Writhe, Burn and Melt

My grandson, The Blur is beginning to start to get tired. I call him The Blur because he’s such an active lad, he can be hardly be photographed. He’s only 2 1/2, and little kids are generally bouncy, active beings, but he is especially so, and reminds his papa and I of when we were children*, which is alternately endearing, alarming, humorous, annoying, fun, and/or exhausting.

Especially the alarming and exhausting parts, because apparently he’s one of those kids who doesn’t need as much sleep. A few months ago he figured out how to pop off the child-proof doorknob cover to escape his room, and a few weeks later, had removed a couple of hinge pins to his bedroom door towards a similar escape attempt. (His parents just want to be sure of where he is when they are trying to sleep!)

Right now he’s squirming off and on and around his mum’s lap, and off and on the furniture, and off and on and around her lap again, and off and on and under me, and so on. His mum explained, “I call this the ‘Writhing’ stage.”

“Perfect term! He’s not ready for a siesta yet, is he?” I ask rhetorically. ‘Siesta’ = nap; we’re speaking in code over his head.

“No, next is the ‘Manic’ stage,” she sighed.

“Burnoff!” I confirmed, thinking of his evening hyperdrive mode, when he needs to burn off the last bit of energy.

“I know he’s ready when he gets to the ‘Melting’ stage.”

I’m imagining Dali’s watches flopped over tree limbs, and that’s pretty much what The Blur looks like when it’s time for reading books. And then after gathering a number of toys and bears and books, he “reads” to himself before possibly sleeping during naptime.

_______

* I’m not saying that he has ADHD like I do; he’s only 2 1/2. But we’re really conscious about channelling all that energy and nimble-fingered intelligence to positive stuff!

Coming soon

some new posts – after I get some sleep !

Re-tailored

Golly, it’s been some time since I’ve written a post. It’s not for a lack of thoughts, but rather energy.  My sleep has been disturbed by nightmares for, well, months, and the cumulative effect wears me down in the evenings.

This I had posted over years back.  As the saying describes, Friends come and go, but enemies hang around. I thought I had laid to rest some of those old demons, and perhaps I had, but now they reappear, previous horrors conflated with the memories of new experiences.

TAILOR-MADE

Tailor-made, I was.
Though all my clothes hung on me
And I was awkward as hell
Shoelaces usually tripped undone
And my hair ties came loose.

Tailor-made for being the victim
Geeky, younger, smaller, four-eyed,
Clumsy, studious, totally clueless
Socially awkward, unpopular
And best of all, face-blind.

I never knew who it was that poked me with pins
Stole my purse, squashed my lunch
Took my street clothes while in gym
Groped barely-developing breasts
Slammed me against the lockers.

Smeared clay on my chair like shit
Marked on my books, tore my assignments
Called me names, oh so many names
Or briefly pretended to befriend me
To make me the butt of a joke.

Not that I didn’t protest repeatedly
I reported the abuses properly
Told many official, protective people
Friends, family, teachers, administrators
But their responses were unilateral

“Boys will be boys,” said dad.
“You’re just being whiney,” said mom.
“If you can’t tell us who these people are,
that you ‘think’ are doing things to you,
then we can’t do anything,” said the officials.

Perhaps the real problem
Was not in what I said,
But that I was speaking up.
When I asserted myself
They redefined my reality.

Saying that what I perceived did not exist
That I was crazy, hallucinating, or on drugs
That I was just trying to attract attention
That I was making things up
When I wasn’t.

The perfect victim is someone
Who can’t identify the people that did things
Who tries to be good and please people
Who misses danger cues
Who is easy to silence.

The anger and frustration at being disbelieved
Turns into confusion and self-doubt
Maybe it’s just me
I must be wrong
Everyone says so.

Depression sinks in
I must be crazy
I keep perceiving this as reality
When everyone says it isn’t so
Isn’t that the logical conclusion?

You must trust people to help you
They are important people
They are the ones in charge
They know what’s best for you
They keep asserting you’re wrong.

When the reality is given to you by others
And they keep changing the story
It’s hard to keep your facts straight.
This is of course is only further proof
That you are crazy, and making things up.

Trust is earned, not demanded.
Funny how trust erodes
When reality is allowed to reassert itself
And I re-assert myself
Even though they re-assert:

I’m just acting out and making up stories.


Some more of my favorite things

Yet another dreich day, overcast, mizzling (misty-drizzling), clammy and hovering around the freezing mark.  I’ve managed to wrench my ankle a bit, and am long-last holed up in bed with my warm rice-sock wrapped around it, a and have a bowl of oatmeal and a mug of rum-tea for comfort.

In a salute to all things cozy (because dammit, it’s January and there’s still February to slog through), I thought I’d share some of the things that make my life more comfortable.

