at all.

I'm not actually claustrophobic. I can handle elevators just fine - even small cars and mall movie theaters. In fact, I don't have a problem with enclosed spaces at all. I have a problem with not being able to move. Instant panic. Comes from sleep paralysis. Even a little bit of panic might induce ticking. It's a valid concern.

I could give in to the fear and stay home. I could avoid it altogether. Perhaps the ticking will take the choice away from me, but I want to go and face this irrational fear. I want to KNOW more than I want to be safe. I want to understand why pain counteracts the ticking, why sometimes I can't talk or walk, and why my life feels like a wreck.  The MRI may not have all those answers, but it may give me clues I didn't have before  - any clue at all that will help me succeed in life and realize my dreams and goals. That's worth a little fear, don't you think?


See my trip at Flickr. Please leave comments and notes. ;)


tags technorati :

Comments restored from backup...

slö - good luck

Sylvana - You definitely have the right attitude. I have quite a few friends that let their fear run their lives to the point of crippling them. It makes me sad and drives me crazy!

Hope your test went well and that you get more info on getting better.

Lucio - Good Luck and I hope ur test goes well

Douglas Cootey - Thanks. I won't know the results until Wed. or Thu. I'll be sure to update here if it's relevant.

BTW, I put up a record of my excursion over at Flickr. You can leave comments as usual, but I've also enabled notes. I'm interested to see what creative things you folks can hilight. ;)

Finnish Girl - Hey Douglas. Good luck with the test. I have been actually in the "tube" once. I have proof that there's this thing called brains inside my head, pictures and all! =) The reason why I was tested was to find out the reason for my massive headaches. But the test didn't give out any answers, found the answer later.

Anyways, I had to be there for 20 minutes, not moving or making any sounds. And the machine itself makes the most annoying sound... I started to listen to it and strangely, was able to calm myself. I don't know if this information is helpfull to you. I didn't feel claustrofobic there and I was happy about that. There's actually a lot of space inside of the "tube" and there's supposed to be a button that you are allowed to press in case of an emergency.

Good luck! I am sure you will be ok!

nessie - Good luck and best wishes.

Douglas Cootey - Thanks finnish girl and nessie. Definitely a very loud machine. They had me wear earplugs. There was no emergency button, but I could communicate via an open intercom with the tech through the whole experience. The worst thing about the experience was holding my head still for over 20 minutes. After 15 I was extremely anxious to get out and move around mostly because I was bored but also because there was a crick in my neck. LOL Any fear I had passed after the first 5 minutes.

Suzanne - Nngh. Better you than me, man. I *do* have a touch of claustrophobia. (When I was a kid, my brothers and cousin once got me to crawl into a small cardboard box and then merrily proceeded to dogpile on top of it, causing the whole thing to collapse--let's just say that even now, being enclosed in a space from which I cannot escape brings on shrieking PRIMAL FEAR.)

Glad to hear it's over, and I hope you and the docs find helpful information from the experience.

ScarletSphinx - Doughnuts aren't evil. (that had to be said)

I'm sending you good thoughts (this inlcudes the hope that your head isn't shoved into any kind of tube again).

Good thoughts for your girl, too.

Melissa - hmmmmmm... childbirth backwards? ouch! Glad to know you survived the tourture tube... and reallllllyyyyyyy glad to see a new post! Welcome back.

Anonymous - glad you made it out of the tube also :)

i was in the tube once for kidney stones- maybe they should have scanned the ol' brainola and done a 2 for 1 deal on my time in the machine?

anyway, i've visited your scrapbook papers page..very nice! I'm interested in how you design them (computer application?)


Douglas Cootey:
suzanne - Hopefully I will hear back from him today. Hopefully he'll be more pleasant than House when he reports to me. LOL Did you see this week's episode? The main patient had a motion disorder. I sorta flail about like that. I thought she captured the "What on earth is my body doing?" look pretty well even if her tics weren't always convincing...

scarletsphinx - Hear! Hear! A most noble thing to declare. My waist thanks you.

melissa - Thank you, Melissa. I've felt terrible about missing my regular column. It feels good to be back.

anon - I don't think doctors like to do Two-fers... All those golf clubs to buy, you know?

My scrapbook papers start out with a splash of watercolor on a piece of paper. Then I scan them, color correct them, and then Photoshop the living fibers out of them. I probably won't be doing any more. The work was time consuming and I didn't feel respected for my contributions. Glad you liked them. :) I'm Mr. Popular around here. My wife and daughters love them and use them all the time for their projects.

Heidi the Hick - That conversation with the receptionist was hilarious! I TOTALLY relate. Your reasoning made perfect sense to me. Whatever that says about me, eh!

Douglas Cootey - Elisa - I'm sorry. I haven't heard of the Discovery Academy. I wish I could help.

sylvana - I can definitely relate with that Princess. LOL I can't think of any fabrics that bug me specifically, but there is the sensation of my tongue on wooden popsicle sticks that sends rolling waves of shivers up and down my spine. It doesn't make me gag, but I am paralyzed by the sensation - so strong is it. I don't know why but your post made me think of it! LOL I got shivers just typing about it. :p

nessie - Welcome to the family. It's a gangly, unsightly group that doesn't sit still very long for family pictures, but it's a warm family nonetheless. :) I'm glad you're enjoying my columns. Part of my need to feel "normal" is to connect with people like you who can relate with what I'm experiencing and laugh about it along with me.

