Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pain continued

It is Saturday night. I have had both of my hands in braces since yesterday evening,  and my right hand since two nights ago. They're helping. But my emotional well-being, I guess, is not getting better. I am frustrated by the braces; there are an amazing number of actions that require bending my wrists. In addition, they don't help enough. My wrists still hurt. My left hand is okay-ish. My right hand was killing me by the time I finished eating a bowl of ice cream. Because I was holding a spoon.

I am also starting to be extremely sensitive to sound, such that the dining hall on a Saturday night, which is always uncrowded and in general is less overwhelming than during the week, had me finding a place to sit in the farthest corner of the room, away from everyone. The noise levels were difficult to handle, and I avoided the crowds that were around a band on my way home.

I do not understand why I'm so sensitive to sound. I'm fairly used to working around it, but it becomes more difficult when I'm sick or hurting. Sensory input becomes extremely overwhelming even when I'm the person contributing to it (such as playing music on my computer). I also start avoiding crowds, and any kind of public gathering, even when said gathering is just my friends, which I'm usually okay with. It just gets to the point where everything is too much. And then I start getting lonely, and withdrawing more. I don't know how to stop it, except to start feeling better, which is not in my control. I can take steps to feel better, and it helps for a while, but at a certain point it's really up to my body to heal itself. And I hate feeling this way. I hate how easily pain seems to win, simply because it happens day after day. It just gets hard to fight, hard to ignore.

Pain is isolating. It overrides everything else, and can't be shared. It limits my mobility, and my ability to do a lot of different activities. Even if it didn't, when I'm feeling this way, I don't want to go anywhere. I want to stay home, curl up in my bed, and have someone hold me. I want a cat to curl up next to me and start purring. I want creature comfort, but don't want people intruding.

At this point I can't even think about school work. Everything I could do  requires using my hands in some way. Either using a pencil, or typing, or holding a book.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wrist Issues

I am writing this with a dictation software. My wrists are in agony and some of my fingers are as well. I spoke to the Dean for students with disabilities yesterday, and had a discussion about deadlines, papers, and my disability. We figured out that I am in a flareup, and that that is why I have not been completing my work. I have been subconsciously avoiding writing a paper that I think I will enjoy because my wrists hurt.

I have since had two professors suggests my dictation software. But I am not used to using it, and it is really hard to write papers through dictation rather than with my hands. I need to get used to the software, but I do not know how, much less how to do it quickly in order to get a paper written.

I think I am also fighting the idea that I need to use it and have been since I bought it two years ago. This is another part of getting used to being disabled instead of temporarily able-bodied. It is a struggle to remember that there are things I can't do, that there are things I shouldn't do, and that it's not my fault. I am having a negative emotional reaction, such that it is hard to speak this without crying. I think I've adjusted to mobility issues, and to asking for help when I can't walk or at least shouldn't be walking far, but it is a lot harder to recognize and to admit that I can't do schoolwork at times because I am in too much pain to do so. I have not fully made peace with what my disability does to me, and having multiple suggestions to do exactly what I'm doing right now somehow makes it worse.

I don't know how to make this better. I know how to take care my wrists, and I know how to take care of my hip and my knee, so that with time they will heal. It's the emotional stuff that I can't–but I don't know how to handle. There are a lot of “should” and “should not” statements in my head. Things like, “I should have written this weeks ago,” or “I should be able to get this done now,” or “I should not ask for two extensions from the same professor on the same paper,” and all of this based on a conception formed a in high school while I was still able bodied. I feel like I'm annoying my professor by asking for the accommodations that are my right.

In short, I am struggling with my limitations, and I think with internalized able-ism. I am not sure how to move forward from here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blog Note

I know posting has been light lately; my apologies. I hit midterms, then went on break, during which I wanted to do nothing so much as read, and then I was dealing with family issues as well as classes restarting.

I have a couple of posts in the works, including a series on "giftedness," and a reflection on cultural narratives and privilege.

Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

PMS and Birth Control

I've started recording my PMS symptoms in a regular place so that I can track what's happening. I have the impression that every few months, either my PMS, my period, or both, are miserable and I'm not sure why or if that's actually so, aside from vague references in my personal journaling before last month when it was really bad.

