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Sick and fragile

I’ve been MIA, but not because I wanted a blogging break. Not because I wanted to stop reading social media, or reading books, or crocheting, or using my laptop or iPad or phone.

I’ve been sick. Sick to the point that I was initially bed-ridden, mostly house-bound, and unable to function. It has been close to hell-on-earth. It’s an experience I had hoped to never have again, but the universe doesn’t seem to give a shit about my hopes.

In mid-October on a Saturday, I went to the local Renaissance Faire with Hub, Brother#2 (B2), my MIL, and Hub’s aunt. We were there for most of the day…it was overcast and mostly mild, though I went prepared with a mini-fan hanging around my neck. I haven’t been to the RenFaire in years, mostly because it’s the same acts and shops year after year. Hub likes to go and it’s one of the few times he gets to spend time alone with his mother, so I encourage him/them to go on their own. This year, though, B2 was in town and he expressed interest in going. I didn’t want him to have to go “alone” and I didn’t want him to feel obligated to follow Hub and his mom & aunt around, so I went.

By the time we were ready to leave, I was exhausted from walking around. I’d eaten very little, drunk nothing, and once in the car realized that not only was my body painful and weary, but I had a huge headache. On the car home, the headache turned to migraine (which I seldom get actual migraine headaches), with the fun of light and sound sensitivity. When we finally got home, I took two Tylenol (I never takes meds), drank almost an entire bottle of water, then went to bed. The next day I felt okay, but Monday I started feeling worse. The headache was back, the light and sound sensitivity were back, and I was nauseated. Again I took two Tylenol and went to bed…for most of the day. Then Tuesday I had a vertigo attack that included nystagmus. If you are not familiar…nystagmus definition. This is a factual definition. Emotionally, nystagmus is hellatious, makes you feel sick, keeps you from being able to stand, move, or even see properly. It’s terrifying. TERRIFYING. Add that to the spinning of vertigo and…I can’t even.

For the next six weeks, I had periods of vertigo and nystagmus added in with the nausea, light and sound sensitivity, headaches, increased tinnitus, and major imbalance. Imbalance to the point that I wasn’t walking on my own…if Hub wasn’t around I had to use a walker or cane. The vertigo and nystagmus came and went without provocation, and there was nothing I could do to stop them, either. I had to wait it out. Sometimes it was just a few minutes worth, sometimes with the nystagmus it went on for hours…once it stayed over 18 hours, through my sleep. I was extremely fatigued, so I basically went to sleep at 8pm and woke at 7am most days. Even when I was awake I was exhausted. I was barely eating anything (and not very balanced foods), and in 3 weeks I lost 20 pounds.

Hub made doctors appointments for me because I couldn’t do anything for myself, including talking on the phone. I went to my primary doctor who said it was a sinus infection and tried to put me on antibiotics. I didn’t believe her so I went to an ENT who said it was migraine and tried to give me a migraine medication. I took half of a pill and within half an hour got nystagmus that lasted for ninety minutes, so I didn’t take it again. Then Hub called the doctor that I had seen in 2004 for what was then diagnosed as Migraine Associated Vertigo (MAV), later the term was changed to Migraine Associated Dizziness. The doctor is one of the few who specializes in neuro-vestibular disorders in the country…his office was scheduling appointments into 2019. Hub pleaded and cajoled with the scheduling office, who contacted the doctor’s staff to indicate that I was a previous patient who was having a bad relapse. Bless Hub, he was one squeaky-ass wheel and he got me in for testing the following week, and then in to see the doctor the week after the tests. Meanwhile, I found a physical therapist who specializes in migraine associated vertigo and we set up appointments for balance retraining therapy.

After the testing (some of which I refused to do because I’d had it before, it was HORRIBLE to go through, and it had been inconclusive in the past — specifically the caloric testing) was completed, I started on the migraine diet (in other words, I stopped eating pretty much anything other than plain homemade protein, plain broccoli and cauliflower, and sweet or white potatoes plain) and began seeing some relief from the vertigo and nystagmus. It was slow, but progressively moving in the right direction. My balance remained bad, but that I could deal with…the nystagmus and vertigo were almost too much to bear. I was horribly depressed, crying a lot, unable to get out of the house, and living in darkness because of the light sensitivity. And every sound made me cringe in pain.

I saw the physical therapist for evaluation. She did a lot more testing than I expected, provoked nystagmus and vertigo, and asked me so many questions. The appointment was almost 90 minutes long…it was crazy. She said it was clear I had a history of motion sickness and balance issues, that my vestibular system was highly sensitive, and that combining that with the potential migraine issues, she couldn’t really pinpoint one reason for my issues. But she thought she could help me with balance retraining for my brain and vestibular system. We set up appointments for the following few weeks and went home. I was beyond exhausted.

Then I went to see the specialist who went through a few more tests, took recent history, and did his exam. He felt confidant that I was experiencing a relapse of the MAV, now called Vestibular Migraine (VM). He gave me printed information, recommended a book (that I’d heard of but never owned) on the migraine and headache diet, then recommended several OTC vitamins. He said if I didn’t see positive progress in 6-8 weeks, we could discuss prescription medications. But he said that since I’d been majorly symptom free for many years, he felt I could get there again with the diet and the vitamins.

