Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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New Doctor

I saw my new doctor for the first time today.  His name is Joshua Richard, pronounced the French way, “ree-SHAR”.  He was a pleasant good looking young man with rather amazing eyes.  But so young!  Probably over 30 because I think you have to be that old to make it through medical school.  And he seems to be an intern because he had to bring in an attending at one point.  Also a good looking young man.  Young.  I feel old now, lol.

I am used to my doctor being older than me.  Or at least close to my age.  These guys just seemed more youthful than I would have expected.  Now I do want to be clear that I believe these guys know their stuff.  I don’t pay for age, I pay for knowledge.  Young doctor means new ideas and maybe I need some new ideas.

I was pleased that he didn’t bring up me being overweight.  I mentioned it, but he didn’t say anything about it.  I’m so used to doctors being pretty much fat-phobic that this was very refreshing.  I’m sure part of it was because my blood pressure came up at 113 over 79, which is really good.  Doubly good considering I’ve been off my meds about 2 weeks.  Of course I hadn’t had any coffee yet and I know coffee spikes my blood pressure, so maybe there is a connection.   Still the numbers were good enough that he wants to cut back on my medication, which is nice.

The rest of the day I spent with my roommates.  I bought a pocket stone at the Rock Barrel, a crocodile jasper.  It’s supposed to calm the nerves and be good for grounding.  It’s also supposed to help the body absorb nutrients from food.  It spoke to me, and I picked it up and it fit my hand perfect for fidgeting.  L bought me a strand of Labradorite too.  That’s good for self awareness, intuition and strengthening the aura.  But she bought it because I think it’s pretty.  I want to leave the strand in one piece but I also want to take it apart and make bracelets out of it.  I think it would be so pretty, the chips separated by little gold beads.  Or maybe that’s just me.  We also went to Andy’s for ice cream and Central Market.  I got my morning pages written, though not until after 9:00 at night so hardly morning.  It’s been a good day.


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Losing my Doctor

Yep, lost.  As in, I used to know where he was and now I am not sure.

I take medicine for high blood pressure.  I ran out 2 days ago and called the pharmacy to see where my refills were.  They said they hadn’t heard back from the doctor.

Well that seemed like an easy fix, so I called the doctor’s office.  Phone didn’t even ring, just dropped the call.  I thought maybe I was in the wrong spot for my cell phone so I moved.  Still dropped.  I tried a few more times and thought maybe I had the wrong number so I googled the doctor.

The google blurb said “closed permanently”.

Closed permanently?

When did that happen and how did I not know?

I called the medical board in Austin.  They said he still shows an active license and he hasn’t appointed a custodian of records.  They also said he should have notified everybody who he saw in the last two years.  I didn’t receive anything.  Not saying they didn’t send it, but if they did, it didn’t get to me.

So I don’t know what happened.  I don’t know if he died or went bankrupt or what.

And I don’t know who has my medical records!

I have an appointment with a new doctor and I don’t know how to get them my records.  Very strange situation.

Little slice of weirdness in my day.


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Water

I am learning to love drinking water.  Oh I know, what a cliche, water is good for you, blah blah.

I am a soft drink person.  Honestly my favorite is strawberry Kool-Aid but I also like sweet tea and Diet Coke.  Not to mention coffee, lots and lots of coffee.

While these things are tasty, they don’t really resolve the issue of thirst.  I can drink a soda and still feel thirsty.  I have had a glass water with my coffee.  Sometimes water is the only thing that actually quenches my thirst.

I like my water cold, and I mean cold.  My favorite water is melted ice, that’s how cold I like it.  Some people like it room temperature or even warm but for me it should be frigid.

Even as I write this, my trusty water cup is next to me.  I have this wonderful travel cup, designed for coffee, that keeps my drink so cold sometimes there’s still ice in it the next morning.  Yep, a 95th anniversary State Farm travel cup.  It was even a gimme, and it does the job perfectly.

What got me into water?  Well it started when I moved to Texas.  The heat in the summer just takes it out of me.  Water puts it back.  I want to be clear that I mean the heat.  Natives complain about the humidity but it’s not that bad.  I come from a place where in the summer it can get to 95 degrees with 90% humidity.  There’s so much water in the air that you feel like you can’t breathe.  You sweat and there’s so much humidity that it doesn’t evaporate, your clothes just stick to you.  Texas is not humid like that, but it IS hot.

Then several years ago I worked a Renaissance fair in the late spring.  In Texas, that’s still in the 90’s.  At a ren fair, everything is outdoors, there is no air conditioning.  You do get used to the heat.  One of the unspoken rules is, you should drink enough water to need to pee about every hour.  I have a problem with retaining water so I drank like a camel and seldom needed the privvy.  People worried that I wasn’t hydrated enough.

