Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Health

A little of this and a lot of that

I had a taiji class yesterday in which we did the whole Solo Form for the first time in…months? I think maybe since the whole pandemic started. The focus was on making sure that the knees weren’t locked, and by doing that, I didn’t get the backache I normally get. I was elated, and then, ten minutes after class ended (which was right after the Solo Form), I was hit with a blinding pain in my head. A migraine of epic proportion, and without warning. I mean, I’ve been having pre-migraine symptoms for a week, and I’ve been judiciously taking migraine pills, but I wasn’t feeling migraine-y before class. I don’t think I took pills yesterday morning (I’m trying not to overdo), but I certainly popped them after the pain.

The problem is that if I catch the migraine in time, then I’m fine with a very low level of nausea, pain, etc. If I don’t catch it before it’s full-fledged, then it’s bad days. Nausea, head pain, sensitivity to stimuli (more than usual), and general exhaustion. I popped two more pills this morning (two a day is the limit), but I’m still feeling the pain. It’s not as bad as it was yesterday while I was trying to tough it out, but it’s not as little as it would have been had I caught it in time.

I don’t want to say it’s the full Solo Form that triggered the migraine because one, I don’t believe it’s true. Two, I’ve been feeling pre-migrainey all week, so even if it was the event that popped the migraine, there was plenty of buildup to it. I don’t know what it is. Maybe the new foods I’m trying? They’re plant-based Italian sausage and plant-based whipped cream, so maybe there’s something in them that is a trigger. I’ve given up caffeine so it’s not that. Not eating much chocolate, either. Have added more fruits, though. At any rate, now, nearly 24 hours after the explosion, it’s finally starting to abate. A bit.

Veering sharply to another topic, there’s a post on Ask A Manager about an employee who cries all the time and feels everything deeply, sometimes even more so than the person she’s feeling for. The person writing in was her employer, and the employer wrote that the employee was a ‘self-described empath’. That set off people in the comments about how anyone who called themselves empaths were emotional vampires. And I sighed deep in my soul because of all the misconceptions. someone else likened it to vegans in which there were the loud self-proclaimed VEGANS and then there were vegans who just went about their lives and quietly ate their vegan food.

That person wasn’t far from wrong, nor was the person who said that the healthy empaths didn’t necessarily go around talking about it or calling themselves empaths. Nor the person who said that healthy empaths were often sought after because of their listening ear, and then burned out from being empathetic. I am an empath, and I don’t talk about it at all these days. It’s one reason I limit my interaction with other people because I can’t dheal with the negativity, even though it’s gotten better since I started taking taiji.


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Weight of my world

I’ve been wanting to lose weight for quite some time. Pretty much my whole life, actually.  My mom put me on a diet when I was seven, saying that I had ‘such a pretty face’ that it was too bad I was so fat. Those might not have been the exact words, but that was the underlying sentiment. For the next quarter of a century, that was something that came up all the goddamn fucking time. She rattled on and on about my weight, and she couldn’t even pretend it was about my health. Well, she could try, but I was smart enough to notice that when I was in my anorexic phases, the only comments she made were of jealousy–such that I had a smaller waist than she did. It was very easy to see that it wasn’t about health–it was solely about looks and weight. I had to tell her in explicit terms in my…wanna say early thirties that she was not to mention my weight at all. She did not take kindly to that, but I didn’t care.

In the past few years, I’ve become painfully cognizant of how fat I am. I mean, I know I’m fat. It’s not a surprise. As much as I try not to look in the mirror, I still catch myself on occasion. Most of the time, I quickly look away. However, once in a while, I stare in horror before looking away again. I hate the way I look except for my hair. Love my hair. Which is still growing. It’s a hoot and an amazement given that it didn’t grow for two decades.

I will state that I don’t give a shit about my health. Well, not overtly, anyway. It’s a big by-product of doing taiji, but I never paid it no mind. I only cared about the martial arts aspect, and if it was good for my health and mental health, well, then that was an added bonus.

Anyway, I’m trying to cut down on meat as I mentioned in my previous post. I used to eat two to three servings a day, and I’m down to one or two. My ideal is two to three a week for now, but it’s still early days yet. I just had the last of the Beyond Italian Sausages, and I’m sad that I don’t have any more. They were so incredibly juicy and had a nice spice to them. They tasted exactly like Italian sausages, and I would gladly sub them for meat any day of the week. I have a package of ground ‘beef’ (also Beyond) in the freezer that I’ll fry up later in the week.


