Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Self-Care

My (non)optimal way of dealing with self-isolation

There are several posts/videos out there telling you the proper way to work at home in this time of self-isolation. This is for those who don’t work from home normally, and they are full of fine information, such as to have a routine, get dressed as if you were going into the office, and have a way to separate your ‘work’ life from your, er, life life. As I said, this is all good advice. I also break two of the three with abandon. The first one, I mostly do. I get up, feed the cat, have a half cig, do my taiji for half an hour, then sit down to work. First, blog post. Then, quick (or not-so-quick) break. Content writing for a few hours. Another break. Fiction writing. Then, whatever. So my work is interspersed throughout my day, but I do the same thing in the same order every day, so that qualifies as a routine. I wear sweats and a t-shirt to work, and that’s what I wear to sleep as well. I work from my couch with my cat on my legs for much of it, and I get up for breaks every few hours. So, here we go with how I’m dealing with the covid-19 self-isolation, and I would not advise it for anyone else. I’m going to do it in the format of the conventional wisdom and how I deal with it (or not. Mostly not). Shall we start? Let’s go!

1. Go outside for at least thirty minutes. Outside is not my friend. Outside is where everything is trying to kill me. I am allergic to everything under the sun, and probably including the sun. As such, I flinch whenever I’m outside. Last time I went to Cubs, there was a man wearing so much cologne, I almost vomited. No, that’s not nature, but it was me going through nature to get there. And it’s technically outside of my house. Anyway, I don’t like outside is my point. I do go outside to smoke a quarter cig every three hours or so, and that’s how I get my thirty minutes of outside. Five minutes six times a day. Done. Sorted!

2. Get thirty minutes of exercise a day. I got that one sorted with my morning taiji routine. I also stretch every time I get up, so no worries here. By the way, I watch a shit-ton of British content, so that’s why some Britishisms creep into my vocabulary like ‘sorted’. I used shattered to mean emotionally drained to Ian, and he was confused for a hot second. I’ve always had a thing for the Brits, and it’s even stronger now.

3. Get thirty minutes a day (yes, that’s a theme emerging) of contact with other people. No. Moving on. Kidding. I’ll elaborate. Most of them are talking about real people, not internet people. Obviously, we’re all trying to self-isolate, but they mean by calling or by Zoom meetings or whatever. By the way, I didn’t know what Zoom was a month ago, and now it’s all over the place. That’s what my teacher uses for our online classes. I’m a loner in the best of times, and the last thing I want to do when it’s not the best of times is to make extra-effort to talk to people. I mean, I want to touch base with *my* people on a more than regular basis, but I don’t need to talk to someone every day. And, the idea of attending more meetings, social or not, exhausts me. So, yeah, no. I’ll watch streams and participate in chats now and again, but I don’t want any more than what I normally do.

4. Shut off social media apps while you are working. I don’t use apps. I don’t use my phone except when I’m on a smoke break. I work on my laptop, so I have the social media open at all times. Right now, I’m accepting that my brain is fragmented and will be for some time. I am getting my work done, but it’s just taking longer over all because I’m taking mini-breaks along the way. I’ll write for ten minutes, then check social media. Write a few more minutes, then browse an article on whatever. Rinse, lather, repeat. It’s hard not to berate myself because my day-to-day life hasn’t changed that much. However, that doesn’t help anything so I’m trying to be a bit more gentle with myself and just accept that I’ll get it done when I get it done.


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Trying to Goldilocks it over here

Love in the time of the covid-19 is so strange. First of all, my OCD tendencies makes me cringe every time I type it because everyone does it differently. COVID-19, covid-19, Covid-19….WHICH IS IT? Can we still call it the coronavirus? Do we *have* to say it’s the novel coronavirus? That’s the kind of thing my brain gets caught up in when I don’t want to think about the matter at hand. Speaking of, I was at Cubs today, and there were a lot of people not practicing good social distancing. Standing smack dab in the aisle whilst looking at their phones, not paying attention to anyone around them. I mean, I know they’re probably like that, anyway, but come on, people. Gonna have to switch and go at 9 p.m. as much as I  prefer to get it done first thing in the morning.