Now I just carry water with me wherever I go.  It’s cheap because I drink tap water.  Finding ice is the hard part.  I can go to QT and get a huge styrofoam cup of ice and water for 28 cents.  Can’t buy bottled water for that little!

In conclusion I want to say, I don’t drink water for health reasons, although there are many health reasons for drinking water.  I drink it because these days, I like it.

 

 


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He’s At It Again

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a fan of Donald Trump.  I did not vote for him and I feel he brings out the worst of what America is.  But he is the president, and he is living up to his campaign promise to make changes.

I get so mad that it’s hard for me to talk about these things.  If I understand it correctly, Mr Trump would like churches to be able to participate in politics without losing their tax exempt status.  My first thought?  There goes the separation of church and state.

Again, if I understand correctly, if a church was willing to pay taxes then they are allowed to voice an opinion.

Concurrent with this, he also has proposed to allow groups to curtail health care options such as birth control if it goes against their religious principles.  The whole question of unwanted children aside, I am a woman with a hormone imbalance that could be treated with birth control pills if I chose that route.  I wouldn’t want my employer deciding for me that I couldn’t get hormones I needed because birth control was a side effect.  I already had an employer tell me that they wouldn’t cover bariatric surgery because it is cosmetic, even though my interest is health related.  (I am not pretty and being thin will not make me pretty; it will however help with blood sugar, blood pressure, and joint health.)  I would be unhappy if I had to choose an employer based on what health care coverage they offered.

I am not a churchy person although I have a faith.  (I’m Catholic, if that matters.)  I don’t really like anyone telling me what and what not to do.  And I would be unhappy to have people vote as a block because their minister tells them to rather than voting their own consciences.  I have several friends who voted for Trump because they will never vote Democrat which they see as the party that is killing babies by allowing abortions.  I feel that abortions are within acceptability because one has to treat the patient in front of them (the woman) not the patient they cannot see (the baby).  Not everyone agrees with me and that’s okay, but it does mean I might vote for a Democrat because I want other social programs to be available.

That is always my dilemma, actually, that I am fiscally conservative and socially progressive, which effectively makes me Libertarian.  There aren’t very many Libertarian candidates, though, so I often chose between candidates that don’t really reflect my views.

Having said that, I don’t want a church telling me what my views are.  And I can hardly imagine the uproar if the Pope expressed an opinion about who Americans should vote for, which this change would allow him to do, as the head of the Catholic church.  We have already had Russia involved in an election, do we really want Rome involved?

I am so incoherent about this because I have big emotion around it and I lack the patience to process an argument about it.  I mean argument in the debating sense not in the fighting sense.  I have no problem with the idea that people may disagree without getting worked up.  Or at least that they can keep it civil.

I don’t know.  I feel like this goes against some basic tenets of my country’s foundation.  And Mr Trump’s supporters seem to believe that saying anything that disagrees with the president is un-patriotic.  I am saddened by the loss of discourse and certain freedoms about which this current administration seems so proud.


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Define Normal

I have been having a hard time getting myself together the last several weeks.  It’s hard to talk about because there isn’t always a specific reason.

I did have stomach pain for several days which resulted in a call to a specialist, but it seems like it has resolved itself without much input from him.  Or at least, I moved my tummy meds from morning to bedtime so I don’t wake up with pain.  I have a follow up with him tomorrow.  To me, it feels like this is legit, it’s something actually wrong.

Other stuff doesn’t feel like it should be such a big deal, but it is.

Sometimes the hardest thing is just to get going in the morning.  The alarm goes off and I hit snooze.  It only snoozes 3 times, so I actually have multiple alarms set 15 minutes apart.  It shouldn’t be that hard to wake up when you need to, but for me it is.  It’s uphill the whole way.  Most of the time I just kind of power through it but every now and then I can’t.

And I feel like a failure when that happens.

Starting about a week ago, I’ve been having issues with getting to work.  One time I actually got to the train stop but my ears were ringing and I was just all freaked out.  I actually rode past my stop and called in sick that day.  The ringing stopped after I passed work again on the way back from the end of the line.  I don’t like that.  I don’t know why I couldn’t just get off the train and go to work.

I also saw my psychiatrist again.  I told him about a day when I tried to run a simple bank errand and ended up shopping.  I had to call my daughter to come get me, just to interrupt myself.  I didn’t need to spend that money.  I can still pay my bills, don’t get me wrong, but it was money that should have been saved not spent.

