Plays, Pain and Madness

Plays, Pain and Madness

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I updated anyone. I have thought about writing numerous times… but usually in response to something in the news and I try to keep my opinions off the internet as much as possible. If anyone was wondering, I did not die. I mean, I can’t guarantee I didn’t hire a ghost writer to take on my blog after my untimely demise, so you’ll have to take it on faith.

What I’ve been up to – school, theater, church, marriage and illness. In a happy little package that I desperately try to maintain. I admit there are days when I will hole up in my house with Netflix and never get out of my pajamas to avoid people seeing how I really am that day. Because I have some sort of illness. Do I know what? Nope! This is a one-rheumatologist town, apparently. So I have to drive two hours to see one and even they can’t get me in until December. Hence, waiting. Not knowing.

Recently, I had an impacted wisdom tooth that latched on to the molar next to it as a hostage. After lengthy negotiations and some sketchy action on the part of my wisdom tooth (an abscess), it won. My molar went with it and I convinced myself, albeit briefly, that maybe that was the cause of all the body yuck. I DON’T have an autoimmune illness. That ER doctor was wrong! But the teeth are gone, (goodbye healthy molar, I miss you) the antibiotics have been taken, and I am flaring up again. So much for that theory.

There is a history of fibromyalgia in my family, so I naturally thought that’s the illness I am now dealing with. However, fibro is constant pain. For months at a time. Mine goes away and is only in my joints. But jointS. Plural. Also known as polyarthritis. The first flare lasted around a month and progressively got worse. The second flare lasted around a week. This one started around the time our musical closed. My body was simply exhausted and this is its way of exacting revenge.

Maybe I can get ideas from Doctor Internet. I’ll tell you what a flare feels like for me and then you guys can diagnose me with whatever craziness you think it might be. Get your stethoscopes and tongue depressors ready… here we go!

Morning. Exhaustion. Not mental exhaustion, but an overall heavy feeling in my body. Not due to fat, either. Like I went dead weight on myself somehow. The pain is there already. Not bad enough to warrant knocking over a pharmacy for some narcotics, but enough to feel a little miserable and a lot irritated. And it doesn’t wax/wane like other pains. It’s just there. Hanging out. When it’s affecting my hands, I have trouble gripping things. I’ll close my fingers around something and a pain will shoot up the back of my hand. Again… not taking hostages in exchange for Vicodin, but these pains are more intense than the constant ones. I have come close to dropping things quite frequently.

Showered. Made-up. Dressed. Putting on a brave face and heading into the world. Crap, I’m falling asleep in class!! AGAIN. If I can miss my second and third classes, I go home and crawl back in bed, embracing myself in the comforter and begging for the comfort the name implies. Good thing our bed is adjustable because getting into a position in which I CAN fall asleep is akin to a human version of Tetris. This Tetrimino won’t cooperate, though. Like, EVER. Sometimes I have to wear wrist braces to bed. And my right shoulder will make it almost impossible to relax down onto either my left side or my back. Sigh. If I am able to nap, it lasts hours.

Lets say I make it through the early class. Triumph! Now to contort my body into two (sometimes three) different chairs to survive the hour break between classes one and two. Doesn’t work. Back still hurts. Oh, well… at least I haven’t given up and retreated back to my bed. Success!

All the while, I am trying to smile as much as possible and show enthusiasm when greeting friends because no one wants to be around a sad sap, am I right?

Home again, faced with various chores that are infuriating me for going undone. On to tackling the housewor… wait… when did Netflix come back on? Oh. After I almost dropped three successive dishes and the pain in my lower back deepened while standing at the sink. Then I almost passed out bending over repeatedly to pick up the living room. WHY did I let things get this gross?! Oh. That’s right. For the same reason Netflix is on and I’m fighting back tears on the couch.

The difference between my laziness that prompted a messy house and how my house looks now is the worst part for me. It’s one thing to be drained, never able to find the energy because you’re too busy not caring enough and being drained, bursting with the energy that a ketogenic diet and vitamin supplements provide and caring about wanting a good-looking house… but no longer possessing the muscle energy to get things done. Those are the times, alone or out of the line of sight of friends/family, when I let the rage seep in. “This is unfair” becomes my mantra.