Let’s start in the kitchen, because everybody eats.  I’ve always hated can openers, probably due to my left-handed tendencies makes hooking the mechanism onto the can seem absurdly awkward.  (Then again, my lefty can opener is also annoying.)  Cheap can openers — the sort most of us have purchased at the grocery — have lousy handles that cut into the hands, and they eventually get rusty, dull, and gross as well.  Even the KitchenAid opener with fatter handles is cumbersome, especially for my daughter who has small hands. But last year I found a wonderful tool, not just the OXO brand, but their locking Good Grips version.  The locking part means that once you’ve clinched the opener onto your can, it hangs onto it, like a Scottish Terrier with a tug-toy.  When the can’s open, push down on the little button and it releases the can.  It’s easy for arthritic grandma (me) to use, it’s easy for my son with the giant hands to use, and it’s easy for my daughter with the small hands to use.  Hooray!

can opener with comfy thick handles and a wide half-moon turnkey

I like my futon bed because it provides excellently firm support, but on the other hand, a futon is so firm that I felt like an even more arthritic “bag o’ bones” trying to sleep on it; no position was comfortable, and sleeping on my side was worst of all, as my shoulder and hip bones pressed against the mattress.  So I finally got a memory foam mattress topper.  After unwrapping and unrolling, it took a couple of days to off-gas and expand all the wrinkles out before I dragged it atop my bed and popped on the mattress cover that came with it before remaking my bed.  But the foam “breathes” well so you don’t get sweaty, and has such small pores that it doesn’t feel like lying on a sponge. And heavens, it’s amazing how much more restful my bed is now!

Once I finally ooze out of bed between the cats, it’s time to get dressed.  Half the year I start with a base layer of thin silk long underwear.  Silk is amazing  stuff; it helps you stay warm yet doesn’t get too warm.  Plus, the material is so thin and slick that my outer clothes are neither tight nor bunch up.

Often I’ll also end up wearing my gloves.  Our classroom has always been the coldest, but even at the grocery my hands will be cold.  After examining a number of styles, I finally settled on some Thermoskin arthritis gloves.

fish-scale patterned black stretch gloves without finger tips

The neoprene-like material helps trap body heat, which keeps my hands warmer despite the Raynaud’s, and that plus the compression reduces the arthritis pain.  The gloves are also covered with grippy-nubbins, so it’s easier to hold onto things.  Most arthritis gloves are that ugly medical-beige color, but I think this black color is a bit more stylish; one of my students said they look like “Spiderman gloves” which is probably as much of a compliment as one is going to get on a medical aid.

Now there’s a gripe – why IS it that anything in the “medical aid” category is nearly always ugly and over-priced?

After a couple of months of coping with the sudden attacks of vertigo, I finally realized that I wasn’t getting to work quite as well-groomed as I used to.  I wasn’t gross, just not getting my hair washed daily.  Eventually I figured out that when I don’t have time for a bath in the morning, I was skipping a quick shower because I don’t have good balance when my eyes are closed or when I’m looking upwards, both of which apply to standing in the shower and shampooing!  Okay, I decided to get a shower seat, to sit safely in the shower without feeling like I was going to fall and crack my head.  So I bop on down to the store, and within the hour emerged with a box of parts to assemble.  The assembly was simple enough, but I was slightly miffed.  Thirty-five bucks for an ugly plastic thing!  Granted, the new piece of furniture cluttering up our small bathroom is not just a shower seat — we all love the fact that it makes a great book or laptop bench when one is parked in the bathroom.  But holy cows, can’t someone design something useful that doesn’t look like it came home from the hospital?

Plastic white seat with drainage holes, on tubular metal legs

I haven’t used a cane often enough to warrant getting a fancy one, or to become a connoisseur of the various features. But when I do have a badly-twisted ankle, I’ve come to appreciate how a cane helps ease my gait. It also made a dandy pointer when I taught horticulture classes. It even gives you something to lean upon when waiting on a bench. But as everyone who’s ever used a cane knows, canes are annoying when you’re not using them. They’re hard to park securely when you’re dining, and they’re damn awkward if you’re traveling, especially on airplanes. That’s why I got a folding cane. I can just stretch the ends a bit and pop it out of joint, and fold it up to store in my carry-on bag. It’s also pretty fun to pull out and give it a little flick and click-click-click everything snaps into place. (I find this feature terribly amusing.) Currently, it lives on the floor of my car, out of the way behind the driver’s seat, waiting for the next time I need it.

What’s your favorite thing for making your life easier?

SENSORS INDICATE

Four cats napping atop my bed

Bed has reached maximum carrying capacity of

one cat per square meter      (k = 1/m^2)

(But where am I supposed to sleep?)

Schrödinger’s snack

It’s Christmas and of course we’ve been eating all day, but for some celebratory reason, we’re always hungry anyway.  Come evening, my son-in-law stumbles blearily downstairs, through the living room, and into the kitchen.

“I thought you were taking a nap?”  enquires my baby-bouncing daughter.

“I am.  I can get something to eat, can’t I?”

Fridge door opens, shuts, man lurches back upstairs to bed.

I nodded to her, “You-know.  It’s like the physics cat … he can either be asleep or awake, but you don’t know until you ask him.”

Music to Bounce By

My five-month old grandson, AKA Tigger or Mr BoingBoing, has loved to bounce from the get-go.  Even when he was in utero, my daugher remembers how the sonography technician ended up sighing when she visited, because the baby was so mobile that it was hard to get a measurement.  Later on, the mom-to-be said that although the baby book bore the reminder to make sure that the baby moved each day, she never had to bother to check.

