Sunday, December 11, 2022

What I've been going through- lots of gross Lady Stuff :)

 It's been a while since I've updated. I've been sick. I was lucky that I had Thanksgiving Break off, and the last two weeks have been... not fun. Incredibly not fun. (warning, there is gross stuff.)

About two months ago, I switched my birth control to Depo. I'm officially done with that! I have, in my past, always had really really bad migraines that come with my cycle. Like.. debilitatingly bad, lay in bed with no lights on and stop existing for the day bad migraines. Sometime in February, they took me off of my estrogen based pills because of fear of blood clots, so I hadn't been on anything for a while. Cue migraines.

In October, I contacted my doctor to see if there was an alternative, so I wouldn't have to worry about the migraines. Depo was suggested. I thought.. 1 shot every three months, and no more periods and no more migraines. Sign me up! I wasn't planning on having kids anyway. So, there I was, October 7th, peeing into a cup and getting a shot. This was going to solve everything, right?


November 18th, I start having back cramps. I know it's coming. I expect my normal cycle.. 2-3 days. Friday, the 19th, not bad, kinda normal. A bit crampy and headachy, but I make it through the day. We have a week off, I can make it through one day of school. 

It really really hit on the 21st, that something might be a little bit... off. Really bad cramps throughout my whole body, mostly centered in my back and abdomen. I start passing little clots of blood, and going through a pad an hour or so. Ok, maybe this is just heavy because it's the last one for a while. I make it through Thanksgiving with a few really bad cramps (AM has been amazing in holding my hand and letting me squeeze until his fingers hurt). I can do this.

I rest on Friday and Saturday, do my normal lesson planning on Sunday. We're going into the last three weeks of school. I'm excited. I have really great plans for the last few weeks. We're going to focus on audience for writing, and we're going to be amazing. I go to school on Monday, and while I don't move around the classroom much, there is movement involved in teaching and being at school in general (the bathrooms are not ten feet away like they are at home), and I learn the more I move the worse it gets. I bleed through everything. It's awful. I called the nurse line, they tell me to call if it gets worse. They schedule another Depo shot for Wednesday morning. I take Tuesday off, and the clots are getting worse.. like.. dime sized. (SOOO GROSS... but still not as bad as it's going to get.)

By Wednesday, I'm resting and things seem to be going okay. I think I can make it back to school, so I decide to go in on Thursday. Thursdays are minimum days. Surely I can make it through one minimum day. I miss my students!

Thursday reminded me of how much I love teaching and how much I love my students. We had a fun day talking about dialects, learning some new vocabulary. My fourth period class was quite lively as we discussed regionalisms in dialect and dialogue.  But all of that moving around reminded me of why I shouldn't have moved around. 

Thursday night and it all gets worse. The cramping, the clotting. They've gone from dimes to quarters. Every time I move, I can feel something falling out of me. I hold out hope that I can make it on Monday to school, but when I end up in the bathroom Sunday night literally passing chunks of my endometrial lining in a way that I can feel them sliding out of me. I wake up and can feel them lodged in my vagina, waiting to be pushed out. (I warned you, it's gross)- I know I'm not going to make it. 

I call in Monday, call the doctor's office and get an actual physical appointment for Monday afternoon. I finally get to see a real doctor. I talk to him, and now it's suddenly urgent. They do a(n incredibly painful) endometrial biopsy and I have to get tested for iron deficiency, and they send me to the pharmacy for new hormones and an iron supplement. I hate sitting in the Kaiser pharmacy. Test results pushed through fast and I'm anemic, though not bad enough that I have to go and get a transfusion. Other numbers are off as well. I am told to take the rest of the week off and rest.

Now it's Sunday. I plan on going back to school tomorrow, but not moving much. Because of the weakness and the tiredness, I haven't done much grading or school work, and we only have a week left of the semester. I'm probably going to be grading and lesson planning through break, but when life throws wrenches at you, you have to find alternate means, I guess. Because of the anemia, I wear out fast and have been eating a lot of beef - steak, triple cheeseburgers, beef tamales, beef tacos.  I should probably add some more vegetables to that, and AM has been great making sure I get squash and zucchini and lots of vitamins. 

