scarlettina: (GWTW: Pleased as punch)
As you may be aware, in the wake of my illness and another incident, I began to lose my hair at an alarming rate. The second week of January, it looked like the hair loss had stopped. It turns out that I was right. It has stopped. Thank G-d.

So where we're at now is that my hair has started to grow again, and I am seeing, for the first time in years, its actual color. I forget sometimes that my natural hair color is the color of my eyebrows, a glossy black, rather than the rich red-dark brown that I've been coloring it. At this point, that black is highlighted with silver. I'm not completely silver, but rather salt and pepper. And all those silver hairs are shorter than the rest of my hair because, of course, they are new.

Today I had my hair trimmed. The longer hair was looking raggy and thin. The shorter hair was looking just, well, wild. My stylist trimmed the ragginess and shaped the hair a bit so it looks more presentable overall. I didn't color it; I'm concerned about applying chemicals to the newly-active follicles for fear that I'll mess with things. I figure the next time I see her, about six weeks from now, we'll color the hair again, when it's longer and it's been growing for a couple of months. Right now, I just want to rest my hair a bit.

I'm so glad that it looks like this episode is over. I began to cry every time I looked in the mirror. Now I feel so much better.
scarlettina: (Hope - Fingers Crossed)
Previously on "My Hair": I've been diagnosed with telogen effluvium, apparently the result of my illness last August and, possibly, a separate emotional shock. For those who don't wish to read the article, the money shot is: "[telogen effluvium is the result of] an environmental insult that 'shocks' the growing hair follicles so much that they decide to go into a resting state for a while....This form of TE usually lasts less than six months and the affected individual has a normal scalp hair density again within a year." Basically, I've been losing my hair at an alarming, upsetting rate. Morning showers are usually followed by bouts of crying as I remove thick, alarming nests of hair from the shower drain and pull handfuls of it out of my hair brush. It's been awful.

Update: This morning, I washed my hair and discovered that there was no hair in the shower drain. None. After months of cleaning drifts from the floor and nests from the drain, there was none in the shower this morning, and nearly a normal amount in my brush. The last two showers, the hair loss evidenced in the shower has been lessening. If this persists, the condition may finally be reversing itself. I don't want to count my chickens here, but I may finally be seeing the end of the tunnel. My hair is still ridiculously diffuse and thin for me, and the texture is unfamiliar. I still hate how it looks. We'll see how things go. Fingers crossed.
scarlettina: (Five)
The to-do list: I made a "To do" list this morning. It has 16 things on it. I've done four. They were time-consuming, but they are done. I still, however, am staring 12 things to do in the face. I am comforted by the fact that some of these things are things I can't do on a Sunday. Some require leaving the house (I'm still in my nightshirt and sweats [see time stamp]). And apparently I needed an epic nap today (three hours). So of the things that require neither leaving the house nor doing on a Sunday, that leaves only eight things. I, um, ought to get right on those.

Halloween: Attended the one and only Halloween party to which I was invited last night. (Well, two, actually, but the first one was more of a stop-and-hop.) It was . . . not quite what I expected, but that's OK. I wore the black leather halter top with a white peasant shirt, black leggings and black leather boots, and called myself a generic fantasy villain. If I work in the office tomorrow, I have a different costume planned. Will I do my annual Halloween post here? We'll see. I don't believe I did one last year. Hm.

Sophie: Sophie has developed some unfortunate bathroom habits. I'm going to call the vet on Monday to get her checked for UTI and possible referral to a behaviorist. This CANNOT go on. At the same time, I find myself wondering if she is keying off of my own personal distress. If that's the case, this might go on for a while.

Exercise: This weather (dark, cold, rainy, wolves) is not encouraging me to exercise. Tonight, I'm going to try on every piece of workout clothing in the house, pack my gym bag, and hit the gym at the office. The price is right (free) and it's stupid not to take advantage of it.

David Delamare: My friend WI has made it public, so I wanted to make a note of the passing of her incredibly gifted husband, artist/musician/writer David Delamare. Wendy, David and I have been acquaintances for years, but we'd only begun to really get to know each other in the last two years or so. I was one of the proofer/editors on their Alice in Wonderland project, something I was delighted to be a part of. When I learned of his death about a month ago, it was a shock because it was so completely unexpected. My prevailing feeling is one of disappointment because, as we'd been getting to know each other, I was discovering how much we had in common and how wonderful it would be to get David's perspective on things we both enjoyed. Wendy's mourning for David has in many ways been more of a celebration of his life, and so I am following suit, remembering our brief friendship and trying to pursue my own arts in whatever way I can to honor him.

Touch

Sun, Sep. 25th, 2016 10:55 am
scarlettina: (Hug 2)
Recently, in a locked post (that will remain locked), I observed that we live in a touch-stingy society, and how when I've been alone for long periods of time, I get touch hungry. I wasn't talking about missing sex (though I'd be lying if I said I didn't). I was talking about missing physical contact with other human beings. I am naturally demonstrative, relish a good hug, and will occasionally casually touch friends in conversation. I sit with my cats next to me or on my lap as often as I can--or at least as often as they'll allow it. It is both a source of comfort and joy to me. We are made for contact, as those horrible monkey love experiments conducted in the 1950s demonstrated so effectively, and as therapists, doctors and clinicians know to this day. Touch produces oxytocin, which can lift moods, inspire affection and feelings of safety, and reduce a sense of isolation.

