Archives for category: health

This particular blog post is about several things that are more than a little interconnected, but probably also entirely coincidental, and more likely still? I may not actually ever get around to mentioning any of those details in any specific way, because I’ve got this headache “peering over my shoulder” and distracting me. I sip ginger ale in a dark room. My tinnitus is louder than my computer, and I double-check to “see that it’s on” and laugh, immediately realizing how fucking dumb that actually is; I’m at the keyboard, writing. God damn this headache makes me fucking stupid. 0_o How annoying.

I’ve been very introspective these past few days. June 25th has some gravitas these days – the anniversary of my Mother’s death. It’s also got some serious joy – the anniversary of buying our home (we did not select the date). “Mixed emotions” doesn’t even come close to explaining where this put my head these last few days, as we approach the 1st anniversary of the date we actually moved into our home. So many boxes! Last year, all of the days between those dates were midst the COVID-19 pandemic, in the early months of “the lockdown”… strange to discuss it in months, but here we all are. I write a few more grim sentences, then remember I honestly don’t know enough to legitimately have an opinion of some of these things. I delete them, and let my mind wander.

It was hot this week. Like…intensely bold-red-text-heat-warning hot. No kidding. It was… Phoenix hot. Fresno hot. Death Valley hot.

I’m not even exaggerating.

Fortunately, it cooled off quite a bit day by day. It was so hot I couldn’t think. Writing would have put more heat into my studio, so I kept it to the minimum needed to work, and then shut everything down. My Traveling Partner and I mostly sat around bitching about the heat, keeping the things as cool as we could, in darkened rooms, drinking water. Is it weird that my recollection of those hot days is pretty pleasant? I enjoyed my partner’s company when I wasn’t working, and I’ve no memory of discord or fussing at each other. We were a team fighting a common “enemy” – the heat. We were armed with ice cream and humor. LOL Much fun was had by all. I mean… that’s how I remember it.

Memory is weird. I’d link a particular song that comes to mind…but I can’t remember the title… and then, when I do, I can’t find a link to it… I’m no longer sure I’m remembering it correctly, at all.

…On the other hand…I clearly remember exactly what a summer night in Maryland smells like, how it sounds, how the humid air clings relentlessly to sweat…

Memory is weird.

…I had forgotten how much I like ginger ale…

I sit quietly awhile, just listening to my tinnitus and sipping ginger ale. I could do without the headache that persists in hanging out with me. I rub my neck and remind myself it won’t last indefinitely – what ever does?

…Wow. That went downhill fast. LOL

Roses in my garden

It’s summer, I guess, for real. Hotter summers now, that seems clear. The summers definitely were not this hot 10 years ago (and more recently than that, Portlanders could be heard making jokes about “June-uary”, because summer didn’t really arrive until July). My garden didn’t die this year, when the heat came; my Traveling Partner set up a simple drip irrigation system for me. My tomatoes did not seem to suffer with the heat at all, quite the contrary; I think we’re going to have “too many tomatoes”. LOL Win. 🙂

This headache, though…

Time to begin again.

I can’t even string together enough swear words to adequately describe the pain I am in this morning. It’s just physical pain. It’s even mostly the “healthy pain” of spending a day working in the garden, stooping, bending, lifting, digging, kneeling, standing, reaching… all good stuff. Fuck I hurt though. That pain on top of my arthritis, on top of my [whatever the fuck is wrong with this bullshit] neck/headache pain – it’s a lot. I’m sipping a very good cup of coffee this morning, working on shrugging off the pain, to get started on the Sunday routine – housekeeping, chores, upkeep. The details of having good quality of life do not take care of themselves. (Note: if you think that the details of having good quality of life “just sort of happen”, then I suggest you look around for that person who is clearly caring for your clueless ass and say “thank you” once in a fucking while, and oh yeah – how about helping out?)

