I can’t believe the lack of respect the students show the foreign teachers.  It doesn’t surprise me.  I’ve been here 5 years.  But if I had said no to a teacher or talked back, I wouldn’t have sat down for a week.  It’s worse the older they get.  I dread teaching my low level 5th grade class.  They don’t understand me.  They don’t try to understand me.  And frankly, I’ve lost the will to care about how they do.  It’s not just me.  They misbehave for their Korean teacher too.  At least they pass my tests.  They averaged somewhere around a 35 on R’s test.

I leave that class feeling drained and stressed.  If my pain levels are at a 2 to begin with, they’re up to a 5 by the end of the class.  I try to not let them get under my skin.  But they do.

The fatigue is hitting me hard right now.  The pain is manageable with the gabapentin and the PT.  But I am so tired and I feel so stupid.  Gotta teach a grammar point to my advanced students?  Better look it up in advance because I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head what the past perfect continuous was or how it was constructed.

All I want is quiet right now.  I think I’m going to skip PT tomorrow and try to sleep in a bit.  At least I don’t have to deal with the three boys of doom tomorrow….

It’s Not in My Head

What is with Dr. K?  First he says fibro, then he says psychosomatic, then he says fibro, now we’re back to psychosomatic.  He wants me to see a friend of his, a psychiatrist.  I pointed out that I had one and I’m quite happy with him (for the most part).

I don’t understand how the pain can be in my head if it responds to medication, trigger point injections and physical therapy.  I left his office (after he did the injections) feeling like crap.  This is not in my head.  Stress makes it worse.  The stress level at work now is through the roof.  My so called breaks where I usually do lesson planning and grading were filled with stupid shit like making a transcript out of a YouTube video so Sky Class could do it as a dictation exercise for homework.  Do you know how long it takes to transcribe 6 minutes of video?  Approximately 90 minutes.  I give it to my boss who starts to type it up.  She comes in and says “I think you forgot part of it.”  Uh no E, did you turn the paper over?  I wrote on both sides.  “OHHHHHHHH”.  Yeah.  That was my day Friday.  I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

I think the worst part is the brain fog and the fatigue.  When I have a bit of energy, I have to take advantage of it.  Today I got a new desk chair (I was tired of sitting on a card table chair) and a printer/scanner.  Do you think I bought paper?  Nope.  Which, is OK because the few other things I did buy (glue and scissors for my classroom) fit it my backpack.  But here I am lugging two big boxes into a cab.  Then getting them out of the cab.  And then getting them to the second floor.

The chair got put together with a reasonable amount of ease.  Except I put the arms on upside down the first time.  No big deal.

The printer is hooked up, but the scanning software wants to be smarter than me.  Maybe there’s a setting someplace I’m not seeing.  But for the love of God, I want it to scan the entire piece of paper I put in there, not what it thinks I want scanned.  Amazingly, I didn’t curse at the thing.  I just kept on trying different thing.  Speaking of software, who would have figured out that a program named “Seashore” with an icon of a fish would be a basic image editor.  Not me.  I didn’t even think to click the stupid thing until I did a search on image editors for Macs.

Now, speaking of the brain fog, I’m trying to do a python course through LinuxChix.  Units 1 and 2 were fine.  Unit 3 should have been fine, but even copying other students’ answers I still couldn’t get it to work.  So I’ve yet to finish Unit 3 and Unit 4 arrived in my inbox earlier today.  I think I’m going to print out the original emails (when I buy some paper that is) and mark it up.  I don’t do well reading heavy stuff online anymore.  It’s like my brain can’t process it unless I can actively make notes on it.  It’s sad.  I feel like I’m getting dumber and dumber every day.

I started some art therapy today (see saga with scanner and saga with finding an image editor).  I like what I did even if it’s ugly…  and I wanted to post it here.



There’s no head in my picture, that’s because the pain (represented by red) isn’t in my head.  My head has little to do with it.  Unless you want to get highly technical and then all pain signals and processed in the brain so it really is all in my head.  But the pain in my back and chest and shoulders and neck and elbows and wrists and knees and ankles…  all of it is real.  I’m not making this up.  This isn’t some kind of neurosis or psychosis (not my words, but Dr. K’s or possibly his friend’s words).

What a Day

Woke up early because I had so much to do today.  Saw an email that said call home.  My Grandmother died.  The one person in my family who wasn’t completely psycho is now gone.  Well, she’s been gone for a couple of year.  Alzheimer’s had robbed her of her memory and in the end, took her body too.