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Never leaving the house again

I was borderline agoraphobic when I was in my late twenties. Hold up. Wait. back up. When I was a kid (stop groaning, yes, we do need to go back that far), I had no friends. I was a fat, socially-awkward, intelligent Asian girl in a very white suburb. My home life sucked as well, and I first thought about suicide when I was eleven. But even before then, I wanted to die. I didn’t like anything about life which has continued to this day. Wait. Back up again. I don’t want it to sound like every moment of my life is terrible. It isn’t. For the most part, it’s just that everything is low-grade meh. When I’m really depressed, life is torture. There are mornings when I open my eyes, and I immediately want to close them again forever. For the most part, though, it’s just me dragging my flattish (but not as flat as before taiji) ass off the couch and going about my business.

After college, I had a period of chronic and deep depression. There were days when all I could do was brush my teeth, and I would consider that a win. Now, I brush my teeth three times a day every day (and floss three times, too), but there are several things I leave undone. I don’t do laundry until I don’t have anything else decent to wear. Many people do that, I know, but it can be a month or two before I really feel the need. Given that we’re in a pandemic, it’s not as dire at it would be otherwise, but it’s still a factor of my depression.

At that point, I didn’t leave the house except to go grocery shopping and to get my meds once a month. Even that was a struggle, but I managed to get it done. Two things helped my depression–therapy and taiji. The two Ts, as it were. I reached a point where I was going out for my taiji classes three times a week, went out with friends once a month or so in addition to my normal errands. It was enough for me, and I was less blah than before.

Fast-forward to the coronavirus and the lockdown. The last place I went to (except pharmacy and gas station) was a nearby coop. This was late February/early March. I wasn’t wearing a mask, but I kept my distance as best I could and had my sweatshirt pulled up over my hands so I didn’t have to touch anything with my bare hands. This coop is small, and the aisles were narrow. It would be hard for two carts to go through an aisle at the same time, for example. I was already feeling slightly panicky, but at least most of the workers were wearing masks and gloves.


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Feeling hopeless in the time of Covid-10

I was talking to my mother last night as she prepared to go to another city (also in Taiwan) where she did some teaching. She and my father were going, and they were going to have dinner with some friends they hadn’t seen in some time. The reason it’s notable, of course, is because we’re still in a pandemic, but it’s one that Taiwan handled admirable and is mostly past at the moment. That’s not to say they can’t have another spike or they should relax their strictures too much, but for the moment, they are sitting pretty.

So much so, my parents can’t quite seem to grasp how terrible it still is in America. I can’t really blame them, though, because many Americans don’t seem to get it, either. My dad keeps talking about when they can come back to visit, and I just wanted to scream at him. My parents are almost eighty and both had major surgery in the last two years. My mom’s had two in the last year. My father is in terrible health in general, and did I mention we’re in the middle of a pandemic? Not to mention that it’s nearly 24 hours of travel, and it’s easy to see why this is a terrible idea. They usually come at the end of July/beginning of August, and I really stressed to them that it would not be a good idea, and then my dad was like, “Maybe October?”

I just can’t. We haven’t even hit our peak yet, and the prediction is a spike in fall. I am emphasizing that Christmas is the earliest feasible time, and even that seems to be too soon for me. If I can’t convince them not to come, then I’m just going to stay in the basement all the time and not interact with them.

That aside, we were talking about what Taiwan had done in the early days (aggressive tracking, masking, and fining for breaking the rules) to be so successful and how that wouldn’t fly here because of American exceptionalism/individualism. I pointed out that with the various social issues America has, tracking could be problematic. That aside, however, I agreed that America was too individualistic for something like that to take effect. It doesn’t help that our pols are either clueless or willfully ignorant, and the pros have been offering conflicting information since the very beginning.

I mentioned that I felt hopeless about the whole thing because I was doing my bit, but it didn’t matter. Things were opening up, and we were going to see more cases in the near future. I went to the pharmacy and the gas station today, and there was a worker at the pharmacy who had her mask dangling by her ear. I internally rolled my eyes, but I didn’t say anything. Then she came out into the lobby to fiddle with the merchandise (probably restocking). Did she pull the mask back on? I couldn’t tell, but she didn’t have it when she came out the door and passed by me within three feet or so. In a fucking pharmacy! What is the fucking point if you’re going to dangle it from one ear? Then, at the gas station, the workers weren’t wearing masks (though behind plexiglass) and less than half of the customers were wearing them. I got out of there as quickly as possible, and I breathed a sigh of relief once I got home.


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Annual sinus issues in the time of Covid-19

So, I’ve been dealing with my annual sinus/migraine bullshit. Oh. I just thought of something. Caffeine can cause migraines as well as cure them (it’s finicky like that). I’ve been drinking caffeinated tea at night. That might be the cause of the migraines. I’ll give it a skip tonight and see if it helps.

