New Blog

Posted: October 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

Hey all! If anyone sees this, just wanted to give you a heads up that for now I am blogging primarily at a brand new blog I started: https://wordpress.com/post/mylifeasamedicalmystery.wordpress.com

This is about chronic illness/disability, but specifically from my experience. It’s much more of a journal set up.

This fitness blog is going to be on a break until if I’m ever able to get back to physical activity. I’m writing about my experience with chronic illness right now because for months I haven’t been able to so much as walk more than a couple feet at a time. I want to document my experience and then maybe with time organize it better, re-write it better, and include information beyond my own day to day life. I kept telling people once this was figured out, I was going to write a book about it. For now I’m starting with a blog 🙂

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This blog has remained pretty inactive recently. Due mainly to my continuing struggles with my health, both physical and mental.

Short update on those: Some appointments in my health system finally opened up to see a PA for medication- they have no psychiatrist currently and therapists, nurses, and PAs have all been closed to seeing new patients. I sneaked by to see my therapist months back only because I had seen her years before and therefore was able to get categorized as a returning patient. But since I hadn’t seen someone about medications, I was still a new patient and therefore unable to see anyone who prescribed meds. They have started opening that up and now have some availability for current psychotherapy patients to be seen for medications.

Anyways, so depression has been bad and just finally getting to where I can try to see if it’s helped with medications.

Meanwhile my physical health has been total crap. I have been dealing with near constant nausea, that my anti-nausea meds aren’t helping with, fatigue, feeling weak, and sleep problems.

So I have spent my night sitting on my couch watching videos on youtube, mostly ted talks and tedx talks, because when I stand I start shaking and often end up throwing up.

So that is what I was doing when youtube recommended I watch this:

Obviously nutrition is an important aspect of health. Yet sitting here too sick to stand and dealing with debilitating depression watching this my question is- so how do we make good nutrition accessible to people dealing with serious illness?

I mean, I want that answer for myself!

Getting carry out food is sometimes the healthiest option I have but it’s expensive. I now am able to get groceries delivered so that is a huge improvement, as I at least can get the food without having to sacrifice all my spoons on the process. Of course actual food that is not ready to eat or microwavable meals still requires all the work of prepping it. I actually tried recently one of those food delivery services that delivers just the items needed fora few recipes. All you have to do is cook!

… yeah, turns out that “just the cooking” is the part that is hardest for me.

Hell, right now I have some melons I got delivered that I was going to cut up and eat… except even just standing and cutting is difficult for me right now.

Instead of telling people to think more about the choices of what goes into their mouths, I think we need to consider more what is restricting those choices? What makes us choose certain types of foods over others?

And when you start talking about food as medicine, then that means thinking about the specific restrictions that chronically ill people, who rely on medications, have.

Telling me right now that food can be a better treatment for my depression than medications isn’t super helpful. I would love to eat more healthy, fresh, home cooked meals! Almost always my reason for not is because of barriers to that, which are primarily related to being chronically ill.

I can renew my medications online, and my pharmacy actually has free delivery. I don’t even have to have the ability to get to the pharmacy. Then, for pills all I have to do is open a bottle and swallow a pill. No preparation, no cooking, no standing, required. My biggest illness barrier to taking it is not throwing it up. And pharmaceutical companies actually have planned ahead for that for some medications, with many being available in non-pill formats. Besides my inhaled meds for asthma, I personally also have dissolving tablets that can be taken sublingually, and suppositories (gross, but sometimes necessary). Other meds sometimes come in injection forms.

So if nutrition is potentially as effective, or more effective, in treating certain illnesses, how do we make it something that  is accessible for all people with those illnesses? So that the illness isn’t a barrier to accessing the treatment of that illness? Doctors get that my anti-nausea meds can’t be in pill form because you can’t make “not throwing up” the requirement for taking a medication meant to stop me from throwing up. Yet that is what we do when we treat food as medicine. Often the thing we say it can treat is the very thing that makes eating well difficult!

