Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cardio as Therapy

This is the first time I've had any desire to write in weeks. I'm not thinking great today, but my motivation is sincere, so I going to cobble this post together from a few half-formed drafts and whatever run-on profundities my brain can be bothered to muster.

I've increased my exercise again and now I'm jogging! Jogging! It's a gentle jog, and it's mostly in place while my dogs sniff and poop, but I keep it up on the level bits of my hike and I'm already feeling results. My head now only rarely bothers me while I'm exercising, and the letdown I experience afterwards has decreased a little. My blood pressure at my last doctor's appointment was the lowest it's ever been: 100/60, I'm sleeping better, my back doesn't hurt hardly at all, and my mood is much more stable. In fact, when I feel myself getting fired up about something, I might just go for a quick, hard hike. Exercise really takes the edge off misplaced emotions and and the risk of migrainous consequences is much less than it is for the average outburst. Emotional stress remains a trigger I struggle to tame, but exercise helps.

I really can't believe I'm jogging. It's been what, two years? since I started hiking these hills, and I've had health issues that have set me back months in progress, but actually seeing slow and steady changes is so encouraging and makes me feel so proud of myself and so lucky that I've been able to live somewhere quiet enough to let me heal my body. My neurological system may still be screwy, but my heart, my skin, my bowels, and my joints are like the parts of another person, the change is tremendous.

Also, I've been feeling fatigued/depressed despite my iron levels having returned to normal, but when I was tested they found that my D levels were low again, so I've been prescribed a daily supplement to get back on track.

It seems like a contradiction that I have the energy to jog yet feel fatigued in daily activities, but it's not a physical kind of fatigued, I feel tired of life. Apathetic, bored, tired of trying. I think working out so hard, nearly every day, has kept me from going over the ledge into despair, though. I think this apathy is a low-level version of the intense depression I've been feeling at the end of my periods, and if that's the case, I'll take it. I still washed my hair, I fed myself well, and took care of the dogs. I didn't get any surveys done, nor make any real effort in any of my relationships, and was probably a little too salty with more than one person I care about, but I didn't feel like killing myself, so am I complaining? Nah.

I can't think of a snappy way to end this, so


Friday, June 26, 2015

Summerizing, Because It's Hot

Lately, in my world: I tried a snack delivery service, made a to-go salad worth bragging about, and I've started jogging, a little.

I tried Graze, the snack subscription service, and it was pretty cool. You can customize what kinds of snacks you prefer, or what ingredients you don't like, and they send you boxes weekly, monthly, whatever. I tried it for five weeks and if I had the disposable income, I would keep it, but alas. I do not. I do however have a code for a free box! If you use this code - YFD764WFE - when you sign up, you get your first box free (I also get a free box). You can cancel if you don't like it and there's no charge!

That awesome salad was a perfect storm of inspiration and opportunity. I grabbed a big canning jar out of the cabinet, and dumped a cup of leftover curried couscous in. Then I layered some dry-fried mushrooms, frozen vegetables and almonds, and then as much romaine lettuce as I could stuff in there. Then I smashed it down a bit more to get some lentil sprouts on top. When it was time to eat, I dumped it all out into a large bowl, topped it with a healthy wad of hummus, and had a serious salad party.

I'm been sprouting those lentils myself, and it is super easy! Just add a 1/4 cup of lentils to a jar (or more, but remember that they will grow), rinse and strain with water, then cover. Rinse them every day, and that's it! Sprouts in days! And to make rinsing even easier, I just add water to the jar, shake, then dump it out on the back of a screen strainer, so the lentils/sprouts all stay in the jar neatly. It seriously could not be easier.

And I've started jogging a bit on walks, just in place while the dogs do their thing, or gently on the level bits. Sometimes it hurts my head, but if I've gauged my situation correctly it usually doesn't, and that, my friends, is progress.

The heat of summer has fully arrived to our woods and I'm feeling it. My head hurts more and faster as the day warms up and if I don't get moving early, I may not move at all.

My friend had a dream in which I escaped my headaches by turning into a fish. Honestly, I've heard worse suggestions.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I've Been Cupped

I finally made my way back to the acupuncturists.

