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Tag Archives: imbalance

What am I going to do

I’m still feeling lousy. There are days when I barely have the energy to do anything, including feed myself. I force myself to get up, do things, take care of the dogs and myself. In between, I rest. I get outside with the dogs for a 10-20 minute stroll every day around the yard as the weather allows so I am at least moving somewhat. I’ve read a couple of books and I’m trying to do some crocheting in small doses.

But I feel lousy. My imbalance, the nausea, heartburn, fatigue, pain…it’s all still here. Sleeplessness, heat intolerance…I’m hot and cold all the time. Sometimes I feel sweaty when there’s no sweat. Sometimes my hands and feet are sweaty and clammy. Today I have tingling in my fingers and face. And always the pain in various parts of my body. Both shoulders are bad, and for one of them I can’t lift my arm up above shoulder height. I’m eating small amounts of food and feeling full, then feeling hungry again later. Rinse and repeat when I eat again…small amounts of food and feeling full, then hungry again.

Our health insurance doesn’t kick in again until May 1st. Even so, the last time(s) I saw my doctor, she found nothing troubling. It could still be grief. I’m sad a lot, but I’m also exhausted a lot. Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m sad or tired. This stuff has all been going on since the beginning of February. It doesn’t seem as if it’s going away…it’s coming up on three months. I can’t imagine it’s just going to disappear anytime soon.

As if I didn’t have enough to think about, the biggest issue looming is that Hub is flying to California soon for his sister’s wedding. He’s going to be gone for five days. And I’m going to be alone, having to take care of myself and the dogs 24/7 for those days. I’m going to be in this big stupid house all by myself, day and night, for five days. I’m going to have to be up early to feed the dogs, and then I’m going to have to be up and alert late to make sure they get out at night before bed. And then I’m going to be alone overnight in the darkness. I haven’t been alone like this since before I first got sick over 17 years ago. The last time Hub traveled–maybe eight years ago–I stayed with my parents with the dog we had at that time so they could help me.

But it’s different now. My mother is gone, and she’s the one who kept everything in line in their house. My heat intolerance is bad and Dad still keeps their house too hot for me, so I’ll feel horrible all day and not sleep at night. Butthead is difficult to keep track of, and I can’t trust my father or my brother to make sure she’s not eating things in the yard late at night or early in the morning.  The friends I have who are local have their own lives, work, families, pets, I can’t ask them to come help me. I considered hiring someone, but having a stranger in the house while I’m here alone is frightening to me. I’ve considered staying up all night and sleeping all day, but the dogs go out multiple times during the day so I’d have to be awake and dressed to do that repeatedly during daylight hours. That means no sleep at night and basically no sleep during the day. I could try to sleep at night but being alone in the house overnight is scary for me and I’m not sure I’ll sleep. Not sleeping will, of course, make everything worse.

This all makes me feel like an invalid. But I’m honestly afraid to be alone 24/7 for five days. I don’t know how I’ll deal with pain and anxiety and exhaustion without any support or reprieve from taking care of the dogs and myself. There are moments when I think I will be able to handle it, and then there are moments when I am positive I won’t be able to handle it. The truth will probably live somewhere in between, in the end. I have avoided thinking about this since February, when Hub bought his tickets, but it’s coming too soon for me to keep pushing it aside.

 

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March not better

I thought February was bad. March has been worse.

I’m feeling so shitty, I can’t even. Period. I spend much of my days fighting the nausea and the fatigue…I’m exhausted before I get going. And now…and now, my imbalance is back in a big way. I’m struggling to walk without falling over, and I’m back to touching walls and handrails and tables and whatever in order to keep myself stable. This is a huge slide backward for me, as I haven’t had this kind of imbalance in quite some time.

I went back to the doctor AGAIN because I’m still exhausted and I’m still nauseated. She told me I was acting better this time versus the last visit, but she’s still thinking I have a virus that I need to just “wait out”. She sent me for more blood work (ANA, rheumatoid arthritis, lyme, iron, b12), but everything came back normal. My b12 is a tad on the low side for my history but still in the normal range. I’ve ordered my b12 sublingual pills and will start them ASAP. Maybe it’s that, maybe it’s stress and grief, maybe it’s something else. I have no idea and apparently neither does my doctor. She said to drink more water and walk outside for 20-30 minutes a day. She says dehydration can cause nausea–and maybe it can–but my drinking habits haven’t altered much. Except now I feel like shit and so I don’t want to do anything, including drink. If I go walk outside my allergies will get worse and I’ll have more breathing trouble and more snot and more post-nasal drip and more nausea. The doctor didn’t care for that and told me to do it anyway, that being outside and walking will make me feel better and get rid of my fatigue. I’m not eating much because I’m so nauseated all the time. I rush through eating what I can before I feel like I can’t put anything else in my mouth at both lunch and dinner, then I leave my dishes in the sink and go back to the couch.

I spend most of my days on the couch, barely even bothering to look at my computer. I try to stay upright, but I’m so exhausted all the time that I end up stretched out and wishing that the day was just over. I don’t know why I wish for that because at this point tomorrow will be much of the same. I feel like I’m sliding into this despair of thinking that I’ll never feel better. That it will always be like this. I am trying to push past the exhaustion and do stuff–I did three loads of laundry on Sunday–in the hopes that if I ignore what’s going on it will go away. But by the time I do anything, I feel this crushing fatigue again and I end up on the couch. Or in bed.

