Archive for February, 2016

Today I took the afternoon off work (YAY finally having a job with paid time off!) to get some doctor appointments out of the way. Sadly only managed to fit two in- neurology and podiatry.

Neither was particularly exciting. Neurology was more adjusting and changing meds as usual, because my migraines still very frequent. Also my abortive prescription has stopped working for me, so switching to another (that my doctor has to try to convince my insurance to cover by explaining that their preferred medications for me were tried and not effective.)

Podiatry was for my foot pain. Mostly just suggestions to do the things I’ve been doing :-\ (insoles in my shoes, and stretches). But I also got a steroid shot that supposedly will help with the pain temporarily.

But also after my neurology appointment I got a sheet with info on “headache hygiene” with suggestions of things that are supposed to help prevent migraines which included such things as waking up at the same time every day and going to bed at the same time everyday, getting regular exercise, and avoiding skipping meals.

For me personally the one that stood out was not skipping meals. For those who haven’t read posts where I’ve mentioned it before I practice intermittent fasting- so I frequently go 16- 24 hrs without eating anything. I like this method and feel much better with it typically. So I’m curious what the evidence is that fasting will cause migraines, and has me wishing that advice like this came with citations to the research to back it up for patients who want to look into it.

This isn’t specific to just this particular piece of advice but I notice this happens a lot with doctors is that things just generally considered good and healthy become advice for any ailment, regardless of if there is evidence it is actually linked to that ailment. Just like the doctor did on Voyager.

fluids

Photo of the doctor in the television series Star Trek Voyager with the text “Everybody should drink plenty of fluids”. In context Kes, an alien species the Doctor was unfamiliar with, had medical complaints, he told her he had no frame of reference for what she was experiencing but she should drink plenty of fluids. She responded “fluids?” and he states “everybody should drink plenty of fluids”, indicating his advice was not at all specific to her complaints. 

 

It would be nice if doctors had to provide citations just like academics. Instead looks like I’m off to do my own research on this.

I mentioned that I did a Krav Maga class recently, but I thought maybe I should write a whole post about my first class experience. It was a while ago now, unfortunately it takes me awhile sometimes to get around to writing up blog posts.

So a few weeks back now I did my first trial Krav Maga class. I’ve been wanting to learn Krav Maga for a while but it’s expensive so I hadn’t ever gotten around to actually doing it. So the closest Krav Maga studio to me has trial classes where you can come in and do a free class to see if you want to sign up. So I signed up for a Thursday evening class.

Before the class:

I got off work about 5pm as planned, rushed home because I still needed to dry the clothes for class. Rushed around to make sure I had shoes and water, only to realize that it was still over an hour before I needed to leave even for planning to be there early. So then I just relaxed for a bit, lost track of time, and ended up leaving later than planned in workout clothes with jeans over my workout capris, separate shoes (as required by them), and a water bottle. Put the address in my GPS and headed out.

So I got to the Krav Maga place and was still early for the class. I had signed up for the trial class online so when I walked in and heard “Erin?” at first I just thought it was someone who had seen an “Erin” sign up for the class, it took me a minute to realize the person who said my name was actually Claire, who I had gone to high school with!

After that I got a tour of the building from a staff person, then chatted with Claire a bit. A Krav Maga level 2 class was wrapping up so I watched for a little bit as they did some disarming moves. Honestly from the little I saw I was surprised that was considered level 2 moves, but I only saw the tail end of the class.

Level 1 Class:

Then the level 1 class I signed up for was going to start, and I certainly felt nervous. I set down my stuff in the back of the room, quickly retied my shoes and rushed to get lined up at the start. We all formed a line in front of the instructor, he asked if it was the first time for anyone and I raised my hand. Two other people in the class were there for the second time I guess, but also doing a trial. He asked if anyone had any injuries and I considered if I should mention my issues with my foot but I didn’t want to draw much attention to myself and it’s only really a big problem if I run, so I decided not to mention it. We did some bowing thing to the front then back of the room, then he says to make a circle of the room, and it took me a few moments of seeing what others were doing to realize we were being told to run laps of the room.

Oh.

“Only a problem if I’m running” and what do we start with? Running.

I was clearly not expecting a Krav Maga class to involve running.

