Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New things...

If anyone tells you that legumes like lentils and split peas need to be soaked over night, ignore the advice. I know that, but in preparing for a new recipe, I dumped my split peas in a bowl of water without thinking.  So, when I realized the mistake, I ended up cooking in the middle of the night so as not to waste the bag.  SIGH.

I created a Simple Split Pea Soup recipe by adapting one from someone else. I wanted to have more flavor, so added spices that combine well with her base of cumin and ginger.

I wolfed down my serving today before remember to take a photo, so here is one of my mason jars of the soup.  Tasty ... in my opinion.

With regard to spices, I have learned two things:  1) cook your spices and 2) cook your spices before adding anything acidic.  So, with this recipe, I heated the olive oil and then stirred in my puréed onions to coat them with the olive oil.  That way the mush will brown a bit.  Then, after a while, I add the garlic to get it started, since it needs less time than onions and blackened garlic is not tasty.  Once the garlic was going, I added the spices and cooked them until they started to smell.  That's your signal.  Next, I added the ginger and the minced carrots.  Again, I waited for the carrots to begin to smell strongly before moving on to adding the split peas and liquids.  I suppose that is my third lesson about cooking:  3) smell can be as important as taste and touch when cooking.

I had planned to go the ham route.  I really did, but spotted a recipe with cumin and ginger and just couldn't help myself.  Since the ham is already thawed, I need to either make some black eyed peas or come up with another recipe really quickly.  I spotted one that was a ham, potato, cheese soup, but I don't have any potatoes.  I might just be lazy and do the black eyed peas, even though I have plenty of those jars in my freezer.

I am feeling better, but still opted not to take theophylline today.  I will start back tomorrow and wait until next week before trying the increased dose once more to be sure that was the problem.  Why?  Well, I had horrible abdominal pain (though none of the other symptoms) this morning.  With all the wretchedness of dysautonomia, I want to be certain about the theophylline.  After all, less fainting is always better.

I also am ... with much fear and trepidation ... trying something that I should not be doing on my own.  SIGH.

For a very long time, in large part thanks to the help Becky has given me over the past few years in learning to manage my anxiety (most recently with the weighted blanket and weighted lap blanket), studying and working through The Courage to Heal, reviewing the things I learned when I had the access to counseling, and working on thought exercises, I have wanted to try and get off of the Xanax. As it is, I am on a relatively low dose and it does nothing for the anxiety that is neurological, that which stems from dysautonomia.  My PTSD is ever so much better and that is what I have been working on ... the mental and emotional anxiety.  I have essential oils and candles (I still do NOT believe in aroma therapy), fires and fire videos, a very specific playlist that essentially is about giving comfort to the thoughts others have too and redirecting the despairing ones), a reading list, a streaming list, and a list of games ... all things designed to help me from falling into the abyss that is panic.  I also have learned to call someone if I need thoughts outside my head.  Mary and Becky will tell me tales of their lives.  And Emily has, as well, the few times I've dared call her.

I have spoken to three doctors about doing so, because getting off of Xanax without medical supervision and support is NOT recommended.  All three said we could consider that.  Later.  Sometime.  Eventually.  To be honest, I do not believe any of them actually listened to me when I tried to talk about all the anxiety and stress work that I have done, especially because a doctor's exam table is one of the most stressful places for me.  But, for example, as far as the PTSD goes, I have not had a panic attack in a long while.  I successfully managed the onset of one at Lowe's with that floor cleaning thing, thanks to Emily, but survived.  The one trigger that is still very strong is the sight of a pit bull.  And, as for the abuse, there is a men's aftershave scent that is a very powerful trigger.  Otherwise, I am really doing relatively well.

So, with much fear and trepidation, on my own, I cut my .5 mg pill in half last night and only took one half.  I have been trying to work up the courage to do so ever since I left the Integrative Medicine specialist's office last Friday.  I just don't want to hear, yet again:  "We can consider that later."

There are very serious and dire warnings about Xanax withdrawal because of its very short half life and the complications that easily:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Hallucination
  • Insomnia
  • Moodiness
  • Tremors
  • Convulsion
  • Nightmares
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The other problem is that Xanax increases GABA in your brain, which is what calms anxiety, but over time the body starts producing less as a result of the Xanax use.  So, that is why folk up and up and up their Xanax dosage, trying to get back to the calm it provided at first use.  The problem is that really it is not so much a calm as it is numbness and it is important that you learn to deal with emotions.  That means, withdrawing, you are even more susceptible to problems with anxiety and even suicidal ideations because the normal amount of GABA that you should have is not there and your body has to learn to start making it again.  This can be trying even for those who have gained control of their stress and anxiety, because they do not have the help the body provides naturally.

Being so very incredibly sensitive to medications, I envisioned myself convulsing after a few hours.  But, essentially, I notice no difference. I am not more anxious, nor am I more lethargic. I am not more nauseated, nor any other of the withdrawal symptoms and complications.  At least I made it through the first day (so far).

There is this very helpful website that is a medical research paper on benzodiazepine withdrawal.  For Xanax, the ideal way is to first slowly transition to another drug that has a longer half life (diazepam) and then slowly wean off of that.  The process can take well over a year, if not two or three, especially for those who are on higher doses.  There are many weaning schedules for all sorts of benzodiazepines, so I have been studying the framework and thinking about how I could try it without a doctor first switching me to another medication.  My plan is to step down to .25 mg by taking just a half of my pills for at least two weeks and then try transitioning to every other day for two weeks.  Then I would increase the days between half doses.  If I had two .25 mg pills instead of .5, I could take 12.5 mg before skipping days, which would be ideal. I do not, however, think that I can split the tiny pill I do have into quarters.

Anyway, I have not really wanted to record this here, in my rememberer, because there are still things that shame me ever so much.  However, since I don't have a doctor helping me and there are a few friends who sporadically read here, I thought I would note the attempt just in case my posts show me falling into the abyss of despair or I never post again (i.e., I've fallen into the convulsions and am a bloated dead body the neighbors finally notice because of the smell ... or Amos' barking).

I am not trying to be dramatic.  I am, however, determined to pursue something that I believe is a good thing for me to do, if possible.  I am fully supportive of medications, but I am on, everything included, 19 different medications.  Three of which, daily ones, interact with each other.  If I can reduce the medications I am taking to the safest ones or reduce the ones that have serious side effects, I believe that is important for me to do.

So I am.

And, yes, that incredible balsam and cedar candle is burning at the moment.  Just. In. Case.

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