Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: sickness

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.


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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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Baby Steps and a Shimmy

fuck the heat.
I can’t go on. Tell Shadow I love him.

First of all, it’s hot as balls today, which means I’m even grumpier than usual. I’ve griped about the heat before, but it’s frustrating to try to make some people understand why I hate it so much. It’s not just me whining (though I do plenty of that); it’s not me being a delicate snowflake (though I’m that as well). It’s a physical impediment to me being able to do what I want/need to do. When I feel overheated, which is at about 70 degrees for me, I can feel the energy literally drain out of me. It’s akin to depression in that it makes it hard for me to move. My bestie and I used to have a running joke about the heat versus the cold. When we went out during the winter, she’d shiver and say, “Doesn’t the cold make your spine crunch?” I’d reply, “No, it makes me feel ALIVE!” When we went out in the summer, I’d say, “Doesn’t this heat drain you of your will to live?” She’d reply, “I love it! It energizes me!” She’s from Florida, and I’m a born and raised Minnesotan, so that might account for a large part of our different outlooks.

Last Saturday, I was in the co-op parking lot when it was 92 degrees out. I felt the energy drip out my body in a profusion of sweat, and I could barely force myself to go into the co-op. All I wanted to do was sit down where I was and cry. I found myself mentally snapping at everyone in the co-op for the stupidest things. I had to grit my teeth to stop myself from being a bitch, and by the time I got back in my car, I was in tears.

I hate having to defend myself, but I feel it’s necessary because it’s hard to constantly be judged (even if it’s not directly aimed at me) for being almost inert in the summer. It’s a weird disconnect to hear other people talking about how gorgeous the weather is when it’s eighty degrees out and wanting nothing more than to shoot a million ice arrows into the sun. My brain slows down when it’s hot, and that’s the worst part of all. The one thing I pride myself on is that I am a quick thinker. Anything that impedes my ability to think is on my shit list. Valerian is another. I took it once in desperation as a way to sleep, and it slowed my thinking so much, I wanted to kill myself. That’s not hyperbole, by the way. It was bad. Alcohol and drugs are also on the list.

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Anger and Frustration in the Time of Sinusitis

One of the worst things about being sick is how much it narrows my world. All I can think about is being sick and how much I hate it. When I’m able to write or go to taiji classes, I feel emotionally better, if not physically, but it’s far too easy for me to just let it slide. I also get angry at myself for being sick, as if it’s a judgment on my morality.

I know it’s time for me to practice my mental taiji with a dash of Zen. I can only do so much to get better, and then, I have to just take it as it is. I still haven’t been to the doctor, and one reason is because I’m afraid that she’ll say it’s all in my head. It literally is, all in my head, I mean, but I’m afraid she won’t find anything wrong. It’s the same reason I refused to get on antidepressants for the longest time. What if they didn’t work? I considered them my last resort, and if they failed me, then what? What if I go to the doctor and she can’t find anything wrong with me? Then I’m fucked, and I get to feel terrible about myself for feeling like shit when there’s nothing apparently wrong with me.

To throw a wrench in the works, I have hypothyroidism, and my doctor has been adjusting my dosage. The last time I got checked, my levels were too high, so she decreased my dose. Now, however, I’m feeling so groggy, exhausted, and draggy all the time. I quite expected that my follow-up blood test would reveal she had lowered the dose too much, but my levels were still too high. I don’t know what I’d do if the same thing happened again.

I’m used to feeling tired and not motivated, but this is beyond even my level of tolerance. I want to sleep all the time, but I can’t sleep (another one of my ongoing issues. Sleep). I don’t want to do anything other than sit on the couch. It’s not depression–I know what that feels like. It’s just sheer physical exhaustion.

I know I need to go to the doctor, especially since she requested a second follow-up. I just have to make myself do it.

Here’s the latest Mazzy video. She cheers me up, and that’s a good thing.

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

dark wet cold damp.
Depression as dark as night.

A friend recently asked me how my depression was, and the question stumped me. It’s not something I talk about, and I didn’t know quite how to answer. I said something like, “It’s better than it was before. I’m sleeping more, but I’ll probably have to deal with it all my life.” This is technically accurate, but it’s not the whole truth. I don’t like talking about my depression because it’s boring as fuck–much like the bronchial/sinus shit I’m experiencing right now. Who the hell wants to hear, “I’m depressed. I can’t get off the couch. I want to die.” over and over and over again? I certainly don’t, and it’s how I feel a lot of the time.

It’s tricky because on the one hand, it’s absolutely true that I’m much better than I was twenty years ago. I can sleep more than four hours in one block, and I don’t have the death nightmares that used to pepper my dreams on a weekly basis. I don’t constantly see all the ways I can die as I move along in my daily life, and more importantly, I don’t have to continually fight myself not to ram  my car into a concrete lane divider or anything like that. I don’t spend days catatonic on the couch, curled up in a ball, wishing I had the courage to kill myself. I don’t hate myself or think that other people hate me, either.

