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Archive for January, 2010

Well, I haven’t blogged in forever…I’m having a hard time sticking with “new” habits (actually old habits revisited) lately.  There’s just so much going on and I’m struggling with my “deer in the headlights” method of stress-coping.  You know, just freeze and wait for the half-ton of metal to smash you into a smear of ook on the pavement.  And it would almost be okay except that the actual impact never comes.

I have had some good results.  I got the insurance fiasco straightened out, finally.  I’m still tempted to sue the mail-order people out of general principle; I know that anyone who wasn’t willing (or didn’t know how) to fight as long and rabidly as I did would have been completely screwed out of the coverage they should have had, and that makes me angry.  Yes, it’s fixed for me – and I’m deliriously happy over that – but how many people have had to go without medication they need because of this tactic?  It’s really not okay, and someone needs to do something about it.  Unfortunately, the way our system works, a lawsuit is about the only thing you can do, and even that never really fixes anything.  However, you can’t sue on general principle – you need to have some form of damages, and (fortunately for me) I don’t have anything quantifiable.  So probably no lawsuit, much as they deserve one.

Regardless.  That’s a soap box for which I simply don’t have the energy tonight.  I am tired and depressed…I should be asleep, I could be asleep, but I can’t go to bed until the acid-reflux medication kicks in.  Yet another health issue from days gone by that is rearing its ugly head lately.  I have simply got to start really taking care of myself…I just can’t seem to find the energy or the enthusiasm for anything right now.

DH leaves in a week and a half.   That makes me very sad.  I think about how many people have to say goodbye to their spouses on a regular basis – military spouses are the obvious example, but there are plenty of people whose spouses work in other states regularly, and I’m just not sure how they manage it.  It might not be so bad if we weren’t also trying to sell both the house and the cabin, which is going to require a lot of attention and upkeep from me.  It would be a chore even with him here.  Without him…I keep reminding myself that I can do it, and I will do it.  I do know this.  I just have a hard time believing it sometimes.

Here’s the thing.  He’s my anchor.  He’s my safety net.  He’s my foundation and my GPS.  He doesn’t solve my problems – he expects me to, and I do.  But I know he’s there, if I come across one I just can’t solve.  He would do it, or at the very least he would help me find a way.  He doesn’t take care of me – he expects me to take care of myself, and I do.  But if I honestly couldn’t, I know he would.   He doesn’t coddle me or pamper me or hold my hand or treat me like a princess.  He loves me and trusts me and believes in me enough to expect me to be a strong, independent partner – and I try to do exactly that.  Most of the time I do okay.  So do I need him here to take care of me?  No.  But I just feel so much safer and stronger and more confident knowing that he is here, and I could fall back on him if I absolutely needed to.   In the end, it will be good for me to be self-sufficient for a few months, because I will admit I have begun to look to him for answers sometimes when I already know, or should know, the answer.  Maybe this will remind me how to think for myself and expect more from myself than the bare minimum.

But all that’s really secondary and isn’t even really the issue.  I am just going to miss him so much.  I hate the thought of him being alone.  I hate the thought of being here, in this house where we have shared so much and grown so much and made so many memories, without him.  I hate the thought of opening the closet every morning and seeing how my clothes now have the space to completely take over – because his are gone.  I hate the fact that when we sit down to dinner at night, I won’t hear “so, what were the big happenings at the (censored) Law Firm today?”  That’s his litany, his invitation for me to share my daily life with him, and I’m going to miss it.  Even when my answer is just “not much,” the simple ritual of it is just…priceless.  Irreplaceable.  The endless “good night” ritual that we have (engineered by our daughters over the years, it has grown from a simple “good night” to “good night; sweet dreams; I love you; see you in the morning; be safe” and each line has to be echoed by the receiving party, so it takes forEVER) – it somehow helps me fall asleep knowing that it’ll be okay, we’ll all still be here in the morning and life will go on.  That sounds simplistic but let’s face it; I have anxiety disorder, OCD and am a constant victim of magical thinking, so little things like that can mean a lot.

It all comes down to the fact that I’ll miss him.  I’m not angry, I’m not resentful, I’m not feeling sorry for myself or wishing it were different.  This is a decision we made together, and I don’t regret it for a minute.  It will be difficult and I am dreading it, but it is unquestionably the right decision for our family and the best thing we can do at this juncture in our lives.  But I am scared, and I am unsure, and I am sad.   I’m okay with that, because those are all appropriate emotions for me to be feeling right now – and one of the biggest aspects of the personal journey I’ve been making over the past few years is allowing myself to feel the appropriate emotions, rather than bottling them up, suppressing them, or trying to turn them into other emotions (like anger, for example).  So I’m okay with feeling these things – and I know that he’s feeling them too, to some extent, whether he expresses them or not.  And that makes me sad for him, because I so do not want him to feel that way.  So…you know, I’m just a little sad, and apprehensive.

