Tag Archives: Health

Starting Slow


I’m trying to get my yoga and karate practice going again after quite a long absence, around six months.  My hiatus was for a few reasons, not the least of which was I just wanted a break from everything.  I felt spread a bit thin between family, work, and other obligations and I just wanted some time to let everything settle before trying to get a routine going again.

I also wanted to let my body rest.  Since beginning karate in late 2009, I injured my shoulder between doing the karate and doing my day job, which was cleaning houses.  Cleaning your own house is one thing: cleaning several houses a week for a few hours a day is quite another, and my shoulder let me know it loud and clear.  Unfortunately, shoulders are some of the longest-healing joints in the body because they’re almost impossible to immobilize, being the joints with the greatest range of motion.  I had to quit cleaning houses, which didn’t bother me all that much, but it was still another year before my shoulder healed, and even after that year it wasn’t completely happy.  Hence the six-month break.

Well it’s all better now, and will stay that way as long as I’m careful with it and don’t go back to cleaning houses.  The break killed my fitness level, though.  So did a year of pharmaceutical issues stemming from last year’s bipolar diagnosis, which caused me to gain a lot of weight.  The combination of the two has made getting back into the swing of things difficult.  Fortunately, I’m not in as bad of shape as I feared I was, though I am way out of breath by the end of class.  That was a nice confidence boost: I was really afraid of being unable to keep up.  Remembering all of my karate moves: that’s a different story.  The mind seems to be rustier than the body, but I figure that will follow in due time.

I’ve also gone back to yoga class, which was made immeasurably easier by two things: not having to shell out $100 to renew my yoga pass due to a strange quirk of record keeping, and hooking up with a friend to support one another in going to yoga class.  I tried my first kundalini yoga class, which was very interesting!  It was very different from your standard yoga class and involved a lot of breathwork and energy movement.  I found it very cleansing, which was the purpose!  I’ll be going back to that one for sure.  I’ll also be going back to restorative and gentle yoga classes until I know I can handle a standard hatha class.  I know if I try one of those now I’ll just get frustrated because my balance and strength aren’t up to snuff.

Starting slow is really important to maintaining focus and stamina for me, otherwise I give up.  I was very tempted to jump back into my old routine with both feet because I remembered how nice it was to be in that old groove, but I knew that would be a bad move since it had been so long, I’m so overweight, and am so out of shape.  On the other hand, starting really slowly showed me where I did not need to go so slow, which was a nice confidence booster.  I was glad that I didn’t have to start back at square one in all aspects of my training, but I’m also glad I gave myself permission to take it easy.

Tearful but Productive


I’ve been crying a lot the last few days.  Whether it’s because of hormones, or because of sadness over the cats, it doesn’t matter really.  I’ve felt sad, and so I’ve been crying.  Or I’ve been frustrated, and so I’ve been crying.  Sometimes I’ve been angry, and so I’ve cried.  I’ve tried not to judge it too much and just see it as my psyche needing to purge extra feelings.

Not that I haven’t been entitled to extra feelings.  I’ve had a frustrating week, I feel.  I’ve been feeling the absence of the cats very keenly for some reason.  It was the same Moon sign as it was when YinYang died, and it was also the same time in my hormonal cycle as it was when I was dealing with both of their illnesses.

I’ve also been working on my book, which is always frustrating.  I do a little bit, and then get stuck.  Usually because I’m waiting on edits from other people.  I hate to put it that way because it makes me sound ungrateful, which I’m not.  I’m extremely grateful for the time other people are giving me towards editing or just plain reading and opinion-giving.  I’m starting to get really antsy, though.  I want to move forward, and I can’t.

As such, I’m trying to divert my need to write something into other projects, like the other two writing projects that grew out of the primary one: the travelogues, and the one I refer to as “tapestry” which is made of all of the photographs and letters and other objects from my grandmother that tells the story of the women in my family.  It sheds a lot of light on the relationship between the women in the family too, at least Mom and Gram anyway.  It’s interesting, especially when overlaid onto the history of the timespan it covers.  Unfortunately, it’s a fuckload of material.  There are letters that span over 70 years, and almost as many photographs.  Not to mention all of the genealogical information.  I’m drowning in all of that stuff.  It’s overwhelming.