But our society has sexualized touch almost to the exclusion of everything but mother love. In 2013, the Good Men Project published what I thought was an excellent piece about how touch deprivation has affected American men and American society in general. Historically, men have always had intimate, intense relationships with each other, many of which weren't homosexual. (As a side note, if you haven't seen this article and its gallery of men friends from the early 20th century, you should check it out. It is completely delightful.)

Thankfully, women have mostly been spared the strictures against touch that society has imposed on men, but it's because of how we are perceived as a sex by men as well as the fact that the allowance of mother love seems to easily translate into the acceptance of other forms of touch in our lives. We also, historically and to this very day, have relied very strongly on the community and fellowship of women; our touch has never really been stigmatized. It's certainly been a mainstay of my life. Women kind of get a pass on the touch thing.

Which is a goodness as far as I'm concerned. Being naturally demonstrative, I reach out. Sometimes I don't even think about it with friends I've known a long time. I find that I receive casual touch in return. I try to be sensitive about the fact that not everyone is as comfortable with touch as I am, nor do some people want it. And that's OK. Being aware not to touch can be as much of a gift as touch can be, depending upon the recipient. I suspect (though have no proof) that respect can inspire the release of oxytocin in the right situations.

I noticed this all particularly when I was in the hospital. Almost no one touched me at all, except clinically and not very often. It was almost like clinical touch was worse than no touch at all. By the end of my stay, I wanted to hug everyone, partly for the support I had received and partly because I was so touch hungry that it almost hurt.

I dislike how American society has turned touch into such a categorized thing. I think we all suffer for it.

As for me, I rely on hugs between me and my friends and cuddles with my cats. I am glad for it all. I'm glad for more when the relationship is deeper. Touch makes me feel better and tends to affect not only my mood but my self image and how I interact with others. I wish touch was less stigmatized in our society. I would certainly be better for it. I think we all would.
scarlettina: (All my own stunts)
Back to work
Went back to work yesterday via telecommute. I had three weeks of email to catch up on. It's hard to read three weeks of email and not be able to do anything about what's already happened. I wanted to butt into every thread and yell, "No! That's wrong!" But not having been there, things went on without me as one would expect. I don't have to solve every problem or make everyone do things the way I would. But being a slight control freak, it's hard to sit back and do nothing. And my energy gave out at both 11:30 AM and 4 PM. I know what to expect today.

Back to life
The challenge of having people who aren't me cleaning my house has been that I'm discovering things done differently than I would have done them, things stored where they oughtn't have been stored, things opened and assumptions made that were incorrect, and trying to find ways to remedy those situations. I hugely appreciate all the work done on my behalf while I was ill. It was mitzvah on top of mitzvah. But I am a creature of habits and methods and practices, and when those are disrupted or diverted, I get angsty. So I'm trying to slowly deal with all of that.

Hospital resolutions
Toward the end of my stay in the hospital, I made some resolutions:
1. To get a new mattress and box springs. Life is too short to sleep in a bed you're not 100% comfortable in. My current mattress and box spring are probably about 10 years old, so it's time.
2. To get air purifiers into the house. I need two. Those things are expensive! I bought one this past weekend. I haven't set it up yet, because I need to figure out location and power sources. But it will be done, and it will be helpful.
3. To reorganize my main floor. It needs it. There's a whole corner of the room that doesn't work, and that disfunction has been exacerbated by the challenge of having people who aren't me cleaning and organizing the place. I need boxes and shopping time and time to cull and curate the books and other stuff in that corner.
4. To enjoy my balcony more. I've been doing that, between sitting in the shade on the balcony on hot days, and planting and repotting plants. I'm also enjoying watching my strawberries get red and ripe. I've been keeping an eye out for squirrels and Stellar's jays to make sure I get to the fruit before they do. Living with two little predators who love the balcony certainly helps as well.
5. To get a housekeeper to come in. I have one referral and one avenue I need to explore. Haven't done anything about this yet, but once other things are organized and in place, I will.

My weight
All pretense of trying to deal with my weight has gone out the window. I can't even think about it right now.

My emotional life
Sunday night was hard for reasons I won't get into here. I'm still dealing with the fallout. I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm resentful. I'm frustrated. I'm resigned--because there's nothing I can do about the situation that provoked the incident in question. It just is what it is. But I'm upset with people who felt they should get involved in something that wasn't their business. And in the end I just feel empty. I wanted to be creative last night, but nothing I tried felt like it had a point: beading, drawing, writing. Even coloring felt stupid and pointless. I went to bed and read for a while and then fell asleep. I'm glad I'm going to have company tonight. This bashing around trying to make something out of nothing by myself is destructive.
scarlettina: (All my own stunts)
So there I was at the office on a Thursday morning. Suddenly I became nauseated. My head began to hurt like hell. I had the dry heaves. I headed home. That was Thursday, July 28. I haven't been back to the office--or pretty much anywhere except the hospital--since then.

