It’s the end of the year, so inevitably, thoughts turn to the next year and how I’m going to do things differently. Even though I am not a bit believer in holidays or ritualistic endeavors, there is something about the end of the year that makes me somber about time passing. Not as somber as my birthday, but somber nonetheless. This year has kinda sucked for me, mostly because of my own depression. There are external factors as well, but I do not want to go into those for this post. For now, I want to focus on my health, especially since it’s been so bad this year. A couple months sick, a few weeks not sick, then back to being sick. All of it lasting the past four months or so.
I have come to the conclusion that much of it is probably allergies. From my research, I have learned that allergy symptoms can seem a lot like cold symptoms. In addition, when one has as bad allergies as I do, it exhausts the immune system, thereby making it easier to catch colds. Right now, I’m still coughing and my nose is alternating between stuffy and runny. My ears are crusted over, and my throat is scratchy from time to time. I also have gobs of goo in my throat that make it hard to swallow.
This post is about the ways I’m going to try to better my health in the new year. First, a doctor’s appointment to get everything tested. Allergies because I haven’t had it done in a while (because the testing is so unpleasant. All those pricks swelling up and me feeling as if I can’t breathe. It is no fun at all). If that doesn’t bring up anything, then other testing. Maybe a sleep test because, yeah, me and sleep still aren’t friends.
I was listening to NPR, and they had Matthew Walker on again. He is a sleep scientist and a professor in neurology and psychology. He’s an enthusiastic proponent of sleep (and he has a lovely British accent. He talks about the negatives of sleep deprivation and the positives of getting enough sleep (at least eight hours a night). Which is fine and dandy, but what he doesn’t say is how to get eight hours of sleep a night. It’s frustrating as hell because I have tried almost everything under the sun, and the only time I’m able to get eight hours a night is when I’m sick.
I’ve written before how I existed on four hours of sleep a night for many years. Decades, even. And, yeah, I know that driving while sleep-deprived is worse than driving while drunk, but if I only drove when I was fully rested, I wouldn’t drive at all. With the help of taiji, I am currently up to six/six-and-a-half hours of sleep a night. Sometimes five, but mostly six. I would love for the dear doctor to tell me how the hell I’m supposed to get the other two to three hours.
I have read that in the old days, people used to sleep in chunks of four hours. There has been some evidence that sleeping less at a time in chunks is more effective than getting eight hours in one go. I would like to believe that because I could conceivably see me sleeping for four hours twice a day, whereas sleeping eight hours in one chunk consistently seems impossible to me. I have tried all the recommendations such as hot baths, hot showers, hot milk (back when I drank dairy). Lavender (to which I’m allergic. Taking a bath in it and finding that out was…special), Valerian, Melatonin, hot tea–none of it worked. Different beds, pillows, blankets. Nope. Sleeping on the couch is better than sleeping in a bed–at least until Shadow yowls at me in the morning to wake up and swats at me–but only marginally.
Sleep pills are poison. The one thing I probably need to try is giving up electronics for an hour or two before sleep. The other thing is, I have an issue where I will get really exhausted at a certain point in the early evening. Not every night, but many. I struggle through it because I don’t want to go to bed at eight or nine. Why? Because. Yeah, sorry, I don’t have a more thoughtful reason than that. The problem is that if I make it through that period of time, then I’m wide awake for the next several hours.
I used to go to bed around five or six in the morning. I’ve been consciously trying to cut that back to a more normal time because, um, I actually don’t have a reason. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Also, being sick meant going to bed earlier, and I just kind of stuck to the schedule. I’ve been going to bed by one/one-thirty, but in the past few weeks, it’s been creeping towards three. I would like to keep it to twelve/one, but my sleep has been a mess this past two weeks.
How am I going to do better with my sleep? Dunno. Will report back.
Let’s talk about smoking. I rarely talk about it because it’s become so villainized in this country. It’s not just bad for you, it’s that you’re a bad person if you smoke. You’re weak; it’s moral turpitude; you should be banished from polite society. Look. I’m not saying smoking is a great thing, obviously, but the demonization of it is way over the top. It’s also arbitrary. Smoking is bad, but drinking is good!! And, yes, I know. Second-hand smoke, but the pollution surrounding us is way worse than any single cigarette. I know it’s easier to pinpoint your rage at a single target than an entire system, though.
Anyhoo. I smoke between 1 1/2 and 2 cigarettes a day. My own doctor (past doctor) said it wasn’t anything to really worry about, but I think it’s time. Especially because I’m having so many problems with my respiratory system. It can’t do anything but help to quit is what I’m saying. The problem is, it’s such a ritual, and it’s the one vice I have. There’s a not-small part of my brain that is resentful about giving it up. I know I could substitute something else, but there’s nothing else that really replaces that need. In addition, it gets me outside half a dozen times a day–which is good. I tend to hibernate, and I know being outside, even for a few minutes at a time, is good for me.
I’ve decided to try the cut-down method, but it hasn’t been working for me so far. I’ve wanted to smoke more, and, yes, I understand the psychology behind that. I’m going to keep at it for another few weeks, but if it doesn’t work, I may have to go cold turkey. Ideally, I would like to be cigarette-free a week from now. By the way, I’ve tried the vape. I do not like the vape. I will not be using the vape to quit smoking.
What else? Taiji. It’s in flux right now because my teacher’s teacher is dealing with a crisis in his life. In response, he is relying on my teacher to teach a few of his classes. One of them overlaps with her own class at our studio, so she’s going to have to stop that class. I don’t like her teacher’s studio for several reasons, most of them irrational, and I would really prefer she stick to this studio. I know it won’t happen, though. She’s keeping the Saturday class there, and the Friday class was already at the other studio. I haven’t been to that class in quite some time. She’s thinking of adding a different class to our studio, Friday afternoon if she can swing it. I’d go to that one for sure. As for the Monday class at the other studio, I might go. It’d be good for me to get out of my comfort zone and see other practitioners. In addition, she will be teaching a sword and saber class after to which we are allowed to attend as well. That is my jam, and I would love to get back to the saber.
I’ve been keeping up with my beefed up daily routine, and it’s really helping my back/right thigh problems. I may slowly add more to my routine, but for now, I’m concentrating on getting better. It’s frustrating, however, as I don’t think there is much I can do in that department. It’s not the flu, so I can’t get antibiotics or anything like that. Not that I would, anyway, as I don’t like to use them unless absolutely necessary.
I guess this post isn’t as much about how I’m going to reach my goals in the new year but what I need to do. I also want to eat better, but I’m not sure that includes the instapot. I really want the lazy woman’s guide to cooking, which is not the instapot. Well, it could be, I suppose, but so many of the recipes have a gazillion ingredients and a thousand steps. I want less than ten ingredients and three steps max. As I’ve said before, I was under the misunderstanding that the instapot would cut down on the work and the prep time. No, no. It only cuts down on cooking time.
It’s back to the drawing board for me.