Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: recovery

Life is good

It’s 9:00 a.m. and I’m watching the snow fall steadily outside my window. The first real snowfall of the winter, though there were a few flakes on Friday. The trees, bushes, and everything outside is coated with the white stuff. Watching snow fall is meditative and soothing to my soul.

Shadow has had his second breakfast after his third-to-last syringe shot. That was a rough one, which is probably attributed to the fact that he’s so close to 100%. I bought a bunch of things to tempt him at the co-op, and he gobbled down the pate I bought there. Or as they call it, the ‘cate’ (with an accent on the e). Right now, he is sitting by his water bowl. I don’t know why, but that’s his life right now. Just as I typed that, he left. Who knows why cats do what they do? The point is that he is eating heartily. His first breakfast was two-thirds a can (small) of his normal wet food.

Side note; I am exhausted. This last week has been a whirlwind, and my body is letting me know that it is not happy with me. It’s also because I ate a bunch of things I normally wouldn’t, which is a no-no when you control your diet as I do. I have tried to be up early enough to feed my cat and then have some space between that and giving him meds.

He has been devouring his food–once he actually starts eating. I’ve been having to get creative in order to get him to eat, which is why I think his nose is stuffy. Once he takes that first bite, he usually gobbles down whatever is in front of him. There are things he prefers to the others, and I’m trying to figure out what is his favorite.

In general, he does not like things that have been refrigerated. I can heat them up by putting hot water on them, but he’s not pleased if I microwave them. I know that I’m catering to him, but I am fine with that right now. Plus, he has lost over four pounds in the last decade. He can afford to gain some of that back.

I feel guilty for not taking him to the vet before this, and I’m relieved that he’s been given a clean bill of health (beside this cold or whatever it is he’s dealing with). He’s an older gentleman cat, and I resolve to take him to the vet at least once a year for a checkup.

My body is acting up on me. I think it’s finally relaxing after a week of chaos, but it’s not happy about the stress. In addition, I ratcheted my sleep schedule dramatically in one direction, so my body is not happy about that, either. I used to sleep from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. Now, it’s about 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. or so. More or less. It was in part to match with K while she was here and also to be able to give Shadow his antibiotics at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Continue Reading

Micromanaging my cat

We are on Day 6 of my cat being sick. Well, kind of. I mean, it’s the sixth day after he got sick, but we can quibble as to whether he still is or not. He’s mostly back to normal. He’s got the pep in his step and he’s meowing when he wants something once again. he’s fighting me when I try to squirt his meds (with a syringe) in his mouth.

Side note: I hate having to give him meds. The look of betrayal in his eyes breaks my heart. Plus the horking sounds he makes as he tries to spit it out is…not pleasant. Sometimes, he’ll eat the treats I give him afterwards and sometimes he won’t. I learned to give him his food before I dose him and not after. I have to do it twice a day, 12 hours apart, BTW. I also learned that doing it while he’s asleep is good because I can get it in him quickly, but it’s bad because it disoriented him. I don’t like doing that.

I only have to dose him four more times. That’s not bad. And, honestly, he has dealt with it fairly well. Yes, he gives me a look of betrayal when it happens, but he will let me pet him a minute or two after. He won’t come into the bathroom where the syringe/vial are, but that could be because K was here this weekend and he was discombobulated about that. He did let her pet him, though, which was good to see.

I’ve been watching him like a hawk for the past six days. The first day was terrible. He was so lethargic and I was moping around, waiting for the next day so I  could hear from my vet. Shadow was so lethargic. It’s hard to explain how I know that when cats sleep so much on the daily, but there is a difference.

The last few days, he’s been chatting away and his voice, while still high and squeaky (as usual), is stronk. Demanding, even, which makes me happy. I would rather him be feisty and full of fettle than limp and lethargic.

He strides with determination rather than walking listlessly. He is talking to me again rather than just remaining silent. Best of all, he is interested in food which he wasn’t for two days. That was the scariest of all as he’s very food-driven. I mean, I know most cats are, but he does NOT skip a meal. In fact, he will let me know precisely when it was time to be fed.

That’s how I know he’s really sick, by the way. When he won’t eat. I was freaking out because the last time this happened, it was really serious. That’s why I did the whole slate of tests because I wanted to rule out everything serious. It was such a load off my shoulders when I was told it wasn’t the big three we were fearing (diabetes, hyperthyroidism, renal failure). It turned out to be a bug or something like that.

