Friday, August 27, 2010

the upswing... and a near miss

Today I am beginning to feel legitimately better. Emotionally, if in no other way, but hey, I'll take it.

I was able to make a flitratious advance before my second cup of coffee and was able to keep the flirty mood up for most of the day. That is HUGE progress. A week ago, I couldn't give a damn about feeling sexy. Bleh.

So I am still very, VERY tired. My muscles still ache - weird ones, too. Bicep, triceps, pecs, abs (cleverly hidden under a protective layer of fat) back, shoulders and quadriceps. They all hurt. Gluts, hamstrings, and calves are all fine. I can't figure out a rhyme or reason to it, just taking note. And my balance has gone wonky. What's up with that?! Any readers out there (among the six of you) been through this menopause thing and experience vertigo? Very strange stuff. And problematic. I work on ladders and scaffold and such. standing near a high open edge today, I got lightheaded and grabbed hold - in as nonchalant a way as I could manage - of a big stack of gypsum board to steady myself. A couple of times I noticed I just felt dizzy, and I can't figure out why. It is worrisome.

So, I had a good day. My emotions are back up, I got a little work done, I've got a plan for doing things next week, I got paid, I tucked a little money away to pay for some serious ink I have been contemplating for a while, and I had a decent supper.

I find that an upswing can be easily derailed, though.

An offhand remark by a friend can plant a seed of doubt, and the waves of insecurity can start rushing back. I did my best to let it go, to not dwell, but it still lingered.

I went to soak in the landlord's hot tub and relax my muscles. The doubts still swirled. I am not out of the woods yet.

On my way out of the screened gazebo that houses the hot tub, the landlord's cat greeted me. His master is away on vacation, and the cat has access to the house, but apparently he lacks company. I petted him and he purred. I scooped him up to bring into the house and he was not as happy about that as I had hoped. There was no hissing or scratching, but he seemed grateful when I dropped him at the cat door and he darted inside.

I stood in the driveway, lit only by the just past full moon and thought, "I do hope Wayne has a black cat."

I walked toward the path behind the school that leads to my place, and turned to look at the moon. She was beautiful tonight. Almost full, waning just a bit, in a sky clear and midnight blue and dotted with a million stars. It took my breath away. Instinctively, I faced the moon, put my hands together and murmured "let us be in the spirit of worship."

And it was.

For the first time in months, I worshipped.

I did not pray specifically to the moon, but to the mother spirit of the universe. I prayed for strength and patience to get through whatever this is, and I thanked her for reminding me that there will be balance in the world, and in me.

I stood in the driveway, lit as though in daylight by the bright shining moon, miles from anything that most people would recognize as civilization, and I let the moon's rays wash over me. There will be balance. What I am going through will even out. The boat must rock a bit before it settles again.

The peace that came over me was amazing.

I squatted on the ground, not quite kneeling, but still with hands clasped in prayer formation, and allowed myself to submit to the power of nature, the power of the yin and the yan, the balance that spins the planet at just the right speed to keep us all from flying off, the force that runs the tides and makes them come and go and cleanse our shores. It was wonderful.

Filled with peace and wonder, I stood to turn and go home.

And the moonlit yard swirled around me.

I dropped back to my crouch, hands on the ground in front of me.

Dizzy. Swirling, nauseatingly, world-spinning-like-a-ride-at-the-fair-dizzy.

I exhaled.

OK, better. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.

This is NOT where and how I want to pass out, thank you. In the driveway, in a bathrobe and crocks with a towel over my shoulder and a cat that may or may not belong to my landlord as my only witness. Wouldn't that be something for the catsitter guy to find in the morning! Um, no.

Slowly, and mindful of the lesson I had just learned, I gradually raised myself from my crouched position to a full stand. Breathe in and out a couple more times just to make sure I had the hang of it, and OK.

Thank you, mother moon spirit, for the blessing and the lessons. Thank you auntie cat for your supervision of this evening's worship.

I turned and walked into the darkness of the path and back to my own yard.

I have some ideas for self-care for tomorrow. I need to go to bed now so that I can get up and do them. Good night.

Interesting thought

Yesterday and today I was/am exhausted. Today I can kind of see it, as I worked hard yesterday. But being tired yesterday baffled me. I had not done lots of hard work on the day before. Really, I had done some errands and washed the cat. OK, so that was traumatic for both of us, but still.

A guy I am working with had an interesting take on what I am going through. As far as he can tell, menopause seems to be like puberty, but in reverse. OK, that makes sense.

And as such, the chemical changes going on in my body are pretty profound. Again, that makes sense.