These are all good things, of course. In fact, when I think of how far I’ve come, I’m amazed. I’ve done a lot of hard work, including three decades of therapy, medication, and taiji (and writing), but the depression has alleviated despite myself–not because of anything specific I’ve done. I say despite myself even though I’ve worked on it because the lifting of the depression has crept up on me inch by inch. Here’s the thing about being marinated in depression for all my life. It’s my life. It’s what I know. It’s all I’ve known. It’s my norm as oppressive as it is. I got used to it, and I didn’t notice as it changed little by little.

It’s a truism, but change usually isn’t a big bang. It’s a minute more of sleep a night, rather than an extra hour. It’s sleeping with only four interruptions rather than six or seven. And, because I have anxiety as well as depression, it’s not freaking out when I say something I perceive as stupid to a complete stranger, or only freaking out for a minute instead of the rest of the day. It’s making a mistake and not berating myself for an hour afterwards, but only for fifteen minutes.

Because the change is so minimal, I don’t notice it at the time. It’s only when I look back that I can see how different I am now than I was even five years ago. I give a lot of credit to taiji, and I’ve recounted the ways it’s helped me in past posts. I’m pleased with my progress. But, and I bet you knew a but was coming.

But.

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Status Quo–Cranky and Tired

I’m exhausted, and I’ve reached the point where my fear of going to the doctor is outweighed by my weariness at being sick on and off for four months. It’s boring for me, and it’s boring for you. So, here’s the latest Mazzy videos in which she and her dad are making green onion pancakes–one of my favorites. There’s an unbearably cute outtake at the end of her dad asking her, “What are we cooking now, Mazzy?” and she yawns a big yawn before sliding down in her seat. It’s too adorable!

Health and My State of Mind

I went to taiji for the first time in a week, and I was going to take it easy. Honest! I know that the worst thing to do when I’m sick is overdo it, but it’s easier said than done. “Don’t overdo it.” OK. The problem is, I don’t know what that is in the moment. Let me explain. I have the capacity to put off the pain/discomfort/exhaustion in the moment (to a certain extent. I have a very high pain threshold), but it’s not an end, only a means. I’ll feel it later, much to my chagrin. My teacher is very sensitive to my health issues and to making sure I don’t do more than I’m able. Her guide is, “If you break out in a sweat, stop.” The problem with that is that I sweat profusely at the drop of a hat, so it’s not always easy to discern what is illness-sweat and what is exertion-sweat.

In addition, my endorphins kick in whenever I’m out and about, plus, I tend to put on a happy (happier) face when I’m around other people, so I don’t appear as sick/tired/depressed as I am. I can laugh and chat brightly, then feel the hit later. Again, if I’m really sick, this goes away, but that has to be a very bad illness (as I had a month ago). I hate to say it, but I’m a complete bitch when I’m sick. I’m not proud of it, but I have to accept that’s how I am right now.

I can tell when I reach that point because my ability to can completely disappears. It happened a few days ago. I had to run to Cub to stock up on groceries, and my patience was already thin when I entered the store. Then, I had an interaction with an employee that stretched my patience to the limit until it snapped. I raised my voice at him (not yelled, but definitely put force behind it), and then immediately felt shitty for it. Yes, he was making things more difficult, but he was only trying to help. If I had been at optimal health, it would have irritated me, but I would have shrugged it off. That’s when I renewed my vow to not interact with people when I’m at my worst.

Anyway, back to taiji. We did some warm-ups and then the kick section of the second section of the Solo Form. It’s my favorite section of the form, and it’s fairly short. It’s a workout, though, because it’s filled with kicks (obvs). I like to joke that it’s my favorite section because it’s the hardest section, but that’s not far from wrong. My twelve years of dance lessons pays off in this section, and there’s something that just sings to me in this section. By the end of it, however, I was shaky. Taiji is deceptive in that it looks and feels easy to do. It’s slow and smooth with no obvious exertion. However, if you do it correctly, it is a real workout, and I was feeling it in my legs by the end of the kick section (which makes sense. The kick section works the legs really hard).

I stopped at the co-op on the way home, and my brain was in a fog. The cashier asked me what my cat’s name was (I bought cat food), and my mind went blank. Cat? What? When I realized what he was asking, I felt a momentary pang of sadness. Normally, my answer would be, “Raven and Shadow. They’re brothers, and black.” Instead, I said, “Shadow. He’s a black cat.” It turned out that he also had a black cat named Snowball. Which made me laugh.

My legs were trembling by the time I got home. I had my oranges which helped, but my legs still ached. I’m doing ginger honey lemon tea and chill today, and I’ll probably see the doctor soon  because I want to know what the hell this is. I also have to get my thyroid levels checked, anyway, so might as well do both.

Anyway. Enjoy the newest Mazzy video. She and a friend are making Earl Grey cookies. Yum!