Last month I spent two or three days in a very low mood, unable to get the motivation to do anything I was supposed to do, including school work. I managed to do the short assignments due for my language class, and that was about it. Then, the first two days of menstruating were absolutely miserable, and far worse than what I normally experience. Normally, I have one day of heavy bleeding with cramping, etc., but can manage with just one dose of a medicine like Pamprin. Last month, I had two days of heavy bleeding and ended up holding my stomach every time I stood up, walked, or sat down because all of these activities jarred my internal organs and made me feel awful. Pamprin didn't really help, either. It was a few days later that I started to think about birth control to get this under control again. I suspect stress is throwing hormones off, but who knows if it will level out on its own?

This month, on the other hand, the most noticeable symptom I've had is increased appetite, both before and during menses. I'm a little confused, but I like this a lot better than ending up sobbing for half an hour after an Israeli film screening I had to go to for class. (It didn't help that I had no warning for how ... upsetting this film would be ahead of time. Need to talk to the prof about that at some point, actually.) That wasn't fun, and if I hadn't been PMSing it might not have happened.

So I'd like to try birth control. I went on it freshman year when my mother suggested it in case I became sexually active in college, but nothing happened at all that year, and eventually I gave up taking it because I didn't think I needed it. It seemed fine and a helpful regulator, if nothing else. Of course, there's also the consideration that I have a boyfriend these days and may end up becoming sexually active soon. But really, the horrible mood during PMS is what makes me want to take birth control again. Because I have a hard enough time keeping my mental health on a good track without hormones playing into it, too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Moar Swimming

I went back to the pool today, and this time got a swimming lesson from the friend who didn't make it yesterday. My technique is pretty poor all around. No one ever taught me how to breathe while swimming, or apparently more than one kind of kick, or how my arms are supposed to move in a freestyle stroke. I think the extent of my swimming lessons was a summer of lessons, long enough to learn how to tread water, float, and get from one end of the pool to the other without help or doggy-paddling.

I suspect I'll be making this a routine and trying to mix days I swim with friends with days I swim on my own to practice technique without people watching me. I might make the solo days a morning thing, provided I make time for it.

Swimming feels great, even with how much I have to learn. I took a shower afterwards and brought my shampoo and conditioner with me (think I might be adding leave-in conditioner later and/or acquiring a cap, because my hair is going to be really unruly otherwise). I just felt good afterward, and my skin ended up at that stage where my nerves feel really alive, nothing hurts (even the parts that were hurting prior to swimming), and clothing feels good but not necessary. I've had that happen with dance before, only I took a shower back at my dorm and then sat in my room naked because of how good it felt.

In short: I don't know why I didn't find an exercise routine of some kind after I stopped taking dance classes, because physical exertion makes me feel so good.

Monday, March 26, 2012


I just came back from a trip to my university's gym. It's on the far side of campus, and this is only the third time I've been there for the entire time I've gone here. Once for some freshman orientation thing, once during the blackout back in October/November in order to get a shower, and now today.

I've been dealing with family stuff again. I spent break at my father's house, and most of what happened there was fine with me. I helped my stepmother out by keeping up with the dishes since I was home almost every day while she was at work and I had time to spare. My dad, sister, and step-mother are starting to treat me more like family (especially my sister!) which is awesome.

And then there are things I can't currently deal with that involved a panic attack on my part and a major fight with my mother. I don't want to go into detail, because that's not what this post is about, but I forwarded one of her emails with a letter attached to a friend and then deleted it entirely from my email account until such a time as I'm able to handle her letter without affecting my grades too much.

So today I decided to try something different as stress-relief: I went swimming. Initially, I was going to swim with some friends, but they didn't make it, so I swam laps by myself.

My stamina is not very good right now. I'm not sure if it's due to lack of practice swimming or just generally not having done much physical since I stopped taking dance classes (because I don't have time).Either way, I achieved what I set out to do: raise endorphin levels and exhaust myself. That I did it in <20 minutes just means I need to go more often and get more exercise.