I was depressed and exhausted. I was struggling to eat anything because I was afraid it would provoke the vertigo and nystagmus. I began (and am still) over-analyzing every food and food additive…so I basically only eat whole food that we make at home. And I’ve hardly varied yet outside my standard “safe” foods. I had stopped eating salt (in case I had Meniere’s which is salt-induced), and only added that back into my food in the last two weeks. I had stopped eating mayonnaise (which I love) because of all the additives, so we tried to make our own at home with limited ingredients, but it was kind of a disappointment. And I found I didn’t want to put it on much of what I’m eating at the moment, so we haven’t made it again. I tried the magnesium that the doctor recommended, but instead of helping to relax my muscles it actually gave me muscle aches and cramps…so I stopped taking it.

I started using my iPad to check email a few times a day in December. Around the same time I tried crocheting a little at a time. Both provoked my imbalance and rocking/swaying feelings, and made me tired. Only in the last week have I been able to turn on my laptop and use it briefly. Hub has been doing everything, including taking care of the dogs, hiring a dog-walker to handle the dogs when he isn’t home (at work) because I couldn’t, paying all the bills, doing all the shopping…everything. He finally caught a cold and slowed down…so I started trying to do more. Then I caught his cold and I’m still sick now. My brothers have tried to help out here and there. I stayed home for Thanksgiving (Hub made us a turkey breast) and I stayed home while Hub went to his Mom’s for Christmas. I only started wearing my glasses again yesterday, as I was afraid they would make my imbalance worse. Fortunately, my glasses don’t seem to bother me…important because I gotta go get my driver’s license renewed in the next two weeks and I need my glasses for that.

So, here I am, trying to get my life back. And I’ve added in this new fear of food. There have been some issues I won’t talk about, and then on Friday a health incident with my father, which I WILL blog about in a day or two. As for now, I need to get off the laptop because I’m starting to feel rocking/swaying from the screen.

 

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Whole30 end of days, or…?

So yesterday was our official 30th day of Whole30. Hub and I had several conversations over the weekend about what we are going to do, one of which was kind of an argument. During which Hub told me he never wanted to do this, that I made him do it.

WHUT.

I originally started discussing this with him weeks before we started, and he said if I was going to do it, he was going to do it with me. He said he had hoped it would break some of his bad habits and help him get on track to eating in a more healthy fashion. Now he says this was all my doing and he never wanted to be involved…and he was angry that I seemed to be “bait and switching” him in the last week of the program. In that, I started asking him if he was thinking of how he was going to maintain any of the new habits he had created or if he was going to go back to his old habits. He said, “You said this was only thirty days and now you’re acting like we’re going to eat this way forever!”

*sigh*

I said I wasn’t saying that at all, only that after all the hard work he went through to make all these changes, why would he let that all go and fall back into all the old habits he had. As addicted to sugar and carbs as he was, I was SHOCKED at how well he did getting off all gluten grains and sugar. If that was so successful, why would he go back to eating and drinking all that sugar? Yes, if you want something, eat it consciously, knowing what you are doing. Not mindlessly because that’s what you’ve always done and without any enjoyment of the actual thing you’re eating. I told him, if I want ice cream, I’m gonna eat it. But I’m gonna do it when I want it, not every time we pass an ice cream shop because it’s RIGHT THERE.

He was really mad, but I’m not entirely sure he was mad at me. When we went to the store the next day, we were looking for sausages for him and the ones we saw had sugar in them. I asked him which flavor he wanted and he said no, he didn’t want any of them because they had added sugar. So after all that argument and him blaming me for everything, he’s decided to pay attention to what he’s eating still? I really had hoped this would allow him to modify his eating patterns, not that he give everything up altogether, you know? It’s where I wanted to be, so I thought he would feel the same way.

He said he doesn’t want to have to think about food choices like this. That it’s too hard. I told him I live like this every day because of what I have to eliminate from my diet. That it’s hard, but sometimes we have to do that kind of thing. He’s never had to. Even with cheese, he can eat it to a point, but in excess it gives him stomach issues. So he just eats it and gets sick sometimes and doesn’t get sick other times and oh well! He has diabetes, but he told me it “wasn’t that bad” on a scale of diabetes. Ignoring the fact that he’s on three different diabetes medications to keep him below an 8 A1C…which he’s only a sneeze below. And even the medications are barely working, as his A1C has been rising until this last blood test, where it fell 3/10ths of a percent, to like 7.6. Maybe if he were able to change his eating habits, he’d be able to get off one or two of the meds and find a better way to handle the diabetes. But he doesn’t care and isn’t interested. Or is he? I don’t fucking know anymore.

I told him I’m not going to tell him what to eat. I didn’t do it before this program and I’m not going to afterwards. I thought he wanted to make a change since he was willing to join me in the program, but now I’m not sure. And all I can do is pay attention to what I’m doing and hope things work for me.

