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Category Archives: pride

Mowed me a lawn…

Two weeks ago, I wanted to try to trim the grass along our fence because it looked like crap and Hub hates trimming. But I couldn’t use the trimmer, it was too difficult for me. So I asked Hub to do it, and then I asked him to help me learn how to use the riding mower. It’s a zero turn thingy, so it has these two handles that you have to coordinate to keep the mower going straight. I am not coordinated. I can’t drive a stick shift car. But he helped me get it out of the shed, then showed me how to use it. Ya’ll, it was AWESOME. We have a little hill in the back yard, so once I got used to that–i.e. that I wasn’t going to fall over–I would pick up speed to go down the hill. The weather was really nice, sunny and cool with a breeze. And when I hit that hill and picked up speed, it was just fun. Like riding a go-cart. And the mower is LOUD, so I felt very zen-like because I couldn’t hear anything. My thoughts were drowned out. I was concentrating on using the handles to follow my tracks from the previous round, I was feeling the sun and the wind. I was just zoning out and I really felt good. I was tired when I was done from all the bumping and jostling, but it felt like such an accomplishment. I did the back yard, then stopped. Hub did our front yard area (which is really an empty lot that we thought we might parcel off and sell some day) because I didn’t think I could do it all and still be able to function physically the next day.

So today, with the beautiful weather we had, I decided to do the lawn again. Once we got the mower out of the shed, I was off. And it happened again…that zen-ness of just mowing. Noise and wind and going round and round. I decided to go ahead and do the front yard, too. I got it all done without any issues (the first time I mowed I ran into two of our gutters. I mean, I really messed up one gutter and I REALLY knocked over a pipe that goes into the ground from our gutters in another area, but luckily no permanent damage there, so far…) and it felt awesome. I know it’ll all be more difficult over the summer in the heat and the humidity. And realistically, depending on when my hysterectomy is scheduled, I probably won’t be able to mow all summer…but knowing I was able to do it was pretty freaking cool. And knowing I could do something that a) Hub dislikes doing and b) will free up some of his time, which he can then use to do something else I can’t do and c) I didn’t think I could do.

My only concern is what physical after-affects there might be. Controlling the mower is not easy, and that means stress on my arms and shoulders and neck, all of which are weak (and painful) spots for me. The bumping around on the mower isn’t entirely comfortable either, which could affect my back. But we’ll see tomorrow…if there are tears when I can’t get out of bed or move, I’ll know I did too much.

My last visit with T, I told her about the first time I mowed. And that I hiked into our back woods with Hub to put up no trespassing signs (we keep seeing people walking around back there looking for deer antlers, but it’s private property and also…it’s pretty messy. If someone trips over a dead tree and gets hurt, we could be liable…) and not once during the “hike”–which really was more of a walk while avoiding poison ivy and marshy ground–did I worry about getting hurt. Or getting stuck. Or not being able to get back out.

I told T that I’ve been feeling less anxious. It’s a weird feeling because I almost feel unemotional…but not. I don’t spend as much time looking into the future or imagining what might happen. I’m learning to say (and think) that what’s going to happen is going to happen. And that I will deal with (whatever it is) when it is upon me. No point in spending hours obsessing and thinking about my upcoming surgery appointment. When the time is upon me, I’ll work with it. And I told T that it is just strange. She told me that my body is thanking me for the lowered stress and anxiety…and I’m sure it is. All I know is that I still feel weird at the feeling of “calm” that I really can live in.

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This has been…

…the strangest couple of days I’ve had in forever. I’ve had PVCs on and off since lunchtime, but none before. I’ve felt off and just BLAH all day. Near the later part of the afternoon, I was thinking of how stuck I feel, and how I’m wondering what happened to all the progress I’ve made over the last (almost) two years. I thought about making some doctor’s appointments, which is usually where I head when my anxiety is elevated. Especially the cardiologist…oftentimes the gynecologist. And I cried…twice. I’ve also felt on the verge of tears several more times in the past hours.