The results so far: it's been 24 days. I'm still bleeding, but not hemorrhaging anymore. I'm on at least three new medications for the foreseeable future, and I have a week left with this set of kids. I am going to be at school for this entire week. I know I can do this. I may move a little slower, and take a little more time, but I want to be there for my students. I miss them, and this is my last week with this batch. 

I started off this school year with two weeks out for COVID and end the term with two weeks out for anemia. This has not been a healthy semester. Here's hoping to a much healthier 2023.

Tory :)

Saturday, November 26, 2022

My Schedule-- Where do I find the time?

 I have been... lectured lately on my "priorities".  My husband asked me to pick three things in my life that I have to consider my "priorities", things that I should work on to make my life more fulfilling.

These are the three that I came up with:
1. My job
2. My health
3. Writing

I feel bad that he's not in there, but he asked me to pick three. 

I try to reflect this on the way I spend my time...

I wake up at 5am.

After morning human time, I should compress from 5:30-6:30. Compression involves putting on a huge pair of blue space bants, hooking myself up to a machine and sitting still for an hour while my legs are pumped to move around fluids that have built up due to illness and heart problems.

I said should. I usually end up journalling and eating breakfast.

  • 6:30-7:00 I get ready for work. Dress myself and all of that fun stuff.
  • 7 to 7:30, maybe pick up breakfast or make myself something fast that I can eat in the car and get to work. Otherwise, just drive to work.
  • 7:30-8:30- Prep for my day.
  • 8:30-11:45- Teach
  • 11:45-2- Lunch and Prep, which is mostly grading and making handouts and meetings and other fun teacher stuff.
  • 2-3:35- Teach some more.
  • 3:35-4ish- Clean up my classroom and sometimes talk to other teachers who stop by. (less of this since they moved me away from the other teachers).
  • 4-5, run errands.
  • 5-6:30: Make and eat dinner. If it's not my turn, I'll do some reading.
  • 6:30-7:30 Write or crochet, whatever creative endeavors my brain is working on.
  • 7:30-8:30- Compress... again. More sitting still. Mostly I read or watch TV. My current watch is Mythic Quest or Reboot. Both cute shows.
  • 8:30-9:30- Get ready for bed, shower, self care.
  • 9:30- bed. 

My doctor and my husband want me to find at least 30-60 minutes a day for cardio activity and some time for strength training.


Monday, November 21, 2022

Teacher Sick (Warning: Naughty words rant)

 We started Thanksgiving Break on Friday afternoon. I spent Thursday night, some of Friday, some of Saturday and ALL DAY SUNDAY in SO MUCH PAIN! My period, which shows up now about once every three months, showed up with the fucking cavalry, and I want to curl up into a tiny ball and make all of the world just fuck off right now. It's gross, it's painful, I don't like it. One of my good friends is - unfortunately - having a hysterectomy because of reasons, and right now I am so fucking envious of her.

On top of that, and the reason for today's post, I have something akin to a cold, or something. It started Friday night. Now, this is something I'm used to. Nearly every break, I spend the first few days sick. (Yes, I am wishing that Thanksgiving Break was longer.) I'll be fine after a few days, but it almost always happens. 

According to WebMD, I have what is called "leisure sickness."  It's where you have a job that is so stressful that you build up this strange immunity and "put off" being sick until your body can handle being sick, which is when you're "not stressed".  I guess it's like if I am going to have a cold, or the flu or something like that (or, I guess, my period) my body realizes that I am too stressed out to deal with that illness right now and instead files it away for "later" when I'm not as stressed out.  And later comes during holiday breaks. 

Apparently this can happen for emotional distress too, I think. I can deal with emotional stress and not get emotional about it.. until I'm on break. So I not only spend my first few days of nearly every vacation in a ball of pain and phlegm (pretty picture, I know), but I'm also a crying, emotionally wrecked ball of phlegm. So much fun.

Fortunately, Thanksgiving isn't until Thursday. I should be done with all of this (hopefully) by tomorrow and be able to make wonderful pies for my family for Thanksgiving as well as some broccoli in brown butter with cotija (because I can't find mizithra cheese anywhere). 

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm going to go drink a Monster, write five thousand words and crochet until all the stress leaves my body.


