“For the second time this year I have burned through my disability cheque before the second week of the month, so for the next sixteen days I’ll be eating 0.19 cent packages of monosodium glutamate and wondering where the food bank is in this town.”
“How Growing Up With Wire Monkeys Added To My Self Destructive Behaviour”, Me; Sept. 18, 2008
I’m basically off the Seroquel right now. I’m still taking a single 25mg pill when I’m ready to sleep, which is down from the 75-100mgs I was taking two weeks ago, but it’s just there until I adapt to the new medication, Remeron RD.
Months ago I was diagnosed with diabetes and both my family doctor and my psychiatrist recommended dropping the Seroquel, which has diabetes two as a long term side effect. It’s entirely possible my twenty-year diet of sugar and trans fats had more to do with the diabetes than anything else, but why take a chance…
The problem is, of course, once doctors find a treatment for manic depression which works for their patient they don’t like to mess with the medications. And the Seroquel was working. As a sleep aid I’ve had the best sleep of my life over the past four years — in that I actually slept. It was also keeping a pretty decent cap on my manics.
So my psychiatrist has introduced the Remeron at 15mg at bedtime. So far so good. I’ll also be dropping the Wellbutrin from 250mgs down to 150mg starting this weekend.
The diabetes has become much less of a problem since I was diagnosed. I’ve been using Glyburide for a few months now and before stopping the Seroquel my average blood sugar reading has dropped from 26 to eleven, so if anything gets weird with the Remeron I have no problem going back to the Seroquel.
For anyone who’s keeping score, on Monday my medications will be: 2100mgs Lithium; 150mgs Wellbutrin; 15mgs Remeron, and; 10mgs Glyburide.
Speaking of things getting weird… I had dinner with my grandmother last night (Thursday). There was a church dinner and silent auction for the United Church. My grandmother is one of those dismissive “church is for chumps” people, but she likes the communal aspects like the dinners and the socials.
When we got to the hall we walked through the items up for auction, it was just random stuff donated by local businesses. The bids were all in the ten dollar range for things like a year’s subscription to one of the local newspapers, or fifteen bucks for a printed umbrella.
So my grandmother would scoff at the low bids, say something like “these people don’t know what they’re doing”, then increase the bid three or four times.
My grandmother is a hard, hard woman. She was a nurse for decades and before that she grew up right in the heart of the Great Depression, in a farming community in Alberta. Before she was fifteen her father decided it would be more economical just to have the dentist remove all of her teeth instead of having the guy come back thirty times.
So my grandmother’s first cavity was her last. All of her teeth were taken in one night by a dentist who was really just some guy who owned pliers small enough to get into a girl’s mouth. She didn’t get dentures until she was close to eighteen.
Stuff like that does unimaginable things to a person.
My grandmother is an abusive woman. I’ve never liked her. To be honest I could give a rats ass about her past and how she became the person she is… I just know when I was a kid and I did something minor to piss her off, like lose a quarter, she’d take a few days to stew and invent something larger and then my grandfather would drag me out to a very literal woodshed where he’d threaten me with a very real piece of wood for having done something which never happened outside of my grandmother’s imagination.
So it’s pretty rare for the two of us to be doing anything together. The only time I see her now is on the Fridays I have a psych appointment. My mother usually drives me there and back, and back usually means a visit with the old people. My grandmother has calmed down about 80% over the past twenty years, which has meant my mother has slowly become closer to her mother and former / residual abuser.
My mom has always wanted parents, almost in the same way I’ve always wanted them. And now that hers are old, slow and with maybe only a couple of years left, she’s getting to know them.
I still have a hard time with my grandfather. It pisses me off that his neglect was the only thing he ever offered to me and my brother, and now he expects me to be his Bestest Buddy. But as long as I can keep it down to lunch once a week, I don’t have to think about his lack of involvement in my life too much.
My grandmother, however, I just have nothing in common with… I recognize some of me in her, and some of her in my mother, but I wouldn’t be visiting without being chauffeured by my mom. All that said, the dinner was pleasant. It wasn’t just “home cooked”, it was “home cooked by God loving grandmother’s”.
Speaking of my grandfather… not too long after realizing I had blown my disability cheque two weeks before the next one was coming, he invited me out for lunch. A twenty dollar steak later and I wasn’t feeling too bad about the finances anymore.
There was a certain amount of panic a few days before the steak when I realized I only had $18 in my bank account. But after I calmed down I made sure to use the money, plus any other folding money I had, to buy enough pasta and meat to last at least ten days. Then I started making ticks on the calender for possible meals…
Lunch with my grandfather… tick, tick. Dinner with mom on Sunday… tick, tick. Enough change for milk… wow, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. Dinner with my grandmother… sigh, tick. Suddenly things weren’t nearly as bleak as I though.
One of the wonderful aspects of Learned Behaviour is how pervasive it becomes, and how infrequently we acknowledge it while it’s in action. Two weeks ago someone raised a hand and I reacted as though I had been beaten by it for most of my life. But whereas back in the day I would’ve crawled into bed for a week, this time I was able to recognize almost right away what was going on and come up with a relatively rational plan — sleeping eighteen hours was one of my coping mechanisms for the times when I had no money and very little food. One can of tuna, for example, could become three meals.
So instead of my nightmares coming true of using the local food bank only to be served by a friend of my mother’s, I’ve been able to avoid eating the crap I’ve stored away in the cupboard. I actually haven’t noticed too much of a difference between the past two weeks with “no money” and the weeks with cash-on-hand.
Speaking of cash on hand… the new woman at the convenience store, who is very cute with a fabulous smile, likes my beard… so there’s a good chance I’ll be keeping this one for a little while longer, and there’s a better than even chance I’ll be spending a large chunk of my October cheque during her shift.