Underneath my yellow skin

Being challenged physically and emotionally

Day three or four of waking up with a migraine. I’m lucky in that I can stand reading and writing when I have a migraine, but I have to keep all the lights off and any sound I have on low. Even then, I have a low level thumping in my brain and a general queasiness. Still, I consider myself very fortunate that I can function at all when I have a migraine; I know many people can’t. I just went to the store to stock up for Snowmaggedon (current prediction 7 to 12 inches, but it’s been all over the place), and I’m exhausted. That’s the downside to trying to operate while migraining–it takes everything out of me. Again, I’m lucky that I can function at all, but now I’m down for the rest of the day.

Is this my life? For the past few years, I feel as I’ve been operating at 75% or less* more often than not. I have a few days or weeks of feeling good, and then it all comes crashing down around me again. I know I need to get a thorough slate of tests, but I’m just…so tired. Going to the doctor is an ordeal for me in the best of times, which this is not. Why? For a plethora of reasons. Let’s start with the fact that I had thyroid troubles since I was young. I was hyperthyroid, though I didn’t know it at the time. I just new I was hot and cranky and couldn’t sleep. There were other reasons for it, of course, but the big one was discovering I had Graves’ disease when I was a tweener. Back then, it wasn’t really well understood (this was in the mid-eighties), and they treated it by shoving pills down my throat. I’m not sure what they were, exactly, but I was taking 27 pills a day. Nine pills three times a day. That didn’t work because my whatever levels were extraordinarily high. They decided they needed to go to the nuclear option (literally?) of radiation. They were quite forthright about the fact that they were giving me their best estimate, but that radiation wasn’t precise. Most likely, they were going to give me too much and destroy my thyroid. This is exactly what happened, and now I have to take a pill every day for the rest of my life.

During that time and thereafter, I had to get my blood drawn quite often. It was on a monthly basis for a while, and I have terrible veins. Again, this isn’t something I knew before I had to have my blood drawn so regularly, but I came away from it quite wary of anyone poking me with a needle (except my tattoo artist). I have many negative memories of that time, including the (male) nurse who insisted he could find my vein from inside my arm and kept wiggling it. It hurt like a motherfucker until I wanted to punch him. He kept saying he wanted to not poke me again (to prevent further pain), but at that point, I would have welcomed a thousand extra pricks. I mentioned that he’s male because the other time I had a really difficult poker was after I was in a car accident. The person doing the MRI was a man, and he was pissed that I hadn’t been poked already before I got to him. He was grumbling the whole time he poked me, and I ended up bruised and sore.

Side note: I am keloid. This is yet another thing I learned through experience. This means that I scar twice as bad as other people, and any time I got my blood drawn, I ended up with a massive bruise that lasted several days if not a week. I still have to get my blood drawn every year, and I tell the phlebotomist to use a butterfly needle and take it from the back of my hand. I don’t know when I learned this was a thing, but when I did, it was a life-changer. I remember a feeling of awe as my blood flowed with ease from the back of my hand. And, the prick was nothing–I barely felt it at all. I still have a few phlebotomists who insist on doing it the old-fashioned way first, but they always come around to the butterfly needle in the hand trick.

More recently, I’ve had to leave two doctors because of their negative attitudes about my weight. The first was a doctor I really liked and respected. Until she started lecturing me about BMI. I told her, “You know the BMI is bullshit, right?” because we had that kind of relationship. She said she knew, but the new insurance was pushing it. I understood that, but it disappointed me. To be honest, I lost respect for her. It would be one thing if she had said, “I have to say this to you because my new insurer is insisting”, but she didn’t say that. She presented the info as fact until I pushed her on it. That’s the part I couldn’t forgive. I mean, I knew enough to question her about it, but what if someone didn’t? A doctor’s first responsibility should be to her patient, and I was really let down by this doctor.

The one after her…I still grimace when I think of her. Her specialty was weight loss, which should have been a red flag. I asked her to put me on…Prozac I want to say it was. Might have been Zoloft, but I’m pretty sure it’s Prozac. I have this weird thing with SSRIs in that they work the first time for roughly a year. They work really well, in fact. Then, they stop working, and if I try them again, they make me suicidal. I’m not being hyperbolic–it’s happened three times. Anyway, when I was put on Prozac the second time, it happened again. I was severely suicidal, but I managed to make an appointment with my doctor and drag myself to it. When I was weighed, I had lost twenty pounds in one or two months. It was because I couldn’t eat–I was concentrating on not throwing myself off a cliff. When my doctor came bustling in, she remarked with approval that I had lost twenty pounds! I looked at her and said, “Yes, because the Prozac made me suicidal, and it’s all I can do not to kill myself.” She stopped, looked flummoxed, and said, “Well, at least you lost the weight.” Or was it, “It doesn’t matter how you lost it as long as you did”?

Either way, it was grossly inappropriate, and I never went back to her again. Ideally, I would have said something at the time, but I was just so shocked, that I didn’t know what to say. Plus, I was still deeply suicidal and in a fog, and who the fuck says something like that? I realized pretty soon after that she was probably uncomfortable by what I said, and her joking response was her way of dealing with it. However, she’s a fucking doctor. If she can’t handle delicate subjects like suicide, then maybe she shouldn’t be one. And, that was the absolute worst thing she could have said. Again, I was perceptive enough to realize why she said it, but what if I hadn’t been?

My next doctor was great. I loved her. I felt comfortable with her, and even when she had something to say that I might not want to hear, she phrased it in a way that wasn’t blaming and/or shaming. Why am I talking about her in the past tense? She left the clinic, which means starting from scratch again. Sigh.

On the taiji side, the last movement (posture) I’ve been taught in both the Sabre Form and the Cane Form is kicking my ass. Are kicking my ass? Whichever, consider my ass firmly kicked. You might think that I’m complaining, but I’m not. I’m enjoying being pushed past my comfort zone. This is not a humble-brag, but it’s going to sound like it, anyway. I don’t have much difficulty with learning the movements in taiji. There are a few notable exceptions, but in general, it’s easy-breezy for me. School was that way for me as well, so I kind of take it for granted. What I like about being pushed in the weapons is that I actually have to put some thought into it and not just go on auto-pilot. One of my least-favorite movements in the Solo Form is Fist Under Elbow. It’s also one I know the best (at least before the whole form was tweaked) because I put so much effort into learning it. There’s a certain feeling of accomplishment when that light bulb switches on and you have an ‘aha’ moment. Call it the Dark Souls effect.

I’m hoping to continue learning and loving, and I look forward to finishing both forms.




*This is complicated because I’m basing my 100% on me being chronically depressed, low energy, and antisocial in general. Therefore, it’s not a true 100%, but it’s as close as I get.

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