I’m not a crier. I don’t like to cry, and it doesn’t usually make me feel better. If this isn’t my hormones being all weird, I’m going to have to really question my mental state. It used to be I could time my menstrual cycle by my emotions…once a month I would burst into tears for absolutely no reason whatsoever. And like clockwork, I’d start my period a couple of days later. But in theseĀ later years of my life, my cycle has been so messed up that I rarely ever have a real menstrual cycle anymore. I’m not sure if it’s peri-menopause or what. Previous gyns have been uninterested in talking about peri-menopause and more interested in talking about my weight, or having major surgery to remove fibroids that are not causing me any symptoms. Needless to say I’m not fond of that gyno or their entire practice of doctors, of whom I’ve seen several over the years I went there (because of the doctor turn-over, sadly). T gave me information on a new gyno, but I haven’t attempted to make an appointment. She is a one-woman practice (with a NP) and is apparently very difficult to get an appointment with. I’m going to do it, because I feel like I need to be on the ball because of my mother’s issue with cancer, but I have not done it yet.

I don’t like feeling this way. I don’t like feeling stuck and out of sorts. I have considered several times over the past two days of calling T’s office to see if I can move up my appointment, but I’ve resisted. I see her Friday, and this isn’t really an emergency. And dammit, I want to feel like I have some control over what is happening in my life. I feel like if I try to change my appointment, it’s a blemish on me. I don’t know why. I don’t resist seeing her…ever. And I never miss an appointment (although SHE has canceled or changed appointments on me). I always tell her the truth. But trying to move up an appointment by a day or two seems over-the-top. So I didn’t do it.

Is it always going to be like this? This up and down, forward and back progress? I don’t get any consistency. I can’t get a job the way I am and help contribute to my household. I am bored and stuck without some purpose…which leads me to more anxiety and periods of being stressed, depressed, and unhappy.

 

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Travel me this…

We went and done did the vacation. And now we’re back, to which my entire body says woohoo.

The drive to the lake was completely uneventful, save for the climb in elevation that made our ears pop over and over again. We made a quick stop at a farm on the way to the lake so we could take a tour that they offered. After that, it was onward to the lake area. I was nervous about the hotel we were going to be staying in, despite the fact that I did lots and lots of research. I knew it was going to look old on the outside, but that the rooms had been renovated recently on the inside. And that is exactly what we ended up seeing.

Unfortunately, the first room we were assigned to had some problems, so they moved us to an adjacent, identical room. Not a big deal considering it was off-season and we were one of three rooms rented in the whole place. And although the rooms were very clean and very nicely decorated, they also turned out to be pretty small. I thought I had remembered that there was a small couch in the room, but that was not to be. The room had a bed, a place to set your keys under the wall-mounted flat screen tv, and a very shallow/small desk with a straight chair. There was no closet to hang our winter coats, no place to put our suitcases except directly on the floor, and no mirror in the room. No place to put our clothes in drawers if we had wanted to. The bathroom was very very small, with no counter top space for our toiletries. Again, the bathroom was spotless and clearly updated, but almost claustrophic-small. There was a teeny tiny refrigerator and a microscopic microwave, both crammed into an alcove that probably could have been laid out better. If they had put the fridge on the floor (in the space that seemed provided for it) and the microwave above, they could have used the higher space for a small closet or just open hanging space.

We had a very small private deck off the back that led down to an open grassy area, that then led directly to a finger of the lake. It was lovely, though slightly marred by all the docks that were pulled up onto the grass, and the not-so-attractive facility across the lake. The people who were running the hotel were very nice. I have no qualms about any of what we had, with the exception of overall space (which is my fault for not paying better attention, I guess, when I was researching the rooms).

The major issue? The bed was horrible. Horrible in the manner of we both slept fitfully the two nights we were there, waking up in the morning sore and exhausted. There was not a stitch of padding on the bed…all you felt was hard surface and the springs below. I actually tried to put the comforter underneath me as padding and slept with just a sheet the first night, but the comforter did absolutely no good. We were both so body-sore in the mornings that it was a pretty big black mark on the weekend.

We found several restaurants that offered gluten-free options, so I was able to eat pretty comfortably all weekend. We did a little shopping, then did our sight-seeing thing. It was nice to spend time with Hub away from the dogs and away from everyday responsibilities. The drive home was fine, too. We both slept so poorly the night before that we were both awake by 7am and we were on the road home by 9am. Checkout was 11am, but we were tired and sore and only wanted to be done at that point. It was very unfortunate.

