Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Physical Fitness

It’s Darkest Before the Dawn

Every time I think I’m getting better, I take two steps backwards. I was on the upswing last night, and I was foolishly optimistic that I would be better when I woke up. Imagine my chagrin (but not surprise) when I woke up with a tickle in my throat. Up to this  point, I’ve been mostly achy and flipping between feverish and chilly. I’ve had no strength, and I tire easily. Now, added to that, my throat is scratchy, and my nose is runny. I’m coughing as well, which, of course, makes my throat feel worse. I went to Cubs this morning to stock up on groceries, and I bought ginger, honey, and lemon so I can make my mom’s ginger tea. It feels soothing going down, and everyone knows all three of those are good for what ails you. I also bought a thing of Simply Lemonade with mango, so I’m drinking both of those in addition to my gallon of pop and my thermos of water. I’m quaffing ALL THE FLUIDS in an attempt to halt this before it gets really bad.

I also know I’m sick because my already-short patience is almost at nil. My inner sarcastic monologue is twice as bad when I’m sick, and I’m less able to keep it off my face. At Cubs, there were two elderly ladies who were blocking an aisle and didn’t move as I pushed my cart up to them. This is one of my pet peeves in the best of times, and I’m sure the impatience was etched on my face. One of the biddies slowly moved aside, and in my brain, I was thinking, “Come on, woman. Move faster! It’s only common courtesy.” Then, the cashier wanted to tell me his life story, and I was curter than I normally would have been. I think, anyway. It’s possible that it was all in my head because I’m pretty able to mask my inner impatience, but it makes me uncomfortable to be that acerbic.

Anyway, I’m keeping this short for today. I wish my Shadow would do this to me.

It’s All in My Head (and Bloodborne)

I’m sick. Again. I’m also depressed about it because it seems to be a yearly thing. I got sick around this time last year, and it lasted on and off for the next four or so months. Rightly or wrongly, I blamed going to the doctor on my further illnesses as I went twice and got sick again immediately after. This time, however, I have not been to the doctor, and I feel like shit. I’m alternating hot and cold, and I’m exhausted no matter how much or how little I sleep. I had to skip Master Choi’s seminar this weekend because I didn’t want to get anyone else sick, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through the two hours (plus half an hour driving either way). Shadow has been my little nurse, lying on my legs to keep them warm. The trade-off is that he gets in my face (literally) as I’m waking up because I’ve been a bit remiss in getting him his breakfast on time.

It’s stressful to get tired over every little thing. I have pared down my morning taiji routine because I’m sick, and I’m still spent by the time I’m done with it. Driving to the grocery store and picking up a few items exhausts me beyond my resources, and it’s hard not to feel resentful by the time I get home because I feel as if my body is betraying me. Going to the grocery store shouldn’t be any big deal, and yet, in my current state, it’s such a production. I’m lying on the couch with Shadow on my legs, thinking I need to go to the store, but having no energy or motivation. It takes me about a half hour just to drag myself off the couch, then fifteen minutes to actually make it out the door. By the time I get home, I’m ready to drop. Things that normally take such little thought now take every last bit of reserve I have.

Right now, I’m sitting on my couch with a cup of coffee and Shadow on my legs. I’m so freaking hot, it’s uncomfortable. But, if I take off my sweatshirt, I’ll be chilled in a minute. I’m someone who rarely gets cold, so getting the chills is really uncomfortable for me. I will say the older I get, the less I’m able to tolerate intense cold. I used to drive with my windows down well into the sub-zero degrees range. Now, I shut the windows around zero degrees and feel sheepish about it. It’s hard to adjust to aging, and I’m not doing it very gracefully. I have freckles and moles that suddenly appeared after I turned forty, and whoever said acne is only a teenager thing was lying through their teeth.

Shadow has now hopped up on the top of the couch in his usual spot because he’s decided he’s done enough administering to me. He might also not want to be too close to the germs, for which I don’t blame him. This is me right now:


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I Can Hear You Now!

