Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Health

Little things mean a lot

I never thought about my thumb before it started being a problem. It makes sense. Why would I think about my thumb? I have two of them and they do what they’re supposed to do. Period. That’s good enough for me. Until my left thumb started twinging in pain. Nothing big. Not often. Just once in a while, it would tweak. And the joint would pop and lock when I bent it. This was perhaps two or three times a week. The clicking didn’t hurt; it was just annoying. Then, about a week ago, things escalated dramatically. The base of my thumb started hurting more regularly. Again, not in and of itself, but if I touched it or moved it in an odd way. Not hurt, but more like ached. The clicking was deeper for a lack of a better word, but still did not hurt.

It was highly annoying, however, and I knew I did not want it to get worse. I Googled it because that’s what I do. It’s rheumatoid arthritis also known as trigger thumb in this particular case. There are stretches recommended for it, which I’ve been doing every day. In addition, I have picked up a splint for it that I am wearing most of the day and night. Is it helping? I think so? It’s hard to say.

I have to say, before I got the splint, the pain increased dramatically. the base is painful to the touch, though not inflamed-looking. The clicking is more often than not, ranging from a quick, barely-audible click to a deep, grinding click. Bending the thumb is painful at the base and the clicking itself hurts sometimes. Once in a while, the bending pain is excruciating, but it’s bearable most of the time.


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The more things change….

I gave up coffee. Again. Maybe not for good, but I switched back to green tea for my caffeine. Why? Because my sleep has been terrible since I started drinking it again. Green tea didn’t seem to have that effect and it’s delicious, especially with pomegranate. I haven’t had this bad of sleep in some time and it’s really messing with my head. Yes, my migraines have been kept at bay, but is it worth it? I don’t know. With the absence of the migraines, I would say yes. But, in the middle of a migraine, I would say no. It’s the duel of the conflicting health issues!

On the weapons front, I loaded up today. I did the beginning of the Double Sabre Form, sword drills, the whole Sabre Form, the Karambit Form, and spear drills. Oh, I forgot to do the one row of the Cane Form I know, so I’ll do it tomorrow. I’m still thinking about about a music/form mashup and we’ll see if I have the energy for that. One thing about going to the demo is that it fills me with possibilities–much like a kid with her nose pressed to the window of a candy shop. I want everything I can see and all at one time. My teacher likes to say that there’s a lifetime to learn things so there’s no reason to rush.

She’s right, but that doesn’t stop my brain from whispering that I’m behind and need to catch up. Not that kindly, of course, as my brain is really mean to me most of the time. Actually, I have to check that. It used to be horrid to me. I had a constant tape of negativity that looped in my brain and it just felt normal. I called him (and it was definitely a him) The Dictator and he was a cruel master. He had so many rules and regulations, it was impossible to keep them straight and not mess up.

Side note: Quick background about the Dictator. I grew up being constantly told, mostly by implication, that my feelings were not valid. They constantly got minimized and ignored, and I was not allowed to show any kind of negative emotion. Negative meaning anger, sadness, depression, etc. Only my father was allowed to show anger because he was king of the castle and allowed to do whatever he wanted. The rest of us had to tiptoe around him and catered to his every whim.

I internalized those messages to such an extent that even now I have difficulty showing human emotions in a natural manner. It’s one reason I prefer writing because it’s easier to mimic through written words than through speaking. I’m better at it, but it’s still not something I can do without thinking. In the past, I’ve been able to mimic the emotions because I’m observant and I used to do some  acting in my youth.

I want to be clear. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel the emotion on some level. If a friend told me they, say, got a great new job, then I felt happy for them deep down inside. The problem was that I had wrapped my emotions in multiple layers of cotton that I could no longer feel them. Not only that, I couldn’t even access them.

I had a flat affect at the time because I was in a deep depression and I felt as if I could never get out of it. Now, I’m still not as emotive as ‘normal’ people, but I can more easily  pass. And I have access to my emotions, albeit muted versions.


