In which I’m just watching my mind be an asshole, because that’s what you do.

I smoked cigarettes for 30 years. I was at the point where my lungs felt dry, I couldn’t get a deep breath, and walking three blocks made me pant.

I quit smoking by switching to vaping, because patches and gum didn’t work, and I wasn’t willing to try Chantix. When I made the switch, I read everything I could find about vaping and determined that vaping was not zero-harm, but was most probably significantly lower harm than smoking.

That was a year ago. My lungs feel much, much better! I can walk to Pancho Villa’s and back without panting. My voice sounds better. I don’t think about smoking at all, and I think about vaping very little: when leaving the house I no longer feel compelled to bring my nicotine delivery system, I just go. It’s great.

The other day I read a Skeptical Raptor round-up about vaping. The take-away was, essentially, we don’t know what, if any, harms are associated with vaping, really, but it does seem like you might maybe possibly be exposing yourself to more formaldehyde than you should. Aaaaaand my stupid brain latched onto that, and I spent the rest of the day being afraid of vaping but doing it anyway. And like a tongue worrying a loose tooth, my mind is still trying to be upset about the topic and provide me not with solutions, but just vague dread and worry and self-pity. Nothing like, “Well, perhaps it’s time to set a plan for quitting vaping,” just vague dread. Nothing like, “Is your need to vape greater than your fear of possible formaldehyde over-exposure?” Just nervousness and anxiety and feeling bad.

Another example. Human hair sheds all the time, constantly. For me, about every 36 months I experience a few months of my hair shedding out more heavily than usual, probably because for some reason there are just a bunch of follicles on the same cycle, and because I’m vain and aging is weird, I dislike it. I mentioned my feels about hair shedding on social media yesterday and two people were all HAVE YOU CHECKED UR THYROID. So I rolled my eyes and went and looked up the information on hypo- and hyperthyroidism again, and yes, while I do have a number of the symptoms mentioned, half are from the hypo- side and the other half are from the hyper- side, so, yeah, no. It’s much more likely I’m subject to normal shedding cycles and, based on my older relatives’ hair, genes, thanks.

But now my stupid mind is trying to obsess over those “symptoms,” all of which are also consistent with hormonal changes typical to women of my age, while ignoring all the symptoms I don’t have and the fact that you can’t have a simultaneously over- AND underactive thyroid. It’s trying to give me an anxiety attack. Because it’s a bastard.

I’m not sick. Nothing hurts. My life is so nice that I never use an alarm clock! I sleep, every day, until I wake up naturally! I live a block or three from everything. I have incredibly fast fiber-to-the-home, money in the bank, and two vacations planned! I am pampered, lucky, well-cared for, and fine.

Except for my stupid mind, which wants me to have anxiety and panic attacks anyway. It wants me to be afraid of things over which I have no control, while frequently ignoring things I should be afraid of — it let me smoke for 30 years, unironically! It let me do cocaine, a street drug of unknowable dosage and provenance, for several years, without a peep of worry — and obsessing instead over dumb things! My mind is afraid of the regulated, properly-dosed OTC drugs you might buy to treat a bad cold, but was never worried about street drugs. Because it fucking sucks at risk-assessment and is irrational.

Conclusion: my mind is an idiot, and, because it never shows up when there’s actual statistical likelihood of danger (riding in a car, for example), anxiety is non-information and should always be ignored.

The Dread

May 30th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Panic & Anxiety - (0 Comments)

In which there was a sensation and I freaked the fuck out: another boring-ass post about my anxiety disorder, because I bring the content!

Woke up weirdly early, like 7:30 or so, and though I did try, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Eventually got really hungry, as one does if she’s awake long enough, so got up and had a cup of coffee, and made some hash browns, facon, and a poached egg.

After eating I went outside and dug up a bit of the turf where the tomatoes will go, then came in and swept the kitchen and living room, and hand-scrubbed the kitchen floor. Go, me!

Sat down on my ass in front of the computer, found a show to watch on Acorn (‘Delicious,’ with Dawn French, which is much darker than I’d expected because I guess I’d assumed it was a comedy). Scrolled Twitter and Facebook like an asshole, as if it were some sort of reward for doing a couple of chores rather than an absolute and utter waste of time. Realized it’d been hours since I’d eaten already and that I was hungry again, damn it. Was going to eat leftover rice and chickpea curry, but they’d gone off, so I threw some veggie tots in the oven. Mixed up a little bit of fry sauce while they baked.

