Accidental Fudge

Updates Thursdays

Tag: health (page 1 of 3)

Resisting Misery

It’s a pretty miserable day in Chicago. It’s raining hard: streets and sidewalks are flooded, and despite my umbrella, my pants are completely soaked after walking the four blocks to the bus. It’s so dark it feels like I’m heading to work at 5am instead of 8am. This is quite possibly my least favorite weather to be out in. 

On top of that, I’ve been inexplicably nauseous for most of the week. I don’t know if it’s anxiety or a stomach bug or something else entirely, but it’s been annoying and exhausting and demotivating. 

Still, I’m trying to push past my inclination to succumb to the miserable weather and my miserable stomach and get lost in a sea of misery. I don’t know how much of it is optimism and how much is pragmatism: there’s life that needs getting on with, and misery isn’t really conducive to that. 

So here are a few happy things that have happened this week:

  • I got to have a Skype date with my best friend and catch up for the first time in too long. We’ve both been busy lately, so the moments when we get to connect feel particularly special. 
  • We went to a preview reading of The Civility of Albert Cashier. Chicago folks, you want to go see this when it premiers here in September. It’s an incredible (and true!) story, with a great cast and music by our friend (and folk musician hero) Joe Stevens
  • I’m finally getting a new work computer! This seems like a silly thing to be excited about, but I’m the IT guy and my computer is at least five years older than the computers of most of my coworkers who I’m assisting. It should’ve happened months ago but kept getting pushed off. I’m tentatively hopeful that this new machine will freeze less often and be a less frustrating user experience overall. 

It’s been a bit of an off week. My partner got sick at the end of last week with a nasty summer cold, and while I never developed all of his symptoms, I definitely got the fatigue side of it (along with some sniffles and a sore throat). It meant weekend plans had to be canceled, and I missed work Monday. I still feel like I’m a few steps behind in everything, I’m still tired, and I’ve had a pretty persistent headache that has not been helped by whatever the weather is doing here in Chicago this week. 

That said, it hasn’t all been awful. There is a certain sense of relief that comes with being forced to slow down. On Monday, since I stayed home, I was able to craft and watch movies and play some guitar and take naps, and that was all a nice break from the stress of work. 

This week at work has seen the (mostly expected) onslaught of complaints about the new project that we launched last week, mostly by people who didn’t read their (many) emails about the changes that were coming and then found themselves scrambling to catch up. It’s frustrating, but again, not exactly unexpected. I’m now trying to pick up the threads of other, smaller projects that were put on hold as we pulled together the final details of the big project, which has been a challenge, since I’m still not feeling great and the persistent headache has made it hard to concentrate on anything for very long. 

I’m looking forward to the weekend, not for any particular plans, really, but just for a chance to hopefully kick the rest of this cold. Right now I feel like I could sleep for days. That’s not an option, but even a couple of extra hours here or there might help.  

Inhale, Exhale

I’ll be honest, I’m really not sure what to write about this week. The world continues to be a scary place full of bad news, and that continues to be overwhelming. So I think I’m going to fall back on my usual I-don’t-know-what-to-write-about strategy, and give you a list of three good things from the past week:

  1. Knitters are the best people. A bunch of our knitting group got together for brunch over the weekend to celebrate someone’s birthday. There was good food and an adorable baby and lots of reminders why I love these people so much.
  2. I found a new therapist. I had been going to someone else, but they weren’t really up for helping me through my anxiety around the current political climate, so I ended services with them a couple of weeks ago. On Sunday I met with a new therapist that I think is going to be a much better fit.
  3. I took a day off. Granted, it was because I was feeling pretty miserable (I’m on round two of this horrible cold), but it felt good to listen to my body and take some time to get extra rest and just relax, particularly in the midst of what is turning out to be a pretty packed month.

Pushing Through

The post-holiday plague that I managed to come down with last week is continuing. I didn’t make it into the office at all last week. I worked from home Thursday, Friday, and Monday; I made it into the office on Tuesday, but just barely. I’m definitely improving, but it’s slow going.

Monday night, I had a gig. By the time I got sick, it was too close to the gig to try to get out of it, and I really wanted to go, anyway. I practiced over the weekend, and prayed I could get through the 25 minute set without going into a coughing fit.

It started off a little rocky. I felt shaky, and not just from the usually performance-induced butterflies. But as I continued to play and to sing, I felt myself falling into a groove. The longer I pushed through, the easier it got to keep going. By the end, I felt pretty good about how the whole thing went. As soon as I sat back down to listen to the rest of the performers, of course, I felt completely wretched. But what I want to focus on is the idea that doing the work is what makes the work easier to do.

I feel like this is going to be an important lesson to remember as the year wears on. There is no pretty picture to paint about the political landscape of America right now. There’s a lot of work to be done. I feel totally overwhelmed by it. But if I can just push through and take the first few steps toward sustainable action, the sense of overwhelm will, if not lessen, become easier to deal with. Just like practice improves ability at anything else, forcing myself out of my comfort zone repeatedly will expand what’s included in my comfort zone.