“I hope he learns how to sit for half an hour by the time school starts,” I mentioned, with ADHD concerns hanging unspoken in the air.

“He does have a great attention span.  I just hope he starts sleeping better soon,” added the proud but perennially tired mom.

“There are some children that never do sleep much.”

“But I don’t want one of those …”  The idea of spending the next decade or more taking turns sleeping was almost too much to contemplate.

“No one ever does!”

Thankfully, the lad loves his doorway bouncer.  Not only has his bouncy seat just been retired because he can he roll over and out of it, he’s even started getting on his hands and knees.

In my familial role as Bouncy Lady, I put together an iTunes playlist of “Music to Bounce By” for bouncing him on our knees, as babies love music, it’s generally more entertaining for all, and slightly less tiring for the adult if they don’t have to sing.  We want to expose him to a variety of music.  Right now, “Wipe Out” by the Ventures is a favorite.  (I’ve included links to a couple of pieces that are not well known, but are worth checking out.)

  • Good Vibrations    The Beach Boys
  • Ticket To Ride    The Beatles
  • Will It Go Round in Circles    Billy Preston
  • That’l Be The Day    Buddy Holly & The Crickets
  • Superstition  Stevie Wonder
  • Working In The Coal Mine    Devo
  • Satin Doll    Duke Ellington and His Orchestra
  • Crocodile Rock    Elton John
  • Think    Aretha Franklin
  • Sing, Sing, Sing    Benny Goodman
  • Mouse Jigs    Flook
  • Barracuda    Heart
  • Tijuana Taxi   Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
  • Immigrant Song    Led Zeppelin
  • Dancing On The Ceiling   Lionel Richie
  • Another One Bites The Dust    Queen
  • Burning Down the House   Talking Heads
  • Shake Your Tailfeather    Ray Charles
  • Four Sticks    Sones de Mexico Ensemble
  • Pride And Joy   Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Wipe Out     The Ventures
  • Hawaii Five-O    The Ventures
  • Linus And Lucy    Vince Guaraldi

Every few songs we have something a bit less frenetic, to keep from getting too fatigued.  And of course, we never get through the whole list in one pass; just a few songs at a time.

At least there’s one thing that he’ll sit still for:  watching Star Trek!  But that’s a story for another day …

Fever dreams

I remember running around, repeating over and over:

“My conniption doesn’t fit! My conniption doesn’t fit!”

12 Days

Man, but July just oozed by in a protracted mental fog.  One of the huge blocks to regular bloggery was the incredible 12-Day Headache.  It got slightly better at times, and it got worse at times, but the “Ten Kilos of Lead Atop Me Head” pain just would NOT go away!

It made working the three jobs worse, despite my adamant determination to not miss more than a day’s work from the para or grocery jobs.  I couldn’t even consider missing a day from the professor job, because summer semester runs at twice the speed, and we had no wiggle-room in our schedule for covering everything that needed to be covered.

As before, putting thoughts together was like stringing beads while wearing heavy ski mittens.  But this time I didn’t have a handy excuse, other than, “I’ve had a headache for over a week now,”  Being in pain means not sleeping well, and increases stress, and all three of these factors combine into a viscous circle.

  • I tried acetominophen (paracetamol), in addition to my daily naproxen sodium that I take for arthralgia.
  • I tried soaking in a hot bath in a dim room.
  • I stood under a strong shower and let it beat upon my head.
  • I laid down with cold compresses.
  • I took two-hour afternoon naps because I could not keep my eyes open.
  • I took a vigourous 1-mile walk and gardened, and avoided afternoon naps in hopes of getting better sleep.
  • I had a hot toddy at bedtime.
  • I ate cold ice cream to the point of “brain-freeze”.
  • I massaged my head.
  • I vigorously brushed my hair.
  • I took Imitrex, my migraine medication.
  • I did Tai Chi Chih-like stretches.
  • I layed with my feet higher than my head.
  • I massaged my feet.

I thought to myself, “This can’t keep going on!  I can’t live like this.”  But of course it can, and people do.

Initially, I kept saying, “I’ll do that tomorrow when I feel better.”  But the mañana list kept getting longer and longer.  After a week, I finally came to the grips that for whatever reason, I was going to have to deal with The Damn Leaden Burden of Pain as a chronic issue, whether long-term or short-term. It forced me to pare down my Daily To Do lists to the merest essentials:

  1. This morning I will shower and shampoo.
  2. After a nap, I must write at last 75% of an exam.
  3. I will eat something nutritious for dinner before working tonight.
  4. I will set out a complete change of clothes before I go to bed.

What hellish demands upon my time and energy!  That was of course, a day when I wasn’t teaching a class, just doing the morning para job and a few hours of stocking groceries after tea.

Oh crap, I forgot one:

5.  I will refill my daily pill minder.

You know you’re exhausted when dosing out a few bedtime pills is too much of a bother.