Douglas Cootey :
Heidi the Hick - :) I'm glad you liked it. Maybe having this blog helps me get through conversations like that now that I find myself thinking "Oooh! This conversation is going to badly it's perfect for my blog!!"

I had a similar conversation with my Dad later that day but I found myself getting angry with him because he stated the misunderstanding was my fault if he and that girl reacted the same way. In hindsight, I don't think it was anyone's fault in particular. OK, that's a lie. It's all their fault! LOL The problem hinged around the meaning of the work "can".

I'd ask "Can I move?" and they'd reply "No, you can't" but they really meant "No, you shouldn't. You'll ruin the imaging process". They were interpreting my "can" as a request for permission to wiggle when I should be very still. I was speaking globally. I wanted to know whether I would have room to wiggle or not.

At any rate, in the end I had room to wiggle, but it was uncomfortable. My shoulders to my elbows were pressed in by the bed I laid on. I couldn't stretch or move my head freely because of the cage. The need to hold myself still was the hardest part of the process, however. I developed a cramp in my neck and couldn't do anything to relieve it. When I came out of the tube to get the injection of gadolinium the tech panicked whenever I suggested I get out of the stupid cage and walk around a bit before going in again. It took all my will power to focus and try to relax. Fortunately, I had asked the tech before we began to give me a running countdown of how long each test would run and how much time we had left. I don't really think I would have done as well otherwise.

I asked the tech how I rate on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being cool as can be and 10 being hysterical. She said I rated a 3 or 4. But if you saw my photos over at Flickr you'll know she was just being kind. :)

Anonymous - Very interesting entry! I'm glad the test went well (though it does sound really uncomfortable) and hope the results give you something useful. :-) I thought the conversation sounded like something out of Abbott and Costello and absolutely loved the Superman-esque pose by the MRI machine. LOL Hope I'd have that sort of good humor and chutzpah if I had to go inside one of those machines. ;-)


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Poetwoman - Hi Doug,
Glad you MI is over. You didn't post the results yet though. I just had one too (for my neck) and had to go in the head cage. I had to shut my eyes to keep from getting claustraphobic, it freaked me out a bit (the cage did). I also got a painful crick in my neck as my neck doesn't like to be held straight, particularly for 20 minutes! Whcih daughter is taking Irish Step Dance? I thought you only had one, and I know you have daughter with CP, like I have. The thought of her taking Step Dancing was both cool, and funny to me. I had a friend with CP who took Ballet. I would've loved to have seen that recital! She was much stiffer moving than me!

Sol - Doug ~ I have claustrophobia.

Sometimes in small spaces my fear is not being able to breathe.

Strangely, my higher than average lung capacity makes this *in theory* somewhat possible.

The not moving bit affects me most on airplanes or whenever I need to sit really still.

I think its easier to sit still on the floor than on a chair? Tell me what you make of this..and tell us how it went!!

btw, you take really good pics ;)

Douglas Cootey:
Poetwoman ~ I don't have the results yet. In fact, I'm on hold this very second. :/ They're playing Spanish guitar music. I'm trying to appreciate it for its craftsmanship, but I'm failing...

Yeah, the cage wasn't my favorite thing, either. Sorry you had to go through that, but hopefully they'll find what they need to help you.

I have four daughters. My 13 year old is an aspiring country music singer who performs around town, has a podcast (which I cannot reveal since we're protecting her identity at this point), and takes voice lessons. My 11 year old has my black sense of humor and I can only rarely tease her, unlike my 13 year old. I do an occasional podcast with her based on a very popular children's book. Lots of fun and I wish I could point you to it, but I am protecting her identity as well. My 11 year old takes Irish Step Dancing lessons, as well as my 7 year old. The 7 year old is a red headed spitfire. She most likely has AD/HD. I love her to pieces, and hope I can figure out a lot of this stuff so I can help her not bumble about life like I have been doing. My four year old has CP. She's a different challenge altogether. We are contemplating signing her up for dance this Fall. Her CP is mild - mostly she's clumsy - and the dance classes may be beneficial to her. Besides, she's already imitating her sisters. Her CP affects her most through delayed learning. Toilet training her is proving to be a torturous well as trying to teach her how to talk better. There's a wall there we haven't been able to breach...

Sol ~ :) I think the knowledge that we can't move plays havoc with our minds. For some it triggers panic. If we know we can move we seem to have an easier time choosing to stay still. The absence of choice is probably key. I'm still on hold. The guitar music is getting to me...


Douglas Cootey:
Heather ~ Well, as you know I'm a bit of a goofball. :) I forgot to mention I was taking photos for my blog so the nurse must have thought I was completely insane. Especially since I had expressed so much concern prior to diving into the hole.

Branden ~ Thank you for the invite. My blog is indeed listed on your site so perhaps this isn't the splog entry I first thought it to be. I'm afraid I haven't seen any spikes in traffic from your site, so I'll hold off on that reciprocal link until I have time to check out nubbit a bit more. I'm pretty stingy with my links, mostly because I'm so busy...