My parents seemed to do okay with our dogs. I’m told everything went fine, but I did hear a couple of times (from my mom) that Butthead barked a lot at night. I tried to warn them, but I guess they didn’t realize… But they survived the weekend with the dogs, and the dogs survived a weekend with my parents (and brother), so all is well.

I’m glad I go back to see E for physical therapy tomorrow. I’ve got a stinger going up my hip and to my back that is really hurting me. I’m guessing it was the crappy bed that did it. If we ever travel again, we’re going to have to bring our own bed.

(that’s a joke, because we’re never going to travel again) (hee hee)

Ooooh, I almost forgot to mention, one of the places we went sight-seeing included a hike in the woods. We weren’t particularly prepared for the length of the hike, but I did it! It was 30 degrees out and snowing, and there was a lot of ice on the path and the stairs along the path, but we did it. I didn’t panic when I got tired, and I didn’t panic when I thought about how deep into the woods we were and what might happen if one of us got hurt or one of us had a heart issue. On the way in we were enjoy the nature around us, and on the way back I was more thinking about how tired and cold I was, and wondering if I was going to make it out of the hike without just sagging to the ground. But hey, I did it, and I survived it without an attack. WOO!

Here are a couple of quick nature photos. Enjoy!

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Tonight, I win

I didn’t want my anxiety to rule, so tonight I went right back onto the bike, even after my episode last night. I went in prepared. I told Hub I was going in, and that I was taking the phone with me in case I needed to get to him and didn’t have the breath to yell (he was downstairs). I told him how long I would be on the bike, in case I didn’t make it out of the exercise room. (Of course, writing this, it sounds ridiculous, but anyway…) And I went into that damn room and I put the radio on and I sat on the bike seat. I went right back to my normal routine, starting up, doing upper body exercises at the beginning as usual, riding at a good pace.

I stuck with my pattern, checking my pulse only 3 times during the ride, and only for one minute each time. And the second time, right about midway through my allotted ride time, my pulse was up. It was up because I was riding at a good clip and my heart rate SHOULD have been up. And seriously? I cursed at my anxiety, out loud, telling it off.

FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! YOU DON’T OWN ME!

And I watched my pulse rate until the minute was up, and even though it was high, I let go of the handlebars and I continued with my ride. I sang with the music on the radio, I breathed in through my nose, out through my mouth. I looked around the room, I saw everything we have in there, I cataloged the stuffed animals from my youth (and gifts from Hub!) that sit on a set of shelves in there. I did my thing. I went all the way through my ride, and checked my pulse at the end, as I did my cool-down.

I won. This time, I won.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in anxiety, pride, progress

 

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Outside influence

So my last session with T was spent talking about my mom and her illness…and how I’ve been handling it.

There are a few good things that have come out of my mother’s illness, which is a pretty difficult statement for me to make. I know that I have been able to say that about my history with physical and mental illness, but to say that about my mother’s illness makes me very uncomfortable. I would never ever want someone to be ill so that something good came out of it, if that makes sense. But since the illness happened, at least something positive has come out of it. A few things, I guess.

I can handle it. Years ago, my grandmother got sick. She was pretty old by this time…in her late 80s I think. She started falling into dementia, and then had a stroke and went deep into the illness. She had caregivers 24/7 taking care of her in her home. She didn’t communicate anymore, which made it difficult to spend time with her. God bless the amazing women who cared for her. And God bless my mom, who went to my grandmother’s house every single evening to spend time with my grandmother. She would work a full-time job all day, come home and cook for my brothers and my father, then go spend several hours with my grandmother, who lived about fifteen minutes away. This went on for years as my grandmother’s health declined. My mother told me she wanted to have no regrets, so she did what she felt she needed to in order to live that way. I was sick during a lot of this time, but I tried to see my grandmother as often as possible considering I didn’t drive and lived over thirty minutes away. I struggled to be with my grandmother…which is a terrible and difficult thing to admit. I loved that woman deeply, but the person huddled in the wheelchair all day was not my grandmother anymore. Anyway, all this made me wonder how I would be able to handle my mother as she aged. Fortunately for me, she lives very close so I can walk to her house, so driving isn’t an issue, nor is weather. And with this illness–which is much less severe than what my grandmother lived with–I have been okay. I’ve been able to step up and go with her to doctor appointments. I’ve bought groceries for her. I have spent time taking care of her at home and outside the house. I have been able to handle seeing her laying in bedĀ  or on the couch, and being with her at an ER/urgent care facility while she was prone on a gurney. I was even able to handle seeing vital statistics on a monitor and not get obsessed with the numbers in the urgent care facility.

