Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Wellness

A Thousand Steps to One Foot

Still sick, though marginally better. Shadow has been a great help snuggling up to me and keeping me warm, but he has yet to make me a cup of tea. I’ve had to do that myself. I’m at the stage of recovery where I’m holding my breath, hoping I don’t do anything to set myself back. I don’t overextend myself at this point, but the problem is, when I start feeling exponentially better, such as 80%, I get reckless. I think I can go back to doing what I used to do. Now, granted, that’s much to begin with, but it’s enough to set me back.

I still have some remnants of my fundamental upbringing, and it shows up in nebulous ways. In this case, it’s my frustration in that I’m trying to be better about my health in general, and I’m still getting sick. I went five years bronchial/sinus-issues free, and now, I’m getting sick every year. What’s worse, it’s not just a few days or even a week. It’s one bout of two weeks, a few days to a week of being healthy, then a few more weeks of being sick. There’s no logical reason for me to expect that just because I’m doing better with my health, I should be sickness-free. Well, yes, there is a logical link between taking care of your health and not being sick, but it’s not a direct link. It’s not like, “Eat all the leafy greens, and you’ll never cough again,” but it’s hard not to be a little bitter that I’m working on trying to be healthier, and I’m still dealing with all this shit.

Anyway. here’s a video of Maru putting a bag with a hole in it on his head. It’s too ridiculously cute.

Focusing When Sick and Tired

One of the side effects of being sick is that my mental acuity isn’t where it normally is. Simple things take more energy, and I feel slow as molasses in the brain department. I went to the store today, and I had to put extra effort into interacting with people. It’s not my bailiwick to begin with, though I’m usually adept at it, but being sick makes it even harder. I can’t take for granted that my automatic responses will flow as easily as the normally do. Plus, just walking around exhausts me. When I came home, I grabbed my three drinks (including tea) and two snacks, and I brought them to the living room. I set down the pop, leaning over as I did, and poured some of the boiling tea onto the back of my left hand. This is the second time I’ve done this, and I know it’s partly because I’m sick. It’s also because I tend to be lazy and want to make as few trips as possible. I’ve hurt myself countless times before by overloading myself in an attempt to save time. My taiji teacher has a saying about a donkey and laziness that I don’t quite remember, but the bottom line is that it’s better to make multiple trips with lighter loads than one trip all bogged down. She is right. Hopefully, I will internalize that one day.

OT: Nioh. Ah, Nioh. I’m having complicated feels about the game, but I don’t want to get into that in this post. I just want to say as a pro tip that if you’re a scrub such as I am, weapons matter. I recently faced a boss that was whipping my ass, though she really shouldn’t have been. She wasn’t that hard, per se, but I do the worst against fast humans. Which she is. Sort of. Anyway, I kept tinkering with my load-out and my different magicks, and I was really frustrated because I felt I had her. I also thought she had a couple bullshit moves, but that’s par the course for these kinds of games.

Anyway. My axe wasn’t doing it. It was too slow. The dual swords/sword (both infused with fire, which I thought would be beneficial for this boss) didn’t do enough damage of stagger enough to be viable, and I watched my stock of elixirs steadily deplete. I decided to try my odachi because the strong attack staggers enemies, which seemed to be what I needed. It was a miracle. I used the appropriate magicks for defense, then I just chopped the boss into oblivion with six or seven hits. OK, I’m sure it took more than that, but it was really short. Moral of the story: I’m sticking with my axe/odachi/magicks combo for the rest of the game. Of course, I’ll swap out to other weapons  if I need to, but the axe/odachi duo is really my jam.

Here is a video of Jun’s Kitchen. He’s a Japanese man with some serious knife skills. In this video, he’s making sushi for his lucky cats. Enjoy!

I’m Minding My Body

Still sick. Still grumpy. Feeling an intense headache coming on. ‘Tis the season to be sick, apparently, and I’m just done with it. Unfortunately, it’s not done with me. I’m lying on my couch with my cat, Shadow, on my legs, re-watching The Great British Bake Off, Series 6. I’m sipping my ginger honey lemon tea, and I’m GRUMPY. We got snow last night, so that makes me happy. I love snow so much. Anyway, here’s a video of Maru kneading a pizza whilst nursing on a toy. His sister, Hana, makes an appearance as well. Too cute!