Sleeping is a negatory. I try to sleep but it doesn’t work, and when I wake up in the morning I can hardly haul myself out of bed. I don’t feel rested or refreshed or like I even closed my eyes. I want to cry but I’m too fucking tired to cry.

I was supposed to go see my massage therapist on the 14th but our local snow canceled that appointment. I was also scheduled to go tomorrow morning, but I literally got an email at 9:30pm saying she’s sick and has to cancel. And for sure I’m grateful because I do NOT want to get sick and it sounds like she has the flu, but I’m so disappointed. For one thing, I was hoping some trigger point release would help with my imbalance and nausea (hoping, though not confident)…for another thing, getting onto her schedule is a bitch and even though I rushed I struggled to get back onto her calendar. It’ll be two weeks before I can get back in to see her, which might not be horrible because if she DOES have the flu I wouldn’t want to be back in her “hands” too soon. But it’s hard to miss appointment after appointment when I’m feeling so poorly. Hub tried to send me a link to a list of massage therapists in the area, but none of them do trigger point AND it’s hard to just find a new massage therapist. It’s like a mental therapist…you have a relationship built up. It’s not so easy to walk into someone’s space and get naked and let them rub you for an hour.

I see T on Friday, which is the day after the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing. Just happens to be how it worked out. Considering how things are going at the moment, it’s going to be a long, sobby appointment.

I can’t stand this constant nausea. Every time I swallow I feel sick. Every time I move I’m wobbly and off balance and that makes the nausea worse. If I didn’t have the dogs, I’d be in bed all day. I gave thought to going back to bed after lunch today because Butthead had peed and pooped after HER lunch so I knew she’d be okay for a while, but I didn’t want to give in. I’ve been in that place where I didn’t get out of bed for weeks (with my prilosec fever) and that’s a bad road to head down. It only makes me weaker and makes me feel worse.

Hub’s birthday dinner with his family is this coming weekend. I don’t know how I’m going to go…by 3pm, I’m so exhausted I can barely sit at our kitchen table for dinner, how am I going to get out and go to a restaurant and be “on” for his family? For hours… We didn’t go out on his birthday because I couldn’t get up the energy. We didn’t go donate the dolls and bears I crocheted to the police station because I didn’t have the energy to leave the house.

I don’t know what to do now. I don’t know what path to take. I don’t know how to do anything right now.

 

 

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On dogs and doctors and days (long)

It’s been a busy month. Today is the 18th, just FYI.

I got my eyes checked–for the first time in at least six years–only to find that my prescription has barely changed. In fact, the doctor wanted to roll back my prescription a smidge but I declined. I just picked up my new glasses about an hour ago and when I put them on, I felt weird. I think we ended up a tiny bit stronger, but the technician said it could also be the upgraded coating on the lenses that made me feel funky. I’ll have to ease into the new glasses, which is fine because I still have an old pair to use in the meantime. The new glasses have half-frames, so they should be lighter on my face. The second pair of “new” glasses I got are actually one of my old frames with new lenses. I would say it was cheaper to do it that way, but honestly by the time I picked the first set of new frames, I was so freaking tired of looking at frames that I just told her to put new lenses in my old frames. They were in fine condition and they were going to be my back-up pair anyway. Everyone I worked with at the optometrist kept repeating that I had single vision lenses (instead of bi-focals) and they all sounded surprised. Kind of annoying, but honestly the major reason I didn’t go back to get my eyes checked in the last six years is because at 39 years old, the optometrist told me at 40 I’d be needing bi-focals (because that’s “the age”) and I didn’t want bi-focals so I didn’t go back. And here I am, six years later, still no bi-focals. So poo on all of you. Meanwhile, I also hate getting my eyes dilated, but this optometrist had some new-fangled technology that let them take pictures of my eyes and I was able to put off dilation again.

Monday we took Le Moo for her annual “senior” check-up at the vet. We took Butthead, too, because we’d noticed her front two bottom teeth were disappearing. The vet assured me that it wasn’t likely to be the case when we talked in email, but we brought her anyway to make sure. Le Moo is healthy and has lost about 10% of her weight. She went from 94 pounds to 86 pounds, which we are doing on purpose because as she ages she seems to be more prone to limping after running or playing. She’s a big girl and we’ve always had trouble getting her to lose weight, so we gave up and she pretty much maintained a steady weight for all the years we had her. Then we saw the limping issue and we started getting really strict and we’ve noticed it paying off. We’ll keep up with it and try to keep her from injury. The vet looked at Butthead’s teeth and said they aren’t disappearing, the gum is growing up over them. Nothing to do unless it bothers her and so far she hasn’t complained. Unfortunately, the vet is 90 minutes away, so it kind of takes up several hours just going, doing the appointment, and coming home. So Hub’s MLK day off was pretty well used it by that. I’m glad Le Moo is doing well…she’s somewhere around eight years old, which is getting up there in big dog years. And ya’ll know I worry. We’re going to have to get her back to the vet to get her teeth cleaned (she’s got bad teeth, yo), so we’ll be making that trip again in the next month or so. Yay.