I’ve been having a problem with how I should be reacting to this. I’ve written about it in the past, but I have PTSD. That means I overreact to small things and under-react (or maybe rightly react?) to big things. I’m also having a weird reaction to enforced isolation–I’m mad at it. It’s what I do on a regular basis, anyway, and I really my alone time. A lot. More than I enjoy being with other people most of the time. I have no problem not leaving my house except for shopping and taiji in my regular life. Now, it’s down to Cubs once a week with taiji online Zoom classes, and it’s just weird. Like, my life is pretty much as usual though my brother dropped by twice this weekend. Which is strange. I mean, he does it every now and again, but two days in a row? That’s weird. Then again, he was in the neighborhood two days in a row, so maybe it was just that. I think, though, it’s that he’s an extrovert and is lonely for some conversation. The first time, I was in my taiji class, so he just did work in the dining room. The second time, we stayed ten feet away from each other and chatted. He is wearing a mask when he’s out. He has one of those masks that look as if he’s surviving a nuclear war and a plain three-layer cloth one. He’s doing social distancing, but he’s still showing houses and doing his realtor business. I told him he’s not invincible, even though he has a great constitution.

I’m not that worried about me, oddly. Mostly because I’m as isolated as you can get. But, I have flares of irrational fear that are hard to tamp down. It’s the uncertainty and the fact that it doesn’t seem different–but is so very different. Also, we don’t know how long it’ll last–that’s a big part of it as well. It might be two weeks (unlikely); it might be two months (more likely); who the hell knows? Nobody, and that’s part of the problem. There is so much conflicting news out there, it’s dizzying. I’m trying to keep my news intake to a few times a day, but it’s difficult to do. It’s everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I saw a lady wearing a scarf in Cubs, and they had a sign about social distancing by the cash registers.


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Time to bite the bullet

It’s time. I need to go to a doctor and figure out what the fuck is wrong with my digestive system before I devolve in a puddle of indignant goo. A few days ago, I had the worst reaction I’ve had in months, and it was from something I’ve eaten many times before.

Side Note: There is one upside to whatever this hell I’m experiencing. It happens as I’m eating or within ten minutes of consuming the ‘bad’ ingredient. Twenty minutes at the most. So I’m pretty sure what it is each time it happens.

This time, I’m sure it was the skin of the roasted chicken. I’ve had mild issues with it before, and there’s no list of the ingredients. I’m pretty sure there was more of whatever they roasted it in than before, and it ended up with me spending two hours in the bathroom on and off. I figured if I didn’t eat the skin and washed the chicken, it should be fine. Was it? Yes…and no. It didn’t cause me to shit my brains out, but it did cause some uncomfortable bloating in my stomach. so, yeah, it’s off the menu for me from now on.

Have started the reintroduction phase of the FODMAP diet. I’ve been having a hard time with it because I’m afraid to cause more explosions. It’s been nice to not have to run to the bathroom every night and to not feel bloated and queasy. Now, I feel as if I’m deliberately poisoning myself. It’s like when I used to get the allergy test (and no one ever explained it to me. Or allergy shots, come to think of it. I would just sit in the doctor’s lobby every week, feeling miserable because my arm was swollen, and I was hot and feverish) and my entire thigh would swell up. I hated having it done, and I would avoid it for as long as possible.

It’s the same with my diet. I’ve been dragging my feet on adding things back to my diet because why would I do that to myself? I mean, I know why theoretically. It will open up my diet in the long run, blah, blah, blah. But in the short term, it’s going to fucking suck.


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I. am. done.

I have been feeling feisty and fine* for the past several days. I managed to go to taiji on both Friday and Saturday (which I already talked about), and I’ve accepted the consequences because I pushed myself too hard. Yes, I was sore and achy, but not unbearably so. I was feeling cautiously optimistic, and then…I slept nine hours a few nights ago. What the fuck was that? I don’t sleep nine hours a night unless….

