Invisible Illness

Productivity

Everyone defines productivity differently.  Overachievers seem to have a hard time considering themselves productive because they set such high standards for themselves (and everyone around them too).

I used to be an overachiever.  Dealing with my fibromyalgia has changed that.  I’ve had to lower my standards for myself in order to maintain my mental health.  When I first was dealing with the symptoms of fibromyalgia, primarily the fatigue, the brain fog, and the pain, I often found myself unable to complete the simplest of tasks.  And it upset me.  Truly, to the point of frustrated tears, upset me.

So I started changing my idea of being productive.  I started taking baby steps, making lists of big things then making lists of smaller things that led up to the big things.

Big things like fixing up our yard.  A task made even harder because I have a rambunctious almost-3-year-old who I can’t leave unattended for 5 seconds without her causing trouble.  And harder because Hubby has left me practically a single parent for the last several months with his 2-jobs-schedules that left us with barely any mutual days off.  So I broke those things into smaller things.

New yard furniture.  A new yard umbrella to give us shade.  Mowing the lawn.  Pulling weeds from the empty flower beds.  Moving the bird bath (which is solid stone/concrete and takes several people).  Re-planting our crepe myrtle.  Cut back the overgrowth on the side and back of house.  Mark out the deck dimensions.  Purchase supplies for deck.  Build deck.  Build lattice privacy wall.

Smaller things.

Run the dishwasher.  Empty the dishwasher.  Run laundry.  Fold laundry.  Put away laundry.  Vacuum.  Sweep and mop.  Pick up toys.  Dust.

Smaller things.

Read a chapter.  Research.  Write.  Post.

Smaller things.

Text a friend.  Call a doctor’s office.  File paperwork.  Take me-time.  Shower.  Brush my hair.  Brush my teeth.  Eat.

These days I’m excited for accomplishing small things I used to take for granted.

Meeting my step-goal (which is less than the 10,000 recommendation).  Drinking enough water.  Finishing homework on time or even early!  Taking care of laundry.  Loading the dishwasher.

Things I used to be able to do without much effort can now take all I’ve got.  I just don’t have enough spoons to do everything.

So I’m working on adding some spoons.  It’s tough and requires hard work and a lot of effort.  But I also want to make sure I’m as prepared for Disney next year as I can be.

I want to be able to keep up with DD.  I want to be able to be excited with her, not exhausted.  I want to be able to get out of bed every morning with energy, not sore muscles.

I know I have no real control over my illness.  But I can control how I react to it.  And I’m fighting back.


~ML

A Day in the Life, Gamer Life, Geekiness

It’s all in the timing

So I’m in the middle of summer session for grad school.  A COMS class of all things.  It’s not bad but it’s not exactly riveting either.  I’ve learned a lot of this stuff in the course of 30+ years of life already, only now it’s being given names and backed up by research.  Fancy names that don’t really do much in the actually learning, for me at least.  But the timing of it is ironic given what I do for a living and that I’m almost in constant conflict management mode these days.

Timing.  I am a year out from graduating with my Master’s (barring unforeseen circumstances).  I will finish next summer session.  Just in time for Mini to turn 4, just in time for our planned Disney adventure, just in time to start trying for Mini #2.

Timing.  My step-dad passed on Father’s day.  A day that has never really been super important to me given my bio-dad walked out when I was about 3.  I celebrated it with my Opa since he was more of a father figure to me for most of my childhood.  But it was still mostly another day.  I make a bit more effort since we became parents, though even that is more in response to the fact that my husband makes such an effort for Mother’s day.  They are just 2 more days in the year to me.  I know, I’m weird.

Timing.  After my step-dad passed, I got back in touch with my step-sister.  I had never understood what happened between her and my step-dad.  But my step-dad had weird relationships with everyone it turns out.  I knew I was an aunt but it turns out that just a few days before my step-dad passed, he became a grandfather again.  So I have a niece and nephew that I’ve never met.  2 grandchildren that will never get to meet their grandfather.

