CHRONIC PAIN SUPPORT GROUP

28 09 2009

We’re having our next chronic pain support group on October 10th, 2009.  All are welcome to attend.  All you need to do is sign up at our meet-up groups page and then RSVP for the event.  This time we’re doing it on a Saturday morning at 11am so that more people can attend.  We hope to see you there!   – it’s a brunch potluck so bring what you like.  visit our meet-up website: http://tinyurl.com/hcpsg

OCTOBER 10th – Saturday at 11am.  Support Group meeting located in Hollywood.

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MEETUP LOS ANGELES

12 07 2009

Here’s an article sent to me by the National Pancreas Foundation’s Newsletter about dealing with keeping your job when you have chronic pain: “Protecting Your Job While Coping With a Chronic Illness

The Hollywood Chronic Pain Support Group Logo

The Los Angeles  – Hollywood Chronic Pain Support Group will have it’s very first meeting AUGUST 2nd, (Sunday) at 6:30pm-9pm.  Join and RSVP here.

Today, after getting fed up with the utter lack of support groups for anyone in my situation with multiple autoimmune diseases OR chronic pain – I decided it’s about time I take some action.  My blog is called “Type A” with RA afterall.  And being a good Type A person – I feel it’s my duty.  Not that I have the energy to do this – but I need to reach out so badly that I’ve decided to spend my energies on an actual support group rather than continuing my never-ending search.  Also, I want a place where I can actually talk about forced sober living with pancreatitis, death and pancreatitis, what to eat with any autoimmune disease, what actually helps for lupus, death and lupus, and all kinds of things that really matter to me.  Beyond that, after my last almost meeting I had received quite a number of emails asking when the next meeting would be.  So below I have pasted the exact text that is at this link on the new meetup page.- but from this link you can sign-up to attend.  We’ll welcome any and all out of town guests.   If you run a blog, could you mention this meetup?  Well, I have my first client all week – so I better get on it.   – Love, Sasha xoxo

This is the welcome message I wrote:

Welcome to the Hollywood Chronic Pain Support Group!
Thanks so much for joining- You are truly not alone!

We look forward to having you at our next meeting. We are brand-spankin’ new group, but committed to getting together once a month to talk about our struggles, triumphs and lives.  Please RSVP for our next meeting.

I’m Sasha, your Group Organizer.  I almost wrote “reluctant group organizer” because I live with 4 diseases that often take me down for three days at a time.  I have Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chronic Pancreatitis, and Diabetes Type 2.  I have enough energy to get the group started, but as we begin to meet I will ask each member to take on a very small role of participation.  This way it will be more doable and sustainable to meet each month – I know we all need it!

I was surprised or rather, shocked that there are so few support groups around the globe.  I have searched for quite some time to find a support group here in Los Angeles.  I’m guessing that you might have done the same.  The meetings will be structured so that we all get the very most out of them.  Everyone likes to have snacks and drinks, but if you’re like me – you don’t know what you’d say without some icebreakers.  For this reason we will have a guest speaker briefly give their personal story followed by individual sharing on a volunteer basis.

Please Note: I’ve currently closed the group mailing list until we have a member managing the list.  I can only do so much – –

SOME BASIC AGREEMENTS:
1) In order to best serve the group we ask that caregivers do not attend with you – unless you are a caregiver and your mate is not going to be attending our group.

2) Each meeting we’ll pass the hat to donate what we can to the organizers.

3) If you’re seeking anonymity – we will honor your request.

4) We’ll all respect each others abilities.  Each of us may come to be temporarily too ill to fulfill our role/responsibilities.  We’ll all help out.

END ###





AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES GALORE (Part I)

27 05 2009

AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES GALORE (Part I)

Thank you to all of you wonderful readers out there who have sent the loveliest messages to me.  Encouraging words are  awesome, but knowing that behind each email, comment, or call that there’s someone who knows my physical and often my mental pain – that’s amazing.  As many of you would concur  – I would not wish the pain of RA, CP, or any pain of the heart on anyone.  