Monday, September 26, 2022

Witchy Autumn Nights

 The spooky season is upon us. I'm so excited. This is the season where I feel the most powerful.  It's the season I'm most likely to believe in magic and do magic and be magic. It makes me feel amazing. It makes me feel alive.

Maybe I'll write some spells or spell like poems.  I've considered learning how to kitchen witch for my own health as well as my own energy. I think it might help, but I will need to do research on some of the healthier vegetables and what to put in my cauldron.  I have a cauldron... it's adorable.  It was a present from my father-in-law, and AM says that it is proof that my father-in-law likes me better than him. I think I got it because I asked for it.

My cauldron is pumpkin shaped; a cast iron enameled pumpkin in orange. It was a toss up between orange and black, but I decided I want an orange one. It's made by Staub, and the perfect size for my stovetop to sit there, but it is heavy. so moving it from the stove to the sink is difficult.  I don't use it enough because it is difficult to clean, but I love it, and it helps me feel that autumn powerful witchy vibe. The lid makes a delicious scraping noise when I take it off to check if it is bubbling and boiling and toiling. 

I've already changed my journal over to my spooky season notebook, which is a gorgeous black wrap from GameTee (love those girls!) that I have a Kanso Noto notebook from JetPens in.  My pen and ink of choice right now is my Parker Sonnet with Diamine Black Ivy.  I even made a custom bookmark for the journal out of a skull and an anatomically correct heart charm. I joke that the heart was stolen from a fairy- but I would never do that. 

What I don't have, and I am hoping to set up this Fall Break, is an altar.  It's been so long since I've practiced that I have no idea what to put on an altar anymore or how to set one up.  Based on the limited space in my apartment, I think I may have to make it one that I can break down and put up when I want to cast with maybe something I put on the windowsill for protection all of the time.  I'm not sure.  My room is very small, but my desk is very big, but with all of my Horizontal Surface disorder... well... It's messy.

What I look forward to the most is my Autumn dreams. I climb into my warm flannel sheets and it's like being wrapped in warm fuzzy arms of protection, and then I dream of comfort. My dream self is ... much smaller than I am around the waist, and tucks perfectly in the comfortable shoulder and arm of a certain someone. We sit, sip chocolate and read books together and I am happy. The only thing I don't like is waking up, to find myself most often alone, wrapped around my huge stuffed shark. While I appreciate my shark, he's not really what I want to be holding on to. So, I spent the rest of my day sort of sleep walking, wanting to fall into the comfort of my dreams.

Here's to the conjuring season. May you find the comfort and love that you are looking for. The veil grows thin.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Lighthouse Keeper

  Lately, I've been thinking about this poem that was written back in college, not by me, but by a good friend of mine, Jaye. I'm going to put it here in its entirety because it matters to know what it's about, and it's good words. (formatting is mine)

I am the Lighthouse Keeper.
I live in the Lighthouse, 
Cold, Alone and Waiting
Waiting for the ships to return.

I am the only one left who remembers
when those ships were in port.

One by one they left
Different destinations
But all away from here

Here I stay Here I stand Waiting

I have the list of the names of those ships
I kept tabs on their destinations

I am proud of those boats
I am proud of their journeys
Some traveled across the sevens seas
And carry the circus to towns
One is now private and hosts parties for
the best of Broadway
Some now show other boats 
how to move
Some still wander searching what to do

Some have been updated
Some have been destroyed
I swear one day they'll all come back
That's why I can not leave
For some one must be here
To make sure they're safe,
they're happy, they're proud

For although this boat doesn't leave
and this boat is now rusted
And all the others don't stop moving
And never get rust

I love each and every one
And I will wait for them
right here
For some are destined for greatness
Some find it by chance
Some help others make it
And one must stay behind
One must keep the light on 
So the others can find their way home

So they can come back
enjoy their time together
remember old times
catch up on what's been happening

And hopefully they won't stay
"That poor guy, stuck here all this time,
all these years"
Hopefully they'll thank me
for keeping the lighthouse on.

For I am the Lighthouse Keeper

I've been thinking a lot about this poem lately, which was written probably close to twenty years ago.  

I've been thinking about this poem lately because I've been in my profession for 20 years. I've been working as an English teacher at Stagg High School for 19 years. I have watched people come and go my entire life, and here I sit, hanging on, hoping others will come back to me someday, just to say hi.