No. Fuck no. I refuse.

I told myself it was because of going to taiji two days in a row and overexerting myself. Hell, it might have even been true to a certain extent. However. The next day I felt a tickle in the back of my throat, and I was hawking up loogies. And I slept for eight hours that night. and now, I have the chills. The chills! I don’t get the chills unless it’s -10 outside or I’m sick. As I’m inside and the heat is on, it’s not the temp.

I still have gunk in my throat, and I’m so fucking tired. Do you see where I’m getting  at? If I’m sick again, I’m quitting the earth. I am just done with this.

 

 

*For me. Which is several levels less than most other people.

Not today, Satan. Not today

I was going to go on a full-out rant about toxic masculinity, ‘boys will be boys’, cross-Atlantic culture differences, and video gaming culture, but I’m really not in the mood for it today. I’m still sick, though, thankfully the flu symptoms are gone. It’s all settled into my respiratory system, and my voice comes and goes as it pleases. When it comes, it’s still Barry White deep but not nearly as sexy what with the sneezes, sniffles, and hawking up loogies. I need to be in fighting form to do a full-throated rant and because I want to fully develop my theory of…well, I don’t have a pithy name for it, and I cannot for the life of me find the post in which I thought I wrote about it, but it’s a good theory. I swear!

I still can’t find it. I’ll look for it and craft the post and do it when I’m feeling better. In the meantime, enjoy the latest Oxventure (first of four parts). It actually is tangentially related to my rant. With that teaser, enjoy.

Run over by a semi truck

The crud that I’ve been fighting off has hit hard, and I sound like Barry White–when I have a voice at all. I already have a deep voice, but this cold is making me a double bass. Sexy? Not really because it’s interspersed with a hacking cough or a loud throat clear that ain’t sexy no way, no how, no why. So, another day of hunkering down on my couch with Shadow warming my legs as I alternate between freezing and boiling. Have some Barry White in honor of my sickness.

All the ginger tea in the world

Back at home with Shadow on my legs. Had a great time in Philly with my BFF, but traveling is not fun at all if you’re flying basic economy. I got a really good price, but that meant I didn’t get to choose my seat and I couldn’t check any bags for free. I don’t are about the bags, but I do care about the seat. I get the aisle when I can for many reasons, but I knew I’d be in the middle. It was only a two-hour nonstop flight, though, so I didn’t care as much about it for that flight. It was really uncomfortable, though, and one of the reasons I get the aisle seat is because I have bathroom issues. When I am confined, I have to pee more often. I do not know why, but that’s how it goes. I hate asking others to move which is why I get the aisle seat.  Fortunately, the guy in the aisle seat next to me (very nice guy, btw) had to go to the bathroom once so I went when he did.

Flying to Philly was a breeze. I also had my first Lyft ride because of a mix up with my brother. It was interesting. He was from Kenya, and we had a very spirited discussion about America, capitalism, and snow. Anyway, shout-out to Delta for making the flight out as painless as possible. They even had Kind bars as a snack option, which means I could actually have one. I brought five with me as my emergency snack.

On the way back was a different matter. It was a Sun Country flight, and when I went to check in, I had to pay $35 to have one overhead bag. Excuse me, what? I have come to accept that check in bags cost extra, but overhead bags???? On a flight back? That just seems sneaky and wrong to me. I also had to pay for a seat–or at least that was how they presented it. Maybe it was if I didn’t choose, they’d give me the worst seat ever. However, I chose a seat, and the screen made it seem like the plane was more than half-empty–which it wasn’t. I didn’t check in that early, either, so I don’t know what’s up with that. I did get an aisle seat at least, so there’s that.

