Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Physical Fitness

I’m slicing and I’m dicing

My thumb is nearly 100% and I can’t get over how great it is. When I had trigger thumb, I rationalized that it wasn’t that bad. I rarely had to use my thumb so as long as I babied it, it was fine. Not great. It was always tender and I always had to be careful about bumping it, but it was fine. Or so I thought. Now that it’s back to normal, I can’t believe how much I had to accommodate it and how much it low-key bothered me. It’s only in retrospect that I realize how restrained I was by it.

In a metaphysical way, it’s the same with any flaw a person has. It’s hard to see how much it hampers you while you’re in a situation where using it doesn’t seem so bad. Or working around it. It doesn’t help that I have an insanely high tolerance for pain plus my mother’s mentality of stiff upper lip. When I got my steroid shot, the doctor warned me that it was going to hurt because it was in a very sensitive spot. I exhaled as she pushed the rather long needle into the base of my thumb and it was nothing more than a sting at the site of the needle. I didn’t react and we went on with the appointment. At the end of it, she asked how my thumb was feeling. I said fine and she gave me a strange look. She said I was very strong (or something similar) because that was a very sensitive spot for a shot.

She sounded almost admiring of it and I wanted to tell her it was not a good thing, but I just nodded. Someone accused me of humble-bragging when I tweeted about my reaction to the second shot or rather trying to garner sympathy. I wasn’t, but it made me think about how we’re supposed to react to medical things. In a letter to Ask A Manager today, someone who suffers debilitating migraines (of two different types) and was wondering if when they returned to the office, she could get away with crawling on the ground. She worked for a huge company and the vast majority of the commenters were appalled at the idea. The few who pointed out that it was akin to a disability ask were shouted down.


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I am a delicate flower, damn it

The heat has finally broken–somewhat. It’s 75 right now, which is still outside my comfort zone, but it’s way better than 107. My parents were shocked when I told them because it’s actually hotter than where they are–which almost never happens. They asked how I’ve been dealing with it. With AC, a fan blowing on high directly on me, iced water, and ice packs. Also, taking off my shirt when the sun goes down. I’m a less is more kind of gal in general when it comes to clothing in part because of hating clothing on my skin and partly because I hate being hot. Oh, also constrained. In my idea world, I would  be naked all the time in a 50 degree world. That’s not gonna ever happen, though, because that’s not the world I live in.

My energy has been sapped even for the few minutes I’m outside when I’m taking a few puffs. It’s just so oppressive, especially when you’re not used to it. It’s similar to how the South deals with an inch of snow–it’s no big deal unless it only happens once every five years or so. We get over a hundred on occasion, but not for a solid week as we did this time. We’re supposed to get back up in the nineties this week, which is just not right. I mean, yes, it’s June and yes it’s summer. But this is Minnesota! We’re not built to deal with sustained 100 degrees.

Even though I’m inside most of the time, I’m still affected by the heat. My sleep has been worse than usual and my brain refuses to think. I’m grumpy, which, admittedly, is my normal state of mind, but it’s also extra with the heat. I feel like a dope for being so susceptible to heat, but it’s the way I am. I love the cold with all my heart and feel alive when the temperature is around zero. But anything over sixty is not fun for me and past seventy, I want to throat-punch somebody. Eighty? Grrrrr. Ninety is unfathomable and a hundo is personally hurtful.

I’m drinking iced water and iced coffee like they’re going out of style, which is helping a bit. But mostly, I’m just mad. I know it doesn’t help, but it’s how I feel.

In better news, my left thumb is roughly 92% right as rain. That steroid shot was a miracle worker, but I’m glad the doc clarified that it might take up to two weeks to work. I had been expecting it to be like magic and work instantly. Knowing that wasn’t the case meant I didn’t freak when it didn’t get better right away. It took a few days for it to improve at all and by the one week point, I was at roughly 60%. Now, I can bend it with very minimal pain and it’s only slightly sore when I touch it. To be honest, I’ll be happy if it stays like this and doesn’t get any better. I’m just so relieved I can use it again.


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It’s too hot, too hot, way too fucking hot, baby

The week of mean heat continues, much to my dismay. Last summer, my AC went off maybe one or two days. It’s been on almost nonstop since Friday (it’s now Tuesday). It’s been in the eighties at 11 at night. In other words, it’s fucking hot. I have the AC on, a fan blowing on the highest setting, and plenty of ice drinks. Also hot coffee, but that’s only because I ran out of coffee. Been drinking it cold in the past few days. I have an ice pack for my thumb, which means putting it on my (naked) chest as well. I’m eating popsicles like they were going out of style.

