Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Health

Of (not-so) sound mind and body

drinkin' tea 24/7.
All the tea in Taiwan.

I slept for nine hours the other night, which makes me think I’m getting sick again. I don’t sleep for that long unless I’m sick. I slept nearly seven hours last night, which is still a bit much for me. When I saw my taiji teacher yesterday, she was like, “I hope your week is filled with shitty sleep.” That was her way of wishing me well, and while it made me laugh, it’s sadly apt. The best way for me to gauge how sick I am is to look at my sleep. The ratio for sickness is directly proportional–the more sleep I get, the sicker I am. It’s not something that makes me happy, obviously, but it’s handy to know.

I don’t know what it says about me that my body only allows me to get a good night’s sleep when I’m really sick, but it’s as frustrating as hell. Is it too much to ask that I sleep a full night when I’m not sick? When I’m not sick, I sleep maybe six hours a night, and I wake up at least once. That’s not very restful, as I bet you could guess. I can’t help but think it hearkens back to the days when sleeping through the night was dangerous, and my body hasn’t yet realized it’s not necessary.

Side Note: I don’t sleep in a bed. I’ve found that I sleep marginally better on the couch. I think that’s part of the reason my back is messed up, however, so I might try sleeping in a bed again.

I also wonder if my shenanigans in college contribute to my sleep woes. My first semester I was there, I had a class at 7:45 a.m. (or some such ungodly hour), and I wouldn’t go to bed until three in the morning at the earliest. That meant I got at best three hours of sleep a night on the days I had that class. I think it was a T/Th class, so twice a week. I probably got 4, maybe 5 hours. In other words, I was severely sleep-deprived for my first semester of college.

I’ve told this story before, but there was one time when I woke up and couldn’t find my portable alarm clock. I looked everywhere in my (small) dorm room to no avail. I opened my mini-fridge to grab a Diet Pepsi (the way I always started my day), and there was my alarm as pretty as you please. I had no recollection of putting it there, which was worrisome. I put it on the sink across the room, which meant no more stowing it in my mini-fridge, but didn’t change the fact that I was having serious sleep issues.

I used to get four hours of sleep a night on the regular. Now, I’m up to six, and I owe it all to taiji. Well, taiji and therapy, but mostly taiji. It’s frustrating that it’s not more (and, yes, I know eight hours a night is ideal), but it’s amazing I even get that much*.

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Over it

I’m done with being sick. I just can’t. I mean, I’m not literally done with it because it’s lingering like an unwelcome guest, but emotionally, I’m over it. I’m tired of it being the focus of all my energy and will. My microwave broke today, which means buying another. Normally, it would be an irritant, but not a big deal. Today, it seems insurmountable. Given that it’s also Election Day and I have to vote, part of me just wants to go back to sleep.

Anyway. That’s all I feel like writing today. So. here’s a video of Congressman John Lewis voting Gangnam Style.

Trade-offs health-wise I’m willing to take

I think I’m being hit with round 2 of the crud, and I’m fine with it. Wait, Minna, I can hear you say (or make you say in my mind). How can you be fine with it when you hated it so much the last round? I’ll tell you, and thank you for asking and setting me up so nicely.

Let’s backtrack a bit. I was sick for a long time as is my want. I have this loop of getting one thing–say, chills and fever–then getting something else–like sinus problems–before slowly recovering, only to be hit with a third thing–persistent, hacking cough. Then, when I’m finally over it, I pray to the cold and flu gods that I don’t get it again.

That’s what happened this time. I got over the last thing, then felt decent for a week or so, then I was incredibly tired last week. I mean, I’m tired in general most of the time, but I was at the ‘I literally can’t keep my eyes open’ stage for all of last week. For those lucky duckies who’ve never felt it, it’s when you’re doing something innocuous like watching a video, and then you come to with a start and realize you haven’t seen the last ten minutes/half an hour/hour of the video. That kept happening to me, and one particularly bad night, I passed maybe three hours that way, waking up every ten minutes to ever half hour.

