The Dread

November 3rd, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Panic & Anxiety - (0 Comments)

In which there’s The Dread, aka my anxiety disorder.

Had anxiety pretty bad yesterday, and during the night.

Pretty anxious today, too.

I know I’ve said this before, but the problem with anxiety and panic is this:

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

In the same way, being deeply terrified that Something Is Wrong with your body and that you’re About To Die does not necessarily mean nothing’s wrong with your body or that you’re not about to die. THere is no law that says you can’t die — from other causes — while having a panic attack.

Which is why it’s so hard to tell yourself that you’re “just” having an attack.

Stupid brains.

Combating panic and anxiety

September 5th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Panic & Anxiety - (0 Comments)

In which I have a morbid new approach that really seems to be working.

I have developed a new litany.

Whenever there’s A Sensation my mind desires to become frightened of, I tell it this:

You have a fatal, untreatable, inoperable disease. You are dying, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. You’re bound to have sensations. As long as you’re not in pain, there’s nothing that can be done. Let it go.

Weirdly enough, it’s working. Apparently the hook my mind has been using lately to tumble me into hell has been “DO I NEED TO DO SOMETHING? Is this A Real Sensation? Do I need to See A Doctor? Is this just a panic attack or do I really have [heart disease/organ failure/diabetes/stroke]? What shall I DO?”

With this little story, though, the answer to that is “nothing.” It makes the sensations non-actionable (and have the added benefit of increasing dispassion and decreasing attachment). I can just go, oh, yeah, a sensation — flutters in my chest, dizziness, laziness (er, fatigue), shortness of breath, tingling hands and feet, all the shit I have when I panic — and not be caught up in a whirlwind of mental bullshit.

Yes, I tell myself, you are actually dying, we all are, nothing to be done about it. It comes when it comes. It’s working great; I haven’t had a full-blown attack in a couple of weeks!

Being crazy is hard work, but sometimes you manage to hack your own brain just enough to get by.

A series of admissions

June 29th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Panic & Anxiety - (0 Comments)

In which I think about what an asshole I’ve always been, even to myself.

I’ve turned into very nearly everything for which I have ever felt contempt.

Here are some examples:

Fat? Check.

Pampered and lazy, with a litany of psychosomatic, social, and political complaints anyway? Check.

Reaches a certain age and, unoriginally, watches English period pieces, and paints, unironically, with watercolors? Check. Unhip, and occasionally even boring-seeming, life partner? Check. Tomato plants in the yard, even after a lifetime of not gardening? Check. Houseplants in tacky plastic pots I would not have been caught dead with in my 20’s or 30’s? Check.

Just walked through the building, to and from the laundry room, with my old, fat, unshaven, mottled legs exposed, braless and gross? Check!

Even as few as five years ago, at gigs, I’d eyeball women the age and shape I am now, and think, “Why on earth are you dressed like that? Don’t you know how your bra straps leave furrows in your shoulder fat, how your spare tire looks so square from the back?” I was offended that people could be out, in public, having fun while unbeautiful, even as I believed myself unbeautiful.

I felt discomfort seeing older women with thinning hair only slightly less intense than I used to feel seeing amputees or victims of fire. Now my own hair is well on its way to being fuzz by the time I’m 60, like my father’s mother’s was (although she was ill by then, so maybe it’s not genetic).

I have always, always, always judged the fat, the unbeautiful, and the unwell, even without intending. I couldn’t even conceive of any condition that could truly affect a life without being visible or serious. It took ten years of a panic disorder for me to develop real compassion for invisible suffering, like depression or chronic pain or even the anguish of an unhappy, unfulfilled life. I had to get fat myself before my heart could understand how truly fucking hard obese people have it, from the sheer strain of hauling bulk around to all the little discomforts of joints and edema and rashes.

I never meant to inwardly recoil from everything not ideal. It was never intentional, but I was born without a compassionate bone in my body, it seems. And it’s taken me forty years to quit caring about what shit looks like on the surface and really understand what lies within, the souls themselves.

Because, as it turns out, most of the beautiful people are assholes, and most of the “ugly” people are wonderful.

Today, day three of acute anxiety, I had a bit of a revelation. I had just come up from the laundry room and caught sight of myself in the hall mirror and again in my monitor as I sat down at my desk and really noticed my passing thoughts: “God, you’re fat. Look at you, you’re hideous. So ugly.”

The anxiety I’d been trying so hard to turn upward, into excitement — we are, after all, leaving in the morning for a weekend with Amma, and I should be happy, not in the misery of fear and anxiety — suddenly seemed deserving of compassion. Is anyone truly compassionate who is so mean to herself? So instead of trying to change my anxiety into happiness, I just looked at myself and thought, “You poor baby, you’re okay, you can be loved.”

And the attack stopped.

I mean, my leg’s still bouncing, but that’s okay; I’m not fucking suffering. I’m so ashamed of my disorder; I am one of the world’s most fortunate and lucky people. I’m never hungry, never cold, never afraid of real things. I’m not sick, I’m not in pain, I have free time and I get to sleep until I wake up every day, but I suffer. A made-up, not real suffering I judge myself for.