Speaking of my thumb, I can actually bend it again! By itself! Without pushing on it! With minor clicking and pain! It’s been a week since I got the steroid shot and it’s so much better than before. What a relief. Even if it doesn’t become 100% again, I’m elated with the results. Science works, bitchez!

In the first several days after the shot, I took it really easy on my thumb. I didn’t do any of my left side weaponry or two-handed weaponry, much to my chagrin. I did the right side sword and right side saber, both which involves holding the weapon briefly with the left hand in the beginning and end of the form, but it doesn’t really put pressure on the thumb itself. In general, I don’t use my left thumb on the regular, especially now that I’ve taught myself to use my right thumb to hit the spacebar, but it’s nice that I don’t have to baby it so much.

One of the boons to being dairy-free/gluten-free now is that there are many substitutes that are nearly as good as/as good as/better than the original product. However, that’s also the down side as the subs use much fats to get that creamy mouth feel. I should have realized that on my own, but I didn’t think about it–probably chose not to think about it. Now that I’ve decided to ‘eat healthier’ (put in quotes because it’s all about the numbers), that means cutting out most of the dairy subs. Cheese, sour cream, and soft spreads–I’m using up what I have and buying no more. I’m also cutting back on chocolate and am very close to animal/fish free. Does that mean I’m going to be a default vegan? Yup, pretty much.

Still hot. Still grumpy. Gonna end it with this video.

Healthy? Wealthy? Wise!

It’s official. My left thumb is trigger thumb. Met my new doc yesterday and she confirmed it. Gonna get a steroid shot next week. I asked what happened when it wore off. She looked at me blankly and said that there was the possibility it would take care of it for good. Yeah, right. My mother has had to get steroid shots more than once, but it could be because she’s not proactive about not reinjuring herself. She’s really good with rehab, but no so good at preventative. I’m the same, actually. Once I know the problem, I’ll tackle it single-mindedly. Figuring out that problem? Also on it! Preventing said problem from happening? Hahaha, no. My new doc said that I should try to figure out what’s triggering it, no pun intended, I’m sure. I have a hunch that a certain taiji spear drill started it. When I mentioned it to my doc, she looked confused but gamely said maybe I shouldn’t do that drill. I reassured her that I’d stopped doing that particular drill.

It’s funny how little I use my left thumb in my daily life especially now that I’ve retrained myself to smash the spacebar with my right thumb instead of my left. I do mouse with my left so maybe I should change that back. I rarely mouse, though, as I do most things with keyboard shortcuts. I don’t even use my thumb to mouse, really. So the tendons running up and down my thumb are swollen. The steroid shot will reduce the swelling and the main mission is to make sure it doesn’t swell again. I am not giving up taiji weapons for the left side, though. There really isn’t any pressure on the thumb itself so it shouldn’t be bad for my thumb. I dunno. I may give it a rest after I get the shot next week. We’ll see. I’ll ask the doc what they think (ortho specialist). It really doesn’t bother me on the regs and only hurts when I touch it. But, bending it would be nice. Also, not flinching in pain when I accidentally touch it.

Let’s talk taiji weapons because I can and because I love them. The Double Saber is my current jam and I love them so much. I have escrima sticks when I want to go as quickly as possible and not worry about smacking anything with the blades. I also have my showy flimsy blades that have colored scarves on the handles that look fantastic as I wave them in the air. It’s definitely more for show than for praticality and one day I will get a truly magnificent set that is both gorgeous and useful. My sword is both beautiful and useful–or rather, it would be if I sharpened the blade. I paid a pretty penny for it, but I rationalized that I would have it for the rest of my life. This was five or six years ago…maybe more? I still have it and still use it every day.

Of course, I will get a non-wooden saber at some point, too, but that’s less of interest to me at the moment. I’ve grown to appreciate the saber in a way I never thought possible when I first started it, but it’s never going to be my favorite. Well, I can’t say never, but it’s highly unlikely as long as the sword and the double sabers exist. Also, my teacher mentioned the Bagua Sword Form and my eyes lit up like it’s Christmas. I have too much to learn and yet the mere mention of another sword form jazzed me.