The travelogues, on the other hand, are almost written.  Their drawback is that they’re dependent on the main project to make sense, to a certain extent.  Unless I remove all text that refers to the main storyline.  That would make them sound weird, though.  I don’t think they’d stand on their own, not all of them anyway.  I’d have to try it and see.

Then there are the blogs.  I have this one that I’ve been working on that I’m thinking of adopting a daily theme for.  I.e. Meditation Monday, Witchy Wednesday, so on and so forth.  It would make me stay on top of content and would hopefully draw more traffic.

I’ve also made another site that might not necessarily be a blog per se, but a place to put more formal articles and that is more about me and has my name for a title.  A site for a “writer”, as recommended by Writer’s Market, which I’ve been reading for the last two days in the absence of the ability to actually do any writing.  I also made a separate Twitter account and am thinking of making separate Facebook and LinkedIn accounts as well.  I had a LinkedIn account but recently deactivated it because it was pretty well useless.  Then again, I wasn’t using it specifically for writing purposes.

So this one will probably stay pretty much the same topic-wise, it will just get re-organized.  The other one will be more formal and will hold my articles that I spend more time and research on and will hold more biographical material.

Looks like I’m really serious about trying to be a professional writer after years of bellyaching about being an amateur one.

Up Yours, Universe


I’m really not enjoying life right now.  Around the time that the cat died two weeks ago, I started having a recurrence of a strange breathing issue I have from time to time.  It basically keeps me from being able to take a deep breath whenever I want to.  It has its origins partially in my allergies, and partially in anxiety.  I start having trouble because of the allergies, which makes me anxious, which makes the problem worse.  I haven’t figured out how to make it go away yet.  It just happens spontaneously.

Consequently, I’m getting really shitty sleep right now since I pretty much can’t lay down to sleep.  Whatever this fuckuppery my lungs likes to play on me gets worse when I’m reclining.  I’ve largely slept either in a recliner or on the couch the last two nights.

I don’t imagine the anxiety component is made any better by the fact that I’m on deathwatch with yet another cat.  This time it’s YinYang’s mother, Babalon.  Obviously, she’s a bit older than he was when he died a couple of weeks ago.  She also looks much worse.  She’s been sick for at least two years, is nothing but fur and bones, and looks like she has at least two paws in the grave.  Her condition has grown much worse in the past few days and I’m fairly certain I’ll be sending another pet on its way to the Great Catnip Field in the Sky sooner rather than later.  Because what I really need right now is to dig another hole in my back yard.

So between the dead and dying cats, my allergies, and my anxiety, my sleep is suffering.  I believe the appropriate word to use to describe my current demeanor would be “punchy”.  I really want nothing more than 8-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  I would particularly like it to be uninterrupted by the need to suddenly sit upright to alleviate the sensation of suffocating.  I’d love to induce sleep pharmaceutically, but my supply of appropriate meds is quite low due to the last dying cat incident and due to my psych nurse adjusting my scrip down without really discussing it with me (which is the first time he’s done something to annoy me).

All of which will be discussed at my appointment later today, along with the apparent necessity that I take a drug that costs $13 a pill (just my fucking luck: dozens of psychiatric medications at my disposal, and the one that works is the most recent in a new string of horribly expensive drugs that unfortunately do their job really well).  I’ll be spending some time delving into the world of online pharmacies.

So no, I’m really not enjoying life at the moment.  I want my cat back, and I want to breathe properly.

Rekindling


My karate dojo had a silent auction fundraiser last night. I brought my henna and glitter stuff to do body art for donation, even though I haven’t done either of those things in almost two years. I was a little nervous. I was worried I would suck after such a long time. A feeling that wasn’t made any better by my small practice design I did on my own hand, although I doubt that whatever I did would have made me happy. I’ve been suffering from a misperception about my art. Everything I do looks like ass to me, no matter how much other people love it.

It was nice to do that again, though. I only drew on or glittered a few people, but it was nice to be able to give something beautiful to someone and have them appreciate it. I worked for donations only. One of the things that killed my passion for henna two years ago was that I had been trying to monetize something that really is a sacred art to me, and to the people in the countries who use henna. I’m not a big believer in being rewarded or punished by a higher power, but in this case I do feel that, according to my own personal standards, I was suffering the consequences of trying to turn a sacred art into something that was NOT sacred.