Let’s NOT EVEN discuss that he lost 10 pounds in the 30 days and I lost NOTHING. Jerk.

We’re supposed to be considering re-introduction to the food groups we eliminated. I’ve been having some stomach issues the last two days–despite not changing any of my freaking foods–so I’m waiting at least a day or two before making any re-introductions. I don’t want to go into the “test” phase already f’d up.

So I lost no weight, no mood differences, I don’t have any increased energy, my stomach and digestion was no different, I didn’t sleep any better, and my overall pain did not change. Pre- re-introduction. Yay.

 

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Whole30 week two

I’m a little bit late on the Whole30 end of week two update. Mostly because, well, there’s not much to update. I don’t feel any differently than I did before, except I’m still dealing with some milder heartburn symptoms. Getting rid of the avocado products helped a lot, but now I’m kind of wondering if the almond butter is bothering me. So I’ve stopped eating that at this point.

Also, despite it being a big deal on the plan, I’m just not able to eat within an hour of getting up in the morning. I don’t feel hungry and eating after getting up makes me feel yucky. Some mornings I push myself to eat something, but most mornings I don’t. I’m not sure if that’s seriously messing up my benefits of the Whole30, but I’m doing the best I can.

We are eating a lot more fruits and vegetables and I hope that continues past the thirty days. I also hope that Hub will continue on with a cut-back of his breads and sugary carbs now that he’s out of the habit of eating them every day (and almost every meal).

I’m still having some stomach pains, so I don’t feel like the Whole30 has resolved that as of yet. I don’t feel more energy or less pain. Maybe it’s still too early, maybe this won’t help me at all. Maybe I won’t see real benefits until I start reintroducing food categories, I don’t know.

Food planning has definitely been a big deal and to some extent we seem to be getting a bit better at it. I’d like to take that with us past the thirty days but I’m not sure it will happen. We literally have a calendar sitting on the kitchen table to look at daily.

I don’t miss eating out (but I didn’t do it that often anyway). I do miss going out with my family to dinner on Friday nights. I miss gelato when I want it. And I miss stopping somewhere with Hub to get a treat when we’re out and about. Otherwise, I don’t miss anything in particular, which I guess is good.

So this is where we are. And two more weeks to go.

 

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2017 in anxiety, change, food, hub, pain, Whole30

 

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Whole30 Week One done

I’m not going to do a big thing on the Whole30 unless something major pops up. As of right now, I feel pretty shitty. Some of that I can attribute to the Whole30, some of it is from what has been going on with me in general prior to the Whole30.

Relating to the Whole30, everything I’ve read says you feel worse before you feel better. Well, yay. Seems to be spot-on for me. What wasn’t spot-on was some odd urge to “kill everything” at one point in the last week…Whole30 “timelines” say that is supposed to happen. WTH?

I haven’t had heartburn issues in a while, but I’m definitely having them now. It’s not the classic burning, but it’s the tight throat, sore throat, the cough, the heavy chest, the burping. Along with that, my chest muscles hurt from the cough and silent heartburn, and I hate it when I get this. Chest muscle pain drives my anxiety right up to the roof. I’m only hanging on to my sanity over it because I just had all the cardiology tests recently, and I’m reminding myself that I know these symptoms from prior heartburn episodes.

I’m also having lots of joint pain and muscle issues, which I assume are related to this early portion of the Whole30. Headaches, more at the end of the day than at the beginning. I can’t tell if I’m fatigued, because…well, yeah.

And I’m having stomach pain. It’s not a new pain, but for the last day and half it’s been pretty bad. I’m thinking it might be from either the almond butter or the apple (or maybe the cherries??) I ate during one of the last two days, as those are the only “weird” things I’ve eaten.

It’s frustrating that we’re doing all these changes, making so much effort, and I feel worse. I understand that there’s a “detox” stage, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.

Meanwhile, I’m SO BORED with the veggies we’ve been eating, which has basically consisted of broccoli and cauliflower. Now, on a normal basis, that’s what we eat because that’s what Hub eats in the way of veggies. I’m generally okay with that because that’s a dinnertime thing. But on the Whole30, you are told to eat veggies at every meal, including “Meal 1” (which is breakfast-time)…which means I’m freaking eating broccoli and cauliflower all the damn time. I’ve tried to intersperse some salad, too, and when there was a beef-veggie soup available, I ate that for breakfast (but Hub takes that to work so I need to make sure he has that available for him). We’ve got turkey soup, now, so maybe that’ll be what I eat for breakfast tomorrow… Tonight, it’s fresh baby spinach…thank goodness! Also, without any kind of “normal” condiments (everything has added sugar), I’ve been eating Whole30 approved dressings and mayonnaise. The one mayo I’ve tried so far (I LOVE MAYO…hellman’s…) is kinda gross. It’s an avocado mayo and it has some sort of taste that is bugging me. Unfortunately, it was on sale when Hub found it, so he bought 3. Fortunately, a) they are small-ish jars and b) if I put yellow mustard with it, then it’s tolerable. I didn’t think I’d miss sauces as much as I do (which isn’t a ton, it’s just one of those things…) but I’m managing.