It took a while to get back in to see them, but I returned to Five Branches today to get poked for my head and other ailments.

We forgot to mention to the front desk that we were expecting the cheap appointment, and accidentally blew a good chunk of our budget on acupuncture. Oops. But I did get to experience more services, so I guess that's the bright side.

Last time, the guy put some migraine pins in and some menstrual pins. This time, the lady went all migraine.

So, she stabbed me in the top of the head, the ears, the back of my neck (I specified I'm having some nerve pain in my neck and shoulders), and one in each hand and foot. After 10-20 minutes of laying down quietly while stabbed, she gave me a vigorous and awesome neck massage, and then... she cupped me! She did four cups on my upper back, and I have those bizarre-looking marks to prove it. It didn't really hurt, it was more uncomfortable than anything, but one of the four did hurt just a little more than the others and that same spot continues to feel very bruised. Otherwise, it didn't and doesn't feel nearly as bad as it looks! Which is nice because it looks kind of terrible! Google at your own risk!

After my last appointment, I felt no significant changes, but my period was a little easier. Until this moment, I suspected it was because I've been extra-conscious of my diet lately, but now I'm wondering if it was the pins in the belly.

I'm just beat after this session; I took a nap when I got home, and feel like I suffered a thorough pummeling, which I supposed I kind of did. It was the best massage I think I've ever gotten. I'm going to bed soon, and hopefully I'll wake up feeling better, not worse, but y'all know how it is with migraines.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Grumping About

The nausea. The throbbing. The unrelenting irritation at every little nothing in my sight. It's migraine city over here, population 1, cause no one wants to hang out with a whiny asshole.

I'm exaggerating. My boyfriend's around and I have a few friends, but I do sometimes have to remind myself that if I want to keep them, I have to be nicer than my migraines would naturally incline me to be. Migraines make me impatient, short-tempered, pissy, sarcastic, and whiny. The last annoys even me, so I can't blame anyone else if they want to keep clear. I think it's the migraine in combination with hormones, because i also have my docile, grateful migraines, they just aren't what's happening right now, not at all. Oh yes, and i've also got the period of three women going on, so that's fun.

I got a form to fill out from ssdi, making sure I'm still disabled and all. Depending on how they receive my form they may decide to reopen my file, but I'm trying not to be too concerned because honestly, I'm still super disabled. I can barely leave the house, and when i do, it's non-functional pain and disorientation for days. If they do decide to look into my medical history and current state, no reasonable person would deem me able to job. The few hours I spend with the dogs once every week/month is the closest thing I got, and that is pretty damn taxing despite being the most convenient, flexible gig in existence.

I guess I still feel a little anxiety, despite all these reassurances I've got for myself. Who wouldn't?

And I think my depression is taking the form of apathy this month. The past two days I feel like I'm velcroed to my chair and I'm not interested in anything but zoning out on tv. And even that.

I'll get over it. Tomorrow is another day.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Layering Stink Upon Stink is Not The Answer

Whenever I see those febreeze commercials that feature blindfolded people in disgusting places remarking on the freshness of their environment, I imagine what would happen if I found myself somehow wrangled into one of those situations.

It would play out very differently than the commercials we see on tv. I'd be guided to the shipping crate full of feces that has been thoroughly drenched in febreeze, and unlike my companions, who will ooooh and aaaah over the fabric-softener scented wonderland they've found themselves in, I'll be coughing and holding my head for dear life while exclaiming things like, "Is this a febreeze commercial? JENKINS it stinks like perfume ass death in here!"

It's probably not the message they're looking for.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Invisible Woman

Content note: This post contains talk of depression, isolation, and suicidal urges.

I wrote a journal entry a few days ago that's hard to share, but is so relevant to my truth as a person who is chronically ill, I feel I have to. I'm having regular bouts of depression at the end of my periods again, and this last one was brief, less than a day, but intense.

Today, I'm considering suicide.

It's not the first time, and won't be the last. Because I'm not going to act on it. Not today. But I'm considering it.