So I stopped doing it altogether, and I’ve missed it so. I really have. There was a peaceful sensation to doing henna on myself that I had lost due to subverting that sacredness. I had lost my religion, so to speak. Well, last night I feel like I found it again in some small measure. Even though all I can see are the mistakes in the design I drew on myself, I once again feel a sense of fascination with the results of the bizarre plant that is henna, which is green but leaves a deep red stain. I love that dichotomy. And I love the ever-changing nature of a henna design. It’s different every day, like a living tattoo, albeit a temporary one.

I also rekindled another dormant desire, the one that made me want to go to karate class. The last time I was in class was the beginning of November. I had gotten my advanced yellow belt not long before, and for some reason I just wasn’t motivated to go to class. A few weeks turned into a few months, and I decided that I was just taking a hiatus from karate for an indefinite time period. I knew I would want to go back at the right time. Which seems to be now. I was very inspired by the black belt demonstration at the auction. I was reminded of what I liked about karate.

Now I just have to get over my self-consciousness at my woeful fitness level, larger size, and rustiness. I have inspiration for that too, luckily. I have my own past experience which tells me that I really can lose a lot of weight, it just takes time. I also have other students at the dojo to inspire me. One lady in particular has been busting her ass since she got there a couple of years ago and has lost an amazing amount of weight, about the same amount that I need to lose. Now, I don’t want to focus on losing pounds so much as I want to focus on being fit and healthy. Nevertheless, to be truly fit and healthy, I need to drop about 50 pounds to get myself to around 195. That’s the weight at which it becomes easier to find clothing that fits and at which I do not feel physically hampered by my weight or size. I can do yoga easily. I can do hard exercise without feeling like I’m going to die. And I feel better about myself, which is just about as important as the physical health benefits.

So tomorrow, I’m taking my karate stuff with me when I go to work, and I’ll split my shift so I can attend class. I’ll probably stick to the white belt classes for a few weeks, but then I’ll expand to other classes. Especially kata. I really love kata, and I have at least two new ones to learn from my promotion back in October. I also love the mental strength that comes with karate. I felt a lot more confident when I was going to class regularly. Once I get my class rhythm back, I’m going to work hard to keep it. I really do want to get my black belt someday. Then I get to play with staffs and break things. 😀

Drama


It’s been a bit stressful at our house in recent days. Our daughter just turned nine, officially making her a pre-teen and bringing with it all of the emotional fluctuations one would expect. There’s been a lot of drama and stomping off to slam a door or a dresser drawer. I had to have a really long talk with her today about her strange tendency to ignore us when we talk to her and then when we finally get angry about it, she flounces away in hostility. Not cool. Neither is her tendency to ask for a particular kind of food and then reject it when we bring it home from the store. Or have us make food for her lunch and then *buy* her lunch from the cafeteria. Very not cool. I have a low tolerance for having my time or my money wasted. I can’t count the number of different foods that have had to be thrown away because she would never eat whatever it was that she requested.

I’m familiar with this pattern by now, and I know that a) it will end and b) when it does end, she’ll be smarter and nicer than she was before her brain decided it needed to rewire its pathways. Again. She’s a total pill about twice a year. Once around her birthday, and then again in the fall. Which jibes with something I read in one of the myriad parenting books I’ve read over the last nine years, which is that children go through six month cycles of equilibrium and disequilibrium. When they’re balanced, they’re generally happy and easy to get along with. When they’re unbalanced, they’re discombobulated and understandably cranky, if not outright defiant. I try to remember this whenever it’s apparent that she’s going through another mental and physical growth spurt. I suppose this is all good practice for when she’s going through puberty, the mother of all growth spurts. I can’t lie and say I’m looking forward to that. We’re both really stubborn, and our relationship is the sort that will either bond like cement, or explode like a bomb. I’m pretty sure we’ll get the former, though.

