Archive | July, 2020

Staying healthy in the time of COVID

29 Jul

1:09 pm

Do I have COVID? Did I have it? What if I tested negative–can I still have had it? How will I even know that what I have is/was COVID and not something else? What if I get all the scary long-term symptoms?

I think we’re ALL fixating on these questions now, as we zero in on every little ache, pain, cough, or twinge. I know I have been sort of hilariously worried, so to speak, whenever anything feels off: a whisper of a cough one morning, and, I’ve got The Corona! A slight pressure behind my eyes, a passing shower, really, of a headache, and, OMG, I’ve got The COVID!

While I don’t think I’ve had coronavirus (yet!), lately, I have felt unwell–and that’s making me go, hmm. I have been feeling achey, feverish, fatigued. I mentioned in my last post that I think my chikungunya virus infection is back, and I’m still sort of convinced that this is the case. Chik-v, as I like to call it, is a mosquito-borne illness, similar to Dengue fever and malaria in the way it’s transmitted (through mosquitoes) and in some of the symptoms. For some people, it can go dormant after the initial infection and clearance, and then keep coming and going. I got it in 2014, and I’ve had it come and go once in a while; I haven’t had it for a long time, though, and I haven’t had it come back this bad.

When I got it, I had severe pain in joints that were already lame or weakened. For instance, my left knee cap has been straying off course for years, and it usually hurts when I jog or walk down hills. When I got chik-v, it was like, the virus made a beeline for this joint and moved in; it really hurt, moreso than other body parts or joints.

When the chik-v flares, I feel achey and a burning sensation in some joints, feverish, and just kind of blah. The aches I have today are quite reminiscent of when I was first infected, so I’m pretty sure it’s that. The feverishness? Well, hi, menopause. Who knows–I am hot like, 99% of the day and night now, so…LOL, I have stopped wondering if a fever means anything anymore. (Sometimes, I am worried that when they temp-check you, like at a local grocery store here, before you walk inside, they’re going to find that I have a fever and be like, you can’t come in, you have corona…and I’ll have to say, nope, just menopause.)

Not to go on and on about this, but I think it might be worth sharing. Past few years of bloodwork, my white blood cell count has come back high. Nothing to worry about, and the doc didn’t really say much about it. But, I have been wondering why. Is is the latent chik-v, resting in my cells, that’s causing my body to be on immune alert, so to speak? I often wonder, am I working out too hard? That’s really the only other thing that seems plausible to me since, sometimes, after a hard workout in the sun, climbing hills, probably in 95-degree heat and 80-percent humidity (I don’t even want to know what the “feels like” temperature is)–I feel under the weather.

I have the feeling it’s chik-v, and it’s been riled up because I’ve been taxing myself too much working out. Yet…I can’t help but wonder, could I have another infection, and if so, could it be corona?

I’ve been staying relatively well, otherwise, during this pandemic. I am not prone to the anxiety, I guess, that others (my mom) are feeling, in terms of not being able to socialize. It’s true that I do have a significant other, and I am grateful and fortunate to have that–others, like my mom, don’t. I don’t need a lot of friends, I guess, to be happy and feel safe; I need to socialize from time to time, but a lot of the deep thinking and emotional work, well, (in getting sober) I learned to keep to myself. When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I needed WAY more close friendships; I depended on my “tribe” for survival. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped needing–or wanting–to be that open and vulnerable about my inner world. In this pandemic time, it’s probably helped that I’ve sort of always been able to be happy and imaginative in a bubble of only a few close people and pets.

For some reason, I haven’t wanted to cook more, or experiment more with random ingredients. I don’t know if I’m bored or lazy in the kitchen these days, but I would love to do more cooking (of things I’ve never made). I have truly sucked at reading more books–I am literally hanging my head in shame that I haven’t finished one book (yet!). Um, speaking of book–haha; I have a book idea (a few), and it’s in project stage, and said project is on my to-do list EVERY day, and EVERY day, I find something else to do instead of that! Haha. I’ll get there.

My workouts are strong, my job search has been going well–I made it through my video interview on Monday, now it’s a matter of waiting. There are good things, too, and we have to congratulate ourselves on doing the good things, on simply staying sane.