~+~
Okay, turns out that was a lie. It didn’t stop, it just eased off. It’s trying to come back now, the “Oh! I feel dizzy! Weak! My fingers are numb! There must be something wrong with me. Oh, I’ll never be able to travel like this.” The fear, fear, fear.

I so don’t want to develop fucking agoraphobia. I’m at the point now where just standing waiting for the light to change on Lyndale makes me twitch and bounce and tap.

But it’s okay that I’m afraid. It’s okay to have sensations. It’s okay to be fat, 48, frequently idle, and nervous. It’s okay, Michelle, you’re okay. Not everybody is the judgemental asshole you are; lots of people can look at you without disgust, even. You have a disorder lots of people have. You hardly do it on purpose. And, before you object, you do try to mitigate it! You do walk, bike, stretch, meditate. You have maybe a cup of coffee per day; you rarely eat sugar; your vape juice is only 6mg.

Remember hormones, too: it was only a 26-day cycle. Very short. Who knows what’s going on with those hormones, eh?

…I wish I didn’t have to work tonight; I should have taken it off. Oh, well, it’s only four hours, and right here at my own desk. But it would be better if, after Scott gets home, we could eat, pack, and nap until the unreasonably early taxi pick-up.

Oh, I want a cuddle so much just now, but I’ll soldier on and put the laundry in the dryer instead.

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.

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.

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 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?!

In which it’s the time of year known as ‘omfg i HATE the dread!!!’.

About once a year or so, usually around this time, give or take a few weeks, my panic and anxiety gets really rough and I get so incredibly miserable I finally consider going into the family clinic and begging for enough pills to get my crazy ass back on an even keel.

I never do it, though, because all the bullshit goes back into remission right after I consider saying uncle, and then I pretty much forget about it until the next year. I mean, I’ll have an occasional isolated day of The Dread here and there, but nothing I feel compelled to medicate. And, to be completely honest, one of the ‘features’ of my little condition is that it makes me utterly paranoid of pills even though my mind knows perfectly well that meds are cleaner, safer, and better-regulated than all the street drugs I did back in the day.

Yes, my anxiety has made me afraid of pills. Fucking fuck.

Anyway, so this is historically the worst month of the year for panic and anxiety and I’ve been having attacks of varying degrees of fucking awful pretty much daily for a month or so. On top of that, I just naturally happened to choose this month to move two thousand miles, so there’s an added level of disassociation and stress.

This is not the normal kind of move, where you put your shit into your car and escort it yourself by driving it to your new home. This is a move where I’m putting my things into the care of UPS and hoping they’ll deliver my life semi-intact to my new apartment.

My new apartment which just happens to be a security building, so the stuff can’t even be delivered. LDBF will have to go pick it all up somewhere.

So it’s panic season, plus moving with its attendant stress of quitting of jobs and bands. There’s also the pre-menopausal acne, which is insult to injury, and on top of all that I woke up this morning with what I think is a stye in my right eye. And I got fat this winter, eating all the white things I know better than to eat. (Sometimes, you just want to order a fucking pizza. (Where “sometimes” equals “like once a week or so.”))

Seriously. I’m, like, the least pretty girl on the planet. Which causes LDBF to tell me I’m the prettiest girl on the planet about every twenty minutes or so. He’s amazing about The Dread, too, listening carefully and saying wonderful safe supportive things and threatening to hug me for a whole month.

There’s been a lot of other support, too, for all my bitching, which I think is in part keeping me from having a total meltdown. Someone I don’t even really know has offered to drop moving boxes off at the house this weekend; the sun is shining; my newsroom co-workers are going out for a beer with me the Friday after next; my brother has a truck for getting boxes to UPS. I’ll get through it, but mostly I’d rather curl up in bed than pack boxes or haul crap to the growing Goodwill pile in the basement.

Honestly, I just want to be moved, past tense. Moving sucks. And on that note, I’m going to figure out how to pack my file box, once I remove the things too important to ship such as my passport and father’s POA paperwork. Ciao.

In which I need to vent or cry or complain or get a hug or something.

Bindu kept me up much of last night with terrible episodes involving screaming (the vet calls it “vocalizing”) and panting and whimpering and coughing; she’d calm down and almost sleep in between, but every couple of hours it would start all over again. Her squeal would have me leaping from bed to comfort her and pet her until she seemed to stabilize; in the process I’d end up working myself into a full-blown anxiety attack with the shakes and the clammy palms and the achey skin and the inability to get back to sleep and the whole nine yards.

She woke me up again at a quarter after seven; she was panting a little and looking haggard, but she was upright and clearly ready to start her day, so could I please get my human ass up and remove the blockade at the top of the stairs so she could get on with it? I petted her and asked her to wait 15 minutes for the animal hospital to open (no one had answered when I’d called at three and again at four in the morning, but their office hours begin at 7:30). I made an appointment, got dressed, gathered my things, and carefully carried my dog downstairs and then outside.