Some days, I can actually work up enough strength, grip and energy to cook dinner. Most days, not as lucky. Then it’s homework or relaxing in the recliner before I go back to the battle in the bed.

Silver linings? I haven’t let my illness affect my moods all the time. There are slip-ups of course, but I am generally still positive around other folks and fighting the stigma of being sick. My libido isn’t down the drain. Marriage can get challenging when you don’t want to do, er, married things. Sex isn’t the most important thing in a relationship, but it’s definitely in the top three. Yay for that not being an issue, even when I am in pain. So life isn’t all awful by any means. I mean, I just finished performing in Young Frankenstein: The Musical. I made it through six weeks of rehearsal and a week of performances. I’m not failing any of my classes (although my grades aren’t what I would prefer them to be). I have incredibly understanding teachers this quarter who have worked with me on getting things done.

This is a lengthy post. I guess I needed to vent about this. Give people insight into what it feels like to be in my body these days. So. Doctor Internet. What do you think?

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Bread makes you fat?!

Bread makes you fat?!

Ah, blogging. I’m such a slacker. So many things are currently happening or have happened that I barely know where to begin. Let’s take it back to a post from almost two years ago when I was still desperate to lose weight and failing miserably. This post. I had so much anxiety over originally posting it that it’s amazing I’m referencing it now. I remember that girl. She was depressed and struggling constantly to figure out who she was.

Have I lost all the weight? Fuck no. Let’s be real, here. In fact, I gained what I had been losing and then some until I wept when the scale accused me of being 316 pounds. I couldn’t see a way out. The Zoloft was making me more calm, but my body was not cooperating. WHY couldn’t I get my shit together? Well, because I wasn’t trying hard enough. I wanted it to be easy and melt off me before my eyes. But that’s not how weight loss works.

Is it?

In January, I began to limit my portions to the recommended sizes and cut out a lot of the junk. I started losing a little weight, but tried not to focus on it too much and jinx it. Then a good friend of mine tagged me in a post on Facebook that has completely changed my life. I tried clean eating. I tried paleo. I tried Medifast. Slimfast. Vegan. A brief dance with South Beach. I knew fad diets don’t work and, often, neither do ways of eating. But this one post blew my mind. I saw the results of a blood test someone was bragging about. Results that showed a testosterone level back in the normal ranges for a woman. THAT detail is what snapped my brain to attention. What on earth was she doing that was legitimately balancing her hormones??

Keto.

She had cut almost all of the carbs from her daily diet and was supplementing with fats. Dude, fats?! The things all the doctors tell us are going to harden our arteries and force us to become obese until we have fused with our couch and have to be cut from our house? Yep. Except keto focuses on the healthy fats. Ones we have ignored or shunned because they are that most dirty of words… but we were actually denying ourselves an ability to get healthy.

Fast forward to today. I am down forty-five pounds.My body shape is changing instead of simply shrinking. The ever-stubborn belly fat is falling off and my face is losing the Chinese phone book. Not only is the weight finally leaving, but I am no longer on Metformin. The hormonal illnesses that plagued me for half of last year are gone. I am happy unless given a reason not to be. My knees don’t ache constantly. I sleep better at night. And, while a few of my friends mourn my loss of carbs, I am happily munching on bacon and cheese and laughing at their idea that I’m missing out on something.

I was missing out on my life. I’m not anymore. I don’t have new progress pictures just yet as I haven’t quite jumped that mental hurdle, but they’re coming.

We are also moving into our own place again, rekindling the passion that got lost somewhere in all the fat folds and looking forward to starting an exciting new chapter of life. I hope everyone reading this is looking forward to something, too.

Ladies and gentlemen… 2017.

Ladies and gentlemen… 2017.

As I have gone through four quarters in college and am beginning my fifth on Tuesday, one thing that I am reminded of is that writers need to write. Every day. Have I been? Hell no! I’ve been slacking. Like, EPIC slacking. So, when people have asked what I am currently writing, my answer is a sheepish look. Why haven’t I been blogging, they ask. Well… because I have been struggling. With life, with illness, with disinterest. All of those things. I suppose addressing them is a way of writing, so here goes.