Bonus video of Shironeko (white cat) and his buddy with purple cabbage leafs on their heads. Shironeko is one of the chillest cats I’ve ever seen, and his buddy is very laid-back as well. So cute, and very relaxing as well.

Applying Taiji to My Mental Health–and Finishing The Sexy Brutale

One of the hardest things about being sick is how depressed I get over it. It didn’t used to be this way. Or rather, I used to be depressed all the time, so getting sick didn’t really add to that depression. Also, I mistreated my body so badly, I really couldn’t expect it to be kind to me. I was a hot mess in general, so having bronchitis for months at a time (not an exaggeration) wasn’t that noticeable of an added detriment. However, two things have changed that. One, I hadn’t been sick in years. For about five years (during the middle of my taiji studies), I was blissfully cold and flu and bronchitis-free. Then, I got a cold or flu one winter, and it was hellish. This was three or four years ago, and it’s happened every year since. I get sick (undefined. The one year I went to the doctor, twice, she wasn’t able to pinpoint anything. In fact, I got even sicker after visiting her. Rightly or wrongly, I blame going to the clinic for getting even sicker. It was really awful), and it lasts for weeks. Even worse, I get better, go back to my normal life, and then I get sick again. That’s what happened this time, and it’s discouraging. I didn’t think I overdid it this time when I got well again, but I could be wrong.

I’m coughing a lot. I get this coagulation in my throat, and then I have to hork to try to get it out. It immediately settles back in again, and it’s infuriating. It’s better today as the ball of snot (that’s how I think of it) lodged in the back of my throat is smaller, but it’s still there no matter how much I hork. I have mentioned a time or a hundred that I am a huge control freak, and not being able to will away my sickness pisses me off. It’s not rational nor reasonable, but I still get irritated when I can’t hork out the snot ball for good. I get pissed that I tire so easily and that going to the store drains me completely. I wake up, and the only thing I want to do is go back to bed.

I know that being mad at my body isn’t helping. It’s not going to mend faster simply because I internally yell at it. It’s frustrating because in other areas of my life, I’ve been able to relax and not get so uptight about what’s happening. The example I pull out every time is when I got in my car crash. The second I realized that I couldn’t prevent it, I relaxed and suffered no more than a massive bruise on my abdomen from the seat belt and the airbag. The key was to realize that there was nothing I could do to prevent it, relaxing, and accepting that the crash was going to happen.

I wish I could do the same with being sick. Do the things I know that will help me get better, then just ride it out. Getting mad doesn’t help. Berating my body doesn’t help. You know what does help? The Sexy Brutale. OK, not really, but I finished it recently, and I needed a graceful segue into talking about it. Spoiler warning: I’m going to try my best not to spoil anything about the ending, but I can’t talk about it without a few minor spoilers. In addition, I want to include pictures from the end game, and if you’re going to play the game, you best just skip this all. Everything about the game is below the cut.


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Not Down with the Sickness

I’m sick. Again. I feel like a broken record (do the kids even know what a record is these days?) because I’ve bees saying this every few months in the same resigned tone. This time, it started with a tickle in the back of my throat that turned into a coagulated mess blocking my throat. Every so often, I have to give a very concentrated (and loud) HUUUUUUUUAH to clear my throat, and it immediately becomes blocked again. Hm. Reminds me of Congress.

Anyhoo. I alternate between chilled and flushed, and I’m mostly huddling miserably under my blanket with only my cat, Shadow, to tend to me. He has many sterling qualities, but nursing is not one of them. He can’t make and bring me a cup of tea, for example. What he CAN do is snuggle with me (which he’s doing right now. Well, he’s snuggling next to me, which is close enough), and I do appreciate it. What I don’t appreciate is when he meows incessantly in the morning the second I’m awake until I get out of bed to feed him.

I’m drinking my tea, sucking on my cough drops, and trying to get enough rest while watching the old seasons of The Great British Bake Off. That’s about all I can do right now. Here’s a video of Alan Rickman making tea. Damn, I miss him. Still? Always.