What started out as food poisoning--or so I thought--turned out to be a much more serious illness. By August 2, I was at Swedish First Hill Medical Center being treated for a mass of symptoms: headache, stomach ache, abdominal pain, nausea, fever, coughing. I was tested more thoroughly than I have ever been in my life. I was fed via intravenous nutrition. I was a mess. For 11 days, I was in the hospital; during some of that time I was just completely out of it. By the time I left, I was healthier, though not terribly well-rested. And I never got a firm diagnosis of what had gone wrong. The best the doctor could do was give me a vague diagnosis of "viral enteritis," which basically means something was in my gut trying to kill me. Obviously, it failed.

I've spent the last few days at home, trying to build strength and stamina, resting, and trying to eat a little more healthily. I'll start back to work--from home--this coming Monday. I see my doctor today for a follow-up. It all feels so surreal. Being unable to walk a distance. Being unable to do things for more than, say, an hour at a time. Having lost some manual dexterity and having to practice my handwriting. I'm going to need more sleep and more recuperation time. Happily, I have another few days before I try to get back to work. I hope I can do it.
scarlettina: (All my own stunts)
It's Superman! by Tom De Haven: A licensed Superman novel published, like, 20ish years ago that takes a very realistic, pretty literary and at the same time almost pulpy approach to Superman's original story, starting at when he's done with high school and as he heads off into the real world. De Haven's voice cracks both wise and perceptive, and is rich and fully flavored with period jargon and slang, trivia and detail. I enjoyed it hugely. I studied with De Haven in college and thought he was a terrific teacher. Reading this one of his several novels makes me feel like I didn't understand how lucky I was to study with him. Wish I could have studied with him more. I've found his website and really need to drop him a note.

The Just City by Jo Walton (our own [livejournal.com profile] papersky): The first of a new cycle that explores the ramifications of Athena and Apollo deciding to try to build a society based on Plato's Republic. It is probably the most cerebral of Walton's books to date, even given some of the very dramatic and, on occasion, traumatic things that happen to the characters. It's a fascinating exercise that ends a little too abruptly, from my perspective--but the next book has already been published and I'll probably pick it up at WorldCon. My challenge with The Just City is that it feels a little like an exercise to me, a thought experiment made manifest. And while there's good story here, I didn't find myself as attached to the characters as I was with other of Walton's works. I felt a little emotionally distanced from them, which is always a deficit in a work for me. I did like the working through of the many ramifications of Plato's rules, though, and the negotiation of the tougher ones to follow. The Republic is itself a thought experiment, and once you throw humans into the mix, well, things are bound to go pear-shaped. It's an interesting read, not my favorite of Jo's works, but a challenging one in many ways.

Worldcon is coming, but there are so many challenges going on right now for me and friends around me, it's hard for me to anticipate the trip with pleasure. It's one more thing I need to do, at the moment, in a world where friends and relations are dealing with cancer, where another is getting ready to move out of state and is feeling just abandoned by a lot of local folks, where work is busy and pressure is being brought to bear in ways that piss me the hell off. I don't want attending WorldCon to feel like a chore, but as the days dwindle toward departure, it's feeling like another thing I have to do rather than a thing I'm looking forward to.

I've been pushing back lately in ways I don't typically push back. I'm always inclined to say yes, to help friends, to do things even when I don't want to just because I've been asked. Lately, I've been saying no more. It's hard. But it's necessary. It's necessary mainly because I've been feeling really tired, really wrung out, like I don't have the time or resources to take care of myself and my own life. I need to say no more. It's hard for me, but I really need to. The fact that I spent the better part of this weekend sleeping demonstrates that I'm running out of spoons faster than I can wash them and put them away. I need to stop that.

I had the worst blood panel of my life a couple of weeks back. It was the annual blood draw, and suddenly, my cholesterol is up, I'm anemic again, and my doctor Isn't Happy. I'm trying to resolve this issue with vitamins, food changes and exercise, but in the midst of feeling like there's no room in my life for taking care of me, it's an enormous challenge.

And now, off to work.
scarlettina: (Hot!)
Tonight's burned arm report: Shoulder and upper arm feel like they've received a substantial sunburn. Forearm burn looks like the beans have branded themselves into my skin in a deep, eggplant purple, and the area is still tender. The marks are all raised and the group of them, from a certain angle, seem to create an "S" shape; no sign of blistering but for one tiny spot. The one-bean burn near my elbow looks like a giant, raised, purple freckle. Owie.

Sunday night, the ER doc gave me a powerful pain killer that made me crazy-dizzy once it kicked in about an hour after I took it. Last night, I split one of the pills and that kept the dizziness away, but I'm not sure it was as effective as the night before. I certainly slept better last night than I did Sunday night. Unsure what I'm going to do tonight, but if I position myself wrong in bed the discomfort will be real. I'll figure it out. I'm sleepy enough at this writing (at only 8:57 PM) that I'm sure I'll fall asleep. For how long is anyone's guess.