We are expecting our first storm of the season down here–it’s the ninth storm to form, the first to touch down, this year. I cannot believe how EARLY we’re getting our first tropical storm this year. By comparison, in 2017, when we were struck by TWO category-5 hurricanes within two weeks’ time (cat-5 is as high as it goes, so, a very bad season), Hurricane Irma was the ninth storm that year–that was in early September; we aren’t even out of July yet!

Anyway, the water is churning, the wind is rumbling the hurricane shutters, and we’re getting ready to just close up and sit tight for the next day, if not several days. Stay well, everyone, and I’ll see you soon.

Days go by

25 Jul

5:05 pm

Days go by, and I keep plugging away.

There’s my job search, which is going well. I’ve got a great lead on a great company/gig, and I have what I believe might be my final round of interviews on Monday. I am trying to not overthink it, as in, wonder all sorts of things about the industry, full-time vs. freelance, my own emotional and/or mental investment… However, here and now, in the midst of a pandemic where over half of my own organization was furloughed; where jobs in THAT space are few and far between; where a TON of people are without work and I should be thrilled that this job even exists, let alone that I have the potential opportunity to be offered said job–I am trying to not overthink it, keep an open mind, and focus on the task at hand.

Which is definitely being helped by me being off Facebook! I actually went on last night–and, of course, I got sucked in for a whole hour, from 2 to 3 am! The good news is, I didn’t really obsess about anything or anyone’s posts; I didn’t let much affect me–that felt good; it felt good because I was able to check my groups (which I miss), read a few people’s updates (I miss keeping up with some friends’ lives, more regularly that I would in person), and then…log off. I will probably continue to go on periodically, but I don’t have a desire to get hooked in on a daily basis.

Speaking of my 3 am bed time, um…yeah. I am trying, but it’s hard for me to get to sleep before 3–especially when I don’t have to go to work the next day. I mean, I have always been a night owl, but I actually want to see if I am waking up after three hours (so, 6 am) every night because I went to bed too late and it’s sunny as shit by then or because, well, menopause.

I started on the estrogen patch this week, so, I’ve been off the birth control pill for two weeks. I have to admit, I think I’m actually having daytime hot flashes/flushes now, and I never had those before on the pill. Hmm…maybe it’ll just take a while for the patch to start working? Or, maybe I’m just hot (it is really hot here right now; 90 degrees in the shade, lawd knows how humid)? Maybe I need a higher dose? Who knows? (I’ve stopped trying to figure it out…because, well, menopause! WHO KNOWS what’s going on? I don’t, and I majored in physiology!?)

Maybe I’m hot because I am taking care of our dog all day long? It’s like a crossfit workout, taking care of her! My girl hasn’t been able to walk for oh, three days now. Her hind legs are just so tired–atrophied , crossing each other (it’s like, her left hind has lost all tension). She’s struggling. We spend a lot of time helping her get up, walk across the room and outside, go for walks on the harness. I say, it’s a crossfit workout, taking care of her, what with the bending and kneeling and lifting. She’s been pooping on her bed for months now, but recently started losing control of her bladder, SO…lots of wiping and washing and drying, spraying and folding and moving and tucking in… I love her, but we’re all getting tired.

I was thinking of how much of a higher power she was to me when I was getting sober. I’ve written about it on my blog before, how she and our other dog (RIP, sweet boy) were my higher powers. He taught a newly sober me how to love others; she taught me how to love myself. That’s all I can say. They were such a huge part of my early years here, on island; such a huge part of my sobriety–I know, I know, they’re “just dogs,” but, to me, for me, they were so much more than that; they helped me more than most humans could have helped me. I just can’t imagine life without her, her not having life–it’s too hard to contemplate. She wants to live, and until she lets me know otherwise…?

What else? I swear, my chikungunya is back. It usually resurfaces to a degree when either I am infected with another virus (the flu, for example) or my immunity is low (when I work out too hard, for instance). Past few days, I’ve felt achey all over, especially in my ankles and wrists and fingers, and like, have had this familiar internal burning feeling in these areas; just blah–“chikungunya-y.” I hate to say it, but, maybe I’ve contracted the COVID? Hopefully not. I’ve been reading about the chronic nature of COVID for some patients, and it reminds me of the way chikungunya virus can hide out for a long time in some people (apparently, me; I got it in 2014, and I still have symptoms once in a while). Yipes. No, thanks!