My other stressor this week is my cat, Babalon, aka MamaCat. She is at least sixteen years old and is in kidney failure, the severity of which ranges from mild to worrying. Right now, we’re worrying about her. Which is a bummer since she was doing really well for a couple of weeks. We went through six weeks of antibiotics to treat a chronic UTI, which was difficult since Mama’s not the sort of cat who tolerates being messed with very much. She gets angry when she merely has to be restrained for more than about half a minute. After the antibiotics, she looked so much better. She put on a little weight, which was great because she’s gotten very skinny in the last couple of years. She looked perkier and her fur looked better. Her tummy even stopped making bizarre noises.

All of a sudden about a week ago, she went back to looking sad and sickly. Right now she weighs under six pounds again. When she was healthy, she weight over eight pounds. I’ve already spent quite a bit of money getting her tested and treated, and I can’t afford another set of blood tests for another week. I’ll do what I can when I can, but I’m having to contemplate hard questions. Like how much money I’m willing to spend on her. How much stress I’m willing to put her through. How long I’m willing to drag this out. How to balance our desire to keep her in our lives with our desire to make sure she’s happy and comfortable.

For the most part, I’m in the “make her comfortable” camp. She’s already far outlived the average lifespan of an indoor/outdoor cat. Anything I can do for her probably wouldn’t equate to a lot more quality of life and might actually detract from it, and it’s not like we haven’t had many wonderful years with her. And we still have two of her kids, who are themselves 15 but looking astoundingly healthy for cats their age. I’m just sad to have the moment of clarity that she really is dying, whether slowly or quickly. So we’re just going to love on her as much as we can, make sure she has everything that we know makes her comfortable, and be ready to do whatever needs to be done to keep her out of pain or misery.

So that’s my world this week.

Reflection


I spent some time today reading over the previous year’s worth of blog entries over at Tempest. I’m struck by how much better I feel compared to the way I was feeling when I wrote a lot of those entries. There was still a lot of up and down, and I wasn’t really on the right meds, so things weren’t improving as quickly as they might have.

It was interesting to see the range of emotions I went through over the last 16 months or so. At first I was desperate to stop whatever was wrong with my addled brain. Then I was relieved to finally have some kind of treatment. My next task was to bury myself in as much information about bipolar disease as possible. After a few weeks of that, I’d had enough and returned all of the books to the library. Quickly. By then I was resentful about having to deal with it at all, which wasn’t helped by not getting better as quickly as I had hoped. Then again, I was reminded of the many people on a bipolar forum I visit sometimes who had spent literally years finding the right med combo and then restabilizing. I’m not surprised it took so long for my own boat to level out and not be going up and down such large waves. You get a broken boat and probably sunk that way.

Then summer came. Gah. God I hope that never happens again. It’s one thing to deal with a drought, and it’s one thing to deal with a heat wave. To deal with them both at the same time is just pure and sheer misery. Just leaving the house is like a slap in the face with a hot blow dryer. Then everything started catching on fire, giving my lungs no end of grief. Having been through that, I was struck by a post almost exactly a year ago talking about how I was surveying my lovely, green garden, something that I’m doing again right now. It was an eerie moment of deja vu.

Later in the year, I finally got off the lithium along with a couple of other things, so I didn’t feel so “chemical”. My new meds are much better: Lamictal, aka lamotrigine, along with Neurontin, aka gabapentin. For some strange reason, anticonvulsant medications do wonders for bipolar illness. Go figure. I hope that I get to do what I want in the afterlife, which is just wander the Universe, coming back to Earth every now and then to see how humanity is progressing. It would be wonderful to see a time in the future when science has learned most of what there is to know about the human body, enabling them to be much more precise in how mental illness gets treated. Just as we see the treatment of mental illness a hundred years ago as barbaric, I imagine a similar attitude will be thought about this century’s method of treating mental illness. All we can do now is throw one drug after another at something, try to give a patient as much therapy as possible, and try to get someone to adhere to lifestyle changes that will also benefit their mental, and physical, health.

That last bit is the hardest, really. I have 40 years of habits under my belt that need undoing, and it’s going to be really difficult. A lot of these habits are comforting mechanisms I developed over time to deal with my stressful environments or general life misery. And I still find them comforting. I have much less need to escape from something dangerous or stressful, but it’s like wearing your favorite ratty, but comfortable, clothing around the house. Maybe you don’t need it for its purpose anymore, but damn they’re cozy. Woe betide the person who throws them away or takes them to Goodwill.