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Conflicting health issues

i have suffered from migraines for quite some time. Let me backtrack a minute. I’ve had a low-level headache pretty much all my life. It’s always been there whenever I really think about it. For decades, it’s been something I’ve lived with and just dealt with as need be. I took ibuprofen when it got bad, and that did jack and shit. I will confess something that I rarely talk about. When the migraines hit in the old days, they were fucking awful. Two ibuprofen did nothing to them. My migraine just laughed at that pitiful attempt to block it. Three? Ha! Not a chance. It took six in order for the ibuprofen to have any effect on the migraine. Which, by the way, I didn’t recognize as a migraine at the time because I don’t get auras.

Side note: This is one of the reasons that it’s important to not have a fixed idea as to the symptoms of a health issue. They don’t manifest in the same way for different people.

Side note to the side note: It’s similar to how most medical studies are done on white dudes. Well, that holds true for a lot of things, but the medical part is especially pertinent here. I was in my thirties when I discovered that Asian people needed much less of most medications than do white people. It was around the same time when I also realized that as a woman, my ‘normal’ dose would be much less than a man’s. This had disastrous results when I tried to find a solution to my sleep issues. Hm. Was it in my late twenties? Maybe. That or my early thirties.

I was desperate. I had tried a bunch of things that didn’t work. Hot milk before bed. Hot chamomile tea. Lavender in the bath (how I found out I was allergic to lavender). Ambient music. White noise machine. Which, I will say, did help, but didn’t eliminate the core problem. Same with earplugs and an eye mask, but those didn’t come until later. At some point, I tried melatonin, valerian, St. John’s Wort (more for depression than for sleep, but didn’t work). The valerian actually made me suicidal because it slowed my brain down so much, I couldn’t make a coherent sentence.


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Shying away from the ‘D’ word

My sleep has gone to shit again. This is not surprising, though it is disheartening. It happened once early in the lockdown and I managed to get it mostly under control–going to bed by 2 a.m. at the latest. In the past week or so, however, my body has just said to fuck with all that. I just had the revelation that it might be because I’m drinking caffeine every day again, although that has been longer than the sleep bullshit, I think. Back when I used to drink caffeine on the regular, it didn’t affect my sleep at all. But I gave it up for two years so maybe I’m a newb again when it comes to caffeine. Or it could just be my body being stupid. Bodies are stupid sometimes.

Bedtime has been creeping back again bit by bit. I hit the peak of 6 a.m. two nights again and decided I needed to rein it in. The problem is that I fall asleep/nap around nine or ten at night for an hour or so and then I can’t properly fall asleep for hours. Last night, I went to bet at 5:30 a.m. Sigh. Oh, and I think I have some kind of bug because I’m sleeping more than seven hours a pop. I would like to get it back on track, but a small part of mind says, “Who the fuck cares in this year of our lord, the pandemic?” It doesn’t matter, really, when I go to sleep, but it’s a point of honor now to see if I can actually sleep like a normal person. If I can move my bedtime to 1 a.m. and keep it there, I’d be satisfied.

Let’s talk about the staff/spear. I write it that way every time because it’s a staff, but I’m doing spear drills. It’s made of waxwood and it’s smooth as butter in my hands. It feels like supple plastic (in a good way) as it slides effortlessly in my hands without the fear of getting splinters. I love it like I’ve loved no other weapon save the sword and I want to learn ALL THE THINGS.

This segues into the title of my post, however. D is for disability. I don’t use the word because I don’t feel like I have the right but also because I don’t want to put that label on myself for the usual litany of reasons. Internalized ableism; feared ableism; thinking of myself as lazy rather than disabled; and more. In addition, it’s hard to think of myself as disabled because as I’ve said before, each individual thing is not huge in and of itself.

It’s also hard because I feel like a lazy bitch all the time. Part of that is depression, but part is because my body tires out so quickly. Then I think it’s because I’m fat and lazy and not in good shape, not because of my various issues.

I can’t. Sorry. I’m just not in the mood. Some days, it’s just too much effort. Here’s Apocalyptica doing O Holy Night.

