My walk home later that day was fun and weird. It was raining, but the sun was also out, so I had to put on my sunglasses. When I got to the corner, where our office building was no longer acting as a wind break, I found out it was really windy. At the next corner I swear a whirlwind touched down on me and threatened to sweep me away. The rain got much more intense as I walked the third block… and then it turned to sleet. I had sleet for about three blocks, with the wind buffeting me from many directions. The wind is particularly weird now because of my new hat, which has a much broader brim than my old broad-brimmed hat. So the amount of lift it was putting on my head was disturbing.
And I should mention that even when the rain and sleet were coming down hardest, the sun was still shining right in my eyes, since it was close to the horizon and there were blue skies visible there.
The sleet let up to just a light drizzle by the time I was at about the 11th block of my walk, and the wind shifted to a fairly steady breeze coming straight out of the north—right in my face.
The rest of the walk home (about 4 miles total) was breezy with occasional drizzles. The sun was just dipping below the horizon (but the sky was still lit nicely) when I got to the house.
The new hat, by the way, didn’t let any water reach my head. Some of my previous hats would have been soaked and my head would have at least been damp by then.
Seattle weather is like that a lot—by which I mean, weird mixes of things that change quickly throughout the day or that just change from one neighborhood to the next. One of the consequences of this is that I own several different coats and jackets. This was another part of the co-worker’s disbelief: she’s used to owning one heavy coat for winter, and a light jacket for the fall. She was freaked out at how many different types of raincoat she tried (and returned) before she found one she liked last fall. And now neither of her three coats work, because it will be too cold for the light coat or rain coat when she leaves the house in the morning, but too warm for the heavy coat when she goes out for lunch in the middle of the day. I and several co-workers said (almost simultaneously) “That’s why everyone in Seattle wears layers.”
I have several coats. My heavy winter coat, which is leather and has a hood and that I waterproof regularly (and also has a removable extra liner) gets me through several months from the late fall through winter. I start wearing it without the liner mid-fall, add the liner about a month later, then take out the liner around the end of January. Then I have a medium jacket, which is puffy and insulated and looks like it might be for colder weather than the coat, but because it only covers my torso is inadequate for winter. Well, not totally. It gets worn on weekends a lot during the winter when I’m only out of the house to go shopping or visit friends and mostly driving rather than walking and busing. The jacket works for part of fall and a bit of spring. Then I have a lighter jacket that still has some insulation. It tends to take over around April and is the jacket I wear until about June. And then there is a light windbreaker style jacket with a hood that gets carried around in my backpack starting in late May or June and usually through September because you often need a jacket for part of the day during those months.
When we were out looking at apartments (again) on Saturday, I wore the medium coat, and regretted it because it was too heavy for how warm it was. So I switched to the lighter coat Sunday, when I ran out to buy a money order because the property manager of the apartment we put in an application for called and asked us to bring the deposit the next day. Finding a place to sell me a money order using a debit card on a Sunday was more of an adventure than I expected, in part because of that switch in coats. When I switched, I wasn’t diligent about moving things from the medium jacket to the light one, so my emergency granola bar I always carry in case I have a glycemic crash wasn’t in my pocket. Because I’m on timed-released or long acting insulin, I have to have small snacks of meals every couple of hours, or my blood sugar drops too low and I have a glycemic crash.
For me, glycemic crashes mean my mood gets weird, I usually get a headache, and my brain just doesn’t work right. The problem is that the low blood sugar headache feels just like a hay fever headache, so if I don’t realize it’s been longer since my last snack or meal then I think, or notice that my fingers are trembling if I hold my hand up, I don’t realize what’s going on.
I won’t go into all the details of finding out I couldn’t get a money order from debit at the first place I went, or the rude customer in line in front of me, and so on. But what should have been a clue was that once I had the money order in hand, there at a counter at the second place, with my wallet in my other hand, I had this thought that I shouldn’t put the money order in the wallet because I might lose it if I didn’t keep my eye on it. So I walked out to the car clutching the money order very tightly in my hand, and only when I was inside the car and needed both hands to operate the vehicle, did I decide I should put the money order in a pocket or something. All of the pockets seemed like a bad idea, and I finally remembered I could put it in the wallet. Which I did.