So Tuesday was my six month check-up with the gyn onc surgeon. Because of Hub’s status with his company (they got bought out and are in transition), I didn’t want him to have to take a day off to accompany me to an appointment that would likely last less than 15 minutes. So I sent him on his way to work and girded myself for the hour ride to the onc’s office. Under normal circumstances, I would have been nervous but okay to make the trip on my own. I made the appointment for after rush hour and I plotted my route to go on the mostly un-used toll road to avoid further traffic. But…it rained. I knew it was predicted to be “light showers” so I told Hub I’d be fine on my own. When I got on the road it was lightly showering. Ten minutes in, before I even reached the toll road, it was pouring. And I was sweating bullets, hands clutched on the steering wheel, talking myself into being OK. I don’t like driving in the rain and I hate driving on wet roads. I have been in a full 360 degree skid behind the wheel before and it’s not fun, so I try to avoid driving in weather. In addition, the toll road is 60mph, and the highway that I was supposed to be getting on at the other end is 60mph, with lots of traffic. So when I rolled onto the toll road, I basically planted myself three or four car lengths behind a dump truck and kept speed as comfortably as I could. Halfway along the toll road, the dump truck changed lanes and sped off. WTF. But I stayed steady and with the few cars on the road flying around me, I made it along the toll road. At the other end, I decided to exit early onto a main road that cuts through the city that I knew would have lots of traffic lights and lots of cars, but also slower moving. And I splashed my way along for half an hour until I got to my destination. It was a good thing I left early, and I made it with ten minutes to spare at the doctor’s office. The doctor was “only” 45 minutes late (we’ve actually waited for 2 hours for prior appointments!), he spent less than 10 minutes with me…several of those minutes were taken up when I told him my mother had passed and we talked about that. He said everything looked good for me and without any concerning symptoms he had no reason to run any tests. In July I’ll repeat a CT scan as part of my follow-up at my two year mark.

Luckily for the trip home it had stopped raining but the roads were all wet. Even so, I made my way along the major highway back to the toll road, and then meandered along the toll road toward my exit. Unfortunately again, the exit ramp I have to take from the toll road to the highway home is a HUGE flyover, which I don’t even like to drive on DRY pavement. Instead I took the exit for the opposite direction which is a normal exit and I turned around at the first traffic light. And I headed home on more regularly traveled roads, which meant I was more comfortable even though the streets were still wet.

In March I will go for my mammogram. It’s still hard for me to go to these appointments and to know when I get home that I don’t have my mother to talk to about what happened. I thought it would get easier, but so far it hasn’t.

Tomorrow I go for a “consultation” to get my hair did. The salon I selected (different from the one I used last year…partly because the stylist never answered my queries and now because I find out this new salon has more “organic” hair dye) wants me to come in to meet the stylist and to let the stylist see my hair and confirm what I want done. If all is well, I go in early on Saturday to get all the colors. ALL THE COLORS. When I was younger I used to box dye my hair all the time, mostly variations on reds because I didn’t like my plain brown hair. At some point I became too ill physically to dye my hair so I stopped. Then I did it a few more times when I was feeling better, but it was a pain in the ass and everything got all stained (including ME) and I didn’t really love the results, so I stopped again. One year I went and got my hair all chopped off and then I had the salon dye my hair but… well, I wasn’t really keen on how it looked and it seemed like the color washed out pretty quickly and I didn’t want to waste my money.

Only last year did I decide to get something done again and I wanted it to be a little funky to make my mother smile. I got a combo of auburn and violet done, but Mom never noticed and the final look wasn’t as pronounced as I had hoped. Over the past year I haven’t bothered to do anything except let my hair grow out. But after my breast MRI and my colonoscopy and my eye exam, and now my onc follow-up, I knew I wanted to do something fun to celebrate the positive news I’ve been getting. I’ve been stalking Instagram (which I don’t use) for different pictures of what I wanted and I am vacillating between something oil-slick color looking and something more jewel-toned, but there’s definitely gonna be blues and purples and maybe some teal and pink. We’ll see what the stylist says tomorrow. If I can get a picture of before and after, I’ll come back and post them.

I’ve also gone past my birthday. My father asked me three or four times if I wanted to go out to dinner for my birthday (he called around lunchtime) but I kept saying no. I felt bad because I know he likes to go out to dinner and I am sure he felt it was what he could do for me, but I didn’t want to go out. I stood my ground and I thanked him, but said I wanted to chill at home. Hub acquiesced and didn’t do anything special for dinner, but we were together so that was fine. The weather outside was crappy and icy so I was just as happy to stay inside and just BE. My aunt–who doesn’t do so good with the whole grief support thing–called and kept me on the phone for 45 minutes talking about stuff. Two of my three brothers emailed me to wish me happy birthday, and my very old dear friend did the same. But no call from my mom, which was the hardest part. Just knowing the whole day that she wouldn’t be calling and we wouldn’t be talking. It sucked. And now it’s over for another year.

Friday I will literally be in therapy while the inauguration is going on. Like I had planned it that way. The rest of the day I will be avoiding all manner of television and radio and social media. Bleh.