Timing.  My father in law had surgery last week, has to go back for more surgery next week.  My husband’s grandfather’s dementia got worse this week.  My mother in law is struggling but she doesn’t say anything.  But you can tell when you talk to her.

Timing.  My husband is inches away from finishing his Master’s.  He’s only a few days of internship away from completing it.  Hopefully, the counseling job offer is still open when he finishes in a few weeks.  Supposedly, they’re holding it for him.  He needs it.  He needs to get away from his current job; the shift is starting to wear on him.  A 12 hour shift with a 1+ hour commute one way.  He has to go to bed by 9 pm and be up at 4:30 am.  Plus his department has no appreciation or consideration for their employees, the supervisors do basically whatever they want.  The new sergeant, after preaching about making changes, lets them go on doing like they’ve done for years.  The changes he’s made so far, have not been in consideration of the employees he’s overseeing; they’ve been done to make him look good.

Timing.  Summer is halfway over already.  Soon it will be fall again.  Soon Mini will turn 3.

Timing.  It’s been months since I applied with the new department.  I think if I don’t hear anything by the end of August, I’ll officially call it.  I can’t hang on forever.  Despite knowing that this kind of hiring process takes time, there should still be some consideration shown for those in the hiring process to not drag it out for more than 6 months.  We have lives.  We have goals and aspirations.  We have families to support, plans to make.  It also seems counter-intuitive that if you need to hire new employees, you wouldn’t make that a priority and get it done.  It’s a bit disrespectful to those who applied and those who are having to pick up the slack from a vacancy.  Trying to be patient though because it is summer and people may be on vacation with their families and such.  Still.  It’s tough.

Timing.  While taking this COMS class I got into a discussion with a co-worker of mine.  She’s a devout Christian (in contrast to my Agnostic-Deist-bordering-on-atheist self).  One of my textbooks this session is almost a generic retelling of the Bible, only retelling it as a conflict management strategy guide.  Taken by itself, no big deal.  Taken as a textbook, it’s superfluous.  The topics discussed are already covered in the THREE other textbooks.  My co-worker insists that this is God working on me.  I don’t see how redundant irritants are working on me, other than to work on my last nerve.  She insists.  I let it go, mostly because in 4 1/2 years I’ve learned to accept her ideas, even if I don’t believe in them myself.

Timing.  The plan of trying to pay off some of our debts soon.  Not a lot of progress there but given that we’re barely getting time for sleep these days.  Given that my husband is a compulsive stress-shopper.  Our budget takes some hits these days.  My own stress-shopping doesn’t help but I can at least control mine 90% of the time, plus my stress-shopping also tends to be necessities, like new clothes for Mini because she outgrows old clothes.  Shoes, because I’m slowly replacing the shoes I no longer fit into since my feet went up a half-size during pregnancy.  Some clothes because a lot of my clothes are also not fitting since pregnancy, and yes, I’m just getting around to replacing them.  A lot of household stuff though; food, laundry baskets, new sheets or curtains or towels.  Husband buys things like video games and toys.  We have collected all but one of the Skylander Imaginator Senseis at this point.  We also have many of the original Skylanders, some of the Swapforce, some of the Giants, and some of the Superchargers.  I’ve managed to keep him away from the Trap Force one with the lure of another new Skylanders coming soon.  We also have 1 copy of Destiny 2 pre-ordered.  Very likely we’ll have a second copy pre-ordered by the end of the month.

Timing.  With how busy we are, sometimes the only time we get to bond is at night after Mini is in bed and we hop on the XBox with some friends and play.  We were into Destiny a lot.  Husband is really into a lot of the CoD games.  I got into a few of those and sort of interested in Battlefield but not a lot.  But it’s our chance to unwind and talk with friends that we otherwise might not talk to.  We play Skylanders about once a week now.  I play ESO (or try to) once a week.

