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my vision isn’t really up to dealing with very high-information environments: the two different prescriptions, both out of date, plus the addition of the floaters that have been slowly and regularly increasing over time, make my brain feel weird.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.

Today is our third wedding anniversary. I didn’t know that until I happened to turn on my PPC and there it was! Happy anniversary to me and my man! I’d call Brett to tell him so, but our phones are dead. Sigh. I guess I’ll tell him at dinner.

This morning, I made myself some chai. I put it in a go-cup. During my morning commute, I clicked back the little sliding door over the cup’s lid opening and lifted it. Although the chai was made of the usual things – milk, water, tea, cardamom, cinnamon, sugar, and cloves – I swear I got a whiff of that particular odor one would get opening a fresh box of Frootloops! Isn’t that odd? I really enjoyed it for its incongruity.

The morning was gorgeous; cool and damp and green and misty. It was a lovely drive. I adore this time of year in Iowa, even if there is a little too much humidity, and maybe the nights are a little colder than strictly necessary.

One of the many wonderful (not) symptoms my non-diagnosed-but-quite-obvious thyroid disorder is rapid heartbeat.

This symptom is quite frightening, because one tends to depend on one’s heart to do its job properly and without comment, thank you very damn much.
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