Finally I gave up and went to my GP.  “I’m exhausted.  I’m even falling asleep at work, and at dinner, even though I’m sleeping seven to ten hours a night, with two hours naps during the day.  My joints and muscles ache.  I keep getting bruises, and cuts heal slowly, and my gums bleed when I brush my teeth.  My hands and feet are cold.  I’m sensitive to light, my ears ring most of the time, and I’m having dizzy spots.  I get disoriented, and have the worst mental fogginess, despite taking my ADHD meds. I have dry mouth, and am thirsty all the time and drinking two or more liters of water a day.  AND I’VE HAD THIS HORRIBLE HEADACHE FOR TWELVE DAYS.”

I mentioned a family history of diabetes.  The doc sent me down to the lab for blood draws, also checking my thyroid and some other factors.  Additionally, he gave me a heavy-duty pain reliever that I took when I went to bed.  The next day was much better, although I could still feel headache lurking around the edges, so I took another pill the next night.

The Damn Leaden Burden of Pain finally went away.  My blood tests all came back normal, thankfully.  I don’t know what caused such an intractible headache, but I sure hope it doesn’t return.  Or if it does, I’ll smack it down a lot quicker with the pain med.  The pain-exhausted-stress cycle gets so hard to break.

Where P = 0

Where P is the momentum, and P = mvv = velocity, naturally.  But the m = inertial mass.  As in, if something doesn’t act upon and force the m, then there is no v and no P, and certainly no W of work!

I’ve not been blogging much lately due to the Jobs, but even after the education-related Job #1 and Job #2 finished a couple weeks ago, I’m still finding it hard to get back into the blogging groove.  I’m still working Job #3, which is only part-time, but grocery stocking is giving me the most inconsistent hours and days, ever. It’s getting to the point where I’m having trouble remembering what day of the week it is.

The Geekling has yet to sleep through the night; I’m not feeding him at nights, but apparently Grandma Ears are the same as Mom Ears, and hunger cries in another part of the house will still awaken me.

Furthermore, my watch battery died, so I can’t even tell when I am, aside from night and day.

But most of all, I have a bad case of Inertia.  I have a bazillion things to do, but struggle to complete the most time-sensitive ones.  I am working on some posts, but stringing thoughts together is like watching syrup ooze down the bottle.

What do you do to get over Inertia?

But what’s it good for?

A recent article in the New York Times briefly discusses the utility of cats, and asserts that their lack of usefulness is attributed to the theory that in contrast to other domesticated animals, the cats have domesticated humans, and generally do not let the humans determine their breeding.

Compared to sheepdogs, cats are generally less useful.  But most people don’t acquire cats for their utility.  We acquire them for their independent nature, for their companionship, for their snuggliness (even for their ease of litter-training).

Of course, there are some cats that are more useful than others — Thunder is my “Alarm-Cat”, an almost-service animal who will diligently nose-bump me as many times as is necessary to get me up on time for work.  She’ll even give me a wake-up call when I take a nap.  The hard part of course, is convincing her about Daylight Savings Time.

Aside from that, Thunder’s “utility” is limited to lap-warming.  Like our other cats, she sheds, sometimes shreds, complains about household arrangements, and consumes kibble.

I own an alarm clock.  It’s great for telling time.  But I prefer my alarm-cat, whose persistence is much more pleasurable that a mechanical blaaaat.

Do you have a cat for a service animal?

Hanging around the Web

Cruising the Web BW

A shiny robot spider hangs upside-down from a metal mesh

My son and I recently hauled a long dresser+mirror up two flights of stairs, and I cleaned up the master bedroom in preparation for the return of the new baby & parents from the hospital.  The downside of course is that after a day of labor, I must spend a couple-three days recuperating.  (In other words, I used up all my “spoons”, down to the last demitasse.)

I’m also on Day 2 of one of those low-grade-three-day migraines.  Right now it’s manifesting as misreads, which when I catch myself is kind of entertaining:

In light of all that, I thought I’d share some interesting reads/cool finds on the Web recently:

My sleep-deprived daughter would be envious of ant queens, who spend nine hours a day sleeping, while the workers must squeeze in micro-naps.

From the world of delightful architecture, an adult tree[less] house shaped like a bee skep, made of recycled lumber (wheelie adaptation not included).

The CitizenM hotels have the most amazing showers, which look like Star Trek transporter pads.  To start the shower, you simply shut the door.  I don’t know if they’re large enough for a wheelchair transfer to a shower seat, but with the zero-clearance there’s a chance of it (maybe Dave knows). Want!  (Or at least the trés geek LED shower head that changes from blue to red when your water’s hot.)

Reimer Reason posted It’s a Family Reunion! for the most recent Disability Blog Carnival.

In further hexapod news:  while I was distracted by our little geekling, Bug Girl has been faithfully covering Pollinator Week, including important information about CHOCOLATE. For more funs, Cheshire has teh latest Circus of the Spineless up.

And of course, what would a list of fun be without a LOLcat?

Six white kittens lined up and looking at the camera, while a seventh is distracted with a play ball

Six white kittens lined up and looking at the camera, while a seventh is distracted with a play ball. The photo caption reads, "PUZZLE PICTURE Find the kitten who has ADD."

The long and short of it

It’s going to be a long day; I can tell already.