I’ve been having sinus issues all year long. My nose has been like a faucet at times and a clogged toilet at others. I’ve had searing sinus toothaches which I’ve mentioned time and time again has been some of the worst pain I’ve had in my entire life. It would hit randomly, and I would clutch my jaw in pain, unable to do anything else for the next five to twenty minutes. My entire being was focused on the pain, and I would gladly have welcomed someone putting me out of my misery. I don’t like to use pain killers, but if I had had Vicodin or Percocet on hand, I would ave been tempted. Actually, I do have some Percocet lying around, but I didn’t remember it at the time.

At first, I thought it was a cavity or I hurt a tooth nerve or something, but then I realized it only happened when my sinus issues were flaring up, and I connected the dots. I was pleased to find research to back up my theory, and once my sinus issues cleared up, so did my toothaches. I haven’t had one in months, knock on wood.

About a week ago, I woke up with my right ear plugged. I was puzzled because it’s never happened to me before. I turned my head, but nothing drained out, so I had to walk around with my ear feeling as if it was full of water. The first day, it cleared pretty easily, but the next day, nothing cleared it. I stopped using my earplugs at night because I felt that might have been exacerbating the problem. By the third day, my ear was mostly plugged all the time. I tried swimmer strips which promised to leach out all the water from my ear. Didn’t work. I also tried ear drops specifically for this problem, and the first few applications didn’t seem to do much good. Two or three applications later, however, and my ear was clear.

Optimistically, I used my earplugs that night, and my ear was full again the next morning. My theory is that I was keeping the fluid in with the earplug, and I didn’t use it the next night. I kept applying the drops (per instructions. You’re not supposed to use it more than five times in twenty-four hours), and after a few rounds of unclogging and reclogging, my ear is clear for now, knock on wood again.

During the time it was clogged, I had no idea what would make it pop, which was frustrating. I felt as if that ear was swimming in water, and I had a hard time hearing anything from it. Then, sometimes, it would ‘pop,’ and I’d be relieved, only for it to plug again. It had liquid in it, but it didn’t actually hurt. It was a bit puffy and sore when I put my finger inside my ear, but no pain. There was liquid, but no pus, and it didn’t smell like it was rotting. In other words, it wasn’t an infection; it was just fucking annoying.

I would cock my head in order to try to clear it, which earned me weird looks from other people. I used Q-tips and cotton balls to try to sop up whatever was in it. I did anything I could to mop up the fluid, but nothing worked. If I tilted my head a certain way, it would clear up, but the minute I straightened my head again, it would clog again. When I lay down, my ear would clear up. When I sat up, it would plug again.
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Exercise, Activity, and Mood

I have struggled all my life with depression. At times, it has been chronic and crippling, to the point where me brushing my teeth was a major accomplishment. Right now, I would say I have a low-grade enduring depression that flares up into serious depression from time to time. It’s my go-to when I’m under stress, and the difference is how alien the encompassing depression feels now as in comparison to how comfortable it was back when I was in the middle of it day-to-day-to-day.

I would love to say that I worked on my depression and that’s why I’ve gotten better. I would love to be able to give a list of things you can do to feel better. I would love nothing more, but I can’t because that’s not how I emerged from the suffocating embrace of depression. Sure, I did my due diligence by seeking out therapy and medication through therapy, then starting taiji which has helped a great deal, but it was an outcome, not the main intent, but nothing I did consciously to help my depression mattered as much as the indirect results of other behavior such as the aforementioned therapy and taiji.

However, I’ve been in and out of therapy for the past thirty years, and I’ve been practicing taiji for almost nine years. Neither are an easy or quick solution, and I didn’t go into taiji with the intention of easing my mental health issues. That’s just been a nice side bonus. I will say, however, it makes me more aware now how fragile my mental health balance is. I went through a period recently of deep depression, not as bad as it was before, but still pretty intense. I knew it wasn’t from within me, which made it almost worse. Rationally, I knew there was no reason I should be depressed, but I also knew I couldn’t talk myself out of it. It lasted a few weeks, and I just gritted my teeth and powered my way through it. I was terrified it would last forever, but it faded after two  or so weeks.