On that note, I’ll sign off.

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down/into the blue again, after the money’s gone/once in a lifetime…

Quiet mind time

19 Jul

4:34 pm

I took a few days off this blog, just to quiet my mind. It’s helped, among other things.

Lately, I’ve gotten off Facebook (mostly; I went on the other day, and I ended up “using” it in the same way I would a bottle of red wine, all at once and nothing at all); I’ve been trying to focus on the few job prospects that I have leads on (rather than continuing to troll the job boards, day in and day out); and I’ve sort of distanced myself from some other people’s drama (not to be mean, but out of needing to stay centered on maintaining my own mental health in the time of COVID).

Whew, just writing it all down makes my head spin. Over the years, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into sharing my getting-sober process–sometimes, re-reading my blog makes me go, Wow, I can’t believe how thoughtful I was back then, but at the same time go, What happened to me, I can’t even figure out what’s for dinner anymore? I’ve spent a career consuming information, wrangling my head around science writing, and in general, trying to stay on top of my own tendency to overanalyze everything, thought-wise. I am kind of burnt out on it, to be honest. I just want to take a step back sometimes and embrace what is around me–my “right now,” I guess you could call it.

What IS around me is glorious: bright pinkish-red hibiscus flowers springing randomly out of a bush just outside my window; several bunches of mangoes, hanging from a neighboring big-leafed tree. There is green all around me, actually, from the bush right outside, lining our walkway, in all shapes and sizes; to the hillsides covered in greening foliage (it’s been a long dry season; soon, the rains will really green up the bush); to the water below, which can range from bright baby-blue to green-tinged or deep blue-black.

We went on a boat trip yesterday, and it was tiring but nice; SO nice to just remove my mind, take it off its usual course, and train it on the sun and wind and water, on blue and yellow and bright-white. I sometimes think it’d be SO NICE to silence my mind forever, to stop all my thoughts before they start. Then, of course, I get to thinking, should I completely discard my thoughts? Maybe some of them are worth holding onto? Right now, I write it all down, then let most of it go; maybe one day, I’ll be able to just let it go.

Lately, I’ve been job searching; trying to read (eh); wondering if I should start freelance pitching again (eh); and, kind of spending my time just trying to set up a new normal. I had a “normal” with my old job–which allowed me little time (and so, no option!) to freelance or work on personal writing projects–but now, the slate is blank, so… It’s up to me to draw some new pictures, to create a new normal. It can feel intimidating, sure, but that’s where staring off into space once in a while helps; centering on the sound of the waves, the neighborhood dogs barking, the roosters crowing; turning it all off and heading out to the water–turning it off and realizing the power of embracing the silence, the stillness, the calm.

It starts with forgiving yourself

13 Jul

1:35 pm

So, as I was powering–yes, I believe I can use that word today!–up and down the hills here on a HOT and HUMID (af) jog, I started to think about how I got here, to being sober and being able to go jogging after a night of 3.5 hours horrible perimenopause sleep (there was some rage, too).

How did I get here? Simple: I forgave myself. Of course, it wasn’t simple or easy, and I am still working at it, but, that’s the gist of it!

In order for me to be here, now, jogging through this heat–giving myself this gift, not as punishment, but as reward–I had to forgive myself for last night, for my belief that somehow, I caused my insomnia; for getting angry; for all the negative feelings that insomnia leaves you grappling with, the next day. In order for me to be doing this good thing for my body, I had to respect myself, like myself, love myself enough to say, I forgive you and you deserve to be treated kindly.

I truly believe that getting sober–shit, getting through every single hangover–required first and foremost that I forgave myself; I forgave myself not only in spite of hating myself and feeling guilty because I didn’t believe I deserved to be forgiven and to have a better life, but also in spite of almost everyone else not forgiving me, too.

Self-forgiveness, forgiving oneself–it is an act of radical self-love. Getting sober starts with deciding to forgive yourself for the night before, the two or three weeks before, the months, years before. It is necessary, EVEN IF everyone else in your life believes that you don’t deserve forgiveness, thereby reinforcing your doubt and your guilt.