It was a lovely day in the garden, yesterday. There’s more to get done (I didn’t quite finish, even with my Traveling Partner’s help): there are yet a handful of dahlia tubers to plant, some final tidying up of beds (for this go ’round), and tools to put away. I enjoyed the work, and the effort. I am pleased with the results. I focus on those things, and turn my attention away from the pain I am in. That, and good self-care now, are the best I can do. Some yoga and pain management first thing when I woke, and hopefully once this coffee is done, I’ll be in fair shape for the chores ahead.

If you’re reading this as a healthy fit twenty-something, feeling immune to the aches and pains, and possibly just the tiniest bit dismissive or smug about your fitness, I have only this to say; your turn will come. 🙂 I don’t mean in a harsh way, I’m just saying that I understand that you “don’t get it” – we don’t know what we don’t know. I didn’t get it in my twenties, either. I couldn’t. It was outside my ability to truly understand. Enjoy ease and comfort and freedom of movement while they last you, my healthy fit friends of all ages. We’re all at risk of losing that fitness – whether through age or adversity – and once it is gone, it can be damnably difficult to get it back. (I keep working at that. Slow progress is still progress.)

Be kind to people. It’s unlikely that we know what someone else is really going through – even if they do try to tell us. Our own pain is typically the worst pain we know – and if it “isn’t that bad” we may not have a real reference with which to understand what someone else is going through. That’s as true for me as for anyone else. My partner tells me when he is in pain. I tell him. We hear each other. We earnestly seek to support each other with real care and consideration. We still can’t really know the pain the other one is experiencing. How bad is it, really? Well… I suspect it is always 100% “bad enough” that we do well to be kind to each other. I mean… that’s a small thing, isn’t it? So huge for the person we are being kind to, though. Oh, and when we’re in pain? When we’re suffering with it? Still, be kind. Sure, it’s an excuse one can offer for being a jerk to someone to say we are in pain. It’s even pretty real, right? Be kind, anyway. Pain hurts, for sure, and it can be a huge fucking challenge to muster one last shred of resilience to make that effort… but when we treat people poorly because we hurt, that person doesn’t feel our pain – only their own. From being hurt by being treated poorly. By us. Are you seeing how cyclical that can be? I’m just saying… it may be worth the effort all around, for all of us, every day, to be kind.

“I’m just being real.” I’m suggesting be kind instead. (Or, you know, in addition to being “real”… how about that?)

“I’m just giving helpful feedback.” I’m suggesting that if you must, that you do it in a kind way. Legitimately kind. If you can’t? Maybe don’t bother – especially if you weren’t asked for feedback.

“I’ve got my own shit to deal with.” Don’t we all? I’m just suggesting it may be less of a burden if you are also being kind to people you interact with.

“I’m all about ‘tough love’ and I’m only kind to people who deserve it.” It’s possible you’re missing the point of both “tough love” and kindness and I’m not sure what to say about that, at all. “Tough love” is about love. (It’s also about setting reasonable boundaries to avoid letting someone abuse your affection… seems like it would be possible to do so with kindness, too. I don’t know. I’m not walking your mile.)

Kindness may not save the world, but have you seen what the lack of it does to the world? It’s in the news a lot. Hate crimes. Road rage killings. Family violence. Kindness is a lot less news-worthy, generally… but the outcomes are far better.

I feel like I’m on a bit of a rant. 🙂 It’s just the pain I am in coloring my experience. That’s why I’m on about it; I expect to needs these words, myself, as soon as I interact with my partner, neighbors, or the community beyond. This is a blog post I’ll re-read a number of times, today, as pain wears me down and I fight back for one more shred of resolve to get one more task completed. 🙂

Take care of yourself today. Take care of those dear to you. Be kind. We all need more kindness, day-to-day. If we’re not willing to provide it, how will those around us understand to proceed, themselves? “Please be kind to me, I’m having a tough time today” are not easy words to say… maybe we would do well to practice, that, too? Anyway… practices need fewer words, and more practicing, and here it is, already time to begin again. 😉

Raindrops on a rose bud.