Speaking of sleep deprivation, The Try Guys did a series of videos about driving while under the influence in four different ways, including not sleeping for thirty-six hours straight. They have a doctor in each video explaining the ramifications of driving under that particular influence, and in the sleep-deprived one, he said that people who were deprived of sleep for twenty-four hours, they had nearly the same impairment as someone who blows a .1 on a breathalyzer. His advice was, “Don’t drive when you’re sleep deprived.” He also said most people need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. I laughed, albeit it bitterly, because if I followed his advice, I would never drive. I venture that many Americans could say the same. Also, getting seven hours of sleep in one go is not gonna happen for me unless I’m sick. Which, incidentally, is another reason I know I’m getting sick–I slept nearly seven hours (total in two separate chunks)last night after going to bed around midnight.


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Finally! No longer feeling like warmed-up puke

I started feeling better Sunday night, and when I woke up on Monday, I was markedly improved. Sinus was clear (although my ears were still scabby and crusty. Yes, they become filled with pus when I pick the scabs), cough was mostly gone (one or two hard coughs every few hours), and better yet, I had more energy than I’ve had in the last month. I didn’t feel like death warmed over, and I actually looked forward to going to taiji. More to the point, I had enough energy to propel myself out of the car.

It’s difficult, though, because I don’t like leaving the house in general. It’s my low-level depression that makes it twice as hard for me to get in the car and drive. My BFF and I have talked about how fucked up it is that we’d set up a date to go out dancing. We did that maybe once a month, which isn’t a big ask, really. Both of us would spend the whole day psyching ourselves up to go out and begrudgingly get dressed. I’d leave the house, feeling extremely reluctant to go. I’d reach my BFF’s house, and she wouldn’t be dressed yet.

Side note: We have a running joke about her being perennially late. Like other issues in our friendship, once we hashed it out, it was fine. I just mentally added twenty minutes to a half hour to whatever the start time was supposed to be, and it worked out. Funnily enough, one time, she was supposed to pick me up at my house at, say, eight. That meant I’d change around eight-fifteen. The doorbell rang at eight, and I exclaimed, “You’re early!” She said, “We said eight, right?”

We’d chat while she decided what to wear. She often roped her husband into the process (if he was there) because he had a sharp eye for fashion.

Another side note: We were shoe shopping once, and I was griping about my wide feet and how shoes looked so bad on them. She said she once asked her husband if a pair of shoes made her feet look big. He said, “_____, no guy has every looked at a woman and said, ‘Damn, she’s fine, but those feet are too fucking big!'” I laughed, but the message has stuck with me, even though that was probably twenty years ago.

We’d smoke a cigarette on her porch before reluctantly leaving. Once we hit the club or restaurant or whatever, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but it took a lot of wherewithal to get there in the first place.

It’s the depression. When it was chronic and really bad, I could barely make myself brush my teeth, let alone leave the house. Now that I ‘only’ experience low-level depression, I can make myself do the things I need to do outside the house. However, I don’t have an office job, so I don’t have to drive every. That’s another thing. I hate driving, and I’m terrible at it. There are many reasons for that, but suffice to say, it makes it easier for me to cancel on outings whenever possible.


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The more things change

all. the. tea.
Drinking all the tea.

It’s the same old, same old. Just as I was getting better, ROUUUUUUND THREEEEEEEEE. (Imagine buxom chick in a tiny bikini holding up a title card. Or Finchy (see clip. The boys’ character is always named Finchy). Whichever works for you.) It’s as if the fates that be are laughing at me every time I start getting better and saying, “You think you’re OK now? Oh, you poor, sweet, summer child.” I was roughly 85% better when I went to class on Saturday. I went home achy, but not unbearably so, and I was pleased that I was finally on the tail end of the bullshit.

I woke  with the chills. I immediately knew that I was worse because I don’t get cold if I’m not sick. Or rather, I don’t get cold until it’s well below zero. I threw on a sweatshirt and struggled through my morning routine. I skipped class and spent the whole day, miserable, on the couch. Then, early in the evening, I started having heat flashes–which happened the last time I got chills. Though, admittedly, it was cold/hot/cold/hot in rapid succession; this time, it’s chills in the morning and hot at night. At least from my limited data of one day and this morning. I have chills literally as I write this, and now because my words are so brilliant.