THE OVERVIEW

My heart and spirit are much lighter today then in many months.  Why the difference?  First, I was pulled off of Wellbutrin (an anti-depressant) and within 7 days my entire outlook felt brighter then it has since November (when I went on it).  I am glad i tried it out – I really did need to be on anti-depressants at the time… but I am shocked at how suicidal it eventually made me feel.  I broke all of the glass in my kitchen, cut up my arm really badly (on purpose), then cut up my legs and other arm when that didn’t seem to do the trick (not to die, but simply to cause myself that numbing pain that all cutters know so well).   It was a nightmare, but for the first time I see it was really a call for help.  I needed help so badly.  I was/am deeply lucky Jax (my ex-boyfriend and best friend) heard all the glass breaking because he came over and helped me clean up.  Then he called my parents and doctors.  Of course I feared he’d want to stay far as hell away from me after that but it’s had an odd effect I’ll write about in a minute.

So this is the state of things now:  I just got diagnosed with my 4th autoimmune disease: DIABETES!  I had pre-diabetes for the past year, but now it is full-blown diabetes.  This is the cause of my never-ending weight battle.  Now I’ll still have to work out 3-4 times a week, but at least I’ve begun moving the scale (and not just under the table).  So here’s my current autoiummune disease list: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Interstitial Cystitis, Hypothyroid, Diabetes 2 and then Chronic Pancreatitis. And I also have the tentative Lupus Dx sitting in the wings.  I always wonder if it all tied to Lupus.  Anyhow, the news did not shake me the way i would’ve thought.  Now I think it is all hysterical.  I mean, it’s literally gotten absurd.  (Read more about my personal life on this subject here)  I’m sure it’s all related in some way that modern medicine can’t decode. 

 

THE DEPRESSION/GETTING HELP

Now, about my severe depression.  I am feeling a lot better, but my Dr’s have told me it is very usual to fall into this trap AFTER the pain is finally under control.   Read the rest of this entry »





THE PERSONAL TOLL (Pt 2)

27 05 2009

AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES GALORE (Part 2)

THE PERSONAL TOLL

THE CAREGIVER’S BROKEN ARMS.

 

Here’s my current autoiummune disease list: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Interstitial Cystitis, Hypothyroid, Diabetes 2 and then Chronic Pancreatitis. And I also have the tentative Lupus Dx sitting in the wings.  I always wonder if it all tied to Lupus.  Anyhow…I was just diagnosed with Diabetes. I’ll try the new meds and come up with a plan w/ my Dr. in about a month.

…the news did not shake me the way i would’ve thought.  Now I think it is all hysterical.  I mean, it’s literally gotten absurd.   I finally feel like this is all so much that I will prevail – I have to  – from where I stand now it can only go 2 ways: 1: UP (the only way it will go) and the other is death – which I have no control over anyhow – and it certainly is no way to live out the days i do have left on Earth…so I am choosing to now laugh in the face of adversity.  You know that great scene in Forest Gump when Lieutenant Dan is legless and sitting on to of the boat  during the hurricane?  That’s me – except for that I am now finally past the storm saying I won.  I know that might sound odd-  how could I feel like I won if I just found out I have another f–ed up disease – but, it’s because NONE of it has had the power to take me down.  NONE of it!  I’m stronger than all 5 chronic diseases and I’m sure if another one got added to the list i would find the strength to feel the same way.  

 

The disease (or rather these diseases) have already taken EVERYTHING away from me that I love and care about.  I am not even exaggerating…. My family couldn’t hold itself up through it, my own father has chosen to be angry at me for it,  my relatives find themselves in the dust simply saying “poor girl”, old friends disappeared, jobs vanished, my career and company fell off the map, and my true love imploded from the sheer stress of the lifestyle this disease gave me.   Read the rest of this entry »





DATING – BACK IN THE SADDLE

28 02 2009

Brief background for any new readers: Info about me (sasha) and my life is in the “About” page so you can catch up on me there.  Feel free to comment on your life and your issues.  The readers of this blog are creating a community and many have their own blogs that I have created links to on the right.  Check them out and feel free to tell me your favorite ones.  I thought we’d do a little top 5 blog links contest for the next 30 days.

Jax left around 6 months ago, but lives an apartment away.  He’s not willing to say we are never going to be together again.  I’ve tried in numerous ways to move on but over the next 6 weeks I am forcing the issue by having a JAX BLACK OUT starting this Monday.  (Why this Monday?   –  because he helps me do my laundry and I’m not mentally prepared to do that on my own yet.)  Also, if there’s an emergency like there was last time I tried this a few months back then we are allowed to communicate temporarily.