He’s been getting better little by little every day. (Warning, graphic). He hadn’t been pooping much since then. Part of the original issue was that he was spurting diarrhea dots everywhere. He was peeing fine, but his back end was having blockage/leakage.

Once he started the antibiotics, the diarrhea dried up, but he wasn’t pooping , either. He was still peeing fine. The last two days, I found small nuggets of  poop (one a day). Small, but firm. And no diarrhea. Peeing fine. Today, he had a proper poop, and I was so relieved. I don’t think I’d ever been so happy to see a piece of his poop.

Continue Reading

Six months came and went

Six months ago was the worst night of my life. One that will be etched in my brain forever, even though I was unconscious when it happened, I’ll never forget the retelling of it by my brother. Nor the moment when I opened my eyes, angry, confused, and afraid. I was ready to fight whatever needed fighting–and I was sure that someone did, indeed, need fighting.

I spent two weeks in the hospital, one week unconscious and another conscious. That is really what changed my life–the second week, I mean. You could argue that the cluster of medical traumas changed my life; you would not be wrong. But I was not awake for that and have no memory of it so I can’t really speak to it. All I know about that comes from my brother, which is a strange feeling. The fact that there’s a whole week of my life missing is a strange feeling, as a matter of fact. For the first few weeks I was out of the hospital, I was obsessed with that week and the fact that I would never know what really happened to me. I mean, I know the basics–walking non-COVID-related pneumonia, two cardiac arrests, and a stroke–but I don’t know the details. It really bothered me for a couple of weeks because, well, I think that’s normal,, but also because I have a mania in my need to know. I grew up with two unreliable narrators as parents so it’s my tendency to want to have everything in writing. The fact that all this happened to me without me even knowing about it doesn’t sit well. At all. Reading the journal entries my brother wrote on the Caring Bridge website is so weird. They’re about me, but I cannot relate to them at all. When he talks about me being on ice to protect my internal organs, it feels as if he’s talking about someone else.

Side Note: I have said this before, but I’ll say it again. I am so fucking lucky that I was taken to Regions Hospital and that they had an open bed. They are the leading heart center in Minnesota and recognized nationally for it. Therapeutic Hypothermia (or Targeted Temperature Management)  is not a universally-accepted treatment for cardiac arrest so I’m lucky that Regions is one that does it. They lowered my temperature to protect my brain and lungs and then gradually increased the temps until I was back to normal. My brother wrote that I was fighting the breathing tube when they tried to raise my temperature.

Continue Reading

Still recovering

I’m unhappy. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone who’s been reading my entries for the past few weeks. I’m holding my breath and hoping that my parents will be able to fly out on Saturday, which is five days including today (Tuesday). I’m not very good at the end of things in general. All my impatience surges and it’s really hard for me to tamp it down. It doesn’t help that there’s some question as to whether my father can fly on Saturday or not. He seems much better today, but that varies day to day. Honestly, my impulse is just to pour Dramamine down his throat and shove him on the plane. That’s not very nice, I know, but I have found a darker side of me in the past few months that was previously slumbering in my breast.

When I woke up from being unconscious, I was ready to fight everyone and anyone. I as so grateful, however, for being alive. My brother explained to me that I was supposed to be dead a few days after I awoke so I knew how lucky I was to be alive. And I was properly grateful to my medical team for keeping me alive. My brother said I was overly nice to the nurses because I profusely thanked them for the ice water. But it was because I was obsessed with the ice water and insisted on a fresh cup every time someone came into the room. It didn’t matter how many cups I had in front of me–I always wanted one more. Which was bothersome to them, obviously.

Before I woke up, the doctors warned that I was in for several months of rehab, if not years. There was talk of me going to a rehab facility before going home. They were unsure what kind of brain/heart damage I was going to have. The angiogram showed no weaknesses in my heart, thankfully. That was done the week I was awake in the hospital. That was the only ‘surgery’ I had (and it was just a slit to put in a stent in my arm). And I’ve seen both the heart and head doc since I’ve left the hospital. Both have given me the clean bill of health. All my labs are good and all my tests have been passed with flying colors. I have one more EEG and heart doctor visit and then, that’s the end of my trauma-related appointments. After that, I’m a free person who can resume ignoring my health!