Sitting in the hottub after a short swim I started thinking about how swimming just isn’t as enjoyable for me as it was. Used to be I could swim an hour and feel great about it. Now I do a few laps and I’m bored and ready for something else. It’s not physical, I’m not worse at swimming that I was or able to swim less, I just am not as excited to do it as I was.

This lead me to reconsider what my goals are in what I’m doing. I used to be focused on lifting and running and had specific weights I wanted to lift, and distances or speeds I wanted to run (especially for events I wanted to do).

But I’ve also been slacking on my lifting. So why am I doing what I’m doing?

I realized that right now, my main goals for working out are just your vague and generic I want to be able to do more physically, and I do it for the health benefits. Which doesn’t really require a specific training routine though if I’m not training for anything in particular, just trying to be as healthy as I can be.

So I’m just going to go with my boredom and mix things up in my workouts. I’ve been doing Krav Maga more often (which is only twice a week though).

It is weird realizing that at this time my goals are not easily measurable since they are not performance based but generic health related.

It also however though reminds me of the importance of keeping in mind what your own goals are and how what you are doing is or isn’t based on your goals.

So this is a post I would love some feedback on, particularly from others with invisible disabilities.

My last several Krav Maga classes have not gone very well for me, and it has me wondering if I should find a way to speak with instructors about my health issues. In particular because Krav Maga classes have this borderline bootcamp feel. Though so far, when I’ve needed to slow down or even rest I haven’t gotten shit from instructors about it, so that’s good and maybe I’m making something about nothing.

The class before my last one, I had a migraine and was nauseous. I took meds before class and was feeling better, up until I started the class and it came back. So I had to take a lot of rest during the class and half ass a lot because I spent the whole class on the verge of throwing up.

I’ve also been having issues with my last several classes with my asthma due to missing my inhaler/inhaler not working. And part of the problem with my asthma is the symptoms don’t seem bad during activity. I can feel when I start having trouble breathing and need to cut back, but it looks no different than just being a bit out of breathe from working out. I might cough a little bit during an activity, but it’s actually after when it gets bad. If I push through feeling short of breath during activity, triggering an asthma attack, the coughing will progressively get worse for hours after the activity. And if it’s bad, the coughing and trouble breathing will last days. So it’s not noticeable to anyone else at the time, but is a big issue for me.

So I feel like maybe I should take time to explain somehow that due to my invisible illnesses/disabilities, I sometimes have to go slower, or take rests. I haven’t done this before now because… well I hate having to single myself out.

Has anyone else had experience with this?

inthedarknessallalone

A drawing of mine. White lines show the form of a woman sitting knees to her chest in the corner with a black background all around her.

I recently read an article online 30 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because of Your Depression. It was good and relatable for me. A lot of the things are related to socially withdrawing and trouble keeping up with basic things like cleaning the house and even personal hygiene.

One thing not in there that I think people don’t think about it the financial cost depression can have.

First there is of course the direct financial cost- costs for therapy and medications.

But, at least for me, there are secondary financial costs that I don’t think most people would recognize as being due to depression.

A big one for me is getting carryout or fast food because it is so hard to get the motivation and energy to prepare food at home. It’s not even comfort eating for me (preferring those foods to homemade ones), if I had someone to cook up some steamed broccoli for me I would be so friggin happy with that. But doing it myself… it’s time, it’s energy, to prepare the food (even relatively easy to prepare foods), and then also to clean up, and this is a problem if I’m too tired to keep up with cleaning the house because if my kitchen is a mess and piled with dishes it can make me feel more depressed and also I then don’t want to contribute more to it.

But eating food from restaurants all the time is expensive! Fast food is cheaper but not as healthy so I tend to get carry out/delivery from other places were I can get some better food options.