And again I say, "Owie."
scarlettina: (Hot!)
Last night, I met JF for dinner at Agua Verde, a Mexican restaurant in the University District here in Seattle. It's a small place that abuts Lake Union and is attached to the paddle center. I suggested the place because JF is a sailor with his own beautiful sail boat, the place has a great view of the marina and the lake, and because the food there is generally very good indeed.

We each ordered our meals and the conversation was flowing. The food came, and the waitress noticed that JF received two bowls of rice instead of one bowl of rice and one of black beans. We continued chatting when suddenly I found my left arm and my blouse covered in extremely hot black beans. Extremelyhot. Burning hot. The waitress had tripped and spilled JF's beans on me, fresh from the stove. I howled . . . and howled and howled.

We got towels with which to wipe away the sauce, as well as an ice pack. JF asked me what I wanted to do--ER, urgent care--and I told him to make the decisions. I had no brains for that kind of thinking. And so we were off to an urgent care clinic--where they sprayed on some topical anaesthetic and sent me to the ER.

I was diagnosed with first--nearly second--degree burns on my arm, given powerful meds for pain and sent on my way. There's no blistering, thank goodness, but my skin was bright red and disturbingly blotchy.

This morning, the redness and swelling has gone down, though my arm is still tingling and very sore. I suspect I'm going to be left with some marks when this is all done--including a one-bean-sized burn mark mark by my elbow. It'd be funny if it didn't hurt quite as much as it does.

I'm otherwise OK this morning, still a little loopy from the medication. (Been loopy since I got up; I suspect I'll continue to be loopy for another couple of hours.) I'm going to be taking it easy the next day or so, working from home and trying to baby the arm.

I am hugely grateful to JF for taking such good care of me. He is the finest kind of friend and I'm very thankful indeed.

This was not, as you might imagine, the evening I'd been looking forward to. :: sigh ::

Sickly Sunday

Sun, Mar. 29th, 2015 10:06 am
scarlettina: (Kleenex and death)
So I never wrote about my time at Rainforest Writers Village. One reason I didn't write about it was because I came home terribly sick. I was sick the whole four days that I was there. I got most of a first draft of a story written, a story I'm excited about, but I did it in the haze of a sore throat and nasal congestion, DayQuil and Nyquil, because I wasn't about to lose that precious time. The weather was really good most of the time I was there, the sky so clear two nights out of four that you could see the Milky Way. But I didn't really get to interact with others the way I would have liked; I was a little like Typhoid Mary, everyone keeping their distance while I blew my nose and tried to be productive.

And then I got better. But I spent most of March feeling lazy and lethargic.

And then, this past Friday, I began to feel miserable again--in exactly the same way as I'd felt out on Lake Quinault. I went to ZoomCare yesterday, and the doctor told me something I'd never heard before. She said that sometimes this sort of thing hides in the system covered over by bacteria to reassert itself anywhere from 1-4 weeks after the fact. Well, it's four weeks, almost exactly. The doctor called it something that sounds like it comes out of a science fiction novel: a second sickening. She prescribed some stuff. I'm taking it.

So here I am: headache, sore throat, congestion and lethargy. This is so not what I wanted or needed to be doing today. I can't focus on almost anything. My middle feels bad. Trying to read is pointless. Even watching TV is an exercise in futility; I fall asleep halfway through a movie or TV episode and just miss it.

So I'm really down for the count. I'm going to go get back into bed now. I'll see you all on the flip side.
scarlettina: (Awesome me)
When they tell you that the prep is the worst part of the business, they're not kidding. I finished it this morning. [livejournal.com profile] ebourne picked me up to go to the medical center at lunch time, and we were off. By the time I got there, I was already feeling a little better. The headache had let up.

While they prepared me, I joked with the staff, flirted with the male nurse who stuck me with the IV. ("Don't encourage him!" said the other nurse. "Are you kidding?" I said. "I'm going to be as nice as possible to the man wielding the sharp, pointy thing.") I did it mostly to keep myself from thinking about the needle going into my arm. When they rolled me into the room to do the exam, they put one of those oxygen pipes into my nostrils--what a weird feeling that is! They rolled me on my side, added the anesthesia to my IV, and I passed out.

Last time I had a colonoscopy, I woke up halfway through. This time I passed out and woke up in recovery. I missed the whole thing. I'm not sorry about that.

Word is that they found two polyps and the doctor is certain they're not cancerous. They're being biopsied anyway--best practice, that--but it looks like I'm fine and out of this introspective business for at least another ten years.

I'm OK with that.