When I’d left the house, Michael had asked me to pick up a very specific brand of juice. Instead of stopping at the grocery store on my way back with the money order, I drove right past it and was just pulling up in front of the house when I remembered the juice. So I went back to the store, parked in the garage under the store, grabbed a shopping bag from the bag of the car, and ran upstairs. It was while I was having trouble finding the juice that I finally realize that I was in the middle of a glycemic crash, so once I found the juice, I grabbed a cold bottle of thai iced coffee, which would give me both caffeine and some much needed carbs, and headed to the front of the store.
All of the registers were open except the express line, and they all had really long lines. So I ran down to the self serve checkout. I’d scanned my items and was feeling around in my pockets for my wallet. Which wasn’t there. I had to cancel my transaction, which meant the clerk monitoring the whole section had to scan her card in and authorize the cancelation. I told her that I seemed to have left my wallet in the car. She said, “It happens to everyone. You want me to keep these up here for you?” I thanked her and ran down to the car.
And I couldn’t find the wallet.
The wallet with all my usual wallet things plus, today, a very large money order. I was trying not to panic. I pulled out my phone to fire up the Tile app and ping my wallet, hoping that it had just fallen on the floor of the car and rolled under a seat or something. I hadn’t quite gotten the app up when, because I was leaning into the car slightly differently, I saw where the wallet had bounced when, apparently, I had tossed it at the passenger seat after putting the money order in it. I hadn’t slipped it back into my pocket because by that point I had strapped myself in (don’t ask me why after pulling the wallet from my pocket while sitting in the car but before I put it back I had decided to put my seat belt on, making the pocket inaccessible; my brain wasn’t working right, see above). I grabbed the wallet, ran back upstairs and only when I got to the clerk did I realize I’d left my shopping bag behind.
I paid for my purchases and was on my way out when I saw another clerk who had helped me earlier and I had seen dealing with an unreasonable customer, and I stopped to thank her for her help before and hoped she was having a better day.
Back at the car I drank down the coffee drink so I would start to get my blood sugar back where it ought to be. I strapped in, turned on the car, checked all my mirrors, looked over both shoulder, and put the car into gear. I heard an immediate crash and the car jolted funny. I stomp on the brake, put the car back in park, and looked around. There was no other vehicle. No sign of anything that I had hit or had hit me. I turned off the car, suddenly remembering that I had seen someone walking by as I was starting the vehicle, and had a complete panic that I had actually hit a person who was currently trapped under the car.
So I jumped out and ran around the car.
I took a deep breath and squatted down to get a better view under the car. I slowly circled the car again, looking under at several locations. Nothing and no one was under the car, thanks goodness. I circled again looking for scratches or dents on the fenders and such. Still nothing.
I took another deep breath and held up my hands. My fingers were still trembling, but not as badly, so my blood sugar was coming back up. I climbed into the car. I opened up my Breathe app on my Apple Watch and went through a cycle with it. Half of the reason was to just not move for a minute and let my blood sugar keep improving. I started the car, foot firmly on the brake. I looked carefully around. And then I hurt the crash again. I turned up the volume on the stereo. We keep an old iPod (really old) in the car plugged into the car stereo set to random play. It is loaded with a bunch of my music and a bunch of Michael’s music. There’s a particular They Might Be Giant’s track that has a lot of these dramatic orchestral blasts that sound a lot like a crash.
I remembered that sometimes, if I take the Subaru out of Park and let my foot slip from the brake before it gets all the way to reverse, that the transmission does this little thing that makes the car wiggle just a bit, once. I had apparently managed to set off the wiggle at exactly the same moment that one of the musical crashes happened, when the stereo was turned down so that I could hear only some of the music, and not realize what was happening. So I hadn’t run over anyone or hit something.
I drove home. I told my hubby of my misadventures while he had juice and I ate a yogurt. When gathered things up, I swapped laundry loads, I tested my blood sugar and made certain I had a granola bar in the jacket pocket.
And then we headed out to pay our deposit and get on with the day.
I didn’t make as many runs to Value Village as I would like, but otherwise, the rest of Sunday was great.
But I really love this local news site’s take: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal on Trumpcare Fail: “It Was Such a Sweet Moment To See”.
President Trump today blamed Democrats for
bungling internal party negotiations on a piece of legislation that they’ve been campaigning on for over seven yearsthe bill’s demise, to which Jayapal replied, “Hahahahahahah.”