I’ll have an update on my health / doctor’s tests hopefully in the next post. I see the allergist tomorrow morning, and then the neuro Wednesday evening.

 

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Exclude me?

My last appointment with T, I was telling her how horrible I’ve been feeling physically again. Among the conversation–other than grief and emotional issues–she mentioned that she had gone onto an exclusion type of diet. She’s been having some gastro issues, along with her fibro and post-shingles issue. I don’t know how SHE got onto the idea of doing a food change, but she mentioned to me that she was doing it and how well it was working for her.

I have already eliminated gluten due to a wheat allergy. In the past three months or so, I have cut out a majority of dairy in the form of cheese (I could never have imagined!), though I have not been entirely strict about it. Mostly I cut cheese out because I felt like I was eating it daily because I was accustomed to eating it and not so much because I was enjoying it. So I have changed to eating cheese when I want it–which isn’t as much as I had thought–and similarly with other dairy items. Again, I didn’t cut it all out, I just cut back a lot. Maybe 70% less than before.

The exclusion diet that T had been trying was something called the Whole30. I’ve been reading about it and learning the rules, and Hub and I have decided to give it a try. What makes it less…stressful, is that they suggest you do this for 30 days and then start re-introducing “non-compliant” foods one at a time to see what kind of reactions you have. When I say “reactions” this time, I mean physical and emotional reactions, as well as digestive/allergic reactions. Apparently Whole30 excludes all grains (including corn), legumes, dairy, certain oils, and added sugars (no matter if it’s real or fake sugars). They also urge people to eat as clean as possible, with organic (and hormone-free, and non-gmo, and humanely raised) meats, fruits, and veggies. Of course that can be difficult for a lot of people, both in terms of access and budget, so they suggest you do the best you can within your circumstances.

Generally speaking, Hub and I eat pretty balanced meals at dinner. We cook a lot, mostly because of my wheat issues and Hub’s diabetes. What will be more difficult is breakfast (which I don’t eat and I have a tolerance issue with eggs, which mostly is what they recommend for breakfast) and lunch. I don’t eat or like breakfast foods, so I am concerned about how to handle that. I eat split pea soup with mushrooms every day for lunch, with little variation. It keeps my bowels working well and it also means I don’t have to THINK about what to eat every day. On the Whole30, no legumes means no split peas. Hub eats a lot of dairy and lots of bread (and grains) and cereal, especially for breakfast. He eats lunch out when he’s at the office more than he takes food from home, which means more adjustments for him.

Although I’m worried about what I’m going to eat, I feel like it’s going to be easier for me in most instances than for Hub. I don’t eat out nearly as much as he does (mostly once a week so we can spend time with my father), I don’t eat hardly any bread–and can give up the stuff I eat without any problem–and I don’t eat cereal. I can more easily adjust to eating no added sugar because I don’t add sugar to anything except tea, which I rarely drink. (And when I say no added sugar, I mean NO SUGAR in any ingredient in any form in any item with the exception of naturally occurring sugar in whole foods.) And I think I can adapt my “first meal” of the day more easily than Hub, because I’ll just eat leftovers from one of our dinners. Also, I don’t get bored with food to the point that I won’t EAT the leftover food. I’ll just eat it because it’s easy, but Hub will turn his nose up at it if he’s “bored”.

We’ve already started a menu for the first week, at least for dinner and for Hub’s lunches. I’ll probably eat more salad than I have in recent months, because I’ll put leftover proteins on a salad and eat it that way with homemade oil and balsamic dressing, or homemade mayonnaise (or I’ve found “compliant” avocado mayo).

The Whole30 says no snacking because if you’re hungry in between meals then you’re not eating the right amount of proteins and fats with your meals. Lots of people in videos basically said they snacked on veggies or protein snacks when they thought they were hangry in between meals. Again, the idea of the Whole30 is supposed to be “resetting” your mindset when it comes to what you’re eating and why you’re eating it. Some people do the Whole30 because they have a kind of addiction to food, or an unhealthy relationship with food (hello! right here!), while others use it to figure out what might be bothering them physically or emotionally.

T told me she had tons more energy, stopped using antacids, her fibro pain was reduced, and her post-shingles pain was reduced. A lot of people I’ve seen on youtube or read on blogs have had similar responses, with reduced pain, reduced inflammation, and better gastro symptoms, better sleep, better energy while on the Whole30.

It’s going to take a lot of planning and forethought for us, which is difficult because a lot of evenings we’re kind of like scrambling for dinner…and we never have lunches or breakfasts pre-planned. We’ve never planned out meals for the week on a Sunday, or cooked lots of meals in advance… We’ll see how it goes. We’ve been talking a lot about it for the last two weeks (we wanted to wait until after the wedding to start, because eating out is nearly impossible to do on the Whole30 plan), and hope that we’re doing enough planning to make it through the month. I really want to try because if there’s some kind of foods that are bothering me and causing me this hideous fatigue, I want to know. If it isn’t rooted in food, then I can move on from that.

