Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: recovery

The struggle for good health

I feel as if I’m on the cusp of getting sick.

Again.

I’m done. I just….

What if this is my new normal?

Quick note: I have a history of bronchial-related issues in the past. There was a time where I had bronchitis or something similar every year. Not just for a few weeks, either, but months. One time was epic because it lasted nine months.

Nine. Freaking. Months.

By the end of it, I was so desperate, I begged my doctor to give me antibiotics even though I knew it wouldn’t work. Let that sink in. I knew antibiotics wouldn’t help (and I am against them for the most part), but I had been hacking and dripping for so long, I didn’t care.

My doctor did so reluctantly, but she warned me it wouldn’t work. I told her I knew, and took them, anyway. And they made it worse! I looked up the side effects of the antibiotics (which I should have done before I took them. I usually do my research ahead of time), and they were the same as what I was already experiencing, but worse. I finished the whole run, of course, but I will never do that again. Yes, it was a last-ditch effort, but it made things worse.

Then, I started taking taiji, and I stopped getting bronchitis. It wasn’t a one-to-one like that, but I’m sure taiji helped me with those issues. Then, I started flying on a frequent basis, and my system couldn’t handle it. Now, I have to deal with this bullshit for the past few years. It might also be grief from my Raven suddenly dying nearly two years ago. In fact, the anniversary is coming up, which might be why I’m more melancholy than usual.

That is neither here nor there. My immune system is proving to be not great, and I know I have to go to the doctor. Which I don’t want to do. My current doctor is really great, but there’s still a sense of dread in going. It’s time for me to suck it up and do it, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.

Side note: Instapot shenanigans. I decided to try a pork recipe that had four ingredients without looking at the actual directions. I bought the pork, though only 2 1/2 pounds rather than 4, and then read the recipe this morning. First part is to separate the pork in two batches. Ok! I can do that. Next is to add oil to the pot, press saute, and brown each piece. Wait. What? Oil wasn’t one of the ingredients, and how much oil? How long will it take to brown? I quickly Googled on how to brown pork in an Instant Pot, and a recipe for pulled pork from the Food Network was the first link. I read it, and the first part was almost exactly the same. It also required 4 pounds of pork for eight servings, so apparently, it’s not an insane amount of pork.

Anyway, it also said put unspecified amount of oil in the pot, cook the (six pieces) in two batches, but they at least gave a time for the browning (5 minutes per batch). This is what I was talking about when I mentioned all the assumptions that go into a recipe. It’s reasonable to assume that people who cook know this shit, but that leaves us n00bs out in the cold. That’s why I also Googled cooking in an Instant Pot for beginners, but I came up with very little because of my dietary restrictions.

I was going to start the pork this morning after my taiji routine, but I felt defeated once I started reading the instructions. That’s one of the problems with depression. Even something as simple as dividing the pork in two pieces and browning each piece was too much at that time because I hadn’t planned for it. I will do it in a bit, but ugh.

Part of the reason I got the instapot is because of how everyone raved about what a time-saver it is. How you don’t have to watch it. You can ‘set it and forget it’. Well, yeah, but you still have to do the prep stuff, including, I guess, browning the meat. The actual cooking the meat? Yes. That can just be left cooking. And, it takes much less time in an instapot. But overall, it’s still cooking. As I’ve had pointed out to me, what I want is a food processor (to cut down on prep time). Yeah, not doing that because it feels as if I’m going to get thrown even further into the deep end.

I’m not giving up on it yet, but I do feel a little hoodwinked. All this shit that no one tells you because it’s so basic to them is new to me and intimidating. I don’t like cooking. I never have. This is not making me like it any more. I really shouldn’t have started with the instapot, but it’s too late for that now. Again, making a Dark Souls comparison. I kinda feel as if I’m doing a onebro run as a n00b, which is not the way to play the game.

Back to my health. It sucks. A lot. I’m tired of it. I need to figure out what the fuck is wrong with me. I don’t think it’s fibro or chronic fatigue (yes, I Googled it), and my best guess is that it has to do with a compromised immune system.

