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A new mattress

Gretchen W. 

This Monday I cried tears of joy for the first time in many years.  Probably since my diagnosis, thirteen years ago.  I didn’t even cry at my wedding, and my husband is everything to me.  So what made me weep openly with happiness?  A new mattress.  I know right, I was surprised as you are, believe me.  Why would a new mattress be such a profound moment in my life?  To understand we have to back track about three years, to the darkest time of my life.

Three years ago, I had lost my job, just started recovering from my third back surgery and was feeling very, very low.  The lowest I had ever felt.  I didn’t think my depressive phases could possibly get any worse.  Boy, was I wrong.  At that time, I lost my insurance, meaning I couldn’t afford the $650.00 a month my Geodon would have cost me.  I had no choice but to go back on Lithium, a drug that I detest.  I realize it works for some people, and my experience is unique, but Lithium destroyed my body.  I started having neurological problem.  I would have uncontrollable tremors, I developed severe Ataxia (loss of coordination), and I was falling frequently and had to use a cane to walk.  Three years ago I was 35.  Most people my age are not using a cane.  I took to my bed as some would call it.  I only went out of the house for doctor’s appointment.  Doctors’ appointments I am still paying off three years later, because no one would insure me because of my Pre-existing condition.

I got so bad that my whole life was set up in my bed.  So much so that my husband couldn’t sleep in our bed anymore.  He was relegated to the couch.  Eventually, my neurological system started to fail so badly I was unable to control my bladder and had to start using bed guards.  Sometimes two or three a night, it was that bad.  After two MRIs, extensive blood tests and neurological examines, my neurologist determined the only mitigating factor was the lithium.  I had to stop taking it. My pdoc is a wonderful understanding man.  He is one of my lifelines and is more than just a pill dispenser like some.  We discussed my options considering we were a one income family at that point.  We decided I would begin Lamictal.  Because I was uninsured and my income was rather low, and I was denied SSI, we found a non-profit organization that would help me with the cost of my medication.  I began Lamictal immediately, after a terrible withdrawal period from the Lithium where I was sure I was having a stroke.  Within three month, all of my neurological symptoms were gone.  I was finally able to pry myself out of bed for a few hours a day.  Eventually, after over a year my husband was able to sleep in the bed with me again.  There was just one problems.  I had spent so much time in bed that my side was completely indented, ab out six inches lower than his side. 

It took me about six month to find a job, another three to find a decent paying one.  Over the holidays I worked 70 hour weeks out of sheet guilt to get us out of debt.  By the time January came, we were officially caught up on bills for the first time in three years.  Four months later, we were able to afford to replace the mattress.  It arrived on Monday, when we removed the old saggy mattress and replaced it, I felt a wave of emotions.  I should mention, that I just received a promotion that I worked very hard for at my job that morning.  When I watched that mattress disappear, it was like that part of my life was finally, finally gone.  I am not much of a crier.  I never have been, to cry was to show weakness in my mind, but that is another story.  When I sat on the new, firm mattress we bought, I began to cry openly.  Something, my husband has seen very rarely.  He immediately asked me what was wrong and for the first time in over decade, I was able to say I was crying because I was happy.  Not stable, not content but truly happy.  An emotion I had given up ever feeling again.  I had never felt such peace as tears rolled down my cheeks.

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