It’s depressing and discouraging. I know I need to see a doctor/acupuncturist, but I can’t bear the thought of being out of the house for more than a half hour. I’ve joked before that there are only two reasons I ever want to have a roommate/partner/cabana boy. One is to lift heavy things. Hey, yes, I can do it myself, but it’s nice not to have to do it all the time. The bigger one is to help me out when I’m sick. Shadow is currently snoozing on my legs, and he’s a great nurse (except when he meows at me, drags his nose across my bare flesh, and claws at me (gently) in the morning to wake me up for brekkie), but he’s not so good at making me tea or going out grocery shopping for the bare essentials.

Anyway. If this goes according to the timetable, the chills/heat flashes will last another day, and then I’ll slowly start getting better for reals. Or something. I don’t know, and at this point, I don’t really care. I’m watching Numb3rs as my comfort food right now and hoping I’ll feel better soon.

Making a bad situation worse

There is something intensely boring and self-involved in being sick. At least for me, that is. It’s hard to do much else when I’m not at my best or even at 50%, and it makes me cranky as fuck. I am not at my better self when I’m sick. Mostly, I want to withdraw into myself and hide from the world. Hm. Come to think of it, it’s not much different than regular me. I jest, I jest. (But only partly.) Since I am purportedly a goddamn adult, I manage to keep most of this shit to myself, but it’s harder to do when I’m sick. I’m funneling so much energy into being miserable, I have little left over for the constant controlling of my emotions that I do on a regular basis.

My taiji teacher suggested acupuncture, which I am fine with in theory. In reality, though, I have a complicated reaction. Not to acupuncture itself. I think it’s a good thing. But to the fact that I’m Taiwanese, and I know little-to-nothing about it. If I go to someone in Minnesota, they’re most likely going to be white. So, there’s a layer of shame and defiance in my attitude to begin with, which is not a good way to go into a new situation. But, as uncomfortable as that is, it’s better than going to someone who’s actually Chinese because I have even more feelings about that. It’s part of being in the diaspora–never feeling as if I belong to anywhere in particular. I know to many old school Chinese/Taiwanese people, I’m a disappointment/shame to my culture. In addition, I’m Taiwanese with a grudge against the Mainlanders*, which would not end well, either.

Regardless, I need to do something because every time I start to come down with something, it’s never-ending. It goes something like this. I start to feel off, which means my energy starts flagging. That lasts for a week or two. Then, sinus issues. Then, bowel issues. Then, coughing/sneezing/sore throat issues. Sinus issues may or may not persist. Throw in flu-like issues from time to time, lather, rinse, repeat. Last night, I was lying on the couch under a blanket and my cat (on my legs), and I got the chills. That’s another phase of being sick for me.

I’m tired of this. It seems to happen every year. My taiji teacher asked if it could be a prolonged sense of allergies, and that might be part of it since I’m allergic to everything. It’s worse when I get up in the morning and then for a few hours before I finally drop off to sleep. My ears are totally scabbed over with crud, and they hurt.

I’m in the same position, still have the chills, and I’m sipping my honey ginger lemon tea. Is it helping? Dunno, but it tastes good.

I really liked this song until I figured out what it was about (which was by the end of the song–it’s pretty obvious. At first, I thought it was about a lover, which would have been bad enough, but it’s God, which is even worse). Too bad because her voice is gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

 

*Brief primer: Chiang Kai-shek fled the Mainland to get away from Mao. He took over Taiwan and ruled it with an iron fist. Taiwanese people were considered second-class citizens under his regime, and he considered it part of China. My parents believe in an independent Taiwan and that we are Taiwanese, not Chinese.

In sickness and in health…but no secrets?

