Thursday 16 August 2012

It has to get worse before it can get better

I should have waited till the end of the week before writing about the help I'm getting to treat my depression, because I just can't believe that the day just got worse and landed me up in the doctors surgery on a drip treating the worse migraine ever.

If you want/need to catch up then you can click here to see why I went to the Doctors for help this week.

OK I'M NOT DYING...In fact I do not even have anything officially wrong with me medically, but I'm ill and it's been getting worse.

You see I have a few 'little' things wrong with me. Which on their own are painful and can be an inconvience, but when you put them all together at the same time and chuck in the whole 'I'm struggling to be an expat, adjust to my new life, moved house (again) Dad had a heart attack, youngest has dyslexia and dysgraphia, giving up smoking and didn't get a role at the London Olympics that I'd set my heart on' you'll see why I'm having a tough time and why I've asked for help to treat depression and take Prozac.

So what is wrong with me?

I need oral surgery to stop my teeth falling out and it's linked with diabeties and the perodontist hasn't seen a case this bad, ever, in anyone under 65. My bones are degenerating.

I have chilblains due to poor circulation aka Smoking

I've suffered with migraines since I was a small child

I had viral menegitis in 2000 which rears it's ugly head from time to time

I've had pneumonia on more than one occassion, in the last 5 years

I was a victim of assualt, 15 years ago, and suffered nerve damage to my neck for which I require regular pain killers and hospital treatment

There is a history of high cholestorol and diabeties in the family of which I now have elevated levels and I will be diabetic one day

...and all raising it's ugly head at the same time.

So I left the doctors on Monday with medication for pain, chilblains and Prozac. I had appointments lined up for blood tests, clinical psychologist, pain clinic, diabetic clinic, I forget what else and i go home to a very confused and worried hubby, but I actually felt a bit better, until tuesday morning after the blood tests when a pain in my head appeared from nowhere. It felt like someone was hitting me over and over with a hammer and I couldn't do a thing to stop it, meds, resting, darkened room and after what seemed like forever, hubby got home and took me to the doctors where they hooked me up onto a drip for an hour to administer medication. I could hardly move my head on wednesday and today thursday my neck is so stiff I have to move my entire body to look round. My head feels heavy, yet it's still thumping and it feels like someone is pushing on the back of my neck all the time.

But I have appointments, I'm getting something done about it all, but let me tell you it's not easy, I'm feeling more stress now than I did on Monday when I turned up at the doctors asking for help.

Our medical scheme, Discovery, have a payment gap thingy that I have to submit bills to, to reduce the gap then the med aid kicks back in. It's probably a bit more technical than that but.... and I have to request permission in advance of certain treatments or they'll not pay out or only pay a small amount if the health care provider doesn't charge the Discovery rates. So basically I don't know if all my treatment will be covered until I contact the health care provider and request codes to see if a) Discovery will pay for it and b) if Discovery will pay the full rate.

I now have to find a perodontist who fits the above criteria as the one I was recommended to see by a Dentist who does meet the criteria, will charge me R30,000 and Discovery will only pay back around R10,000.

I've lost count of the number of times I've emailed, telephoned and visited in person at Discovery to say 'I haven't moved from one scheme to another, I've moved from the UK and no scheme, it was free'. I'm also fed up of saying 'I don't know what to do or how to do it, therefore I do not know what questions I need to ask and it keeps costing me money because I didn't know if I said a, b or c, it would've been covered'

So back now to the depression. I'm so angry with hubbies company that the Medical wasn't set up when we arrived, despite requesting it over and over, telling both the company and Discovery 'we don't know how it works, please help us' and being greated with 'here are all the lovely bonus things you can get from us' and 'an advisor will be in the office on wednesday' who then failed to turn up on two occassions.

I can still see the light at the end of the tunnel. My family and friends* are being amazing. It will get better, it'll be different. I can't let go of the crap of the move and lack of support from hubbies company till they say sorry, despite them asking what they can do and us saying 'try saying sorry' There are still a few contractual issues to sort out and they won't rock the boat with the agency that handled and cocked up our house move as they are processing our visa renewals at the moment.

So I guess I need a bit more time before I will start to see the benefits of asking for help, the appointments and waiting for the prozac to kick the meantime I'll leave you with my next trick which is...

things can't get anyworse or more stressful so I thought today would be the best day to smoke my last cigarette.



  1. Just read this and your last post. It sounds like you're having a shocking time right now. I know myself how awful it is to have problems with teeth - and having to give up smoking at the very time that you need something to help alleviate the stress must be hard.

    It sounds like you're taking all the right steps to make appointments and get things back on track. I do hope things start to turn a corner soon x

    1. ive opted to give up smoking at the same time as the smoking is causing some of the health worries that i need to tackle

  2. Hey, I really feel for you. SA can be a very difficult place to live. The people are amazing, but the bureaucracy is awful.

    On a personal level, though, the bills, appointments, visas etc will all be sorted out. In the meantime, you do have a lot to deal with, and I wish you well xx.

    1. thank you Lesley, it's not so much the bureaucracy thats the issue, it's the dealing with it having been led to believe that there would be much more support

  3. Oh wow! Sounds like you are falling apart at the seams, a bit like me although depression is not something I suffer with.

    Would your migraines have started around the time of your assault by any chance? I ask this because I am also a migraine sufferer, and after many years of wondering what set them off, cause apparently although they can be hereditary (usually from female relatives) there is usually something to trigger their appearance - with mine it was a car accident I had when I was 17. I had serious nerve damage to my right side as a result of whiplash and had to have surgery to replace my C7 vertebrae....My migraines started about 3 months after surgery......Not that this helps with the treatment but it is good to know!