Those changes can demand an enormous amount of energy that might otherwise be used for doing everyday things. Remember what it was like when you were 16, he asked? You could sleep 10, 12, even 14 hours at a whack? Of course. That's what teenagers do. Right. Because their bodies need it. They need that kind of rest to recuperate from the rigors of daily life on TOP of some pretty profound hormonal/chemical changes.



So this makes sense, after a fashion. I don't remember puberty having such violent mood swings, but I do remember it (me) being pretty dramatic. Hmm. He's pretty smart about girls stuff for a guy who's never actually had his own set of ovaries and the plumbing/hormones that come with them. Huh.

Tired again this morning. Glad I will be able to sleep in if I need tomorrow. Got some things to do to prepare for school, but I can get a bunch of them done over the weekend. That feels good. The pile of textbooks for this semester is growing daily. Oh, and it looks like I will be the only person in the classroom with the professor for one of my classes. The other four students will be participating via closed circuit television in Portland, around 100 miles away. In the parlance of my younger friends, FML. No slacking in that class. Crap. Not that I look for ways to slack, but being front and center does seem to add some pressure to actually know what is going on all the time. Yeesh.

More later. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

not all better, but better. Except for the cat.

hmm. woke up without an alarm this morning (I forgot to set it last night). That was nice. I was hungry, so I ate breakfast and then had an upset stomach. Phooey.

My muscles are still kind of sore, but not as bad as they were yesterday.

The weather has shifted, so that might play a part, too.

But in other adventures today...

Kitten had an appointment at the vet.

He has had this rash/itchy stuff/sores on his neck and down his back to the base of his tail. It's been nasty, and I wanted to get it looked at before I get busy with school, so I made an appointment.

My cat does not like traveling.

He does not like motor vehicles, as far as I can tell, and he mightily resents his car carrier.

I brought it in from the shed and left it in the living room. Cat and dog both ignored it, as did I.

Kitten seemed particularly oblivious, lying near me in the kitchen as I worked on the computer, easily within reach should I suddenly decide to scoop him up and put him in the box.

Which, of course, I did.

That fucking cat grows extra arms and legs the minute he sees that travel case, I swear. Trying to stuff him into that thing is like trying to arm-wrestle an octopus. get his hind legs in and he's got a hold of the handle with his front claws. Detach his front claws from the lid, and his backside is out of the case again and making moves toward freedom. All the while he is whining piteously.

Eventually, I manage to stuff all of his arms and legs and one tail into the box and find my jacket. He begins to yowl.

And I don't mean little meows. No. He howls.




I watch to see that he does, in fact, inhale between the yowls.

I carry him out through the pouring rain to the car, where he settles in for some serious noise.

I call friends so they can share in my misery. To a person, they laugh. One friend actually hands her phone around the room so her family can hear my cat's complaints.

When I suggest to another that he might need a harmonica and a tin cup to bang on the bars, she says "I really don't think he needs a harmonica. No, not at all."

The volume of noise that can come out of a 13 year old, 15 pound cat is impressive. He is a formidable performer.

I grumble that if I ever find the person who taught him to yodel, there's gonna be hell to pay.

At the vet's office, still securely in his cage, he pees.

And not just an "ooh! the sniffing dog startled me!" kind of pee, but a "I am miserable and I am going to squeeze every drop out of my bladder that I can because then the humans (who are obviously to blame for this humiliating ordeal) will have to clean it up" kind.

Oh, he's a bastard.

So he dripped pee all over the exam table, the vet techs had to hose out his carrier and put in newspapers for the trip home, because now his fur was all soaked with urine (ew). The vet gave him a shot, stuffed him back in the cage -- with no more ease than I had managed earlier, it was gratifying to note -- I paid the woman at the front desk and we headed home.


Still yowling.

Only now he was noisy and smelly. Ew.

I stopped at the grocery store for a couple things and to give genius cat a chance to bathe while I was inside. Came out and he's still yodeling at volume 20. Sigh.

Groceries in the trunk, and off we go home, cat screaming all the way.

By the time we get home, I have devised a plan.

I put the groceries away, leaving Kitten in his prison. He is silent, now. concerned about his future.

He had good reason.

I brought his carrier down the hall and into the bathroom. I grabbed a couple towels from the closet and stripped down. I turned on the water to let it warm up. I shut the bathroom door.

I opened the pet carrier and Kitten stepped out. I picked him up, opened the shower stall door, and he grew those extra legs and arms again. Holding him in a most undignified way, I got us both into the shower and shut the door.

He looked up at me and gave the most ear-splitting howl I've heard in ages.

I grinned.

I took the shower head spray gizmo, set it for a concentrated spray, and soaked him down.