I am still in a pretty good amount of physical pain. The nausea is still around but it feels like less often, so that’s good. Sleep is still sucky. The imbalance is so-so. My jaw pain is still bad, though. Headaches are not quite as bad. I broke down and saw my massage therapist last week so she could work on the TMJ pain, which worked pretty well for about a day. Next week I go back to her for my regular body-work session. One day I’m going to schedule a woo-woo relaxing massage with her because she’s damn good at it (I had one shortly after my mother died as a gift to myself) and I really want it. I wish my insurance covered that shit because it is physically helpfully to me just like physical therapy was, but it’s not covered. And it’s pretty expensive for an appointment…not that I think it’s overpriced. My massage therapist is a boss and hella good at her job…and she works fucking hard to help me. I can’t even imagine how hard it is on HER body to do the work she does! I have no idea if she’s in line with other massage therapists, but I know she earns every damn dollar during our appointments.

I just realized how long this was. I’m gonna end it now. I should have broken this up into separate posts, but in my head it all felt related. Thanks for sticking with me.

 

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Cardiophobia

cardiophobia

Cardiophobia is defined as an anxiety disorder of persons characterized by repeated complaints of chest pain, heart palpitations, and other somatic sensations accompanied by fears of having a heart attack and of dying. Persons with cardiophobia focus attention on their heart when experiencing stress and arousal, perceive its function in a phobic manner, and continue to believe that they suffer from an organic heart problem despite repeated negative medical tests. In order to reduce anxiety, they seek continuous reassurance, make excessive use of medical facilities, and avoid activities believed to elicit symptoms. The relationship of cardiophobia to illness phobia, health anxiety, and panic disorder is discussed.

I had no idea. Did you even know this was a thing?? (edited to add that personally, I don’t actually make “excessive” use of medical facilities…but I do think about how often I go to the doctor and I think about how it would be to go to the doctor every time I felt health or heart anxiety)

I did a bad thing and I googled something semi-medical. I googled “I am afraid of exercise.” And lo and behold, there are people out there just like me, who are afraid of exercising because of cardiophobia. There are other reasons for fearing exercise, but I was mostly focused on the cardiophobia because that’s my issue. Cardiophobia is the main culprit of my health anxiety, although these days I do have some mild cancer recurrence fears, too. By the way, I survived my google espisode and I REALLY only looked at cardiophobia postings…I did not stray or fall down any medical google rabbit holes. Go me.

I had my appointment with my cardiologist this morning. I have mentioned this before, I believe, but I like this man because he’s non-judgemental about my weight and talks bluntly yet kindly when we meet. He listens to what I’m saying before starting in on any exam. He even listened to me when I said I was afraid to exercise because of my heart, and that I was working on it in therapy. He did an EKG which came out fine, then said we hadn’t done a stress test in many years (not since I first saw him probably in 2012 or 2011)…and he said we could do it right away if I was amenable. I said yes, of course, because no time like the present. The stress test was with an EKG and blood pressure cuff hooked up to me, but no echocardiogram like Hub had a week or two ago. The nurse said they only do echocardiograms when there’s a potential structural defect, which the doctor was not concerned about.

The stress test was hard for me. At one point, the BP cuff was so tight (I hate when it starts to tighten, stops, then starts again like it’s starting over…) that my entire right arm from cuff down to my fingers was beet red. I told the tech that the cuff was way tight and she reset it. But those stress tests make you go fast and at an incline on the treadmill and that’s hard. It was already hot in the room and I’m pretty heat intolerant. When they went from high speed and full incline to cool down, I got woozy and I told them. The nurse said that happens and it’ll go away, which is kind of did. Except for the fact that I am having a lot of imbalance issues (like being on a boat rocking up and down) these days, so it didn’t fully go away.

They unhooked me and gave me a cup of water, then the nurse left to consult with the doctor. When she came back, she said they saw no blockages and no abnormalities on the test results, so I was free to go home. Hub was waiting in the waiting room and he helped me out to the car because I still felt overheated and wobbly.

Do I feel better? I’m not entirely sure. But at the very least, when I go in to see T on Friday and we start working on my specific health and exercise anxiety, at least I can say that I was cleared by the cardiologist. Unfortunately, I’m dealing with heartburn again, which had mostly been under control up until about two weeks ago (a lot of this pain is probably the heartburn crap, which I think started out “silently” and is now just getting worse and worse. I’m going to get back onto my digestive enzyme regimen, with the exception of having to find a new digestive enzyme pill because the previous stuff I was using had to be purchased through a practitioner and the nutritionist I was seeing for it refuses to respond to any of my inquiries. I think she’s pissed that I stopped coming in for appointments.

Anyhoo, I’m cleared by the cardiologist. I go in to see T on Friday for hypnotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NLP’s creators claim a connection between the neurological processes (neuro-), language (linguistic) and behavioral patterns learned through experience (programming), and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life. Apparently NLP is something that hypnotherapists can try to use to help along with the hypnosis. I don’t know squat about it, but we’ll see how things go.

I’ve already had one hypnotherapy session, just an induction where she wanted to see if I could go into a hypnotic state. We tried again on the last session, but I was so mired in grief that I basically burst into tears mid-hypnosis and that was the end of that.