I can handle illness without obsessing over it. I can handle numbers without obsessing over them. More good news for me. I also didn’t Google anything while my mother was sick (except she ASKED me to once, and I spent about two minutes attempting it, then suggested that she contact her doctor instead). I was so proud of myself because although I wanted to turn the monitor away in the urgent care so I didn’t have to see her pulse or blood pressure or heart rhythm, I didn’t because I knew my father was watching it. And I handled it. I was able to turn it off (figuratively) and allow the fantastic doctors and nurses to care for my mother in that way. And I cared for her mental health. I kept her in a good space as best I could. I changed her physiology by changing her brain chemistry, by keeping her in a good mental space. I have been able to keep her on an even keel when it comes to what food she can and won’t eat. I’ve been able to keep her grounded when it comes to food and her stomach issues. I told T, I almost feel like I went through all those food and mental health issues in order to be prepared for this very moment. The moment when it would allow me to help my mother through her health struggle. A silver lining.

I told T how pleased and proud I was to be able to handle so much that directly attacks my anxiety levels. Especially when the doctors thought my mom was having heart issues…which is a huge trigger for me. But I handled it without a single moment of anxiety or panic. I gave over all the control for my mother’s physical health to the amazing doctors and nurses who were caring for her. They were attentive and confident, and I did not give one thought to second-guessing them.

Then it happened. My uncle, who is a vet, had been attempting to contact my mother because he knew she had a cough. And when he continued to get the run-around from my parents, he contacted me by email. He and his wife are very much into health issues. They have many health issues and they feel they have the best doctors and the most knowledge on this earth. It’s like health and physical issues are a hobby for them, you know? It’s what they want to talk about, it’s what they harp on…they love it. So the day we take my mom to urgent care (the 2nd time), I was with them for several hours…four or five. Then I came home with my dad while my brother and SIL went to stay with my mother. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon keeping up communication between my parents and my siblings. So I didn’t check my email until 11pm, and there was the email from my uncle. And in that email, he basically vomited some of my worst fears all over my computer screen. If I had been prepared (which I will be now), it wouldn’t have been so bad, but I wasn’t. The email was titled with my mother’s name, so I figured he was emailing to ask how she was REALLY doing and could he offer any help. Instead, I got a long dissertation on how she wasn’t being treated properly (which there’s no way he could know this) and how dangerous her potential illness could be and did I know that SHE COULD DIE?

AAAAaaaiiiiieeeeee. FUCK ME. I had spent so much time NOT googling her symptoms and allowing the doctors to do their jobs. I was taking notes for my parents during the time Mom was in urgent care and listening to what the doctors were saying so we had a record of what had happened. I asked questions where I felt it was needed, too. But I was keeping myself in check and not going panicky or nutsy. And I wasn’t looking ahead, I wasn’t thinking of the worst scenario. And along comes my uncle and just pukes all over me, so to speak. It actually took me quite some time to respond to him. I understood how frightened he was and that he was responding the only way he knew how (and with what little information he had), but it was really difficult for me to deal with.

Luckily, I was able to restrain myself from obsessing over the email (I skimmed it first because I was really tired, and boy am I glad!), but I was angry with him. I answered him very briefly, basically telling him that Mom was being properly cared for but that it wasn’t my place to share her medical information with him. That was her choice and so he had to talk to her directly.

T reassured me that I handled things well, and that she was proud of my success. I am proud, too. I’m also glad that my mom is on the mend, albeit slowly.

 

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More pride

So you may have seen that we bought a new car. I haven’t really been driving it–the Hub gets that privilege–rather I’ve been driving our SUV to PT and on whatever errands I’ve done along the way. But yesterday my mom asked if I wanted to go over to my brother’s house to see the work he was doing on his kitchen (new tile, new cabinets, new paint)…and I said yes. I’m always up to see home renovations. And because I felt like I could, I offered to drive us both in our new vehicle so my mom could see how it drives and rides.