I'm not a favorite teacher very often, but I know that I'm liked. I had a student today tell me that I'm his favorite teacher because I try to relate to my students. I said thank you, and he laughed and said "No, I'm really serious. Like-- you try to listen to us!", and I can't imagine being a teacher who doesn't listen to their students and let them talk to you. But, I am here - being a teacher. 

I've been thinking about this poem lately because I am here in Stockton, and I don't see me really going anywhere. In spite of the moniker of "Most Miserable City" (Thanks Forbes), and "Murder Capitol" (which I don't think we are) I love my city. I love its diversity. The diversity of the people, the diversity of the opinions, but especially the diversity in restaurants. I can go 4 blocks in any direction from where I am and find Indian food, a few sushi places, a poke salad place, a few Italian restaurants, a decent(ish) diner, a mom and pop hot dog store and even a Panera.  On my drive home from work there is quite a diversity of food - even if I need to cook at home more often.

I've been here in this apartment for the last ten years. It's the longest I've ever lived in one place in my entire life, but I've (almost) always lived in Stockton, and the neighborhood I'm in now is wonderful. Maybe not the quietest all the time, but a good apartment, the people are friendly and the noisiest it gets is around the 4th of July. The walk around the complex is a quarter mile track, the leaves are just beginning to turn brown and the sparse lawn between the buildings 

I've been thinking about this poem lately because I feel like the Lighthouse Keeper of the poem, I have watched everybody move away and wander to find their destiny. My students, my friends, my lovers. They all go off to find their fortune in the world, and I watch them, and wish for the best for them in everything, hoping that once in a while they look back with fondness on me and maybe think to say "Hi" once in a while, knowing that I think of them fondly. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Sick Day

 I love Autumn. I love the crisp air, the sound when the wind sussurrates through the trees, and the light is grey from the clouds. It makes me think of flannel sheets, glowing screens and comfort. It has been a beautiful day.  I took a sick day today to catch up on my grading and catch up on my mental health. The weekend just wasn't enough.

I always feel guilty when I take Mondays off, mostly because I think it makes me look lazy, like I'm trying to get a vacation or a three day weekend, but this one was the culmination of too many vegetables - and the resulting upset stomach - and stress. Since I got COVID, my life has been nothing but stress lately: stress because of procrastination; stress because I am just still so tired all the time; stress because I'm me, and I'm not taking care of myself.

Something is motivating me this week, and I hope that I can hold on to this feeling. It felt like something clicked into place. I started journalling again. It feels good to write in my journal again. It's good for my mental health to find a place. One of my students said to me this week "I haven't been using the Word of the Day, Ms. M. I've just been writing to myself, and it really seemed to help!"  I was so proud of him. Writing can be cathartic, and it's good to see that at least something is getting through to some of my students. 

I have two weeks until Fall Break, and then I can relax. I am hoping that I can relax with all of my grades done so that I can sit at Panera, drinking free coffee, writing and planning out this year's novel. It will be so good for my health. (Panera is my favorite third space!) I like to go in the morning when it's cool so that I can write while my husband is still asleep. (He usually doesn't wake up before 10.) I'm trying to write a romance this year- something I really haven't tried in a long time, but many say I would be pretty good at. I'm excited. The idea affords some research and a lot of imagination, but I'm excited.

Two more weeks... I can't wait to get to my writing life again. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Working while sick

 From the top of my esophagus to the bottom of my ribs, my entire body aches. This dry cough and sore throat have wracked my body now for over a month, causing my head to ache,  my muscles to tire and my head to go all swimmy every time I cough.  Recovering from COVID sucks.

This cough isn't unusual for me, however.  It is a cough that I have lived with every winter as the air gets chillier and the temperatures head into the 30s (that's -1 to anybody who isn't in America). Seven years ago, coming home from New Jersey, I developed pneumonia that required a fun regiment of medicines and a week of bedrest. Ever since then, I have spent every winter racking my lungs with harsh coughs that hurts everything and makes me tired and weak. My worst month is January, but the coughs will continue through to March. I have developed a taste for Fisherman's Friend cough drops- pure menthol that soothes the beast that is my lungs.