I did a total of five laps: twice both ways in the lane I picked, and then one more after I swam sideways a bit to get to the part that had a ladder on the opposite end I was on because I could not figure out how to get out of the pool in what I'm calling the "swim team lanes" where there's a ledge and a mini thing that looks like a diving board only much shorter that was making it impossible for me to climb out on; it was too far above my head and slanted toward the pool. Turns out I didn't need the ladder, I just needed to get to the area the side was low enough to climb. So I did an extra lap for no reason. I also ended up doing two laps on the breaststroke and three on the back stroke/half of the last one was a butterfly stroke (I think? I haven't had swimming lessons since elementary school when my aunt made me learn how to swim).

At any rate, holy cow am I tired.

And! There were a few nifty features in the locker rooms. The showers had soap dispensers; judging by the scent, this wasn't just regular hand-soap despite the similarity in containers. My hair is rinsed out enough that my comb went through it okay. There was also a little machine to put swimsuits in, and it would get them reasonably dry in about 30 seconds (they were still damp, but not dripping wet anymore). And last, they had things that looked like automatic hand dryers, except they said for hair and stayed on as long as I stayed under it. There were some about chest height (I'm assuming for children) and some a couple feet above my head, and my hair did indeed get pretty dry within a couple of minutes, so I was reasonably dry when I left the pool.

I think I might start coming to the pool more often. I have transportation so that I don't have to spend half an hour walking there, and it did me some good. I'd like to improve my stamina in order to do more laps without having to push myself really hard for every single one of them. And next time, I'm going to go in the shallow end so that I can put my feet down as necessary. This time, I was in something like 8'3" of water, and had to be able to go the full length or not at all.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cooking and Baking Squee

I've been on hiatus while midterms happened. My last one was last Friday, and I've been on break ever since. I'm staying at my dad's house, where I had books from B&N delivered, and finished two books in three days. A couple days ago I decided to cook dinner for the house because I got a craving for a friend's chili recipe, and she kindly gave it to me.

I started that morning with reading the recipe, making a list of ingredients for the chili and for chocolate chip cookies, and searching the kitchen for necessary items. We had everything for baking except chocolate chips, and about half of the things I needed for the chili.

I even managed to go shopping and be back at the house by 12:30 in the afternoon, which made me feel extremely accomplished. This was my first time planning a fairly complex meal and shopping for it without input from parents or other more experienced adults.

Cookies, which I've made many times before, came next. Everyone who had one went back for more and sang praises, which made me really happy. I use the Tollhouse recipe with a few modifications: add slightly less vanilla extract than the recipe calls for (I just discovered that the fake stuff tastes just fine), don't add nuts, and use a bag of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus ~1/4 bag of some other kind of chocolate chips, in this case Hershey's dark chocolate. When I first started making these, I would add some extra choc. chips I had just for the hell of it, and discovered that I like having two different kinds of chocolate chips in the mix for varied flavor.

Later on, I started the (mild) chili, and actually managed to time it so that it was done more or less when people were ready to eat. I split the recipe my friend gave me between two pots so that I ended up with one pot of vegetarian chili and one pot of meat chili sans corn to account for various dietary needs. (I, for example, try to keep kosher-by-ingredient, especially when I'm cooking, and like to add cheese to my chili, so I needed the vegetarian one. Other people in this house *coughdadcough* won't eat a vegetarian meal, so I also needed a meat pot.) My step-mother told my aunt while they were at work that I was making chili, so my aunt showed up for dinner, too. Luckily, the chili made enough for a group--though by the time dinner was over, all of the meat chili was gone, and there was barely any veggie chili left, either.

I am well satisfied with how both pots of chili turned out, especially since it seemed like everyone loved it who tried it, including those of us who are picky about chili (myself included).

The best part? This was the most complex recipe I've ever cooked (I've had more difficult/more involved baking recipes, but that's a different skill set), and I did almost all of it by myself. The exception being, I had to ask how to peel the onion because I'd never done it before. I did the prep work, including chopping and cutting, I kept an eye on both pots and managed not to screw up the order I did things in even though the two pots had slightly different instructions and were cooking at slightly different rates, and I did the final taste-testing.

It's amazing how different the starting products looked than how the final product looked. I'm so excited! Further proof that I need to start cooking for myself more often...