I’ll talk about hypnotherapy in another post soon.

Hub and I started and stopped acupuncture, but are planning to start it again because we both felt it was somewhat helpful for certain issues. We were supposed to start again this week, but my cardiology appointment screwed that up. Hopefully next week.

There’s today’s update.

 

 

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Liar liar brain on fire

I’ve been struggling with my health anxiety for over a week. As per usual, it’s pretty centered around my heart. I’ve made an appointment to see my cardiologist, but the online scheduler only had an appointment for NEXT Monday. I’m going to call in the morning to see if they have anything sooner, whether it’s a cancellation or what. If they can’t fit me in sooner, I might also check with my regular doctor–but getting in to see them is pretty difficult these days.

I keep trying to tell myself that if I’m still alive after this week of potential heart pain, then it’s likely just anxiety plaguing me and not a “real” issue. It’s my anxiety lying to me. My left arm hurts, my back hurts, my jaw hurts, I feel slightly off-balance, I’m nauseated. All those things could mean a heart issue…and all those things could be just my daily life. I can’t get around my lying anxiety brain to figure it out. I’m both hot and cold, sometimes feeling sweaty when there’s no sweat there. Right now my palms are warm and feel like they’re sticking to my laptop, but my feet are freezing cold and clammy.

I’ve had a pain in my lower right back today. I always have pain in my back, but this feels different. Is it real or anxiety? I hate that I can’t tell. I don’t understand how I’m supposed to know what is real and what isn’t. I don’t know when to seek emergency treatment and when not to. I don’t want to spend my life in the emergency waiting room…our local ER is terrible and our trips tend to last no less than 6-12 hours there. Most of that in the waiting room trying to get a bed to be seen (usually by a dismissive physician or physician’s assistant).

I’ve been depressed and not acting normal, not moving around much, not eating well, not drinking my water. I know this is all contributing to the fact that everything hurts me, but I can’t seem to get around it. I’m sitting poorly, also contributing to my pain. I’m not sleeping, some of which from pain, some because of the fear of having a heart attack.

I can’t even tell you how many good-bye letters I’ve written. In my previous house, I used to have them scattered around in weird places. Mostly hand-written in the dark of night when I was sure I wouldn’t make it through the night. Sometimes I write them on my computer and drop them into weird folders. Am I the only one? Does anyone else do this? I so wanted to write one the other night because it was that bad. I didn’t do it. I wanted to wake Hub and tell him good-bye, just in case. I wanted to do it before he went to sleep. I write the notes because I don’t want to frighten my wonderful husband…I can’t stand keeping him awake when he’s the one getting up early every morning to take care of the dogs and then go to work to support both of us.

I was sitting here earlier, just waiting for the time to go by. And I started wondering WHY I was hoping for the time to go by more quickly. I know I want to get up first thing and make calls to the doctor, but really, what is that going to solve? I’m not likely to get an appointment right away, so I’m still stuck in this anxiety limbo.

As I type, I’m restless. My jaw is hurting again. My back. My arm. I want to sob, but crying only makes me feel worse. I want to curl into a ball, but it hurts too much. I want to lie down and go to sleep but I’m afraid. I heard once that there are more heart attacks in the early morning hours, so I’m afraid to go to sleep because I’m afraid to have a heart attack overnight or in the early morning hours. For some reason my brain thinks that if I’m awake, I won’t have a heart attack. Or maybe I think if I’m awake, I’ll be able to get help if I start having a heart attack. Probably the latter.

This sucks so much. I hate this health anxiety. I hate that this is one of the few things that I’ve not been able to conquer. Sometimes I do so well, but other times I’m just so suffocated by it.

 

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And so I fly… (part 2)

I flew to Chicago for my niece’s wedding (I forgot to note that my Dad picked up a Bailey’s and cream for me at the open bar…I rarely drink, but I finished the small glass of it, hoping it might help me chill a little before the flight). It was a very pretty wedding, but we had responsibilities at home and so didn’t want to have to stay overnight away from home. So like idiots, we decided to fly in the morning of the wedding (1 1/2 to 2 hour flight) and then turn around and fly home that night. The wedding was at 3pm. Our flight home was at 9:30pm, but remember you’re supposed to be at the airport two hours early to make it through security and to your gate in time to board. Ye-ah. Considering our first foray had a one hour wait in line for security screening, I’m totally understanding the 2 hour timing. I was sure, though, that there wouldn’t be much of a line at seven at night. No shock that I was wrong…it took about forty minutes to get through security this time. And guess what? This time they made me get back into the xray thingy a second time. Then the TSA agent made a face and while I was IN the xray thingy, she made me pull my pants all the way up “to your natural waist, hon”. Um, okay. Problem is, the pants I decided to travel in are my slouchy pants, but I did as I was told. She looked at me again and said I had to pull the pants waaaaaaaaay up so that the crotch wasn’t hanging down away from, well, my crotch. So I yanked my pants up as high as they could go, but she wanted me to also spread my legs farther apart. Which I did. When I came out of the xray machine, she made another face and said she was going to have to pat down my waist and my legs, to which I said, “Okie dokie.” Meanwhile, Hub, who was behind me, scooted through the xray and was putting on his shoes while I was being patted down. Might I mention that his pants were also baggy? But they were jeans, so maybe that’s different? Or they figure men need more room in their crotchal area than women, and thus I was some sort of threat with my saggy crotched pants? Dunno, but I did what I was told. They also wiped my hands with a piece of something-or-other and threw it into a machine. Came back clean and we were waved on our way. So, that was an experience. (Did I also forget to mention that during our flight out, we saw a female TSA agent patting down a lady who was wearing spandex? Who would have been unable to hide anything if she had wanted to? Because I could see the brand name of her underwear through her spandex? –also, said lady was very trim, so don’t think that was fat-bashing, it was just a spandex thing…and a thing about how TSA could possibly think she was hiding something from them…)