I'm desperately lonely. I'm in pain all the time. I'm depressed and anxious, bored and frustrated. I miss having relationships, friends. I'm tired of this limiting, tortured life. I'm tired of wishing and wanting and hoping and dreaming, just to continue waking up to a nightmare.

I have this huge extended family, and I never hear from any of them. Their lives are going on as if I was never even there, and it's devastating every time I go on facebook. I used to have a crowd of friends, but they've all but disappeared too. I don't think anyone would miss me if I did kill myself, because no one seems to miss me now.

The uncertainty of tomorrow is no longer interesting to me because there is no uncertainty. I'll wake up, be in pain, will struggle, try and fail, and that's it. That's how it's been for the past 8 years. I don't want this life.

I wish so much that I had someone to reach out to. I wish so much I had someone to hug me and tell me it'll be ok.

But I don't.

This is what it's like being chronically ill. I've become invisible.

Since regaining my balance, I've taken steps to remedy some of the problems I mention. I've made a point of contacting friends I trust and I'm putting myself out there to make new ones online. I've asked for help getting mental health care and in seeing a naturopath, because I'm certain this problem is mostly hormonal and western medicine has failed me and my brutal periods completely.

So, I'm ok now. But I wasn't then, and in another month I won't be again, so I've got to get ahold of it before it gets ahold of me.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Struggle is Real

Every day for the past week, I've awakened with head pain. My neck and shoulders feel like I tried to lift an elephant, or perhaps a grand piano. I did neither, I have no idea why my muscles feel as if they've been wrenched and twisted like moorings in a hurricane. It's interfering with sleep, and the pain is going straight to my head, of course. Which isn't surprising, I swear toe pain goes straight to my head.

So, I'm plodding through my days right now. I go for my morning hike, but it's much slower than usual and it's the only thing I do some days. I'm nauseated all the time. I can't bend over, reach, or turn my head too quickly without feeling ill, faint, or confused. It's the usual low-level of symptoms, kicked up a notch or five. As a consequence, I'm not getting much done around the house. I might over-medicate later to get some dishes done. I'll likely pay for it, but I can't live in filth.

I got an Obamaphone. Despite being free, it is not awesome. I have no reception where I live, or anywhere within a several minute walk, so it's useless to my basically housebound self. My boyfriend is going to look into it, see if he can connect a phone of our choosing, or if they can send me something with decent reception. It's a hassle, but I'm hoping they are still working out the kinks because it's an awesome program for those of us who can't afford phones.

I'm considering school in the fall. I'm intimidated though because I don't have a great support system and really don't think I can handle it. This may be a self-confidence issue, because I certainly struggle with that, but it's also a reality of chronic migraines. I'm limited by my illness and there's only so much schools will accommodate. But, school's not going anywhere, and it's not like I'm not enriching myself in other ways, but my little brother and a friend of mine are both starting college in the fall and I am positively green with envy. I'm excited and happy for both of them, but still, so envious.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Fitness and Fiche

I started using My Fitness Pal again.

I've put on a few more pounds than I'd prefer over the last several months. I never really stopped exercising, save for the usual amount of days when I couldn't manage it, so the weight gain is almost entirely diet-related.

I needed a reality check. I eat very healthfully most of the time, but when there are certain junk foods in the house, I simply can't resist. And once I've started, I can't always stop, not until they're gone. Additionally, policing my food intake can be tricky for me; as a person who lived with disordered eating for years, I don't know if I'll ever really be free of it. I am better at recognizing problem behavior sooner, ideally before it spirals out of control. And that is exactly why I stopped using My Fitness Pal when I did; it was starting to feel obsessive to me, and I recognized that I was not having the healthiest thoughts and behaviors as a result of my using what is actually a very helpful tool. I feel I'm now in a better place mentally, and I see clearly that I need a reminder of what it looks like to eat moderately and healthfully. So, I reinstalled it last week and started entering info immediately.

I'm already making better choices, knowing that I'll have to face the undeniable results on my smartphone later. I still have sweets and snacks, I still want a veggie burger every now and again, but not every day. I'm working on the emotional issues that are leading me to crave food my body doesn't need, and My Fitness Pal keeps me accountable until I can get my brain calibrated again. Eating like a grown up is hard, you guys, but I can do it.

