the healing dance

Finally feeling better, dental-wise–thank God.  Yesterday, I had my first doctor’s appointment with what I hope will be my long-term doctor.  It’s been a long road of canceled and rescheduled appointments and seeing other doctors who didn’t fit.

Basically, my visit yesterday was to establish care and get my sinuses checked along with some other lingering shit.  I wasn’t expecting it to be a physical, but apparently, that’s what new patient appointments look like at Stanford.  Which–NBD–except I wasn’t prepared to strip.

The clinic is about 15 minutes away, and I had a great Lyft driver who actually had lived in Gunnison.  He was originally from Texas and was pretty cool.  I’ve had great luck with having nice, friendly Lyft drivers who actually talk about things–who I’d actually be friends with if I met them elsewhere.  We got to the medical complex, and the first thing I noticed was how a) swank it was, and b) how there was really nowhere for old people waiting on rides to sit.  This place clearly catered to younger people and reflected California’s car culture.  But they had bags for your umbrellas at the front door.  I guess that irked me.  I get irked by such things.  Anyway, the waiting room reminded me of the Food Stamp office back in the day in Denver.  The place you’d go after you were approved and had issues getting your benefits.  Too warm, a bit sterile, and all the charm of a government office.  Only with flat screen TVs and leather chairs.  I was already feeling on edge because I had filled out about 6 pages of paperwork detailing all kinds of shit–but mostly family history–and it was quite redundant–so it was quite an ordeal.

One of the shittier things that happens to you when you lose both your parents is that medical visits–especially new patient medical visits–become pretty traumatic.  Most people don’t realize this–and I’m certain medical people do not realize this.  For me, I’m okay with a few questions–but having to go into nitty gritty details about how my mother and father died–having to tell that story over and over again–and then again to the medical assistant and then the doctor?  Well, it really sucks.  I’m convinced it’s why I have white coat syndrome–why my heart races and my blood pressure skyrockets every time I go to a doctor–especially a new one.

So, I was already sort of emotional–and lately–I’m a lot emotional anyway.  When I walked in, a really energetic and kind man said welcome and waived me over–trying very hard to expedite things and providing probably the very best service I’ve ever encountered in a medical facility.  I appreciated that, but he was clearly stymied by systems that didn’t support that service orientation.  No matter–it was fairly painless and I sat to wait.  I was taken back to the exam room and was struck by a few things–way nice exam room…and holy crap–I don’t have to climb onto that damn table.  (I’m short, okay).  And to weigh me, I literally sat on the table which was easy to just sit down on.  The table automatically raised and they had my weight.  Most awesome ever.  It’s all electronic here–too–and I can see all my records at any time.  They also have a lab on-site, so no more hunting down Quest and Labcorp locations to be at the mercy of whatever phlebotomist is there.

We chatted, as you do.  She examined, as they do.  Etc.  I got a shot for diptheria since it’s been rampant in our county as well as a tetanus update.  Man, was I achy last night.  Today, I have a cold.  The sick old people gave it to me, I bet.  A new diagnosis for an old problem: carpal tunnel–in both hands–not just the one.  She recommended some things and said I could do PT in Redwood City if it got any worse.

We talked about my sleep apnea–how I think it’s probably not there anymore (the sleep doc I met with before said it was possible I’d get rid of it by adjusting and losing a little weight–which I did).  I haven’t had symptoms in years, but she noted how small my throat is.  That, apparently, makes me really prone to all these issues.  She suggested an at-home sleep study since I was pretty against another in-hospital one–LIKE FUCK NO NO NO.  I’ve done three, and I can never ever sleep.  It’s the worst and I hate everyone when I do it.  And it’s expensive.  She did say–if I had it again–I’d have to go in for an in-house study to test the CPAP crap–which I told her I didn’t want–but she assured me they have variations.  Those things make me feel like I’m dying.  And I can never sleep with them.  But she felt I should do it, so I said–fine–I’ll look into it.  I really don’t think I have it anymore.  The last time I had my results analyzed, the sleep doc said I just barely had apnea in terms of how many times I woke up a night.  But the scary thing was that my oxygen levels got so low when it happened.  At the time, I’d have these nightmares and would wake up in fight or flight mode.  It was because I wasn’t breathing.  My body was fighting to wake me up.

We talked about my insomnia and how it’s worse out here.  She gave me some educational shit on it.  Which is great, but I probably could have written that stuff.  I was polite about it.