Brought my treat to my desk, pushed play on the vid, and began to eat, cross-legged in my office chair, chin a couple of inches above the surface of the desk.

Sudden, weird fluttering in my chest, like a bird trapped. No pain or discomfort, lasted maybe three seconds, but scared the shit out of me. During, I stuck my index on my pulse but by the time I’d found it the flutter was over and my heartbeat seemed, well, fine, if a little fast. Realized I was slouched forward and so I sat up straight, adrenaline just coursing through me because holy fuck did my heart just fuck up?!?!… and burped.

Sat here freaking the fuck out for a moment, as you do when you have a panic disorder, then started googling shit like ‘esophageal flutter.’ Burped again. Immediately realized that searching symptoms would just end in shit about heart defects and cause a full-fledged panic attack, so I closed the tab, breathed deep, and pulled my plate to me.

Finished eating my tiny plate of tots, had a couple more burps, and… well, haven’t died.

My shoulders are so tight they’re up by my ears now, and I have the nervous energy and delusion that I’m dizzy and bouncy leg of a fairly acute anxiety attack, so I’ll need to get up and go do laundry or something, to keep myself moving until I forget I’m nervous.

Who am I kidding, I’ll probably just sit here and marinate in my own juices.

Ah, fuck the dread. Seriously. Although I guess I’d rather have the dread of modern living rather than, say, the plague, or the various other much more dangerous afflictions of the past. The dread fucking sucks, but at least it isn’t actually fatal.

Sigh.

Eyes

May 23rd, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Health | Weather - (0 Comments)

In which there’s an appointment.

It had clouded over a little, sure, and was only in the 50’s when I checked the weather, but it didn’t say anything about rain online. Notification on my phone said, at 1:46, when I checked, that the rain would end by 2 PM. I looked out the window but it wasn’t raining. Grabbed a vest anyway (so glad I did) and headed out.

By the time I’d carried my bike up the stairs and opened the door, it was raining.

I was soaked within three blocks!

Arrived, locked up my bike, squeezed the water out of my hair, and went inside, dripping on the carpet. Receptionist gave me some paperwork, which I had just finished filling out when Doctor Hansen came out to get me. Did I have my glasses with me? No. Did I have my prescription? Yes, I’ve written it down on a post-it. Did I have insurance? Yes, but not optical. What was my insurance? Hennepin Health. They do optical, give me your card.

Apparently I do have insurance? It doesn’t say optical on the card, and I don’t remember seeing it mentioned in the paperwork, but I got the full exam and was told to order a pair of glasses because the insurance covers it!

I can’t remember ever having eye insurance. Thanks, Obama!

The prescription I wrote down made no sense to the doctor and did not match at all what Pearle Minnetonka faxed over. It matches what’s stamped on my contacts boxes, but I have no idea what any of it means. The doctor said something along the lines of my actual prescription being so different from what I’d written down that he’d have had to worry about things like acute diabetes or organ failure or something. He ripped up my post-it and threw it out.

Note to self: next time you see the optometrist, bring your glasses and the print-out of your previous prescription!

For the record, I still don’t enjoy having my eyes dilated, but it wasn’t half as bad as it was the last time when I had to sit in my truck in the parking lot for two hours before I could see well enough to drive! (It occurs to me now that that doctor may have used too large or too strong a dose.) I was able to see well enough to ride my bike home, but everything’s still weird-looking nearly two hours later.

Doctor says my prescription isn’t changing much at all (which surprises me, considering I’ve upped the strength of my readers and have a hard time seeing my journal well enough to actually write in it) and tells me not to drive with mono vision lenses. My new glasses — which are large and chunky and a clear dark blue — will be distance-only since I take them off to read anyway, and should be ready in a couple of weeks.

The doctor was concerned with the idiotic cluster of zits under my left eye. How long has that been there? (Three days.) Advised me to “see the dermatologist if it doesn’t clear up.” (I didn’t go into how I’d messed with the area the day before with a pair of sharp tweezers and some rubbing alcohol, and that that ill-advised behavior, along with the proximity to the delicate under-eye tissue, might be why it looked weirder than your standard garden variety blemishes.)