I’m terribly stressed about the whole real estate issue, because I cannot abide the unknown.  I do not like not having control, not being able to plan, not knowing what to expect.  I can’t stand endless variables…and my life right now is nothing but a series of endless variables.  I can’t plan.  Well, I can make several contingency plans – “if this happens, then we do that”, but I can’t rest easy in the certain knowledge of a timeline and an agenda.  When things happen, I will have to react quickly, and knowing that always makes me panicky.  I’ve coped with anxiety disorder by making sure my life is planned out as much as possible, so there are very few situations where I have the opportunity to panic.  Right now…well, the Xanax prescription is getting a workout, is all I can say.

It’s hard on the kids, too.  Not just knowing their Dad will be half the country away – though that is difficult – but also just the daily, chronic, low-level stress of the whole situation.  Everyone’s tense, everyone’s uncertain, and we’re all acting out because of it.  It’s going to be critical for me to really get my own emotions under control so I can be calm and give the girls something of an anchor in their own shifting currents.  ED has a ton of stuff going on with senior year stuff, graduation and college prep, on top of it all.  YD is a massive Daddy’s girl, so when DH leaves it will be a huge strain on her.  She’s also understandably very anxious about being the “new kid” and starting over in a whole new place, when she has lived in this house all her life.  Add in the beginnings of puberty, and she’s having a hard time.  So I need to be there for them, and to do that I really have got to get a grip on myself first.

I miss spending time with my friends, too.  For a lot of very, very good reasons there hasn’t been much friend time lately, and I miss it.  I need it.  There was a time when I didn’t, when I had taught myself not to, but I’ve let myself become dependent upon that over the past year or so, and now I’m sort of lost without it.  It’s just so hard to make time for anything when there are always more things to do than hours in the day, and my energy levels are frankly nonexistent.

Staying up half the night writing isn’t going to help, either, except in terms of venting a little of the weepiness.  But I’ve done that now, so I think it’s bedtime.  Hopefully in the morning, I’ll have a little brighter outlook.  I’m such a wet blanket at the moment…

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Someone I admire and respect immensely recently commented to me that the hormone calm that follows a good cry is worth the effort.  I think she was right.  Unfortunately it was about a four-day “good cry”…but I’m riding the calm at the eye of the storm at the moment, and it feels rather blissfully numb.

It’s been a rough few days.  I am not, as a rule, someone who cries a lot.  I do not normally cry in front of anyone – no matter how much I love or trust them – and when I cry by myself, it’s about a thirty- second to two-minute sobfest and then it’s over…leaving behind a stuffy nose, headache, and all the other crap.  But over the past few days, I’ve been a soppy, sloppy, whimpering mess.  I cry at the drop of a hat, for any reason at all, and for no reason at all, and it lasts forever – I can’t seem to stop.  I’m a little sick of crying, to be honest.

Today, though, I seem to be functioning at a near-normal level, which is nice.  I guess I just ran out of angry/sad/scared/frustrated and ended up with numb.  Which is good.  I need a little numb.

I’m embroiled in a heated, senseless, circular war with my insurance company and pharmacy benefit (non)provider.  Due to a convenient (and, I am convinced, fraudulent) loophole that said (non)provider has created for itself, the medication that was helping me function almost normally despite my autoimmune issues is not being paid for, and quite frankly I don’t have an extra thousand dollars or so a month to pay for it myself.   So I am unmedicated and engaging in a daily round of non-productive phone calls with all three participants (moronic insurance company, intransigent nonprovider, and bewildered nonprovider’s scapegoat)…and I am exhausted.  I’m sure most people would just throw up their hands and give up – which, I am sure, is what they count on.  Unfortunately (for them) I am at heart a viciously stubborn, contrary, bloody-minded bitch…so the war will continue and it’s going to get progressively less pleasant for those unlucky enough to be receiving my endless telephone calls. [Note:  I do not normally advocate, or even tolerate, rudeness to people who are honestly just trying to do their jobs.  I recognize that I am not speaking to the decision-makers, but rather the unfortunate flunkies who get to take my irate calls and deliver the message they’ve been tasked with delivering.  However, I have reached a  point at which my careful Southern upbringing has ceased to restrain my inner snarling bitch, and I’m becoming less gracious and ladylike every day.  If this doesn’t get resolved soon, I’m going to end up as Ann Coulter…or possibly Rosie O’Donnell…)  Oh, and the icing on the cake?  In two weeks, when DH makes the jump, I’ll be uninsured for thirty days.  So there’s a good chance the insurance issue will be resolved just in time for the coverage to no longer be in effect.  So I’m probably looking at being unmedicated for at least another sixty days, assuming the new insurance lacks the general f**kwittage of my current insurance…and I’m not entirely willing to make that assumption.