I will say it’s frustrating that I keep having to deal with this because I don’t interact with the public that much, so why the fuck do I keep getting sick? I am beginning to believe it’s allergies. I am allergic to all pollen, dust, animals (yes, including cats. I’m less allergic to my own, but not completely allergy-free), scents, and pretty much everything else. I like to joke that I’m allergic to air. Which isn’t that much of a joke, come to think of it.

Anyway. My mood is this right now:

Letting the First Flame die out naturally

ain't no love like elder dragon love!
Luna and Teo, the yin-yang of Elder Dragon love.

First of all, health report. Feeling a bit shittier than yesterday, but still better over all. Got a bit of snow yesterday, which makes me happy. Got my instapot (yes, that’s what I’m calling it from now on because it amuses me) and bought the ingredients for vegan mashed potatoes and gravy. Will mess about with that later. By the way, let me reiterate how difficult it is to find recipes that are JUST dairy-free/gluten-free, but in this case, vegan is fine. That might be my hook if I start blogging/vlogging my cooking with my instapot endeavors. I’m only doing it because of my sensitivities–otherwise I’d be chowing down on cheese, bread, and pasta on the regular. I don’t want paleo, keto, vegan, vegetarian, whole30 or top 8 free recipes. It’s frustrating because I can find gluten-free recipes and dairy-free recipes, but only gf/df recipes are few and far between.

On to Monster Hunter: World. I’ve been trying to quit the game for weeks, and I’ve been playing it less and less as time goes on. I didn’t play at all yesterday, butt I can’t give it up completely. Why? Well, there’s still a ton to do for one (Tempered Kirin, I’m looking at you). Two, they keep adding new content. They just announced the USJ: Gold Star Treatment and the USJ: Blazing Azure Stars! (related) a week apart in which you get the Azure Star loot. It looks cool as hell, and, of course, I need to get the Palico armor set first and foremost.

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(Un)Healthy, (not) wealthy, and (un)wise

I’m feeling better today, which is a relief. I dragged myself to taiji yesterday, despite feeling like crap, and did just enough. I had a private lesson with my teacher, and near the end of the class, she asked if I wanted to do some Solo Form or some Sword Form. I said, “This will surprise you, but let’s do the Solo Form.” Surprise because I love the Sword Form and still merely tolerate the Solo Form. But, the Sword Form is a weight-bearing activity, and I was simply not up for it. The Solo Form, on the other hand, was gentle (especially the first section, which was what we did) and easy on my aching body.

After class, I picked up a few things at the co-op and then went home. I crashed in the early evening, but I still felt better than before I went to class. Actually, I felt shitty upon awakening (around seven-thirty), and then improved throughout the day. That’s why by noon, I felt (barely) good enough to go to class. Bottom line is that taiji is good for me, but it’s just a matter of having the energy to get there.

When I’m sick, it’s the worst when I first wake up and right before I go to bed. Unless I’m really sick, I generally can maintain throughout the day. That’s why I think it might be allergies along with whatever else I’m fighting. I’m tired of it, so I will actually see a doctor when I can get the energy. This week, next week at the latest. I’m skeptical that she’ll be able to find anything, but ruling out possibilities is just as valuable as finding the actual cause. Or if not as valuable, at least it allows me to focus my worry. Some ideas. It’s an immunodeficiency problem, iron deficiency, chronic fatigue, or fibromyalgia. It could also be a problem with my thyroid medication, but I get that checked every year, and it was stable the last time I checked.

I just did a quick Google, and I’m more convinced than ever it’s allergies. I’m allergic to everything. I’ve recounted before that when I take the allergy test where they put all the allergens on your thigh, my entire thigh swells up like a balloon. My brother and I were talking about the allergy shots we got when we were kids, and all I can remember is how miserable I was after each shot. My arm would swell up and be hot and itchy. My brother couldn’t even get the shots because he didn’t reach the threshold for getting them. The last time he tested for allergies, he got hives.

I’ve cut out dairy and gluten because of my sensitivities. I know they don’t reach the level of allergies, but it’s still not fun to spend a half hour on the toilet every time I eat either. I don’t use any scented products because of allergies, and I can smell most people’s perfume/cologne/body wash from ten feet away. I don’t like how Americans are so obsessed with covering natural smells. I much prefer the smell of of an honest sweat than of the crap people used to cover it up. I don’t use deodorant, and I’ve never had a complaint about it. I also don’t take a shower every day or wash my hair every day.