Timing.  My online roleplay group is not as active as it used to be.  Many of us have had other priorities come up.  One girl had another baby.  Another has health issues.  One has had job issues.  A few I think, personally, have moved on and just can’t say goodbye.  I set aside time at least once a week to be online and try to interact with other players.  I post one or two times a week, sometimes more if school is on break between sessions (when I don’t have overlap).

Really, life is all about the timing.


~M

A Day in the Life, House & Home, Kids, Married Life

Update Rant

I lied.  I said I would probably update tomorrow as part of my 365 Project but I’m gonna do it today instead.

So what’s been happening with us?

Me:  My Lyrica dose was upped.  I’m still on what’s considered a low-dose (100mg) because the dose can go up to 500mg/daily.  I was also advised and placed placed on an ibuprofen regimen, at least one tablet/capsule daily.  Which is not hard considering I still end up taking ibuprofen every other day to begin with.  This just started the week of Christmas so still a bit early to say if it’s helping.  I’m also working more on “me”.  I picked out a new skincare regimen because I was starting to have really consistent breakouts and skin-bumps (those little red irritated bumps that aren’t acne).  So now I’m on a full-blown Philosophy system.  I have the Purity One-Step and Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash, plus a little facial scrubby brush.  I also have the Renewed Hope in a Jar (both for eye and face).  So far my skin is doing much better.  I don’t use the exfoliating wash often since I have sensitive skin, I have used it about once a week (on week 3 now).  But I’ve seen faster healing on blemishes that do appear and blemishes are as big on top of the clearing up faster.  So that’s pretty good.  Plus the esthetician told me to expect a light breakout when I started using the scrubby brush because apparently everyone has one when they switch to the brush.    I also bought all new make-up but I’ll discuss that another time because this has already turned into a ridiculously long paragraph about me.

DD: We started the PEID program right before Christmas.  Our goals are to get her to be more vocally expressive.  She doesn’t talk much and doesn’t have nearly as many words that she uses compared to other kids her age and is no wear close to sentences (which is what she’s supposed to be starting with at 2).  She will grab you and drag you to what she wants.  Or she’ll skip the adults entirely and go do it herself (her problem-solving skills are an outlier for her age, she’s months ahead).  So we’re working on it.  Oh, and she dislocated her elbow again.

Hubby: Here’s the big one.  Back in late October, Hubby had a CT scan because he’s been having severe migraines for most of the year.  We finally got the results back in the first week of December.  They found an arachnoid cyst near his cerebellum.  Now, a lot of researching has yielded that these are usually benign, often are found while being tested for other things, and sometimes are present even from birth.  They usually show no signs or symptoms and are often just left alone.  But!  Hubby has a migraine that he has had since December 17.  Still.  He has been on Imitrex (and finished it in a week), has been to the ER for possible meningitis, and has been basically bed-ridden for the last week.  He has an appointment with a neurologist on January 9th and hopefully we’ll figure something out, maybe putting him on a migraine prevention regimen like I was on years ago for my chronic headaches (prior to fibro diagnosis and prior to pregnancy–the hormones seemed to have assisted with this as the frequency of my migraines/headaches has decreased, although the severity is still up there).  We ended up in the ER when he started having neck stiffness and heaviness/tingling in his limbs.  Added to that was the fever he’d run several days prior and his PCP wanted to rule out the possibility of viral meningitis (don’t get me started on the hospital trip because that was a nightmare!)