As for the sinus stuff, I think it’s partly allergies (because I’m allergic to everything under the sun), but it’s also sinus stuff. I can tell the difference because I’ve had allergies all my life, and I’ve had sinus issues for several years. The former is your typical itchy eyes, runny/stuff nose, clogged throat, while the latter is ear shit, nose afire/pricked, and swollen glands. The third factor is the weather. I have no scientific basis for this, but I firmly believe that the barometric pressure changes plus the heat negatively affect my sinuses. I definitely know that ‘feels like 102’ negatively affects my mood. I keep my AC at 78, but I dropped it a degree yesterday because I was not gonna deal with a migraine, sinus crap, AND heat.

I fucking hate the summer with all my heart, and I always have. Not only because of the heat but also because of the allergies. Everything is in bloom, and it wreaks havoc on my nose. It’s hard to remember sometimes that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Not only because it’s been pushed out of the news, but because life around me hasn’t changed. I haven’t seen one mask in my neighborhood, and there are definitely neighbors who are not practicing safe social distancing.

And I end up feeling like I’m the weird one for completely shutting myself off. My father laughed at me the other day that when I had food delivered, I didn’t let them in my house. To me, it was a no-brainer. Letting them in the house defeated the whole purpose of delivery in the first place. And, our state soft-opened…a week ago? I think? Time doesn’t matter. Anyway, my brother said we should go to the noodle place down the street when it opened. Even after we agreed that nothing had really changed during the ‘stay-at-home’ time and the ‘stay safe’ time.


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Personal health in a time of societal crisis

The war is raging on, and it seems selfish to focus on my personal health. Alas, I am still me, even in these times of unrest, so I can’t completely divorce myself from, well, me. Also, all the words  I have to say about the ongoing situations are bottled up in my throat, making me strangely muted. I’ve been grieving–crying at the drop of a hat, and I’ve been praying to a god I don’t believe in for something, anything, and I’m not even sure what.

But, because of my autoimmune bullshit and the Covid-19, I am not going to the protests. I have to ask myself honestly, though, would I go if it weren’t for the Covid-19? My answer is, I don’t know. If my bestie were here, we’d go together. We’ve done it before. Would I go on my own? Not so sure. It doesn’t say anything good about me, but it’s the truth.

It’s weird. When my parents called the other night, concerned about my brother and me (more him because he lives in South Minneapolis), my father counseled me to stay in. “You’re Asian,” he said. “So you’re the other to both blacks and white.” He didn’t say it exactly like that, but it’s what he meant. He’s right, and it puts me in this weird other-land that makes it hard for me to figure where my place is in all this.

Let me make myself clear. I am 100% on the side of the protesters. What happened to George Floyd was horrific, and it’s a symptom of a very sick system. But I’m not black. I cannot speak to that experience. I’m also not white, and I’ve experienced racism myself. Especially in the time of the Covid-19 with the president stoking flames of hatred towards Chinese people, I am concerned about how I might be perceived if I go out into public. I’m not Chinese, but that’s a point without distinction right now. Add to that the fact that I’ve experienced mild racism at the hands of cops, and it leaves me in a weird place.


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I’m my own worst enemy…again

I’m an idiot of the highest order. I have been feeling pretty shitty for three or four days, and I skipped two taiji classes over the weekend. Yesterday (Monday), I woke up feeling markedly better. Not my best, but better. Enough better to try taiji class. I was fine during the warm-ups which, as you may imagine, are gentle. Then, we got to the chi gong, and this is where I fucked up.

My teacher has told us more than once that if we’re sick, we have to be careful of breaking out into a heavy sweat. If it’s a light sweat, that’s fine. If it’s a heavy sweat, we should immediately quit. During chi gong, we did 6 of 8 postures. First three, no problems. Then, four, which is the most difficult, complicated, and involved. I immediately broke out into a heavy sweat and was shaky on my toes (literally. Most of the posture is done with the heels lifted). Normally, I do not have a problem standing on my toes, but yesterday, I was terrible. I almost fell over several times, and I was very hot and sweaty.

Here’s the thing. I knew immediately that I should stop, but I didn’t. Why? A few reasons. One, I’m very loath to appear like a quitter in front of other people. I phrased that very carefully because I am a quitter. I quit when things get hard because, well, again for several reasons. One, I am naturally good at many things. I never really had to learn how to persevere at something that I wasn’t good at because there were relatively few things that I *had* to learn in that manner. Two, my family of origin is not very forgiving of mediocrity. When I was in school, they never had anything to say when I got As, only when I got anything less than an A. I graduated college magna cum laude, and my mother said I would have graduated summa if I didn’t get a B in my Intro Psych class.


