Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: health

In sickness and in sickness

It’s time for my annual check up on my thyroid, and I should probably get a physical as well. I need to get another doctor because my old one left the network, so I’m not looking forward to that. I’ve had my issues with doctors, and I have a string of problems that have seem to stump the best of them. It’s one thing I want to figure out by my 50th birthday–what the fuck is wrong with me. Physically, I mean. I already know what the fuck is wrong with me emotionally, even if I haven’t fixed it yet.

Side Note: I’ve realized that I will not be able to fix everything that’s wrong with me (emotionally in this case) by the time I died, and what’s more to the point, there were things that I considered flaws in myself that I didn’t care to change. What, how can that be? Because they’re either not worth the effort to change or I’ve learned to live with them. One example is that I work to the back of a deadline. This use to cause trouble between my mother and me because she would send me something she wanted me to edit and give me a timeline, say, a month from the time she sent it to me. Cool, fine, I think to myself. I’ll start it in three weeks, and it’ll be fine.

Except. She’ll start emailing me a week later or maybe two to ask about it. I would say I hadn’t started, and I could feel the disapproval and stress radiating through the ether. I finally had to bring it up with her because it was driving me crazy, and I’m sure it wasn’t doing anything good for her, either. It turned out that she was giving me a deadline that was the last possible time she could get it back–and with agony. In my mind, she was giving me the reasonable deadline. I told her that if she wanted it comfortably in two weeks, she had to tell me so. She thought she was being thoughtful by giving me two extra weeks. I took her at her word that I had the whole month.

It actually worked out because I did move up my own schedule a bit and she gave me something closer to an actual deadline. I know there are people who do the things the second they get the assignment, and while I admire them, it’s not me. I do my best work with my back to the wall, and I’ve actually figured out a way to do it with a small amount of comfort. Once I let go of the idea that I would be the kind of person to do it from the start, I was able to manage my time better. In other words, I wasn’t blowing sunshine up my ass and was better able to assess my actual ability.

I’m really tired of being sick. And exhausted. And feeling like my physical health is out of control. My thyroid has been stable for the past few years, so I don’t expect that to be the issue. It might have something to do with my digestive problems and the FODMAP elimination diet. Which, by the way, I’m still stalled on the adding things back part of the diet. After going two months being 90% better, the idea of willingly poisoning myself again is repulsive to me. The first time I added garlic to something, I had a middling response. It wasn’t running to the bathroom, but it was a bloated uncomfortable feeling. I haven’t tried it again, but I don’t want to lose garlic. It’s in almost everything I eat for one thing, and it’s just goddamn tasty on the other.


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Facing half a century with bewilderment

I’m turning fifty in a year and a few months.

Let me repeat. I’m turning 50 in a year and a few months.

Sorry, but my brain won’t get past that.

Where the hell did my late thirties and forties go? I know it’s trite to say that time flies and bemoan the loss of years, but it’s hard to believe that I’ve been on this earth for nearly half a century.

Honestly, I thought I would be dead by this age. I didn’t think I would make it out of my thirties, and for a while, I was fixated on the idea that I would die at age 55. My mom was 55 at the time, and it just seemed like that would be my time to go. I was…26 at the time? I think that’s right. Anyway, 55 seemed like a lifetime away, and now, of course, it seems disturbingly close.

I rarely look in the mirror, and when I do, I’m like, “Who the hell is this?” I’ve already had one person ask me with great trepidation if I were a senior (at a co-op on the day they gave senior discounts), but I’ve also had someone who thought I was at least ten years younger than I was. And, with my hair reversing the gray, maybe I’m a weird version of Benjamin Button.

It’s weird when I look back on my life and what I thought it would be like. Well, to be honest, I didn’t think it’d be like anything because I could not imagine a future. When I was a teen, I assumed I’d get married and have kids because that’s what you were supposed to do. I also assumed I’d have some kind of office job because that, too, was what I was supposed to do. Furthermore, I would go to church every Sunday even though I didn’t believe, and I would live a quiet and desperate life.


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Health matters

I’m trying to put off gulping my migraine meds the minute I wake up, but it’s not going swimmingly. Some days, I’m able to stave off the headache, but sometimes, like today, my brain is throbbing very unpleasantly. It’s reaching the point where I need to take the meds or it’s going to get much worse.

Side Note: I used to take six Ibuprofen in response to a migraine. Obviously, that’s not a good thing to do nor is it effective, and it’s really hard on the liver, so I stopped. Instead, I started taking two Excedrin Migraine or the generic equivalent. Well, actually, three, but I cut back to two. Three is better, but two does the job as well. If I take it early enough, it drastically reduces the migraine if not eradicate it completely.