The great thing about dating with a chronic disease is that this issue applies to everyone with a chronic illness, not just a specific type of illness.  Many of us have been through the true love in our life that has left after 4-5 years.  That’s certainly my situation w/ Jax.  So in an effort to move on I signed up with a few online sites and started forcing myself to go out to events again.  At first I pushed it too hard.  I was going out so much that I ended up crashing back against a 3-4 month wall (that’s why I was offline for quite some time).  Now I think I have a better balance and am saying home more than I want, but at least nit making myself worse.  I also asked the advice of friends about whether to mention my illness straight away or to keep quiet.

(Read on for more on DATING w/ a CHRONIC DISEASE, Dating Print-Outs, and Bad Kissers need not Apply)—> Read the rest of this entry »





1 Year Off Prednisone

25 02 2009

Hello All – Sasha here!  To my loyal readers:  I’m sorry I left the online world for so long – but I m sure that anyone reading this could relate.  I felt like I had to crawl back inside my little cave in my mind rather than expressing it out loud or through words.  I needed to sort it out uptairs in my head first.  A ton has happened since I was last really online.

Briefly this is what has happened:  Jax & I are still split up (and yes i am still crying about it 6 months later).  He still lives one apartment away (joy oh joy) no – actually it is comforting but has mae it nearly impossible to move on.  Jax and I still spend time together here and there and I’ve tried several times to do Jax blackouts for 6 weeks at a time, but we’ve never made it past 1 week (on his side also).  But I have begun internet dating and I’ll write all about that in my next post.  It’s been a tough turn of events since I last checked in.  Last I recall I had just left the Emergency Room where they treated me like I am a drug addict.  I have since found a lawyer who is determining if I have a good case against the hospital.

But the biggest changes have been on the diagnosis front and on the body/mind front.  I’ve had CP for almost 7 years now and RA that was diagnosed in late 2007.  Initially, I took prednisone for it and gained 60 pounds in 5 months. Then I was put on a high dose of Methotrexate that poisoned my liver.  I got off that and was then only on Enbrel (I far prefer the regular needle rather than the sure-click).  My mom has many of the health issues I have was diagnosed with RA in October 08 full blown Lupus in November.  Many doctors will say that it is almost impossible to have both diseases.  They say that you usually don’t see bone breakdown in Lupus patients.  But – my family has never turned up normal in any health matter so it’s not so surprising.  I fired my 2nd Rheumatologist and onto the 3rd  – this time at Cedars-Sinai.  The new one is great in some ways, but less thorough in others  – but it will do fine for now.  This month (February 2009) she believes that I have many of the tell-tale signs of Lupus, but it is not yet showing up in my bloodwork.  In other words, she feels pretty confident that I need to go back on Methotrexate to lessen the possible Lupus issues.  She feels it is a large possibility that my different diseases will eventually fall under the header of Lupus.  So now I am back on a regular dose of Methotrexate.

Beyond these updates I will get more into what’s been going on in my mind over the next few weeks.  I will say that my depression blew up to a horrfic degree and I got put on Wellbutrin along with Cymbalta.  The depression got very out of control and I had begun having vivid visions of how I could remove myself from Earth.  I have finally snapped out of that zone and am back on the ground….maybe not solid but certainly back on the ground.

Some things I’m doing to climb out of depression: (Read on to find out!  Also read on for the Prednisone Challenge – What I’m doing to climb out of that blah also) —-> Read the rest of this entry »





PAIN and DEPRESSION II

2 11 2008

CHRONIC PAIN & DEPRESSION Part II – SWOLLEN BLOB/RA7

Please read Chronic Pain & Depression Part I to get my full background if you are new to the site.  It’s focus is about my other autoimmune disease chronic pancreatitis (CP).

BACKGROUND/So getting you quickly up to speed: It’s been 6 long weeks since Jax split up with me and moved 2 doors down.  It has really shaken me up.  It is not the core reason I am so severely depressed, but it was certainly the catalyst for my deep depression.  Clinical depression is a pretty serious issue as I am coming to learn.  If I don’t get my act together and snap out of it then I could end up with diseases far worse than RA and CP.  Mainly the issue is that Jax leaving has accidentally brought up all of my old childhood BS.  Well, it is not BS at all.  It’s some very heavy sh*%@!!  Sexual abuse comes back at you so many times through your life.  It is so unfair.  My experiences covered many years and with over 4 different people who did not know about any others being so awful at the same time.
But I really don’t want to write about this topic now.