I recently learned that there are corresponding food allergies to pollen allergies (from the Mayo Clinic). It was an eye opener, and it immediately made sense. I’m allergic to every kind of pollen known to womankind, so if there’s a pollen-food connection, then it makes sense that I’m finding myself increasingly sensitive to different foods. The most frustrating part is figuring out which ones are causing the reactions. I need to do a more scientific study, but I get tired just thinking about it.

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OCD traits and general update

i'm broody, damn it!
Cute black kitten just because.

I think I’m finally on my way out of the cruds, crossing all my bits and knocking on wood. I’m sleeping less, which is a telltale sign, and I’m only getting the chills very rarely rather than regularly. Yes, I’ll take the positives where I can get them because they have been few and far between when I’m sick. I’m still exhausted, but that’s perpetual for me. It doesn’t matter how much or how little I sleep–I can barely keep my eyes open during the day. In fact, sometimes I just doze on and off throughout the afternoon/evening.

I’ve been thinking about my mental health lately because I’ve been depressed for no reason. And, yes, I know that’s part of depression, but it doesn’t make it easier to accept. That’s not what I’ve been thinking of, though. I’ve been musing over my OCD tendencies (I don’t have OCD, but I definitely have some of the traits). OCD is misunderstood in the general public (as with most mental health issues) or boiled down to someone having to alphabetize their soup cans or checking the door fifteen times in five minutes. There’s more to it than that, and I’ll try to explain how it affects me. In addition, whenever OCD is being portrayed in the media or talked about, it’s presented in an overwhelmingly negative light. I would be the first to admit that it’s not fun for the most part, but there are positive aspects to it.

The biggest plus is that when I plan to do something, I go all in. If I commit to it, it’s gonna get done. The two times I decided to lose weight, I set a plan, stuck to it, and the pounds came off like clock-work, two pounds a week. It’s the same with my schedule now. I wake up whenever, then I feed Shadow his breakfast. He has his own schedule, by the way, which includes meowing in my face before I wake up until I actually get off the couch. After I feed Shadow, I go outside and smoke half a cigarette. Then, I heat up my tea while going through my taiji/stretching routine. That takes about half an hour, and then I write my blog post. After that, I take a brief break (or not) and work for my brother. Then, I eat something and smoke a fourth of a cigarette–or rather, smoke first while heating up food. After a break, maybe playing MHW or a DS game,  then I write my two-thousand words of fiction.

Those are the things I need to do every day (posts only for week days, which means writing them Sunday – Thursday, and work for my brother on week days, Monday – Friday. I write fiction every day), and I have it down cold. When I decide to do something, something in my brain clicks in and it becomes a given. I give it everything I can at the time, and I do it to my best ability. The problem is, it becomes rote over time if there’s no end date, and my attention starts slipping.

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Ripping off the mask

don't look behind the mask.
A perfect facade.

Sometimes, I feel as if I have a split personality. Not in the clinical definition of the word, but in the vernacular. There’s the me at home. I’m in sweats and a t-shirt, my hair in a sloppy bun. I sit/lie on the couch most of the day as I madly type away on my computer, and it’s only recently that I’ve been forcing myself to get up roughly every other hour or so to do my stretches. If you could see a picture of my brain waves, it would be a flat-line with only dips and no spikes.

I know it’s the depression talking, but I don’t see any reason to live. I’m not being dramatic. I don’t actually want to die (I never did. Not even when I was at my most suicidal–which I’m not); I just don’t see any reason to be alive. Nor do I think that many people would actually miss me if I were gone. Let me be clear. I am not going to kill myself, but I can’t motivate myself to do much other than meander through my so-called life.

I’m mostly numb these days. I know I need to see a therapist, but I don’t want to go through the bother of finding a new one. It’s been four or five years since my last therapist and I mutually terminated, and it took me forever to find her. I am not an easy client, and I can fully acknowledge that. I know too much of the lingo, and I’m very good at manipulation of people. I’m not proud of it, but I have to acknowledge it. I try to not do it because it makes me feel slimy, and I’ve watched my father charm the pants off people (especially women) throughout my life.