She seemed spry enough, and promptly peed… and then she walked about fifteen paces and started with the squeal/cough/pant thing again. She seemed to be in pain and looked abjectly miserable. IT FUCKING SUCKED. I put her in the truck and, still hoping it was a back problem that pain meds could resolve, drove her to the vet and checked her in, explaining that she’d once had a back episode and that her behavior reminded me of my ex-husband’s when he ruptured a disc. They asked me to approve radiographs and sedation; I approved blood work too because of her age (she’s ~14).

When I got home around nine, I promptly curled up in bed with a pillow over my head and crashed for two hours.

The vet called me with an update around one o’clock. Blood work, in areas I can’t explain that have something to do with poor organ function, indicates problems. The radiograph shows an enlarged heart and an enlarged liver. The vet wanted to do an ECG to find out more about the heart problems; for lack of anything better to do I said okay. Due to various factors (distended belly, coughing, drinking lots of water), the vet also suspects an endocrine condition called Cushing’s disease as well. Secondary blood work and ECG will need to be evaluated, she said, offsite.

The vet reported that Bindu doesn’t seem to have arthritis or a sore back, and that her discs looked good in the radiograph. Therefore, it seems that last night’s episodes – and the first one I noticed the day before, and the one G’ma noticed the day before that – were not actually due to pain from a slipped disc or back-related spasming, which is what I’d suspected, but from heart failure. (Most of the time, I was told, such episodes cause fainting, but in some dogs who fail to actually faint they manifest as “vocalizing, stiffness, panting and coughing.”)

Essentially, I’m waiting on another $90 test, one I don’t really need, to tell me that my dog is in the process of dying.

~+~+~
Last week I received an email from my advisor notifying me of a lecture today. I was pretty excited about it, after the disappointment of learning that my curriculum was all online. An actual in-person lecture, on campus, with people!

The Bindu thing dampened my enthusiasm a great deal, but I was grateful for something to do to help me occupy my mind. No one needs to know that I nearly burst into tears twice on the drive over there.

When I got to the lab, the whiteboard said the instructor was out sick and that there were no classes today.

~+~+~
Last month, when I went to Planned Parenthood to get a bladder infection treated, they shortlisted me for a free mammogram program. So I went and got my boobs smashed and shortly afterward I received a lovely letter telling me that I don’t have breast cancer.

Today, I got a bill for $86.

~+~+~
There was some kind of SNAFU in my client’s A/P department and my September 23rd invoice never got processed. I was assured last week that it would be paid Monday.

Today’s Thursday, I’ve just dropped a couple hundred bucks I don’t have on the vet, I owe St Mary’s ninety bucks, my settlement program is unpaid, and I have a $300 tuition payment due on the 20th. I haven’t paid my rent, either.

Guess who’s check wasn’t in the mail today?

~+~+~
I should be studying or working, but I’ll probably just sit here, freaking out and trying not to, until the vet calls back.

~+~+~
They called back. The voicemail says the ECG is done but they won’t have the results until tomorrow, and that I can come pick Bindu up.

Except that I can’t handle another night like last night, and I have no reason to believe that tonight will be different as there has, as yet, been no treatment for the symptoms I took her in for. The vet wanted the ECG and offsite blood work results before prescribing anything.

God, am I the worst dog mom in the world if I leave her there so I can sleep without listening to her wails? I can’t stand her suffering, but leaving her in a cage in a concrete room overnight seems like a sin. But if I bring her home, I’ll carry her up and down the stairs to save her the strain and have a panic attack every time she falls down and coughs, and as much as I won’t want to admit it all I’ll want to do is get away from her.

Oh, God. I always told you I would be a total wreck when this, the end of Bindu’s life, came along, and I totally am.

~+~+~
Update: I cried. Then I meditated. Then I called the clinic and said that I am “unable” to pick Bindu up until tomorrow. (I made it sound like I didn’t have access to a vehicle right now, which is completely untrue.) So, not only am I a bad dog mom who leaves her beloved to spend the night in a cage in a concrete room across town, but I’m a liar as well.

I am not pleased with myself, but this is not the first time since developing a panic disorder that I’ve been displeased with my responses to things. Usually when I’m freaking out I just suit up and go do whatever it is anyway (I don’t even know how many times I’ve done gigs in the throws of a full-blown panic attack), but I know that another night with a screaming, coughing, panting dog in my arms will… — it will, um… — hell, I don’t even know what it’ll do. I don’t have words for it. I just don’t want to do it. Even though it’s my duty, because I took responsibility for that dog’s life and health and comfort over a decade ago.

There may be treatment options, once there’s a diagnosis, I just don’t know anything about cost or efficacy, and she is 14 so none of this is entirely unexpected.

As G’ma has just returned from her afternoon volunteering at the museum, I’ve shared all the vet information with her. I told her I’d left Bindu at the clinic overnight even though they said I could come get her. Then I teared up. G’ma said, “We care too much about the little buggers. We might not show it, but we really do.” And then she went and made a cocktail and brought it to me here at my desk. For my part, I struggled not to start crying until she’d gone back upstairs.