I read that Ibuprofen is more for generalized body pain rather than localized such as a migraine, which made sense to me. I discounted it as useful for migraines (both for me and in a general sense), but now I’ve read an article that it can actually help some people with migraines–50% of them. So, it’s useless to me, but not for others, apparently.

I worry about taking Excedrin Migraine every day.  The Googles has given me a long list of possible side effects to each of the three main drugs in it. The basic gist is that I should ask my doctor–which I will when I find a new one. My old one left, and I haven’t found a new one yet because it’s such a pain in the ass. I have a laundry list of things to ask my new doc, which isn’t making me any more eager to find one.

I’m worried that my health isn’t going to get any better. Or rather, this is the new base that I have to accept. I’ve dealt with being dairy-free and gluten-free, and it’s fine for the most part. Caffeine-free was much harder to do, but I’m fine with it now. I am having a very difficult time with the idea that I may have to give up something else as well. I’ve already given up so much! Do I really need to eschew, say, onions? I also feel like a whiny baby because I don’t have Celiac disease, and there are others who have it much worse. Yes, I know it’s not a competition, but I feel like a punk for not being able to soldier through. It doesn’t help that I am friends with several high-functioning people, and I can’t help but compare myself to them.


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Dealing with my shit as best I can

My parents are coming for their annual visit in a week, and I am not ready. I am never ready, but I hate that I put off doing the shit I need to do before they get here until the last minute. I need to clean, which is an intensive thing, and I always vow to start early. I never do. It ends up with me cleaning the fridge at three in the morning the night before they come, contemplating going inside the fridge and shutting the door. I also have some chores outside the house I have to do before they get back which include the car.

Amusing anecdote: I called a garage to set up an appointment, and I asked for the times they had available. The guy said, “1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock.” Then he stopped and my brain immediately shouted, “ROCK!” I managed to stop myself from yelling it out loud, and I answered him with a half-laugh. I am An Old.

It’s a funny story, but it took me forever to make the phone call. Rationally, I know it’s not a big deal to make the call and go to the appointment (for a bad tire), but my brain is wired incorrectly, and it takes everything I have just to make the goddamn phone call. Going to the appointment won’t be an issue, but making that phone call? Took me weeks to force myself to do it. I know it’s not rational. I know it’s silly on my part. I know that the mental energy I use to avoid calling would be better sent doing literally anything else. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I remind myself that it’s not a big deal. A weird side effect is that once I decide to do the difficult thing, I become obsessed with it. I have to make a cancellation of a trip for my mother, and there is a glitch on Orbitz that won’t allow me to cancel that way. I’ve tried several times, and now I’m on hold while waiting to talk to an actual person. By the way, I hate when you’re on hold, and they interrupt the music in order to have the automated voice assure you that you are valuable to them before returning back to the music. Don’t get my hopes up like that! Also, when one song is twice as loud as the one before it, that’s irritating as well.

Sigh. Moving to health issues. I think I’ve figured out what set off my stomach the night before last–the tomato-based spaghetti sauce I had with my gluten-free elbow macaroni. The minute I ate it, my stomach clenched, and I was racing to the bathroom. The biggest problem for me with diarrhea–there’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d be writing–is that it’s never a one and done. It wouldn’t be so bad if I eliminated everything in one go–but, no. It’s me sitting on the toilet for ten to fifteen minutes, several times in a few hours. It wakes me up in the middle of the night, and it’s the first thing I have to do when I get up the next morning. Since I eat basically the same thing every day with slight variations, I can usually pinpoint the problem to a certain degree. I’m fairly certain the tomato-based sauce is the trigger this time. But, I’m also wary of peaches and cherries. I know the right way to test is to eliminate a bunch of things and then slowly add them back in, but that seems tedious as well as time consuming. Also, I’m not particularly wedded to tomato-based spaghetti sauce, so cutting it out is not a problem for me. I’m pretty sure it’s the tomato-based sauce because I had the same meal minus the sauce last night, and it was fine. I added a spicy mayo-based dipping sauce instead of the tomato-based sauce, and it was fine. Gluten-free elbow macaroni, dairy-free pepper jack cheeze, roasted chicken, and the spicy dipping sauce. Oh, and spring greens thrown on top, which I ate separately. It’s a quirk of mine that I eat veggies separately, even if they are incorporated into a dish, unless it’s something small like slices of mushrooms.