E and I went to lunch afterwards--had the tastiest lunch! Then we did a little grocery shopping and she brought me home. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading and snoozing on the balcony. Though I have fixings for dinner, I'm not really hungry, probably because we ate lunch so late. I'm going to listen to my body on this one. Rest when I need it. Eat when I need it. The rest seems to be what I need most. After all, I'm back to the salt mines tomorrow.
scarlettina: (DrWho: Welcome to Hell)
It's another thing to live it. These last 14 hours or so have been miserable. It's not just that the colonoscopy prep liquid is vile or that I'm off of solid food (and now all food until the procedure). It's more.

It's that just as I was drinking my last dose of the prep fluid for the night I developed a gag reaction. Right around the same time a massive migraine hit. I called the on-call doctor to find out what to do. He told me I couldn't stop drinking the prep stuff. He further told me I couldn't take any ibuprofen for my headache. (If they have to remove any polyps, the ibuprofen would increase the bleeding.) He said Tylenol would be OK but I have none in the house and couldn't leave. (Really, once the prep starts, being out of the proximity of a bathroom is out of the question.)

So I drank another half glass of the prep--all I could make myself drink--before I went to bed. I didn't fall asleep for hours because of my headache.

I have to drink the rest of the prep stuff starting in about an hour. I can have nothing else but water. My head feels like it's about to split open.

I keep reminding myself that this is important, that I won't have to do it for another 10 years if everything is clear--and there's no reason right now to believe that it isn't. I know this intellectually, I do.

But, man, this can't be over soon enough.
scarlettina: (All my own stunts)
Actually, it's not my birthday and won't be for another two months. What it is though--what today is--is the day I'm preparing for that procedure you're supposed to get when you enter your 51st year: a colonoscopy. As I'm nearly done with my 51st year, it's past time, so I'm having one tomorrow. Today is prep day.

I'm working from home. I'm on a clear liquid diet. I've been drinking water since breakfast. I just took the first medication on the schedule. I'll be on clear liquids through tomorrow lunchtime and then it's off to the doctor for some deep introspection, so to speak. Or, as a friend like to say, the command will be "Up periscope!"

It's not like I haven't done this before. I had a colonscopy a while back due to some unexplained bleeding and everything was fine. I more-or-less know what to expect. Nevertheless, I went looking for tips for surviving the process. I found all the usual things:

--Drink your prep fluid as cold as possible. Chase it with plain cold water.
--Drink it through a straw to mitigate the taste.
--Add lemon flavoring, maybe Lemon Crystal Light, to mitigate the taste.
--Have a variety of clear fluids in the house to keep hunger at bay (I have failed somewhat at this item--I have sparkling cider, half of which is gone already, and chicken broth. And tea. I don't have jello--what I wouldn't do for some lemon or pear jello! I don't have any popsicles. Note to self: don't be stingy with yourself next time.)
--Line up easy-to-transport entertainment.
--Make sure to have baby wipes or rash ointment on hand in the bathroom. You can get a little sore from all the time on the throne.

So I'm as ready as I can be. I'm working today, for certain values of working. I'm a little too distracted to really be giving value for money, frankly. But I'll get it done and it will all be good.

Yes, I have someone to drive me there and back (bless her). And tomorrow afternoon, once I'm home and rested, I'm going to enjoy a nice, proper meal.
scarlettina: (Angel)
1) I've recently seen ads for concerts by Yes and by Alan Parsons Project and I couldn't get excited about the prospect of attending either. This is A Change; I adored these bands for years. I saw Parsons once: they stood, they played, they left. Awesome music, exactly zero stage presence. I can listen to my discs and MP3s if I want a stay-at-home experience. I've seen Yes at least four times, maybe five. The last time, Anderson used a teleprompter and still forgot words, and Squire somehow lost the rhythm in one song and took a verse to find it again. At the prices this band commands, I think I've seen my last Yes show, much as I'd like to go. I'm not spending much money on concerts these days--hardly any at all. It has to be something special--and, frankly, something reasonably priced--for me to attend a show anymore. The confluence of the two is so rare that I suspect my concert days are dwindling to nothingness.

2) Proposition 1, a special ballot connected to transit in King County where I live, has failed. That means, most significantly, major cuts to bus service and other transit-related things. How shortsighted are we as a city that we'll undermine a service that's being used more than ever? Pretty damn shortsighted. Friends of Transit is pulling together a proposed measure to save those bus lines. I guess we'll see what happens. [livejournal.com profile] mcjulie has some things to say on the subject that are worth reading. Mainly, she's interpreting the results, and I don't think she's wrong.

3) Things at work are very, very busy. I'm on two teams, both of which are hitting crunch time, and I'm getting squeezed all around. I don't respond well to the kind of pressure I'm getting: Are you done yet? How much longer? Is your reporting up to date? Please update your reporting. What's taking you so long? Why are you working on that project for the other team? Are you done yet? ::sigh:: I promised myself I'd go to the office early today to try to get a leg up. I don't actually see that happening.

4) I harvested the first salad from this year's balcony garden and had said salad for lunch yesterday. It was gratifying and delicious.