I started out at the back of everyone but keeping pace, after a lap or 2 though I started falling behind, I was out of breath and my foot was killing me, but I kept pushing through as much as I could. I was being lapped by several people and definitely feeling embarrassed and out of shape. Then we added various arm movements while running. Then a weird sideways shuffle around the room which felt awkward and I was out of breath and just thinking this is clearly not for me.

After all this we are instructed to find a place around the room and I think, ok, warm up done, now we do krav maga, right?

No.

The downside of writing this so long later is that I don’t remember all of what we did. But there were ab exercises on the floor, jumping to the floor and back up, and then we did some punching at the air. It felt like just another standard fitness class all through this and I’m thinking to myself, just get through this hour long class and be done with it, this is not what I was looking for. I want to learn krav maga, if I wanted just generic fitness classes I could join a random gym closer to me and for cheaper.

Then we do some punching at air, fast paced, so still very aerobic and I’m still out of breath and struggling.

The instructor then makes a comment about how this isn’t some fitness kickboxing class, this is Krav Maga, punch like you mean to hit something. And I’m thinking in my head “is this really any different than a generic fitness kickboxing class?”

Seems though that this was just the warm up, though it was a long warm up in my opinion. I’m not used to a warm-up taking up a full quarter or longer of the class/session time.

Then we were instructed to get a pad from the corner and pair up. A woman comes to me and asks if I want to pair up with her. I was thankful she came and asked me because the “find a partner” stuff always makes me feel uncomfortable. I was feeling awkward and out of place already and asking to partner with someone for fitness endeavors brings back too many memories of being the fat kid in gym class who was always picked last.

I got the feeling that she was probably also an instructor though just taking the class at that moment. We started off then with taking turns one person holding the pad and the other punching it. I finally felt like I was doing what I came there for but was still out of breath and feeling very out of shape because of it. But it was getting fun for me finally, and the woman I was partnered with was incredibly nice and helpful. She kept giving me pointers on everything, showing me how to hold the pad for her to punch, and offering encouragement. After punches we took a water break and then did some kicks. Again, the woman I was partnered with was being helpful showing me what to do and giving advice. The instructor came around and corrected my stance for the kicks.

After kicks we put away the pads and in pairs practiced breaking away from someone trying to choke us from behind. I kept having to be told to be rougher when I was the one doing the pushing/choking from behind. I struggled a bit since my only time doing things like this was a required training at work on safety and getting out of chokes, what to do if someone tries to attack us, et cetera. But being a required work training, even faking everything I was apparently the most rough person in the class. Was hard for me to adjust to a situation were people weren’t afraid of being rough and wanted to practice with more realistic force.

We ended after this lining up again and doing the bows.

After class:

I hung around after chatting with Claire and waiting because by then I had had fun and decided I was going to sign up. I sat down with the two other new folks to go over the membership options. They were a lot less sure and had more questions for me whereas by then I was just like “let’s do this!” This is when I started coughing. At the start just a bit here and there, by the end of the meeting and sign up  a lot more.

I ended up signing up for the krav only option, with a year long commitment. They also do some other classes like yoga, weight lifting, and so on, but you have to have a more expensive membership to do those. I was tempted, mainly for the weight class as it would give me a change to lift with someone in person who could check and correct my form. But it was already super expensive and already going to be a struggle to fit just krav maga classes into my schedule, so I just did that.

Of course I’ve mentioned the rest in other posts- by the time I got home my coughing was pretty severe and kept getting worse all night. By morning I was still coughing constantly and ended up calling in sick to work because I couldn’t imagine trying to talk to people when I was hacking constantly like that. Not only was I coughing though, but after a coughing spasm there would be a few seconds were I felt like I couldn’t start breathing again. Coughing kept up though it got marginally better over the weekend and so I went into the doctor and was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma and prescribed an inhaler.

Oh, and after I got home Claire posted a video on facebook:

At first I hated how I looked, but after a bit I liked it.

I just got back now from my second class. Went fairly similar to before. People are nice and helpful. Had a bit of a panic attack for fear of not being able to breath after. And despite the inhaler I am coughing again :-\

Still, it is fun.

Wow, what utter bullshit. I don’t think there really is any other word for this. Lectures are not hurt by being delivered from a wheelchair instead of standing, and blind folks and deaf and hearing impaired folks are capable of working in academia. This is some utter bullshit.

