Challenging Your Doctor

Amitriptyline. This is an old style antidepressant now used mainly for dealing with pain, particularly  that caused by neuropathy. I had been given the other two drugs that have been found to be effective for neuropathy but the side effects outweighed the benefit.

This post is about your treatment for depression, I wanted to share some thoughts. Make sure you read everything you can about what you are taking and what it can do to you, This is important and remember this is your body, your mind and you have a say in what happens to you at all times.

I wanted to share one particular example. While I was under the care of a Psychiatrist I was put on a certain drug (I can’t tell you what I don’t remember) now at that time I was in a bad way and in addition was trying to function under 60mg of Diazepam a day. Now this drug made me much worse and I knew it wasn’t cutting it in fact it was destroying me. At my next visit to the Psychiatrist she looked at me and talked with me about how I was and then suggested I needed to be hospitalised. I refused. I made it plain I thought it was all down to the drug. She fetched my wife from the waiting room in order to get her onside with hospitalisation. My wife, bless her a thousand fold, did not concur knowing how I felt. Reluctantly she agreed to change the medication rather than admit me there and then. A month later she acknowledged that I had been right. Believe in your own experience! 

On another occasion my GP wanted me to go for a laryngoscopy because I felt a lump in my throat and was having difficulty swallowing. He was insistent. I agreed but asked for a week of antibiotics. He agreed. They did nothing. I reviewed the medication I was on and decided to eliminate a new one, this removed the problem within a week. I phoned him and the laryngoscopy was cancelled. So again the moral is know your own body and mind. Don’t always do what they suggest. Stand up for yourself but based on knowledge not stubbornness.

These drugs they fire at you so easily can have devastating effects in so many unforeseen ways. Back in 2001 I was put on calcium antagonists. After four months I became seriously ill. Very ill. I needed diamorhphine (the medical use of heroin), the Dr was visiting almost every day. Turned out it was an allergic reaction to these blood pressure pills. Simple pills doled out to thousands.

Be aware.

Yet despite all this I am so grateful to the NHS and GPs in particular who have kept me alive. And to return to the Amitriptyline I started with, it’s not yet doing much for my neuropathic pain but coupled with my sertraline a strange untried combination of pills I feel mentally better than I have for years. Long may it continue.

Shattered Dreams lead to a better place

My hidden world.

The time of reflection has arrived, at least for me anyway. I am reaching the end and I have an opportunity to look back over the decades and reflect on my life. 

The first thing I am aware of is the fact that absolutely nothing I dreamed of up to the age of 21 has remotely come to pass. At that age I knew with certainty where and what I wanted to do with my life, where I wanted to live and how it was all going to work. It seemed so clear, I had finished University (I thought) knew my career path, knew a job was waiting and I was about to get married (that worked out and still does).

Three years later my world had turned upside down and I was on a  completely different trajectory. For a start I was back at a University. 

The second thing I realise as I look back how many terrible things happened to me and yet out of them came great good. Before I had even finished Primary School I had been propelled into secondary education which was to me the worst thing to happen in my young life and then my parents decided to move and I had to leave behind my home and move to a new build. Oh I cried. I withdrew. It was awful. I never did like where we lived. My world was in utter tatters. It was a nightmare. Three years of hell. However without those two incidents I would never have met my wife. The first time I saw her in the school in the year below me I looked at her and thought I’ll marry her. Not that I was going to do anything about it, ever. But circumstances that came out of those two horrible events finally brought us together.

Out of the bad came the good. How foolish we are to think we have a clue what is happening in our lives. We don’t. We may think we do but we don’t.

The Break

I was in too much pain to continue the above and now I have lost both the flow and the thread. But what I am trying to say to all those younger than me is relax, looking back the biggest disasters brought the greater rewards something not obvious for many years sometimes and until now when I can look back and see the rich tapestry of my life. I should have of course trusted a lot more. I should have trusted rather than worried. This is particularly true of my multiple chronic conditions and disabilities out of that path which seemed like such a disaster has come the greatest good in my life.

Planning Ahead

The plan is to continue this blog until I die or become too incapacitated to continue, so that I can chronicle the end of life, the end of the journey, as I wait to start my real life. That was the plan but since I tap this out with a single digit of my left hand and if I recognise the signs my left arm is suffering the first signs of neuropathy. It is most unpleasant even the gentlest touch on the screen is painful. However I trust and will continue.

I used to Blog daily but when deciding to have another go at I decided weekly. That was wise.

Again I had to stop as it was painful. I am sure I had something else to say. But there you go it has all gone. However I have no idea how I would have coped with all that life has thrown at me without an absolutely unshakeable faith. Not in things unseen but real spiritual experiences of the divine. Ask and you will receive said Jesus. Tried and tested.

Augustine x

A black and white photo outside a caravan in the early 1950s. A man and his son (me)
An old Photo

Why I am an embarrassment to my family

I am exhausted trying to keep my head above water. How easy it would be to sink, only I can’t. My body is driving me to distraction, I have tingling all over it has been like this for days. My blood glucose readings are far too high, this will lead to more problems. The medical profession is terribly slow in dealing with this. My mood is awful I have lost interest in everything. My badly damaged bowel is creating more problems than I care to share in polite company.

Outwardly of course my life appears cushy. I am safe and secure in my home, money is not a problem. I have run the course of my life so I don’t need to worry about careers, mortgages and all the other issues. Our car is supplied via motability so that is a zero worry situation. We live modestly and comfortably. Our children are well and healthy and all live very close to us no further than five minutes away. Our grandchildren are gorgeous and fun. We do have an autistic grandchild but we all have learned so much about this and when not “gone” he is a delight and very very bright.

My blessings are many, my faith has deepened rather than weakened over the last two decades as if God were doing this to me as some crazies think. Being a Christian is not easy in this current climate although we talk little about it we are mocked and persecuted and that is as it should be I guess since we are not citizens of this world. I offer all that I suffer to the Lord with thanksgiving.

Faith? A strange thing in fact. When fifty years ago the love of my life attended church I thought I should test this religion idea out. I was deeply sceptical. However I read. I tested ideas. I challenged ideas. And I tried to talk to God and I wasn’t sure he was there. All the time studying physics, chemistry and maths at  University. To my delight and I have to say surprise I encountered the divine in love because God is love. The reality of God was so profound I couldn’t deny his existence anymore than I could the existence of the Sun. It is not for me an intellectual construct, it is a real living dynamic experience. I have spent decades now studying religion, theology and the history of Christianity in great depth I even did another degree in theology. Slowly truth was sorted out from the chaff that floats around about religion.

A few years ago I left Protestantism behind and became a Roman Catholic. As one wise Priest said, the Catholic Church my be absolutely awful but it is the real deal. It is, as I found, and now I am at rest. I am the only member of my family to be a Catholic. Some are embarrassed by this especially given the extent of anti-Catholic feeling and prejudice in this area of Orange Lodges.

Blessed John Henry Newman
Blessed John Henry Newman

That enormous intellect Augustine (of Hippo) was such an important influence on me that my final thesis was on Augustine and his time as a Manichee. So much so that I took his name at my Confirmation and Reception into the Catholic Church. The other enormous influence on my life was and is Blessed John Henry Newman whose journey and writings are so deep and convincing.

So despite the enormous difficulties with my health and my mental illness the one bedrock that stops me falling  into oblivion and suicide is my journey with God. No matter how far I fall into hell He is there with me.

Augustine + x

Men at work on aeroplane wings made of wood circa 1930s
Old Photo of the Day