You are allowed to forgive yourself in order to move forward; you HAVE to forgive yourself in order to move forward. Moving forward involves the practical step of quitting drinking–of practicing not drinking when you really want to, because shit WILL go down and you are so tired of shit going down. Moving forward also requires something less tangible, which is the active step of loving yourself enough to say, It’s OK, I still believe in you, to say, I forgive you, and you get to try again today–you got this, and no one, not even YOU, can convince me that you don’t deserve it.

As I was running, I kept thinking that, so many people wouldn’t have forgiven me for the many nights, weeks, months, and years of my drinking; many still haven’t. But, *I* did, and I am glad I did–I believed, in spite of what my mind told (and tells) me, that I deserved it. It is right to forgive yourself, and it is right to love yourself! I wouldn’t be running up and down these hills, doing pretty good at it, I must say, if I didn’t believe I deserved to offer this exercise to my body, mind, and spirit (all of which really needed it today!).

On that note, I continue to prepare for my next interview, which is tomorrow. I had one last week, and I am now moving into what will hopefully be a series of interviews over next few weeks. A friend of mine is worried about finding a job in the time of Covid, and I have to admit, I could let it make me feel anxious, if I let it. I choose to not let it; what will be, will be.

One more thing: we took our doggie swimming the other day, and it totally helped her walking the next day. So, time to incorporate some water therapy into her regimen. Love my girl WAY TOO MUCH! Haha…

More like my dog

8 Jul

1:14 pm

During these dogs days of summer–I can’t believe we’re well into July; it’s been a steamy one here, too–I’ve been watching my dog a lot. And, man, I wish I could be more like my dog. She is fierce, endlessly patient with herself and her limitations; she is never mean, always loving, and keeps trying and trying, adjusting to every new normal as if it’s no big thang. If it’s sunny, she’s resting peacefully in her spot outside in front of the door; if it’s raining, she wants to be out there, too, getting wet and inhaling the breezes, more alive than ever as she stands guard against enemy dogs who might try to take advantage of the dark wet night’s cover. She never, ever complains; when she is unhappy or depressed about her condition, she gives a nod that she wants to be left alone, and then sleeps it off. Oh, boy, I wish I could be more like my best girl!

Me, on the other hand, I am not patient; I try to take my transitions in stride, but, usually, I let them get the better of me. This past week has been hard, with my hormones not quite right–major heat, constant heart palpitations, anger. The other night, my night heat got the better of me: after about 1.5 hours of sleep, I was jolted awake by some freaking intense heat, burning up head to toe. I turned the a/c down, cranked the fan up, and decreased the temperature setting on my chiliPAD (it’s been a lifesaver these past few years; Google it!). I rushed out to the kitchen, literally gave myself a bath at the kitchen sink, and overheard myself whisper-screaming, This is a living hell; this is truly a living hell. (One more week, then an off-week, and then I start the estrogen patch–we’ll see if it helps.)

My dog just rolls with it at night, which is her worst time, too (panting like crazy, hurting from the day). When I get up at night, she just looks at me like, what? I pet her, smell her ears and feel her fur, and it all just makes me feel better. She helps me get through the nights, which are “dark, and full of terrors”–she’s my best friend, mainly in that she knows more about my nights than anyone can or would want to know. And, still, she loves me!

I am trying to just embrace the days and live free. I’m still off Facebook–and it feels great. I got off in April, didn’t go back on until June, and then went on two more times last night and this morning…which was an excellent reminder that I’m so much better off without it, at least right now in my life. I can’t speak to Twitter or the ‘gram or any other social sties, as I have never been a big user of these platforms.

I do miss certain things about Facebook–I miss my “on this day” feed, which is kind of like a journal that reminds me of the cool things I’ve done on this day in years past; I miss my groups; and I miss certain people, mainly those people with whom I don’t have typical friendships (like, folks I met while volunteering abroad, locals who live in those communities). Most of the other posts fill me with a sense of, this virtual reality is not only not real, but it is designed to keep people stuck in it, wasting time, wasting their actual, in-real-life energy! Increasingly, I see it as a tool to remind me of MY life, but not as a way to actually interact with others. Only took me a decade to figure this out!

