Monthly Archives: November 2011

Another World

I’m going to a faculty reading tomorrow night at Emerson College in Boston.  Emerson College was where I studied as an undergraduate, finishing in 2003.  The three faculty who will be reading are Murray Schwartz, Richard Hoffman, and DeWitt Henry.  All three have been working at Emerson for a long, long time.  I did not take any courses with DeWitt, but I took one course with Murray, and two with Richard.

Richard Hoffman was my favorite, favorite person at Emerson.  I don’t think he realizes just how much he influenced my writing and thinking while I was a student back then.  I remember sitting in his class feeling that my mind was very quick and that I was so desperate to learn as much as I could.  I was 41 and I thought that I had grown out of every bit of foolishness that I had been born with.  I went for a run every morning even though it was dark and misty and I couldn’t see anything.

That was the fall of 1999.  Now, it’s the fall of 2011.

I tried to continue writing this three times, and three times I deleted what I wrote.  I thought about all that has changed, and tried to sort through which changes were most important.  These were not the changes that were the most noticeable, nor were they the first that came to mind.

I guess I just want to cry.

But why?  After all, in those twelve years, I have earned two degrees and written a number of books.

It seems like twelve years of continual loss.  It is not something I can easily explain.  I remember what I had then, and look at the stray papers and little bits of eraser dirt right on the desk in front of me now.  There has been a massive shift.  I am starving.  I think that says enough.


Very important anorexia nervosa link – stuff about the brain

Play the video.  This stuff about the brain I have never seen before.


Mind the Gap!

Those of you who live in or around London can have a good chuckle at my mishap.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had this misadventure.

After purchasing my Oyster Card, the London equivalent of Boston’s Charlie Card (transportation computer chip card that you can put money on), I set out to find the Tube, or Underground, at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.  Someone pointed the way.  It wasn’t too difficult, as there were signs all over the place.  The line leading into London proper is called the Piccadilly Line.  I have always thought that this was a funny-sounding name.  London has 13 different lines, which include the “Overground” as well, the “Docklands Light Rail” (DLR).  There are also some faster trains, which are more expensive.  The Oyster Card will pay for the Tube (Underground and Overground) and buses, but not the faster trains.  One of these trains is called the Heathrow Express.  Everyone was asking me why I wasn’t taking this train, which would get me into the center of London in twenty minutes.  It costs one heck of a lot more, that’s why, and taking the Tube would be far more interesting, and the trip would take only an hour.  I had plenty of time to kill.  The world, in London, was mine.

I sat across from a woman who had also just left the airport.  I assumed that she was headed home, because she seemed relaxed and wasn’t looking at a map or glancing out the window every time we came to a stop.  She explained many things to me about the Tube, and we got into a friendly conversation.  One thing I remember asking her was whether the stop announcements were accurate.  These announcements were automated, as they are on Boston’s MBTA subways.  The subway automated announcements are always messing up.  “No,” she said, “they are always right on.”

But I didn’t ask her what “Mind the gap” meant.  This was repeatedly announced at most stops.  I assumed it meant to stand away from the edge of the platform when the tube arrived, so you wouldn’t get hit by it.  They sometimes announce that in the Boston subways.

I was to find out otherwise.

It came time for my stop.  Out I ran.  Fast.  Too fast.  How was I to know?

I found out, then, what the “gap” was.  Boom!  Suddenly, I was down on the floor of the Tube station, my feet in the Tube, the rest of me on the concrete, my rolling suitcase god knows where.

This is what the “gap” is: It is a huge step.  The step is either up or down.  You never know, but the step is there, coming out of the Tube and onto the platform.  Yes, I had fallen on a huge step–the gap.  This is what Mind the Gap means.

WTF?!  Why can’t they have them level?  This is one of the true mysteries of London that I will never be able to solve.

Luckily, the kind woman with whom I had been speaking gently helped me up, explaining that I had attempted to get off at the wrong stop to begin with!  Others helped as well, and I got settled back in.  Two stops later was the correct stop.  I got off very, very carefully, and proceeded to the Circle Line.  From then on, I minded the gap very, very well.

Now, back home in the US, I’ve got a few bumps and bruises to remind me of the occasion.  It’s been over a week now since I’ve been back, and the bumps are fading, but my memory of the London Tube, the way the system looks like spaghetti on a map, its cleanliness and efficiency, the smartly-dressed people that ride it, and most of all, the Gap, will stay with me for a long, long time.

Current dose of Lamictal: 600…too high?

