Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Pain Relief Saga

I've made a lot of progress getting off of Lortab. I take 3-4 a day, which is half as much as last year, but they aren't long lasting enough to remain mobile if I take fewer than that. At my last doctor's appointment, I suggested that maybe we could change the strength.

I've been using the 7.5/500 for a couple of weeks now and it has been really uncomfortable. It's not excruciating pain, but it's bad enough to keep me from sleeping through the night. I'm trying not to feel discouraged, but it's really difficult. I want to call my pain management doctor and tell her that this isn't working and that I need to be moved back up to the stronger dose.

I've resisted by telling myself that I might be able to get accustomed to this level of pain. I had few completely pain free days, even with the 10/500 Lortab, but it was usually manageable. When I added the Tramadol to my morning and night doses, it felt like a godsend. I could actually move around in the morning, without the intense twisting, throbbing pain on the left side of my torso. Now, I'm back to having bad mornings. It seems the Tramadol isn't quite enough to keep me pain free, even though I also take 3 doses of Neurontin each day.

I want to believe that there's a magical combination of medicines that will allow me to completely eliminate the need for narcotics. I just can't seem to figure out what it will take. I appreciate that my doctors want to make sure that I have adequate pain relief. I know that I'm quite privileged to even have doctors who take my pain seriously. Maybe that's what makes it less scary to keep decreasing my narcotics usage.

And it really is scary. I think anyone would be scared if they knew the kind of pain that always lurks around the corner for me. Every few months something goes screwy and I'll end up with several days sans medication until my next appointment or find myself unable to get a ride to the pharmacy to pick up my refill. And it is dreadful. It is the kind of pain where you find yourself moaning without even realizing that you were doing it. Then I get my narcotics refilled and the pain recedes to the background again.

My body makes it quite clear what is giving me the pain relief I rely on to be able to function at all. It makes me sad, because my mind tells me that I should be able to go without after all these years. It's been almost a decade since my last surgery. Yet, the pain is still there.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Name that hair

I facetiously refer to is as "Dat Monster". Sometimes Dat Monster looks fierce. Sometimes, she's disagreeable. I thought that I was the only one who had a name for their natural hair. Apparently, I am not.

Monday, February 18, 2013

So, the Retired Pope is Retreating Deeper into the Vatican

I was reading about Pope Benedict the XVI's decision to live out the rest of his days at the Vatican now that he's stepping down from his position. People have noted that this decision will allow him to continue to avoid any legal repercussions associated with the sexual assault of children by Catholic clergy. In their justifiable bitterness and anger, I've seen comments where people wished that he would just die a horrible death, maybe even crucified. Then I saw a comment that said that dying would be too good for him.

I looked at the comment for a while and tried to figure out why I feel this way, too. I think it's because I think it's easy to die for your God. What's really difficult, is living...and I say that as someone who has spent over two decades of extreme sickness thanks to two progressive, incurable diseases and having dealt with a diagnosis of terminal illness (my bone cancer).

Dying is easy, a piece of cake, any fool can do it. It can be nasty and unpleasant, but it's usually brief and not too messy for the family to deal with. When you're dying, you'll get more kindness (from the folks who love you) than you know what to do with.

However, when you don't die, you have to face responsibility and accountability and an uncertain future. That, my friends, is what's difficult. This pope doesn't deserve the sweet dénouement of dying surrounded by friends and family doing what they can to ease you through the process. No, he deserves to live to be a thousand years and every day re-live the horrors that his actions caused.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sometimes, There's More to Consider Than Just Gender

Grace Annam, recently wrote a post ("It's not something I would do, but...") about her observations about interactions with others now that she has started the public transition process as a woman who is transgender. There were some aspects of her analyses that I'm not so sure about.

I can think of a lot of situations where it might be really bad idea to presume that the “I certainly support you in making this choice for yourself. It’s not something I would do, but...” response was a way of expressing the idea that transitioning is bizarre or incomprehensible. If I heard a friend who is transgender respond to someone with “Well, of course not. You’re cisgender” I’d be really, really disappointed for several reasons.

First of all, the comment assumes that the person is cisgender. After all, just as the person didn't know that my loved one is transgender, my loved one who is transgender may not be aware of the fact that the person they’re speaking to isn't cisgender. I can imagine that being mis-gendered by anyone can be incredibly hurtful, especially for those who are gender nonconformant. I’m cisgender, so I don’t know whether it feels the same. However, the idea of being mis-gendered by someone who is transgender makes me think about how awful and sickening it is to me when other mixed-race/mixed-ethnicity folks make assertions about what race they've decided that I belong to or when others within the queer community make assumptive assertions about my orientation.

Secondly, I’d be really upset about the “Well, of course not. You’re cisgender.” response because I feel like it betrays a certain lack of understanding about intersectionality. There are lots of other privilege issues involved in why a person could decide that transitioning certainly isn't anything they’d do.

I had a best friend in middle school. She came out to everyone. I totally supported her choice to do that, but it certainly wasn't something that I’d do and it had everything to do with privilege. As a person of color living in a white-dominated society, I already had my racial identity working against me. It’s damned hard to get a job when you’re competing against white people and most of the folks doing the hiring are white. My friend didn't have to worry about that. When you’re a black woman of color your femininity and womanhood is automatically denied. We are already seen as hypersexual or asexual and, as such, completely acceptable targets for sexualized violence. Now, couple that with being an “out” lesbian, with all of the stereotypes that go along with it, and see how long it takes before you are sexually assaulted. My friend didn't have to deal with that combination and never would.

I've known folks who will likely never transition to living as the gender that they are. I wish they lived in a world where they could, but they don’t. They can support those who do transition while recognizing that they wouldn't/won’t do it. It doesn't mean they’re cisgender or otherwise privileged relative to those who do transition. We don’t all pay the same cost for bucking the system. Some people just can’t afford to do it.

There’s also some real ablism in this post, but I think that might be best explained in a different comment.

Friday, February 01, 2013

La Vida Loca Day

Ever since my kiddo was little, we called Friday "La Vida Loca Day". It was used to give her something to look forward to when Saturday seemed like it was too far away. La Vida Loca Day starts as soon as school lets out. It's a day to leave the dishes in the sink because Saturday morning is our house cleaning time and leaving them overnight does no harm. I suspect that the cats like it, because they can jump on the counter and sniff around for leftover tidbits while their human slaves are asleep.

It's also the night when she's allowed to stay up as late as she wants--yes, she's 17 and still has a bedtime of 9:30 on school nights and always will until she graduates--but she usually goes to sleep earlier than on any other night. By the time Friday comes, she's pretty exhausted and in need of more rest. However, I think it just feels good for her to know that if she wanted to, she could stay up late.

It's not some ancient tradition or extravagant affair, but I do hope that she will have La Vida Loca Day with her kids.