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Bruce Banner adapted for every situation

I’m sick. No, not with Covid-19. I’m fairly sure it’s not that. How? Because I don’t have any of the symptoms for it besides exhaustion. As I tweeted:

It’s a VERY wet cough, meaning there’s gunk clogging up my throat. My throat is also raw and sore. My nose feels as if there are tiny needles pricking it, and my head hurts. It’s not migraine-level, but I’m keeping an eye on it. I don’t have a temperature because I just checked. 97.5 per yooz. Also, I am pretty much a hermit these days, so my chances of catching it are minimal. Our state did a loosening of the Stay-At-Home orders (sigh), and my brother said, “Let’s do lunch!” I said hell no, and he said we could bring the food back to my house. I said and sit ten feet away from each other? Yeah, no. Not going to happen. Nothing magically got better because ‘Stay-At-Home’ became ‘Stay Safe’.

I’m not happy to be dealing with sinus problems, but I will say that it’s the first of the year, and I haven’t had any issues in the past two months–which is a first for me in quite some time.


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Paging Dr. Banner

Captain America: Dr. Banner. Now might be a really good time for you to get angry.

Dr. Banner (with a wry smile over his shoulder as he’s walking forward): That’s my secret, Cap. (Pauses, drops smile) I’m always angry. (Hulks out.)

I didn’t care much for The Avengers (the first movie, which is the only I saw), but this line stuck with me. Here it is in video form:

This is me, and I’ve never heard it put so succinctly. You don’t need the backstory of The Incredible Hulk to understand what Dr. Banner is saying, but it helps. Very basically, Banner’s Hulk mode runs on rage. In the earlier films/comics, he had a hard time controlling it. I haven’t read it in some time, so I might be misremembering it, but he tried to tamp down his anger and he would get caught off-guard by it and bad things happened as a result. In this movie, again, as much as I can remember, which isn’t much, he’s pretty chill most of the time. So, him saying this showed that he had gotten a handle on his temper and controlled it rather than it controlling him.

I feel this so hard. I am angry all the time, but I’m still in the ‘trying to control it’ phase. I dealt with it for two decades by numbing out. For many years, I couldn’t feel anything at all. I was seriously and chronically depressed, and everything was stuffed way down deep. It’s hard to look back at the younger me without wincing at what a hot mess she was. But, instead of embarrassment, I feel sorrow and compassion for her.

I’ve been sick these past few days. Not sure exactly what, but it’s either sinuses or allergies. Perhaps both. We’ve been having weird weather (supposedly polar vortex?) with frost warnings at night. We almost had snow last week, but it was just a bit too warm. I’m so fucking exhausted. I snoozed on and off all last evening. I’m not able to do much of anything, and I have no interest in anything.  I know that’s depression, but it’s more than that. My nose feels as if it’s being pricked over and over again by a thousand tiny needles, and my brain is full of cotton. I concede it might be the cusp of a migraine, too, but whatever it is, I just can’t find the wherewithal to give a shit.

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Mental and physical health in the time of you-know-what

It’s May. I’m having a hard time grasping that little fact. I’m also having a hard time remembering when my personal lockdown started. I want to say it was…March…early? Late? Not sure any longer. I know it was before my birthday which was nearly a month ago. Time has lost all meaning, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. It’s also interesting how many people are having vivid dreams, which was something I assumed was only happening to me. There are reports of people dreaming about people who ignored social distancing, making the dreamer panic. Mine have had nothing to do with COVID-19, but they are very intense. It’s weird because I used to have extreme anxiety dreams and before that, outright nightmares. Now, however, my dreams are intense but not anxious dreams–well, not in the classic sense. They are the least-troubling aspect of my sleep at the moment, which is saying a lot.

I’ve given up on trying to regulate my sleep. I go to sleep whenever I go to sleep, and I get up whenever I get up. If I snooze at any given point, then I snooze. I’m of the mindset that whatever gets me through at this point is fine. Within reason, of course.

Side Note: I read all these people joking about drinking 24/7, and I don’t find it funny at all. I already thought people in America drink too much (let’s not talk about Britain), and I don’t like that the pandemic is being used as an excuse to get plastered. I do sympathize with self-medicating, but….Yeah, I’ll just leave it at that.

I mentioned last time that the one bright side to this mess is that my allergies and sinus issues have been drastically reduced, which strengthens my theory that nature is trying to kill me. I mean, it makes perfect sense that if I’m allergic to everything in nature, keeping it at bay will be better for me. Now that I’m able to test this hypothesis, I’ve found that it’s true. What does it mean for life after this pandemic clears (if it does)? I don’t know. It’s not realistic for me to not ever go anywhere ever. I mean, I could do it, but I don’t think it’s feasible for the long run.

I’m also thinking about what to do about life in general once the restrictions ease. People in my neighborhood are pretty lax about best practices, and it’s tripping me up whenever I see it. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone wearing a mask in my neighborhood, including when I went to the pharmacy. It’s bizarre, and it makes me angry. I’m working on letting it go and reminding myself that I’m hermetically sealed for the most part.


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