Last night was an adventure, but not of the enjoyable kind. I was exhausted, so I decided to take a nap. I woke up an hour later, my stomach cramping like crazy. I ran to the bathroom, did my business, then returned to the couch. Stomach cramped up again, so back to the bathroom with me. I felt hot and feverish, but finally fell asleep again. Only to be woken up an hour later with more agonizing cramps. Another sprint to the bathroom, twice, then more feverish huddling under my blanket. A few more hours of sleep before being awaken in the same way again. I ate some plain rice to sooth my stomach, stayed up for a bit, more sleep, more bathroom adventures, and my stomach is still queasy now.

I thought maybe I had grabbed the Amy’s gluten-free mac-n-cheese instead of the gluten-free/dairy-free mac-n-cheeze, but, no. I had grabbed (and eaten) the correct one. I’m not sure what the hell is wrong with my system, but it’s bad enough, I might actually go to the doctor to have it checked out. For today, however, I’ll stick to eating bland foods and hoping that my stomach settles down.

I’ve been on an Indigo Girls kick lately. Why? Because they fucking rule, for one, but because they were also very important to me back when I was a confused closeted bi woman. This was before the turn of the millennium, and there weren’t that many example of out and proud queer women, especially not in the world of music, so they were a revelation to me. This was well after they started their careers, back in 1995 or so. When I first discovered them, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Not only were they very comfortable with being out, they played great music. They actually played their instruments! And, Amy Ray was (and still is) smoking hot. I know it’s hard to fathom now, but it meant the world to me to have them as role models back in the day.


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I get knocked down, will I get up again?

One of the most frustrating things about getting sick for me is that it’s not a linear process. Ideally, I would feel the bug, get sick for three days, then slowly recover until the point of being OK. It seems like most people go through something like that, but, me? No. I gotta be different, even in this. I feel completely exhausted for a week or two, but not sick per se. It’s like a physical depression. And it’s frustrating as hell. It’s also embarrassing to talk about because I feel like an impostor. I’m not really sick, so I should just suck it up.

It’s similar to my gluten and dairy sensitivities or whatever you want to call them. I’m not allergic to either, not technically, but if I just say I’m sensitive, I’m worried that people won’t take me seriously. A better example is that I get migraine headaches, but I’m wary of calling them that. Why? Because if you say that online, you’ll be deluged with so many people telling you why what you have isn’t a migraine and how they have it so much worse. Yes, I know that’s the nature of the beast. Anonymous people on the internet finding ways to feel superior, but it’s annoying as fuck, even if it isn’t directed at me personally (I never talk about this stuff on forums. I know better).

Here’s how I would describe the way I know I’m getting a migraine: the world starts losing color, and my body starts shutting down. The former is literal, but the latter is figurative. Everything starts getting less bright, and my body feels as if it’s drawing inward. If I take two or three Excedrin Migraine pills in time, I can stave off the worst of it and feel OK in a few hours. I get the aura sometimes, but not all the time.

On the internet, this is not enough. If you can mitigate the pain ahead of time, it’s not a Real Migraine. I’ve read this time and time again, and it’s enough to make me tight-lipped about my own experiences. Never mind that ‘migraine’ is a broad category–hell, you don’t even have to have the headache to have a migraine–if you don’t fall into a proscribed description, then what you have Isn’t A Migraine according to the powers that be. Funnily enough, my BFF’s daughter has the same experience I have, and her doctor says what she’s experiencing is a migraine. If she takes Excedrin Migraine in time, she’s fine in a couple of hours, just like me.

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Moving on up

badass asian chick with sword!
Shaolin Sword. Different, but still cool.

For the first time in two weeks, I feel like a semblance of myself. I said when I first started feeling punk that I’d rather have a few days of intense sickness and then get over it then to have something that lingers forever and ever. When I was first sick, it was a low-level, but pervasive exhaustion that sapped my will to do anything. Then, I had three days of concentrated crud, which, while it sucked, was bearable when I got marginally better the next day. Then, yesterday, Monday, I felt significantly better and went to taiji for the first time in weeks. We took it easy, and we did a little of the Sword Form, which always makes me feel better. I was careful not to overdo because I know myself. Like many people, when I start feeling better, I’d go hard at whatever I was doing and make myself sick again.