Went to see Dr. P.  Just as I was walking in the office, my left ankle rolled and I ended up on the floor.  Yes, I was a blubbering mess.  He put me in the treatment room so I didn’t have to be around people.  I was so anxious and upset about everything, he decided to do an IV of Valium.  Yay for benzos.  Actually, it’s just a saline (maybe with other stuff, I don’t know) IV and then they inject the Valium through the IV port.  I don’t know why but after about a half hour, I was freezing.  They gave me a blanket.  I kept shivering.  They put another blanket on.  By this time they were concerned I was running a fever.  Nope.  I was just shivering for no reason.  On went blanket number three.  It was not cold in there.  I swear.  When they finally took the IV out and I sat up, the room started to spin.  I held onto the bed for dear life.  So, after roughly two hours I got out of there.

Next stop, Dr. K.  He upped the gabapentin to 1800 mg a day.  Tomorrow I get another round of the trigger point injections.  My neck is killing me.  They concentrated the TENS and the massage on my neck and I was almost crying while she did the massage.    It hurts to have anyone even touch my neck and shoulders.  My pain level is up to about a 7.  Thankfully, the gabapentin makes me sleepy, so combined with Dr. P’s meds I should be able to sleep.

Speaking of Dr. P, he’s got me on Imipramine (as the only antidepressant), Ativan, Valium, and Klonopin.  I don’t have much trouble with anxiety.  And I guess Klonopin can be prescribed as a muscle relaxer because Dr. P told me it can no longer be prescribed for anxiety.  And goodness knows my muscles need relaxed.  I really think I need something else for the depression.  It isn’t doing jack for the fibro and it isn’t doing anything for the depression.  He originally put me on it because it was supposed to help with nightmares.  I have no idea why he took me off the Paxil.  I think I’ll ask him about that next week.  I know I’m charting my moods with a web app, and hitting 30% is indicative of a good day for me.

Then I went to the bank to take care of some stuff.  That was easy enough.

Then I get to work.  Today I had 5 classes, 3 were taking tests, 1 was making ice cream sandwiches and one was basically going to color the whole period because I couldn’t get my brain together enough to actually do a real lesson.  As I’m copying tests, the copier starts making weird noises.  Ugh, the bloody thing is running out of toner.  Why?  Why today of all day?  With some kind words and a bit of shaking of the toner cartridge, I got everything printed out.

So here I sit.  Tomorrow is destined to be crazy as well.  I have to take Gidgette to the vet for her kitty birth control shot so we can get her out of heat.  Yes, she was spayed, but apparently they missed some ovarian tissue.  So I have to take her to the vet, get food and litter while I’m there.  Come home, dump everything and let Gidgette out of her carrier.  Clean myself up as necessary, and go see Dr. K so he can stick needles in me and then go to PT.  Then I get to go to work, grade tests, give more tests and have my boss sit in on a private lesson I do with her son.  Crap.  I guess I should prep something for that.

I’m tired.  I can barely keep my eyes open.  And I just want the whole world to leave me alone for a day.  From 1 to 7 I have to be in control.  I walked in the door tonight and just lost it.  Doesn’t help those damn suicidal and Si thoughts are creeping into the back of my mind.

Hurting Today

After feeling somewhat better for the last couple days, today has been a horrible day.  Dr. K tried an even finer needle to make it easier on me, but I don’t think the size of the needle is going to help.  Fact is, the pain is there and sticking sharp objects in it isn’t ever going to be pleasant.  He focused on either side of my lower spine and two places in each shoulder.  Then he sent me back down for PT.  I can tolerate the heat, though it kind of sucks when it’s hot outside.  I can tolerate the TENS. It’s not painful, just a weird feeling.  The ultrasound, is harder to deal with.  The wand is hard and the PT presses down, which is painful.  But the hardest thing to deal with is the massage.  I didn’t realize such a little person could generate that kind of pressure.  My muscles scream out in pain.  I try not to scream, but I can help “ouching” and groaning.

After PT I went to the English bookstore to look for a new course book for my low level 5th/6th grade class.  There is nothing appropriate, given the constraints my boss gave me.  But I looked.  I moved around the sliding shelves, which in retrospect wasn’t all the smart.  I brought back 3 books and she didn’t like any of them.  Why?  Because the students will freak out when they see them.  Even though the material is easy, the presentation of it looks difficult.  I don’t think they’re going to react to the next book in the school’s curriculum any better.  I’m damned if I do, I’m damned if I don’t.

By that time, it was time to head over to work.  Fridays are my easy day and I didn’t have any real prep to do.  I curled up on the loveseat in the library and slept for an hour.  In retrospect, that was another bad idea.  I’m not overly tall, but I’m certainly not short either.  I think I got my neck into a funny position.  Neck ouchy.