I do see an allergist in the middle of August, so I hope to eliminate that possibility as well. The neuro test isn’t until the first week of September, so that’s kind of a long wait for me, which sucks. Until then I have to just keep pressing on, and rest when I can’t do anything else. *sigh*

 

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He’s leaving on a jet plane

Fortunately, I know when he’ll be back again.

But right now, that doesn’t really help. Tomorrow morning we’ll be driving Hub to the airport at 4am so he can catch a 6am flight to California for his sister’s wedding. And then I’ll come home and it’ll be me here with the dogs.

I had my appointment with T today and we talked all about this. I’ve got my plans made for the four days and four nights he’ll be gone, which include A LOT OF BOOKS from the library and a massage scheduled for Tuesday. Plus, I figure I’ll be renting lots of movies either from amazon prime or our on-demand cable television. And if things get bad enough, I’ll go spend time at my father’s house with the dogs. Not sure I want to sleep there because taking the dogs and all their paraphernalia will be a pain in the ass. Additionally, T reminded me to text her if I need to talk to her. I suspect I’ll be reading a lot of books to waste the time, both day and night, and napping on and off during all hours. Mostly I’ll be scheduling myself around dogs’ schedules for food and trips outside…and then trying to nap when they are sleeping.

Also, to prepare, we bought a security camera floodlight thing, that alerts me if there’s movement outside the door…and I can open the app and see live video of what’s going on (and it records the video if I miss the alert). It also turns on the floodlights with movement at night, along with low-light live (and recorded) video. So, at least I have that extra bit of security for myself.

Part of what I talked to T about is the fact that I don’t really know how to be without Hub anymore. I know how to be alone when he’s here (or at work), but I don’t know how to be alone when he’s not HERE. I’ve known him for longer than I’ve NOT known him. It’s been years since we’ve had any major separation (4 since his parents’ accident where he was gone for 3 days unexpectedly, but closer to 8 years for anything longer than those couple of days), and at that point I had my parents helping me while I stayed at their house…and we had Sweet Pea, who was easy as pie to take care of. Now I have this big house and I have Butthead, who requires a lot of energy and close watch. And I don’t have my mom nearby to hang out with when I get lonely, sad, or scared.

Another part of my concern is that Hub has health issues. He has diabetes (with minor leg and feet circulation problems), high blood pressures, and has a history of supra-ventricular tachycardia. I mostly am worried about him getting a blood clot in his leg from the traveling in the airplane…and even worse I’m worried that he won’t realize there’s something wrong. Or he’ll think whatever it is that is wrong isn’t a big deal and he’ll ignore it and not get to a doctor. Or that he’ll ignore it and get on the plane to come home and make it worse. The possible thought of losing him–especially considering how hard it’s been to lose my mother–is really overwhelming. I’ve been trying really hard NOT to impose my fears on him. The only thing I suggested is that he try to keep moving his feet and legs around on the plane just because of his circulation issues…and that’s all I said.

The probability of him having any kind of major problem is pretty low. The probability of me having any kind of major problem is pretty low. I have to just keep reminding myself that we’ll get through this. A week from now it will be over and we’ll be back to normal programming.

Until then, I am trying not to judge how I am handling things. I’m going to do my best to do my best, and then whatever happens happens.

(day one post)

 

 

 

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Purpose and control

I was watching television and a character said he became a doctor because it was always his way to try to control things. Being a doctor made him feel he was in control of his life and his patients’ lives.

I was sitting there watching and it was like one of those AHA! moments. I started wondering if my fiction writing (which I’d been doing since I was a pre-teen) was my way of controlling things in my life. Or finding a way to have control in a world where I really had no control, especially when I first became sick…which is when I started intensely on my writing career and when I was first published.

When I talked about this with T, it also made sense as to why I haven’t been able to write very much in the last few years. I’ve worked so hard to release my idea of controlling everything, and so my default way of writing–and seeing my writing–is no longer the same. T said she could see exactly what I was dealing with, and she felt the discovery was a very interesting and insightful one. I’m not sure how I will be able to write again, but T thinks I’ll find a way. I certainly don’t want to go backward in order to find my ability to write again, but as I am now, I feel like my solace in writing is gone. I used to be able to disappear into my books and create lives and worlds where everything was the way I wanted it to be. But now, where I see that control really is an illusion–even though I’m still working on that in my own life–I’m not sure how to create stories the way I used to.

At the moment, I even feel like I’m struggling to get my ideas across in this post. I feel jumbled and like the words I want are not here. It’s sad and disappointing right now. The thing that I always went to feels like it’s well and truly gone. I mean, I know I haven’t worked on any of my books in recent years, nor have I really started anything new of note, but I guess I thought it would still be there to save me.