Life. I love being in school. Learning is something I have always enjoyed, whether my grades in high school reflected that or not. Learning is amazing. Homework… meh… not so much. But I am even doing 90% of my work without batting an eye. However, this takes up a lot of my time and I pour myself into doing this rather than writing. I keep telling myself that I can write anytime, which is true, but don’t schedule that in. In the months since my last post, life has been exciting (other than the illness, but that’s another paragraph). I have made new friends, joined the Improv Club at school and am looking forward to performing a smaller play with three talented actresses in February. Throw the Financial Peace University on top and you have a winning combination. Dave Ramsey is helping us get out of debt by showing us how to remove our heads from our asses. Or, well, okay… more me than Lee, to be sure. I’m a “spending is so much better than paying off debts” kind of kid. But that is changing, I’m happy to say.

Illness. Ah, yes. If you’ve read my blog before, you know about my challenges with infertility and hormone imbalances. We are still trying to conceive and I have recently started seeing a new OB after the three-month fight with menorraghia from July to October. If any woman on here has experienced this, you have my deepest sympathies. It feels like you wake up from ten to thirteen hours of sleep to need another twenty hours. And it’s not the same kind of tired that will inevitably follow oversleeping. It’s an absolute drain of all energy your body could possibly possess. Not to mention the disgusting accompaniment of–ah, nevermind. You get the idea. After FINALLY getting someone to understand how to get things to stop and being referred to my new doctor, I thought things would begin to get better. But you know what happens after three months of nonstop bleeding? Anemia. I missed more school this last quarter than any other. Thankfully, my teachers were understanding. No Dean’s List or President’s List when you have two Bs, though. Damnit. Now that I am on the iron supplements and my very wise friend Amber suggested I start taking powdered greens, things are looking better.

Disinterest. Meh.

So I write to you from a platform of hope. Hope that this year will be better than the last. That I will be able to keep up with life, kick this illness in its whore face and find my interest again. As long as the Femara (we ditched the Clomid) doesn’t send me into another estrogen rage like yesterday’s. I might end up in prison. Maybe I should start a Go Fund Me for emergency bail money…

Seize your success this year.

Some apples have worms.

Some apples have worms.

While doing my homework for Creative Writing class, I was introduced to The Moth… which is a site for posting story podcasts. We were challenged to choose a story to read and I was drawn to one about a teacher dealing with a witch hunt in his town.

Wow. Let me say that some grown people can be seriously infantile. This teacher writes a blog (like so many of us writers do) and some of the other teachers decided this blog was a reason for him to be fired. They took sentences out of context and created this file of writing that made him sound like a violent, sexist asshole. The principal was given this packet of nonsense and shared it with the teacher in question. Since it isn’t my story, I’ll just skip to the end. He doesn’t get fired, no parents withdraw their kids from his class and a dozen parents actually offer to add their kids to his class if any are withdrawn.

Much as I was incredibly glad that the reaction from the parents was incredible, I am left wondering what sort of things I will come up against as a future teacher. One of my friends made a comment just before I started school that I may have to deal with students having crushes on me. That honestly never occurred to me. It still doesn’t. But, realistically, it could happen. I’m not saying that because I’m vain, but because I remember how many teachers I had crushes on myself. Some of them were conventionally unattractive (one of them to epic levels), yet their personalities inspired my young hormones to fall in the teenage infatuation everyone who reads this blog is familiar with. It happens all the time. Luckily… it’s unlikely I’ll ever know about it.

Not that it wouldn’t be a hilarious story one day if I encounter a moment like Billy Bob asking Miss Davis to prom in Varsity Blues.

I face a very rough future. My every move will be scrutinized by so many people. And, as it’s been pointed out to me on numerous occasions, I won’t even be making enough money to ease the stress.

Regardless… I am not shaken. I know where I want to be in life and teaching is my passion. School has confirmed that for me. Besides, why wouldn’t I love a career where being a smarty-pants know-it-all comes in handy?

I hope my readers that have children consider these things when they get overly critical of their children’s teachers. Always see the big picture. Do your research. Don’t let people sway your good opinion of someone other than the person themselves.

And say “thank you” to a teacher today.

 

 

Read ’em and eat!

Read ’em and eat!