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Trying to be positive about health

I’ve been struggling with diet-related issues for some time now. By diet, I mean what I eat in general, not any specific diet. I don’t follow diets because that way lies danger for me. In fact, that’s one of the issues I have in trying to eat more healthily. I can’t count anything because it starts me down the road to an eating disorder. My brain has so many ways to trick me when it comes to eating disorders, and it’s part of my all-or-nothing personality. If I do something, I’m going to DO IT ALL THE WAY. The last time I tried to diet, I set it up in what I told myself was a reasonable way, but it wasn’t. And it only got even more unreasonable the longer I did it. I can’t weigh myself because of the numbers as well. I get too focused on them, and I get obsessed with them going down on a regular basis. The first time I slipped into an eating disorder, I was weighing myself twice a day, which is madness. It’s ridiculous for many reasons, but the biggest was that my mood would be entirely dependent upon what that number on the scale said.

The common advice for people who can’t handle the numbers on the scale is to only take your measurements instead. Boobs, waist, hips. In theory, it makes sense because those are truer numbers than the ones on the scale. Because muscle is denser than fat, you can weigh more and still be thinner, er, healthier at a higher weight than a lower one. There are a few issues with this. One, I know how much each half inch represents in terms of pounds. For me, a half inch is two-and-a-half pounds. So, I knew that when I lost a half inch (usually every week), it was two-and-a-half pounds. I would freak out if I didn’t lose the half inch, which meant I was just substituting one number for another.

I used to know the calorie count of everything I ate, and it was not a good thing. It’s why I don’t like having the calorie count so prominent on foods these days, even though I understand the reason behind it. In general, I think it’s a good thing for most people who may not be aware of how small a portion is or what the ballpark is for the calorie count of, say, a bagel. In addition, portion sizes are huge in America when we go out to eat, so it can be bracing to see the calorie count on the menu. I’ve learned how to stridently ignore the numbers, but it takes a considerable amount of mental energy to do so.

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Checking in on my health

drink it all up!
Staying cozy and warm.

The vaunted snowstorm netted us a whopping three to four inches of snow. I’m not mad, really, just disappointed. However, I knew it wasn’t going to be eight to ten inches because we’ve consistently gotten less than has been predicted, so I’m not crushed as I would be otherwise. It’s lightly snowing now, and we’re supposed to get more snow during the big storm next week. Only a few more inches, but I’ll take it. We haven’t had snow hardly at all this winter.

As for the cold, it’s really fucking cold. Currently, the temp is ‘feels like’ -28. There is no feeling going on at that temp. That’s cold, even for me. I did have the window slightly rolled down when I ran to Cubs this morning, but it’s only three minutes from my house.

Fun fact: Some years ago, the windchill factor formula was tweaked so that it more accurately reflects how the wind feels on your skin. As a result, there will probably never be a -100 windchill again. We used to get them when I was a kid, and about ten years ago, I started wondering why I never saw -100 again. It tuns out that a new windchill factor was established in 2001, which was comforting to discover. It wasn’t just me this time!

Anyway, now I’m back at home, and taiji classes have been canceled due to the extreme cold. I had been considering going to the new class tonight (new to me, not to my teacher. She’s taking it over for her teacher), but even if the classes hadn’t been cancelled, I wouldn’t have gone. I’m not leaving the house for the rest of the day. I have my traveling mug of tea and my comfy throw over my legs. I’m hunkering down until this cold snap passes because it’s too cold even for me.

Unfortunately, I’m fighting off the crud. I feel on the cusp of being sick, which is worse than actually being sick. When I’m sick, I’m just dealing with being sick. I don’t really think of much else. When I’m maybe about to get sick, I can’t do anything to stop it, and it makes me pissed off. I don’t go out into public that often except to the grocery store, which, come to think of it, is a terrible place to go if you’re trying not to be sick.

It actually makes me angry that I can’t stop myself from getting sick. I’m drinking all the tea, including immunity-boosting tea in addition to my usual honey, ginger, lemon tea. I’m doing my taiji routine every morning (including stretching), which is a half hour. When I first started taiji, I didn’t practice at home at all. In fact, I was resentful of the idea that I should practice. I don’t know why. I was a bitter, negative, and deeply depressed person when I started taking taiji classes. I’m still depressed and negative, but not nearly as much as I used to be.

When I first started practicing taiji at home, I did it for two minutes. The first section of the Solo Form, and even that was begrudging. I slowly started adding to my morning regime, and now, I’m up to a half hour of stretching and taiji. It doesn’t even feel like anything most of the time. My taiji teacher says an hour a day is the most I should do, and I don’t have to do it in one session. Looking back, I can’t believe how much I resented having to do even two minutes of it every day.

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Let’s talk about health, baby

the best is a combination of all of the above.
All the bad and none of the good.