I also have to say that the night before I went home, we went to get Indian food. There was an appetizer called Cauliflower Bezule that was both DF and GF, and I decided to give it a try after my bestie said it was really good. It was fucking amazing. Here is a Yelp! picture of it. I couldn’t stop talking about it all dinner, but the cramps started as soon as I got back to my BFF’s house. It lasted all night and into the next morning, and I would do it again because the cauliflower was that fucking good. However, that meant I had to worry about the flight home. More on that in a sec.

We were sitting on the plane, idling, and not going anywhere. This is not a good sign. Ideally, once you’re in the plane and everyone is belted in, you should be off in five minutes. In this case, ten minutes went by. Then another five. Then, the pilot came on and said that there was an unexplained light on which meant we had to go back to the gate so the crew can look at it and sign off on it. Ok, fine, but what if it meant we had to switch planes? The pilot said it should be twenty minutes or so. Which, again, fine, but what if something was wrong?


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My broken brain

Ed. Note: I got my days mixed up and posted a fiction post on Wednesday instead of Thursday, so today (Thursday by the time you read it), I am posting something that should have gone up Wednesday. To make things even more complicated, I was going to talk about my new health status, but in honor of Halloween, I’m going to talk to something related to that instead. 

Halloween is my favorite holiday, which is probably no surprise to anyone. All the blackness! Black cats! Candy! Dressing up in fantastical costumes! What is there not to love? Turning off the lights and pretending not to be home when the trick-or-treaters are out! It’s all good fun. I’ve been watching some Halloween streams, and I’ve noticed something that has been a constant for me my whole life. What other people consider scary, I don’t. I really like the Eurogamer team because they have two chicks on it who are badass, but also very supportive–and I just found out they’re both bi! I knew one was, but not the other newer one–and they swear a lot. Women after my own heart. It would be nice if they could add a person of color, but I’m not holding my breath. That does not seem to be a thing at all in England, which is another post for another day.

Anyway, they are playing Visage both in their regular videos and in their Halloween stream. It’s a spiritual successor to P.T., and both women have screamed a-plenty while playing it. There are the usual jump-scares, and they are screaming with abandonment at top volume.

Side Note: It’s really annoying when the mic levels are varying for the different people in the video. I have a problem with really loud noises, and for me, really loud is several steps lower than other people’s.  But I also have an issue with whispering just below hearing level–which is one reason I fucking hate ASMR. It literally makes me mad, which is the diametric opposite of what it should do.

I don’t get jump scares. I mean, I’ve jumped when something pops up in my face, but it’s more a startled reflex than actual fear. I’ve thought about why jump scares don’t get me, and it’s because I have PTSD. You might think that would exacerbate my fear reactions, and it does in non-crisis situations. When it’s a real situation, however, I get deadly calm. My theory is that PTSD, which is not helpful in real life, is actually useful in a crisis. The hyper-awareness, mind being zoomed in and alert, the shutting out of everything else.


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Going into the fray

i just can't help myself.
So delicious, and yet….

I’ve started my elimination diet–or rather, the opposite of an elimination diet. The targeted diet, or as I’m calling it, “I eat what the fuck I want” diet. Within reason. I’m not tackling dairy or gluten yet–by the way, when I told my doctor I had cut them out, she said it wouldn’t be possible to test for an allergy/sensitivity because I needed to have it in my system in order to test for it. The point of this diet is to eat copious amounts of the things I think I might be sensitive to and see how I react. Right now, I’m eating a ton of hummus (garlic), and I’ve noticed that my reaction at first is a slight breathing shortage and a fuzziness inside. It’s a very mild reaction, much like when I drank alcohol. There are two tubs of hummus, one that is just roasted garlic, and the other that is ‘everything’, which means onion, garlic, and sesame seeds. Yesterday, after eating a bunch of hummus feeling slightly uncomfortable, I suddenly felt really uncomfortable. More inside fuzziness and more shortness of breath.

I should note that I’m using carrots as the vehicle for the hummus. I have found that I have a slight reaction to carrots in the past as well. My next test will be to eat the hummus on something  else–or alone, but it’s not as tasty alone. Now, I’m eating it on potato chips, which is surprisingly tasty. I think I’m pretty clear on being sensitive to something in hummus, and the next step will be to isolate what it is.