5) I have a Thing happening with my left eye. I think it may be work-stress related. It feels like there's something in my eye--the left corner of my left eye specifically--but when I examine it in a mirror, I can't see anything wrong there except a little bit of blood in the corner there. I need to make an appointment with my eye doctor. I don't like this. I don't like this at all. I don't know when I can go, though. See number 3 above. I'm . . . irritated.
scarlettina: (Writing)
I realize that I don't post quite as often as I used to, so here are five things that are going on around here to catch you up a bit.

1) New light fixture: Since about a year after I moved into my condo (and this is a long time ago now), the light fixture in my great room has been broken--not smashed-broken, just non-functional broken. I finally decided a couple of weeks ago to do something about it. A neighbor of mine does electrical work, so I had him come in to look at the thing; it was definitely time for it to go. (I thought there might be a wiring problem in the wall, but it was the fixture itself.) Last weekend, I went light fixture shopping and purchased this really cool pendant light (except mine won't have the yellow stripe in the catalog shot) that I think will look great up there. I'll probably end up buying a couple more to replace the light in the kitchen and in the main downstairs room (though that second one will require more work than a mere replacement). Very excited for its arrival and installation.

2) New glasses frames: I recently had an eye exam and my prescription has changed--as my prescription is wont to do. It amazes me that my vision could get any worse than it has been, but there it is. New glasses frames--a serious departure from what I have now--are on order. I promise pictures where they arrive.

3) Rainforest Writers Village and writing: On Wednesday, I depart for my annual retreat to the rainforest. I'm looking forward to it for many reasons, but I also go with some trepidation. I've had increasing trouble writing fiction, wound up with feelings of inadequacy, despair about success (a self-fulfilling prophecy when one doesn't submit, I admit), poor discipline and so on. I'm looking forward to some concentrated time to not only write, but to evaluate what I want and what makes sense in terms of my energy and effort. So much of my self-image is wrapped up in writing and editing. I need to examine it all much more closely than I have lately. I don't know if it's a signal of my trepidation about it all, but I've been having trouble even cleaning the house in preparation for my absence.

4) Knitting: I continue my experiment in loom knitting by working on an infinity scarf, a how-to which I found in, of all places, a cooking blog. I know I've already made a scarf, but this one teaches me a new stitch on the loom as well as requiring me to learn how to do a different kind of cast off and how to flat seam a piece together--three new techniques in one project, so a second scarf project is justified. There will be pictures at some point.

5) Reading: I have been a restless reader lately. I abandoned the Jenny Lawson memoir "Let's Pretend This Never Happened"--I found the voice just repetitive and obnoxious after a while--and have moved on to the third Aubrey/Maturin novel, "H.M.S. Surprise," which I'm enjoying just as much as I did the first two. After a string of unfinished reading, this one I may complete. I've picked up so many new books lately that I'm actually a little cowed by deciding what comes next. Something surely will come next, however. Surely.

EMDR and me

Thu, May. 2nd, 2013 03:39 pm
scarlettina: (DrWho: Welcome to Hell)
Years ago, after explicitly diagnosing me with PTSD as a result of my experience with my mother's illness and death (a diagnosis that had been gently implied by other therapists), my then-therapist recommended that I undergo EMDR treatment. EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, a therapeutic technique in which the therapist moves her hand or an item like a pen in specific ways and the patient follows that movement with her eyes. The idea is to disrupt the usual neurological processes and desensitize the system to traumatic memories so that the patient can cope with the old trauma. This was back in the early, maybe the mid-1990s when the technique was still relatively new and not very well understood. I'm writing about this because I' have occasionally wondered if I should seek it out again (why I haven't will become evident shortly), also because several people have remarked that they, too, took the treatment and wanted to discuss their experience.

I attended two sessions. The first session, if I recall correctly, was a sort of overview of my history and scoping of my issues. We talked about the technique and what I should expect. The second session included the actual technique, working with the therapist and with the eye-movement exercise. The session as a whole lasted about 90 minutes. It was so awful that it took me a full day to recover. I don't remember many of the specifics. What I do remember is working with images associated with my mother's illness and death. And then, about halfway through, I remember a pain so intense that I thought my head was splitting open. I expected that my skull was going to crack and my brains were going to come flying out. I was told that was the trauma manifesting and that I should go with it. Well, I went with it, and I was in so much pain that I ended up curled over in my chair practically screaming. For about an hour. It was worse than my worst migraine headache, some of the worst pain I've ever experienced. (Even thinking about it now, I'm experiencing some mild discomfort.) I don't remember more than that except that I called in sick to work the next day. As I said, I never went back.

Now, I know that EMDR requires multiple sessions and that the work is supposed to include a balancing element to help the patient regain composure. I know there's a lot more to it than this experience. But I also know this: when the cure is worse than the illness, you have to make some decisions. At the time, I decided not to continue to pursue treatment. The trauma was bad; the treatment felt like torture.