So there’s that.  Also, my husband is going to be moving to Oklahoma in three weeks, while the girls and I stay behind until June.  I miss him already.  So that’s making me emotional.  Then there’s the stress of trying to sell the house and our lake cabin, as well as trying to find a new home (which is difficult because it’s hard to know if anything that’s on the market now will still be on the market whenever our place finally sells).  Also, ED is turning eighteen, getting ready to graduate, and preparing for college…and YD is clearly beginning the long, soul-shredding segue into puberty.  So I know that the next five months or so are going to be among the most trying of my entire life.

I’m up for it.  I really am.  I just seem to have moments when I forget that fact.  My BFF is going through a similarly difficult time and unfortunately both our difficult times are of a type that conspire to keep us from spending any time together or even being able to talk regularly, so we can’t even offer the kind of support for each other that we’d like to.  2010 is not starting off quite the way I’d like for it to have done.

I am eating much better, and that’s something of a victory in the face of the emotional excesses in which I’ve been indulging.  I haven’t been tempted much to drown my sorrows in crappy food, though I have had a glass or two of wine.  So I’ve been eating awesomely clean, I’ve lost four pounds since Day One, and over the past week have mostly just maintained, which I’m very happy with.  Maintenance, in the face of stress, is a huge victory for me.  It’s not how I normally roll, frankly.

Workouts have not been so successful.  I can honestly plead lack of time and too many other things I have to get done, though that doesn’t make me feel better.  The real problem is that I just don’t want to work out.  I want to sleep, and that’s all I want to do – which is a huge red flag right there.  I am depressed and I recognize that; I know the signs and I’m familiar with the process.  I’m irritated with everybody and I just don’t care about much of anything…I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere, I just want to crawl into bed and sleep till everything’s better.  I know that’s not going to happen, but there it is – that’s how I feel.  I know I can’t give into it – who has time? – and I do know all the things I need to do to drag my sorry ass out of the hole I’m in.  I just have to decide it’s worth doing.  I’ll get there.  It may take a few days, but I’ll get there.

So on the whole, life is somewhat tense at the moment…but evidently I’m getting better at taking care of myself during the stressful times.  Everything else aside, I’m pretty pleased about that.  I’ll never make it to perfect, but if I’m making progress, then I guess that’s what counts.

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I’m kind of having a bit of luck with getting back into the habit of blogging regularly, because I’ve been stuck at home for two days now.  Consequently, I have lots more time to write since I’m not, you know, working.  On the down side, however – I’VE BEEN STUCK AT HOME FOR TWO DAYS NOW!

Let me be clear:  I love being at home.  I’d love nothing more than  to be at home full time every day.  However, I do not like being stuck at home.  I’d like to be able to leave at will – but of course, if I could, then I’d be at work.  But it just keeps snowing and snowing, the roads are crap, and of course schools are closed.  So here I am.

It’s not so bad, really.  I’ve had time to do my WiiFit body test and yoga (of course, I was up at 5 a.m. again, so I had that out of the way before it was even time to get up, but still) and to read some blogs, and to do a little cleaning.  One problem I have re-discovered, though, is food.

When I’m at home all day, structure tends to go right out the window.  I suppose it’s because I’m out of my normal routine, so it feels like a free day, as though I don’t have to worry about what or when I eat.  Normally, that throws me way off schedule and off-plan, but I’m fighting really hard to stay on both today.  I’m just getting back into good habits and it’s critical that I not sabotage them now, especially as I am feeling really good about how I’ve been doing.  Also, my arbitrary six-month goal deadline helps me to feel a sense of urgency that keeps me a little more focused.  So I’m really trying hard – but I’d forgotten how difficult it is.  It doesn’t help that there’s more “bad food” in the house than usual right now, because E.D. is still recovering from wisdom-teeth removal and I stocked up on stuff she can and will eat.  Mostly, that equals crap, unfortunately.  So far I’m doing all right at leaving it all alone, but again, I’d forgotten how hard it was.

So I know that I’ll need to really plan carefully and be prepared for this, when I’m at home full-time.  I’ll need to be prepared for the difficulty and the temptation; be very mindful and aware that a change in routine does not cancel out the need for healthy habits.