Once again, the gate we were going to was at the farthest end of the airport, literally. So we were off on our hike to the gate, where we starting hearing announcements almost immediately that our flight was moved to another gate. The actual last gate in the terminal. Which was already crowded with people, as it was technically two gates in the same area. So we had to stand for twenty-five minutes until they were ready to start boarding because the chairs in the area were all occupied, either with people or, rudely, with their STUFF. And here’s where it starting getting really bad for me. First of all, I was tired and in pain from the first flight, all the walking in the airport, and the hard chairs at the wedding. Then, I started thinking about how we were sort of crammed in like cattle, and that the airline we were taking home was Spirit, which is a discount airline. I bought these tickets because they were the latest flight out we could get (technically it’s considered a red-eye because we were flying “overnight” due to the time change), and because it was a full-size airplane (versus American Eagle which uses a very small-ish plane). But at the gate I was thinking maybe Spirit was flying old planes that no one else wanted. Our plane was already at the gate and I could see it through the window. It arrived and was deplaning as we were told our gate was moved to that gate. And we were scheduled to board only half an hour later…how do they clean a whole plane in half an hour? How do the pilots get to rest in between flights? I saw the flight crew leave with their bags, but then I watched the two pilots get off the plane and go retrieve food for their dinners. As they came back with food, I said to Hub “two hands on the wheel Mr. Pilot-man!” out of jest, but it freaked me out a bit. Were we flying old creaking airplanes with crew who couldn’t make it onto one of the big airlines?

Listen, for those who don’t have anxiety, you have to understand that those of us who do, our thoughts aren’t always rational. I don’t know those pilots, I don’t know the airplanes, I don’t know shit about Spirit except that it’s “no-frills”. I have no clue if their training is different or requires less air-time for the pilots, or if the planes are made specifically as no-frills for Spirit or if, indeed, they are just older planes. But these are the things my brain was telling me at the time.

This time I had purchased the “big seats” in the emergency exit row because they were only a few dollars more when we booked. And I thought on the flight home it would be worth it since we’d both be tired and stressed. It was a good thing because Spirit’s seats are even closer together and smaller than United, which also pushed me further into the “rickety old airplane” theory. We boarded in the second zone/group and found our seats pretty quickly. Just a minute or two later, our seatmate (again the window seat) showed up, and I was relieved to note he was pretty slender, though tall. We let him into his seat, then tried to get settled ourselves. We had tons of legroom and just a little larger set of seats than we’d had on United, but we were also responsible for the emergency exit in the case of, well, an emergency. The seats were old looking, and everything around us looked kind of sparce and ghetto. Nothing seemed…finished. Like the plane was from back before they made things…pretty. It sucked, ya’ll. It really revved up my anxiety because it made me feel like we were flying secondhand airplanes. And to make things even more fantastic, as we were finishing up with boarding, two girls stumbled onto the plane, one of them making loud, drunken apologies on how they were running late. Then they proceeded to take the seats–you guessed it–right in front of us, one on each side of the aisle. Oh jeez. They were probably just barely into their twenties, drunk and acting stupid (one more than the other), and being really loud. They were punching each other back and forth across the aisle. Then the flight crew came to do their safety speech, and lucky them, the steward had to do his speech and demo right there next to the drunk girl. I’m pretty sure one or two of the times he bent/knelt down to pick something up off the floor, the drunk girl touched him inappropriately because he sort of started and then glared at her. Then another steward came to talk to her while the safety demo was still going on. After the safety demo, the steward put the stuff away and went back to the front of the plane briefly, until the girls starting acting up again, then he came back to quietly chastise them and warn them about further disturbances. The drunk girl started making a fuss and he shut her down, very quietly and very politely. She asked for her neck pillow from the overhead compartment, which he nicely retrieved, then within minutes she was asleep, flopped about like a doll.