My Traveling Partner is quite human, but he’s also right about a great many things. 🙂 I definitely needed this break! He was right about that. My boss must have agreed, because he encouraged me to head out even a bit earlier than I’d planned to do, on Friday. It was a lovely extra, too; I spent the morning with my Traveling Partner, instead of working, before I headed for the coast for the weekend. We enjoyed our morning coffee together. Talked about garden plans, home improvement plans, and how much we would miss each other. 🙂

…I have greatly enjoyed missing my partner for a couple days. I do miss him, though, with my whole heart – he’s rarely more than a heartbeat from my thoughts – and I am ready to return home, to his welcoming embrace… to my own bed… my own shower… our pleasantly comfortable little home… the merry wave of a neighbor… and, omg, the mild lovely Spring weather. LOL (It’s been rather uniformly gray at the beach, this weekend, amusingly enough.)

The Alchymist finally in the ground (it’s been almost 10 years in a container).

…I wonder if The Alchymist finished opening up the blooms on the long graceful bud covered cane I’ve been watching with such delight? I wonder how my tomatoes (planted just last week) are doing? I sip my coffee and think about love… and lunch. For all the ordinary things I miss, right now, there’s also this awareness that I was missing out on a lot of the joy in them, because my brain was just so fucking fatigued, and my “buffers” so overloaded I could not process new information easily, or even just “find my joy” in simple pleasures. Too tired. It wasn’t a physical thing at all. My partner’s well-wishes as I prepared for the weekend away had included something very telling – he said “have fun being bored!” He gets it; I just needed to put shit on pause. Like, for real, just “stop everything” and chill. Walk. Nap. Write – maybe. Paint? Maybe. I came prepared with watercolor gear and sketchbooks… I never touched any of it, nor opened my Kindle to read. LOL

…As it turned out, I mostly just walked, and napped. LOL I meditated, sitting on the shore, listening to the waves approach and recede. Listening to the wind in my ears. I sat on the balcony of my hotel room, watching the ocean be an ocean, and listening to the passing seagulls ask about my day. I gazed into the milky gray cloudy sky for hours. Now and then I ventured out to walk along the beach again. Mostly, I spent time with my own thoughts, my own feelings, my own experience, without judgement or attachment or assumptions or expectations or inflicting any sort of demands upon myself. It was time I needed.

Chilly, windy, and gray

You know what I didn’t do? I didn’t write. I didn’t read. I didn’t paint. I didn’t sketch. I didn’t go out for fancy meals or explorations of the retail scene. I didn’t interact with many people. I didn’t have much cause to use words aloud or hear the sound of my own voice, aside from a couple welcome phone calls with my partner. I simply did the thing I needed most; I embraced the solitude and quiet, and let myself “catch up” mentally, and get some cognitive rest. Funny thing, although I was initially a bit disappointed about the gray coastal weather, I realize looking at it now that it was quite perfect for the need; almost featureless unexciting skies, and the ceaseless somewhat uniform sound of wind and waves didn’t add any “excitement” or eye-catching wonder to the vista beyond the balcony. 🙂 It was as a neutral canvas, blank, and ready to be painted upon with my choices.

…I say that, though, about the skies and the weather, as if it is “true”, solidly real, and “final”. It isn’t a complete picture at all; it’s subjective, and quite selective, as far as recollections go. It’s equally true that yesterday the afternoon was quite sunny (although the massive cloud bank that had wrapped the shoreline Friday – and again this morning – appeared only to “pull back a bit”, and never wholly dissipated). 🙂 Funny how that works. I am reminded how much of my individual experience is created within my own head – and how real that still feels. It’s worth being aware of that; it gives me so much power to change my experience of my life. That’s a lot of power.

What is also true.