There is another aspect to it as well which is just managing to give a damn about financial planning for the future. Because depression tends to make me feel like the future is crap and who even knows if I will make it till whenever so it makes it hard to care about the long term financial aspects of things like getting delivery food all the time. It’s not a lack of knowledge about it, it’s finding the mental energy to care about it and deal with it. For me, with my depression I find mental energy functions very much like spoons when talking about physical energy. Being depressed, I always feel like I have to really prioritize what I can give a damn about. Do I care about not getting fired from work? Do I care about getting through school? Do I care about taking care of my physical health? Do I care about taking out the trash, doing dishes, cleaning the house, and so on? Do I care about the long term financial repercussions of what I spend on dinner tonight? And there are a lot more things I could add here. Pick 2-3 of those tops, but there are not enough mental spoons for all of them.

I don’t know how many other folks struggle with this sort of thing with depression or if it’s just me, but at least for me this is definitely an aspect of depression I don’t think people understand is due to depression.

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A selfie I took before floating. I am in the foreground with the float pod with purple lighting open in the background. This was at the second floating location I visited. 

So now that I’m in a position in life where I have money to do extra things like this, I am becoming a bit bougie and now am obsessed with doing things like floating. Which is where you pay to go float in a dark, quiet pod with about 10 inches of water with lots of epsom salt added to help you float.

Sessions are generally 1 hr though some places have options for 90 minutes or even possibly longer.

I’ve done this twice now and hope I can keep it up as a somewhat regular thing.

It is very relaxing and I feel really deepens meditation. Meditation is important to me both spiritually and for my mental health. I actually recently fell out of the practice of meditating daily and when I started back I remembered “oh yeah, this really helps me with my depression!”

Since meditation helps with my depression and floating is a deep meditative experience I’m hoping that floating will also help with my depression, hopefully in a way beyond non-floating meditation.

So as I said I floated twice so far at two different local places I found through groupon.

The first place had a very nice ambiance to it. They have an “oasis room” with water, tea, chairs and journals where you can write about your float experience and read what others have written if you want. It’s a place you can relax a bit before or after your float if you want. It has low lighting and there are salt lamps around. There is also a zen sand garden. So it has a very new age-y, alternative health feel to the whole place. There is another room with mirrors, hair dryers to do your hair and such after you are done. They also have yoga mats in this room if you want to do some yoga to stretch out after floating.

Then there are the float rooms. Each room has a white float pod in it and an open shower nearby. The room is private and  locks and they provide ear plugs and a towel. You have 60 minutes from when you enter the room to when you leave. So you go in the room, quickly undress and shower. You can wear a swimsuit if you want but it’s private so most people go nude and it’s actually recommended for a better experience. After you’ve rinsed off in the shower, you step into the pod. You can leave the pod open or you pull it closed behind you. The first place I went inside the pod there is a bottle of plain water you can use to rinse your eyes if you get the salt water in your eyes and also a little floaty halo thing that you can use to add more support to your head and neck. I didn’t use the halo so I can’t comment on that. There is a button inside to call to a worker if needed. Another button adjusts the light in the pod. The light can be changed to different colors or turned off. I floated with the light off as the dark is part of the sensory deprivation part of it. But if you aren’t comfortable in the dark there is the option to leave the light on.

At this place music plays for the first 5 minutes you are in the pod and there is a hook up to play your own music if you want. I need to find out if there is an option to play your own music for the whole time or not.

The lights outside the pod are on a motion activated timer so about 5 minutes or so after you get in the pod and there is no movement outside they shut off. The pod isn’t a complete sealed place so while the outside lights are on you can see them shining in from the edges.

My first time I floating I focused on my breathing and kind of let me mind wonder when it did. I didn’t want to be too anxious about having the right experience. One of the things in the pre-float video they show you there the first time says that it may take a few float sessions to really get the most of the experience. So I tried to just relax and not force anything. I didn’t hallucinate or anything, which can happen. I was a bit disappointed by that. Some folks have reported deeply religious hallucinations, talking to god even, while floating. I had nothing like that.