I’m kidding, of course. Sort of. I was not very good at taking care of my health before I landed in the hospital. Which means I need to change some things. The biggest thing is that I need a new primary doctor. The one I met once during the pandemic for the first time, I was not impressed with her at all. I did like the one I met after leaving the hospital to talk about things as related to the trauma. I just have to make it official that he is my primary doctor. Since it’s not yet official, the female doctor messaged me a month or so after I got home from the hospital saying she was sorry to hear about my recent hospitalization. She added that hopefully it made me quit smoking and if not, she was more than happy to help with that. Which, I know it’s her job, but it was very tone-deaf. I was put off by it and my friends agreed that it was not the right time.

Continue Reading

One week

One week. Barring a positive COVID test, that’s how long I have until I get to return to my bachelor’s life. It’s incredible. At the six weeks to go mark, I was despairing of ever living alone again. Then, I realized it was only five weeks and suddenly felt freer. I don’t know why as it’s only one week less, but five weeks felt doable whereas six weeks seemed insurmountable. Now, it’s one week, and if history is any indication, this is going to be the hardest week to get through.

I don’t know why, but the last part of doing something is always the hardest. I mean, I have my theories, of course. It’s because the finish line is in sight, but out of reach. It’s right there! I can see it so why can’t I be there already? A week is nothing in the grand scheme of things. On the other hand, a week is how long I was lying in a hospital bed unconscious. It’s enough to change my life–and to not change it at the same time. Everything is the same and yet completely different because of that week. Or rather, because of the events that led up to that week. Me having pneumonia, calling 911, passing out in the front hallway, and then suffering two cardiac arrests and a stroke on the way to the hospital. That all took half an hour or so to occur, which is such a short period of time.

When I first left the hospital, my recent trauma was all I could think about. Even when I wasn’t focusing on it, it was poking at me in the back of my mind. Why it happened , what exactly happened, was it going to happen again, etc. I talked about it with my medical team and with friends and family. I wanted to know everything that happened while I was out. My brother was good for the basic information as he started a Caring Bridge journal in which he wrote daily of what happened to me. He noted all the things the docs told him and directed everyone to the journal when they had questions about me. He said it allowed him to have a nexus for people to consult rather than to pester him in several outlets. In addition, it helped him order his own thoughts about what was happening and keep everything straight. He’s not one to emote, but I know it was really rough on him. He was my default contact person because I’m not partnered, have no kids, and my parents live in Taiwan. He’s the closest person to me, both geographically and familial-wise. He was the one who made decisions as to what happened to me, which is a burden I would not wish upon anyone.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

In sickness and in sickness

It’s time for my annual check up on my thyroid, and I should probably get a physical as well. I need to get another doctor because my old one left the network, so I’m not looking forward to that. I’ve had my issues with doctors, and I have a string of problems that have seem to stump the best of them. It’s one thing I want to figure out by my 50th birthday–what the fuck is wrong with me. Physically, I mean. I already know what the fuck is wrong with me emotionally, even if I haven’t fixed it yet.

Side Note: I’ve realized that I will not be able to fix everything that’s wrong with me (emotionally in this case) by the time I died, and what’s more to the point, there were things that I considered flaws in myself that I didn’t care to change. What, how can that be? Because they’re either not worth the effort to change or I’ve learned to live with them. One example is that I work to the back of a deadline. This use to cause trouble between my mother and me because she would send me something she wanted me to edit and give me a timeline, say, a month from the time she sent it to me. Cool, fine, I think to myself. I’ll start it in three weeks, and it’ll be fine.

Except. She’ll start emailing me a week later or maybe two to ask about it. I would say I hadn’t started, and I could feel the disapproval and stress radiating through the ether. I finally had to bring it up with her because it was driving me crazy, and I’m sure it wasn’t doing anything good for her, either. It turned out that she was giving me a deadline that was the last possible time she could get it back–and with agony. In my mind, she was giving me the reasonable deadline. I told her that if she wanted it comfortably in two weeks, she had to tell me so. She thought she was being thoughtful by giving me two extra weeks. I took her at her word that I had the whole month.

It actually worked out because I did move up my own schedule a bit and she gave me something closer to an actual deadline. I know there are people who do the things the second they get the assignment, and while I admire them, it’s not me. I do my best work with my back to the wall, and I’ve actually figured out a way to do it with a small amount of comfort. Once I let go of the idea that I would be the kind of person to do it from the start, I was able to manage my time better. In other words, I wasn’t blowing sunshine up my ass and was better able to assess my actual ability.