Tidying Up the Mess: General Housekeeping From the Staff (Me)

may i have your attention, please.
Cleaning house!

There is one upside to being sick: It’s given me a lot of time to think, albeit morbidly, about this blog, my life in general, and the direction thereof of both. I’ve had a hard time writing every day, and it had me questioning whether it was even worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I want to keep on blogging; I’m just not sure it’s worth it. To be brutally honest, I feel as if I’m shouting into the void for many reasons, and I don’t like doing things that aren’t beneficial in one way or another.

If I do continue blogging, I’m most likely going to change the format. Initially, I decided to choose one topic for every day of the week to give myself some structure. And, to be honest, so readers would know what to expect every day. True to my nature, I soon said, “Fuck it. I’m going to write whatever I want whenever I want and just label it under each day. It’s my blog; I can do whatever I want.” I felt restricted by the constraints I placed on myself, though I do feel it helped me over all. One of my biggest flaws when it comes to writing is that I’m undisciplined, and forcing myself to write about a certain topic every day actually got me to write.

Now, though, I’m finding myself more frustrated than not when I try to stick to the schedule. In addition, I’ve pulled way back from writing about politics, which is my Thursday topic. Not because I don’t care, but because it’s overwhelming. I started using Twitter and Facebook in earnest during the 2008 campaign, which means I have a ton of political people in my TL/feed. I’m grateful to have so many intelligent, conscientious people in my social media, but it becomes crushing to read post after post about the fuckery of this presidential administration.

In addition, so much of the reporting on it is political theater, and it’s depressing to watch the media cavil at calling this president exactly what he is: a narcissistic, petulant, childish, tyrannical, deeply ignorant, idiotic, dangerous despot. We don’t need any more, “Can you believe this president is doing this?” articles because unless it’s something positive, yes, I can believe this president is doing something terrible, ignorant, self-destructive (country-self, mostly, but also self-self), and petty. That. Is. Who. He. Is.

What we need are posts about how to stop him and the cowardly Republicans who are supporting him. We also need articles constantly exposing the president and the Republicans for all their shenanigans, holding their feet to the fire, and demanding that they do their goddamn fucking jobs.

Breathe, Minna, breathe.

This is why I need to pull back from politics. I can’t deal with the constant (righteous) outrage over this president and this congress. I’m not talking about checking out because I think we all have a moral obligation to stay aware of what’s happening to our democracy, but I don’t think it’s helping anyone for us to make ourselves sick over it. Let me be clear. You and I can only individually do so much. Collectively, we can do a lot, but not if we run ourselves into the ground. One of my problems when I get overwhelmed is that I get depressed. When I get depressed, I get paralyzed. It’s a trite trope, but it’s true–if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone (or anything) else.

I’m not going anywhere, but I just need a shakeup. I’m not sure what, exactly, so I’m going to make it up as I go. Join me in the journey.

Netflix and Chill Ferreals

Hey, y’all. Feeling better in general, but had a bit of a slide today. Dunno if it’s because I overdid it in taiji class yesterday or what, but I’m just gonna take it easy today. I cannot tell you how sick and tired I am of being sick and tired. I’m sure you’re as sick of reading about it as I am of experiencing it. I’m glad I’m feeling better in general, but it’s frustrating when I have a set-back.

My coughing is almost non-existent, but my effluvia is WAY up. I’m hoping it’s just my body adjusting to my new diet, but it might also be allergies. It could be the drastic change in weather–we went from 30s to high 60s in a day, but whatever it is, I’m tired of the effluvia* constantly running down the back of my throat.

I’m also really grumpy today for whatever reason. Probably best to stay off social media. Here’s a video of Baby Mazzy making nachos. She’s guaranteed to bring a smile to my face.

 

*Snot. It’s snot. Effluvia just sounds much classier.

Coughing Down; Effluvia Up! An Overall Win

It’s been about a week since I’ve radically changed my diet, and my coughing is almost completely gone. I know correlation isn’t always causation, but I also know that coughing can be caused by issues in the diet. Effluvia running from my nose and down my throat is up, however, and I’m hoping it’s just my body adjusting to my new diet.

Lactose-free milk, which, as I noted, still has lactose in it, causes me to hork. I’m going to have to find something to replace it. Sharp cheddar, with the aid of Lactaid, only causes minimal distress, so I’m keeping it in for now.

I’m fortunate that there are so many tasty options these days for gluten-free and dairy-free. I’m going to keep experimenting until I find the best diet for me. I’m also watching cooking videos, if you can believe it, and I might actually start cooking.

In the meanwhile, here’s Baby Mazzy cooking Spam Musubi. I don’t like Spam, even if it was created in Minnesota, but I’d eat it if she made it for me!

Also, I’ve returned to rice after a long hiatus, and why the fuck did I ever stray? Rice is so delicious, and I love the way it smells as it’s cooking. It’s about time I returned to my roots.