So that’s part of what’s been keeping me busy because I’ve been working 40+ hours a week and then coming home to take care of everyone and the animals and the house (all of the house since Hubby usually is no help these days).  I finished my fall session of classes with A’s so a straight 4.0.  Brought my GPA to 3.5 overall so I was very happy about that.  Spring session starts in 2 weeks on the 16th.  Hopefully I can keep this grades thing going.  I was mad that I got my bachelor’s with only a 3.2 considering I’d managed to keep a 3.8 through my AAS and the first year of my BS.  Stupid O. Chem.  The only saving grace is that I wasn’t the only one whose GPA dropped thanks to that class.  Considering that the school came down on the professor and made him curve the second half of the course so that more than 2/3 of the class didn’t fail…yeah.  All four of those classes were ree-donk-u-lous! (Yes four, 2 lectures and 2 labs all taught by the same guy and all 4 pulled my grades down.  It still irks me how weird he graded things like half the material we were tested on wasn’t even covered in class, we were expected to learn it from the textbooks on our own!)

~M

Geekiness

NaNoWriMo Day 3

So I lowered my expectations of myself.

I feel like somehow that should be considered shameful.  Somewhere someone I don’t care about is saying “Ugh, look at you, you total stranger to me.  You made a goal and you should stick to it, hold yourself accountable.”

To that stranger…eff off.

That being said, yes, I did set a goal, however now I realize that goal was probably highly unrealistic and unreasonable.  I’m a full-time 40+ hour a week jobber, with a 2-3 hour commute each day.  I come home to a 2 year old who wants my attention (and deserves every bit of it I can give her!!!) plus a husband who is almost as needy.  On top of all that I have a house to take care of, as well as pets including a dog who needs walking.  Throw on top of all that that I’m also taking classes towards my Masters.  Yeah, I think 500 words a day was a bit too lofty of a goal for myself this year.

You have to think of it this way.  A paragraph is roughly 30-50 words.  You figure 10-20 paragraphs is roughly a chapter , that’s anywhere from 300-1000 words!  I was basically asking for a chapter a day in writing.  Add in that on a computer in 11 pt font with 1.5 spacing and 1 inch margins, 300 words is roughly only 5 1/2 inches of screen space.  Going further with this extrapolation, the average novel is printed with roughly 5′ x 3′ actual reading space when you take header and footer into account.  300 words is actually roughly 2 pages in a novel.

To recap, yeah, that’s a lot of writing for someone who basically only has about 20 minutes of ‘free time’ in a normal day, usually at the end of the day after DD has gone to bed and before I have to go to bed.  So am I at my best?  No.  Most emphatically, no.

So I lowered my goal to 100 words a day, which means 700 a week.  Still a bit lofty but not so bad.  As of today, my document is at 327 words so I’m on point for my word count (making up the first two days where I didn’t get a chance to write at all).  Part of my non-writing on the first two days was the high word-count goal.  I sat there going “There’s no way I can make that word goal tonight.  It’s already X time and I have to be at work in 5-7 hours!”

I don’t feel bad about it.  I mean, like I told one of my friends who is also doing NaNoWriMo, the point is to write!  The point isn’t to write a finished product (although that might be your goal and is certainly an admirable one), the point is to write and to keep writing!  To not let yourself get discouraged or distracted!

Being A Grown Up, Invisible Illness, Kids, Pregnancy, School

Fit-ish

So before I got pregnant (and subsequently my world imploded and exploded at the same time), I was a runner.  I was slower than a herd of turtles in peanut butter, but I was a runner.  My best was a 12 minute mile and I was working on intervals and trying to train to start running 5Ks.  And yes, I know you can continue to run while your pregnant, my doctor even assured me of it.

Until I started fainting and falling and they started worrying about my heart.

After that I was too scared to go running since I always went by myself.  Granted I ran around our (at the time) neighborhood so I wasn’t exactly isolated but I also wasn’t guaranteed to be able to get help if I needed it right away.  I wasn’t comfortable so I stopped although I had every intention of starting back up once my daughter was born.

But then I started having mental health issues and health issues and everything went to hell.

But I know stress is a serious factor in fibro flares and God knows I am way too stressed.  Between work and family drama, a crippled support system, and a busy 19 month old, I’m on a hair trigger some days, especially if I’m having a flare.