I hated her. I hated the guy sleeping next to me. I hated the others asleep on the late-night flight. It sucked because I was really upset and unable to even sit back and relax, and there they were sleeping! So we head off to taxi along the runway and I plaster myself to Hub’s side again, while he’s watching an episode of Firefly he’d downloaded (to distract himself…poor Hub, being upset himself and having to deal with me…*sigh*). I had my headphones on again, but this time the plane was even louder and I had trouble drowning any of the noise out. As we took off, I felt like the plane was rattling around me, again like it wasn’t made very well or was old and on it’s way to tearing to pieces. I pressed my face against Hub’s shoulder and I cried. It was so hard to maintain myself at that point. I wasn’t having a panic attack, at least not in the way I know them, as my heart was very steady and I didn’t feel that overriding sense of doom and despair…I just felt tired and overstressed and I just wanted to be home. I didn’t want to have to fight my way through the discomfort of the turbulence or the feeling of the airplane dipping and turning, or ascending or descending. I just wanted to be done. I wanted the day to be over. I wanted to not be so tense or feel so vigilant. Hub had spent the entire day watching the clock, checking his phone nearly every twenty minutes (he told me) to make sure we were on schedule wherever we were. He told me as we were heading home from the airport that it made him feel in control. We both knew that was a crock.

The flight continued, as did the extraordinary noise (how did those people sleep through all that?). Twenty minutes prior to descent, the pilot came on with the announcement that we were approaching our home location. I spent the next twenty minutes clutched up against Hub, vacillating between crying quietly and telling myself that we HAD to go through the turbulence and descent in order to be done with all of this. Descent seemed to take forever, and although I thought I was more prepared for landing, this one was soooooooooooo loud and bumpy, it felt like the brakes were screaming the whole time. We finally taxied around to the gate and lined up to get off the plane. I was exhausted, beyond what I’ve felt in a long time, because it was all wrapped up in the physical and the mental and the relief of it all being over.

Only later did I realize that when I’d done some searching on the best place to sit on a plane before the trip, all the articles said to sit toward the back where there is less noise and less feeling of movement. I doubt highly about the movement, but from these two flights back-to-back, I do realize that it was quieter in the back of the plane. I didn’t hear them testing the flaps on the plane, I didn’t hear and feel the landing gear going up and down, and in general the engine noise was lessened in the back of the plane. Also, in the dark on the way home as we were approaching descent, I glanced out an open-shaded window and saw what looked like lightning, which freaked me out. I suspect it was the lights on the wings blinking, but that’s not something you see from the back of the plane, either. The drawback is, there are no seats in the back of the plane with extra legroom (that I’m aware of), so you get screwed on that. Do you deal with the extra noise and such and get larger seats with better legroom, or do you squish into the back seats for the reduction in noises? I dunno, but I will note that my flight out (back seats, smaller, less legroom) was an easier flight for me than the one coming home with the bigger seats. Then again, I was exhausted on the way home, and probably a little over-tired from the alcohol I’d consumed (which I literally never drink, ever, mostly because I don’t enjoy booze and the stuff that I do like–Kahlua and/or Bailey’s–make me so sleepy that I’m ready for a nap immediately upon finishing what is in the first glass I’ve had).

When we got off the plane, it was like the airport was deserted. We had to make the long walk to the baggage area to try to find the shuttle back to the car. Then it was a ride from the airport to the parking garage once the shuttle picked us up. And then from there, we were off for home, where our pups were waiting for us with much glee. We were very fortunate that a good friend of mine hung out with the dogs all day, while my parents’ hired a pet sitter to come watch their dog for the day we were gone. At one a.m., we picked up my parents’ dog and brought her to our house to spend the final night with us until my parents arrived back home. We were all sacked out by 1:30am, none of us really wanting to get up just a few short hours later to start the week.

By the time this posts, we’ll have already taken Le Moo in for surgery to have a thing removed from her eyelid, and my mother will have had her second infusion of the new medication to shrink her cancer. Later in the week, if needed after Butthead’s xrays (same time as Le Moo’s surgery), we’ll be back for another session of water ballet!

I am so glad this trip is over. I’m thrilled for my niece, and I hope she has a happy and love-filled life. But after this, she can come visit me.

 

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And so I fly… (part 1)

Spoiler alert: I made it home alive (and so did my husband).

Yeah, so the trip is over and I survived the flights both going and coming back. It was not fun either time and I hope to not fly again. Ever.

Our round trip was Sunday. On Friday night I started getting nervous. More about whether I was going to forget something or get to security and have to throw something away. But behind that, I was starting to get nervous about the flight itself. Hub isn’t a good flier either, so he was starting to get nervous, too. In some ways, that made me feel better because he doesn’t have anxiety and yet he was getting worried about the flight. Anyway, we left for the airport and parked our car in the daily lot, then grabbed the shuttle to the airport. We found the security line, which ended up taking almost an hour to get through. It was crazy ridiculous. I did what I was supposed to, including putting my liquids (mostly makeup) into a clear baggie and on the conveyor belt outside of my small bag. But guess what? After going through the xray doohickey, they stopped me and a female TSA agent said she was going to have to pat me down around my waist and my ankles. I actually thought nothing of it at the time, just let her do her thing, then grabbed my stuff and my shoes and went to where Hub was putting his shoes back on. We hurried along to find our gate, which seemed to be the last gate on that concourse, of course. Once we got there, we found seats and tried to stay occupied. We had about 45 minutes before boarding. I kept asking Hub if we needed to be in line for something because people kept lining up, but he said they were getting their seat assignments, which I had already done online when I booked the tickets. Also, I had checked in online (for both flights) the day before so it would save us some time and money.