I taught my first class, which was an exercise in frustration.  It’s Friday, and they just took a huge midterm test in their elementary schools.  I can see why they didn’t want to do anything.  Then I had a three hour break.  I made it to the bank (after having to go home because I forgot my bankbook).  I barely made it before they closed.  Bank closed at 4.  Post office closed at 4.  Needless to say I didn’t get to the post office.  If I can get out of bed in the morning, I’ll go to what I think is the one Saturday post office in Daejeon.  Oh yeah, and the Korean postal service website is crap.  I don’t know if the Korean version is better, but the English version is less than useless.  So for the rest of my break, I wrote a test.  The students aren’t going to like it.  You know, if they did their homework, the tests would be easy.  They’re almost word for word from their homework book.

Pain != Bad

Pain isn’t always bad.  I know that the pain of the injections and PT is going to help the pain of the fibro.  But try telling that to my lizard brain that just wants to escape is like telling a four year old she can’t have desert unless she finishes her vegetables.  I’ve come up with some coping strategies that help me stay in the present, especially when there is a man standing over me with a needle and causing pain.

Yesterday I started Neurontin (Gabapentin).  Wow, that stuff really hits hard.  The whole world was spinning.  I even fell asleep waiting for a student.  The side effects seem to be decreasing quickly.  I don’t like the thought of adding yet another drug to my cocktail.  But if I want to control the pain, insomnia, depression and anxiety, then it’s necessary.  And, I’ve read that Neurontin can be helpful in preventing migraines.  So that’s another plus.

So, pain isn’t always bad.  Like Austin pointed out, wrapping your head around the fact that the pain “is for your own good” is difficult.  So I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing.  Injections and PT twice a week (maybe PT more often, I have to ask) and meds.  Plus some gentle stretching at home and exercise as I can handle it.

Now I’m tired, so I guess it’s time to hit the sack.

Triggers Galore

Yup.  Triggers galore.  And the back pain got so bad, I asked Dr. K to do the injections in my hips and the muscles near my spine.  So yeah, the laying on the stomach thing is no fun.  He pokes around and then he say, OK, I’m going to do the injection now.  I can make sure my eyes are open and I’m breathing properly.  I pick one object to focus on (his ultrasound machine) and I try to describe it in my head.  It keeps me in the present.  It’s difficult, and I still tend to slip into the past.  I’ve asked Dr. K not only to tell me when, but to say my name too.  Somehow, hearing my name snaps me back if I’m falling into the past.

PT is incredibly painful too.  They’re doing heat and TENS on both my upper and lower back.  They’re doing ultrasound and massage on my upper back/shoulder/neck area.  I know the pain of the treatment is going to make the pain of the disease decrease.  The massage part is the worst.  Again, I know it’s going to help in the long run.  In the short run, it sucks.  Actually the worst part of the whole thing is having to take my shirt off.  The PT rooms are very private and they cover me with a towel.  But I feel so exposed.  On my back.  No shirt.  Pain.  Yup.  Triggers galore.


My orthopedist recommended stretching between the injections and TENS treatments.  I found two videos from a fibro sufferer that focus on the areas where I have the most pain.  My shoulders and neck and my hips.  I hope they might help someone else who’s in a similar situation.




Abuse Fall Out

From my cursory research, it seems like there is a relationship between past abuse and fibromyalgia.  I won’t pretend to understand the science.  I can barely concentrate on watching stupid sitcoms (King of Hill in the current case).  But you know what.  This makes me angry.  I have the psychological fall out with depression, PTSD, and phobias (anyone want to come to Korea and hold me hand while I try to go to the dentist?)  But now I feel like my body is betraying me too.  I realize the fibro symptoms have been here for a long time, albeit at a much lower level.  I was first screened for fibro in college, but I didn’t respond to the requisite number of trigger points.

I’m tired of all of this.  And sometimes I wonder if it’s worth going on.  I’m going to ask Dr. P about trying Cymbalta as that’s an antidepressant that’s approved to treat fibro as well.  Then again, it might be all in my head.  Those  knots I feel in my shoulders and neck.  I’m just imagining them.  I find myself getting more and more cynical as time goes on.  I try to pick up after myself, but I can never seem to get the shoebox I live in clean to my satisfaction.  I need to mop the floors and wash the windows.  Laundry is so exhausting I feel like I need to sleep right after hanging it up.

I want to scream.  I want to yell at and shake the people who violated me as a child.  I want them to know what they did to me and 20+ years later it’s still affecting my life.