Last night I finally got eight hours of sleep, aside from several prolonged coughing fits.  The previous three nights I’d only gotten four hours of sleep.  You’d think the extra rest would make me feel better, but I’m still running short on good sleep because I have this bronchitis or whatever (we’re waiting on the lab results from the nasal swab to see if I have Pertussis, holy shit).

At least I only have to work one job today.  But I’m teaching an evening class and I suspect that by then some of my cognitive functions will be running on Reserve Power.  At least it’s a subject I’ve done several times before, so I can get by with using a lot of verbal scripts.

It’s going to be a long day; I can tell already.  That’s because I’m already running into “System Overload: Error Messages”.

P.S.  I’m going to have a bowl of Mint-Chip ice cream and see if that doesn’t do anything for me, since the efficacy of Häagen Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond ice cream isn’t up to par. Thanks, Bev!

[now clink on this link for System Overload: Error Messages where post continues]

Hotbed of Apathy

*sniff, sniff*

“You sound sick,” stated my daughter’s fiancé, M.

“I can’t be sick,” I mumbled in protest, and honked into a tissue.

“Redunculus; you’re sniffling.”

“I can’t be sick; it was Mr W’s day to be sick,” I explained.  “He got first dibs on being out sick today …  If all the classroom staff members who were sick stayed home, there wouldn’t be anyone left!”

I’m sure the students wouldn’t have minded having some of their classes cancelled.  But no, we slogged through the day, hour after dreary, mind-numbing, O-PLZ-STFU hour.  It was, I decided, a veritable hotbed of apathy.  The lead teacher was battling a sinus infection, and I was suffering from what felt like temporal phase-shifts.  And my aches ached.  My ears were ringing and making sharp pains and I was having dizzy spots and nausea.  I was cold and then would have a sneezing fit and then be hot, and would have some odd spastic tic and then be cold again.  They cannot invent a vaccine for this shit any day too soon.

It’s worse when you’re feeling crappy and working 60 hours a week. But it seems like every few days I discover yet another person who’s working multiple jobs, the latest being a cashier with two jobs and Lupus.  (Maybe what the economy really needs is for everyone to take a week off just to get some rest already.  All in favor say, “Aye!”)

And then there’s the strange stress nightmares I get before a semester starts, going through an interminable dream about teaching 3rd grade but starting the same day the students do, and having an unworkable U-shaped classroom without a chalkboard or whiteboard, and the women’s bathroom stalls all cost 75 cents in quarters to use, and …

If you, too, are ready for a diversion, our favorite engineers (previous post) have a new video up on Advanced Cat Yodeling.  M just about ROTFL, as he has been Yodeling with his cats for a long time, and favors the Machine Gun Kiss™  approach.

And then she said,

“This one is my ‘Insurance Job’.”

She is one of my coworkers, this on job #3.  Yes, I have three jobs, one almost full time, one seasonal evenings & weekends, and the other seasonal and weekends.  Hence the general lack of regular bloggery due to 10- and 12-hour work days, 6-7 days per week.  I am one of the many over-worked and underemployed, or perhaps that’s underpaid, but certainly unable to make a living from one job, in any regards.  I can’t really complain all that much, given how many people lack sufficient, if any, employment at all, and how many other people are in the same overworked shoes.

That was the first time I’d heard the pair of words as a specific phrase, but I knew what she meant instantly.

For those of us with multiple jobs, we have a specific job that we must at all costs keep, for it provides us with the terribly necessary medical insurance.  Without such we could not afford to see our doctors for even mundane issues, nor afford many medications, nor, [insert your favorite misfortune-averting phrase] be able to pay for emergency or hospital care.

Without medical insurance (and horribly, sometiems even with medical insurance!) anyone in the US is a mere emergency-room visit away from bankruptcy.

I would love to write a long post citing all sorts of statistics about the numbers of uninsured, under-insured, the perils of trying to go without and self-medicating or second-guessing, and all sorts of issues.

But I can’t.  I got about four hours of sleep last night. (I’ve not slept well because I’m out of analgesics; I’ve not been able to get to the pharmacy when they’re open because I’ve been AT WORK and AT OTHER WORK, and it’s not like I can just send a family member down to pick up a bottle of tablets, because even with insurance my assorted monthly meds cost $90 and that’s not pocket-change.)  Then I taught classes for some 6 hours, and then cashiered for 4 hours, and oy my feet hurt.  But I gotta get to sleep, because tomorrow morning is my only free time this week before I go to work again at noon.

Polysyllabic expletive!

But hey, even though I’m overworked, I have an “Insurance Job”.  Thank goodness.

Sleep Bends

Maybe you’ve heard of “diver’s bends”: decompression sickness that affects divers (or fliers), resulting from gas molecules that collect into bubbles in the body, much like the carbonation that results when you pop the top on a container of soda.

Waking up lately has been similar to the bends, albeit not for the same reasons, nor as deadly (I’m not making light of a serious medical issue).  But for whatever reason, many of the symptoms are quite similar:  joint pain, headaches, nausea, dizziness, muscle fatigue, seeing spots, and sometimes numb or tingling fingers.