Feminist Philosophers

Shelley Tremain over at Discrimination and Disadvantage draws attention to the fact that academic jobs in some US institutions now have physical requirements written into the essential criteria, which means that disabled people are automatically disqualified.

In the past four months, I have seen two postings for jobs in philosophy that stipulated physical requirements such as “ability to stand and deliver a lecture” and “full sight and hearing capacity.” In the one case, these stipulations were set out on a university HR site that was linked from a philosophy department’s job posting. In the other case, the stipulations were included in the very job posting itself. In both cases, the institutions in question were American universities. Philosophers must adamantly oppose the use of such criteria in the job postings for positions in their own departments and on their university’s HR page. These criteria are in direct violation of the Americans…

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This started as a facebook post on this article that showed up on my feed:
 
I’m not sure how I feel about the way spoon theory has been expanded to others sorts of disabilities- as I’ve seen the types of spoons used with. It does strike me in some sense as being a very different issue that distorts the language we use when people apply the same language of spoons to things that are actually quite different, but then at the same time, I kind of feel like if it helps explain disability maybe expanding the meaning helps….
I am torn though lol, because as soon as I type that I think “but sometimes it obfuscates the issue”.
 
But that issue aside… I really could relate so much to the author’s annoyance at a friend who found that sex is the key to getting more spoons. Not specific to sex, but I have definitely had trouble with people understanding that spoons is not something limited to “difficult” activities, or chores- relaxing, fun activities take spoons too. I actually had been thinking to blog about this for awhile and just struggled with how to phrase my issues.
But I have recently run into people who seem to think that “fun”, “relaxing” activities don’t count for spoons for me, they should recharge me, they should help me with my stress not add to it. Which in terms of stress- yes, relaxing activities and seeing friends can help. But spoons isn’t code for stress, my disabilities are not code for stress. It’s not about stress. Spoons are about the energy needed for things, and that includes watching netflix on my couch.
“Just for fun/To relax” activities also, in my experience, cost more than healthy people realize, too. It’s often not just the activity itself that costs spoons but the spoons to be presentable for it- showering, putting on clean clothes, bushing my hair. I feel like people often forget the true meaning of spoon theory- which is in large part how healthy folks take these things for granted. When Christine Miserandino’s friend starts her day by “getting ready for work” Christine has to correct her- getting ready for work is not one thing, you don’t get up and get ready with a chronic illness, as she puts it:
It looks a bit different for me and probably different for many different spoonies, but there are similarities. I often wake up late, I slept through my first 3 alarms again because when I push myself too hard alarms will not wake me up, I am already exhausted and my whole body hurts but I have to force myself out of bed, then I have to shower but I have to actually plan out what I can do in the shower day to day… shaving is usually too costly for me. I do that once in a blue moon, usually on a weekend, when I’m feeling well. What I wear is based on spoons available as well. Make up and doing anything special for my hair costs more spoons and yet there is an irony that many people, women in particular, with chronic illnesses tend to wear makeup and spend more time on our hair than healthy people, because makeup and hair products and styles are camouflage for us. When things are the worst for me health-wise, wearing make up does not feel like an option. I’ve learned some tricks to try to lessen the appearance of the thinning in my hair. I wear makeup to cover up under eye bags and petechiae from vomiting, so that I look healthy. So that I’m not constantly being told how tired and sick I look or being asked what’s wrong all day.
Luckily my morning medicines do not need to be taken with food so I get to skip on breakfast in the mornings. Thankful for that.
But this is what it means to have to think about “spoons”. Healthy people don’t have unlimited energy. Healthy people can’t do everything they want or need to in a day all the time. There is limited time and energy for work, volunteering, taking care of kids, working out, spending time on hobbies, and keeping up with your chores. That’s normal. Spoon theory isn’t about managing all those activities, though they are part of it too, but it’s about all the little things that healthy people don’t have to plan out and factor into their energy reserves for the day. Healthy people have to plan out how they will manage and fit those obligations and wants, spoonies have to manage that and also make careful decisions about things like showering, dressing, what clothes we can or can’t wear that day, managing medications (I always feel an irony in needing to budget out the spoon needed for medication set up each week…. but if I come up short and don’t have it I will be screwed because I won’t have my meds ready to take for the week). It’s also about the fact that some days we have so few spoons those small things are the only things healthy people take for granted are all we can manage.