I’m really tired of being sick. And exhausted. And feeling like my physical health is out of control. My thyroid has been stable for the past few years, so I don’t expect that to be the issue. It might have something to do with my digestive problems and the FODMAP elimination diet. Which, by the way, I’m still stalled on the adding things back part of the diet. After going two months being 90% better, the idea of willingly poisoning myself again is repulsive to me. The first time I added garlic to something, I had a middling response. It wasn’t running to the bathroom, but it was a bloated uncomfortable feeling. I haven’t tried it again, but I don’t want to lose garlic. It’s in almost everything I eat for one thing, and it’s just goddamn tasty on the other.

Continue Reading

It’s just a fantasy

I am mostly better from the cold I had, but I feel as if I’m on the cusp of something else. I know it’s a vicious cycle, but any time I go out, I get something that makes me feel worse than before. It’s one of the problems with not interacting with people on a regular basis. I have a shitty immune system, and it has no chance to improve because I don’t allow it to interact with bad things on the regular. On the other hand, I am allergic to everything under the sun, so my instinct is to wrap myself in a bubble so I won’t get hurt. The reason I got my cats in the first place was because I decided since I was allergic to everything and miserable all the time, I might as well get cats. Yes, I was allergic to them, but they would make me less miserable. I’m actually not that allergic to my cat now unless he decides to sit on my face, which he does from time to time when I have a pillow over my face.

I’m really frustrated right now. I’ll be real with you. Why? Well, I’m going to tell you. One, depression. It’s low grade, but persistent, and it saps much of my energy to do anything. Two, my physical health. I’ve been sick more than healthy it seems in the past year, and it’s just draining as well. Three, the intersection of the two and how it makes me not want to do anything. I’m trying to push past it and change the way I think, but it’s not easy. It takes a tremendous amount of willpower to even get me out the door, not to mention driving to the place I need to be. I haven’t even gone to the co-op since I got sick, for example, because it’s too much effort. It’s fifteen minutes away, but I can’t make myself do it.

I have a hard time not castigating myself for doing more, which is not the best motivation. The taiji demo showed me so many things I want to do, but I just don’t have the capacity to do them all. I set the goal of learning the Sabre Form this year. I am at the end of the fourth row (there are six), and this is where I stopped the last time I was learning the Sabre Form. Two years ago. The end two postures of the fourth row are insane, but in a good way. Part of the problem the first time I learned the Sabre Form was because I was fully expecting it to be like the Sword Form. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the idea that it wasn’t, and it made the whole experience sour for me. This time going in, I fully realized it was a very different beast, and I fell in love with it immediately. I had to have that extra experience under my belt before I could really get the Sabre Form.

Continue Reading

Adjusting expectations and dealing with an emergency

Yesterday was the taiji lunar new year demo at my teacher’s teacher’s studio. I didn’t hear about it until last Saturday because I hadn’t been in class due to my sickness. I was caught off-guard because I like to plan things well ahead of time and because I was still feeling iffy. I had missed the last few demos, though, due to health reasons, and I really wanted to go this time. I just didn’t know if I could endure, and I didn’t want to embarrass my teacher in front of her teacher. In addition, we had a snowstorm on Friday that lingered into Saturday (the day of the demo), and the winds were up to 45 mph. I was talking myself out of it, but I really felt I should go. Not only to represent my teacher, but because there was going to be a ton of weapon forms. I had to set some ‘rules’ for myself so that I would feel ok going.

The first was that I could go at any time. One of my issues is that if i go to something, I feel  have to stay for the whole thing. I have to deliberately give myself permission to leave, and weirdly, that makes me enjoy it more. I don’t have to be uptight and agonizing about how I’ll make it to the end. I can stay ten minutes or half an hour, or I can stay until the end if I’m up to  it. That way, I don’t feel trapped, and I’ve used it to a good effect for the past couple events I’ve gone to.

Secondly, I had to tell myself that I didn’t have to do anything. There were three things I knew well enough to participate in, the Solo Form, the Sword Form, and the first section of the Fast Form. Funnily enough, they were the first three performances of the afternoon, one right after the other. The thing is, I really wanted to do the Sword Form. I had not participated in it before even though I’ve known it for years, and I wanted to show my teacher’s teacher that she was a damn good teacher in her own right. As my classmate said, we have to represent the Seven Stars. The problem was that the Solo Form was first, and I knew if I did that, I would not be able to do the Sword Form. I did not have the energy for both of them.