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The state of my health

My sleep has been shit(tier) lately so I apologize in advance if this is a rambling mess of a post. Sleep, my lifelong nemesis. So much so, I’ve written a novel with Morpheus (of Neil Gaiman fame. Not that he invented Morpheus, of course, but this particular version) as the main antagonist. Goddamn it. I still feel sorrowful when I think of that novel because there’s no way I can publish it. It’s not fanfic as the main character is, well, me. I use all the members of the Endless as I envision them, and, quite frankly, it’s really good.

Anyway, I’d been happy because in the past year or two, my sleep had stabilized. But then in the last few months, it’s gone off the rails again. Why? I don’t know. Is it because of the coffee I’m drinking again? You’d think so, but the troubles started before I took up caffeine once again. It may not be helping, but it’s not the root cause. It’s frustrating because caffeine is beneficial for some things (thumb issue if it’s RA), negative for some things (sleep) and both in others (migraines). So far, I’ve kept the caffeine because the positives have outweighed the negatives, but I may have to quit if it gets worse.

My thumb is better. It’s still sore and tender and hard to bend at times, though. I’ve decided that it’s probably better not to wear a splint most of the time because I don’t use it when I type. The main reason to wear a splint is to keep the digit from moving on its own or from being accidentally knocked into. I feel that constricting the blood flow is not a good thing to do for hours on end so I only put it on when my hand starts actually hurting rather than just being sore and tender to the touch. I can deal with it even though I’m not happy about it, obviously. What’s more worrisome is that my right hand is starting to have…issues. Not the same issues as my left thumb, but still.

Ok. I’m just not feeling it today. Here are Maru, Hana, and Miri.

I’m slicing and I’m dicing

Thumb update: doing better, but still tender and sore. I’m stretching it daily, icing it and heating it alternately. I’m using the splint less because I don’t think it’s helping as much now. More to the point, I don’t do much with my thumb on the daily so there’s no need to splint it. I do wear it while I sleep because I toss and turn while I sleep; I don’t want to knock it into something. In addition, if I type too long without it on, the base of my thumb and part of my palm closest to it actually starts hurting. Then, I put on the splint and it’s better in five or ten minutes. It’s frustrating how long it’s taking to get better, but it *is* getting better.

Weapons. Let’s talk weapons. Wait, where are you going? I know I’ve become a one-note wonder on this, but it’s been consuming me for the past few weeks. Ever since I got the twin broadsword set, that is. I love them so much. They’re lighter than the escrima sticks I’d been using as a substitute and more ergonomically friendly for my hands. They don’t aggravate my thumb and they move like a dream.

I don’t know how to explain this, but each weapon has a different feel to it. When I hold one in my hand, there’s an energy that is distinct to that particular weapon. The sword is an elegant weapon as it dances in the air. It is the scholar’s weapon and it’s all about finesse. It’s lethal, yes, but it’s more about showing that you are a master over the weapon. The saber, on the other hand, is more about bonking people very hard. It’s a strong, powerful weapon that makes me feel like a warrior as I wield it. Spear is back into the finesse category and it’s both solid and delicate. It’s over six-feet long, which makes it interesting to maneuver it indoors. Cane is pure Broadway. I can’t help it. I just want to tap my way across the room. Karambit is fast and not-so-furious, and I feel like a proper rogue when I wield it. Stealth mode activated!

Moving onto the double sabers. Doing the drills with the escrima sticks, it felt weighty and almost meaty. The steel is thin and flexible, which results in making a swishing sound if I move it too quickly. That’s a bonus because I tend to hurry through my movements. My goal in moving the twin broadswords at the moment is not to trigger the whooshing sound. Also, not to hit myself. I’ve done that more than once because when you pass the blades behind your back, you’re supposed to actually touch them to your back. Which is fine and good, but there’s a thin line between touching and hitting. Fortunately, it’s with the back of the blades and not the front, but still.

Deer-horn knives. These are on the backburner right now. I walk the circle once a week, but I have so many other things on my plate that I haven’t pushed myself to learn any more of it. I just finished teaching myself the Wu-Li Wudang Sword and the left side of the Sword Form. Both of these were fairly easy to teach myself (at least the forms in general. Nowhere near polished, of course). Next up is the last row of the Karambit Form, which I’m sure will be more difficult. I already knew the right side of the Sword Form and have done it probably close to a  thousand times. With the Wu-li Wudang Sword, I already knew the different energies being displayed.

