Underneath my yellow skin

The Journey is Long

Last week, I felt more like myself than I have in months, and I started amping up my morning routine. Then, I woke up coughing and feeling like shit Friday afternoon, and I had two immediate thoughts. One, Shadow had been sleeping on my chest while I was asleep (a new thing for him), and two, I ratcheted up my morning routine exponentially after babying myself for the past six months. I did the left side of the Sword Form. I did the weight set. I was feeling good. Until I wasn’t. I’m pretty sure the coughing was caused by Shadow sleeping on me. I woke up with a cough today as well, and Shadow was nestled on my side. I cut back on the routine yesterday (Saturday), keeping it to the bare minimum partly because I had class, but mostly to give myself a break, and I feel better today. I did the left side of the Sword Form (which totally came back to me, yay!), and I’m doing the weight set as well (I break it up throughout the day), so we’ll see how that goes.

I feel about 80%, which is way better than I’ve felt in a while. I’m having digestive troubles again, though, and I found out something interesting from my mother. She’s been having runny diarrhea, and she found out it was from eating raw vegetables. If she flash cooks them, then she doesn’t have that problem any longer. I don’t eat many raw vegetables except spinach, but I’ve recently added back a shit-ton of fruits to my diet. Cherries, grapes, blackberries, watermelon, pineapple, etc. Not all at one time, obviously, but right now my jam (ha!) is cherries and grapes. I fill a big bowl of them and munch them over the course of an hour or so. Fruits are mostly water, so that’s probably what’s causing the diarrhea. I’m not sure about the cramps, though.

When I cut out dairy and gluten from my diet, I immediately felt much better. However, now I’m realizing that they might not be the only things I need to avoid. Obviously, processed foods aren’t good for you, even ones that are made with healthier ingredients. I’ve been watching vegan* cooking videos, and I know that cooking for myself would be better than buying things from the deli, even the co-op deli.

Speaking of Shadow which I was earlier, I think we’re at a new normal. It’s been almost seven months(!) since Raven died, and I’ve seen several differences in Shadow. One, he became immediately more vocal just days after his brother died. I’ve come to think it’s because he was used to Raven being the one telling me it’s time for treats and so forth. He knew if Raven got treats, so would he. Now, it’s as if he knows it’s all on him–which is ridiculous because he’d get treats, regardless, but he doesn’t know that. Right after Raven’s death, Shadow became very clingy. He’s always been more aloof, spending a lot of time on his own. I understood that reaction, though, because his whole world had changed. The one creature he’s been with his entire life (they’re littermates) was suddenly gone, and even though I explained it to him, I’m not sure how much he understood.

Now, he’s somewhere in the middle. He’ll spend several hours on his own, then suddenly show up demanding love. Or treats. I prefer to think it’s the former rather than the latter, but I usually reward him with treats, so who knows? I bought a scratching post that is a small castle for the boys. It’s big enough to fit one cat inside and one cat on top. Raven used to sleep on the top part, and Shadow never played with it while Raven was alive. In the past few days, he’s taken to sleeping in the bottom part. He likes being covered when he sleeps sometimes; his favorite cat bed is in the corner of the living room and is round with a canape over the top. He’s only slept in Raven’s spot on the couch one or two times (above my head), but he’s taken to sleeping on the couch with me, either by my feet or by my head. He’s still mouthier than usual, and I can’t always tell why he’s meowing.

The saddest thing is that he’ll sit by the sliding door to the back patio and just stare out at it. His brother is buried in the backyard, and I wonder if Shadow knows that somehow. He’s more interested in going outside whereas he never showed interest in it while Raven was alive. Shadow’s also taken to sleeping on the living room floor sometimes or his favorite cat scratcher. I don’t know what’s going through his fuzzy brain sometimes.

Back to my health. I think I’ve been too easy on myself, but I don’t want to make myself sick again. I also hate that my health is such shit these days. I’m trying to take better care of myself, and yet, here I am. I  used to get bronchitis almost every year, and it would stay for months. Once, it lasted nine months, no lie. At the end, I was so desperate, I begged my doctor for antibiotics, even though I knew they wouldn’t work. They didn’t. Then, I started doing taiji, and I didn’t have bronchitis for several years. I’ve been sick since I started practicing, but nothing like this.

I’m not a doctor, but I think it’s because of my grief over Raven’s sudden and unexpected death. I don’t talk about it much and it probably seems like I’ve dealt with it well, but it’s affected me hard. It still seems surreal because it happened in the blink of an eye, and I can’t accept he’s not with me any longer. Since I work from home, he and Shadow were a huge part of my life. Raven was nearly always by me/on me, and there’s an emptiness that nothing can fill.

I’ve poked Shadow awake while he’s been in a deep sleep because I’ve been afraid that he’s dead. I try not to do it too often before I’m sure it’s annoying to him. Then again, he bites my face in the morning as his way to tell me to wake the fuck up and feed him, so I think me poking him now and again is fair play. That’s my least favorite thing, by the way. Him gnawing on me as I’m trying to sleep. If I block him with a pillow or a blanket, he noses his way around/under the barricade. I love my cat to bits and pieces, but I do not like his damp nose dragging against my bare flesh (nor  his gums, either).

We’re cobbling our way forward together, Shadow and I. It’s difficult because we’re used to being a trio, so it’s like we have a phantom limb. I miss Raven, and I’m sure Shadow does as well, though I think he likes some aspects of being an only. He’s doing better right after Raven died, and me? I’m making it one goddamn step at a time.

Addendum: Fourth (I think) Saturday I didn’t check social media, and it was easy. I didn’t have any urge to check during the day, and I’ve kept my checking minimal today as well. I might be able to give it up completely after all!



*Vegan because it’s hard to find dairy-free, gluten-free videos that aren’t vegan as well.

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