Let me be real with you. I felt the need to show what I could do. Why? I don’t  know. No one cared but me, but it was in the back of my mind. I don’t take any classes at my teacher’s home studio even though it’s in the same building and I’m able to take any of the classes, and I am very competitive–though I try to keep it to myself. I had to tell myself that I didn’t need to prove anything to anyone. My teacher knew where I was at, and that was really all that needed to happen. Even more to the point, I knew where I was at. I know some of my insecurity is because I’ve missed so many classes in the last two years. Plus, there’s a woman in the home studio who I found out started roughly the same time I did, and she’s so much further. It’s hard for me because I know it’s all on me, but I want to be so much further than I am.

I ended up skipping the Solo Form and the first section of the Fast Form. I did the Sword Form, and I felt good once it was over. I did not make any major mistakes, and I definitely looked like I was one of the crew. I didn’t bring my own sword because it would have been one more thing to make me anxious–keeping track of it and making sure I didn’t leave it behind. There are plenty of practice swords in the studio, so I just grabbed one of them. I will admit a second of feeling embarrassed because I normally practice with my stainless steel sword, but I brushed it to the side. I did the Sword Form to the best of my ability, and I was pleased once we were done. I didn’t hit anyone, though I came close, and I remembered all the movements. I call that a win.

I had a mini panic when I arrived at the studio because I could not find my key fob. It wasn’t in the pocket it was supposed to be, and I couldn’t find it in the other pockets, either. Since I had been at the tire shop on Friday, I thought maybe I left it in the cup holder in the car. Nope. I spent five minutes rootling around in my car, but I could not find it. In desperation, I checked the original pocket again, and I found a hole in the corner. My key had slipped into the hole, and while I was relieved to find it, I also was grumpy about the hassle it caused.

Continue Reading

The more things change…part three

Last week, I wrote about how there are several things in my life that have changed without me actively trying to enact said change. Most of them I put down to taiji, and there’s one more I want to add to the list. It’s a weird one, but it’s fascinating–at least to me. Let’s talk about my hair for a minute. I don’t like much about the way I look, but my hair is my shining glory. Funnily, I mostly keep it in a bun these days, but I feel badass when I have it down. For at least a decade, it fell to my waist, just above my ass. In the past year or two, it’s grown about eight inches and now it falls past my ass. I thought I was making things up, but, no, my hair is appreciably longer now. I’m excited about it, but also a bit weirded out. I haven’t changed any of my hair regime, so what’s the difference?

At first, I said taiji. Why? Because that’s my go-to for anything positive in my life. It’s true 85% of the time, so it’s not a bad shout. This time, however, I don’t think I can give credit to taiji. Instead, I think it’s beacuse I drastically changed my diet two and a half years ago by cutting out dairy and gluten. I also cut out caffeine almost 100% later, I think six months or so, and maybe that’s part of it. Anyway, I think it’s the diet that has strengthen my hair, and at any rate, I hope it keeps growing.

That’s not the coolest part, though. Well, the next part is half cool, half not-cool. I have a lot of silver/gray in my hair. I’ve been eagerly awaiting for it to turn all gray/silver because I think that would be bad and ass. I want to look like storm, and then I’m going to cut it all off. At least that was the plan. I’ve become really attached to it (no pun intended), so we’ll see. That’s not the cool/not-cool part, though. The gray is reversing. I know it sounds crazy, but it is. I took it down to brush yesterday–

Side note: Part of my depression is that I am not always on point with my daily grooming. It’s one reason I wear my hair up in a bun–so I don’t have to deal with it. That’s fine and dandy, but it means that I sometimes can go a week or longer without brushing my hair. If I just left it in a bun, it might be ok (but probably not), but I have to redo the bun every few days, which means by the time I let it down, there are usually huge tangles in the underneath part of it.

Side note to the side note: I remember reading a series of tweets a while ago about a woman who had severe depression. She did not wash her hair or brush it in something like a year. Her hair was as long as mine, and she went to a hairdresser to deal with it. It was the hairdresser who was tweeting about it. The woman was still downtrodden and self-defeating, and the hairdresser decided she was going to do what had to be done to save the woman’s hair. For the next six hours, she brushed out the woman’s hair until she got rid of all the mats, tangles, and snarls.

Anyway, with the amount of hair I take, when it snarls, it takes a lot of patient coaxing to get them all out. In addition, it’s the worst in the exact back of my head, so it’s difficult to reach. I know the answer is to brush it every day, but that’s simply beyond my ken. It’s one thing that I hate about myself–how much mental and physical energy it takes for me to do simple tasks–and it’s one that I would like to change.

Continue Reading