I am just done

One way I can tell when I’m nearly done with something is that everything gets on my last nerve. Normally, I’m good at deflecting and keeping my shit to myself. But if I’m not allowed or able to replenish my reservoir, that ability erodes until at some point it completely disappears.  for example. Talking to my parents on the phone. Normally, I just ‘uh huh’ and ‘really?’ until the phone call ends and then shake off the slight depression before going about my business. By the way. My brother and I recently compared our conversations with our parents, and they’re exactly the same except I get more bitching from my mother. Way more bitching. Most of the time, my mentality is, “Just listen to them blather, nod in agreement, and get off the phone as quickly as you can.” With an added, “Tell them you’re fine, everything is fine, yes, Covid-19 sucks, yes, this current president sucks, have a good life, goodbye.”

It doesn’t help that my parents are deeply entwined in a codependent relationship that I’m afraid will leave my mother worse for the wear. I mean, hell, it already has as most of her life revolves around my father and catering to his needs. My mother was on a kick for fifteen years to get me pregnant and then switched to getting me married after that. She would say who would take care of me when I’m old and sick if I weren’t married? It took every ounce of will I had not to snap out that her being married hadn’t helped her. Indeed, recently, she fell and hit her head, and as she felt the blood (which was pink), my father insisted it wasn’t blood. He kept asking her if she had dyed her hair recently which, first of all, she hadn’t dyed her hair in a decade or so. Second, she’s never dyed her hair pink. She said this proved she couldn’t count on him and then did a little laugh. I hate that laugh, by the way. It’s a fairly new addition and she only does it when she knows that she’s saying something unreasonable. Like having to put up with your husband being worse than useless in an emergency situation.

By the way, my mother shared that my father’s latest dementia tests show that he hasn’t deteriorated in the year. She was relieved while I was baffled. If it’s not medical, then why is he getting worse and worse with his memory, his self-absorption, and everything else? This is an age-old question with him, though. Is it medical or just his innate narcissism? I try not to get sucked into the speculation, but it’s hard not to get drawn into it because my mother is incessant about talking about my father.

Anyway. When my mom calls, it goes like this. She asks the perfunctory ‘how are you?’ question then use it to springboard into whatever she wants to talk about. Usually her many physical problems, things my father has done to irritate her but she can’t admit it, Covid-19, the election, work issues, and then insist that I talk to my father. He’ll ask about Covid-19 and express amazement that it’s not going down. A bit about this president and the totally unfounded belief that Americans are logical and rational people and how could this happen? He says in complete seriousness that America is the best country in the world! Mind, he hasn’t actually lived here in nearly 30 years, but facts don’t matter. Then he pontificates how each individual person doesn’t matter (when it comes to the coronavirus) and we can’t do anything so we should just ignore it and move on.


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Caffeine, anyone? Oh, and spears.

Caffeine. Let’s talk about it. I’ve had a lifelong fight with it. Wasn’t allowed to drink much pop as a child, then I started guzzling it when I was in college. I was up to a six-pack of Diet Pepsi a day, starting with one when I woke up. It was my replacement for coffee and I saw nothing wrong with it. I wasn’t supposed to drink caffeine because of my thyroid issues, but I didn’t care about that. Oh, right. I suppose I should include that in the calculation. I was hyperthyroid for my early days, had my thyroid destroyed by iodine as they did in those days, and now I’m hypothyroid. I take a pill every day and Bob’s your uncle. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the basic gist of it. When I was dealing with the whole thyroid situation, I was told not to drink caffeine. I think it’s more because of being hyper rather than hypo, but looking it up, it can block thyroid pill consumption, apparently.

Anyway, I started to feel that the caffeine was affecting me negatively and quit cold turkey. A quick note: I do not recommend that. At all. The side effects were horrific and I would never want to feel it again. I couldn’t sleep at all (even more than usual); I was snapping at everyone, and; I was shaking all the time. I really felt like I was detoxing (or at least how I imagine detox to feel), and it was utter hell for two weeks. Afterwards, I didn’t drink caffeine for years. Maybe decades. Then, I started drinking pop again–not sure why–and I was up to three or four cans a day.

As noted before, caffeine is weird in that it’s both a trigger for migraines and a way to deal with them. It’s a matter of when it’s ingested and how much. Six cans of pops a day? Too much. Three or four? Also too much. One cup of coffee or caffeinated tea? Just about right.