They finally started boarding the flight. We were almost in the last group to board because our seats were in the back of the plane. I haven’t been on a plane in 17 years, so I forgot how small the aisles and seats are. And of course, I’ve got nicely padded hips…and our seats were in the back, so I had to pass alongside all the passengers already boarded. That kinda sucked. When we got to our seats, we found the person in the window seat was already there. Thank goodness he was a small guy, so I didn’t feel like I was smushed in between him and Hub, who is a big guy. We put up the arm rest between Hub and me, then I went to find my crochet in my bag. But I realized REALLY quickly that there was absolutely no elbow room to crochet. Ugh. I was really counting on that as part of my relaxation technique. So I swapped it for a book, then plugged in the headphones for my iPod and put the earphones over my ears. Were you aware that United uses their headrest tvs to show the safety video? It’s like a commercial and they tried to make it entertaining. Hub and I just rolled our eyes through the whole thing.

Lucky me, the little guy at the window seat kept his window shade open. So I pretty much had to crank my head toward Hub the whole flight. I clutched onto Hub as we took off, wrapping my arms around his arm so that I was pretty much attached to him. I did that almost every time I felt the plane bank, or there was turbulence, or we sped up or slowed down. I felt every single shift in the plane. Every single shift. I am so hyperaware of movement because of my vertigo and imbalance that I knew when the plane climbed higher or descended even a little. I tried to think of turbulence as pot holes, though that didn’t help very much (we had a good amount of turbulence as we ascended, then more during the length of the flight). I cranked my music and tried to sing along in my head. I tried to read but the book was terrible and I couldn’t concentrate. The woman in front of me put her seat back–of course–so I put my table tray down and just rested my head in my hand and my forehead against the back of her headrest (against the tv screen, technically). I had the little air blower from the ceiling on high, so that blew down the back of my neck and kept me relatively cool. I swayed my head to the music, tapped my fingers, and intermittently clutched at Hub as we flew. With the time zone change, I was having trouble tracking how long until we were supposed to land. At one point I was all happy because I thought we were going to start descending any minute, only to realize we had almost forty five minutes left. That was just less than half the flight. UGH. So back to the music I went, swaying and singing silently.

The pilot announced we were going to start descent, so of course I plastered myself to Hub, even though we still had twenty minutes before landing. I closed my eyes and just tried to ignore everything except the music I was blasting in my ears. The landing was hard and fast, and it felt like it took forever to slow down and stop. Everything was so loud…louder than I remembered from all those years ago. It took forever to get off the plane, because as I mentioned we were in the very back, just four rows from the bathrooms. It was interesting to watch the debarking process, because people were really patient and allowed other passengers to get off in order. All except ONE GUY who was sitting behind us who had jumped up as soon as he could, and instead of letting us out like he should, he pushed his way right up along our seats so Hub and I (and our seatmate) couldn’t get out in order like everyone else. SO RUDE, dude! I mean, really? How much faster were you going to get out by being an asshole?

Have you ever flown into O’Hare in Chicago? That mo’fo is HUGE. Walking to find the baggage area to get outside for pickup took forever. We used the moving sidewalks, too, but I was so tense on the plane and so squished into the seats that I was exhausted and in pain. It was kind of slow-going. But we had landed 30 minutes early (YES!) in comparison to the schedule, so we had some extra time to get outside. One of my brothers picked us up (along with some relatives coming in at the same time but via a different airline) and we were off to the hotel to meet my parents and change our clothes for the wedding.

Our flight out was an hour and forty minutes. The wedding itself, specifically, was thirty minutes long. Then we sat for ninety minutes in the reception room, as appetizers were circulated and the open bar, well, opened. I hadn’t eaten before flying (it was too early) and after we landed we went to the hotel. I had packed a tiny bag of gluten free cheese crackers, which I inhaled at the hotel (along with about six ounces of apple juice), but that was all I’d eaten all day. Unfortunately, every single appetizer was either breaded and fried, or had some sort of bread base (egg rolls, spanicopita, bruscetta), so I had nothing to eat again for those ninety minutes. I had two Shirley Temples and some water…and a few Hershey’s kisses that were on the table. That sucked. I was so hungry and I was getting a bad headache. Then the soup came out…but I can’t eat soup because it’s usually thickened with flour. But the waitress said they had some fruit, which she brought out for me and a few other people there who had allergies. That was some awesomely tasty fruit, ya’ll. 🙂 Then they served salad, which was good enough.

Luckily, my brother (it was my niece’s wedding) had arranged for a gluten free meal for me, which turned out to be pretty tasty. I was impressed because normally “gluten free” means plain and dry. But it was pretty okay, including a nice big baked potato, which I scarfed down like I was starving. They ended up bringing out chocolate mousse next, but I was too worried about being sick on the flight home that I didn’t eat it. Before we knew it, Hub and I were retrieving our bags from the car and changing back into our travel clothes in order to leave for the airport to fly home. When we went in to hurry around and say good bye, they were just serving the wedding cake (which I couldn’t eat anyway) along with what looked like ice cream or custard or something, and maybe some other small desserts. I’m not sure because we were already a few minutes behind schedule and it was more important to me to say good bye to my family than to see what we were missing dessert-wise. Then we were gone, on the road to heading home.

 

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