He tried mightily to open the glass door. While he was reaching for the handle, I hosed down his tummy area.

He stepped on my foot to get a better purchase, I think. He sunk his claws purposefully into the flesh of my instep and reached as high as he could for the door handle.

Working hard not to scream, I reached down and carefully removed his foot from mine. The pain was intense. My world went white.

I realized I still had my glasses on.

he got lathered up with pet shampoo, then rinsed off and we got out. I toweled him dry for as long as he would tolerate it and freed him to the rest of the house. My foot throbbed for an hour.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sulking at different ends of the house.

Now I am going to soak in the hot tub, and head to bed early. I may sleep with one eye open so the cat does not rip out my throat in the night.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Today was better than yesterday. I still felt emotions coming through in waves, but not the debilitating kind I endured yesterday.

What surprised me today was the level of physical fatigue I felt. All of my large muscle groups were sore today - biceps, triceps, quadriceps, all over my back and neck, and just after lunch I got flat-out exhausted. My head was never really entirely engaged today, so I played it low and didn't attempt any high-wire aerobics (or ladder work). I bumbled through the day, glad to have a competent helper who was both patient and understanding. Together we got some stuff done, and I think I might have even helped some.

I am trying to track how I feel from day to day, and it gets difficult when things are good. I don't want to write anything down, because, well, there's nothing to complain about. But then I have a spate of days like this last few and I remember again that I need to write it ALL down so that I can follow what happens and see if I can figure out why.

I am exhausted today. I am making supper and going to hit the hot tub for a little while to soak my sore muscles, then I am going to bed at a decent hour. Sorry this is a dull report. But honestly? I'd rather have this kind of dull than the fireworks I had yesterday. Oof. Thanks for your patience. Clever and witty commentary will resume once things level out a bit.

Monday, August 23, 2010

like grasping sand

The hormones - and with them either sadness or anger - seem to come in waves. A friend likens depression to cramps in the same kind of way - it comes in waves. Take some Advil, breathe carefully, ride out the bad parts and keep moving when you can.

This morning, I wrote at the depth of the wave. Or the height. Whichever. I was deep underwater, as deep as it gets.

Later this evening, after a day of encouraging and caring calls and notes from people in my real life world and here in bloggyland, I was feeling better.

It was like in high school physics class. Mrs. Davis would explain the formulas, explain how the calculations worked, draw them out on the board, and we'd all dutifully write them down in our loose-leaf notebooks. I could do the problem in class. I concentrated, to be sure, but Lisa Doherty and Bonnie Colby and me and someone else ... Mary Manley, maybe? Holly Light? but anyway, our team would figure it out, work the calculations and come up with the answer we were supposed to get. Something to do with the coefficient of friction or something. The little wooden block car with wheels traveling down an incline at X rate of speed and Y rate of acceleration maybe.

The bell would ring, we'd pack up our gear and head off to lunch or literature or whatever, assignments carefully noted for the evening's labors at the kitchen table.

Where it all disappeared.

All of it.

The numbers, the formulas, the coefficient of friction, the methods, the reasons, all of it evaporated as soon as I walked out of Mrs. Davis' class and was long cold dust by the time I opened by notebook six hours and many miles later.

I would sit and look at my notes. They were foreign to me. I had scribbled arrows and notes in margins that had something to do with inverting fractions or multiplying something with an exponent or something, and now it was all gone.

That's what the sadness and depression is like.

I can remember nothing of the competence and happiness and security I feel when I am not in it. Like day six of a bad cold, I can no longer remember what it feels like to be healthy. Only this has been happening a dozen times a day or more.

So tonight, while I understand what is going on, I am writing it down. Hopefully, the act of writing will put the knowledge into my long-term memory where the clouds of sadness will not obscure it completely.

A friend today suggested that I ride out the wave, to dance it out in a chaos rhythm. I like that idea. Sort of a participatory Zen approach. Let it flow, ride with it, let the madness spin me round round like a record and leave me gasping but unharmed at the end of the dance. It is not a bad image to contemplate.

I do not know how I will approach the next wave of sadness when it hits. I'd like to hope that I can remember what I have written here and that I can just ride it out, relax and let it flow around me like water around a stone in a stream (that's the Zen part).

Whatever happens, I have made progress today. I have done no harm to any human being, including myself, and I have received some solid and useful advice for the next tide. I have cared for myself, fed myself, set a couple goals and achieve one (washed the dog - she smelled foul!). I have nurtured myself with a soak in the landlord's hot tub and am now heading to bed at a reasonable hour. Tomorrow I will give this thing another shot. Stay tuned. And thanks for your patience.