Well, like every other habit I’ve ever needed to change, I need to put a solid plan into place. It took me two months to lay out my quit smoking plan. It should take me at least that long to plan out the various life changes I still need to make in order to say I’m doing everything I can to mitigate my condition. Drugs only do so much. The rest has to come from things that I do myself. So far I haven’t been very good at that job. But last year was really hard for me and I spent most of my time and energy keeping my head above emotional water. Now the waves aren’t so high and the water isn’t as turbulent, so I don’t have to work so hard. In fact, it’s kind of pleasant here. Pleasant enough to feel like I can really get back to the task of living life as it’s meant to be lived. With ease.

Itchy


*scratches madly at legs* I seem to have my first ever case of chigger bites. OMG. I thought fire ants were bad. Well, they are, but in a different way. And not nearly this itchy. Holy crap. According to the internet, I have another week or so of this. Oh joy. Nature’s gift to me for standing outside whacking limbs out of a tree gone crazy for two hours straight without any bug repellent. At dusk. In Central Texas. Not the brightest of my ideas. I think I’m misfiring in a number of ways this week, though.

Not the least of which is in the cranky department. Just because I get a bug up my butt about something doesn’t mean I get to be rude to people, least of all people I actually like. Not even if I’m right. I’m better about this than I used to be, but graceful debating skills don’t come easy to someone used to a more below-the-belt style of arguing. Which was often a with-the-belt style of arguing. Not nearly as much fun as just being in a bad mood and stepping on someone’s toes, which is much more easily fixed.

Note to self: Before I sit down to do my words each day, I need to read over the previous day’s words to make sure I’m not repeating myself.

This week’s big stress is the car, which recently rolled over 100,000 miles. Go Tethys! Tethys is the ancient Greek Titan of the sea. Before and bigger than Poseidon. Yeah. Anyway, all of our cars have been silver, green, or blue, so we started naming them Tethys. We’re on Tethys III at the moment. Well, Tethys needed a new pair of soles for her shoes (that’s new brakes in modern parlance), particularly since they were making a most horrible squealing noise. The report from the mechanic is always either much more or much less than you were expecting to spend. In this case, it was the former. Luckily we could split the work in half and take care of the rest later, but it still left us a little tight.

So what? We’d be totally screwed if I hadn’t actually been saving money for the last few paychecks for the express purpose of taking care of old car and old cat related emergencies, that’s what. And while I keep trying to get on myself for already depleting the savings account, the rest of me tries to remind the anxiety-ridden side that we’re using it for it’s intended purpose. That is the very definition of “emergency fund”. Well done! *pats head* And it didn’t take all that long to get it to where it was; it won’t take that long to get it back there again, either. I just need to hold off on any more emergencies for a little while.

Here at home, I still haven’t planted my ‘three sisters’ garden bed yet. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for, if not a convenient time window. If I were more of a morning person, I’d take care of these things then. Which is when one is *supposed* to garden here in Central Texas. Unless you *want* heatstroke. Actually, I am trying to be more of a morning person. My daughter loves it when I get up in the morning with she and her father, even if I’m mostly just a tea-drinking lump. On a more practical level, I should get up with the rest of the family so I can take our daughter to school instead of him: I have more time and don’t have to dodge rush hour traffic. I would also have a lot more time to do things that I’m always complaining about not having enough time to do.

I’d have to sacrifice my entire evening routine. That means no more late-night tv watching, or at least reserved for special evenings and my favorite shows. If I’m watching a series on Netflix, I’m going to have to set a weekly limit as to how many episodes I’m allowed to watch. Otherwise I’ll do what I did recently: watch all seven seasons of Star Trek: Voyager in just over a month. That’s 168 episodes over what was once seven years. That’s a lot of tv. I need to break the extraordinarily bad habit of falling asleep while watching the telly. Reading would be much better. Just turning the damn light off at a pre-appointed time would probably also help. I imagine it would mean several days of weird sleep while my body tried to adjust, but I would hope that my internal clocks would settle in after a time. Seeing as how it’s already 10:37pm, I don’t think the night to start that is going to be tonight.