I’ll start by saying that I have been taking Lamictal since either the end of 1996 or the beginning of 1997.  My doctor put me on it after he had me on Tegretol (as a mood stabilizer), which suddenly got funky on me.  I had some trouble with the Tegretol level spiking, and he decided to substitute Lamictal.  People noticed an improvement…sort of.  Some people got hopeful for a little while.  The Lamictal had a bit of antidepressant effect, but not enough.  I was rather sick back then.  I’ve been on Lamictal ever since.  My dose was maybe 200 mgs, but that’s just a wild guess.

Much time has passed, of course.  In 1998 I had a huge switcheroo and shocked the world by writing my first novel, going back to school, and basically proving all those hot-shot doctors that said I’d never make anything of myself wrong (they can just kiss my MFA).  At the time that I was in graduate school, my dose of Lamictal was kept the same (I think).    I believe that it was in mid-2010 that Dr. P began raising it.

It was around this time that I began to have double vision.   My eye doctor examined me and asked me if I’d had my thyroid checked recently, and yes, it turned out that my thyroid was off, so we got that straightened out, but I was still seeing double, but my eye doctor said this sometimes happens to people who are extremely nearsighted.  Prisms in my lenses, he said, are an option, but there are advantages and disadvantages to these prisms.  He gave me the rundown, and I decided I’d rather have occasional double vision.  We left it at that.

Other weird stuff has been happening.  Like this confusion in the morning.  I have a lot of trouble making decisions.  It takes forever deciding which pair of socks to put on.  I feel so befuddled that it takes forever to get showered and dressed some mornings.  This lasted about a week.

Then yesterday.  I took my morning meds.  Lately, I’ve been taking 400 mgs Lamictal in the morning and 200 mgs at night.  Why?  Because the Lamictal seems to keep me up at  night, so the less I take at night, the better.  Well, the only meds I now take in the morning are Lamictal and Synthroid.  I took these.  Forty-five minutes later, wham!  I couldn’t even walk or stand.  I fell over.  The only way I could get around was to steady myself and hold onto the wall.  This lasted a long, long time, well into the afternoon.  I didn’t put two and two together.  I had no clue that it might be from the Lamictal.  Not an inkling.

This morning, the same thing happened.  Perfect timing.  Forty-five minutes later.  It’s totally obvious now.  Could this high dose be the cause of my insomnia, too?  My mind is ticking away.  No way am I going to take any before church tomorrow, and then collapse in church!

Tonight, I am not going to take it.  I took it out of my little med compartment.  Tomorrow morning, I am not going to take it and cause a messy scene at church.  I can’t take it Monday morning because no way will I be able to hop on a bus and get to therapy at 1pm.

These are my meds: Synthroid, Trileptal, Topamax, Lamictal, Imipramine.

Yes, that’s right, three, I repeat, three anticonvulsant/mood stabilizers.  They told me at the Prestigious Boston Hospital (you probably know what hospital I’m talking about) that three is definitely, definitely, definitely more than necessary.  They also said that the interactions between three anticonvulsants is completely unknown.  Anything, they said, could happen.


They wanted me to stop taking one of them, saying that stopping one would be no problem, that I would not get a seizure because I had two others to protect me.  I think I know which one it will be.


I can barely walk and my vision is not right

I’m not sure when this was.  Maybe 9:30am or so.  I got out of the shower without difficulty. Then, suddenly, I couldn’t walk.  I lost my balance.  I nearly fell, but was fortunate to have fallen into my bureau and was okay.  I held onto it, realizing something was terribly wrong.  I have had severe insomnia for a long time, almost two months exactly to the day.  Was I falling asleep on my feet?  No, it didn’t seem to be that.  This was constant.  I couldn’t stand without falling over.  I couldn’t walk.  I held onto the wall until I was able to get ahold of my clothes.  I had incredible difficulty putting them on.  Leaning on the wall, I reached the phone, and called Dr. K.  I left her a message.  Coincidentally, I have an appointment with her today at 2pm.  There has been a tiny bit of improvement since it started, not much though.   Still, I don’t know, as of this moment, if I can safely get there, even by cab.

I can see okay with my right eye using the bottom lens of my bifocal to write this, while closing my left eye…sort of.  I have been having trouble with my vision ever since I set foot into Logan Airport (Boston) on my way to London on Monday the 14th, enough to have to ask for assistance from people.  While wandering around London I more or less had to guess where to go at times.  At other times, I could see where I was going.  To my amazement, I did quite well, and the very few errors I made were not due to poor vision but incorrect, vague, or confusing instructions as to where to go.