Alright. I’m struggling with this post. My mind has not been sharp the last week or two, so I’m going to wrap this up for now.

The long road back to recovery

I’ve been thinking about my thumb a lot for obvious reasons. It’s funny how much you take things for granted until it hurts like fucking hell. well, to be more precise, it aches like hell. It doesn’t hurt, per se, except the time I slept without the splint because I foolishly decided I didn’t need to wear it at night any longer. That’s where my background comes in because my mom is the same way. The second something feels better, she decides she can go 100 again. She recently had surgery on her shoulder (which had issues that made me so angry at my father and the doctor, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it because she was in Taiwan) and she was upset when she wasn’t back to her normal self in a month. She complained, saying her doctor said that’s how long it would take.

I doubt he said that exactly because she has a habit of hearing what she wants to hear, but even if he had something similar to that, it doesn’t make any kind of sense to think that you’d completely heal from a major surgery in a month. That’s the thing about being a perfectionist, however, and I know this from experience. We don’t have much resource for dealing with ongoing frustration. In my brain, I should be able to think my way to a solution. Also, despite my contrarian nature, I am a rules follower for the most part. So, in my brain, if I am actively working on improving my thumb, then it should get better. And it is, but on such a slow schedule. First week, I just tried to massage the thumb and take it easy. While wearing a splint. I do stretches for my thumb every day and today, I received my heat/ice therapy assists (gel patches, gel finger splint, gel mittens. The gel packs can go either hot or cold). I’m going to do some heat/ice therapy and see if that helps as well.

On the taiji front (because you know I can’t go a post without talking about it.

Side note: When I first started studying taiji, I would notice how much my teacher talked about it and how she had made it central to her life. We are friends as well as teacher/student and in the Before Times, we used to hang out while not in class sometimes. It was clear to me that taiji was her life. Which, good for her, but I didn’t understand it. I was doing it begrudgingly and not really wanting to be there.


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I am just done

One way I can tell when I’m nearly done with something is that everything gets on my last nerve. Normally, I’m good at deflecting and keeping my shit to myself. But if I’m not allowed or able to replenish my reservoir, that ability erodes until at some point it completely disappears.  for example. Talking to my parents on the phone. Normally, I just ‘uh huh’ and ‘really?’ until the phone call ends and then shake off the slight depression before going about my business. By the way. My brother and I recently compared our conversations with our parents, and they’re exactly the same except I get more bitching from my mother. Way more bitching. Most of the time, my mentality is, “Just listen to them blather, nod in agreement, and get off the phone as quickly as you can.” With an added, “Tell them you’re fine, everything is fine, yes, Covid-19 sucks, yes, this current president sucks, have a good life, goodbye.”

It doesn’t help that my parents are deeply entwined in a codependent relationship that I’m afraid will leave my mother worse for the wear. I mean, hell, it already has as most of her life revolves around my father and catering to his needs. My mother was on a kick for fifteen years to get me pregnant and then switched to getting me married after that. She would say who would take care of me when I’m old and sick if I weren’t married? It took every ounce of will I had not to snap out that her being married hadn’t helped her. Indeed, recently, she fell and hit her head, and as she felt the blood (which was pink), my father insisted it wasn’t blood. He kept asking her if she had dyed her hair recently which, first of all, she hadn’t dyed her hair in a decade or so. Second, she’s never dyed her hair pink. She said this proved she couldn’t count on him and then did a little laugh. I hate that laugh, by the way. It’s a fairly new addition and she only does it when she knows that she’s saying something unreasonable. Like having to put up with your husband being worse than useless in an emergency situation.

By the way, my mother shared that my father’s latest dementia tests show that he hasn’t deteriorated in the year. She was relieved while I was baffled. If it’s not medical, then why is he getting worse and worse with his memory, his self-absorption, and everything else? This is an age-old question with him, though. Is it medical or just his innate narcissism? I try not to get sucked into the speculation, but it’s hard not to get drawn into it because my mother is incessant about talking about my father.