It sounds dramatic, but really my writing did save me when I got sick. There were days I never made it out of bed except to go to the bathroom, and yet those were the days where I wrote my books. Those were the most productive days of my writing career. Through pain and vertigo and fatigue…I wrote my books. I wrote deep into the night, hours and hours at a time, and slept through until noon. I would eat lunch and then go back to my writing. It kept me sane, it gave me a life to live when I couldn’t live my own life. My hands would cramp, my arms would ache (I wrote my books in longhand), my neck would hurt…but I kept writing. That was the first time I ever wrote a full-length book, and it was the first time I persisted in finding a publisher for that book.

And here I am, in need of that solace, and unable to find it.

I’m not the same person I was, no question about it. I just don’t know how to be the person I am and still have the purpose I had then.

 

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Finding connections

I wasn’t sure what to do this year about mother’s day. Last year I sent Hub off to his mother’s house without me, and I spent part of the day with my brother and his then wife (now ex-wife). I talked with T about this on Friday, because I feel some guilt about not going to my mother-in-law’s to be with her, but I just am not ready yet this year. I know she understands–as does Hub–but I am at heart a people-pleaser, and so the guilt sat heavy with me. In the end, though, I couldn’t make myself go.

My father had mentioned to me Friday evening that he was going to go to the cemetery to visit my mother’s grave and he asked if I wanted to go. I didn’t answer him at that point, but Sunday morning when I saw him, he brought it up again. He said he knew it made me feel “uncomfortable”, but he wanted to make the offer for me to join him. I tried to be gentle in responding when I said to him, “I don’t feel uncomfortable about going, but the truth is, I don’t feel a connection to Mom there. I don’t feel it to Nana and Papa, either…it doesn’t work that way for me.” (my grandparents are buried in the plots next to my mother). For real, I feel more of a connection to my mother in her “den” closet, where she had a bunch of books stashed on a bookshelf…gardening, trees, cookbooks…I stumbled on them at one point and ended up crying. Because that’s my mother. The cemetery is just a marker for her physical body’s last resting place, but it has no history for me with her. My father only said OK and that he was okay to go alone, which I had to trust was true.

Somewhere around ten a.m., I texted my brother (the one with the ex-wife) to see what he was doing that afternoon. He said “nothing”, so I asked if he wanted to do something. What I really wanted to do was go back to the nursery where Mom and I used to go all the time, and where he and I went after she died. I also offered up the opportunity for him to come to my house to help me bake peanut butter cookies, which he (and my other brother) scarf up as fast as I can make them. His response was a preference to go to the garden center, so in some corner of my mind I knew it was the right thing to do. Even Hub said as much when I told him my plans for the afternoon while he was with his mother…he said my mom would be happy to know I was spending time there with my brother.

So after lunch, my brother and I set out for the nursery, which is about 20 minutes away. We talked a lot in the car about how he’s been doing with his depression and his medication, as well as some other health issues he’s dealing with. But once at the nursery, we talked about plants. We walked around the big place for about two hours–which leaves me exhausted and in pain today unfortunately–just chattering and touching plants and gagging over the high prices. We bought absolutely nothing, but it was worth the time and energy and pain, because it felt right. This brother and I, we have always been the closest of the siblings–with the exception of his married life where he withdrew from the whole family…and even then I tried to stay in touch with him as much as it was possible–so this connection felt good to renew. I know he’s struggling with his depression and his newly single life and his desire for a partner and…well, lots of stuff. And part of today was to remind him that he’s not alone. Doing that for my mom and for him made the day work for me.

I miss my mother so terribly. Every day. I feel like my identity without her has been lost. I don’t know how to get it back…yet. I’m still searching, and maybe someday I’ll find my purpose again.

I described (to T and a friend) the run-up to mother’s day as “being poked with a cattle prod when you’re already on fire”…and it’s true. That’s so much how I felt with all the television commercials and the holiday displays in all the stores and the radio commercials and facebook and instagram and on and on. I worry that it will always feel this way, this painful, this sad, this lost. Living without my mom has changed my life and changed me at my core. I don’t know how to adjust to that, or that adjustment is even possible. Somehow, I have to find a way forward. Last night I watched Bad Moms on television while Hub was still at his mother’s. There’s a point in the movie where Mila Kunis is talking to her movie daughter and she basically says, “I know you can make it through this because I’m your mother and I know what you’re made of.” It was such a dumb, funny, stupid, crazy movie, but that scene and those words (which I can’t remember exactly) really hit me hard. I know my mother believed in me and believed in my strength and my ability to persist. I hope I can find a way to continue to make her proud in that aspect as I try to find my way.


 

As a minor update, I finished all my bactrim pills successfully. I don’t know how much I feel better, but so far it seems the smell is gone, so I take that as success. I wasn’t too much more itchy the last day and half, so that was good. My stomach isn’t entirely back to normal yet, but I know the bactrim stays in your system for several days following the last pill. So hopefully another couple of days and my stomach will be better.

 

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Sleep? Why bother…

Apparently this is what my body and brain has decided. Sleep unnecessary.

I know that for real it has to do with my mental, emotional, and physical pain. All of those wrapped into one, split into pieces, kneaded into each other, and then rolled into a throbbing ball of oneness. I’m so on edge that one small scrape and I’m raw and bleeding profusely, figuratively.

