I just have rain on the brain, because it's now windy and thundering and it could possibly actually RAIN this evening, which would break August's dry streak. That would be great, since our place is dry as a bone, and even the yucca and poke sallet are long-dead, dried to a crisp. And I think at least part of the missing fluid around here is turning up in my husband's lungs and extremities.
Alex was just starting to recover from his second bout of pneumonia since spring, and now we're trying to deal with a sudden flood of edema in his lower legs and feet, which appears to be jacking up his blood pressure. This comes on the heels of switching from one mood stabilizer (which, after giving us a good three years of treatment, just kind of...stopped working, as these drugs sometimes do, varying in effectiveness from individual to individual). It's not enough that he takes 14 different medications every single day of his life, but Alex also has to pretty much constantly juggle and switch up the "cocktail" in order to maintain optimum stability.
I walked into the living room last night, and blanched when I saw my husband's feet propped up on the footrest of his recliner. The swelling was unreal. I nagged him into seeing the doctor right away today, and when he went this morning, his blood pressure was something like 168/98. His "base" blood pressure is consistently low-normal, so the high reading was alarming. He was sent home to get still and elevate his feet, and given a diuretic in an attempt to reduce the fluid, which could be causing the hypertension. We're to monitor his blood pressure and report back if it doesn't go down, and we'll have bloodwork done next week to check...well, everything.
When you're talking about a mood disorder, being "med-compliant" seems like such a simple thing. But it isn't. You have to weigh side-effects against each other (NOTHING is without side effects--it's a matter of picking your poison), and in almost every case, trade a certain degree of the physical health you enjoyed previously (maybe something as simple as being able to maintain a healthy weight) for a certain degree of mental stability. Everything is a trade-off. We could be looking at lithium sensitivity or even toxicity...of course, we just switched back to lithium, which is the gold standard of mood stabilizers for a reason, after something else lost effectiveness. And we switched away from lithium for the first time last year when its thyrotoxic qualities killed a good bit of Alex's thyroid function.
The point is, this is a complicated tangle of health-management issues, and I really appreciate my husband for doing what it takes to protect his mental health, at the expense of his vanity, his cognitive speed, his coordination, and many other "little" things. If this is not something you have to deal with, give thanks now. If you're struggling with coming to terms with any of these issues, I have a couple of great resources for you. One is a lecture by Dr. Xavier Amador, author of the book I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help and others, and another is the new cooperative mental-health blogging effort RealMental.org. Be sure and bookmark that last one, because you'll be visiting regularly, I predict. I am honored to have been asked to contribute to RealMental, and hope that Alex and I can contribute material that will be relevant and helpful to others who might be going through some of the things that we've been through. Kudos to Leah and Jess for spearheading this effort. It's already been a blessing to me to read the incredibly "naked," honest, and emotionally-told stories there.