When the Physical Affects the Mental

I’m struggling, fam. I find that when I get sick physically, it’s a drag on my mental health as well. I know it’s a truism that the body and mind are connected, but I used to believe that my body was nothing but a meat sack for carrying around my brain. My soul or essence or whatever didn’t even come into the equation. I dismissed it as negligible at best or bothersome at worst. I valuedd my brain above and beyond everything else, and I didn’t much care about my body. To be honest, I abused it terribly, though not through the usual avenues of drink and drugs. I have a history of eating disorders ranging from anorexia to bulimia to binge-eating. I think it’s more a question of control (or a lack thereof) than a matter of food. I felt I had little control over anything in my life, so food was an easy target. Also, I wanted to whittle my body away to nothing because I despised it so much. I also self-harmed with cutting and cigarettes, but I haven’t done that in years if not decades.

I have four tattoos, and they were my way of reclaiming my body, though I wouldn’t necessarily have phrased it that way at the time. I wanted a tattoo for many years before I got one, and true to my nature, I got one on a whim when I finally decided it was time. My BFF and I went to the only tattoo shop opened at midnight, and unfortunately, the tattooist was the nephew of the owner, who was still in training. In addition, Asian skin doesn’t take to ink in the same way white people’s skin does (didn’t know this at the time. There are many things that Asian people don’t react to in the same way than do Caucasians, but that’s another post for another day), so by the time he was done, it was puffy, blotchy, and definitely not the black yin-yang in a sun that I requested. To make matters worse, it was on my chest, so it’s not like I could avoid looking at it. PSA: Don’t get a tattoo on a whim. Fortunately, I found an excellent tattooist years later, and he did a representation of Kali (the mother/destroyer goddess of India, grossly simplified) right over my navel, with suggestions of flames. I was so pleased with it, I commissioned him to do a cover-up tattoo on my left breast. It’s a massive purple and blue lotus blossom engulfed in flames, and I adore it. I got my third in San Francisco–a bracelet of red thorns with flames as ‘charms’ on my left forearm. My final one is from my local artist, and it’s a bracelet of flames and waves on my upper right arm with a yin-yang pendant. Originally, I only wanted flames, but my tattoo artist suggested waves to balance it out and match the yin-yang. Brilliant!

I love my tattoos. I’d say they were the first step in me accepting my body. First, grudgingly, and then, in a matter-of-fact manner. I can’t say I love my body because I don’t. In fact, I would still like to lose weight (and, yes, I have a number in mind), but because of my history of eating disorders, I’m worried about going down that road. Any time I try to diet sensibly, it spirals out of control. For that reason, there are several ‘sensible’ dieting tips that I absolutely can’t follow. One is counting calories. The first time I slipped into anorexia/bulimia, I did this obsessively. I can still tell you what the calorie count is of the foods I used to eat regularly. That’s another thing I tend to do–eat the same thing over and over. It’s part of my OCD tendencies, and it’s partly because I get overwhelmed by choices.

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The Art of Relaxation

My cat, Shadow, has developed a morning ritual since his brother died* in which he meows loudly at me, gently gnaws at me, rubs his head against the blanket in which I’m encased, and then hops up on my hip (I usually sleep on my side) and stands there. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a fifteen-pound cat just stand on you, but it doesn’t feel great. When I try to roll back and forth to get him off, he simply rolls with me. It doesn’t matter how quickly I roll, he sticks like glue. Funny side note: One morning this week, he wasn’t around when I woke up. I was puzzled, but went into the kitchen to get his wet food for breakfast. I open his cabinet, and he still didn’t come. I was starting to get worried and was about to go after him when he came running towards the kitchen as fast as his chubby little legs would take him. He opened his mouth to meow, but it was cut off by a huge yawn. It was ridiculously adorable that he had fallen asleep on the job!

Anyway, I was thinking about that in taiji class yesterday when we were talking about relaxation. It’s one of the most important tenets in taiji, and it’s something I struggle with all the time. I’m a tense person by nature (and nurture), and I carry all my tension is my shoulders and back. It used to be my upper back, but now it’s mostly my lower back. The way to relax your back is to drop your tailbone, and every time I check in with my tailbone, it’s ratcheted up an inch. Every damn time. Even if it’s a minute from the last time I checked in. I think it’s less ‘up’ than it has been in the past, but it’s still tense. The problem is, though, that I can’t always think about my tailbone. If I did, I wouldn’t have time to think of anything else. I get easily frustrated when I can’t do something, which is one reason I love Dark Souls games so much. I’m not inherently good at them, and they’ve taught me not to give up when things get tough. I’m still inordinately proud of beating Biggie & Small (Ornstein & Smough) after almost giving up on the game.