I just floated.

I was a bit disappointed in the size of the pod. I’m only 5ft so I would have expected the pod to be fairly large to me in order to accommodate tall people. Yet I frequently floated into the edge of the pod which really bugged me because it throws off the feeling of losing a sense of where you are that the dark, quiet, and floating provide. This was especially true when I floated with my arms over my head. I started with my arms at my side but about halfway through ended up putting them up over my head instead. I found that my arms over my head was more comfortable- my shoulders felt better, and didn’t feel like they were pushing up against my head like the floating made them feel with my arms to my sides.

The time went really fast and before I new it the music came back on and the light came back on, this indicates 5 more minutes left in the 60. I wished I could have floated another couple hours honestly, it was so restful. You are supposed to be out by the end of the 60 minutes so you could float during the last 5 minutes but not if you want to shower off (remember it’s salt water you were in, so you probably want to rinse the salt off at the least), so really you probably want to get out and shower and dress then.

One thing to note that surprised me was they had a rule that women cannot float while menstruating. I guess I get this, the water is sanitized between users, but not emptied and refilled, so you don’t want blood getting in the water. Still a little annoying to me because if I have my cup in there would be no blood getting into the water.

You also can’t float if you’ve recently dyed your hair. This is going to be an issue for me if I keep up the floating since I dye my hair a lot. But again, makes sense that they don’t want color getting into the water.

The second place I went didn’t have quite the new age-y feel to it. It was normal overhead office lighting in front, a waiting room with a tv and some detox drinks you could buy, but no tea, no salt lamps, no journals. There was also a room with a mirror and hair dryers, but no yoga mats. The float room was also a bit more clinical looking that new age looking. Their was a shower in the room but an alcove shower with a curtain, not an open one next to the pod. The pod was mostly the same except that the music was not automatic. The owner gave the option of music the first 5 and last 5 minutes, the whole time, or not at all. No option given for your own music. I choose no music.

The halos were $5 per session if you wanted one. I opted for not using one again. Again, a towel and ear plus were provided.

The float sessions were for 60 minutes but he had an offer for an extra 30 minutes for an additional $20. I opted for the extra 30 minutes this time since my last float felt so short. This place he does not start the time from when you get in the room. The owner told me how he doesn’t like other places where you pay for 60 minutes but you don’t really float for 60 minutes, because that time includes undressing, showering, then showering again and redressing. For him, the 60 or 90 minutes is the actual float time. So after you are in the room you undress, shower, put in ear plugs, get in the pod. The pod has two buttons. As soon as you get in, you hit the red button and this indicates you are starting to float. The timer is then set from this time. The green button adjust the light, you can choose different colors, or turn it off.

My second float was not as relaxing. I tried to focus on my breathing and relax, but I kept getting antsy and restless. I moved around a fair bit in the pod while floating. The pod was about the same size and so I often bumped into the edges again.

With me feeling restless it did not go by so fast. Choosing no music, you are notified at the end of the float by a woman’s voice recording saying the float is over. I didn’t notice the exact phrase because being in the dark, in the quiet, trying to meditate, even though I knew at the end there would be a voice, it was still incredibly startling when it came on. Shortly after this the jets in the pods turn on (I think this is part of the cleaning process between users?) which the owner told me are really loud if you are still in the pod so if you don’t hear the voice, those will definitely notify you the time is up. Then shower and dress and leave.

I plan to float again at both places, and don’t have a preferred one yet, I think each has points in it’s favor.

The first place offers memberships for floating 1, 2, or 3 times a month at reduced rates, on the membership you can purchase addition floats at a reduced rate too. Or if you aren’t a member you can just buy each float each time but it’s a bit more expensive that with the membership. There is no contract for the membership, you can end at any time.