I’m not saying that I’m doing a good job of applying this lesson right now, because I’m not. But it’s a thing I’m going to work on. I hope you’ll join me.

Welcome to 2017

It’s a new year, and one in which a lot of things look scary and uncertain. And I’m sick. I’m writing this on Wednesday; I’ve missed two days of work and I can’t breathe through my nose. Not exactly how I wanted to start the year off.

Still,  it hasn’t all been terrible. Here’s a short list of nice things that have happened in the last week:

  • My partner and I had a low-key New Year’s Eve – we had ribs and mashed potatoes for dinner, and then spent the rest of the evening playing Scrabble, drinking wine, and watching a movie. It was a lovely way to ring in the new year. And I actually made it past midnight, which hasn’t happened the past couple of years.
  • I’ve gotten a lot of knitting done. This is often the upshot of being sick and missing work. I finished the sweater I agreed to knit for my coworker’s kid, and started on a blanket for my nephew, whose birthday is coming up in a couple of months.
  • As much as being sick is no fun, I’m trying to see the bright side of it, like the fact that I was able to catch up on a bunch of sleep and get some much-needed time to myself (even if most of that time has been spent in a sort of feverish haze).

 

 

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It’s Back to Work I Go…

Monday marked my first day of work after a three week absence for surgery and recovery. I worked from home to catch up on emails, and was back in the office on Tuesday.

When our office manager saw me Tuesday, he asked if I’d been bored taking so much time off.

I wasn’t.

It was really, really wonderful to not have to worry about work for a few weeks. The fact that I came back to an office packed pretty much wall-to-wall with computers and peripherals that need to be re-homed (which is not my job, but part of our department’s function sometimes), nearly preventing me from even getting to my desk, did not help to ease the transition back. I’ve felt claustrophobic in my windowless, packed office, achy and tired from so much extra activity, and just generally grouchy.

Still, it’s been nice to see the enthusiasm of coworkers at having me back in the office. Someone informed me on Tuesday that when she told her team I was back, they applauded.

I’m still healing well, although I’m trying hard not to push myself too much with being back at work. The last thing I want is to set myself back to the point where I need to take more days off from work, because I burned through all of my remaining personal and sick time for the three weeks I already took. I’m definitely in the place where I feel like I have more energy than I do, which means I crash a bit at night, and mornings feel like a challenge (although challenging mornings are sort of par for the course for my entire life).

Because I’m feeling like I have my energy back for the most part, and because I’m increasingly happy with how my body looks as it heals, I’m getting really excited about the prospect of self-care in the form of exercise. The problem is that I can’t really exert myself yet, and so I have all of this motivation to work out and very little ability to act on it for the next two or three weeks, by which point the motivation may or may not still be there. Meanwhile, I’m researching various gym and fitness program options and trying to figure out what my budget is for that.

The most exciting news from my week was that I learned that my insurance officially paid for surgery. I may still have a small portion to pay depending on how the hospital billed, but the $30,000+ bulk of the surgery has been covered, and that is an enormous relief!

It’s a Process

Holy shit, it’s September!

That’s about as coherent as my thoughts have gotten over the past few days. I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job with anxiety management lately, but as October draws closer, I find I’m often just a big old bundle of nerves.

I’m still waiting on a letter from my doctor that is a crucial part of raising my chances of having insurance cover surgery next month (if I’m lucky, I’ll have the letter by the end of the day today).

Once I have that letter in hand, I can turn it (along with the letter from my therapist) in to the surgeon’s office, who will submit all of that to my insurance, and then I cross all appendages and wait to hear if I’m covered, or if I’m going to be in a whole lot more credit card debt at the end of all of this.

Still, despite the anxiety, things are going pretty well. I am constantly reminded that my people are the best people, and I am super grateful for that. I have such a great support system, and multiple creative outlets, and a cute, cozy place to live with the love of my life. So even though I have several thousand dollars of credit card debt that might be about to double hanging over my head, I feel like I can’t really complain too much. I’m finally in a place where I feel like things really are going to work out, somehow.

Short and Sweet

I realize I’m a little late posting this today. Sorry about that! The cold I thought I’d managed to kick last week came back with a vengeance, and I have spent the past few days feeling pretty miserable. I still sound horrible today, but at least I’m back at  work and feeling a little more human.

That said, I don’t actually have a whole lot to write about. So here’s a quick list of things I’m looking forward to in the near future:

  1. Top surgery is now officially less than two months away. I’m in the process of pulling together the documentation I need to bring to my next visit with the surgeon. I’m looking forward to getting it all over with, and I am looking forward to having three whole weeks off from work.
  2. One of our favorite folk musicians is playing a couple of places in town in the next couple of weeks. It’s always a pleasure to hear him play, and it looks like we’ll be able to catch a couple of his shows.
  3. More than anything, at the moment I am looking forward to a weekend spend hanging out with my partner (whose birthday is tomorrow!) as we both work on recovering from our respective colds.