Excited to get new contacts and new glasses! Even more excited if the insurance really does cover the entire exam plus the new glasses; I’d been expecting to drop $99 for the exam plus the contacts, but only had to pay for the contacts themselves!

I was really chilled and my shirt and vest and messenger bag were cold and damp by the time I left an hour later, and the ride home was therefore cooler than I’d have liked, but some warm socks and a dry long-sleeved tee put me to rights. I might need some sort of rain jacket, if I’m going to keep getting monsooned on when I’m out on the bicycle. I was completely drenched when I got home from the grocery store last week!

Need to drop a couple of packages off at The UPS Store over on Hennepin Avenue, but my eyes still feel so weird I’ll have to do it tomorrow.

Another ride

May 10th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Life | Panic & Anxiety - (0 Comments)

I’m so fucking high strung, you guys.

So I woke up this morning, had a hummus/tabouli/falafel/feta lettuce wrap, drank some water, decided being awake was stupid, and went back to bed ’til afternoon.

Detail

Got up a second time, had some water, rearranged my very dirty hair, put on eyeliner, dressed, took my shit out of one bag and put it into another, and went for a bike ride.

Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. No one to see. It was so easy when I lived in a small town and didn’t have a car. Got my exercise in without noticing, in the form of transportation.

It was raining. Low-seventies. Nice light spring rain.

It rained

Rode to the Midtown Global Market again. Locked up my bike, under a tree to help keep the seat dry. Went inside.

Walked around for a few minutes. Realized I was hungry. Walked around until I found a place selling chile rellenos. Ordered some. Wandered over to a coffee shop. Didn’t buy coffee. Felt anxious and weird, dizzy maybe, and realized that my vision isn’t really up to dealing with very high-information environments: the two different prescriptions, both out of date, plus the addition of the floaters that have been slowly and regularly increasing over time, make my brain feel weird.

Chose a table. Took out my readers and a magazine. Leg bounced. Felt like I just wanted to get back on my bike. Uncomfortable. Not an anxiety attack yet, but close. Also, the body, so unaccustomed to exercise, feeling different than usual.

I had cheese chile rellenos

“Number one seventy one? Do you want salsa?”

“Please.”

“Mild or hot?”

“Hot.”

“Green or red?”

“Red. Thank you.”

Sat down to eat. Can’t really see my food; really need to get in to see the optometrist. Put my readers on. Methodically and rapidly devoured a chile relleno. Unwrapped the tortillas. Cut the other chile relleno into thirds. Made three chile relleno tacos. Wrapped them up. Took off my readers. Cleared my table. Got a container from the counter and put my tacos into my messenger bag.

Walked around the market some more. Really should have enjoyed it, because it’s really the sort of place I would enjoy, with all the international stuff and all the interesting people, but didn’t. Just wanted to get the fuck out, get back on my bike, move, use up some energy. All the little shops: didn’t go in. Last time I was there, last winter sometime, I saw a really great top in one of the booths. Didn’t even look for it. Walked by the coffee place again, decided I didn’t need a drink because I had a water bottle on the bike. Really not feeling at all normal. Just being here is fucking difficult. What the actual fuck. I have nothing to do until work at 6 tonight, and I came here to sit and read and write, didn’t I? What the fuck is even wrong with me?

Sat down at a table in the central seating area. Readers and magazine out. Knee bouncing, I made it fewer than five minutes before I got up and left.

The rain had stopped.

Unlocked my bike, tied up my right pant leg, and off I went.

Nice ride. Much better. Leg muscles working felt good, damp air felt good, the lilacs are finally in bloom.

Most of the Midtown Greenway is in an old train corridor, beneath the streets and safe from traffic. Saw Mexicans under the overpasses. Some were singing. One was sleeping.

My Schwinn

Pulled over at a rock and sat for a few minutes. Thought it would be a nice place to meditate, but didn’t want to mediate. Wanted to go the fuck home and relax. Got up, rode the last thirty feet to the Soo Line Garden, dismounted, and pushed my bike up the bark trail to street level.