Why would I consider investigating it again? Well, a couple of reasons. First, there's Sh*t going on, with a capital S, in case it wasn't clear from my last post. Second, I never did finish the treatment, and the way I'm dealing with this Sh*t, it's clear that there's a lot of other stuff underneath it that's hindering my coping mechanisms. Why won't I seek out EMDR again? Well, insult, meet injury, and all that. But I also promised myself that I wouldn't seek out any kind of therapy again because I've pretty much talked my issues to death. I recognize them, understand them, and I'm bored with them, frankly. That doesn't mean they're not important; they are. But at this juncture, I don't see the point of sitting in a stranger's office hashing it all out yet again. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, then going into therapy for the umpteenth time is probably the perfect illustration of that axiom. For me, right now, it's not an option I'm interested in.

My sister-in-law once asked me if therapy makes things better, making things stop hurting. After thinking about it for a moment, I told her that things rarely stop hurting, but what therapy can do is teach you how to deal with the pain in constructive and healing ways. Right now, I don't need more therapy. I need to use what I've learned in therapy to deal with whatever pain I'm experiencing.

So, that's my EMDR history. How about you? What's your experience been?

My LJ writing to-do list. I really need to get to it.
--Weight and invisibility
--My first Seattle International Film Festival event of the year
--My experience with EMDR treatment for PTSD
--My general weight loss situation at the moment
--My upcoming publication and the essay related to the story in question
scarlettina: (Blue)
Health
I am sick. It appears to be the head cold that everyone else in the office has had. I suppose the silver lining is that I have it now rather than coming down with it during the week, when I'm supposed to be traveling. The sooner it's out of my system, the better. Wow, my head hurts.

Oscars
Missed the first half hour of the Oscars. My thoughts about it are disjointed so I will present them in a bulleted list to provide if not order then at least ease of ingestion.
--I still don't know who Seth McFarlane is, why I should care, or why he was chosen to host the show.
--Halle Barry's dress was awesome, possibly my favorite of the evening, though Anne Hathaway was, as usual, channeling Audrey Hepburn in the best way, and Naomi Watts' shoulder cutout was unique. Amanda Seyfried's dress was lovely, too.
--Happy for Anne Hathaway having won Best Supporting Actress, but I wish it had gone to Sally Field. I thought she gave a fierce, fearless performance.
--Delighted that Ang Lee won for best director for Life of Pi. It was a stunning achievement.
--Adele is pretty great, but her performance seemed tame to me, especially in the shadow of Jennifer Hudson's vocal pyrotechnics.
--Anyone who bitches about Catherine Zeta-Jones lip-synching "All That Jazz" has never tried to sing while bending herself in half and dancing across a stage. Trust me when I say that unless you're doing it on Broadway every day, you're not doing yourself or your performance any favors by trying.
--I'm OK with "Paperman" winning for best animated short, but I really think it should have gone to "Head Over Heels."
--Why does anyone anywhere think that they should put Kristin Stewart on a stage? I know it's for the younger viewers, but I've never seen her be anything but sullen and suck the energy right out of a theater. She doesn't like being in front of people, she looked like a mess tonight (why didn't someone give her a hairbrush?) and is kind of a brat about it. Daniel Radcliffe is a complete and utter professional and has more presence than it seems like he has any right to. He makes her look like what she is, a spoiled child.
--They brought out the Avengers--all of them except the woman. Talk about perpetuating stereotypes. Where was Scarlett Johansson?
--It's always great to see Barbra Streisand perform. Fun to see Shirley Bassey, even if she sounded a little rusty around the edges to me.
--I loved that the First Lady gave the Oscar for Best Picture--what a wonderful surprise! That she gave it to a film about service to our country made it seem that much more appropriate.

Politics
Someone on my Facebook feed tonight declared with complete certainty that President Obama has signed more executive orders than any president in the history of this country. When people do this sort of thing, it sends me right into research mode because someone is wrong on the internet! Truth is, for anyone who's interested, the record holder is Franklin D. Roosevelt, at 3,500. Obama hasn't even signed 200, which is less than, among others, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan individually, and he's done it because Congress can't get their thumbs out of their asses and get things done that need doing.

The Coming Week, Writing, and Existential Angst
I'm sick. I'm supposed to be going to Rainforest Writers Village on Wednesday. I'm wondering if I'm even a writer anymore. I still don't know what I'm going to do about having a car or not. Tomorrow is a pretty wretched anniversary. I'm not sure what the point of, well, anything is right now. I'm sure I'll be over most of this by the time I wake up in the morning. I'm just venting. I think what I need is to take some Nyquil and go to bed. ::sigh::
scarlettina: (All my own stunts)
Yesterday was a tough day for me. I went to Weight Watchers and found myself up 2.4 pounds in the wake of a 2 pound loss last week. I came home to a short story rejection. I wanted to eat myself into oblivion and just be unhappy. And I did that for about an hour.

And then I just got angry. This business of hovering in the same 5 pound weight range for months is just making me crazy. So I packed up a workout bag and headed into Fremont to check out the gym there. I've got a free week's trial membership and I'm going to use it. Then comes the tough part: buying a membership (assuming I like the place after trial). And this is what always slows me down.

It took three months before I was willing to be a subscriber to Weight Watchers. Before that, I paid week by week, even though it cost more, because I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to the program. I didn't think I'd stick with it long enough; I didn't want to spend the money.