I told him about the first night I was housesitting for a friend.  I couldn’t sleep at all that night even though I tried.  I went to work expecting to be extremely tired at some point and never did.  I went to bed at a more normal time that day and slept just fine.  I also told him about the day I spent just laying in bed.  That was the day my stomach hurt the worst.  Just taking my morning meds and vitamins made me nauseous.  I didn’t eat that day.  I laid in bed with the cats napping on me, didn’t get on the computer, didn’t watch any videos or work on art, no shower, just laid there in my pajamas.

And you know, I could do either one of those right now.  I could get interested in something and stay up all hours to pursue it, or I could get into bed and lay there for 12 or 14 hours.  The obsessive part seems saner than the doing nothing part, but either one seems feasible at the moment.

The doctor changed my diagnosis.  I am no longer having bad pms, I now have bipolar disorder.

I feel like he told me, I’m no longer in the range of things that are normal, I’m actually crazy.

The day I went shopping, I actually felt crazy.  I felt out of control of myself,  My therapist tells me that’s the manic part but I thought there was supposed to be an element of euphoria in mania, and I certainly didn’t feel euphoric.  I didn’t feel bad either.  I felt like it was okay to buy a few things that I want, that I deserve to spend some of my money having fun.  Maybe that’s not true.  Maybe I don’t deserve to enjoy having a little cash.  Maybe it should be all paying bills.  I don’t know.  What do normal people do?  Do they spend money when they want things, or do they just suck it up that there’s nothing left after necessities?  I’m not normal any more so I don’t know.

I feel like my whole life is now up for grabs.  Everything is analyzed and second-guessed and reconsidered.  I’m playing a video game and I get caught up in it and lose track of time.  Do normal people do that?  Do they realize what’s going on after an hour, or after 3 hours?  Why do I feel like I have the energy to visit a friend but not the energy to do laundry?  Is that normal?  Do normal people struggle with daily tasks?

The game is to pass as normal.  We changed my meds, and it makes me less normal.  I sleep through my alarm clock now.  I am late leaving for work and my roommates ask  how I’m doing.  Kinda crappy, thank you.  I’m doing my best and I can’t pull it together.  Everything is big and overwhelming and I am alone.  I want it to be okay to be overwhelmed, and it’s not.  It’s not because it affects work and accomplishment and motivation.  People get bothered when I don’t act like other people.  Folks who are inclined to help me start to feel like I’m taking advantage of them.

What it looks like from the outside is not how it feels from the inside.

Give yourself grace, says my therapist.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Really?  The people I live with are freaked out that I’m there at 8:30 in the morning because my shift starts at 7:45 and I need to be out the door between 5:30 and 6:00 in the morning to get there in time.  Only apparently I woke up enough to turn off the alarm – which I don’t remember – then slept until 7:30.  The new meds do this to me.  What they don’t do is make me look normal with only 1 or 2 doses.  They take time to build up.

My next step is to call HR and see if we can change my shift.  Right now I work 4 10-hour days and when you add in lunch (which my employer does not count as part of my day) and the 2-hour commute each way to work, well, I’m often out of the house 15 hours at a time.  I come home, eat, and go to bed.  I need enough time in the morning to get dressed etc.  I don’t sleep 8 hours most work nights, more like 5 or 6.  So maybe I can get HR to shift me to another position or at least another shift that isn’t quite so early and is 5 8-hour days instead.  It’s a big company, there are other jobs.  But I don’t want to say too much to them either and have it used against me.  See, there’s the second guessing part.

Give myself grace.  I’m crazy, what does that even mean?  That it’s okay to be crazy?  My crazy freaks people out, why would I want to give that grace?  I feel like I’m going to end up a street person, because I don’t make enough money to get by on my own but I don’t know if other people can live with my crazy.

I need to tidy my room.  That will help.  It won’t resolve anything, but tidy looks more normal and I do need to find my winter clothes so that’s a good excuse.  Tear it apart and put it back together.  Wash the sheets that are covered in black cat hair.  I don’t know how that cat does that, I believe there is more cat hair in my bed than on the cat.

And I need to make art.  Making art feels normal to me.  Making art makes my heart happy and my soul shine.  It seems to eat up the crazy and make all things possible.  Make the room tidy so I have a place to make art.  That’s a decent goal for tomorrow.  That and seeing the doctor again.

One day at a time, just get though today and have a plan for tomorrow.  It’s all I can do anyway.


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Mind and Body Are One

I have two chronic conditions and they interact.

I learned in the last year that I am subject to panic attacks. It isn’t regular but when stress gets to me, I have issues. They aren’t hugely severe in a physical sense, but emotionally I become detached and feel like I’m floating or like my head is going to explode. Disconnected. Disembodied. Buzzing in my ears. Can’t make decisions. Even basic things, like getting dressed, become huge trials when you can’t figure out how to put together an outfit. What shirt to wear with what pants should not be overwhelming, esp. since most of pants are black and anything that’s not a t-shirt is fine for work.