On Saturday, I had to get up early to pick up Ian from the airport. Without thinking, I checked my social media. Then, I remembered that it was my day not to be on social media, and I quit. I felt bad, but not too bad. I can’t tell you how much better I feel on the days when I stay offline. I don’t think it’s viable for day-to-day life, but it’s nice to get a break twice a week. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed while scrolling through my TL, thinking that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I mean, it is, but not more so than it has been in the past. There is a lot of shit in this world, and there always has been. Having it flash past my eyes on a continuous basis leaves me in a state of numb depression. It’s something I’ve railed about before–how overwhelming all the bad news can be. It’s easy to feel hopeless about the state of the world and think that there’s nothing you can do to alleviate the pain.


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Just Call Me Mulan

When I was younger, I used to go to bed praying I’d wake up a boy,* and I would be severely disappointed when I woke up still a girl. Even as I grew older and stopped believing in God, I thought I would have been better off as a man. Let me be clear: I never felt as if I were trapped in the wrong body. It’s all about the rigidity of patriarchy and how punishing it is to people who don’t fit in. I played with dolls, but I preferred stuffed animals when I wasn’t running around playing softball and other sports. I was what was called a tomboy back then, hating dresses and anything feminine not because they were feminine, but just because they didn’t interest me.

As a teen, I didn’t care about makeup and clothes, though I tried desperately to fit in. I had a Farrah Fawcett flip, and I’m wearing a powder blue sweater and pink eye shadow in my senior photo. I look like a freak and not at all like myself. I curled my hair, used hair products, and applied makeup like it was spackle. Also, I’m allergic to everything, and most makeup was rough back then. Literally and figuratively. I was allergic to whatever was in it, which was not a pretty scene. In addition, I hadn’t perfected the skill of eating without eating off my lipstick, which made me constantly worried about walking around with my lips outlined in lipstick and nothing else. I also was allergic to whatever’s in shaving cream, so I would get bumps any time I shaved. Imagine how fun that was the one time I shaved my pussy.

I gave it all up at some point–makeup, shaving, and trying to keep up with fashion. The shaving thing happened when I was on my semester abroad in Asia and a shower was a hand-held sprayer. Plus, I’m Asian. I don’t need to shave as my body hair is pretty sparse. I haven’t tried makeup in decades, but I know it’s better now than it was when I attempted to wear it. I wore lipstick for longer than I did any other makeup, but I gave it up when, OK, backstory. Wand lip glosses were in for a hot second, and I thought, “I can handle that. It should be pretty easy to apply.” I bought a rich plum-colored lip gloss (I prefer dark shades) and tried it on in the parking lot of the glasses shop. I looked in the rear view mirror, and it looked like someone had punched me in the mouth. I blotted and reapplied, but it didn’t look any better. I concluded I was shit at makeup*** and gave it up that day.


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Finding a New Normal

look at me all healthy and shit.
This is me now.

It’s six months since I had my first round of flu/cold/whatever the fuck I had. I would say I’m at roughly 85%, but I’m still dealing with some digestive issues. When I went dairy-free, gluten-free, my digestive issues immediately cleared up. Yay, thought I. I solved my problem! Then, a month or so later, I started experiencing other digestive problems, and now I’m back in investigation phase. I know part of it was a mystery sauce that I didn’t refuse in time that probably had dairy in it. but now, I’m having trouble digesting something else. It’s either corn-based products, sunflower or canola oil, or something in salsa.

It’s frustrating because I’m not a very patient person. The smart thing to do would be to eat only one of the things at a time so I can eliminate an ingredient or identify it as the problem. Actually, I’ve somewhat done that with tortilla chips, and they’re not the problem, though they sit heavily in my stomach. It’s getting to the point when I don’t want to eat because I know I’m going to pay for it afterwards. Like, right now, I’m eating sesame rice thins, and it’s uneasily roiling in my stomach.

I will say that one unintentional side effect of changing my diet is that I’m losing weight. I don’t weigh myself, but I can tell by how my clothes fit and how my towel wraps around me. I feel better in general, too, which is a bonus. I just hate that I have this general feeling of malaise with my digestive tract, and I’m hoping I can figure it out soon.

Taijji-wise, I’m slowly working my way back to my daily routine. When I was sick, I stripped it down to the bare minimum, but I can tell I’m getting better because it’s not enough. When I was sick, I did the first section of the Solo Form because it’s the one I know best and could do in my sleep. Lately, however, I’ve returned to teaching myself the left side of the Solo Form. I nearly finished before I got sick, so I started from the beginning again.