    Also have you had your vitamin D levels checked? I have found since my move and with the anal medical examinations that go on here in the US that people who suffer from chronic pain (which includes migraine as well as other more obvious stuff)are often Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D it would seem can have an affect on so many things in the body that it is impossible to list, but it has an affect on mental as well as physical stuff, so low Vit D could be contributing to some of your issues. Apparently here in the US they automatically check Vit D levels in any pain sufferer and prescribe supplements to keep levels within 'normal' ranges...when mine was tested it was 6 - the acceptable range is between 30 and 100. My doc said she had never seen anyone with such low Vit D, and suggested that years of it going unchecked have left my body unable to convert Vitamin D for itself. When I started to take the supplements it made my migraines 100% worse and so we have had to introduce it slowly and I now take 5000mg daily, and will have to continue for the rest of my life....The NHS don't check for D, so I blame them. Of course Vitamin D also helps with teeth and bones, so it could be having an effect there too. I have found that since we have got the D up to a semi-reasonable level, the occurrence of my migraines has dropped dramatically, and my energy levels have increased 10 fold as has my feeling of wellbeing... This is seriously worth checking out!

    I may be a million miles away (well almost), but if I can help at all let me know. Sadly although it pains me to admit it - there are alot of things that the NHS don't check for and deal with simply because it is free and they do't have the resources. The attitude is we will deal with it, when we absolutely have to and not lets deal with it as early as possible....The doctors here in the US have o several occassions told me that in an ideal world, people would get diagnosed in the US, but get their treatment in the UK and Europe, because the yanks are so 'sue ready' that the doctors check for everything all the time and so discover illness very early on, but apparently when it comes to treatment the USis behind the rest of the world!

    I don't know - I just know that it is hard to deal with problems with your health when they get diagnosed later on..I thought I was healthy, apart from the migraines until I came here, now I have discovered I have Hashimoto's Disease, am incapable of utilising Vitamin D, am not able to eat carbs as a result of the Hashimoto's and have extremely low testosterone.....It's a wonder I'm not depressed, but I ahve to say that the supplements and medication I take have turned me into a new woman. I felt well before, but now I am super well in comparrison..

    Don't know what you take for the migraine - but I find that some for of triptan (Zolmitriptan or Sumatriptan for me) with a hefty 1000mg dose of Ibuprophen or Naproxen will chase away even the most violent of migraines within an hour if I take them early enough..

    Have great day, keep your chin up, stiff upper lip and all that...I am confident you will get it sorted.

    Lou :-)

    1. The migraines are something ive suffered since i was a small child, they have been made worse over the years with the neck injury and contracting viral menegitis, which reappears when ever I have an underlying infection, this round of blood tests didnt show up anything but i have had a cough and cold recently. I've started to take a variety of over the counter herbal remedies and vitamin supplements as i figure it cant make things worse. I've also finally identified food triggers which are soy sauce and bananas, funnily enough choc, cheese and red wine have no effect unless i over do it. I'm also aware that biscuits give me headaches

  4. Def check out your vitamin levels etc and make sure you are not dehydrated. I find I get serious prob with depression iif not hydrated enough! Barmy I know but really common. I hope now you've got things checked out and sorted you feel less stressed. It will work out. Take care!

    1. dehydration is something ive suffered with since we've been here. I had to have a CT scan to rule out tumours as it was mimicing that. The soft spot on my head starts to throb and indicates i need to drink more

  5. Wishing you all the best and that you will soon turn the corner - take good care of yourself!

  6. I second what Tattie says about the dehydration - it's fierce! I need at least twice the amount of water in Gaborone as I do in deepest Worcestershire. Have you been checked for Antiphospholipid (Hughes) Syndrome?(autoimmune blood-clotting disorder). After 3 years of going round in circles being told I was hysterical or had MS this is what I have and am now on lifelong blood thinners & feel like a new person. A history of migraines & poor circulation are big hints that this could be a problem along with any personal or family history of blood clots, miscarriages, glandular fever & other autoimmune stuff like lupus or RA......
    If you're interested I can refer you to the rheumatologist I've seen at Donald Gordon Medical Center (Wits) who is excellent.
    Look after yourself xx

    1. wow, so many causes for migraines, i'm hopefully going to tackle this bout with the pain clinic and dealing with the depression and stopping smoking as my heads are worse when i smoke

  7. As I also suffer from depression, I can relate to some of how you feel. I also need to give up smoking but that is too big a challenge right now, so good luck with your efforts: its a major achievement you can be proud of:) You seem to have a perfect storm of events all happening at once you poor thing. Hard enough when you are in your own country but probably shockingly hard when in a strange relocated place like Sth Africa! I feel for you right now :(( Some relocation companies and HR depts seem to have no clue about the human impact they cause by thoughtless policies and inhumane treatment of relocatees! Your medical benefits program sounds horribly confusing and stressful without adding on any other causes.I hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel for you soon... Take care:)

    1. well the good news is that the medical company responded via twitter, whether anything will come of it is a different matter.
      as for the company i've told them what for, nothing has changed, but it did make me feel a lot better. stopping smoking will have a dramatic effect on my health and esp my teeth

  8. You really are having everything happen all at once. That is very tough to deal with. I'm glad though, that you are lucky enough to have such good support around you. That really makes a big difference.

  9. Dear lord - what an awful time u are having. I read this and just couldn't not comment. You must be an amazing person to deal with all this - it sounds incredibly hard. You are so brave to get it all out on ur blog with such total honesty. The blogging community r here for you amongst all your friends and family :) Sending some good fortune your way xxx

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