pins & needles

So, today’s the anniversary of Aurora.  It’s an odd feeling to live in a state that has experienced so many of these tragedies.

I’ve been in that theater, have friends who live nearby–who decided at the last moment not to go that night.  I was once paid to dress up as an elf and give away candy at that mall.  I know it well.  Or, I suppose, I did.

I worked for a brief time for the school where James Holmes was a student.  I had many trainings in the building where he spent most of his time.  My Mama died in the hospital that’s affiliated with it.  Her cardiologist’s office is on that campus, down the street from where he plotted and boobytrapped.

Things like this remind you that not everything is what it seems and that the most insane things can exist in your world.  Life can be awfully random, and a few minutes can change everything.

There was a significant part of my life, once, that involved movie theaters.  The Aurora theater sticks out to me because, on a particularly upsetting day–once upon a time–I took the #11 bus from my home in Westwood and rode it to the end of the line…not really having an intention except to leave my situation for a while.  I got off, felt stupid, and decided I should at least do something at the mall.  I mean, I rode that bus for over two hours.  I saw a bad movie–probably one of the worst I’ve ever seen.  I was one of maybe four people in the whole theater.  It comforted me enough, though, that after my Mama died–on Christmas…one of the worst days of my life…I went to a theater just to be comforted.  I did that often, for years after.  It was my Sunday thing.  I didn’t go as often in recent years, but I always felt grateful for the experiences I had.

I stopped going to theaters after the Aurora shooting.  It wasn’t because I was afraid–though there were scares in other Denver area theaters afterward and everyone felt a bit on edge for a while.  It wasn’t out of any sense of self-preservation–because I’m well-aware that all kinds of things are dangerous.  And I really don’t have any family that would be devastated by my loss.

I guess, for me, going to the movies meant something important.  And I didn’t want it to be tainted.  I wanted to remember how I felt that Christmas day when my world was shattered–and I was able to connect with people without really trying.  I needed it to stay pure.  And, well, even before the shootings–I kept having bad experiences.  We all complain about the rising costs of tickets/concessions & long lines.  Obnoxious people.  But my last few experiences, I witnessed people verbally and physically attacking one another in front of their children.  And I just didn’t want to see it anymore.  I didn’t want to go into a theater and have some boogeyman waiting for me in my thoughts.  I wanted to hold onto the world I used to live in–where people could come together and just be kind and good and normal.

Any one of us could have died that day.  A few random choices.  That’s what it all comes down to.  And even the right choices can stop our lives.  My heart truly goes out to the families, and I hope they can find a place that brings them as much comfort as that theater used to bring me.


This week was pretty rough, physically and emotionally.  While I felt slightly less tired, I continued to have some aches & pains…though other aches and pains disappeared completely.  I seemed to have short bouts with things I’ve experienced in the past.  Sinus headaches, ear aches, itchy rashes, nausea, etc, etc.  No rhyme or reason to it, and it would disappear as soon as it appeared.  I went from needing to use my asthma inhaler multiple times a day to not using it all week.  My allergies, by week’s end, were completely gone.  The hair loss was reduced significantly (though it was worse yesterday–stress?).  So, a lot of the stuff I’d complained about in my first naturopath appointment were righting themselves or completely disappearing.  And I lost 7 pounds, without trying–or exercising.  I actually felt kind of energetic toward the end of the week.  Coffee had been a big problem for me up until yesterday, but I tried a new place and had zero issues.  So, either I’m better or my body hates Starbucks.

There was some bad.  I found myself dealing with some gall bladder symptoms similar to the time just after my surgery–which is SO not fun.  I started taking the higher recommended dose, and those symptoms disappeared.  I also learned that my body hates iron supplements right now–so I’m going to look into other types.  I also found myself with wicked insomnia–which I think was the result of being so tired the week before and my subsequent odd sleep schedule.  I’ve actually been pretty good about the insomnia since surgery, so this was particularly challenging for me–as I’ve always struggled with sleeping enough and well.  Oh, and then I got really awful sharp pains near my liver–which then dulled to an ache.

The biggest hiccup, though, was my emotional state.  Oh my God.  I was like a live wire all week–hypersensitive, especially to things that would normally frustrate me or cause a bit of anger.  I was overreacting left and right.  On Friday morning, I didn’t sleep well and woke up aggravated.  It was uncomfortable.  I’m the type of person who doesn’t handle anger well.  Talking about things that make me angry makes me more angry.  It”s like a snowball rolling downhill.  I get angry because I’m angry and I hate being angry!  It’s worse when I know I’m being sensitive or irrational.

I’ve noticed that, when I’m negative or pissed off, I attract bullshit.  There was plenty of it this week, and I wonder if some of it didn’t exist just because of me.  Anyway, the anger wasn’t normal for me.  I’ve only felt like that once in my life–when I was on thyroid medicine and birth control that made me an insanely emotional, reactionary wreck.  Back then, I felt crazy and would swing from no filter status to complete shutdown mode.  One of the most painful emotional times of my life…mostly because I couldn’t figure out how to just be me.  It took a long time to get those meds out of my system, and then it was a lot easier.