Anyway, we were talking about breathing in class. It’s important, obviously, and there are many different ways to breathe. Our teacher told us about the man who owns the Guinness Book of World Record for holding his breath, and one of his practice techniques is passive breathing. You inhale with your abdomen, and then you just let the breath passively exhale. I’ve tried it, and I’ve ended up feeling choked or lightheaded. I mentioned it to my teacher, and she said not to do it then. She said that focusing on your breathing is important, but it shouldn’t be laborious or painful. My problem is that the passive exhale is an anathema to me, which makes me angry. As I said, I don’t do well with things I don’t understand or can’t do on the first go. While I can conceptually understand what passive breathing is, I can’t do it in practice. I don’t understand how to let my breath out without actively pushing it out if I’m concentrating on it at all.


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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

It’s been two-and-a-half weeks since I got sick, and goddamn it, it’s tiring. By now, I know mostly how’s it’s going to play out. Flu-like symptoms for a few days, cold symptoms for a day, perhaps a cough or a sniffle. Last year, I had sinus issues as well. This year, I had something new happen. TMI for effluvia. Fair warning if you have a delicate stomach, then skip the next part. Last Friday night, I was sitting on the couch when my stomach started cramping up in a painful way. I staggered to the bathroom, only to find I was constipated. I strained and strained, and when I finally could, go, it was diarrhea. Then, more stomach cramping, and I could tell I wasn’t done yet. I was on that toilet for nearly half an hour, which puzzled an delighted my cat (he loves being petted as I sit on the deity. Probably because I can’t leave).

I was better the next morning, but still shaky. I have digestive issues, anyway, and I think I ate something that didn’t agree with my stomach. My flu-like symptoms were gone, though, which made me happy. I went to taiji yesterday for the first time since I got sick, and it was good, but now I’m pretty tired. In addition, there is construction in the parking lot of the studio, and parking on the street is difficult to find because of other construction, so I ended up having to park about a half mile away from the studio. Well, there’s a parking lot that we can use, but I didn’t know exactly where it was. Walking is a bugaboo for me. I used to walk four miles a day, and I still hated it. Walking is not fun for me to do, probably because I have lung issues, so having to walk half a mile to class and another half back to my car afterwards while I was still recovering from being sick was not a good thing.

Today, most of the flu-like symptoms are gone, but I have a slight cough. It’s not great, but I’ll take the trade-off.

Here is a video of a tiny hamsters as tiny zombies. It’s fucking adorable.

A Little Squirt Here; A Little Squirt There

Still sick. Bought the Flonase generic equivalent and squirted myself. Instantly felt shittier–like a fever, intensified body aches, and a slight shortage of breath. I looked up side effects, and those are all included. The fever was like a flush, however, and it’s subsided. Normally, I would look up side effects first, but I’m desperate at this point. I have been getting pretty sick during fall/winter the past few years, and it’s not fun at all. I also saw my first Christmas commercial a few days ago, which makes me even Grinchier.

Here’s a video of ‘Teddy Bear’ the porcupine enjoying his corn on the cob. When the person asks if he’ll share, you can hear him say, ‘Back off’  (at least it sounds like that to me), while grabbing the corn fiercely. Teddy Bear doesn’t like to share!

I’m Sick; Get Off My Lawn!

I’m still sick. I learned from my taiji teacher that her husband has a mold allergy that has symptoms which mimics flu symptoms. Fever, chills, body aches, exhaustion. It also produces itchy eyes, which I’ve been having in the past few days. I had no idea a mold allergy could be something that happens outside versus inside and that it can be like the flu. She suggested Flonase or the generic equivalent, so I’ll give that a shot the next time I go to Cubs. I’m really not in the mood to blog as I’m feverish, cranky, and tired. So, here’s a video of Max White (don’t know who he is, but there’s no commentary in the video) doing a Waste of Skin Bloodborne run, all bosses. That means no leveling up at all during the game. It’s pretty hardcore, so major props.