After I came home from the gym last night, I got on the phone with [livejournal.com profile] varina8, a veteran gym rat, and asked her to convince me to join the gym. She made a strong argument:
1. A gym membership is an investment in yourself and in your health.
2. Exercise increases bone density, important in women of a certain age like myself.
3. Exercise will help kick-start the regular weight loss again.

[livejournal.com profile] davidlevine, another gym rat of my acquaintance, was also smart and practical about a membership. Among the benefits he counted:
1. Professional equipment helps ensure the right kind of motion for healthy exercise.
2. A commitment to a gym makes it more likely that one will exercise more regularly.
3. A commitment to a professional trainer will keep one accountable to someone else, which equals being accountable to oneself.
4. Exercise will help kick-start the regular weight loss again.

These are all smart, practical reasons to commit to a gym membership. I spend more per month on internet service than I would on a gym membership; why is one worthy of the expense and not the other? Why am I being so tight-fisted with myself?

It's part of a larger question, I think: Why do I find self-care so hard? I have worked really hard the last couple of months on dental care because I've neglected it over the years. I have not been good about taking care of my damaged knee, even though I went to a physical therapist specifically to get it attended to. This sort of thing has always been challenging for me. It's always too much work, or not as important as They say it is, or not as important as whatever else I may have to pay attention to. It makes me wonder why. It makes me wonder if I'm alone in this.

And here's the thing: when I work out, I feel like a bad-ass. (In fact, one of the trainers last night, when she saw me in my head-to-foot black workout gear, said that I looked bad-ass.) Who doesn't want to feel that way: powerful, in control, smart, and sexy? Why is it so easy to forget that feeling? (Perhaps the trouble isn't remembering it so much as believing in the feeling about oneself.) And why is it so easy to pooh-pooh taking care of myself? Doing Weight Watchers has been a big deal for me in terms of self care. I've succeeded in very specific, measurable ways. Now I have to work on the rest of this stuff.

So what's your experience been as regards self care? Thoughts?
scarlettina: (Five)
1) Had my knee checked out. There's some fluid around the joint. Had a PT appointment yesterday and have been given exercises and a treatment plan. We'll see how that goes.

2) Of the three unpublished stories I had out on submission, two have come back rejected. Must get them back in the mail, along with at least one more. The fate of the third still hangs in the balance. Of the three previously published stories I have out on submission for foreign reprints, I have heard back on none of them. Hope springs eternal at Chez [livejournal.com profile] scarlettina.

3) Had a lovely visit with [livejournal.com profile] kijjohnson. She is most excellent company. What a total delight.

4) Saw a SIFF film on Thursday night that I still need to write up here. In typical SIFF craziness, I have four more scheduled for this weekend, so I need to catch up, STAT!

5) I don't know why--maybe it's my birthday coming up next month--but these lyrics have been playing in my head the morning:

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

--"Good Riddance," Green Day
scarlettina: (Fork You Back)
Haven't posted much about weight loss lately, mainly because progress has been slow this year. (It's been a bitch of a year, frankly, and so I'm cutting myself some slack for the slowed-down momentum, but it's been hard--which is part of the point of this post.) As of last night's weigh-in, I'm down 56.4 pounds and at a weight I haven't seen in a decade or more. This doesn't make me a sylph, but it's a vast improvement over where I started, and I'm generally pretty pleased with my accomplishment. That being said . . .

During my first year of weight loss, I was averaging a pound per week, more or less. It was enormously satisfying and I felt like I was substantially accomplishing my goal. This year, with the stress, the loss, and the physical uncertainties keeping me from exercising the way I did last year, the weight loss has just been harder. It's come in tiny increments, a quarter to a third of a pound per week. This week, I lost more weight than I have in months--and it was only half a pound. But I also overcame the pain I've been experiencing in my left knee to get out the door and walk. I need to get my knee looked at. Also, I changed my menu--that always makes a difference. The body responds to change.

It's been discouraging to have my weight loss slow down this way. If I do the physical math (portion control plus exercise), then it makes perfect sense; curtailed ability to exercise means slowed progress. But it's really challenging. Staying the course is absolutely imperative, however. Imperative. I won't go back to where I was. And that's what keeps me going, even when I'm feeling bad.

I always told myself that someday I'd be slim and beautiful. (A kind and beloved friend told me recently that I was already beautiful, bless him. My perspective is different from the inside--but I couldn't have been more grateful for the compliment.) But with a landmark birthday coming this year, I'm very aware that I'm running out of somedays. It's now or never--and I'll be damned if it's never.

My to-do list:
-- Get the knee checked out (which means finding a new doctor due to insurance changes).
-- Figure out a way to exercise that doesn't hurt the knee. (My WW leader has suggested swimming. I don't even own a bathing suit at this point, and I'm little uncomfortable with public pools--and with being seen in a bathing suit.)
-- Stay the course.

[livejournal.com profile] jaylake says that success at writing takes psychotic persistence. Weight loss, too.

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