I’ve finished my coffee. It’s still quite early. There is ample time for another walk along the beach before I return home. Time, even for another coffee. 🙂 There is, too, time to begin again. 🙂 I feel much more ready for that than I have in awhile. 🙂

I slept okay. My coffee was fine. The morning was routine and sufficiently pleasant to be quite unremarkable. Work is going smoothly. The day has some sunshine. Some clouds. My appointment with my VA doctor seemed productive. The biscuits I made from scratch last night were delightful, and even this morning, cold, they were tasty. It’s an adequately lovely Tuesday.

I’ve got a raging headache, today. I am fatigued from dealing with my headache, and my arthritis pain. My fierce commitment to doing the most skillful possible transition as I leave one employer for another is also contributing to my fatigue. I feel… “over it”. Tired. Much of the fatigue is “cognitive fatigue” – I’m not actually sleepy. Nonetheless, I’d happily crash right out for a nap, right now, this very minute, if I actually thought there was any chance at all I might actually sleep and wake rested.

My Traveling Partner is in pain today, too. We are careful to be considerate and kind with one another. As days go, this one is… “fine”, for all imaginable positive impressions of the word “fine” as applied to how days go. lol Sincerely, authentically, “fine”. No better. No worse. I even feel a mighty measure of gratitude that the day is indeed going so well. It’s enough, at the moment, for this moment to be the moment that it is busy being. “Sufficiency” isn’t fancy. LOL Today it’s just “fine”.

I keep thinking about going for a walk. My feet itch to hit the trail. My back resists with the full weight of today’s pain. I don’t actually “feel up to it”, pain-wise. Probably be good for me, anyway…

…I think ahead to dinner. Ennui. No imagination. No fucks to give. Yep. Cognitive fatigue. Shit. So… I dunno.

I’ll have to figure out where/when to begin again. 🙂

An emotional storm of unexpected magnitude blew in from deep within the darkest recesses of lingering chaos and damage. Maybe it’s my “fault” – it nearly always feels like it must be. I am, after all, the broken one in many interactions. It is, at least, how I often see myself. It feels, in such moments, as if “it” (meaning my experience of self in the context of my own life) is inescapable. An ugly tantrum. Hurt feelings all around. Yelling. My explosion of emotion. My tears. My apologies.

…This shit again??…

I can’t seem to hold on to the slippery recollection of how rare this really is these days, post-menopause. I’m reluctant to point to “hormones” as a root cause (can’t I do better than be a slave to biology?), but in acknowledging a recent rare use of HRT, I find myself wondering.

It’s frustrating. Small issues blow up and become seemingly larger than life. A moment of frustration develops into a cesspool of futility and despair. I end up weighed down by baggage I thought I’d set down a long time ago. Fucking hell.

Breathe

Another coffee. Another moment. A break to stand in what remains of the morning’s sunshine, watching the storm on the horizon approach as if to mock me. Nah… It’s not that bad. I’m okay right now. I’m fortunate to be in a partnership with someone who loves me even beyond moments of tears or madness. It’s fucking hard, though. Having to apologize, again, while sweeping up shards of emotion, and mopping up tears… it’s not on my list of favorite experiences. I could do without it. I don’t mean the act of apology or experience of remorse and contrition – I mean having put myself in a position that earnestly requires it. That sucks. It’s very human. I still don’t like it.

My Traveling Partner doesn’t bullshit me when he’s angry, or hurt, or cross. We’re pretty real with each other. We find our way to a more comfortable place, emotionally, pretty quickly. He understands the trauma history, and the lasting damage. He has his own. We’re in this together, more than many people understand to be. It’s enough, generally, and fairly often it’s far more than enough. Doesn’t make a difficult moment less difficult in the moment, sometimes, although we do both try.

My tears dry. The ringing in my ears left over from my … whatever that shit was… will likely last the day. I mean, the tinnitus is always there, it’s just a bit worse right now. That’ll pass. So will this gray fog of ennui and anhedonia. I remind myself not to confuse these states as having any sort of permanence, and to allow them to pass as if clouds on the horizon. I remind myself they are only the chemical aftermath of strong emotions, and not to be taken personally.

…We begin again.