Monday, May 30, 2016

Achievement Unlocked!

First of all, my conscience will not let me start a blog on this day without taking a moment to acknowledge the holiday. Today is Memorial Day, where we take a moment to pause in remembrance for those who have fallen for the survival of our country. We pause to thank them for their sacrifice and appreciate the freedoms we have because of them. [side note: I think they'd all be quite appalled at the state of things if they could see America "the Beautiful" now...] So, a moment of respect and reverence for "those who have gone before  [us] to defend freedom and democracy around the world. "

Greater love hath no one than he who lays down his life for his friend.

Speaking of Love, that's what I actually wanted to write about today. Well, more accurately, Balance. Okay, Balance AND Love. That was the blessing my mom always asked for me. It was my goal in life to find the two. I used to think it meant that I needed to be balanced in order to find love. Turns out, that's not so true. Although I'm more balanced than I used to be, I've still got a long way to go. However, I've managed to find love, and I think it's the love that's bringing me into balance. We create the balance together because of our love. Let me illustrate.

For the past couple of days, I've been feeling really cruddy. And quite overworked with school. On days like this, my honey is the sweetest person in existence. He takes the best care of Sad Rolls. He brought me chocolate milk and a big cookie [the cookie was a surprise] and cleaned up around the house because I had a group meeting coming over. Days when I am at school all day, he cooks, cleans, or does yard work. He makes sure that I don't have to stress about little things at home so that I can focus on studies. He makes sure the puppy is cared for. That's great and all, but now check this out....

Today he got called in to drive for the dispensary where he used to volunteer. They pretty much only call him for emergencies now [but I'm guessing the "emergency" was someone's BBQ plans]. So he's a little grumpy about that, and didn't sleep well either. What I am about to say next is completely unspoken between us, unless it's in retrospect. But, today it's my turn to clean up the kitchen, make sure he has something to eat after being on the road, clean clothes, a soft place to come home and get some affection to refuel him throughout the day. Today it's my turn to take care of him. And not because I "owe him" for taking care of me yesterday. But because I love him. I don't owe him, I care. Big difference. Love cannot be tit for tat. There is a balance to be strck, yes, and there must be fairness; but you have to look at the overall. I don't do nice things for him because I feel bad, or guilty, or any negative hidden connotations. I do nice things for him because when he feels good, I feel good. I do nice things because it makes me feel good to do them. And it feels good because he notices and appreciates them. And I try my best to make sure that he knows I notice and appreciate what he does too.

We both struggle. We both hurt. We both have bad days... and good days! And we have them together. Because everything is better [or at least, less bad] together. Balance is not something you just achieve once and forget. Balance is an ongoing goal, one that takes constant adjustment. Kind of like yoga--it's a practice. It can get easier, but it's not always going to be at 100%. It fluctuates. Balance is an equal and even exchange of energies.

I have officially dried out my brain on the topic. I think there was more I wanted to write, but It's not flowing so I'm not going to force it. Instead I'm going to tape up my wrist and get to work on some of my school projects.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Trigger Points and More

So it's been a helluva week, a helluva month even. Lots of consistent stressors and more to do than usual. I got knocked out of my biphasic sleep schedule, but I've still got the insomnia part that has been keeping me up til 3 or 4 in the morning. My involuntary jaw-clenching of course helps cause tension headaches, and the extra screen time I've been putting in has caused my vision to start going wonky, culminating in a migraine yesterday. On top of all that, or possibly part of the cause of all that, is that I skipped yoga this week. I've been going once a week pretty steadily, but wanting to go twice a week... and this week I went none. I can really tell a difference in my upper body.

On Friday, my fantastic hunny sent me to a massage--he says it's a pre-apology for how much time he's going to spend playing DOOM [what a keeper!]. He asked them for deep tissue and Trigger Point Therapy, which is something I've always wanted to try. Now, I've had many massages before, and even some that I considered more therapeutic than relaxing. But this--holy crap. This was a beast of a totally different color, and practically a different species. Holy crap. Two days later, I am still sore.

But I'm not complaining. No, not at all. See, that was closer to physical therapy than massage. I've been waiting for the VA to send me for myofascial release, but they have instead scheduled me with a hand therapist--twice! And they were both different therapists! [side note, there's your free healthcare, folks, are you prepared for that?] When the massage gal saw myofascial release on my paperwork, she perked up and asked if I was also a massage therapist. I told her no, I just study a lot of topics.

So way back when, I transferred high schools. Different states, even. And of course they had different standards. Because of the timing, it turned out I was short half a PE class. Top 10% of the graduating class, but they wanted that PE credit out of me. We managed to rig a sort of independent study with the community college. And that summer is where I was introduced to myofascial release. When she stretched my neck, I could hear things breaking up. It was absolutely insane. Anyways, that was a tangent.