Not surprisingly, it’s hard to get out of bed.  I lay there, hoping it passes quickly.  Rarely does the dizzy-nauseous aspect does abate after 15-30 minutes, and sometimes the extreme nausea lingers all day and then I’m taking meclizine because the school hallways remind me of an unpleasant trip on the English Channel ferry.  Not only does this make it hard to get to work on time*, but it also makes it difficult to get downstairs and eat some breakfast so I can then take my regular morning meds for pain and such.  (Yes, irony, and the not-so-terribly-humorous sort.)

The last time I had a particularly hideous vertigo attack that landed me in the ER (A&E), my GP later decided it was an effect of the previous day’s migraine.  I don’t know if there’s such a thing as “chronic migraine-related sleep bends”, but I sure as hell wish it would go away, ditto the tinnitus that’s been particularly obnoxious lately.  It’s making it difficult to get to job #1 on weekdays, or temporary job #2 on Saturdays, and by evening I’m so exhausted I don’t know how I’m going to do potential job #3 (for which I’m interviewing on Wednesday).

Maybe I should check back with my GP, so see if there’s anything he can recommend besides, “Have you tried nibbling on some saltines … okay, some gluten-free crackers?”

* My record for morning hygiene, dressing, packing lunch and getting into my car is just 20 minutes, but that only happens if the night before I have parcelled bits of food into wee plastic boxes, and also done up all but the top two shirt buttons (to reduce arthritic fumbles), and tracked down and laid out all of the components for my change of clothes.  For some reason, choosing clothes or lunch food is way too mentally taxing and manually difficult in the morning, compared to something “easy” like driving in traffic.  Don’t ask me why.

Wanted: Planet with longer rotational period

It’s not just me. A lot of people whom I know in person or via the internet have complained about near-futility of trying to get to sleep earlier at a “reasonable” time, meaning one that would give a person enough hours of sleep before having to rise for the next day.

My children and I can’t get to sleep before 11 p.m. unless we’ve been hit by dire viruses, or else have simply stayed up the entire night. In contrast, hubby can retire early and then go from laying down to snoring in less than five minutes, and we’re all mystified at how he manages this! Obviously, such a somnolent physiology was not something our children inherited from dad.

While our young adults have endeavoured to find college classes that start later in the morning (not unlike the majority of college students out there), I myself do not have the luxury of that option. I’m expected to be at the school at 7:30, which means leaving at 7:00. (In reality, I need to leave by 7:10, but I keep aiming for 7:00 to give me the necessary buffer in my nutz ADHD distractedness.)  Given the zombie-like staggering arthritic stiffness and mental sluggishness of my morning routine, I need to roll out of bed at 6. Now that really isn’t an unusual time for working folks to get up, but my problem is that for most of my life I’ve not been able to get to sleep until midnight, even when I’ve put myself to bed by 10 p.m.

Part of that delay was due to the fact that Read the rest of this entry »

shrinking

My Things To Do list has lain dormant in my purse all week. Not for having forgotten which Very Safe Place that I stuck it into. Not for having too few things to do to bother writing them down (as if).

Rather, because there is so little I can get done in a day. The effective list of Things To Do is reduced to:
dressing and eating breakfast,
working at job #1,
eating lunch and grading papers for job #2,
working at job #1,
eating dinner and preparing something like a lesson for job #2,
teaching job #2,
doing a bit more preparing something like a lesson,
and crashing in bed.

On Saturdays there are exciting departures from this plan: Read the rest of this entry »

Odd places where Insanely Busy Woman

squeezes in catnaps:

  • Patient bench under the CT scanner (today’s choice, which most delightfully came with a blanket that more than made up for the repeated, “Breathe in; hold your breath,” commands)
  • Slumped against the wall behind a folding partition and faux Ficus tree in the corner of an unoccupied hotel “ballroom” during a convention (I had the flu and wasn’t presenting until an hour later)
  • Dentist’s chair (N.B. to dentist: don’t dwaddle, as the local anæsthesia wears off me faster than anyone thinks it ought to)
  • Toilet stalls (micronaps were not always intentional but due to jetlag, and I have to say that the Dutch closet-like stalls are fab)
  • Sitting upon a gently-used Turkish newspaper on the floor of the Frankfurt railstation (newspapers in languages you cannot read are still useful for a surprising number of things beyond blotting fish-and-chips or flooring bird cages, and whatever shall we use when the news is no longer printed on dead tree pulp?)
  • Sandwiched between two cats solarizing on the carpeted stair landing (warmth, purring cats, zzzZZZzzz)
  • University library stacks, while seated upon a step stool in the corner of the QL461 research journals (napping at a uni library isn’t odd, just that normal people do so in the plush club chairs that the sympathetic librarians add into their budgets)
  • Inside a section of new concrete sewer pipe stored with similar construction supplies at the edge of a county park (it was pouring and pouring down rain so my wee daughter and I just waited the storm out)
  • In a mostly-empty moving box of towels (there were no surfaces empty of moving boxes)
  • On a poolside chaise longue that someone had moved to outside the safety gate of a hotel pool — I wasn’t staying at that hotel, but did have my trusty towel draped over my face for sunburn protection and reduced apparency as an interloper, Thank You Douglas Adams
  • On a bench in a glasshouse at Royal Botanic Garden, Kew (heat, plants, zzzZZZzzz)

“Mama said,

‘There’ll be days like this,’

‘There’ll be days like this,’ Mama said.”