You’d think it’d be easy to tell myself, “Remember, just because you’re starting to feel better, it doesn’t mean you’re completely better.” Well, it’s easy to tell myself that, but it’s harder to truly embrace it. I’m a pretty low-energy person in the first place, but being sick makes me almost completely immobilized. When I finally can move without much exhaustion again, I want to go hog-wild (which for me means going to TWO places in one day rather than one).

I left taiji feeling a bit tired, but not excessively so. It felt good to go to class and stretch my limbs. It also felt good to see my teacher and classmate (there’s usually only the two of us on Mondays) after being absent for a few weeks. I still did my daily routine, but I learn so much in class that I don’t like to miss it. In addition, we’re going through the Sword Form with refinements and slight tweaks, and as I’ve said a million times, THE SWORD IS MY JAM. I love it with a passion unmatched for anything else. I would sleep with my sword if I could (well, no, I wouldn’t, but it’s always in my heart), and I could do sword for hours on end.

Why do I love it so? I can’t fully explain it, though I’ve thought about it more than once. I’ve told the story before of how once I ‘graduated’ from the Solo Form, my teacher mentioned the Sword Form. I vigorously said I didn’t want to learn weapons (oh, I was so young and naive back then), but she gently persisted. Finally, one day, she pressed her wooden sword in my hand, and as soon as I closed my fingers around the hilt, that was it. I was born to wield a blade, and I haven’t looked back since.

I know some of my classmates are envious of my Sword Form and how easily I learned it, but I can’t take any credit for it. It just came naturally to me, and I practice it frequently. I do something with the sword every day, and I practice the Sword Form about once a week. I understand my classmates being a bit jealous, but they don’t see how diligent I am with the Sword Form. I get a bit tired of having to play down my ability or biting my tongue from saying that I’m good because I practice. I mean, yes, I have natural talent. I’m not going to downplay that because it’s true. In addition, I’m good at learning stuff. Well, usually. When I’m not, then I don’t do that thing any longer. I’m not proud of it, and it’s not a good thing about me, but it’s the truth.

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Gonna make me sweat

The full crud hit me on Thursday, and I’ve been slogging through it ever since. I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday feeling like complete and utter shit. Today (Sunday), I woke up feeling a bit better, and I’m hoping it means that I’m on the tail end of this thing, or at least the legs of it. I’ve taken Excedrin Migraine (generic version) every day since then, and it’s helped stave off the incipient migraine.

Side note: I go back and forth about calling what I get migraines because there are a lot of people who are elitist about migraines. “Oh, you think that’s bad? I can’t get out of bed for three days and have to lie in complete darkness and stillness with a cold towel over my face the entire time.” “Migraine medication? How lucky that it works for you. It doesn’t help me at all.” I know there are a variety of migraines, but I’m still chary because I don’t want to have to listen to a harangue about why what I have isn’t a migraine. But, I know it is. I get nauseated, and everything starts turning gray. I feel as if I have a steel band closing around my forehead, and if I’m lucky to catch it in time with the Excedrin, then I’ll just feel the mild effects for a few hours as they slowly dissipate.

I haven’t been able to do much other than watch videos, go to Cubs, and play Monster Hunter World. I’m starting to get serious about the end game of MHW. I’ve allowed Nergigante to build up in my mind, and now I’ve freaked myself the fuck out. I still can’t get out of Dark Souls mode of thinking that each monster is a Boss (with a capital B), which means I dread each fight. It doesn’t matter that I don’t die against the monsters nearly as much as I die against the bosses in the Souls series–I still equate the two.

It’s hard for me to answer whether or not I’m still enjoying the game. I am, but there’s an accompanying sense of dread/resentment/obligation. There is just so much to do, and when I unlock additional quests, I’m more, “Oh, not more shit to do” rather than “Hell, yeah!”

It’s also hard for me to gauge how I’m doing because I only play solo. I’ve fainted maybe a total of a dozen times, and have failed a quest because of being carted three times twice (LR Diablos and LR Kirin, but as I have pointed out several times, one of the cartings on Kirin was because of a glitch/lag). I don’t think that’s so bad, but I don’t know because again, I don’t play with other people.


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