Daily Archives: November 19, 2015

How Not To Fuel the Fire

I have been a plus-size woman for the majority of my adult life.  Some years bigger than others (ahem…some DECADES bigger than others), but with the exception of a few years here and there, I have carried quite a bit of extra weight.  I have been extremely lucky, in that I have developed very few medical problems this extra weight.

Yes, I have sleep apnea and slightly high blood pressure, but both are easily treatable — one with a CPAP machine that I am devoted to wearing every time I lie down, and the blood pressure with a tiny dose of medication.  I again say, I have been extremely lucky, and I don’t really lose sight of that.  I know things could be much worse for my physical health because of my size (oy, and the smoking), but thanks to good genetics or the moon pulling the tides or what-have-you, I don’t suffer much with physical ills.

When I first started this blog over seven years ago, I was quite overweight, although not nearly to the degree I am now, and I actually DID have some health problems.  I joined Weight Watchers, dropped a bunch of weight, and walked three to ten miles a day (every day).  Unfortunately, I had a knee energy when I (foolishly) decided I was skinny enough to start running, and the scale has been on the uptick ever since.

For the past few months I have been feeling quite miserable physically, and I finally went and saw my primary care provider, who ran a bunch of labs.  It turned out that my fasting glucose was quite high, and she immediately decided that I had diabetes and she needed to prescribe Metformin (a diabetic medication) and all would be well.

Well, hellz no, lady!  With the 19 pills I take every morning and 24 I take every night for mental health issues, I’m not going to just throw another pill on top of things, all willy nilly.  SO, I asked her to test my A1C (it is more of an average of your blood sugar levels over a much longer period of time, rather than just the one instance).

And my A1C was NORMAL and my mononucleosis test came back NEGATIVE and so I am celebrating because…yay…I haven’t totally screwed my body up yet!  Now, of course, this doesn’t explain why I feel so awful physically, but at least I know that most of my labs are normal, so this is great news.

I spoke with my provider’s nurse, and my provider would like me to mostly eliminate carbohydrates and eat more fruits and vegetables.  I am going to take this under consideration, but I don’t want to do anything too extreme as I have a history of eating disorder, including but not limited to extreme preoccupation with food and calories.

I have not participated in *hardly* any eating disorder activity since LarBear and I have been together, and I want to keep it that way.  I don’t want to get really focused on a certain diet that I need to keep, and end up back where I used to be — all-consumed by anything that went into my mouth (and, similarly, that which was purged).  BUT, I do want to be a healthier person and I really do want to feel better physically so I can do more things.

There is the push and pull, now, that I need to lose weight and exercise more, and I do know that.  I am grateful I have yet to eff up the one body that I have been given on this planet (although I have really put it through quite the cycles of abuse) and so I feel very thankful for that.  I don’t want to worsen things, and turn that next A1C that I have to have drawn in two months into a problem number, but as stated before, don’t want to restart the eating disorder cycle (because it is the biggest bitch ever to get out of).

Any constructive thoughts are welcomed, desired, hoped-for, et cetera, ad nauseum!  :D

Filed under: Neuroticism Tagged: advice, anxiety, Bipolar, bulimia, depression, diabetes, doctor, eating, eating disorder, food, health, healthcare, labs, medication, medicine, mental illness, mental-health, nutrition, physical health, PTSD

Changing the Story


When my nurse practitioner told me on Monday that she was treating me for pneumonia, I felt an inordinate amount of satisfaction.  Smug, even.  And at the same time, I was angry and resentful that my friends and family weren’t rallying around me.  When I stopped to look at all that head-ichor, it felt contradictory and very, very old.

We’ve been exploring ancestry in our UU study groups—how ancestors may differ from relatives, how we receive transmissions and transfer them on to the next generation, how we are given gifts and responsibilities.  With that in the back of my mind, I began to see my reactions to illness and support as a transmission.  They are as much traditions in my family as oyster stew on Christmas Eve.

wicked witchThe only time we could count on our mom giving us positive attention was when we were sick.  She touched us with care.  She looked at us.  It was acceptable to wake her up in the middle of the night to say, “Mom, I don’t feel good.”  It was not acceptable to be scared of the Wicked Witch on The Wizard of Oz.  I learned that at the age of three, sitting on Mom’s lap.  “If you’re going to be that way,” I remember her saying, “I’m turning off the TV.”  I got it: Emotions=Bad.  Illness=Good.

It was also a long-standing tradition to value illness that could be named, especially by a doctor, or was freakishly out of the ordinary.  So, my brother scored lots of points for the fast growth spurt he experienced as a teen when he woke up one morning unable to move.  The story of my dad carrying him in a fetal position to the car is legend in my family.  Same with the story of my brother accidentally dropping a pitchfork on my sister’s face and how the tine curved around her eye instead of puncturing it.  These are the fairy tales I heard as a child.

merthiolateGetting a cold wasn’t legendary, but having warts that disappeared before the doctor could inspect them smacked of magic and mystery—and worthiness.  I knew when I fell off my bike I’d better have gravel for Mom to pull out with tweezers or I wasn’t worthy of her time.  I learned how to wash a wound, dab on merthiolate and blow the sting away, wrangle a Band-aid without it sticking to itself.  I learned not to bother Mom with minor injuries.