The Shirelles, “Mama Said”

Coming down with some virus most likely, as the school nurse says it doesn’t look like strep throat (despite the sore throat that’s making it hard to lecture).  I can deal with that.

Headache, only ’bout a 4 out of 10, not so bad of itself. I can deal with that.

Ditto the tinnitus, which alas, seems to be making it more difficult to understand people, especially those students more than a few feet away from me, which is most of the time — why do the most soft-spoken students sit in the back corner?  The auditory processing glitches don’t help, either; I’m sure some of the students think I’m not paying attention, or am losing my hearing.  At least no one is going around yelling to me in the mistaken impression that volume = clarity.

Five hours sleep.  Definitely need to get to sleep sooner, and I would were it not for the class prep I have to do before and after classes.  Okay, now it’s getting really challenging.  I’m dropping words in the middle of my sentences once or twice an hour, and does that ever make me feel stupid.

I’m hungry because I didn’t eat much due to the sore throat & canker sore.

Two of the pieces of paper I really needed to have with me were not in my binder.  No, I’m sorry, I don’t remember the date of the next exam right off the top of my head.  No, I’m sorry, I haven’t memorized the ID labels to all of the slides (but I can tell you what’s important about the slide).

We were reviewing the results of the first exam.  This is the first college-level science class that many of the students have had, and some of them haven’t had a science class in years.  Bumpy ride.  It’s also the first full exam I have written, and every teacher knows the hidden hazards of writing such.

For some reason I decided to hand the graded exams out, rather than just letting the students pick their own test up.  I’m faceblind, and have not yet memorized the seating chart.  Definite planning error on my part.

My PowerPoint — that delightful gizmo that helps keep the tired, the distracted, the forgetful, the sick, and the first-time teacher from losing track of the game plan — the PowerPoint file on my flashdrive proved to be an older version that did not have the other half of the slides I needed to remind me what I was going to tell the class this evening. That too, of itself I could deal with, although the presentation was not at smooth as I would have liked, and we had to go back a few times and fill in something I had not mentioned earlier.

But all of these things together, oy vey!  I muddled through everything, but did not feel very brilliant or smooth.  I didn’t even have all of the lab equipment fully prepped because I had rushed in right before class.

And then shortly after class started, one of the professors came in to do a surprise Observation of me as a new instructor.

At least I didn’t have my trouser zip left undone, or have a strip of toilet paper (loo roll) stuck to my boot!

Mama said there’ll be days like this …

Backwards Symphonies

“It’s been a long week — I bet you’re ready to decompose.”

I stared at my husband, blinking through the mental fog of too-many-jobs-not-enough-sleep.

“I’m not ready for the compost pile yet,” I replied, trying to figure out what his latest malapropism was meant to be.

“Or whatever the term is,” he added.

My brain finally catches up. “Decompress,” I answered.

What an incredibly long week.  I can’t remember the last time I had one like this, and in my over-busy world that’s saying something.

Wednesday last week I had a pneumonia vaccination, which left my arm so sore I couldn’t take off my jogbra without assistance, nor even get my hand up to head level until the weekend.  Moreover, Read the rest of this entry »

I need better sleep:

I microwaved a bowl of salad.

Horrid day for a migraine. Could have been worse.

Yesterday: it is very sunny, so bright the out of doors looks like over-exposed photos, all contrasty lights and darks and washed-out colors; even the trees were flickering masses of surface brilliancy against their internal heavy gloom. The previous night’s storms guaranteed humidity and muddy passage, and the tailwinds still rattle across the landscape, scratching the yet-unpruned peach tree branches against the outer wall of my bedroom. A few houses away, there is the repeated doppler roar of someone taking advantage of the clear skies to catch up on overdue mowing.

Cradled between layers of pillows, with the sheet and cotton quilt and heavy wool blanket pulled up to my ears, I lay stiffly. Mostly still asleep and not even close to the stage of stretching groggily or opening my eyes, my conscious awareness surfaces uncertainly through layers of internal sensory checks, transversing clouds of anxious, nonsensical dreams with endlessly repeating plot-less terrors.

For some reason I could not yet fathom, the usual morning physiological data-gathering was running very slowly, as though entire sections of my brain either could not communicate or were withholding information. At times like this, I am highly uneven, having some high cognitive functions but lacking other more basic ones. Pieces of random information drift by, sometimes contained in the phonemes of words that repeat like the short loop of an advertising jingle, but slide away without having been decoded for any meaning. I become briefly aware of just one or two sensory indicators of the outside world: water running through the sink downstairs, or the crackling of a cat’s jaw as it yawns so wide the ears fold backwards.

The mental sticky-notes I told myself at bedtime flutter by intermittently, “I need to get up early to take the bags of brush down to the curb before the truck comes by,” and “I still need to do a prelab and upload it before 11:59 pm,” and “I need to finish that cover letter for the job app,” and “The cable repair person may be here at 8:00 am,” and “I need to drive my daughter back to her college town.” Things to do, people to be, and most of all, irrevocable externally-imposed deadlines to meet. The bad part is, were this a Saturday, this could be much worse.