Before my appointment, I said hi to Mount Sanitas–my first hike in years!  And then, I drove up the mountains just north of Boulder…where the rich people live.  There was one car behind me whose driver kept riding my ass.  I was going 25 in a 15 zone, and the turns were pretty tricky–so he was just a jerk.  He actually almost hit a deer.  I pulled over as soon as I could–which was like 2 miles in–it was that narrow…and let the ass pass me.  Then, I turned around (never really wanted to go that far–was just curious) and caught up with the lucky deer…who kissed my hand and let me pet him.  It was just a baby and was walking along the side of the road, eating wildflowers.  That helped my mood a lot.

I talked to my naturopath about the anger I’ve been feeling, and she thinks it’s related to my liver.  The liver controls anger.  We had a great conversation about the effects of my surgery…how my liver is finally able to function semi-normally again–but is having to deal with all the stuff that caused my gall bladder to stop working as it should.  She thinks my liver and spleen are the big instigators of a lot of my crap.  And that a lot of this stuff comes from unresolved grief that I held onto from when I was a kid.  Which is also related to my asthma.  Basically, my body turned these emotions into toxins that my liver had to deal with.  An overwhelming amount–which caused the congestion that led to the gall stones and everything else.  So, now that my body’s healing and actually processing things–and because I gave my body a break to focus on these things–it’s releasing it as anger…finally.  So, my rage at people being dumb on Twitter really isn’t about those people.  It’s about 1984.

My naturopath recommended I reduce some of the medicines if I feel really uncomfortable emotionally–but she thinks that the agitation is actually good and means I’m healing a lot.  If I feel awful, I can cut back or take a break…whatever feels right to me.  I think I’m going to stay the course, though.

Overall, she could see a big difference in me–aside from the notes I made about how I’m feeling.  She could see more vitality from me, and that–despite being agitated–I appeared to be more at home in myself.  So–even if I was uncomfortably angry for no real reason–I was owning it.  She thought I was making big strides.  I agree with her.

We did the acupuncture bit–this time with many more needles–in my arms, my hand, my ear, my shoulders, my stomach, and my legs/feet.  A lot of it was just to support the release of this grief and anger.  A lot of it was to help with my missing gall bladder, with the liver, with my lungs, and my still-healing thumb.  She gave me some tiny needles to wear in my gall bladder spot for the next few days.  I noticed the places that hurt a lot last time, and even bled, didn’t this time.  Others hurt a lot more–my lungs and thumb, especially.  The gall bladder one is sore today.  I seem to get an energy boost right after acupuncture–sort of like getting a B-12 shot or something.  Then, I get super sore and tired for about a day.  It’s a lot better this time, which means I’m healing.  My liver pain is totally gone today.  She also told me to try a castor oil pack to try to detox my liver, and I’m on a liver cleanse–which I can actually feel working right now.  So far, I’ve felt a little emotional today–but nothing like what I was feeling before the acupuncture.  It really changed my attitude.

After I left the office, I decided to go up to RMNP.  I had waffled about going because someone was hit by lightning the previous day.  But I knew I needed nature and a break from normalcy to feel like myself.  I was feeling so good after my appointment, that I got there in about half the time I normally take.  I started noticing how, suddenly, people seemed kinder…life was better…the world was a far different place from the morning.  Still, there were some annoyances.  I decided to drive Old Fall River, a one-way, narrow dirt road full of switchbacks and unstable surfaces.  It leads to this gorgeous green wonderland near the top of Trail Ridge.  I normally avoid this drive, myself, and take the other way there.  Mostly because I’m a big ole chicken driving a hybrid.  The last time we went, my roomie drove, & it was scary.  I wanted to tackle a fear.  I knew the pay-off was worth it.  Well, there were a LOT of tourists in town for something or other–most driving big SUVs they didn’t know how to operate.  I got stuck behind one guy who kept overreaching on his turns–which made him take forever–and was going about 5 miles an hour.  He also kept stopping in really precarious spots–and there were about 15 cars behind me.  It was so bad, someone actually got out of their car to tell him to move it or pull over.  He did this the entire 9 miles.  It was a bit annoying.  I felt the anger flash and let it go.  I didn’t stay on the top of Trail Ridge for long–and didn’t take any photos of the green stuff–but my subsequent trek to Never Summer made up for it.  Wildflowers everywhere…which makes me incredibly happy.  It was actually quiet there–rare lately.  I had a good visit with Mama.  Then, I left and stopped at this place I never stop at to get a pic of a storm that was pulling in.  This family from Atlanta was there, and the father told me there were four bucks just over the ridge.  We talked a bit while taking pictures.  They were so blown away by Colorado and said this trip was making them think about moving here.  I can’t tell you how often I meet people who do just that.  It was nice to chat with them and reminded me of how beautiful this state really is.  I’ve been a little disenchanted with road trips lately–which used to be so relaxing to me.  Forest fires & drought have changed my favorite places.  There just aren’t that many animals out and about lately.  I’ve been to these places so many times that the landscapes aren’t as impressive anymore.  Their awe at it really gave me a perspective shift.  It was good.

Overall, the day was pretty good.  I’m really glad I finally decided to try Chinese medicine.  I’ve been so impressed that I’m thinking of ways to incorporate it into my therapy practice when I’m finally at that point.  For now, though, I’m really just mulling options and taking the time to get better.


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