Saturday, July 29, 2006

Miscellany, Medical and Otherwise

I'm now the proud owner of a t-shirt displaying this icon of J.R.R. Tolkien. I suspect Tolkien himself would have been horrified at the idea of his image being used as an icon, but I like it.

I've seen A. several more times this week; I learned that he has a mailing address, so I'll be able to stay in touch when I'm not here. It's clear that lots of local folk look out for him in various ways, and that's a comfort.

If you enjoyed Grand Rounds, Kim over at Emergiblog, one of my favorite sites, has a similar compilation called Change of Shift devoted to nursing blogs. Again, I haven't had time to read this as thoroughly as I usually do -- although I was pleased to see that she included a post about spirituality -- but one of the posts she chose seems to me to violate HIPAA guidelines, because it contains the blogger's real name and location and quite a bit of specific information about a patient. That blogger doesn't mention having asked for the patient's consent, and none of the folks responding to the post (some of whom are also medical professionals) even alluded to the issue, so maybe I'm over-reacting. But this is the kind of thing that would definitely cost me my volunteer gig if I did it. (I'm still waiting to hear back from our volunteer coordinator about blogging guidelines.)

And on the home medical front, I did something really stupid this morning. Along with most of the rest of the Western world, I'm on antidepressants (better living through chemistry! yay!). I've had chronic depression, fairly low-level, for most of my life, and although I can often handle it with daily exercise and various other disciplines (prayer, service), sometimes it gets bad enough for me to need meds. I took Prozac for four years a bunch of years ago, and although it definitely made me feel better, I couldn't write on it. My wonderful current doctor informs me that suppression of creativity is a known side-effect of the SSRI's, so when my self-care routines stopped working last year and I decided to go back on meds, she put me on nortriptyline, one of the older tricyclic drugs. I'm on a very low dose (25 mg once a day at bedtime), but even so, I get the occasional heart flutter. I can write, though.

So, anyway, I take my nortrip once a day at bedtime. But this morning I reached for my morning stomach pill and took a nortrip instead, and today's the day I have to drive back home. Ooops. Because I'm on a low dose, I wasn't really worried, but I called the Reno Nurse Hotline, who connected me with Washoe County Poison Control, where a very pleasant man said, "You're on a low dose, and there are people who take much higher doses of that stuff around the clock, so you should be okay. Just wait a few hours before you start driving, because if there were going to be a side-effect, it would be fatigue."

So I'm hanging out in my dorm room for a while. I'm indeed tired, but that could also be because I didn't sleep well last night (or maybe because I've only had a few sips of my morning coffee). I'm sure I'm not the only person who's ever done this, but I was still annoyed at myself.

When I do get back home, I'll enter the next phase of my Thrilling Blog Adventure: trying to figure out how to post pictures. I really like the final project I did for my class, so I'll try to put up a photo of it.

First I have to get back across the mountains, though.


  1. Prozac makes you fel better, but stops you doing what makes you (part) of who you are. At least now, if I don't write, I can only blame my indolence rather than a little pink pill. I can live with low level depression - I have a wonderful family who give me all the support anyone can need - but I cannot live without writing.

    Depression is a hint to change your life. How? Now that is the question. If I knew the answer I wouldn't be depressed.

    Any time I speak to anyone at work - I investigate motor accidents - I have to ask 'Do you take any medication that might affect your ability to drive?' and the only time I ever get a positive answer is from diabetics like myself. But look at them out there. What are they on?

  2. Well, sometimes it's a hint to change your life, especially if it's gotten worse. Sometimes it's just a function of early environmental stressors and brain chemistry. I've become pretty mechanistic about this, partly because I don't need more reasons to beat myself up ("if I were doing X differently, I wouldn't be depressed"). I consider my depression a chronic medical condition, much like diabetes. It's not my fault, but it is my responsibility. I live with it 24/7, and the question is whether I handle it in a self-caring or self-defeating way. Part of self-care is recognizing when I need to be on meds.

    As for driving: Prozac helped me get up the courage to learn to drive at the age of 36. I couldn't have done that without the meds!

    Also, if I investigated motor accidents for a living, I think I'd be more depressed than I am! :-) But then, some people feel that way about my hospital volunteer gig, too. What's that definition of ministry? The place where our great joy meets the world's great need?

  3. We ae each of us individuals, each with different abilities and needs. As I see it, a lot of of modern stresses can be put down to the idea that 'one size fits all'; that and the application of statitical analytical techniques designed for continuous variables to discrete variables - human beings by another name.

    Last time I went to my doctor to seek help for my depression she told me that being there and asking the question probably meant the black cloud had passed.

    Patient heal thyself! But I do understand what you mean.

    Cathie - that's the personal light of my life, inspiration, mother of our children (and I'll stop there before I get sloppy) is a nurse. When I say 'nurse', that is what she is, nursing his her vocation and she has job satisfaction thatI can only observe open mouthed and envious. Where our greatest joy meets the world's greatest needs. She laughed. Reasons to be cheerful!

  4. Yes, I've heard that too. "Recognizing the problem is half the battle." Well, sometimes, but sometimes not. Sometimes finding the right meds can be 75% of the battle. And in my experience, a lot of people are acutely aware of problems they're nonetheless powerless to change. That kind of helplessness can significantly deepen depression.

    But the truth behind your doctor's comment is that depression by its nature can keep people from being able to ask for help with it. Expecting people with brain disorders to be able to advocate for themselves effectively is like expecting people with broken legs to walk to the hospital: the part of your body you need to do the work is precisely the part that isn't fully functional.

  5. Absolutely! Depression's trick, like the devil's, is persuading you that he isn't there!

    Prayers for the day you can leave the top on the meds bottle.


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