Flushed, hot, inwardly shaking my head at how honestly hard it is to walk my bike up a steep hill, almost there, almost at the top, slow steps, at least nothing hurts.

Still aware of how floaters confuse my brain’s interpretation of what I’m seeing and what’s moving when I’m outside and the light is bright. I don’t notice them at all in familiar or low-light situations, but out in public in bright light there’s a sensation that everything is moving, even though it’s not, and my response to weird vision and being in public is to ratchet everything up, fight-or-flight style. My internal experience is one of great agitation and intensity and nervousness, and I’m having to deliberately focus on the feel of the air and the smells and all the nice nature around me rather than the quite frankly irrelevant internal experience.

Meanwhile, while all this weird shit is going on, simmering half a degree below a full-blown goddamned panic attack, I look like a pleasant, plump, white lady, slowly walking her retro bike up a hill through a garden, wearing black linen palazzo pants and a slouchy V-neck, meditation beads and a messenger bag. Really makes you realize that nothing is how it looks. You see someone and have no idea what it’s like to be them; who knows what goes on in the skulls of other pleasant-looking, plump, white ladies?

They’re probably all mad geniuses but too pleasant to say so, or gacked out of their head on street drugs just walking along, looking like somebody’s grandmother, smiling pleasantly.

In which there’s a map, and a bangle of sorts!

Google Maps never really does well with the Greenway, but this is, more or less, my path for the day.

Ride

(I still can’t tell, honestly, if I’m charmed by the knowledge that my Android phone tells Google Maps everywhere I go, or freaked out.)

In the early afternoon, I stopped on the corner for a jar of delicious iced coffee and a salad to go, and then I rode to the lake, sat my fat ass in the grass behind my bike, ate, and then I rode home again.

It occurred to me that going to the park specifically to eat was an excellent fat-girl behavior! Hi, I’m fat and I’m the only person in sight who is eating! I just ate and took off. Didn’t even walk out on the floating dock I love so much. Oink!

Lake Calhoun

Fucked around at the apartment for a couple hours, but wanted to go ride some more. So in the late afternoon I rode the Greenway in the other direction, east, and bought dinner from the Midtown Global Market — a cheeseburger for him, falafel for me — so not only did I spend a bunch of money today for no reason (there are plenty of groceries in the kitchen) but I rode 5 miles!

Now, the ride to the Midtown Global Market is a fuckin’ breeze, and you’re, like, Oh, yeah, I got this, my quads are in better shape than I thought, far the fuck out. But the ride home? Is ever-so-slightly all uphill and OMG IT half KILLED me.

But still, I rode five miles today, voluntarily and on purpose, for fun, by which miracle I conclude that this RoadID bracelet, which arrived in the mail today, is magic.

Five miles isn’t far, of course, but it’s a lot more than no miles!

Anyway, it’s basically dog tags for your wrist:

RoadID

Apparently, if you get knocked off your bike in a car accident, your shit usually ends up many feet away from your person, and often isn’t found until after you’re off in an ambulance. So I figured, since this is a super high-traffic neighborhood, everybody here drives like they have PMS, and I’m usually alone when I’m out walking or riding, some wearable ID would be a good idea.

Name, age, location, emergency contact, medical information: apparently these details are fantastically useful to EMTs when an injured person is unconscious.

Now, I guess if you’re sporty, you put some kind of motivational motto on the bottom line, like SHUT UP LEGS or some shit, but I’m not so I put a mantra. And the badge thingy on the left is a custom ‘OM’ symbol. Custom! OM!

I briefly considered the ‘BIKE’ badge, because I ride a bike and have done for the past decade, but I’m hardly a real cyclist, like those skinny nerds with all their clothes and gear, so I figure it would have been weird. I’m riding along in Thai fisherman’s pants and a Hanes cotton t-shirt, right? I’d probably be publicly shamed for appropriating jock culture or some shit, amirite? YOU’RE NOT WEARING WICKING LYCRA, YOU HIPPIE, YOU CAN’T HAVE THE ‘BIKE’ BADGE UNTIL YOU DO A TRIATHLON. IN NEON LYCRA!

To conclude: I am older than I’ve ever been and in tremendously bad shape, but it felt so great to look at things that are green and flowering and to smell the spring breeze and to move and to ride along the lovely Midtown Greenway!