I never intended to become a food blogger… and still don’t. But a friend of mine added me to a Facebook group this morning where we can be held accountable by posting pictures of what we’re eating. Not necessarily every single thing we ingest, although I am sure some folks might prefer to do that. I am going to try to keep up with the group and hold myself accountable. It’s one thing to tell someone what you’re eating. Something else entirely to show them.

While I don’t plan on turning my blog into a “what did Barbie eat today?” sort of experience, I am compelled to start sharing the things that I loved. Because eating healthy can be intimidating, overwhelming and expensive. When we find recipes that are delicious and can solve those issues, why not share them? Maybe I’ll help someone find a good substitution for a favorite meal of theirs. That seems to always be my biggest obstacle. I need to have certain things to maintain a non-murderous mental state.

One of those things has always been fried rice for breakfast. Not like Chinese food leftovers (although that has happened on too many occasions to count), but rice that I’ll toss in a pan with some butter and sesame oil. Then I’ll crack an egg into it, garnish with salt and pepper, and devour. While that certainly isn’t one of the worst things I could (and do) eat, it’s not really giving me much nutrition, either. I did start throwing in some Bob’s Red Mill protein powder to boost my protein without adding more eggs… but that’s kind of like drinking diet soda because you are watching calories. It’s still soda. What’s more, diet soda often has artificial sweeteners that can cause cancer or, in the case of drinking too much aspartame, mimic MS and fibromyalgia. You’re not actually doing anything better for your body. I wondered what I could do to enjoy this breakfast I make so often while still maintaining some sense of actual nutrition.

Enter my glorious Christmas gift from my husband’s sister — a new rice cooker. The one I had loved burning the bottom of my rice and thus has lived a quiet life of solitude in the closet as punishment. When trying a new quinoa recipe a couple weeks ago, I decided to make the quinoa in the rice cooker. It was only my second time making quinoa and the first was an absolute disaster. This time, the quinoa was fluffy, perfectly cooked and the casserole was delicious. But… wait a minute… isn’t quinoa an ancient grain packed with minerals, folate, protein and healthy fats? Right. So, why am I using rice?

This morning, I sleepily added quinoa to the rice cooker and then discovered some treasures waiting for me in the fridge. Baby spinach, green onions and carrots. Those would be great in a fried “rice”! So I diced them up and suddenly found myself getting excited for breakfast. The end result (which you can see in the picture) was incredible. Delicious, a little crunchy with the carrots, filling and HEALTHY.

Beginning my day with a meal that doesn’t leave me feeling either underwhelmed or guilty is fabulous. So, I’ll share my recipe with you all and hope someone else finds it as delicious as I did. Keep in mind this was a serving just for me. You can add as much as you need if you’re making breakfast for others, too.

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Even the colors in the scramble are appealing!

 

Fried-Rice-Inspired Quinoa Scramble

1/3 c cooked quinoa (whichever color you prefer)

1 large egg

3 green onions, sliced

1 clove minced garlic

1/8 c shredded carrots, diced

1/4 c baby spinach, chopped

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp butter (or ghee, if you prefer)

splash low sodium soy sauce (or aminos)

 

Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Toss in onion and carrots and cook for about three minutes until the onion begins to soften and the carrots still have a little crunch to them. Add in the garlic and cook another thirty seconds.

Add the quinoa and toss with the vegetables, keeping it moving almost constantly for about a minute. Push mixture to the side and add half of the sesame oil. Crack egg into the empty space and allow the white to begin cooking a bit before mixing in to the rest of the ingredients in the pan. Add a splash of soy sauce.

Use the other half of the sesame oil directly into the quinoa mixture and then put in the chopped spinach. Stir to combine and let the spinach wilt.

Serve!

 

 

 

Kicking life in the stomach.

Kicking life in the stomach.

There has been quite a hiatus between blog posts. A friend asked me recently if my being in school now meant that I wouldn’t be blogging anymore. I never intended that to be the case and need to get back into it. My English teacher even reminded us that all writers should write every day. I’ve been carrying my journal in my backpack since then and trying to remember to take a few minutes.