Anyway. When my mom calls, it goes like this. She asks the perfunctory ‘how are you?’ question then use it to springboard into whatever she wants to talk about. Usually her many physical problems, things my father has done to irritate her but she can’t admit it, Covid-19, the election, work issues, and then insist that I talk to my father. He’ll ask about Covid-19 and express amazement that it’s not going down. A bit about this president and the totally unfounded belief that Americans are logical and rational people and how could this happen? He says in complete seriousness that America is the best country in the world! Mind, he hasn’t actually lived here in nearly 30 years, but facts don’t matter. Then he pontificates how each individual person doesn’t matter (when it comes to the coronavirus) and we can’t do anything so we should just ignore it and move on.


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Changing my mind is hard…and sometimes necessary

I’m a stubborn cuss. Once I make up my mind about something, I’m hard-pressed to change it. If I do, it’s usually after a lot of thinking, musing, and researching. I have to drag myself kicking and screaming into a new idea. To my credit, I actually will change my mind if enough good information is presented to me. It doesn’t even have to be a lot–just solid enough for me to understand a different point of view. In this case, let’s talk caffeine. I have given it up twice in my life. Once in college because I was drinking six to eight cans a day and I went cold turkey. That was hell on earth and I would not suggest it. I was cranky, irritable, and my sleep was fucked even more than usual. It was two weeks of pure hell and this time around, I knew better than to try it again.

I had a plan. I was going to wean myself off caffeine. At the time, I drank probably three to four cans of pop a day. It’s hard to know for sure because I poured it into a big (adult) sippy cup and just drank from that throughout the day. I cut it by an estimated one can a day until I was down to zero. This was a year or two ago and I had a cup of caffeinated tea/coffee once a month or so. One of the reasons I quit was because I was getting a bit jittery. The biggest reason, though, was because I thought I should quit. That’s it. Not for any real reason. But because I was getting the jitters and thought maybe it would be better for me to cut out the caffeine.

However. Here’s the thing. Caffeine is both a trigger for migraines and a prevention for them as well. No one knowns why or in what quantities. It’s different for each person as well. A few weeks ago (election week), I was struggling with migraines and popping my pills as much as I felt safe doing. The main ingredient is caffeine and I thought that maybe my abstinence of caffeine was a hasty decision. I decided that one cup a day (8-12 oz.) would not be a bad thing. I started with oolong tea, which was not my favorite, but I happened to have it on hand. I found a box of green tea with pomegranate that I much preferred and substituted that. Then, I saw that Califia Farms who makes very tasty cold-brew coffee drinks had a peppermint mocha blend (with almond milk) so I’m drinking that every day.

Cold-brew has much less acidity than regular coffee and its caffeine content varies. I feel like there’s less in the Califia than in tea because I feel the migraine bubbling under the surface at the end of a day when I drink the Califa but not the tea. But! Both have been able to stave off a full-blown migraine so I’ll take that as a win. Still. I’m careful to keep it under control and not go back to drinking a six pack of pop a day.

Going full steam(er) ahead…and double sabres

I’m old. I know myself well enough by now that there are two ways I can make changes to something in my life. One is to think about it for a lengthy amount of time before suddenly doing it–like with my cats. I pondered it for years, looking at it from every angle, looked at hundreds of black cats, then just went and got them one day. It’s a lot of internal churning which is eventually matched by outer motion. Sometimes, the internal churning is less, but the outer activity is just as abrupt. See me cutting out dairy and gluten on the same day.

The other is a 180 from that mentality. It’s taking small, almost invisible steps one at a time until looking back months later, there is real progress. I’m in the middle of this with my diet. In the past, I ate all premade food and junk food. I struggled to get in my fruits and veggies as part of an overcorrection from my childhood when I was forced to eat them every day. Look, I would never deny they’re important, but having many power struggles over eating as a kid didn’t make me amenable to chomping on them as an adult.

It’s more important now because I’m finding I have a reaction to more and more foods. I’ll get to that in a minute. In addition, I decided to cut back on meat for ethical and environmental reasons. I wasn’t trying to eat healthier per se but to accommodate my many dietary restriction. I’ve cut down my eating meat to once a day at most. I’m aiming for more meat-free (chicken) days which means more veggies!

I’ve had my issues with veggies for a long time. I’ve eaten more fruits than vegetables in the past because I liked fruits better. But, unfortunately, I’m finding more and more fruits that are not good for my digestive system.

Side note: I’m pretty sure it’s IBS. I’m not going to get it tested any time soon, but the symptoms are pretty consistent. Also, I learned that allergies to things in nature can correlate to food allergies.


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