Such a gorgeous day! Yay!

Oh, great. Not.

May 1st, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Panic & Anxiety - (2 Comments)

In which there’s a tostada.

Tostada

I made the salsas and the guac and fried the tortilla. I even put on a pot of pinto beans, but they’re not done yet. I mean, I made salsa. Look at this shit.

Making salsa Salsa

And then about a third of the way through eating the glorious thing with the delicious salsa on it, I had a panic attack — first one in awhile — and now it’s just sitting there, getting soggy, and I’m sitting here twitching and freaking out and I have a fan pointed at me because I think there might be a hot flash component, maybe? But I’m definitely dying.

Heart attack, maybe organ failure. You know how it is.

I went to the site I used to go to when having panic attacks, but it’s dead. Looks like the last post was a year ago, and the login no longer works and the forum posts are there but filled with database errors.

Fingers are numb, heart is pounding, dizzy, tense: the works. God, but I do hate me a panic attack!

Although the process of writing this post, together with Rainy Mood in another tab, has gotten me most of the way through. I think I’ll get up and move around now… maybe put the rest of the delicious but only partially-eaten tostada away, and then maybe curl up because now, between the open window and the fan, I’m really cold. Of course.

May your day be panic and anxiety free!

In which I rather complain a little.

It’s 29F outside. I cracked the windows while I tidied did the dishes and made the bed, and it can’t be over 73F in here, but I’m overheating! Very hot water just used to be very hot water; these days it’s like I’m being tortured and my hands turn red and swell up! Just doing the damned dishes!

Then there’s the times I’m suddenly freezing and need a blanket, though nothing’s changed in the past half hour. Temperature regulation: I barely seem to do it anymore! How weird is that!

I will probably die this summer. It’s impossible to keep this apartment much under 80F even with blackout curtains, because the building is made of brick and both windows face south and have no awnings. The entire external wall just radiates heat all fucking day long all summer long, and the AC unit verges on useless. Last year I was miserable. I don’t know what I’ll do this year. Sit in the bathtub in the dark with ice cubes, I suppose. Or spend all day every day in an air conditioned coffee shop at five bucks an hour.

And I’ve been on a diet for, what, two months now? No pizza, no pasta, no lattes. I’d kill for a bowl of black beans and brown rice, let alone a nuked tray of cheesy, creamy, carbolicous Stouffer’s® mac & cheese! I’ve had maybe six pieces of bread, and all of it was 100% whole grain! I’m being good! Where are the results!

Breakfast

I keep refried beans, which used to be a staple of my diet, as a treat. (I know I said that in my last post, but OMG seriously. Fucking beans.)

I’m living on omelets, vegetables, cheese, hard boiled eggs, tofu, and miso. Shredded cabbage really doesn’t substitute for hashed browns, no matter how hard you try to pretend it does, and spaghetti squash gets old real quick, even drowning in cream sauce or marinara and cheese. I’m completely bored of Boca burger lettuce wraps and mugs of broth.

Lunch

All this deprivation and I should be getting results, no? No. I’ve lost a couple inches off my waist, and my ankles don’t bloat as much during The Curse. That’s about it. My fat feels ever-so-slightly less firm, maybe. I see no visual evidence of success, and while I do feel better, I’d like to also look better if I could, please!

Last time I did low carb (well, as low carb as one can as a vegetarian), the inches fell off. Now, my physiology has decided this fatness bullshit is my set point, and I get the feeling I will never not have jowls again. I can barely stand to see myself reflected in anything.

And I’m not eating any sugar! Once a week I let myself sweeten my coffee with Equal. I’ll have a 5 oz. glass of Crystal Light, for fuck’s sake, if I’m craving a soda or fruit juice, and even then I usually dilute it with unsweetened iced tea. I had some sugar-free jello a couple weeks ago. You try eating under 40g of carbs as a vegetarian. It’s ridiculous. (And honestly, at this point, I’m not even really a vegetarian for moral reasons: I just cannot eat flesh. My jaw won’t do it. My stomach won’t do it. I’m just as likely to eat your face as I am a cow.)

They really aren’t kidding about it getting harder to lose weight as one ages. It’s not harder, though, it’s impossible! Gah!

In which I’m dieting.