To make matters more complex I recently switched to a new Rheumie (rheumatologist) and am now waiting for the paperwork to go through on the Enbrel.  So i stretched out 1 month of doses of Enbrel to 2 1/2 months.  Naturally, all of the RA symptoms have been coming back full force.  Massively swollen ankles and legs.  My feet are larger than horses hoofs. THE INSANITY is  that I waited an entire week to get the prescription filled.  I am positive I have clinical depression – as is my Dr.  but what to do about it is a totally different story.

cake195

IN THIS MOMENT: Since today was my birthday, I invited a small group of friends (5 total) for sushi dinner.  Jax was one of the guests.  I’m so happy I invited him.  All of us had a very nice conversation about politics, silly things and such.  It was great to get out of my own crappy head space.  Even though I am a total dog person I did get a kitty-cat – Guvnor (pronounced with a British accent) and that is helping my blues a lot since he has real needs and I can’t just ignore them.  So far I love the responsibility.  He’s getting used to me and the house so looking forward to taking photos for this site.

OVERVIEW: I imagine it must be very common to have a chronic disease along with depression.  When my RA is untreated or under-treated then I get so extraordinarily tired.  It’s the “I can barely move” tired.  It’s extreme and insane all at once. That causes me to fall behind on work and important things in my life… which leads to more depression until everything mounts to become full-on depression.  I’m at the point now where I have severe insomnia, but so afraid of the sleeping meds that make me fall asleep for 15 hours straight.  It’s probably because I need 15 hours straight of sleep to be ore healthy, but since I am looking for so many hours a day and then doing the work I have for current clients I simply don’t have time for that much sleep.

MY RA STORY: One year ago almost to the day I was diagnosed with severe RA.  The damage was very obvious on the xray and MRI so I was put on steroids (prednisone) and promptly gained 45 pounds.  My doctor was awful and only asked me to stop eating so much. She hadn’t mentioned that I should join a group like weight watchers.  After that rheumie put me on methotrexate (which would also be the plan in case I had lupus).  During that time my relationship w/ Jax was getting harder and more strained.  We had aready gone through three years of the medical roller-coaster with CP & surgeries in order to live. I started to hate my appearance and myself.  It was a very slow process to get here to this place where I am at now.  Before this i had the confidence of steel.  I was the “can do” attitude poster child.  Slowly it all gave way to a haze  –  the haze i find myself in now.

I imagine the path to discovering you have a disease is often like mine.  I certainly didn’t realize it at the time, but now that the dust has settled I realize the whirlwind I had gone through.  I was using a cane all the time.  I couldn’t grab things w/out  much focus and effort. If I had buttons on clothes I would be forced to deal with them but my path was to always buy clothes without laces, buttons, or any small fingers-needed items.  My legs and feet were so giant and swollen at 3 1/2 size their normal shape.   I couldn’t stop sleeping.  At one point when I didn’t know I had RA & I also had untreated pancreatitis I slept 5 days a week and then stressed out the other two while trying to squeeze a week’s worth of client meetings and work into them.  At some point during this I started the doses of enbrel.  Within a few weeks the symptoms of RA went away.  It was a true miracle.  But as you might’ve read I have been off of it twice due to my awful finances.  It’s my own fault for spending all of my money on my huge project working with at-risk teens the past two summers. But when the Enbrel is kicking in then things are good again. I got my new shipment of Enbrel in today.  I am so thrilled and can’t wait for the swelling to go back down.  I’m also looking forward to getting back into a decent sleeping pattern.  I am debating whether to take Wellbutrin (an antidepressant) or not.  I might only need proper sleep to get out of this depression.

Over this weekend I realized my depression only has a small part to do with Jax leaving me.  Mostly it is my fears about no one ever wanting to put up with me.  A larger portion is due to my mind dwelling on my past.  There’s been so much violence and sexual abuse in my story/life that I am often amazed that I’ve even gotten this far in life in general. So Jax is only one small portion of my bigger demons.  He’s been a great friend through this even if he broke up with me.  I know I should let go and lose hope so I can move on faster.  Well, I don’t think it’s actually as easy as that.   He got me through the worst of my medical issues for 4 years.  He’s a gem of a person which is probably making this more tough.

I lost 4 pounds this past week from weight watchers but have been pigging out from my birthday week.  It’s only Monday so I have 4 days to be very careful before the next weight watchers meeting.  Now it’s time to go to bed and see how Guvnor the cat deals with it. Anything to keep my mind off of the core issues.

It’s raining now and very late (5am). The rain sounds beautiful.  Goodnight.
Love, Sasha, xoxoxo

ps – dont forget to read about my life with pancreatitis in Part I.