So she is apparently the "3rd deepest" therapist they have, and holy crap I can't believe there's more levels. She very most definitely had her elbow in my shoulder blade at some point, and the knots ranged from feeling hot, burning, stabbing, dull, you name it. I came home and took a nice Epsom-CBD bath. Still sore the next day, but at least I could mostly function. I'm still sore today, but I can see how doing that on a regular basis could be very beneficial. Also, she has Fibro and scoliosis, so relatability--she said the reason she became a therapist was because of her Fibro, and she wanted to help people deal with problems like that. I don't know how she manages to keep that job on top of her conditions, she must be a tough cookie.

My face was hurting. That's a little abnormal for me unless I've got the sniffles causing sinus pressure. But all week my cheekbones have just ached. When she was working on my jaw line, she asked, "Are you clenching your jaw?" I assumed she meant in general, as in, establishing patterns... yeah no she meant right that second. And I wasn't. So my muscles are so tense that even when I'm "relaxed" they still feel max contracted. Hooray.

One thing that we talked about, which I had totally forgotten about, was Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Basically it's a nerve impingement caused by your own anatomy [yay!]. I had completely forgotten about it--but the person who introduced me to it was also a massage therapist. She was working on a point in my trap area, and my fingers started going numb. Big sign. She asked if I'd ever had neck x-rays, which is a big negatory. The impingement can be caused by all sorts of things--inflammation, mostly, but also something called a cervical rib, which of course the VA isn't going to give a crap about looking for. It's vestigial :D

But here's what I remembered. As a kid, middle school aged, my mom insisted I try sports. I played a year or so of soccer, but the running absolutely killed me. In addition to your average side-stitch, I would get an absolutely horrendous stabbing and throbbing pain--can you guess where? Under my clavicle. Where the Thoracic Outlet impingement happens. It was the same with basketball, and even in the military. I've always just sucked it up because I figured "oh, I'm just out of shape," but no, it's actually a thing. If I may be somewhat facetious, I had a better understanding of my body at the age of 13 than most doctors do now. Kind of freaking sad.

I tried to see what I could find about kinesiotaping and TOS, but sadly there are almost no resources that combine those two topics. Why the hell not?! Obviously, if the nerve is impinged, soothing the muscles and pulling them away from that area might ease the pain. [but I did find a nifty neck tape that I am going to try today]. It's kind of hard to tape yourself in the ways I need done, so I'm having to wait until the man-thing rolls out of bed, but I will follow up with pictures and details.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Certainly Mixed Feelings...

I didn't want to deal with today being Mother's Day, but it's almost literally everywhere I look [at least online]. I have some really mixed emotions over the whole thing, and probably all too personal to rant about blindly online. This may come out vague, but hopefully it's the kind of vagueness that becomes poetic. We can only hope, right?

A very very intelligent and insightful woman who may have helped save my life once said, "the very first image of self that we have is what we see reflected in our mother's eyes. And if there's nothing there, for whatever reason--be it due to abandonment, addiction, abuse, or anything like that--it can have some lasting effects." [paraphrased at best] Now, I am not here to say that my mother doesn't love me and didn't always want the best for me. But wanting it and achieving it are two different things. As I've grown closer with other members of my family, I have found out more information about the past. Nothing terribly bad, but let's just say the drama runs strong in our family. My mother used to joke that "you would have moved out when you were 2 if you could have changed your own diapers!" It's a running gag on my super-independence. But you have to wonder... how does one gain that much independence at such a young age? Perhaps out of self-preservation... the necessity to care for oneself on an emotional or intellectual level. Our relationship was "good" at some point, but quickly degenerated over the past few years. It's one of those "out of self-preservation" cut ties.

We had some good times, us three.

The other running joke is that I "have the maternal instincts of a rock"--at least, as far as human children are concerned. Give me a puppy or a kitten and it's a different story. Now, I don't even know if I can physically have children, and due to extenuating circumstances, I will probably never find out for sure. It's a beast of a thing to come to terms with, but I was always on the fence about kids anyways. Now many of my friends are getting pregnant and having children over the past year or two... and I have a pup. Don't get me wrong, I totally adore this dog, and he sure as hell acts like my kid... but I'm not sure how I feel about leaving zero genetic legacy on this earth. My genes are awesome! I love my roots. But I guess it's not meant to be. And for the millionth time, adoption is not out of the question, but just not right now.

Puppy Smiles will have to suffice.

It's kind of depressing to think of being 31 with no hope of children any time soon. But at the same time, no offense to you moms, but a kid would ruin my life. I'm definitely too selfish, and aside from that I can hardly keep my life in order--I don't need to be legally and morally responsible for screwing up [or not] another human. There's always a chance down the road that some family member is going to need someone to care for their offspring, for whatever reasons.