Slowly the information collects, like tiles of satellite photos that must reach critical mass for the terrain to be understood. One points out that I did yard work yesterday, several short jaunts out to pull weeds from the vegetable patch and to bag the pile of brush. This means I will be achier today, and the stiffness will require me to move about more carefully for a few hours. I should not plan on doing any heavy work today.

But I don’t yet stretch to test my joints, as the recalcitrant parts of my brain yield the messages previously withheld: my head hurts, a pain so large it has expanded beyond my brain case to my eyes, my ears, my nose, my jaw … Read the rest of this entry »

Bugs in the System

I’m exhausted and permanently chilled, dunno why; hopefully I’m not coming down with some “bug”. But here are some great images from around the Web:

Bug Dreams has a fabulous closeup-shot, partially described as, “A Sawfly larva dwarfs an adult fly in this demonstration of a Vulcan mind meld.”

I can haz LOL Invertebrates? The ROFLBee makes me smile every time!

The Royal Mail has just put out a new series of ten stamps, with gorgeous insects on them.  One of the purchases even entitles you to 2-for-1 tickets to the upcoming butterfly exhibit at the Natural History Museum in London. (Please, someone go and enjoy it for me, because I can’t afford to go abroad, so even mere philately is beyond my means.)

Meanwhile, here’s a recent shot from my garden, a multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae Harmonia axyridis).  This is an exotic species introduced in the 1970s for biological control of aphids and scale.  That must be hard work, as this one appears to be sleeping on my bag.

ZzzzZzzzzz

Budget Issues

There are a lot of difficult things with getting used to a condition that causes regular pain or chronic fatigue. Part of it is just getting used to the idea that there is no quick fix, that this is the New Normal in our lives.

Part of it is realising that medication and treatments will alleviate some of the pain, but that they don’t always eliminate it. Even if we’re not feeling horribly crappy, that doesn’t mean we can just blaze through the day like we used to. The reductions in overall capacity from tiring and/or painful conditions create additional problems that are not always easy to anticipate.

There are the social issues, of not wanting to sound whiney, but also of needing to advocate for ourselves, and either forgo doing some things or request accommodations for others. Meanwhile, everyone else is still working on the idea that relieving pain means making-it-go-away, and that “if you’re not in pain, then you can do everything just like normal”.

There are weighing issues of prioritising things. When we don’t fully adjust to this new normal, it can be partly denial, and partly not realising just how much the condition permeates things in life. It’s one thing to say, “I’m hurting, I’m not going to do this right now,” or “Doing that causes me too much wear and tear so I’m going to do this instead.”

But it’s quite another to realise that we can’t keep putting things off until “I have more energy” or “I have more time” or “When I’m feeling better in the afternoon”. In reality even though there are better times of day or just better days, and even though we find alternative means, what we find is that we still can’t do all those things.

We can do them, but we can only do some of them. When we’re having a good afternoon or a better day, we then find that we have a backlog of Things To Do. In truth, there was no way we could really could do all of them previously in our lives, which is why everyone has those long To do Lists in the first place!

There are budgeting issues of allotting energy. In the new normal, we not only can do less because we have fewer good time periods, but also because we have to pace ourselves. If we push ourselves too hard, then we crash and feel worse than we would have otherwise, and will just get even behinder. (And both the crashing and the getting behinder result in being grumpier, making us and everyone around us miserable.)

What makes pain such a bastard is not just the direct issue of hurting — a lot and frequently, or variably and all the time — but also the secondary issues of pain causes stress and stress aggravates pain and the dreadful feedback loops.

Chronic stress-pain loops can result in not having much appetite (so not eating regularly or nutritious foods), being more sensitive to the ordinary incidental pains in life as well as the chronic issues, getting more easily stuck in anxious, obsessive or depressive states, having depressed immune responses, and of course, it can create the whole horrible pain-bad sleep feedback loop. There’s nothing like chronic pain to make one realise just how inter-related psyche and soma really are.

Chronic issues mean not having much in the way of energy reserves. It can be really easy to fall into a bad habit of “cheating” the budgeting or pacing by relying upon crisis energy. Lots of people (especially those with AD/HD) rely upon the “salvation by deadline” to get them energised to do or complete a task. But this kind of crisis energy is really hard on the body because it relies upon the adrenaline from the sense of crisis. Once that adrenaline rush is past, we crash. It’s a way of pushing ourselves that is counter-productive in the long run.

People who are able to integrate the new normal successfully throughout their lives are those who do best with chronic issues. The novelty fades and the issue is simply another part of their life. Acceptance is not the same thing as giving up. We can accept that we have problems without abandoning efforts to find new ways of improving things.

Prioritising and budgeting energy are important components of the adjustment, just are various therapeutic approaches and regular stress management. Energy prioritising and budgeting are especially important because they are less about what we cannot do, and are more about enabling ourselves to do things that are important.

Whatever “important” gets re-defined as.

“But pain… seems to me an insufficient reason not to embrace life. Being dead is quite painless. Pain, like time, is going to come on regardless. Question is, what glorious moments can you win from life in addition to the pain?”
~Lois McMaster Bujold

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