Tired (again) of being fat and miserable. Dieting (again) in an effort to be less fat and less miserable.

As a vegetarian, I find it very difficult to do really low-carb, so I’m doing a combination of “as few carbs as possible” and calorie restriction.

Eating a lot of eggs, tofu, Boca burgers, olives, and nuts.

Diet jello or Crystal Light when I’m desperate for a “treat.”

CURRENT STATUS: Desperate for a bowl of fettuccine Alfredo. Or mac ‘n’ cheese. Seriously. WANT. So, so bad.

I’m in my third week. I’ve lost a few inches off my waist, have more energy, and feel better overall. My nighttime teeth-grinding and snoring seem to be reducing. I’m meditating daily and ticking off the boxes on my housewifery list with much less struggle. My laundry is done. My mood is much improved (although being off the phones at work while I’m on the 90-day chat pilot also helps).

But I’m still fat. My current hip measurement is forty-three inches, which is insane for a person with a 30″ inseam.

Being fat is miserable. Fatigue, bloating, back pain, low energy, and a pervasive feeling of dis-ease and discomfort.

But beans are a huge part of my usual diet, and I’m missing them. (I had half a cup of refried beans yesterday, but they’re high in carbs, and so are rationed. I miss them.)

Tofu is so boring. OMFG. I fry it in ghee with spices, and put it in broth or eat it with sriracha mayo for dip, but it’s so boring.

Fried tofu

One gets bored of eggs. And you can only eat a single can of tuna per week if you don’t want to over-mercury yourself… so getting enough protein is hard when you’re a lacto-ovo pescatarian-who-is-really-mostly-vegetarian.

But seriously: a huge plate of creamy, gooey noooooodles, with garlic French bread?! And a lovely, light salad? Am I right?!

Or a broccoli-cheddar pot pie with lots of gravy, or a baguette with brie!

Gah!

Oh, well. No refined carbs for me. I guess it’s more omelets.

Feta omelet

I’M AWARE OF MY TONGUE!

January 17th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Health - (0 Comments)

In which I even googled it.

My tongue feels slightly too large for my mouth. My bite feels like it’s off. My mouth seems to be watering more than usual, but it’s hard to tell because normally I don’t notice how much I’m salivating.

But today I’m super-aware of it.

And it’s driving me nuts! It’s been this way all day today, and some of yesterday, and a few days last week, and I want it to stop!

I think I bit it last night in my sleep. (I have a new teeth-grinding thing I do in my sleep now, according to the hygienist I saw a couple of months ago and my subsequent self-observation. It’s dumb. Sleeping me just grinds the shit out of my teeth. What the fuck, sleeping me? Sometimes I make my own jaw muscles sore. Which is probably contributing to this tongue awareness problem I’m having.)

Since I suffer from neither thyroid problems or allergies and my anxiety is reasonably under control, I’ll just chalk it up to the new teeth-grinding thing and more of the joyful fun that is aging while female.

In which there’s a rant about the joyous experience of aging-while-female.

This piece about perimenopause made me laugh. Especially the line, “Last week, I cried because I saw a high school marching band coming down the street playing Stevie Wonder.” (I sobbed during the end of White Christmas last night, and I’ve seen the damn movie a dozen times. Shit, I nearly cried watching part of an episode of DS9.)

And this fuck-you-menopause rant was pretty great, too, mostly because I too have been asking myself why I feel like shit all the time for the past few years. (Although, to be fair, I don’t feel bad as much as I don’t feel good, if that makes any sense. I’m not in pain or anything, I’m just missing that throbbing vibrant good health of breeding-age hormones.)

I mean, I know there is much room for improvement. My diet’s pretty good most of the time, but not always. (I’m either eating homemade, additive-free soup and home-baked whole wheat sourdough or I’m horking down fries and a Frosty from Wendy’s. Sometimes I live on soup for a couple of days in a row. What the fuck do you want from me.) I definitely need to be more physically active, and, knowing that, I do asanas and mild calisthenics; I go on walks and bike rides (during the three months a year it isn’t 98F with 100% humidity or -11F with a fifteen degree wind chill factor). Sometimes I just do circuits around the apartment building because it sucks ass outside but there’s three storeys and a lot of stairs so it’s a pretty good walk.