I cried on the way to the grocery store this morning. Not because I had to go to the grocery store, not because I was worried about being able to afford the trip to the grocery store, not because I was afraid I was going to have an anxiety attack in the grocery store… I cried because I couldn’t not cry. I’m tired, I’m not sleeping, I’m worried about Hub and I’m worried about Butthead. I’m worried about myself, too. My grief is overwhelming every part of my life and I can’t seem to dig my way out of it.

Hub is agonizing over a job offer–in part because it might mean less flexibility and he worries that he won’t be able to come home if I need him–that he received on Friday. I’m worried for him because I don’t feel that the company was being up front with him…they kind of bait and switched the job position (which they apparently did to the guy before him, someone Hub knows). I am concerned he won’t have any backup on his work, and I’m worried because if this is how they treat potential employees, how do they treat current employees. But Hub is unhappy in his current job and looking for a way out. Our health insurance changed due to the buy-out, so he’s both unhappy with the new corporate owners and unhappy with their shitty health insurance. Unfortunately, the potentially new company has equally shitty health insurance…so that kind of cancels out the pro/con in that category. Now they’re not budging on a concession he asked about (a minor concession on their part!), so that might be the end of that. I only hope that his current corporate overlords don’t decide that he’s no longer needed before he finds something else.

Butthead is randomly puking again. I mean, it’s good news that she’s not persistently puking like the last episode where we ended up rushing her to the vet hospital and coming home with anti-vomit pills… But this randomly throwing up (twice in the last four days…one of which was this morning which was another reason why I was so upset) is so frustrating. We don’t know if she’s sneaking and eating bad things outside or has gastritis and so her stomach hurts her or what… We’re at the point where we’re acclimating her to a basket muzzle that she’ll have to wear anytime she’s outside so she doesn’t eat crap off the ground and make herself sick. It’s hard and sad to make her wear a muzzle because she’s a good dog, not aggressive, shouldn’t have to wear it. I know it’s uncomfortable and bulky and just plain weird for her, but we don’t know what else to do with her. We can’t figure out what is wrong with her. And if it’s that she’s eating stuff outside that’s making her sick, there’s nothing else we can do other than the muzzle. For the past month or so we’ve been out there with her every minute, following her and standing over her and making sure she’s not eating things. But with the snow and ice, and my physical capabilities being limited at this point…I couldn’t keep up with her and I think she might have eaten something that made her vomit last Thursday when I wasn’t standing over her. We just don’t know what to do with her… So I’m worried that she’s going to vomit again like the last episode. Ugh. So far it’s been these two random episodes and today I spent time on and off modifying the basket muzzle to try to use a quick-snap collar to hold it on her head versus the old-fashioned buckle which is a pain in the ass to get on and off of her, especially with her floppy ears and long hair.

Even though I’ve been feeling ultra shitty and exhausted, we had to do a bunch of things this weekend. Most of which we accomplished. Unfortunately, one of the things was cleaning up the caulk in our master shower which seemed to be growing mold behind the caulk at the joints of the floor and wall. Hub is not flexible, so he had trouble sitting on the floor and scraping at the caulk, so I did 90% of it. Which, of course, hurt my arms, shoulders, and hands more than they were already hurting. The end result, though, is that we need to call in a professional to look at our shower because this is the second time in a year that we’ve ended up with this problem. Last time my brother helped me strip and re-caulk the shower, but now we’re in the same place again… There’s something wrong if there’s mold and mildew growing behind the caulk, especially since we bought mold-resistant caulk. This all means that we don’t have a shower in our bathroom and we have to haul ass to the shower on the opposite end of the house…past all the windows in the front of the house and over the foyer area of the house. It also means we have to haul all our paraphernalia into the other shower, which is smaller than our master shower. It’s not a huge deal, it’s just more stress. And more stress in having to find someone who knows what they are doing to come into the house to fix whatever is happening. The stupid sub-contractor that our builder hired to do our bathrooms did not know what they were doing. They screwed several things up in our master bathroom and ruined a lot of our shower floor tiles by having to go back and chip out all the wrong grout they put in. So we were left with grout over top of grout, and chipped tiles. And the slope of the floor is really bad, which causes water to pool in different spots in the shower and leaves our grout with water stains where the water sits. It’s shitty and depressing and frustrating. That’s all in addition to whatever this caulk situation is.

I have my mammogram on Wednesday. We finally got our health insurance cards from Hub’s new corporate overlords. I opened the mail, found the card, and called for my appointment all within about ten minutes. The first they had was a week away (now this Wednesday) and I took the appointment. I am pretty paranoid about keeping up with my mammos, so I’m glad that it’s only about ten days overdue from the day I had it last year.