I had a job interview yesterday, and I think it went well. The huge plus of job searching as a remote employee looking for remote work is that…everyone is now open to it, if not at least initially. I have been working remote for a long time, years and years; every time I interview for a job, though, it feels like a piece that requires explanation and justification. Not now! And that’s a wonderful relief–it’ll allow everyone to finally focus on the job, not the logistics or politics, you know? We’ll see; it’s one of those jobs that will require a long interview process (at least two more people and then a panel video interview with, I’m guessing, three to six more people), but, it will be worth it if I do land the gig!

It’s a beautiful day here, so I am trying to embrace the wonder; the past few days, I was just angry all day (thanks, hormones), and I took it with me–on my walk, around my boo, maybe even toward my best girl. Today, I’m just trying to be more like my dog: patient, taking it as it comes, and accepting all of things, good, bad, and in between.

Helping or enabling

1 Jul

11:22 am

I used to think that I knew the difference between helping a person and enabling them–until I was no longer on the receiving end. As someone who drank alcoholically for years, I never had to wonder if I was helping someone or enabling that person. It was their problem, and they had to figure out how to help me without enabling my ill behavior.

These days, I am the one having to decide between helping and enabling during every phone call I make to both parents. I can say, almost without doubt, that both my parents, by choice, are living with untreated mental health disorders that negatively affect their family members.

It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

And there is not a damn thing I can do about it.

What is this called? Transgenerational something–issues, addiction, trauma? I can clearly see my own workaholism in my dad’s behavior; I can clearly see my neurotic thinking and tendency to catastrophize in my mom’s behavior. Yet, both my parents either don’t see it in themselves or choose to not see it. I chose to see it, and I chose to try to fix it, within myself. It’s a work in progress, but I decided that I could no longer live in denial–that was eight years ago.

Let me give a few “for instances”: I recently found out that my dad and his second wife are divorcing; she served him papers, and he seems to be in this state of “I don’t know why on Earth she would want to divorce me” haze that is just, well, utter bullshit. He knows; the problem is, on our calls, he denies knowing and spins a tale of what he believes has happened (versus the reality, which I know, because my step-mom and brother have seen or heard different versions from him, and they’ve told me about those). The question is, do I listen and not say anything, or do I confront him on his denial? I have tried a version of the latter, but he is deep in his denial so it doesn’t work. Yet, allowing him to go on without being questioned just reinforces this behavior–enabling him to keep it up without facing any kind of consequences.

The last time I talked to my mom, she was complaining about her health issues, about she was feeling overwhelmed and alone. I feel bad for her, but, after decades of telling her what she knows she should do, she’s chosen to not expand her social circle to include even one friend! She chooses to obsess about her health issues instead of letting them go/be; I get that it’s hard, and she has a lot of problems. However, no matter how “bad” you’ve got it, at some point, you have to choose to stop the mental looping and try something else–maybe, meditation, or yoga, or staying on medications consistently, or believing that these medications will help (there is power in placebo; she knows this, as a former nurse). Now, I could tell her, again, that she should do this, that, and the other; she can say, yes, I know I should do that, and then, she can not do it–or, I can just listen and then hang up, not really telling her how I feel because it doesn’t seem to change her behavior, which is in essence, a form of enabling as well!

Why do I feel guilty–and somehow responsible–that my parents, both of them well into their 70s, are very seemingly stuck and unhappy? And, even more guilty that I have decided to give up on helping both of them, wishing their choices were different but not trying to engage anymore in a discussion about any of it? What if it does not end well for my dad, who is soon going to discover just how much of the physical, daily burden my step-mom carried? Should I feel like it was my fault, that I didn’t help him enough by literally screaming the truth, as I know it, into his ear? Same with my mom: should I just let her be, grasping but unwilling, or should I continue to force the issue of personal responsibility for one’s own happiness?

I have chosen, after all these years of getting sober–it was a lot of work to extricate myself from these learned behavioral patterns, some of which really affected me and “caused” my drinking problem–to just let it go. Let. It. Go. I can’t care that much about their problems; I can’t keep trying to “reason” with them when they don’t want to change, essentially.

Is this what it feels like to try to help an addict or alcoholic who is not ready to get sober yet? Maybe…

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