They have a majority of both houses. They don’t need a single Democratic vote to pass anything. And we didn’t even get to the Senate and any attempt to filibuster, so there isn’t any way to put this on Democrats. Except that they will, and a certain number of their voters will believe it. Of course, they had a majority in both houses for most of Obama’s presidency, and they never managed to repeal Obamacare then, either. The ugly truth that they were keeping from themselves is that they only reason any of the votes to repeal passed in the house was because several factions within the Republican ranks knew it was a meaningless vote. Complete repeal wouldn’t pass in the Senate, and President Obama was ready to veto it if they did.Even pro-Republican news sites were reporting earlier in the week Only 17% of Americans support ‘Trumpcare’, yet just hours before the rescheduled vote, folks like Newt Gingrich were tweeting and bragging about how Obamacare was going down. I mention Newt because just 7 hours later, Newt had changed his tune to “Why would you even schedule a vote?”
One reason it failed is that, yes, thousands of constituents called their Republican congresspeople and urged them to vote no. But don’t forget that another reason it failed was because there exists a group in Congress who want the replacement to hurt even more poor people: TrumpCare Postponed: Too Horrible for Moderate Republicans, Not Horrible Enough for Freedom Caucus. Even when Donald tried to negotiate directly with this small group, they couldn’t get them. And each concession Donald and the Speaker of the House offered the Freedom Caucus drove more of the moderate Republicans into the no camp. Obamacare is seen favorably by 57% of voters, making it far more popular than the replacement, our so-called president, or congress itself. And the provisions that the Freedom Caucus want to remove enjoy a walloping 90% approval from voters (as mentioned in that article), which makes if really hard for me to see how, even if they got this thing through the House, how it would have passed in the Senate.
But that doesn’t mean we should relax!
So, if you want to know more, click through…
The therapist spent all of our time together making me describe and then analyze specific incidents of bullying, trying to identify which of my behaviors had provoked the bully, then trying to teach me to act like a normal boy. I don’t think she ever used the phrase “normal” to my face, but she certainly did when explaining things to my parents. Just as school officials and teachers repeatedly told my parents in parent-teacher conferences and the like that these incidents would surely stop if I would just learn to act more like the other boys.
This experience did not instill much confidence that therapy was meant to help me.
Throughout my teens I was dragged into therapy several more times for various reasons. There was concern for a while that my migraines might have a psychological cause, for instance. Another time, I got into an argument with one of my Aunts because I refused to agree with her that I felt traumatized by my parents’ divorce, which eventually led to an ultimatum from Mom to start seeing a therapist. So I saw this guy once a week for a few months, though what the therapist wanted to talk about was very confusing and didn’t seem to have much to do with my feelings about my parents’ divorce (I was thrilled to no longer be living with a physically abusive man). It was many years later that I learned that my mom’s insistence that I see the therapist was related to the secret prayer meetings she was having with other church ladies because she was afraid I was gay.
Again, not an experience to inspire me with confidence.
Then there had been the continuing spectacle of watching my sister being diagnosed with various contradictory mental illnesses, going in and out of mental health facilities over decades. One of the early rounds for my sister happened while I was still a teen living at home, and Mom decided that we needed full family counseling. At least that therapist told Mom after a few sessions that it would be better use of the limited amount of time Mom and her insurance could afford to focus on my sister’s issues.
Many years later I sought out therapy on my own, and that time I found it helpful. Of course, it was the first time I had a therapist who didn’t treat either my being gay nor my love of science fiction/fantasy as a symptom (seriously—but that’s a story for another day). That alone was a big improvement. And it was the first time I had made the decision to seek help. I sought help because I was concerned I was turning into an abusive person, like my dad. I didn’t want to become him.
But it also helped me get over the lingering sense of distrust I had for the idea of mental health treatment. My bad experiences weren’t proof that mental health treatment is hooey, they were proof that prejudice and bias can happen anywhere, even in a profession that thinks of itself as objective.
No two people will experience the same illness the same way. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. Even more important, what works for a person for a few months or years, may not work as well later. We just have to do our best, try to adapt, and most importantly, try not to beat ourselves up over things.
Having lived with, loved, and otherwise been close to people with various mental health issues, I am very aware of the importance of getting treatment, getting the right treatment, and getting support and affirmation from your friends, family, and community. It’s hard to know, sometimes, how to be supportive. There isn’t a simple, one size fits all approach.
Try to be there. Listen if they want to talk. Don’t push. Let them know you care. Be willing to give them space. And take care of yourself: if you get stressed out and frazzled on their behalf, you aren’t actually helping.