Anxiety Management

Some of you may have noticed that there was no Accidental Fudge post last week. I did not intend to take a hiatus – truth be told, I spent most of last Wednesday and Thursday more than half convinced it was Friday, and it was Thursday night before I realized I hadn’t posted anything, at which point I felt like I really didn’t have much to say. So I apologize for that.

July is a packed month for us this year – visits from family and friends, plus a music festival, all on different weekends. It’s a little overwhelming to look at it all at once, so I’m trying to stay focused on a week or so at a time.

I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed and distracted the past few weeks. ManicBrain has come and settled itself in with no indication of when it might vacate the premises. Which isn’t so bad, as long as I can remember that it’s the reason I’m overwhelmed and distracted. It’s when I get so distracted that I forget…that’s when problems happen. Thankfully, I’ve been managing to stay pretty on top of things.

One of the biggest things I’m working on right now is managing my anxiety. I deal with differing levels and types of anxiety depending on where I’m at in my Bipolar cycle, but it’s pretty omnipresent lately, and that’s no fun. For anyone who’s interested and/or looking for ways to do this themselves, here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • I quit drinking regular coffee. Cold turkey.
    • I will still indulge in some decaf cold brew from our favorite coffee shops (or that we make at home), but mostly, I’m just getting really into tea.
    • Caffeine in small amounts is okay…in coffee-sized amounts, it does seem to amplify my anxiety.
    • I’ve been drinking coffee since age 12, so this was a big step, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. Mostly, I was just really sleepy for a couple of weeks.
  • I cut waaaaaaaaay back on my access to social media on my phone. I didn’t go as far as the author of this article, but I used some of the ideas there.
    • I deleted a lot of apps, including all the retail apps I sometimes get into the bad habit of searching late at night (Amazon, eBay, and Etsy were the big ones).
    • I removed the shortcut to Facebook in my phone’s browser, and turned off the “frequently visited sites” feature. And I committed to logging out of Facebook whenever I’ve finished checking it.
    • I also disabled my phone’s ability to use the web browser over anything but WiFi, which further limits the time I spend compulsively checking my phone.
    • Maybe it just means I’m lazy, but the fact that I’m not a couple of taps away from my news feed means that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve checked Facebook in the past ten days.
    • I left Instagram on my phone, because that’s my happy social media, which is way more carefully curated than my Facebook feed. Facebook has its uses, but it mostly just makes me sad/angry/stressed out.
  • I started developing a morning routine for myself.
    • I’m a creature of habit. As much as I sometimes like to be spontaneous and try new things, I am most comfortable in familiar places and patterns.
    • I was already kind of in a morning routine, but it mostly consisted of getupbrushteethgetdressedrunoutthedoor.
    • I’ve been pushing myself to get up earlier, so that I have time to do more calming things in my morning routine.
    • Now the routine regularly includes a quick tarot spread, a few minutes spent jotting down thoughts about the cards, and at least ten minutes of meditation. Which brings us to the last point…
  • I joined Headspace and started mediating in the morning.
    • This was unplanned. At the end of my company’s employee appreciation week last week, we were given a link and a code to get a free year of full access to the site. It sounded interesting, and since it wasn’t costing me anything, I figured I’d give it a try.
    • The little ten minute meditative sessions in the morning have been great, and I tend to feel a lot less stressed before work when I do them.
    • I do get distracted a lot, but the whole system is very low-pressure, which is really helpful for my scattered brain these days.

This is not a foolproof plan, and I’m still dealing with anxiety. But I feel like I’m building up a good selection of resources and healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with it.

How about you, friends? How are you managing anxiety these days?

Things are Looking Up

Last week was awfully full of feelings, many of them rather negative.

This past week has been full of feelings, too, but largely of a more positive variety.

Last Thursday night, my partner and I went to a songwriting workshop at the Old Town School put on by one of Mouths of Babes, one of our favorite folk duos. It was phenomenal and inspiring and made me want to write all the songs.

I haven’t really had time yet to start on writing all the songs, though. Friday morning I picked up a giant rental SUV before work, and that evening, my partner and I went to IKEA, where we picked up four pieces of furniture and a handful of other organizational tools. Saturday was spent building furniture and rearranging most of our apartment. We finished up Sunday, and even had time to go to MSI with a friend and then to a Mouths of Babes concert (which was also phenomenal and inspiring).

And then Monday came.

Monday evening, a friend arrived in town who will be staying with us for a total of almost two weeks. My partner and I can’t take any time off during the week, but we’re looking forward to playing tourist a bit over the weekend and take advantage of some city sites we haven’t taken in yet in the 3+ years we’ve lived here!

But before that, on Monday, I worked half a day, and then went to a consultation appointment with a surgeon here in Chicago who, among other things, performs gender-affirming chest masculinization surgery for transmasculine folks.

The appointment went really, really well – the surgeon was charming and knowledgeable, and considering the rather intense anxiety I generally have regarding medical facilities, professionals, and procedures, I felt surprisingly safe.

Long story short, I set a date for surgery, so come October, I will be getting two literal weights off my chest. I am unbelievably happy, and far less anxious than I was a week ago now that I have that giant unknown better nailed down.

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