We talked about weight and diet and etc etc.  She was a fan of what I’d been doing and very impressed by my progress over the last few years.  Almost too impressed.  And we spent a lot of time talking about mental health stuff.  For once, I actually mentioned I have a PTSD diagnosis.  I figured–why not?  My last doctor knew I had anxiety because I’d asked about Xanax, and she had felt my anxiety wasn’t too bad–that lavender oil would help and be worth trying first.  It did and I never needed to discuss it further.  I rarely talk about my mental struggles with my drs–which I should–but I guess I don’t give a shit anymore.  I didn’t tell her about all my woo woo stuff because this wasn’t my Denver doctor.  My Denver doctor used alternative therapies often and was not judgmental.  I got the vibe that such things would not be well-respected here.

As far as Western doctors go, it was as good as it gets.  Less hassle.  Streamlined, transparent care.  Medical peeps who cared and acted appropriately.  I’ll get what I need here.  But, as always, I left feeling like I’d been to a really great McDonald’s.  Which–considering where I am and the experiences I’ve had out here–that’s as good as I can get.

Labs came back today, and most of it was normal.  Some were on the high side of normal.  My WBC/RBC–indicating that–yes–as I suspected–I was fighting an infection and had difficulty breathing–but was on the mend.  Normal and okay.  My blood sugars were the best they’ve been in three years, which–given my PCOS is a big win.  Especially since I’ve been eating out a lot lately.  HDL and total cholesterol were good, but LDL was normal and on the high normal side.  Need to cut the takeout.  Thyroid crap was normal, but for me–that was high.  I need to be right on the edge of hyper to feel well.  This is probably because I’ve managed to take my thyroid meds about 1x a week for the last month.  But the interesting thing was that, while normal, my albumin was just barely normal–which is indicative of someone who has difficulty digesting proteins–like a person with celiac disease.  I don’t have celiac…been through that roadshow before.  But that’s what not having a gall bladder looks like, and I’ve been lax about digestive enzymes.

All of this tells me that I really need to get back to the care plan my old naturopath had me on.  And I need to do more self-care because yea–it matters.

###

Talking about my parents so extensively yesterday really bothered me.  It left me re-traumatized when it’s been years since I’ve felt truly terrible about this stuff.  Mostly because it was like this shock and awe version of reality rather than an actual conversation meant to glean real insights.  I’m now labeled high risk for diabetes and heart disease because my mother had both.  I’m now at high risk for women’s diseases (AKA cancers) because of xyz.  But that’s all a partial truth.

There was a time in my life when I wanted nothing more than to share what I had been through.  When I had this need to give that shit to other people.  But now?  Now, I just want to leave it in the past.  As much as my mother’s heart problem was devastating?  It says little about my fate because it was caused by a thing that really doesn’t exist anymore.  And had it not been for that thing?  She wouldn’t have had heart problems.  But I get it–I do.  It’s just–I’m so tired of talking about it.  Of living with all this broken heart talk, every day of my life.

I prefer Eastern medicine.  I prefer its gentleness.  Its big picture outlook.  Its recognition that such conversations are holy and shouldn’t be these things you rush through or force someone to go through.  It should be a story.  Not an interrogation.

So, I have my doctor for prescriptions and emergencies, but I’m still looking for actual healing…root causes.  Like why is my thyroid a shitshow?  What effect does my anxiety have on that?  Still knowing that Western med is not the place where I’ll actually address the shit that makes my life harder than it should be.  Anyone know any great healers out here?

seeds

Oh, man.  Is it Saturday yet?

This week has been a bit odd in that I had to go in for my permanent filling earlier.  Things went well.  All signs point to our just catching it before the nerve got seriously involved.  But I’m still having some achy stuff and sensitivity–nothing huge–but enough to be annoying.  My dentist has said this should go away eventually, or it may be the wisdom tooth complaining finally…which I wouldn’t doubt.  I any event, I should feel better in a couple months (hopefully).  I’m still sleeping with a heating pad and taking too much ibuprofen (I know).  I took yesterday off because–between that, the ongoing sinus infection, and allergies–I just couldn’t people.  And my entire job is to people–so.  Normally, I would at least try to power through, but my work right now isn’t something I really feel like powering through for…so there’s that.

Anyway, I’m glad I felt like crap and took yesterday off.  I must’ve really needed rest because I slept for most of the day.  It was good to have a break mentally from all the shit at work and everything else–to tune out from politics for just a day.  But–of course–that messed up my sleep routine (not that I actually have one), so I didn’t sleep last night at all and decided to get up to write this.  Also–can I just say–I never ever ever need to know about any of my exes and what they are doing or not doing.  Thanks, well-intentioned, but so wrong friends who decided I needed to know something that is now really bothering me.  If I want to know–I’ll ask them directly, thanks.  Or they’ll tell me directly.  No need for the weird ass emails.