This all came about back during the election week. Which, let’s face it, sucked hard. I woke up every day with an incipient migraine and would immediately slam two migraine Excedrin (generic) and pray. After five days in a row of doing this (which is not recommended, obviously. I try to be sparing because I don’t want to overuse it and dull the effects. Also, taking too much migraine meds can trigger a migraine itself. Yay?

Anyway, I’m good with a cup a day for now. Also, I ordered a training staff and I’m stoked about that. Really not in the mood to write today, however, because reasons including going hard for the end of NaNo Rebel. More later!

My empathy bowl is empty

Was reading my stories (AAM being the main) and there was a question about what to do when your boss was wearing his mask wrong (under the nose). I ran into this when I went to the gas station. An employee was wearing her mask under her nose. I just stayed away and got out as quickly as possible. I know I could have told her to pull it up, but it’s a young woman working a low-paying job. I had my mask on and I was only in there for five minutes. I wasn’t going to add to her already shitty day. However.

If I were in an office where I didn’t need to be and my boss did this? Yeah, no. That would be all kinds of no. There were stories in the comments about people knowing Covid deniers (some of them coworkers) who then got Covid and they (the commenter) having a hard time having any compassion for the person. It reminded me of a question to Dear Prudence from someone whose relatives, want to say brother and sister-in-law, who were avid Covid deniers, spread misinformation, and wouldn’t social distance or wear masks. The LW (letter writer) was pissed because her brother had set up a GoFundMe when he, his wife, and all their children got Covid. He wanted LW to donate and send it around. She was furious and unloaded some righteous anger in her letter to Danny. LW said not only did she not want to give her brother money or send around his request, she had no compassion for him for getting Covid. I don’t even remember her question–probably something about should she do it, anyway? That doesn’t matter because it’s the response I want to focus on.

Danny, rightly so, took the LW to task for being vindictive in her response. He said that it wasn’t the fault of the population that the government has fucked this up so badly and people were confused. This was a few months ago, I hasten to clarify, when information about what to do wasn’t quite as obvious as it is now. Danny also said that wanting someone to pay with their life was cruel no matter the person’s behavior beforehand. He said no one deserved to get Covid for their beliefs/behaviors.


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Changing my mind is hard…and sometimes necessary

I’m a stubborn cuss. Once I make up my mind about something, I’m hard-pressed to change it. If I do, it’s usually after a lot of thinking, musing, and researching. I have to drag myself kicking and screaming into a new idea. To my credit, I actually will change my mind if enough good information is presented to me. It doesn’t even have to be a lot–just solid enough for me to understand a different point of view. In this case, let’s talk caffeine. I have given it up twice in my life. Once in college because I was drinking six to eight cans a day and I went cold turkey. That was hell on earth and I would not suggest it. I was cranky, irritable, and my sleep was fucked even more than usual. It was two weeks of pure hell and this time around, I knew better than to try it again.

I had a plan. I was going to wean myself off caffeine. At the time, I drank probably three to four cans of pop a day. It’s hard to know for sure because I poured it into a big (adult) sippy cup and just drank from that throughout the day. I cut it by an estimated one can a day until I was down to zero. This was a year or two ago and I had a cup of caffeinated tea/coffee once a month or so. One of the reasons I quit was because I was getting a bit jittery. The biggest reason, though, was because I thought I should quit. That’s it. Not for any real reason. But because I was getting the jitters and thought maybe it would be better for me to cut out the caffeine.

However. Here’s the thing. Caffeine is both a trigger for migraines and a prevention for them as well. No one knowns why or in what quantities. It’s different for each person as well. A few weeks ago (election week), I was struggling with migraines and popping my pills as much as I felt safe doing. The main ingredient is caffeine and I thought that maybe my abstinence of caffeine was a hasty decision. I decided that one cup a day (8-12 oz.) would not be a bad thing. I started with oolong tea, which was not my favorite, but I happened to have it on hand. I found a box of green tea with pomegranate that I much preferred and substituted that. Then, I saw that Califia Farms who makes very tasty cold-brew coffee drinks had a peppermint mocha blend (with almond milk) so I’m drinking that every day.

Cold-brew has much less acidity than regular coffee and its caffeine content varies. I feel like there’s less in the Califia than in tea because I feel the migraine bubbling under the surface at the end of a day when I drink the Califa but not the tea. But! Both have been able to stave off a full-blown migraine so I’ll take that as a win. Still. I’m careful to keep it under control and not go back to drinking a six pack of pop a day.