Love them. Love yourself.
At the end of the second round, the sore throat came back along with a new, keep-me-up-half-the-night cough. The doctor didn’t like how my lungs sounded, so I got chest and sinus x-rays along with more swabs before the next round of a different antibiotic. And so on.
And each time I was on antibiotics, I felt better, but never completely well. Which both I and my doctor figure was probably because the original viral infection was still lingering. Except during that three month period, at least two other bouts of some sort of cold seemed to run through my office. So it’s possible that it wasn’t one long lingering viral infection, but really three or four unrelated viral infections that each hit me one after the other.
But we have also had a lot of high pollen/allergy alert days during that time. Coincidentally, some of the highest pollen count days happened to occur right after the end of each of the first two rounds of antibiotics. So each time that the sore throat and sinus symptoms started to re-occur, I told myself it was probably just allergies, and didn’t call my doctor right away.
Regardless, it’s been ten days since the end of the last round of antibiotics, with so far no sore throat and no ear ache. I think that means that the bacterial infection is finally gone. And while I’ve been having sore sinuses, congestion, and itchy eyes throughout for that entire time, nothing that isn’t very typical hay fever symptoms have shown up.
But I’m still feeling paranoid. So when I woke up feeling overheated and more congested than usual, I panicked a little. Until I remembered that because of the work being done on the exterior of the house, we’ve closed up all the windows and disabled the air-conditioning vent in the bedroom. It merely took opening the front door when I took out the garbage minutes after waking up to make me feel much more normal.
Though I had pollen alerts on my phone from both a weather app and my pollen tracker, and I see we’re going to be in the red all week. So this congestion and itchy eyes and sinus headache are probably here for the long haul.
Anyway, could you pass me that box of tissue, please?
I’ve never had the kind of body anyone would call heroic. Even back in middle school when I was active (and generally not terribly good) in various sports. Back then I was usually short for my age (other than a brief exception in 7th grade when I shot up to what would turn out to be my full adult height, but within two years all but two of my classmates were taller than me, again), and was usually painfully scrawny. Then, in my twenties, Still the same height I’d been since the age of 14, I started gaining weight and generally started to look like many generations of short, round, bald, hairy men on my Dad’s side of the family. Yes, bald. my hairline starting receding around the age of 15.
Despite having more than a bit of a belly, for most of my thirties and forties I had excellent blood pressure and more than excellent cholesterol numbers. That was probably helped by the fact that for most of my adult life I’ve walked, a lot. I currently live about five miles from the location of my office, and most nights after work I walk home, rather than take the bus. Even when I’m feeling sick, I walk a couple of miles to get to a bus stop along the way.
Every male descendant of my paternal great-grandfather with whom I am in contact developed adult onset diabetes by their mid-forties. A few in their thirties. And some of them didn’t follow doctor’s advice when diagnosed, and suffered various awful complications. So fifteen years ago (at age 41) when I received the official pre-diabetic diagnosis, I vowed to take it seriously. I went to the nutritionist my doctor recommended. I mostly followed the diet—for fourteen years. We got so used to following it, that recently when the new consult changed it, my hubby and I keep forgetting We’re allowed to buy beef, now.
About ten months ago, my blood sugar went really bad, after hanging in the “higher than optimal, but still not diabetic” range, and I finally gave in and let the doctor start me on insulin. At least I made the it into my mid-fifties before it fully hit! The initial treatment is to start at a very low dose and start edging up as you get used to checking your blood sugar regularly and learn how your body reacts. Standard procedure is to see the doctor two weeks after starting to get evaluated.
Now, after only two days on insulin, both I and my husband noticed that I was much more energetic. I hadn’t noticed a long slow drag to my overall energy level and feeling of well-being over the previous few years. The most dramatic discovery though happened at that first follow-up visit. I had last about 11 pounds in two weeks.
My regular pharmacist had been telling me during the previous couple of years while we tried various non-insulin medications, that in her experience, when the patient found the right treatment, lots of things improved, including the patient’s weight. I hadn’t believed her.
In the months since, I have been steadily having, at odd intervals, to tighten my belt another notch. My work slacks got so baggy I gave in a few months ago and bought a couple pairs of smaller pants. I’ve even had to adjust the wrist band for the iPod Nano that I wear as a watch. I never thought I had fat wrists, but apparently there was some to lose there, too. I had to change which finger I wear my grandfather’s ring on, because it fell off the old finger. My wedding ring, which was a very tight fit for the last few years, isn’t in that danger, yet, but it slides off without much effort now.