And yet, here I am, still sitting at my desk at school teaching. I can't take the time off that I would need in order to make myself better because I have only 11 school days in the year that I can take off as sick days and ten COVID days paid for by the state. I've taken 6 COVID days and was docked pay because the government only covers so much per day, and apparently I make more than that.

 When I do take sick days,  I take them for physical illness as well as mental illness. If I was to stay home during the entirety of my coughing days, I would lose all of my sick days and then some. And that then some is the problem. Any days that I take beyond those 11 days I have to pay for out of my own salary to help cover the costs of my substitute teacher. I get "docked" those days essentially.  So, instead of staying home and fully recovering and making myself better by being home, I come to school, and I sit at my desk, and I teach, and I cough... and I cough.... and I cough. 

I'm fortunate to be in an industry that allows me paid days off. If I was in the service industry or if I was perhaps a retail worker, I wouldn't have the option of taking a day off and still getting compensated for that, and living in California - probably one of the most expensive States- means that every penny is important and accounted for.  If I worked in a job that didn't afford me the sick days, I would not be able to afford life. I would have to think of something that I could let go of in order to take the day off, or I would have to work sick.

 A quick Google search for "Sickness and productivity" shows many results that talk about the affect of working while sick, and most of them say that you are definitely not going to be at 100% when you are working. There are also results about how to tell your boss that you're sick, and what to do if your boss refuses to let you stay home from work, which is a sad state of affairs. Businesses that care more for capital rather than people have become the standard.  

Unless the system changes and we can take care of ourselves rather than sacrifice ourselves to the mighty god that we call Commerce, we will continue to work while we are sick and continue to spread diseases.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

My scariest health scare in a while...

Physically and mentally I have had a really hard time lately. In June or July, my doctor took me off of my blood pressure medication.  My body and my brain have been going through an absolute mess ever since.

The blood pressure medication was discontinued because of an allergy. My face started swelling up. This probably started in 2019, and was mostly just the left side of my face on my jaw. There would be a strange feeling, then a lump, then a little bit of swelling. I finally broke down around January or February of 2020 and finally went to the urgent care doctor that could see me and they diagnosed me with a blocked salivary gland. Try to eat less sodium-- and hey, while you're at it, work on losing some weight. To help activate the salivary glands, why not suck on some hard candies. 

The swelling continued, without any explanation, and sometimes it got into my throat, which would construct as if I had tonsillitis or something. We were told that it was a food allergy, so let's do an allergy diet. Constrict a food, see if that helps. I got rid of cinnamon and mangos and watermelon and lettuce and a few others that I honestly can't remember.  I introduced them back in to no reaction, so continued to eat them. 

I tried that, and for a while, it seemed to work a little bit. Then, sometime during the pandemic, I would guess winter of 2020, I had a major episode. My face started to swell, but this time, it wasn't just my face, but my throat completely closed off as well. I stopped being able to breathe through my mouth. I couldn't breathe if I was laying down. I could sit up with a TON of pillows behind me and my CPAP machine on and sort of breathe that way, but if I laid down at all, everything was completely constricted. Because of the pandemic, the thought of going to the emergency room by myself caused a severe anxiety attack, so I waited it out. The swelling went down, but I decided I was done with this.

I contacted my doctor again, wondering if this could be some kind of autoimmune disease or something strange, and she sent me in for tests.  Nothing too exciting came back. I had some elevated things and some low things. Then on January 20th, Inauguration Day, I woke up at midnight to the itching and swelling -- again.  I posted a picture to my Facebook, joking about how my face was so proud that Biden was President it had swelled right up.

Ultimately, we found out that it was an allergy to a medication. I stopped taking the medication and almost immediately lost 25 pounds.  I found most of it again, since I'm not moving as much as I should, and also because of all of the testing and medical stuff found out that I have some tumors on my hip, arthritis in my back and lymphedema in my legs. 

I don't make resolutions. I'm bad at keeping them, as most people are, so I'm going to leave this here to think about and to encourage myself and others to take better care of themselves. I'm tired of being scared. 

Weighing in on: Division in our country

 I know that I started this as a weight loss/health blog, but I think it's just going to become my blog. Just me and my random-ass thoug...