Fortunately they make a medicine for this. They probably make several medicines for this, but the one I take is Prozac. Works pretty good. Now I am not a huge fan of medicines as the best answer for everything so I went years of not feeling optimum because I was trying other methods. But sometimes you can’t control your brain, which means you can’t control your thinking.

The body is an organic electromechanical interface between what we think of as self or soul and the physical world. Not going to get metaphysical about the idea of self here, though I could, but it’s not my point today. Sometimes the equipment fails. Maybe it was flawed from the beginning or maybe I did something that caused damage. In either case, functionality was less than peak.

Now that isn’t necessarily bad. Any engineer will tell you that a machine can sufficiently well at less than 100% I mean, if I could feel 90% on an average day, that seems acceptable, It’s not a peak if it is, in fact, a plateau. And a plateau can be a great place to pause, rest and reflect before pushing on again.

Anyway, with regard to brains. Brains need a certain balance of chemicals in order to function properly. If the chemicals are out of balance, your brain doesn’t work well. All the positive thinking and motivation in the world are not going to help a brain that misfires. I tried many kinds of self-improvement which did not solve my problem. Medicine helps. So I take it, and feel disbelief that it works because life should not become manageable due to taking a pill. But it does. (See the title of this post again, mind and body are one, because changing the chemical situation in my body actually changes my mind.)

The other condition is a highly acid stomach. I apparently don’t have an ulcer, but I do take medicine. It stops my stomach from hurting. Since this crept up on me, I didn’t realize I was in so much pain until I started taking the medicine. Now if I miss a dose, I have PAIN. Eating sometimes helps since anything bready soaks up the acid and moves it out of my stomach, so for a long time I was frustrated by trying to diet (since I am a person who should really lose a few pounds) and the fact that restricting food intake made my tummy hurt. Now I have medicine that stops the pain. It’s kind of amazing.

Again, I’m not a huge fan of medication for no reason, but the right drug at the right time is a real blessing.

So how do these interact?

I don’t get big physical effects from the anxiety, just a little shortness of breath sometimes and a sort of butterflies in the tummy feeling. Stress goes right to my stomach, always has, my mom even commented on it when I was a kid, and the way to help was to eat something.

Wait now. Physical symptoms of stress can be resolved the same way high stomach acid was resolved? So, yes, my emotional state affects how my body works. Treating the anxiety helps the stomach problem. That doesn’t seem so hard to understand.

It’s the fact that it works in the other direction that astounds me.

If I miss my stomach meds, I become anxious. This is not because I am somehow concerned that I’m sicker than I am. It’s because my body reacts very similarly to missing this medicine as it does to anxiety. Close enough, in fact, that my subconscious interprets the symptoms as being upset and will add in the other signs of anxiety. I can be aware that I do not feel emotionally bothered at all, but my body is acting like I’m really freaked out about something.

For example, I might have a cup coffee at breakfast and at lunch have a sandwich that had a tomato on it and a pickle on the side. These are all common foods, all of which I enjoy, any of which I might eat on a typical day. Only, all together, it’s too much acid and my stomach is already highly acid, so now I have butterflies and tension. Then my subconscious decides this is a sign of anxiety, and suddenly I feel like I can’t breathe properly and I can’t focus on my job. Not bad enough for me to call it a panic attack, but enough to distract me and affect performance. Then I do become stressed, because I realize I am not doing as well as I could and I know I can do better, and the stress increases the acid.

It’s all connected, body and mind, mind and body. What affects one, affects the other. Finding balance becomes very important. Sometimes it seems impossible. Sometimes I have to be very regulated, even though it means I look like a party pooper, because for me the consequences are greater than simply being tired the next day. Sometimes I get frustrated with restrictions and limitations. Yet the most beautiful Shakespearean sonnets are created within specific guidelines, so knowing your functional boundaries can be a great thing.

Tomorrow is Christmas and then we are heading into a new year. What I wish for you, is finding your balance.


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The Lucky Iron Fish

This is very cool.

Low iron is a very real health problem. And it’s systemic, by which I mean it affects the entire system of the body. It’s not like a broken bone where one part doesn’t function well, it actually causes problems throughout a body.

Here in the US, doctors used to prescribe “nail tea” to people with anemia. You took a couple of iron nails, boiled them in water for several minutes, and drank it down. The water, not the nails.

Cast iron cookware is another solution, since microscopic bits of iron get mixed into anything cooked in the pan.

This is a lovely, elegant, culturally sensitive to a very real health problem.

Check out the video.

Oh, and after I posted this link in social media, I found out that a friend of mine is the admin for their main American office. I knew what she was doing, I just didn’t know for whom.

Lucky Iron Fish