Yesterday went really well, and I was extremely pleased.  I stayed on plan with food.  I did a treadmill workout during the Biggest Loser.  I stayed at low speed – 3.0 for most of it – and almost zero incline, and I only did 30 minutes.  It isn’t much, compared to what I used to do, but right now I’m trying to establish my limitations.  I didn’t have any joint pain at that level – I did have some back pain, but it was minor.  I was careful to stretch and took a hot bath afterward, both of which have been critical in the past for avoiding excessive soreness and inflammation.  And today I felt fine.  Now, the last time I had a real problem was at 3.5, with a little more incline, and I think I went for about 45 minutes.  So I’m going to work my way up and see where the cutoff is.  I did notice that at 3.0, I noticed some stiffness in my hip joints, so I suspect my upper limit for speed is going to be fairly close – at least, until I’m back on the medication.  I am also hoping that regular yoga is going to give me a better range of motion in my hips, so maybe I won’t have that problem.

It’s going to be a long process and I’ll probably be constantly making adjustments for the rest of my life.  But at least I’m working toward it.  I feel good about having done both the WiiFit yoga and the treadmill, and I feel great about my nutrition.  I did great with water as well, so all in all, it was pretty much a perfect gold star day.  I’m hoping today will be another; it’s gotten off to a good start.

One of my dilemmas has always been whether or not to get up early to exercise.  On the one hand, I need the exercise time and love starting off my day already having worked out.  On the other hand, I am so chronically sleep-deprived that I eventually end up doing more damage to my health through sleep loss than I make up through the exercise.  So my plan is this:  if I’m up anyway, as I was yesterday and today, then I’ll go down and work out.  If I’m not, then I don’t worry about it, I’ll do my evening workout as planned.  At the rate I’ve been going lately, that will mean I’m doing a morning workout at least two weekdays if not more, which is not a bad percentage, but I won’t lose any more sleep than I already am.

So that’s the plan, and so far, so good.  And now it’s time for lunch, which I need to carefully orchestrate.  Peace…out.

Oh, and as an afterthought – the Biggest Loser?  Not many thoughts on it; too early to really tell much about it.  Except that I was disgusted by the total lack of class in the opening sequence, particularly the part where they superimposed the words “Have you got the guts?” over a picture of one contestant’s belly.  I was actually offended, and that’s not that easy to do.  I’m not sure why; it just seemed crass, insensitive, sensationalist, and without any legitimate purpose.  I know a lot of people believe that pretty much sums up the show in general, but I do believe in what they’re doing.  I just wish they wouldn’t lapse into such idiocy at times while they’re doing it.  Oh, and I love the little Orange team mama from Ardmore, Oklahoma (been there, and have family there, BTW).  She’s a firecracker!   Can’t wait to watch her in action.  She and Jillian make a great team, I think.

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Well, today is actually Day Two…but it’s just begun, and I’m actually going to be talking about Day One (yesterday).

I’m sitting in my kitchen, snowed in with a couple of kids who’ve been paroled from school for the day due to the same snow that’s preventing me from getting out of my driveway to go to work.  There are two of your three strikes…the third is a crushing headache that’s keeping me from functioning at a normal level.  One part migraine, one part sinus infection, and about a million parts sleep loss and stress…it’s been brewing for a while but didn’t really hit me full-strength until yesterday.  So, while I wait for my medication to kick in, I thought I’d write a quick summary of my week so far.

I’m not much of a believer in New Year’s Resolutions, but I can’t deny that the beginning of a year is a pretty decent time to re-evaluate where you are, where you’re headed, and how you plan to get there.  For me, it’s been an opportunity to take stock and realize, with nauseating dismay, just how far I’ve strayed from the healthy lifestyle I had been living.  Last year brought a lot of changes and stresses that I won’t go into right now, and I pretty much let myself be totally derailed.  I kept telling myself I’d do better once I wasn’t so stressed – but that’s a complete cop-out and a massive self-sabotage to boot.  Stress never goes away, it only changes form, ebbs, and flows.  If you use stress as a reason not to succeed, you guarantee failure, and that’s what I’ve been doing.

I have a host of reasons to be healthy.  The usual suspects – my family, whom I adore; my own self-respect and self-value, etc.  I also have a few that are a mite less common – an autoimmune condition that is only going to be worse if I ply my body with sugar and other simple carbs and the chemical-laden crap we know as processed food.  Excess weight will make the pain and reduced functional capacity worse.  I’m also perimenopausal – which I attribute in large part to the erratic quality of my nutrition and activity levels over the past couple of years.  So…it’s only going to get more important, every day, to take proper care of myself.