But running was my zen.  I never thought I’d be a runner (and I’m still a herd of turtles) but there it is.  But it was always something I did by myself.  Not that I hated having someone else with me but I did and still do prefer to be by myself.  It gives me a chance to think or not think, to focus on just the run and forget all the crap in my life.

Trying to get back into with a kid, especially now that all of my doctors are on me about being active and staying active and losing weight, has been hard.  Hubby is not a runner by any stretch.  So if I’m home by myself with DD and dog, it’s a marathon by itself trying to get us all out the door, on the leash, in the stroller, house locked up, etc.  I end up not because it’s too exhausting.  And the many times I’ve suggested to Hubby “hey, let’s take a family walk” and the few times he’s agreed, we end up having speed bumps all day and not getting our walk.

But I’m too stressed.  I think my anxiety is starting back up and I really can’t afford that.  I’m not having panic attacks like I used to but I’m grinding my teeth.  At first I think it was just at night (I’d wake and my teeth would be sore or feel kind of loose in their sockets almost) but then I started catching myself grinding my teeth while I was awake.  I have a night guard now but it doesn’t do much for me during the day when I can’t wear it.  (I could but I think it would interfere with the whole radio/phone thing at work.)  Since I don’t want to end up on anxiety meds again, I decided it was time to take back a bit of control of my life, in a healthy way (yes I had unhealthy ways of doing it when I was younger so I make the clarification; see depression and anxiety references.)

Last night after my shift I got my butt onto a treadmill and ran, really ran, for the first time since I got pregnant (almost 3 years ago, that’s crazy to think about!)  It was a 20 minute mile but it was a mile.  My legs felt like rubber, my heart was hammering, my lungs were burning.

I FELT GREAT!  I still feel great today.  I’m not even that sore!  But it was time for me and it showed me that I can get back to where I was, healthwise and weightwise (a 30 lb drop, ugh!)

Of course I’m sitting here staring at homework and wanting to throw myself off of a bridge because I clearly picked the wrong school to do my masters with but oh well.  Gotta do what I gotta do.  They were my only option for being completely online and still being able to get my degree.

Buckle down. #beastmode

Being A Grown Up, Invisible Illness, School

Learning Curves

So my semester started last week.  I am so out of sync for school.  Trying to find time to do assignments is looking ridiculously daunting.  I used to be good at time management.  And usually I am even these days.  But having a toddler, a 40+ hour work week, plus an hour commute one way to work (2+ hours in a car in a day), plus a dog, a parakeet, and 2 sugargliders.  Throw fibromyalgia on top for some fun.  Forget a social life, I haven’t had one of those in almost 2 years.  I haven’t touched a video game in almost a week, and even then it was for a whole 30 minutes before DD woke up from her nap.

But by the time I make sure everyone is fed (and watered) and cleaned up for the day, usually after working a 10 hour shift, I’m ready for bed myself.  I try to make myself do some cleaning around the house, even if it’s as minor as loading/unloading the dishwasher and picking up toys.  Which is basically just cleaning up after the day itself.  It doesn’t include things like laundry or the mail piling up, or shoes that DD drags all over the place (all shoes, any shoes she gets her little mitts on).

If I’m extremely diligent, I’ll try to tackle an hour of school: reading a chapter in the textbook (which I likely do not retain), work on a paper, or take a quiz.  Today I did a write up for a class on defending a thesis.  I still have an exam to do but I can do that at work, too many distractions…normally.  Today very few distractions but the odds of getting interrupted once I start an exam with an hour and a half time limit is like Murphy’s Law.  It happens all the time.  Sit down to work on something, boom!  Stuff!

Instead, working on some paperwork and reading more chapters in my textbook.  May start on some research for a paper because that’s mostly searching and reading and I can pick it up and set it down fairly easily.

Seriously, I must be a masochist.  That I’m putting myself through this in the name of bettering myself.

I hope it’s worth it.