But ye gods, this weight gain! The thinning hair! The jowls and the sagging skin! When I take the time to really look at it, I can barely recognize this body as mine. And what, just what the holy fuck has happened to my thighs? They’re horrific! Jiggly and squishy and weird-looking. There are fucking varicose veins appearing on my feet and legs! I HAVE DEAD SKIN ON MY HEELS, for fuck’s sake, AND IT’S GROSS. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.

My lovely 33-day menstrual cycle is now down to, what? Twenty-seven days? I have thirteen-and-a-half periods a year now, rather than 11! What bullshit!

And yeah, sometimes I go to pee and it’s a thimbleful. Fuck that; it’s a waste of time and toilet paper.

My nipples now officially point floor-ward. Do I care? No, not really. I mean, my identity isn’t substantially compromised, but yes, yes I fucking do care, because they didn’t used to and now they do and I haven’t done anything wrong and what’s the bloody point of this?

Sometimes I can’t sleep much, which is interesting for someone who spent most of her life having trouble staying wake, but not all that great. I generally use the time to meditate, read, or do chores. But being wide awake for no fucking reason is weird.

And then there’s the intense anxiety, the hammering heartbeat, and the miserable hot flashes. It is possible to be intensely miserable about absolutely nothing, you see, and it fucking SUCKS.

Then there’s the horrible heat intolerance that makes me very nearly incapable of accomplishing anything at all beyond basic metabolism all fucking summer. It has literally made me cry, just being too hot. How stupid is that? You can’t handle a little temperature! Your brain shuts down and in your misery and confusion you cry. You can’t even figure out that what you should do is go get in a cool shower; you just lie there and weep until your fiancee puts you in the truck and drives you around for the better part of an hour with the A/C on full blast and all the vents pointed at you. Eventually your brain boots back up and you say, “I should have taken a cool shower,” and he says, “I suggested that but you said no,” and you think: holy shit, what the fuck is wrong with me? I never used to have problems in hot weather. I never used to have a brain that would go offline, leaving me helpless and stupid.

It’s the subtle changes in nearly everything that just make me feel off, somehow, but not in any, like, emergency medical way, but in a is something wrong? sort of way. Dizziness. Bloating. Joint pain. Tingling extremities. Unexplained fatigue. Brittle nails! It’s a motherfucking laugh riot, this is.

You have no idea how robustly healthy you are until you find you’ve aged out of it. That constant background sense of well-being goes away and you find yourself forever listening for doom.

All the sites say the same shit: stay hydrated. Exercise. Keep a routine. Don’t drink or smoke. (I did quit smoking last spring, but I’m not interested in giving up the wine just yet.) Exercise. Take psych meds. Exercise. Consider hormone therapy if your symptoms are awful. Exercise. Avoid caffeine. Exercise. (One almost senses a trend.)

They also say a lot of stupid shit, even the apparently bona fide medical sites, too, like “take vitamins” or “get acupuncture,” which is troubling, since neither supplements or acupuncture do anything but separate one from her money, but my species is not generally known for its logic.

Let it be known that I am soooo not looking forward to “night sweats,” which is a thing women get, apparently. They sound fucking awful.

Just now I’m feeling more okay than usual, for which I am grateful, and I’m getting cleaning and laundry done while I’m feeling sprightly. But sometimes it’s about all I can do to keep up with the dishes and make the bed every day, let alone exercise or be creative.

Also: not to whine or sound vain, but I want my hair back. This shit on my head now is baby-fine, straight, brittle, and thin. Three years ago it would still curl, if I put product in it and scrunched it under a hair dryer just so; now it’s just straight. It’s like somebody else’s hair altogether. And I color it not because I care about the grey, but because it gives it the tiniest bit of body. So there’s another mystery solved: not only do women my age know exactly what they look like and not give a fuck, but they — we — also aren’t coloring our hair because we think it makes us ‘look younger.’ No. We’re coloring it because Better Living Through Chemistry.

So not only is my face melting off my skull and pooling under my jaw, but my hair is crap, too? I have no waist, my feet are ugly, my hands look old, I feel bad more often than not, my sleep cycles are fucked up, I have hot flashes and anxiety attacks: can’t I at least have nice goddamned hair?!