The bothersome thing wasn’t what is happening with said person. It was how it made me feel.  Absolutely nothing.  But then, I knew I felt absolutely nothing for this person for a while–so there’s that.  It’s just one of those things I wish I didn’t know because it has me doing math.  And y’all know I hate math.

But it doesn’t really change anything.  Even if the math says something.  I knew he was an asshole.  That’s why I broke up with him.

###

So, I binged the entire season 2 of Love on Netflix over the last two nights.  I love this show.  I have some issues with Apatow, usually, but this show is basically perfect.

*****SPOILERS.  STOP READING IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW*****

So, last season, we left off with Mickey and Gus in that old, familiar parking lot.  And that’s where season 2 started.  Despite Mickey’s bullshit and sabotaging, the pair get together in a big way…navigating her journey with addiction with alcohol and love.  I’ve always had a soft spot for Mickey because, in many ways, she’s me.  I’m not an alcoholic, but I do struggle with the whole love addiction/avoidance dance–not the sex addiction, thank God–but I understand her struggle in a lot of ways.  But I most identify with Gus–this well-meaning, self-effacing, kind nerd who just wants a chance.

Anyway, some of the scenes were pretty hot, and I just adored the episodes where they are just spending the day together.  Strangely, while this show is only a 1/2 hour an episode, they cover so much ground in that short time.  This season was so satisfying when it was just following them around–showing them fall for one another.  I won’t lie–made me nostalgic for that new love feeling.

If only it were that simple.  Mickey is an addict, and she is effed up.  She has real problems, and being in love with Gus doesn’t make those go away.  We see how they start haunting her–but we also see how Gus is her partner in crime–codependent and needing help himself.

Life happens and they start drifting–which is totally sad to see and a little frustrating for hopeless romantics like me.  I wanted to shake Mickey a few times.  In the end, she betrays Gus in a pretty big way–which is really just her pattern…and she’s in the clear because they haven’t committed–but she clearly has violated that intimacy.  And the fact that he doesn’t know, but has little seeds to suspect?  Welp.  It was hard to watch and made me hate Mickey.  A lot.

There’s a whole lot more there, but I will let y’all watch that yourself.

This season was super hard to watch for me because it reminded me very much of my own broken relationships–which all ended with some disclosure of infidelity or less than honest behavior.  Despite my own struggles with love addiction and love avoidance, in my case, I was in the Gus role…so that brought up some emotions–mostly anger…even though I understood her motivations and where they came from.

Now, instead of rooting for them, I really want him to run away from her–to find out–but I suspect this is going to be a really brutal resolution when it finally comes out.

If you’re not watching this show–you really should.  And hey, check out Master of None when it reappears too.

Anyway, a sorta contemplative/sad start to this Thursday.  Hoping it gets better.

this week’s work

I’m working on some pretty complicated self-care stuff.  My therapist is unaware of exactly what I’m doing, but after my last session, I really started thinking about a) why self-care is SO hard for me, and b) how to change that pattern.

My normal way is to just come up with a big list of shoulds.  To come up with timelines and 100 ways to beat myself up–mostly because that old mode of being brings out the inner perfectionist and control freak.

I watched or read something, somewhere, about the idea that bad self-care reflects low self-worth.  And that caught my attention–felt right to me.  The funny thing is–I’ve known for a while that I must have a worth issue–and yes–it showed up when I moved out to California–but it’s also something I disconnect from.  I have a hard time feeling that pain.  I know it exists, but it’s buried so deep that it’s hard to keep it in a spot where it can be healed.  I think that has to be the focus of my future therapy.  But until we start that work, I really want to focus on setting up practices and a way of thinking about self-care that breaks that old taskmaster way I’ve always embraced.

A funny thing happened recently–after dealing with all this dental pain.  I realized I really didn’t like being in pain.  Even small amounts of pain.  And it was all preventable.  So, I got a mouthguard to stop some of the grinding damage (until I can get a custom one).  I bought a ton of holistic things to help support dental health.  I bought a new, awesome water pik.  I vowed to get a really high end electric toothbrush.  And instead of brushing 2x a day, I started brushing 2x a day plus after every meal.  I took my time instead of rushing.  And that practice led me to other really good self-care practices that I’d gotten lax about–like remembering my medicine and taking care of my skin.  Doing these things really help me with stress, and I’m not grinding my teeth as much.