Side Note: I also taught myself the left side of the Sword Form (the whole thing) before I got sick, but I haven’t practiced the sword at all during my sick days. The sword is a weight-bearing exercise, and I just didn’t have the energy. I mention this just so I can reference it easily later on.

Back to the left side of the Solo Form. The way I teach myself is to start from the beginning of whichever section I’m learning and going as far as I can before I get hopelessly fucked up. When I revisited it, I was resigned to having to take quite some time to reteach myself. I breezed through the first section, which wasn’t surprising. I didn’t have to teach it to myself because we’ve done it in class often enough. In the second section, I hit a snag with Fist Under Elbow (which was the hardest posture for me to learn on the right side as well), but it was brief. I moved steadily through the second section with only a few hitches. I was astonished how easy* it was to relearn. I did the whole second section in two days, and I only stopped because I got tired. Then, the third section. Oh, the third section. I had taught myself maybe two-thirds of it before I got sick. My first trouble was with the My Fair Ladies, one of the harder postures in the Solo Form. My teacher’s teacher has refined the posture twice, once to the arms, and once to the footwork. It’s much simpler now, and the arms are much more intuitive, but I liked the old footwork better. In addition, there’s some pride in learning to do it the difficult way, but that’s not important.

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Being at Odds with My Body

This has been a hard winter for me, both emotionally and health-wise. I wouldn’t be surprised if the former is the reason for the latter, either, but be that as it may, I’m full-blown sick. Again. It started with really bad headaches and being exhausted all the time. Then, Saturday night, I felt as if I’d been hit with a hammer. Several times. Repeatedly.

My body aches. My brain hurts. My sinuses hurt. My teeth hurt. There is goo* collecting in the back of my throat. I have no energy. I’m alternating between hot and cold. I tell myself I’m going to take a short nap, and I wake up hours later, still feeling exhausted. I was only able to do about a fifth of my morning routine this morning before I needed to stop. I can tell I’m really sick when it takes all my energy just to go to the bathroom. I’m been mainlining the ginger honey lemon tea, and even if it doesn’t help, it’s a soothing placebo.

At least I was able to drag myself to the clinic so I could get my blood tested. Hopefully, I’ll know in a day or two if my thyroid medication needs to be adjusted again. If I don’t get better soon, I may have to go to the doctor.

This is my long-winded way of saying there won’t be an actual post today. Instead, a video of Maru and Hana being brushed. I can’t get over how chill Maru is lying on his back and wagging his tail as he’s being brushed.

Hopefully, I’ll feel better soon. At least we got some snow. That does bring me some comfort.

 

 

*Technical term.

Sickness, Hypothyroidism, and Depression, Oh My!

constant criticism running through my brain.
Weighted by the world.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling depressed. I have no idea why as there is no logical reason I should be any more depressed right now than I was, say, a month ago, but depression isn’t logical. I know that having suffered from it for most of my life, but it’s still frustrating to feel it descend upon me and not be able to do anything about it. It’s also weird to actually realize it’s happening as it happens because I used to just live in it before. It was like a warm coat that suffocated me as it clung to my every curve. I didn’t know what it felt like to be depressed because I never felt anything else. Now that I’ve gone several years without being chronically and debilitatingly depressed, I know what it feels like to be depressed.

You know how it feels? It sucks. It drains all the color from the world, leaving it a drab gray. It doesn’t help that the environment around me in the physical world right now is also a drab gray, so it’s matching my interior mood. The grass is brown, and the snow has melted. This is the shit time of winter, which is my favorite season by far. I love the cold and the snow and the crisp bright air. But, I hate it when it starts warming up and everything is dead. All the bugs are flying in the air, and it’s easy to get sick during this time.

I feel as if I’m going through the motions, even with things I enjoy. I’m tired all the time, no matter how much or how little I sleep. This is how I used to feel all the time, and I don’t understand how I dealt with it at all. I hate feeling like this, and it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. I remembered days when I had to force myself to brush my teeth, and that was the only thing I did all day long. I hated myself and my life, and I wanted nothing more than to not exist. I didn’t want to die, per se, because I was convinced that whatever existed after death was worse than life itself. However, everything in my being was telling me that life was a chore and that I shouldn’t be alive.