Another thing I made clear to my last psychologist is that I need someone to call me on my shit. I get into my head and the weeds way too much, and I can run in circles around most people when I choose to. I can use the psych lingo to justify anything or to explain anything, and to anyone with a lesser perception, what I’m saying makes perfect sense. i told my therapist I would try to do this to her, and I needed her to see through it and put her foot down. She was more than capable of doing so, but I had therapists previous to her who simply weren’t.

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Of (not-so) sound mind and body

drinkin' tea 24/7.
All the tea in Taiwan.

I slept for nine hours the other night, which makes me think I’m getting sick again. I don’t sleep for that long unless I’m sick. I slept nearly seven hours last night, which is still a bit much for me. When I saw my taiji teacher yesterday, she was like, “I hope your week is filled with shitty sleep.” That was her way of wishing me well, and while it made me laugh, it’s sadly apt. The best way for me to gauge how sick I am is to look at my sleep. The ratio for sickness is directly proportional–the more sleep I get, the sicker I am. It’s not something that makes me happy, obviously, but it’s handy to know.

I don’t know what it says about me that my body only allows me to get a good night’s sleep when I’m really sick, but it’s as frustrating as hell. Is it too much to ask that I sleep a full night when I’m not sick? When I’m not sick, I sleep maybe six hours a night, and I wake up at least once. That’s not very restful, as I bet you could guess. I can’t help but think it hearkens back to the days when sleeping through the night was dangerous, and my body hasn’t yet realized it’s not necessary.

Side Note: I don’t sleep in a bed. I’ve found that I sleep marginally better on the couch. I think that’s part of the reason my back is messed up, however, so I might try sleeping in a bed again.

I also wonder if my shenanigans in college contribute to my sleep woes. My first semester I was there, I had a class at 7:45 a.m. (or some such ungodly hour), and I wouldn’t go to bed until three in the morning at the earliest. That meant I got at best three hours of sleep a night on the days I had that class. I think it was a T/Th class, so twice a week. I probably got 4, maybe 5 hours. In other words, I was severely sleep-deprived for my first semester of college.

I’ve told this story before, but there was one time when I woke up and couldn’t find my portable alarm clock. I looked everywhere in my (small) dorm room to no avail. I opened my mini-fridge to grab a Diet Pepsi (the way I always started my day), and there was my alarm as pretty as you please. I had no recollection of putting it there, which was worrisome. I put it on the sink across the room, which meant no more stowing it in my mini-fridge, but didn’t change the fact that I was having serious sleep issues.

I used to get four hours of sleep a night on the regular. Now, I’m up to six, and I owe it all to taiji. Well, taiji and therapy, but mostly taiji. It’s frustrating that it’s not more (and, yes, I know eight hours a night is ideal), but it’s amazing I even get that much*.

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Depression infusion

a mirror to my soul.
Unrelenting gloom.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month because why not? I’m already up to 32,000 words, so I don’t think I’m going to have much trouble meeting the 50,000 words goal. I never do as writing a plethora of words is not an issue for me. I mused about looking more into the business side of things, which I have yet to do. Or rather, the marketing side as it’s much different in this digital age. Authors have to push their brand (themselves and their books) on social media in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I know it’s the way of the world now, but I have a very Taiwanese horror of promoting myself. I’ve talked with my mother about it, and she feels the same way.

Speaking of my mother, watching her twist herself into knots over my father has been disheartening, depressing, and enlightening. She’s using his illness as a reason to let her weaknesses run rampant. Let me be blunt. She is a control freak (I come by it honestly), and she is a constant worrier (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). The problem is, anyone would be worried in her position. My father just went through a ten-hour surgery to deal with three fused vertebra. Plus, we believe he’s in early onset dementia. That would be a lot to deal with for any spouse. However, my mother goes past worry into straight up obsession. Whenever we talk, it’s all about him. She may ask me how I’m doing, but once I say, she veers immediately back to her own health for a minute or him.

