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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Depressed? No Way!

Yes it is true.  Mr. Cheerful, got down and depressed.  Unbelievable right? That is unless you know that I have been taking antidepressants for many many years.  I'm doing great now due to an adjustment of my meds. I know I have a good reason to be depressed.  After all, I have a disease that is killing me.



I have no business being depressed because I know my mental self really well.  I have been successfully medicated to take care of chronic depression.  Depression that happens because of an event - situational depression - is something we all deal with unless our permanent address is Disneyland, Anaheim, California, USA.  Even then, that mouse can really bug you.  I'm no different, but when I get stuck in a slump, I know what to do to climb out of it.

I figure that there are a couple of triggers that brought me to the edge.

First, it has been a hard year for our ALS Support Group.  We started attending support group meeting eighteen months ago.  We got to know a lot of really nice people.  We met every month, sharing our experiences and discussing specific topics that help an ALS patient cope.  Since early fall we started losing members.  It didn't slow down through the holidays and beyond.  In fact, in the last two weeks, we have lost two members of our group.  A third patient who didn't participate in our group also died.  That adds up to 12 souls since October. Anyone who joins a group of terminally ill people better be ready to see a lot of people pass on.  I was dealing with all of this really well until one of my friends died on December 21st.  This guy's ALS progressed just like mine.  When we met his speech was slurred like mine.  When I had foot drop, he had foot drop.  When I got my feeding tube, he did too.  When I needed my iPad to speak he got a similar device to speak for him.    Each time we met, we would compare notes.  It really got to me when he died.  We were like ALS brothers.  All but three or four members of our original group are gone.  Of course they have been replaced with new people, but it isn't the same.

Second, I developed a yucky problem.  I would feel like I had something in my lungs that I needed to cough out.  No matter how hard I tried to dislodge it, the stuff wouldn't come out until it was ready.  Not even the cough assist machine would help. Then, without warning, the thing would break loose and block my airway.  Of course, it plugged my airway when I was exhaling so it was hard for me to inhale.  It was really scary to struggle to get that gunk either coughed up or swallowed.  This went on for two or three weeks, several times each day.  Every day I nervously anticipated this. After a couple of weeks I thought this was my new normal, which knocked me down a peg or two.  Then just as suddenly as it started, it went away, and gratefully, I haven't had a recurrance since.

So - Happy days are here again.  No weird choking.  I still feel bad about losing our ALS friends, but that is different than being depressed.

We had an amazing Christmas and a remarkable Valentines day.  And, the last couple of weeks have been entertaining.  I'll write about that soon.  A good part of it will be written by Gerri'.


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