I’m feeling whispers of the same sentiment now as well. Why am I alive? I don’t want to be alive. I don’t want to die, but I can’t be stuffed to actually care about being alive. I have good things happening in my life and in my friends’ lives, and I know intellectually that I have a lot to be thankful for, but I. Just. Can’t. Care. I try to talk myself out of it, but to no avail. To someone who’s never suffered depression–are there any people who haven’t any longer?–it’s incomprehensible that someone can’t just shake themselves out of a bad mood. That’s why there are so many annoying pieces about Top Ten Ways to Beat Depression! and such shit.
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Take It Easy On Me

i'll be *cough cough* fine.
Bearly sick!

One of the biggest problems I have while I’m recovering from being sick is overdoing it the second I feel even a modicum better than before. A week into the flu*, I started feeling a little better. I went to taiji and did a bit of practice. Not much, but by the time I got home after class and grocery shopping, I was exhausted. I was wiped out for the rest of the day, and I felt like shit when I woke up the next morning. I had thought I was being careful, and I had thought I hadn’t overdone it, but I was wrong. I don’t think it’s the taiji part that did me in, but the driving and the shopping. I spent the next week even more worn out than the week before. I started to feel a bit better near the end of the second week, so I went to taii. I made sure to take it very easy, and I only took a few minutes to grocery shop, yet, I was still drained by the time I got home, and I had to spend the rest of the night laid out on the couch.

Another part of the problem is that I have hypothyroidism, which means my auto-immune system isn’t great to begin with. I’ve had bronchitis more times than I care to count, and when I get it, it lingers for months on end. I had it once for nine months, which is enough time to gestate a baby. I haven’t had bronchitis for several years, but I’m still afraid it’s what I’m getting any time I feel the slightest bit ill. This time, however, I knew it was either a cold or the flu. Don’t ask me how I know because I can’t tell you that. I just knew it wasn’t bronchitis, for which I was grateful, but it still felt shitty. In addition, I had just been to my doctor, and we had to adjust my thyroid medication dose. I think I might have gotten sick from going to the clinic (ironic, but often the case), and I had a negative reaction to my new dose of Synthroid**. It had been too high, and she had to lower it. She told me to get it rechecked in six-eight weeks, which meant I had to suffer the repercussions until then.

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Testing My Resolve

resolve not to make resolutions
Making a list and checking it twice.

New Year’s Day came and went without any attention from me, which is not that unusual for me. Longtime readers know by now that I’m not very fond of holidays in general. I can understand the symbolism of ushering in a new year, but I can’t get too hyped about it myself. Sometimes, I would make resolutions, and sometimes, I wouldn’t, but the one thing I would always do is ruminate on my life and what a waste it’s been so far. It’s gotten better in the last few years, but it’s still something that dominates my mind on New Year’s Eve. This year, I was too busy grieving to even give it a passing thought. I will say, however, that 2016 was not a great year for me, and I’m more than happy to see the back end of it. At least, I would be if it weren’t for the fact that we’re going to have President Trump in two and a half days. This post is not about that, however, so just note my displeasure and move on. There were three things in 2016 that sucked balls, and I’m listing them in chronological order.

Alan Rickman died in February, which some of you might think, “What’s the big deal? He’s just an actor. It’s not as if you knew him or anything.” You’re right, and you’re wrong. I’m not someone who usually goes gaga over celebrities, but Alan Rickman was different. He first came to my attention when I was watching one of the Harry Potter movies. Something about his velvety voice and precise distinction plus his piercing stare thrilled me. It was the second movie, I believe, and when he was spelling Kenneth Brannagh, I nearly creamed my nonexistent panties. Once I noticed how hot he was, I started watching every movie I could get my hands on. This was before streaming was a thing, so I had to order the DVDs myself or buy them off eBay. The more I watched his movies and read about him, the more I was enamored with him. Not only was he a great actor, he was a terrific person who was a generous and supportive friend, and he was firm believer in class equality (as well as feminism and equality for  other minorities). The day he died, I woke up to hundreds of messages on my social media offering their condolences. I joked through my tears that it was my dream to have people associate me with Alan Rickman, and it looked like I had accomplished that goal. He had had cancer, but didn’t tell anyone, so it came as a shock to the world at large.

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