Make no mistake, I have a lot of weight still to use. When I look in the mirror, I still look just as fat to my own eyes as ever. But I hit another milestone today: I am on the last notch on this belt. Counting from the dent in the leather from the spot I was at for years, I’ve tightened this belt five times, now. It may be time to buy some smaller pants, again.
My new diet is still low carb, but I’m no longer doing the glycemic load calculation, where I get to have more carbs if I eat high fiber foods. Because doing that doesn’t keep my blood sugar down. The other change is that I’m allowed to eat fat again. I’m eating a much higher fat diet than I did for fourteen years, and only now am I losing weight. Also, my cholesterol never got bad, but it had left the unbelievably good range during that time I was pre-diabetic. But now that I’m on insulin, my cholesterol numbers are back to incredibly good. And remember, I’m eating more fat, now.
I’ve been feeling down a lot for the last two months because of these flu- and cold-like symptoms that would never completely go away. Yesterday I, after another ten days on antibiotics (for the opportunistic bacterial ear-nose-throat infection on top of whatever the viral thing is) I finally felt better than “meh” after longer than I care to admit. I’m not feeling great, just okay.
But realizing this morning, when I tried to tighten my belt that I was actually having to pull it slightly past the last notch before it felt tight, that certainly was a great feeling!
It started a couple of Fridays ago when one of my big toes swelled up with gout. For the next eight days, every morning I woke up with a different toe on one of the feet swollen. The worse was one night when the pain woke me in the middle of the night, and I needed to go to the bathroom, but when I tried to stand up, I nearly collapsed. I literally crawled part of the way to the bathroom. I eventually hobbled downstairs where my cane was, but even with the cane the thought of going back upstairs was too daunting. So I put a heating pad on my feet and sat in the recliner until my husband woke up.
Most of the days that week I worked from home. When I did go in, I had to use the cane to get around, and since the temperatures outside were 10-15 degrees colder than usual for this time of year, and since cold tends to make gout worse, it wasn’t fun. The next week was better. Several mornings my feet were feeling close enough to normal that I almost left the cane at home. By the end of the day Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I was really glad that I had taken it with me, because one joint was slightly swollen and in pain by the end of the day.
Thursday was the first evening I didn’t actually need the cane at the end of the day.
Friday was the only day I worked from home last week, and it was the first day that I felt like myself again. Usually on my work from home day, when I break for lunch, I start some soup cooking, and while it’s heating up, I’ll do a little housework. Unload and load the dishwasher, put away laundry, or some other task like that. It’s a nice way to stay away from the computer for a little bit and not think about work, right? But during all of my days working from home the previous week, I just didn’t have the energy. I didn’t have much energy for writing, either. I got writing done, but not at the rate I had been the previous couple of weeks.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, but it really felt weird and wonderful that day not to have at least one of my feet in pain. And it was the first day that I wanted to do housework. I didn’t just want to do it, I enjoyed doing it. Being about to move, to stand, the walk around without constantly bracing for how much the next step was going to hurt was almost enough to make me giddy.
So for the last few days I’ve been really grateful for the simple act of being able to walk without pain.
When I called my mom to tell her, I began with, “I have one more thing in common with Grandma, now!”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an uneasy relationship with my own skin. I usually joke about it by pointing out that my skin knows how to do only three colors: pale pink with blue highlights, bright red, or pale pink with blue highlights and freckles. I’ve never been able to tan, and it takes hardly any sun at all to make me sunburn. Throughout my childhood most of the neighbor kids would tan during the summer months. I’d come to school in the fall, and nearly all my classmates would have varying degrees of tanned bodies, while I would be pasty pale and maybe a bit freckled.
And kids would comment on it. I might get a, “Gee, Breshears, don’t you ever go outside?” It hardly was the worst thing anyone ever teased me about, and there was often one or two other kids who had similar pasty complexions, though usually it was only the redheads.
First, I didn’t say hatred, I said bigotry. Bigotry is formally defined as “obstinate and unreasonable adherence to an opinion or idea.” Depending on the context it can shade into narrow-minded intolerance, or blind and excessive zeal, as well as dismissiveness of other ideas. But the central meaning, and the meaning I intended was that “unreasonable adherence to an idea.”
The unreasonable idea (the idea not supported by facts), is not even the obvious one… Read More…