Hello. I have sinus problems. It is no fun. I think it’s allergies, but I am not not sure. I woke up feeling as if ice picks are being smashed up my nostrils. By the way, I think I know why I’ve had two migraines and the beginning of the third in the past two weeks is because of the lemonade lite I bought that has Stevia. Now, it’s not one of the listed side effects, but it’s the only thing that has changed in my diet, and I haven’t had a full migraine for about a decade.

I had a taiji classmate who asked me how to tell if a headache is a migraine, and my immediate response was that you would know if you had a migraine. Correction, that’s if you get the headache part of it. My taiji teacher doesn’t, and I’ve learned that’s a type of migraine, albeit rare. You get all the accompanying symptoms without the actual headache. That sounds wacky to me, but it’s apparently a thing.

For me, I can tell because the world goes gray. Or rather, everything starts losing color and feels dull. In addition, stimuli hurts even more than usual (I have sensory issues in general), and I find myself wincing at the least bit of light. When I say hurt, I mean physically. The light hurts my eyeballs, and sounds hurt my ears. It’s as if I have no sensory filter, and everything scores a direct and palpable hit.

If I’m lucky and I catch it right in the beginning, I can pop two Excedrin Migraine (or the generic equivalent), deal with a lowkey headache, and go about my life. If I don’t catch it in time, however, it’s a completely different matter. I will say that I’m still lucky because I can at least function when I have a migraine, albeit at a much less productive pace. I have to turn off all the lights and if I’m watching a video, I have to keep the sound extremely low. I can still write/work, but I have to take more breaks, and my brain runs at a slower pace. The full migraine lasts roughly twenty-four hours, and the chemtrails last for another twenty-four hours or so.

Sinus issues are a different matter. This time, it’s not a sinus headache. It’s my nose feeling as if I’ve snorted a handful of pine needles into it. Again, it’s as if I have no filters, and I can feel everything more intensely than I otherwise would. My nose is also stuffy, and my ears are scabby. I have a cough that comes and goes as it pleases. My body is aching, but that could also be because of some changes my teacher is making to our stance in taiji. It takes more effort, though it’s supposed to be better for you in the long run.

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Getting older and not necessarily wiser

taiwanese tai chi sculpture!
I don’t want to be made of stone.

I woke up yesterday to an incipient migraine and immediately popped two Excedrin Migraine (generic) in hopes to stave it off. It didn’t pop into a full migraine for the rest of the day, but it also didn’t dissipate after an hour as it normally does. I am still dealing with it now, but at a very low level. This is new to me. In the past, either I caught it and it went away in an hour or I didn’t. I mentioned it to my taiji teacher yesterday, and she said that unfortunately, our bodies get brittler as we get older. This is true. When I was in college, I could get by (barely) on three to four hours of sleep. In my late twenties, I could go out all night and bounce back (mostly) after four hours of sleep. Now, I could go out all night, but it would take me three days to return to normal.

Speaking of sleep. I used to get four hours a night. On the regular. Thanks to taiji, I’ve slowly added to that. Now, I’m up to six hours on average a night. That’s epic for me. I keep hearing how terrible it is if you don’t get eight hours a night, and I always want to shout, “Yeah, I know, but what the fuck do I do about it?” They never talk about that, do they? They only talk about how important eight hours of sleep is, and by the way, people used to sleep in four-hour chunks rather than one stretch of eight. That seems way more reasonable to me than sleeping eight hours in one stretch.

The only time I can sleep for eight hours (or even seven-and-a-half) is when I’m sick. Which has been a lot in the past few years. It makes me wonder if my body gets sick for the sole purpose of getting more sleep. I know I’m really sick if I actually manage to get nine hours. One time, I got ten hours! TEN HOURS. I can’t even with that. That’s like, luxury. I hear from friends who get eight to nine hours regularly and who love sleep, and I’m so envious. I don’t know what it’s like, and I can’t even imagine it. I wrote a whole novel about confronting Morpheus, for fuck’s sake.

Sleep is something that I’ve given up trying to improve consciously because I’ve poured so much energy into it for no benefit. I’ve tried ::deep breath:: melatonin, hot beverages, hot baths, valerian, lavender (found out I was allergic to it while taking a bath in it. Not a good way to find out), sleep deprivation, sleeping pills (can’t wake up from them, even if I only take a fourth of a pill), dream catchers, and other things I can’t remember. None of it worked, and it only left me more frustrated than ever. Taiji is the only thing that has helped, and it’s taken a long time. An added two hours of sleep over ten years of taiji. That means I should reach eight hours a night in another ten years!

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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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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.