So although I’ve only test driven it twice, I buckled myself in and fixed my mirrors, and off we went! My brother lives about twenty minutes away, past my PT and T’s office. As we were driving, my mom and I were talking that we didn’t remember the last time I drove her somewhere. And we discussed how well I did through the High Holy Days, although she said she held her breath through all the services since she, too, remembered what happened last year. Anyway, I drove us to my brother’s house, we got to see the work he was doing and he got to see my new car, and I drove us home. Through neighborhoods and streets I’m not familiar with, in and out of a tight driveway, things like that. And it went fine, I had no problems and pretty much no anxiety other than what I would consider to be normal driving caution. I didn’t even have any weird thoughts about having odd accidents or anything.

I’m still getting familiar with the new car. I enjoyed driving it, but the gas pedal is touchy, so every time I adjusted my foot the car seemed to leap forward. Our SUV is not that touchy on the pedal. I’d like to get to drive it more often, but I hate to take it away from Hub because it has all the new fun bluetooth and radio technology that he loves. So we’ll see.

Anyway, proud of myself for driving me and Mom around without incident. Hope that I can continue that trend because I’d like to relieve my mom of doing so much driving whenever we go out anywhere. She IS getting older, and I’m sure it’d be nice to be chauffeured once in a while.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in anxiety, driving, family, pride, strength

 

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Another accomplishment

I know that some might see these things as small accomplishments, but for me they are pretty major.

Every year I go to services with my family–we call them the High Holy Days–to a synagogue we’ve attended since before I was born. The Rabbi is the same Rabbi who was presiding when I was born. The congregation watched me grow up, and although some of the faces have changed, I still know a lot of them. Well, those that are left, anyway. Our group grows smaller every year, to the point that we are on the verge of closing down. Last year, we held services in our smallest room because there wasn’t enough attendance to fill the large room. But the air conditioning wasn’t working right and the room had only one door into a hallway…at the end of a closed hall, so air flow was non-existent. I was also at the beginning stages of my “Prilosec fever”, so my anxiety was on the upswing. So the room was hot, and for the size of the room there were a lot of people. And due to my chronic illnesses, I am very heat intolerant. So partway through the services, I had a pretty bad panic attack. I didn’t know at the time that this is what was happening, but I recognize it now. I fled the room in tears and ended up sitting alone in the front lobby, in the dark, huddled in a chair trying to recover myself. It was a down time for me.

This year, the air conditioning in our building was, well, stolen. “Vandalized” they say, but technically someone ripped out all the innards. So we are holding our services in a borrowed room in another building. When we arrived tonight and I stepped into the room, I wanted to cry. For some reason, the room was hot as hades, and the air conditioning didn’t seem to be on. I have no idea why no one went to track someone down to rectify the situation, but considering it was nearing 7pm, it’s not likely there was a maintenance person on duty anyway. So I stripped off my pretty lace “jacket” and dropped it on a nearby chair, and prepared to get overheated. Even though the outside temperature wasn’t all that bad, it was horrible in the room, and I spent most of the evening pressing my arm and shoulder against the brick wall, trying to absorb whatever coolness I could from the stone. I fanned myself with a piece of folder paper I found in my purse, and I tried desperately to stay in the moment. I followed along closely with the readings and kept lifting my hair off my neck (the NIGHT I decided to wear it down of course) to keep from overheating. My mother repeatedly looked at me to see if I was all right, but I just nodded and tried to keep calm. The heat was bad, ya’ll. I wanted in turn to sit down and cry, and sit down and go to sleep.

In the end, I made it through the evening without doing either. I didn’t panic, I didn’t give in to anxiety. I used the hell out of that brick wall, both for its innate cool temperature and to keep me grounded with its rough texture. I didn’t repeat last year’s panic attack, even though it was the exact same situation that really could have triggered a body memory reaction and sent me over the edge. I’m so stupidly proud, even though it was a stinky evening.

Unfortunately, tomorrow we go back again, to the same room. I hope fervently (and feverishly?) that someone will turn on the air conditioning before we show up. I’m not sure how I’ll be able to cope again tomorrow, especially without being able to eat or drink.

Easy and meditative fast to those who do.

 

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