Now, I have no trouble getting anywhere, because everywhere I go, the routes are familiar to me, but if I had to go to a new place in a new setting, I would have to ask for assistance.  I just can’t see properly.  I can’t explain what the problem is with my vision, though.  It’s not blurriness.  It’s something else, just kind of a confusion.

Still waiting for my doctor to call.


Check this out: Dorothea Dix bio

What an amazing woman.


The Bathroom Sink

I didn’t clean the bathroom sink for a long time and it was filthy.  Every time I looked at it, I felt disgusted with myself.  I looked at the sink and then at my face in the mirror.  The face I saw wasn’t mine.  It was someone else’s.  I said to that face, “You are a fat, ugly, lazy slob,” and I hated that face, that person in there, that me that wasn’t me.

Then, I got on an airplane to London.  I walked around on the London streets, where many elegant people were hurrying to their jobs.  I was shabbily dressed, with my folded-up Google Maps directions to guide me.  The people walked swiftly past me, and I thought about how smart they looked, in their business suits.  I have never owned such formal clothes, or worked a fancy nine to five job.  But the London people probably had bathroom sinks, too, and ghosts of their own they saw in their mirrors.

I went back to my little room at the hotel.  The little room had not one but two mirrors.  I looked in neither of them.  Who, after all, can trust a mirror in a country where the people talk funny and drive on the wrong side of the road?  But the whole room was clean–the bathroom, the towels, and the bed.  I slept.

I got on an airplane and came home to find the same mess that I’d left behind: dishes in the kitchen, papers everywhere, and three weeks’ worth of laundry to do.  I went to take a shower and saw my demon, the bathroom sink, that looked as filthy as it ever had been, ever.

I didn’t have to look in the mirror.  I knew that the person I’d see in there still wasn’t me.  But it didn’t matter anymore whether I hated her or not because the bathroom mirror was steamed up from the shower.  I knew then what I had to do.  I found some Ajax and a couple of paper towels.  I thought it would take hours, but it took only a minute or two.  I cleaned the bathroom sink.

I’m back!

I’m back from London!  I’ll give a full report sometime in the next few days.  I had a great time.  I didn’t get lost in the Tube and the plane ended up in the right country.  I found out the hard way what “Mind the Gap” means.  For those of you who live in London, and also for those of you who already know what “Mind the Gap” means, you are probably having a good chuckle right now, at my expense.  Needless to say, I am in one piece and nothing is broken.  For those of you who don’t know…just wait and I’ll tell you!

Audio Post

Getting ready to see Dr. P

I feel a little better today.  I have more energy.  I did something with my hair.  It was less of a project trying to get myself into the shower, brush my teeth, and dress myself.  I’m a little less overwhelmed thinking about all the things I have to do before taking off on my trip Monday.  Actually, there is very little left to do, when I think about it.

I did a bit of sleeping this morning, for an hour or so, then decided that I needed to stay put for a while and that since I’m headed off for church tomorrow anyway, I would wait till then, and stay home today until it’s time to see Dr. P.

I took 125 mgs of Imipramine last night, as Dr. P instructed.  This is the maximum dose for this bottle that she called in.  I was concerned because those pills are so tiny.  How could a tiny pill possibly do anything?  Obviously, they’re doing something, or metabolizing at least.  I know this because I’m experiencing a nasty side effect: dry mouth.  I have a nasty taste in my mouth.  Brushing my teeth frequently helps, but the effect wears off very quickly.  I’m going to try carrying a sip bottle of water around with me and sipping on it, or carrying Tic-Tacs around with me.  The latter might be a good solution for traveling on the airplane.  I would bring a sip bottle and fill it at the airport.  I don’t believe in buying water when you can just as easily get it from the tap.  At airports, a bottle of water costs over $3.  That plus it’s a waste of plastic.  Anyway, the Imipramine is indeed getting into my system.  I seem to be sleeping a little deeper.  The problem is that I still have many interruptions during the night, generally averaging once an hour.  I wish that sleep provided a relief from my depression.  It doesn’t.  When I wake up in the night, I feel intensely depressed, and I feel the urge to smash something.

My friend called today, saying she was very worried about my traveling to another country in the state that I’m in, especially given the tightened security policies and the fact that I will be alone and know no one in London.  I guess a lot of people feel this way when it comes to travel.  I assured her that I’ll be fine.  At the time of our conversation, I felt kind of weird inside.  I didn’t exactly know what to say.

The more I think about it as the day progresses, the more I know I’ll be okay.  My confidence is continuing to grow.  Today’s annoyances aren’t annoying me too much.  I am dealing with them.

I just hope this lasts.

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