Sad sigh happy sigh WTF 2020

I spent too much time in the bathroom last night. I’m doubly mad because it was because of something I’ve eaten before. I’m guessing because I haven’t eaten anything new. What is the food? Sweet corn. I think. Maybe it was the eggs I made earlier? Could be, but I doubt it. I really hope it’s not eggs because I love them so much. I like sweet corn, too, but not as much. Here’s the thing. I’ve been eating sweet corn for a week or two with no problem. Last night, I decided to steam about eight ounces and eat that. Half yellow and half white. The yellow was the old bag and white was the new. I had eaten half the old bag with no issue. I ate the corn no problem, then less than an hour later, I was sitting on the toilet thinking nasty thoughts about corn and my digestive system in general.

Today, I Googled IBS and sweet corn. It’s considered a high FODMAP food in large amounts. This is for fresh, which is probably the same for frozen. What is considered low FODMAP? Half an ear of corn. Roughly one ounce. Well.

Can I say how pissed I am that fruits and vegetables are becoming such a pain in my ass–literally–in my forties? I had it hammered into me as a young girl to eat my five servings a day. Fruits and vegetables are good for you! They are the best! You have to eat them for your vitamins! Fine and dandy until they bite back. So far, I have issues with grapes, apples, plums, berries, and ripe bananas–which, by the way, is the way I like them. I can only eat barely ripe bananas now, which I’m not happy about.

Vegetable-wise, cauliflower, garlic, and onion are on the no-go list. You know, it might not be the sweet corn. Maybe it’s the pickled asparagus spears. I had eaten them the day before as well, though. I just looked it up. Asparagus is also a High FODMAP food. *sigh*.

Oh! I read that there is a low level of arsenic in rice. Really?

There’s a part of me that just doesn’t want to eat any longer. It’s so difficult and I hate having to spend hours in the bathroom. I could test the sweet corn hypothesis, but my body recoils at doing it. I probably will because I’m cheap like that but also because I really don’t want to have to cut out sweet con/corn if I don’t have to.

You know what? I’ve had issues eating popcorn before, but nothing that was too severe. Just some stomach pain. Nothing too bad so I just dismissed it. But, given this new information, corn may be on The List.

I’m so mad! I’m just trying to be healthy by eating more vegetables and my body is not having any of it. Well, not having some of it. Irritates the fuck out of me. What could be healthier than steamed veggies? At least, that’s the way it should be.


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Going full steam(er) ahead…and double sabres

I’m old. I know myself well enough by now that there are two ways I can make changes to something in my life. One is to think about it for a lengthy amount of time before suddenly doing it–like with my cats. I pondered it for years, looking at it from every angle, looked at hundreds of black cats, then just went and got them one day. It’s a lot of internal churning which is eventually matched by outer motion. Sometimes, the internal churning is less, but the outer activity is just as abrupt. See me cutting out dairy and gluten on the same day.

The other is a 180 from that mentality. It’s taking small, almost invisible steps one at a time until looking back months later, there is real progress. I’m in the middle of this with my diet. In the past, I ate all premade food and junk food. I struggled to get in my fruits and veggies as part of an overcorrection from my childhood when I was forced to eat them every day. Look, I would never deny they’re important, but having many power struggles over eating as a kid didn’t make me amenable to chomping on them as an adult.

It’s more important now because I’m finding I have a reaction to more and more foods. I’ll get to that in a minute. In addition, I decided to cut back on meat for ethical and environmental reasons. I wasn’t trying to eat healthier per se but to accommodate my many dietary restriction. I’ve cut down my eating meat to once a day at most. I’m aiming for more meat-free (chicken) days which means more veggies!

I’ve had my issues with veggies for a long time. I’ve eaten more fruits than vegetables in the past because I liked fruits better. But, unfortunately, I’m finding more and more fruits that are not good for my digestive system.

Side note: I’m pretty sure it’s IBS. I’m not going to get it tested any time soon, but the symptoms are pretty consistent. Also, I learned that allergies to things in nature can correlate to food allergies.


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