Basically I find myself stuck in this awkward middle ground. I no longer carry a relationship with my own mother--so nothing to celebrate there... but I'm also tehnically no one's mother--so nothing to celebrate there, either. I feel kind of numb about it. It's bittersweet, sure... It's like I want to feel something, but can't. Even if that something was anger or rage or hurt or sad, it would be something to grasp onto, something to explore and understand.

I am happy and excited for my mom-to-be friends, and the recently mothered. Hooray for you guys. And my heart deeply, sorely goes out to a friend who lost her pregnancy recently and is coping with this holiday. I can't imagine how much more pain she is in than I. I also feel like I should take the moment to appreciate the other women in my life, who have mothered me in other ways--moms aren't always biological, I suppose. My "big-shot" Auntie has always jokingly claimed she was my real mom, and she has taught me understanding, compassion, and manners.  My grandmother, who certainly tried to share her love, even when we two black sheep didn't understand or threw it back in her face--what a saint to open her arms to me now. My Step-mom, who embraced the challenges of stepping into an empty role and sticking with it [and learning from me, perhaps, to be a great mom to her own kids]. To my friend's mom, who always treated me as one of her own brood, despite the years and distance and even my withdrawal during some tough times [thanks for chili and white Russians]. And her daughter has spent a time or two mothering me as well, usually being the voice of reason [now it's your turn to be impulsive, brash, and have some fun!]. The doctor I quoted above, who helped me see my situation in a different light, and helped me find the strength to start my life over--I still feel like I owe her an enormous thank you. JT & EK, who have mothered me in spirit, even though we're probably more like sisters in the end. To the moon who gives us an inner light, and the Earth who is home and womb to us all. To all the goddesses and divine representations of the nurturing female spirit... you don't live much in me, but the little light that shines for "cripples, bastards, and broken things" comes from you.

I guess I feel a little better now.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Getting Poked With Tiny Needles, Round One.

So as you may or may not know, I have fibromyalgia. It sucks, but it's not going away any time soon, so I just cope day by day. For the most part it's manageable, although I don't function at 100%. On a good day, about 80%... but on a bad day, when my muscles are stiff and achy and everything is too bright or too loud and a migraine is creeping up... then I only get about 20% of peopling done, and basically try to sleep until it's better.

My case isn't nearly as bad as some others, and for that I am thankful. I'm lucky to avoid most of the digestive symptoms, and little to no chemical sensitivities. And paradoxically, mine tends to get worse in the summer [as opposed to the winter]. For some reason, the summer just saps all my energy and everything is like that Tsunami Bomb song, "Swimming Through Molasses." Most folks with fibro also have something called Reynaud's syndrome, where basically any time you get cold your circulation shuts down in your hands and feet and they turn blue and cold. And of course, painful. Not so much for me.

See that pressure change? Yuck.

But the one thing that's worse than exhausting summer heat? This lovely back and forth weather we've been having in Western WA. Up, down, hot, cold, humid, dry. I can cope with even summer time if it's consistent. Once my body adjusts, I can deal. But when you're alternating between hoodies and fuzzy socks to tank tops and shorts every other day... well that just sucks. It's more miserable than it just being hot and yucky. I probably didn't think that through when I scheduled my first acupuncture appointment.

I had good luck with massage--which is also backwards of "most" fibro people. For me it loosens up the muscles that get stuck, and anything that hurts is one of those "good" hurts where it's worth it. My doc has referred me for myofascial release therapy, which I love, but so far the appointment hasn't come through yet [same principle behind the kinesiotape that I adore]. Anyways, my stepmom enjoyed acupuncture for her neck and back issues, and she advised that it's at least worth a shot. Since I've been getting more into alternative health practices I figured I'd give it a fair try. From what I understand, it's kind of one of those things that gets worse before it gets better. At least, I hope that's how it works. The doc warned me that most people tend to feel sore the day afterwards, especially the first session. Well, I haven't slept yet and it's only been about two hours since my session, and I already hurt. I'm not sure how much to blame on the weather, but wow I am achy. I feel like my neck and shoulder have the flu--it's like my beginning flares all over again. Thankfully I have hunny and puppy and snacks... but unfortunately, I also have a trig exam tomorrow.

This ended up taking more setup than I anticipated, and less about acupuncture. Long story not much shortened, Ow. But, I know it takes a few sessions to "kick in" so I'm giving it another few tries before I call it a no-go. Luckily, I've been sticking to biphasic sleep more-or-less, so I'm going to take a nap [sleep #1] and study when I'm more refreshed.