The second place the groupon I bought was for 5 sessions so I haven’t gotten all the details on his memberships except that he mentioned for $119/month he has an unlimited membership where you could float up to 60 minutes everyday if you wanted. Which had me like “woah!!!! floating everyday!!!!” I think I would need to win the lottery and quit my job to have the time for that though, lol.

 

I’ll probably post more about my experiences again later when I’ve done it more and have more of a feel for how it impacts my mental health.

Last night I finally got back to Krav Maga. I was cleared in November to slowly transition back into normal activity after many months of not being allowed to do anything that put weight on my feet. I had expected to get Krav Maga back in the mix of things much sooner, but, shockingly things have not gone how I expected since November!

Not only in terms of taking so long to get back to Krav Maga but in terms of fitness in general I have been relatively inactive. I was dealing with depression before the election and it has just been a lot worse since then.

In addition to the depression there is also a sense of these things not mattering anymore, things in my personal life. It feels sometimes like I need to be focused constantly and fighting back against the hatred and fear pushed by Trump and his administration, and fighting against the harm they are doing. (Only a week an already so much harm!)

I’m working on this mentality though. Working to remind myself that taking care of myself is an act of resistance itself and that to fight back I have to take care of myself.

Saturday I was able to go to the Women’s March in Washington DC. This especially brought it home for me how important it is to take care of myself. I couldn’t believe how sore and tired I was from the walking and standing. We were standing basically all day, and I walked around 9 miles I think. Still, I did not expect 9 miles to hurt so much and to be so hard. I know part of this is that I was already tired at the start of it from a long bus ride to DC with no sleep that was not very comfortable. But I’m sure another part of it was that I hadn’t been very active for a few weeks before the march and was not doing a great job at taking care of myself.

So I’m working on changing that. I’m working on getting myself back into better shape, so I have the strength and endurance for this fight.

grwulub

Photo of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa that says “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance”

 

 

 

 

Update on Me

Posted: January 16, 2017 in About Me, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I have not been posting on here in awhile, and I’m doubtful that will change, but I just wanted to check in and let anyone reading know that I’m still around and not giving up on the blog, it’s just been hard to keep up with lately.

Part of that is that I work full time and I’m technically full time in school (though in the dissertation process so that’s flexible.)

Mainly though I’ve been really struggling with depression. I was struggling a bit prior to the election, but after the election it has gotten a lot worse. It makes it hard for me to find motivation to do anything, and that certainly includes blogging.

I was thankfully able to get back into therapy, though I sort of slipped past a “no new patients” rule by someone who didn’t realize that I’m considered a new patient since it’d been over a year since I saw this therapist.

Going to see if the no new patients rule will prevent me from seeing someone who can prescribe medications for depression in addition to therapy.

If that does happen, maybe things will start looking up for me and I might get back to blogging. But I can’t say how long until that is.

So that is the update one me!

 

I’m working back to normal workouts now with my broken foot healed.

One things I’ve gotten to discover first hand is the real benefit of compound movements. I know, this is something you hear a lot about in the lifting world on why free weights are better than machines, and it’s something I was aware of on a theoretical basis before but I understand it in terms of experience now.

While my foot was still healing and I needed to stay off it I discovered that while the gym I go to closest to me didn’t have any seated leg machines, one (in the same chain) a bit further away did. So I would sometimes go further away to that gym so I could do a seated hamstring curl and leg extension. Even staying off my foot I could work my legs some.

And surely this would help make it easier to transition back to lifts using my legs, like squats, after my foot was healed, right?

NOPE!

I still can barely manage squatting, even a few weeks back at it now. Trying to squat after so long without, my body completely forgot how to do that movement. Sure, the leg extension and hamstring curl helped build back some muscle on my legs, but muscle from those isolation movements did not translate well over to the functional movement of squatting- my muscles (all of them in conjunction) were not used to this movement.

