In some ways, for me, 2011 was the year of apathy
. On a personal level it was neither a great year, nor an awful one. It simply was. Since I've been wrapped up in the world of law school the greater goings on in the world haven't left much of an impact this year. I noted Occupy Wall Street, the debacle that is the presidential campaign, and a few other news stories. But the majority of my attention was on school and health. In many ways 2011 was better than 2010. I spent much of 2010 being so massively depressed that suicide ideation started popping up (though I got help as soon as I noticed that ideation). Things improved quite a bit in 2011. My friends helped a lot with that improvement, as did the firewalk
that I attended.
One of the biggest factors in that improvement was finding a doctor who didn't take the fibromyalgia diagnosis at face value, throw up his hands and say "there's nothing I can do for you," which is what the doctor I had in 2010 had basically done. Between my new specialist and new general practitioner, I am slowly but surely dealing with all the things causing me to be constantly fatigued and in pain. After evaluation and numerous tests by diagnosis shifted from fibromyalgia, to late-stage Lyme Disease (sometimes called chronic Lyme), and systemic yeast overgrowth. I responded very well to the anti-yeast treatment (though the restricted diet has been a bitch to get used to), and before school started was feeling pretty darn good.
I had a bit of a set back at the start of the antibiotic treatment. Irene in all her glory (which was pretty intense here in Vermont--this
is a good video about her effect on my little town, and the amazing response from people here), triggered my PTSD. Oddly I had forgotten much of my storm triggered PTSD for a while. It's been a long time since it was triggered. Days before my seventh birthday an F4 tornado tore through my town and passed right over our heads. Since we lived in a trailer, we took shelter outside. We had one of those fuel-tank bbq pits
. The support pole for the bbq was cemented into the ground under our carport. My parents, the neighbors and their kids, and my brother and I basically lay around that pole holding on for dear life. All the kids were on the bottom with our parents holding us down. I was terrified for our dogs who had gone into hiding early on in the storm (they came out when things had calmed down and were perfectly fine), and I was terrified for us. I will never forget the pull of the wind, the coldness of the rain or that awful sound. What really made the power of nature a nightmarish thing for me though was seeing the utter devastation afterward. We had to travel into the neighboring city to stay with friends because we had neither power nor water. On the way into town we passed by the neighborhood gas station. All that was left of that cement structure was the counter and the sign. Nothing else. The trailer park just up the road from us was completely wiped out. Not a single trailer remained whole. I struggled with fear of storms for a long time, but it got better over the years. Nearly went away completely after I left the south. Watching the river rise to nearly double it's size in less than an hour brought a lot of those old fears slamming back. I watched from my porch as tables, propane tanks and large trees floated down a river I could normally not even see from the porch. I heard stories of houses and cars going down stream. The devastation after the storm was just as horrific as it had been all those years ago, and the sense of helplessness just as strong. I was able to help some this time, but not as much as I would have liked due to my health. So it was a very frustrating time. Add that to the stress of starting back to school (Irene hit the day before classes were supposed to start), the stress of appellate advocacy
(a 2L right of passage at my school) and the stress of starting a difficult medical treatment, and you have a very fragile Manda.
So I started seeing the new school counselor (who was a great deal more help than the old one), and after much debating decided to drop a class. That brought about it's own stress, which you can read about here
. It was worth the relief to have fewer hours though. I was able to concentrate on the remainder of my classes and improve my attendance. Thanks to my awesome family of choice (aka my Vermont family, the Pagan Lane clan), I successfully navigated the holidays despite not being able to eat any sweets whatsoever. Due to various family members dietary restrictions our Christmas dinner was gluten-free, dairy-free (save for the pumpkin pie), and mostly sugar/sweet-free (save for the french bread slabs and desserts, which I ignored). There was even stuffing I could eat. A lot of the food was homegrown, including the godzilla chicken (giant mutant chicken-thing was the size of a small turkey). All the food was super yummy too. Got to spend a lot of time just hanging out with friends, including a couple members of our clan that I usually only get to see at Christmas. So it was a really nice holiday.
The only downside to the winter break has been that my new antibiotic (doxycycline) often makes me nauseous and since I just started it, and it's a stronger antibiotic I'm still dealing with the achy, yucky feeling that happens with each treatment cycle
. I also developed an aphthous ulcer, which is a apparently the fancy name for canker sores, on the underside of my upper lip where the lip meets the gums. Did you know that canker sores and cold sores were different things? I didn't. I've actually had the sore for a while, but I was often in the habit of taking my dentures out (I'm planning on doing a longer fonsfaq post on living with dentures, especially when you're young) at night to try to get the sore to heal. Since I was staying with others I left them in (it's hard to be around other people without your teeth in). The friction made the sore much, much worse. Resulting in concerns that this painful thing was abscessing or something equally dreadful. So I left a bit earlier than I had planned, and stopped by the ER on my way home.
Thankfully it wasn't anything serious, just painful and embarrassing. I say embarrassing because the only way to treat it effectively is to leave my teeth out until it heals. This has meant going out in public without my teeth in, which bugs the shit out of me. I have coped by wrapping a scarf around my mouth or hiding behind my coat. Thank the gods that it's winter. Not sure what I would have done in summer. It's also meant being on a soft food diet (which is even more interesting when you're already on a restricted diet). Thankfully (and possibly unfortunately) I have a lot of experience with creative soft food diets due to previous teeth issues (there is a reason I've had dentures since I was 25, and it has a lot to due with bad genetics and no enamel). I'm starting to get a bit sick of things though. Hopefully this sore will heal up soon. Regardless the teeth are going back in when classes start, which is thankfully next week. I've made an appointment to get my dentures adjusted. So hopefully I can avoid a repeat of this misadventure.
So all in all it wasn't a bad year. It wasn't great by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn't bad. It was certainly an improvement of 2010 (for me at least). Here's hoping 2012 will be an improvement for us all.