I was supposed to have a relaxing massage last week. I had it scheduled in between two trigger point appointments…I normally go to TP massage therapy once a month (ish). So I scheduled the relaxing massage exactly two weeks after one TP appointment and two weeks before the next TP appoint. And then it snowed, and my relaxing massage appointment got canceled. And I really really wanted it. I mean, not enough to endanger my therapist or myself, but I’m so disappointed. I knew this was going to be a difficult month (technically, it’s been a difficult year so far), so I had planned for the relaxing massage–which I never get–and then plans went pfffft. Since my massage therapist only works two days a week, there were no openings for me to do a make-up massage. I don’t know when I’ll be able to fit it in again.

I told T on Friday that I want this grief to have some kind of end date. But with every day, every month, it stays. It’s a solid burden that I carry with me every. This month is especially difficult as it’s the (one year) anniversary of Mom’s death. And with every calendar day I think of what I was doing on “this” day last year. How we had no idea what was coming. How we took her to an arboretum in the city trying to perk up her spirits…not knowing how soon it would get so bad. How it happened so fast. How I was late to Hub’s birthday dinner last year because I was with Mom and Dad helping them with something. How it was only days after his birthday that she was in the hospital and then hours later that she was gone. Grief has no end date. It plays by no rules. It doesn’t give a shit who you are or what you want. It lives and breathes and grows and growls and harps and hammers and changes and does whatever the hell it wants. And it sucks.

 

 

 

 

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Hairy update

I have so much to write about and absolutely no interest in writing any of it.

sigh

What I’m hyper-focused on right now is my poor hair. Guys, I went to an Aveda salon and spent a shit-ton of money. SHIT-TON. Like yeah. Like WTF was I thinking shit-ton of money. It’s now about four weeks out from the coloring and I’m pretty disappointed on a couple of fronts. The main thing that upsets me is that my hair feels bad. Not emotionally, but physically. I’ve never had such crappy feeling wet hair in my LIFE. It feels like brillo when it’s wet, and I can’t hardly comb through it after I wash and condition. I’ve had my hair colored before by salons…I’ve box-dyed my hair. I’ve never had my hair feel like this before. WTF. It’s frizzy as hell when it’s dry–which isn’t incredibly unusual for me–but it’s also DRY. Like so dry it makes me sad. None of my fancy shampoos and conditioners are working. Argan oil didn’t help. Coconut oil hair mask didn’t help. Aloe vera mask didn’t help. Tomorrow I’m going to Ulta to try to find another type of shampoo and conditioner. I’m pissed at how much money I’ve spent on hair care to try to repair whatever the frufru was done to my poor follicles.

I particularly picked the Aveda salon because it was supposed to be gentle, plant-based, organic, safer hair color. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the stylist, but I’m disappointed in the results.

I’m also disappointed in the color retention. My hair is basically orange (which Hub lovingly tells me it’s “copper”), red, and then sort of white-ish-gray-ish-green-ish (from the washed out blues). There’s some red leftover on the upper areas which started out purple but mostly just washed out to reddish. Then there’s kind of the original brown with tinges of dark auburn where the darkest of purple was.

I’ve spent hours since the first post-color week passed looking over instagram posts while trying not to be jealous. At this point, I’ve begun to understand that those instagram posts are kind of manipulated to look the way they do. I mean, when they took my pictures, they made me go outside to get good light. The stylist posted a VERY photoshopped (filtered?) version of one of the pictures on her instagram (which I think looked pretty crappy) instead of using one of the ones  you saw on my previous post. Inside the salon, the colors were different…and after a week they were totally different. I mean, I knew the colors would wash out somewhat, but I think because we started with lighter colors (not my choice…I wanted jewel toned purples and blues) they washed out to almost nothing really fast. All the bright color that was hidden underneath is gone, too.

I’m not sure I have a good concept of how bad my hair color really looks. I want to go somewhere to get it “fixed” but I feel like it’s in shitty condition and I don’t want to make it worse. I mean, I know I sound dramatic and all, and honestly I’m sort of just complaining because in the grand scheme it’s HAIR and it’s really fine and I just mostly put it up and no one pays attention anyway… I’m just disappointed. You guys would be horrified to know how much I spent for hair color that barely lasted a week (and I only washed my hair twice in that week to try to maintain the color). I’m honestly horrified at what I spent. I feel like if I spent that much and my hair feels this shitty damage-wise, what will happen if I go to a less expensive place to get it “color corrected”??

Enjoy my updated photos. I’m ONLY doing this because I wish I had seen updated photos on instagram. 😦 Then maybe I would have gone into this with full knowledge of what would be…

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Remember the glory of what was?

Bleh.

February has just been…shitty. I’ve used that word a lot in this post, haven’t I? I’ll have to write more posts, because I’ve been exhausted and sick and had an urgent care + ER visit and doctor’s visit x2 and a big anxiety attack and a persistently puking dog and running to the vet and… and yeah, I’ve been in a lot of physical pain to cap it all off. Plus my new glasses gave me a migraine with visual aura–which I’ve only had once in my life and it was 10 years ago. So I sent them back and picked up the “fixed” version on Friday and they’re STILL not right. Ugh.

I’m going to bed. Me and my fluffy frizzy orangey hair. Nite nite.

 

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