Side Note: The reason I’m doing a targeted attack rather than an elimination diet is because I want to figure it out as soon as possible rather than take months to figure it out. It’s a bit of a crapshoot (pun intended) because I might be overlooking something, and then I’d have to do an elimination diet, anyway. This is how I Google, by the way. I put in as much information as possible, then I widen the search as needed. My brother and I had a friendly disagreement about this because he put in very general terms and narrowed as he went. He said he’d rather be the one to narrow things down than let Google do it for him. This was years ago, and funnily enough, I asked him about it maybe six months ago, and he had switched to my way of Googling.

It’s the same thing I’m doing with this diet. I’m going after the obvious culprits first in the hopes for a quick and dirty solution. It’s day two, and I’ve already determined that there’s something in the hummus that I need to watch out for. Garlic and onion are both on the FODMAP diet list. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of the them that is causing the problem. I need to try more of the black bean hummus to see if it causes the same problems. If it does, then it’s garlic or sesame. If it doesn’t, then it’s chickpeas and/or onions.

I also bought two of the tofu scramble burritos and had one yesterday with fake cheeze. It did not seem to affect me much, and at no point yesterday did I have to race for the toilet. That’s not to say I didn’t have some digestive issues, but at least it wasn’t diarrhea. Another problem is that I may figure out that I’m sensitive to certain things, but not pinpoint what is causing the sudden diarrhea.

That’s a positive, of course, but I really want to know what it is that is causing the race for the toilet. I know what I have to do, but I am resisting it with all my might. I need to cook or at least eat foods that are singular units and not a combination of things.

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The road is long…and bland

my heritage.
My lifeblood.

So, I’ve been doing some lackadaisical research into what I’m intolerant to because I don’t have the energy to do a deep dive. In addition, I’m resentful about having to cut something else from my diet. I didn’t like cutting out gluten and dairy, but it was fairly easy to do so. I had a harder time with caffeine, but I don’t miss it now. The problem is that I eat the same thing pretty much every day, and to cut out one thing from my staples feels inappropriately large. I think it might be something in the nut family. I’m currently enjoying a dark chocolate peanut butter that is the best of the chocolate spreads out there (of the ones I can eat). I have it on a bagel or a hamburger bun (which is cheaper than the bagels by half), and sometimes I slap some jam on it.

I’ve not had a problem with this, but I ate a few spoonfuls yesterday sans bread and jam. That didn’t sit well with me, and my bowels were not happy with me for the next few hours. It’s vegan and gluten free, so that shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve noticed an itchiness inside when I’ve eaten nuts before, so I’m keeping my eyes on it. It’s not noodles, thankfully (rice noodles, natch), but I’m concerned it could be rice. I will not deal well with it if it’s rice. I already did not deal well with people telling me I should eat brown rice instead of white (I know, but I don’t care), and if I turn out to be sensitive to white rice, well, I am not going to be a happy camper. I’ll just leave it at that.

I’ve also noticed that I feel the worst in the morning when I just get up. Today, I had a piercing headache–the kind that turns into a migraine if I’m not careful–and a shallowness of breath. I still have the breathing issue, though I took care of the headache problem (it’s a minor headache now, which I can deal with). I’m exhausted, even though I slept for almost seven hours. That’s how I know I’m sick–when I sleep more than six hours.

I hate being like this. I hate not being really sick because I feel like I should fight through it. It doesn’t help that my mother is the type to ignore her health until she can’t. She had back surgery three weeks ago, and she was up and walking two days later. Now, she wants to walk 30 minutes a day, and I told her to pace herself. There are other issues including my father is being an ass to her. It was to be expected, but it’s still difficult. I’m thinking about going there for a week or two, but that would come at a great cost to myself. I’m worried about her, and while I knew what would happen would happen, it’s infuriating to see it play out in real time.
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