 

Last night at the gym I for the first time since my break from lifting threw in a metabolic complex and it kicked my ass! I hate these. My comfort zone for workouts are heavy lifts with long rests between. The kind of stuff that builds muscle and leaves me sweating, but doesn’t really get my heart rate up for any sustained period of time. I also like swimming and HIIT cardio style workouts (sprints and such). But cardio HIIT workouts do not kick my ass as much as a barbell complex. I absolutely hate these when doing them, they feel miserable. And I realize I need to make more of an effort to do them more often. Because if I only stick with the stuff I find easiest or most enjoyable, I will be missing out. Sure, even if I only do a low intensity swimming several times a week I would have health benefits from that. But lifting and adding in some stuff that is a struggle and gets my heart rate going a lot more provides other forms of health benefits that are missed by sticking with just one style of workout. Aside from health benefits, it provides a different type of training benefit that other stuff doesn’t, and I’m missing out on performance if i skip it.

It helps though that I love how I feel AFTER it’s over though. And it doesn’t last very long. Not sure something like running a marathon is ever in my future. Much as I hate steady state cardio, not sure I could put up with it for such a long period of time.

Still trying to get into a groove of workouts though. It feels like a lot to fit into a schedule.

My goal is 3-4 days of lifting per week (each session taking 30-60 minutes usually), Krav Maga at least 1 day per week (fitting class times into my schedule is difficult or I’d aim for more often. Classes are 1 hr long if I remember correctly.), 1-2 complexes per week (so that adds 15-30 minutes, usually do these at the end of a lifting workout), and swimming 5 times a week, usually short distances at the end of my other workouts, but trying once a week to work in a mile swim (about 70 minutes). That all plus stretching and maybe working in some yoga classes. …. Kind of adds up to a lot of time. Everytime I go to the gym time seems to just melt away and it’s several hours later by the time I leave. Though it’s one benefit of going to the gym during my lunch break at work is it forces me to keep my workout time down, but that’s why I never try doing lifting workouts during lunch.

I think this is a really interesting topic, my comment on this post:

“I wonder too about the cause and effect for home fitness program users- I know one reason in the past (and sometimes present) I’ve been attracted to it is not just the ability to do it at home, anytime, but also the privacy and fear of looking stupid in front of other people at a gym or fitness class.

It’s interesting, I have a whole home gym set up in my basement for lifting and yet, since joining a commercial gym (initially only for the pool while recovering from foot injuries), I find it in some ways easier to get to the gym and workout than workout at home as counter intuitive as that is. Part of it is that I get to swim after lifting at the gym so that incentivizes me. There are also all the gym features that try to make it feel luxurious, which do make the experience feel like one of pampering over duty sometimes (I’m in love with getting to end workouts with a soak in a hot tub and/or some time in the steam room). And there is the factor of just being away from the stress of home that is relaxing, compared to working out in my basement where workouts are often in between doing laundry, with reading for school during my rests between sets. So working out has the “flexibility” of being able to do laundry and school work between sets and exercises, but it has the downside of not being the same quality me-time, time just for taking care of myself, that going out to a gym is.”

It’s interesting is that in many ways I think the very benefits of home workouts can be the downsides of home workouts

+ pivacy

– you don’t get out of your comfort zone and learn to be ok working out in front of others, and seeing that everyone else isn’t as perfect at it as you imagine

+you can do it anytime

-it’s easier to put off, “I’ll do it later” until later never comes because you ran out of time, because you aren’t on a schedule

+you can do it right at home, don’t need childcare, et cetera!

– you don’t take time just to take care of yourself, workouts are interspersed with the regular needs and stresses of home life such as taking care of kids, doing chores, et cetera.

Which isn’t to say the pluses aren’t really positives, because I thinkt they are and totally have a benefit and a place.

Yesterday Samantha posted about the real life secrets of aging athletes. And truer words were never spoken– as we get older, we have to pay closer attention to all the things that can limit the felicitous functioning of our bodies. When I was in my 20s, I could ignore the needs of sleep, nutritious food, […]

via The deceptive allure of home exercise programs — Fit Is a Feminist Issue