So I’m renewing my focus on the great trinity of healthy living:  proper nutrition, healthy levels of activity, and sufficient, good-quality sleep.

Yesterday was Day One.  It was…interesting, as Day One of any new habit-building process always is.  I did really well for the majority of the day in terms of nutrition.  I did have a lapse mid-morning when I mindlessly plucked a mini-Reese’s cup from a co-worker’s candy dish and ate it, not even thinking about what I was doing.  The fact that I could do that without it even occurring to me that it was a problem is a good indicator of how far I’ve gotten, mentally, from where I once was.  Still, it was only one, and I realized eventually that I shouldn’t have done it and made a note to be more alert and conscious of what I was doing – which is totally the point.  One mini-Reese’s isn’t going to hurt anyone – but mindlessly eating anything is a huge, giant, blood-red flag of danger…or should be.

After that, I did beautifully, up to a point.  My water intake, although forced, was adequate.  I ate according to plan…during the day.  Unfortunately, the headache that had set in early yesterday morning only got worse and worse, and by mid-afternoon I was having a hard time staying upright.  My wonderful husband took pity on me yesterday evening and went to get dinner from KFC.  This was good, because cooking would have been excruciating, but also bad, because naturally I ate KFC for dinner.  Not on the plan.  Not even in the same universe as the plan.  So that was a deviation, but I’m not beating myself up too much for a couple of reasons – I wasn’t capable of doing much else, and (shockingly)  when I put all the information into the food tracker, I wasn’t as far over my limits as I’d expected.  I was about 300 calories over – not great, but not as bad as I’d expected – and well within limits on fat, carbs and protein.  So all in all, not a total train wreck, just a minor fender-bender.

Now, I am well aware that nutritionally speaking, KFC is not okay regardless of what my number totals were for the day.  Nutrition honestly can’t be reduced to numbers in a column, no matter how much we’d like to try.  Dinner was a wash, nutritionally, and I acknowledge that.  But under the circumstances, it could have been worse, and I’m not wasting time or energy on feeling guilty.  Guilt is the most worthless emotion there is, in my opinion.

Activity yesterday sucked, though.  Mostly because of the headache, partly because I was extremely stiff and achy.  I’ve noticed a distinct connection between the arthritis flares and my hormone levels, and right now things are bad.  I’m also off the Enbrel, pending resolution of an insurance issue that I have been assured is only a miscommunication and will be cleared up – but meanwhile, I’m unmedicated and definitely feeling the effects.  So I didn’t feel well, and I didn’t move much.  That is something that I have to get a handle on – I am going to have more days when I don’t feel well than when I do, and I have to get into the mindset of exercise as a panacea to those issues, rather than something that will exacerbate them.  I’m working on that.

Today, I’ve tried to start the day off right.  I woke up at 4 a.m. unable to go back to sleep because of sinus problems.  I got up, did some heat/ice therapy, and then went downstairs to hit the WiiFit.  The body test came out great, way better than I’d have expected – I was 28 today, which was sort of awesome – and I did about 20 minutes of yoga.  Not a lot, but all I could manage before the headache started to get worse and I figured I should lay off.  I’m hoping to be able to do a lot more by tonight, when hopefully the headache will have abated.  If not, well, 20 minutes is a start.  I need to remember to log that on Sparkpeople.

I did discover that some of the nutrional information is waaayyy wrong on the nutrition tracker at Sparkpeople, so I’m trying to input my own information wherever I can, when I know it.  That’s going to be a long process but it’ll be worth it.

Tracking is something sort of new.  I haven’t done it much in the past, because I’ve used meal plans where I know exactly what the values of the foods are.  I think, though, that since I’ve drifted so far from the right mindset, tracking will help me to stay focused and be really regimented until I get back into proper habits.  It’s not so much that I need the information as just that I need the focus that will come from spending significant time each day inputting that information.  It’ll keep my head where it needs to be.

Today, I’m going to devote to the third facet of the trinity – sleep.  I’ve been horribly sleep-deprived for weeks now, from the stresses of holidays and putting the house on the market and getting college arrangments made for ED and various other things.  Today’s 4 a.m. wake-up was an example of another reason – my sinuses tend to get really bad in the early morning, and once they wake me up, my mind kicks in and I can’t get back to sleep.  I plan to get back to progressive relaxation techniques and meditation to try to combat that hamster-brain effect.  Today, though, the medication is definitely going to take care of any wakefulness…so maybe I can at least get my body some rest.

In fact, I can feel the medication kicking in right now.  Combined with the snow that just…keeps…falling, it’s making me very sleepy, so I think this is it for this post.  Hopefully, Day Two is going to go much better than Day One.

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