I realized that this practice stuck because I had immediate consequences if I didn’t follow through.  I understood the impact.  And it tapped into a core value for me.  Fix it mode was in place too, but it was those other things that drove fix-it mode.  What if I could figure out how to activate that motivation before the crisis hit?

So, after reflecting, I decided to focus on the various aspects of self-care.  I even researched what people in “helping” professions did–or were trained to do–to help them keep sane and healthy.  That helped me organize my thinking.  So, now, I’m doing the following:

  • Creating an overall vision for self-care.  Creating visions for various aspects of it.
  • Breaking down my needs into categories.
  • Breaking those down into sub-categories.
  • Using my visions to create milestones/goals.
  • Identifying layers of urgency.  Meaning–what is the bare minimum I need to survive–all the way up to what habits support thriving?

All of this is being tackled from three perspectives–the artist, the scientist, and my functional adult–so everyone has a say.  Shoulds are not allowed.  But I am identifying core values and looking at what the consequences are–what are emergency things I can do?  How do I hold myself accountable in loving ways?

For me, it’s about empowering those parts of myself that feel unheard–including them in the conversation.

There’s a lot more there.  And I will share.  But one need I’ve identified is definitely writing oriented.  So, I may start writing more here.  I’ve got to think about that, though.

ahahahahahaha

So, I was messing around on Instagram earlier and saw Busy Philipps insta-story about FaceApp and how she looked like her ex boyfriend in the male version of her.

Of course I had to try this out myself.  (And yes–I know about the scandal about the app–which is really unfortunate.  I never saw that option, so can’t comment on it, but that sucks if it’s true).

Anyway, I needed a laugh today, and this delivered.

Here’s mine.

faceapp1

The top one is me looking a lot like one of my cousins–but how I normally look these days.  My hair looks a little darker than normal due to bad lighting.  The bottom left one is young me–which looks nothing like young me.  The bottom right is me as an older woman–which reminds me a bit of a Babooshka–and totally fits, btw, given my Russian heritage.  But that top right one?  Man, that’s gold.  I totally look like George W. Bush mixed with my ex-fiance!  (My ex looks nothing like W, btw, but it’s all in the squint and the expression).  It’s so funny because I loathed W for years and years and years.  But I actually can kind of see how the male version of me would look like him.  Heheh.

This, by the way, is what I looked like as a child.

faceapp2

what i needed to hear and what i heard

In one of my FB groups, my favorite one, someone asked:

What are things you needed to hear as a child that no one told you?  Say it now.

Here was my response.

  • I’m sorry alcohol was more important to me than you and my life.
  • I’m sorry I did not protect you.
  • I’m sorry I caused you harm, even though I never intended that.
  • I’m sorry I was not an adult for you.
  • I’m sorry you were unsafe with me.
  • I’m sorry your body and heart are full of scars because of what I did and didn’t do.
  • I’m sorry you had to grow up when you were just a small child.
  • I’m sorry I needed you to help me.
  • It’s not your fault.
  • It’s unfair.
  • I failed you.
  • I’m sorry I never saw how much you were hurting.
  • I’m sorry I was so distracted by my own pain that I forgot you needed me.
  • I’m sorry you felt like an alien because I distorted normal.
  • I’m sorry I invited chaos into your world.
  • I’m sorry I gave up.
  • It’s okay to feel things.
  • Stoic is not brave.
  • You do not have to save everyone.
  • You are worthy.
  • I see you.

This is what they DID tell me and what I heard.

  • I love you.
    I love you, but I love this more.
  • You are the best.
    I believe in you, but you’re not good enough to get me to stop doing what I’m doing.
  • I am SO proud of you.
    You make me feel better about myself.
  • I trust you.
    You’re the only person I trust.
  • You’re my miracle baby.
    You can save me.  You weren’t supposed to be here.  You’re invincible.
  • You can do anything.
    You have to do everything.
  • What do you think?
    I don’t know what to do.  What should I do?
  • You are so smart.
    Here are all these problems.  Figure them out for me.
  • You are so capable.
    You’ll fix it.
  • You are talented.
    You can get me out of here.
  • You can do anything.
    Please help me.
  • AIM for the stars.
    You have to be better than everyone.  You can’t give up, even if I do.
  • You can have any book you want.
    You have to fight for the life I didn’t get.
  • You are such a good girl.
    You can’t be human.  You can’t be fragile.  I need you.
  • Goodnight, I love you.
    I wish I was better for you.  Rest.  Sweet dreams.

This is a childhood that produces a PTSD diagnosis.

Confused?  Yea–so was I.