It’s not conducive worry, either. Conducive worry leads you to make a reasonable plan in order to deal with the situation. Then, once you make the plan, you put it out of your head and the worries are mostly allayed. I know it’s unrealistic to expect her to be completely blasé about it, but it’s all she can talk about. She’ll say something like, “I can’t leave him alone” followed by, “What if he falls when I’m not there?” and she’s off on a tangent about the fear of him falling for ten minutes. She sounds like the voices in my head when they go off the rails.

Normally, I try to listen and make soothing noises in her general direction. However, the last time I talked to her, I tried to inject some reason into her brain. I know, I know, but I had to give it a shot. After she was panicky for ten minutes about something or the other concerning the minutia of my father’s condition, I told her as gently as I could that constantly worrying about it didn’t help. I said she as a therapist knew that. She admitted that she it was her control issues at play, but she quickly glided over it.

I’ve said it before, but watching her interact with my father, or rather, watching her obsess over my father is the main reason I don’t want to be in a romantic relationship. Why? Because I see too much of myself in her. I know how easily I would slip into that mindset, and I see how hard it is to get out. She’s convinced herself that she *has* to worry about my father to this extent, and while, as I said, it’s reasonable for her to have a lot of worry, she’s pushing it to excess. She’s allowing her own mental health issues to drive the bus, and she has an excuse/explanation any time I bring it up.

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Over it

I’m done with being sick. I just can’t. I mean, I’m not literally done with it because it’s lingering like an unwelcome guest, but emotionally, I’m over it. I’m tired of it being the focus of all my energy and will. My microwave broke today, which means buying another. Normally, it would be an irritant, but not a big deal. Today, it seems insurmountable. Given that it’s also Election Day and I have to vote, part of me just wants to go back to sleep.

Anyway. That’s all I feel like writing today. So. here’s a video of Congressman John Lewis voting Gangnam Style.

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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Fuck it all to hell

so. damn. tired.
Cannot move an inch.

I’m so fucking tired. Not of anything in particular (though I have plenty of that, too), but literally so. fucking. tired. For the past three days, I’ve been dozing on and off throughout the evenings, then crashing hard during the night. Yet, I couldn’t sleep for more than five hours or so. I’m currently watching a Try Guys video on driving while sleep-deprived (early access for being a Patreon member of a certain tier. They’re doing a series driving while ______, and this one is where they had a twenty-four hour stay awake party, then drive on a contained course. It’s well known that driving while sleep-deprived is as bad if not worse than driving while drunk. The doctor in the video said that it was ideal for people to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night, and I had to laugh, albeit bitterly. I’ve gotten up to 6 hours, but 7 hours seems like an impossible dreams. I used to get 4 hours a night on a good night, but I’m up to 6. Also, when the doctor advised not to drive when you’re sleep-deprived, I actually snorted out loud. That meant I would never drive, which isn’t possible where I live.

I remember once when I was deep in the middle of my chronic depression, my therapist suggested trying to stay awake for 72-hours as there was some evidence that it can jump-start the brain out of depression. I decided to give it a whirl, and made sure to plan it around a time where I wouldn’t have to leave the house for those three days. Well, life happens. My BFF had her baby six-weeks early, right around the sixty-hours-awake mark. In addition to me doing this experiment, I had an incipient cold. I had to go see my BFF’s baby, of course, or at least visit them in the hospital. I managed to make it there, talked to my BFF, didn’t see the baby because she was in the ICU and I did NOT want to give her germs, then started driving home.

I was going down a road I’d traveled hundreds of times. I could make that drive in my sleep. but, with a lack of sleep (going on sixty-two hours), I suddenly had no idea where I was. I looked at the road ahead of me and did not recognize it. It was as if I’d never had seen it before. I somehow managed to make my way home (still don’t know how), held out for another hour or so, then crashed hard.

When I was in my second year of college, I started having weird fugue states in which I would phase out of reality then ‘wake up’ a few minutes later with no idea of what just happened. I wasn’t sleeping as made clear by the fact that if I were talking to someone, they still were talking to me as if we were having a normal conversation. I had to pretend I knew what they were talking about, which was disconcerting. Worse yet, though, was that I would ‘fall asleep’ while driving, only to ‘wake up’ a few minutes later having no idea where I was. Fortunately, the routes I was taking were familiar, so my best guess is that my brain went on auto-pilot. Still, I was very lucky I didn’t have a horrible crash.

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