I’m now in my second quarter of college, still loving every day that I get to be in class. Learning. Immersed in an environment where it’s okay to be smart and let my intelligence thrive. I have needed this so desperately for a long time. I never realized this in high school… or, later, when I thought I missed only my friends from high school and actually just missed school in general. I struggled to make it to graduation then because I was simply above doing homework. It didn’t challenge me. Why should I commit to it? Now, I do every assignment and ended the fall quarter on the President’s List. Go figure. The great thing about it is that I am now confident that I chose the right path.

The first few weeks of school were tough, triggering my social axiety on a level that made me worried. As a result, I made the decision to seek medical guidance. Okay, I actually went in to discuss appetite suppressants since my eating ties in directly to my stress levels. But, my doctor being a smart woman, she told me we were going to treat the illness and not the symptom. I have been doing SO much better. Although I feel a little bit like Penny in This is Where I Leave You… the Zoloft cancels out my filter. I tend to over-share now. And blurt things out that I wouldn’t have before. Or just generally be obnoxious. But hey, at least I’m not stressing it, right?

Now I am focused on improving my life outside school as well. I dealt with a lot of stress recently that caused me to spiral out of control again and gain back all the lost weight from this last year. Plus a few pounds. I am back on track with clean eating and portion control, making sure to live by the 80/20 rule and allow myself treats from time to time rather than considering them a “cheat”. I injured myself in my first visit to the gym, but am pushing through and getting things done still. I refuse to be controlled by my fat.

I am up for swapping recipes, being a shoulder for anyone to cry on, go work out with you or just scream until our throats hurt and we no longer feel the emotional pain. Whatever you need.

Hello, again, all.

 

 

 

 

 

Grateful. Post Four.

Grateful. Post Four.

Today has been a much easier day so far. I was able to gather the energy to clean the kitchen and remembered to take something out for dinner. Maybe this is a sign that I’ll be back in my groove soon and this month of melancholy will be behind me. I know, one day is not really a reliable sign either way. But I can choose to be hopeful about it and that’s what makes all the difference.

One of my textbooks came in the mail today and I was faced with the weight of my decision to go back to school. No, literally. That thing weighs a ton! I laughed when I realized I would once again become familiar with toting around a heavy backpack all day. Ah, well… that’s what Jansports are made for.

On to the important stuff.

Number One – I am thankful for Thirdspace. Becoming a Christian was a big deal for me. I struggled (well, still struggle) with a lot of what it takes to be solid in my faith and felt that pretty much every church I went to was failing me in one specific area — I didn’t feel like I could ask questions. And, if I did, I could only ask questions that would be appropriate. I wanted more of a dialogue. I wanted to listed to various perspectives rather than the one perspective that your pastor is telling you MUST be right. Thirdspace has been a huge blessing for me. I am able to talk freely and have my questions answered without judgement for my having asked in the first place. I can be myself. It’s such a fabulous feeling.

Number Two – I am thankful for Positive Life Radio. So thankful that I donate. When I’m having a rough day, I can throw on PLR and simply enjoy the upbeat music that makes me smile and forget about all the hate and negativity for a while. I can focus on the message of love pouring out of my speakers.

Number Three – I am thankful for a clean kitchen. Clutter on the counters creates clutter in my mind. When you come in to my house and it looks like a disaster, I am not well. Whether mentally or physically. Lee heard a message on the radio about how a woman’s representation of herself is often her home and that you can tell what sort of state she’s in by the state of her house. I know that isn’t universally true, but it is amazingly accurate with me. My clean kitchen has made me feel more relaxed today.

Number Four – I am thankful for time going by quickly. Not just so I can start school soon, but also because I am impatiently waiting for the cool weather of fall. I want to put on my leggings, boots, layered tank tops and cardigans. Figure out which of my billion scarves I am going to wear for the day. Enjoy leaving the windows in the house open and relaxing in the fragrant breeze you only experience in autumn.

Number Five – I am thankful for Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine. It is a perfume that makes me feel happy when I smell it. Granted, that’s a common feeling when enjoying the aroma therapy of orange oil, but this particular perfume is the perfect fusion of orange and a deeper floral that simply makes my mind feel content. If only it weren’t so expensive! I’m sure my friends aren’t all as thankful for it as I am since I make them smell my arm whenever I am wearing it. Haha.