In other food news, I made a fiche (fake quiche! I'm hilarious, right?) with tomatoes and green olives and it came out divine. I enjoy symmetry, so I had to take a photo of the completed fiche to share.

I have one piece left.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Consequences and Flowers

I spent several hours dog-sitting yesterday and boy am I paying for it.

I started feeling the consequences while I was still there. The sun was suddenly so blinding I couldn't keep my eyes open and they watered and stung until I moved to the shade. I was having brief dizzy spells. My nausea kicked up. I was yawning.

I kept it together until after I was back home, and I suspect that the walk downhill didn't help matters at all. Once home, I grew colder and colder, until I was in my robe and under a blanket and still feeling like my hands and feet were blocks of ice. The weather has cooled a little, but it's not at all cold enough for this reaction, which has continued into today. No, this is definitely a migraine chill.

Additionally, I'm exhausted and had a nightmare last night that my honey woke me from because I was yelling and thrashing. I'm so sore this morning, I feel like I was in a boxing match.

So, I'm taking it easy today, though I really want to get outside and garden. The boyfriend surprised me with a few sixers of annuals, and I can't wait to have a spot of color in our yard. We have some native flowers around; teeny, perfect wildflowers, gorgeous irises that grow in clumps and bloom in spurts, and wild roses that are incredibly delicate and lovely but flower so briefly it's easy to miss them entirely. Bright clumps of hardy, commercially created flowers is just what I need right now. I think I will go putter out there for a while. If I wear a hat, and keep warm, and don't strain myself too much, I think it could be a good time.

Update: It was.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Peaches and Choices

My food has been repetitive and processed. Don't judge me.

I have started eating greens from my little garden, so that's new and exciting, but otherwise, it's been basics like quiche, chili, potatoes, brown rice, far too many delicious vegan junk foods, and - oh yeah - fruuuuuit.

ALL the produce is coming into season around here and I'm so here for it. I've been living for grapes and pears lately, but that's about to expand into the wonderful world of stone fruits! Bring on the peaches! And I've decided that this summer it's going to be required to have watermelon in the house at all times.

Now that I can eat soy again, I've been going a little wild with it. I forgot how good veggie burgers could be, and the veggie dogs! I'm just a sucker for anything I can slather in mustard and ketchup. I've been making pizza pretty frequently too, and while I usually completely bury the crust in a mound of roasted veggies, I'm noticing I really am a starch junkie, and I've been thinking about how to reduce the wheat and sugar in my diet, while still being a happy person. I know from getting off addictive foods; five years ago I never would have believed I could cut the cheese (heh) because lactose had its hooks firmly in my brain, but after only a week or so off it, I felt much better and lost 99% of the cravings. Cheese really is overrated! (don't tell cashew cheese I said that, I didn't mean it, I love you) So, I hope I'd feel the same way about those refined sugars after a short time? Maybe?

However, I've been having some IC twinges lately, which means this liberal diet does not get to stay as free-wheeling as it's been. But in moderation, I seem to be able to eat just about anything! I still haven't tried any real quantity of citrus or other acidic foods at a time, but I've gotten real brave with the soy and spices, and the repercussions have been very mild thus far. My aim is to keep it that way.

In other health news, I was strongly considering getting an IUD to deal with my heavy periods, even though it releases progestin, the same hormone that gave me such a terrible IC flare several months ago when I tried the pill for like four days. My doctor thinks it will be ok, but I really don't, and many other women on forums report adverse IC effects, so I believe them and choose not to risk subjecting myself to that pain. At least for now. I've been slowly regaining the ability to live after my last flare, I'm not even trying to test myself again. And by that I mean I had suicidal thoughts and was existing in such a constant state of panicked survival, it took months after the pain was over for me to not scrutinize everything I ate obsessively, or to feel fear when I felt the urge to urinate. I need to feel normalish for a while before I try something that might shatter it all to bits. I've still got the migraines and intense periods anyway, so it's not like I'm getting comfy over here or anything.

Anyway, I can't wait for the peaches. I can almost smell them now.