But worthiness carried over into other areas of our life.  Recently, I talked to my brother about this.  It was no secret that he won the Most Worthy Award in our mom’s estimation.  He wrote to our parents every week from the time he left for college until Mom died last year.  He came home for Christmas every year, a nine hour drive from Bemidji, often through bad weather.  He kept the same job with the state of Minnesota his entire work-life and still works part-time, though he is officially retired.  He’s a little eccentric, which somehow made him more dear rather than worrisome.

I asked him why he did it.  Why did he write faithfully every week for all those years?

“Mom told me to,” he said.

testMy brother passed a test I failed long ago—obedience and demonstration of affection.  It was our responsibility to prove to our mom that we loved her, to do what we were told.  After my dad died, I think my sister understood unconsciously that a new test was in the wind.  She called our mom every day.  She helped her buy a new car and new furniture.  Of course she wanted to support Mom in her grief and confusion, but there was a frantic quality to it, a blurring of boundaries that sapped my sister’s emotional energy.  Eventually, my sister backed away enough to rebuild her boundaries.  And, of course, Mom felt abandoned.  And angry.

As I consider my family’s emotional legacy, I see all of it playing out in me.  I made light of my chest cold as just another annual event and went about being stoic and “taking care of it myself,” because it was nothing special.  At the same time, I silently tested my friends and family to see if they “cared enough” to call or offer help.  When they didn’t, I got angry and marked them as unworthy.

My care-giver, Leanne, visited yesterday, and she slapped me awake like a Zen master.  “How can they offer help if they don’t know you’re sick?”

Holy crap.  I’d turned into my mom, expecting people to read my mind and anticipate my needs.  I had carried forward a story that may have started generations ago.  What happened in my mom’s young life to make her so insecure about being seen and loved?  What happened to her mother to demand a boundary-less relationship with her youngest daughter?  I felt comparison and sorrow, imagining my mother and my grandmother trying to scratch affection out of a barren landscape.  Or, more accurately, what they perceived as barren through the lens of this family fairy tale.


So, I did a scary and fairy tale-contradictory thing yesterday.  I announced on FaceBook that I had pneumonia and would appreciate kind words and help.  The outpouring of love and people rushing to come to my aid knocked me senseless.

I’m well aware that being able to say pneumonia still carries a lot more brownie points in my mind than the less worthy chest cold.  Editing this old story will take time and patience.  But my hope is that the legacy stops here.  Part of my work as a point on the continuum of time and ancestry, will be to pass on a different story of who we might be.  In that fairy tale, everyone is worthy.


That’s what I feel like this morning.  I woke up around 3 a.m. and never went back to sleep. I got up and sat up for a little while until my husband woke up and realized I wasn’t in the bed with him. That was about 5:15 a.m.  So I got back in bed at his request and was just about asleep again when the alarm went off.  SO I am  sleepy today and not sure what all I’m going to accomplish.

I did do some hard thinking last night. I came up with an idea for getting a project of mine published and came up with a way to address something in my recovery in my memoir with sensitivity to all involved. I’ll need to write that up soon so I won’t lose track of how I want to express it.  But I still have to think on it some more.

I am excited about taking a nonfiction workshop next semester and improving my story about my recovery. I dont’ know what all will be covered in it, but this project is one I plan to work on during it.  Get me a head start on my thesis as well since I want to base it on the story I already have written down.  SO it’s just good news all around!

Hope everyone has a good rest of the week!




“Can You Smell Sexual Attraction?”

Apparently yes you can. And you are attracted to people genetically different than you do diversity can be increased and recessive traits don’t surface! Pretty cool!

Can You Smell Sexual Attraction?

By: SPLICE, Posted on: November 18, 2015

Has it happened to you that you’ve met a handsome person, but something just didn’t click? Was there a person that had something that you simply couldn’t resist? Sometimes we call this chemistry, but does it really have anything to do with chemicals? Science says yes!

In November 1976 Yamazaki published a paper where they observed that mice choose their mates based on the differences in specific genetic region called Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). MHC plays an important role in antigen recognition and immune response (in humans it is also called Human Leukocyte Antigen – HLA). They speculated that mice use smell to determine the differences in these regions; the more differences there are in MHC between two mice, the more attractive they smell to each other.
It wasn’t until 1995, when Claus Wedekind, professor at University Bern in Switzerland asked his male students to wear cotton T-shirts two nights in a row, not to use any perfumes and avoid smelly stuff in general. He put the T-shirts into boxes and asked female students to smell them and rate how “sexy” they smelled. It turned out that women preferred the smell of T-shirts belonging to students with most different MHC genotype with the p-value being smaller than 0.001! Does that mean that two MHC genotypes are all you need to predict how sexually compatible you are with someone?
Well, it does make scientific sense. The more genetically different our sexual partner is, the less likely it is that children will have recessive genetic disorders. Also having two different sets of genes helps our immune system to fight off more pathogens, which would explain why MHC is involved in mate preferences. But nobody really knows how does it work and what exactly it is that smells sexy.
Since 1995 there were many other studies in many different settings. Some confirmed the results, some were inconclusive and some actually showed the reverse effect. Interestingly women who were taking contraceptive pills preferred more similar genotypes – family. And since hormonal contraceptives simulate pregnancy it does make sense that pregnant women are not really looking for a potential mate, but for family, where they feel safe.
CompatibleHowever, these inconsistencies didn’t stop start-ups offering genetic tests in order to determine sexual compatibility. Gene Partner was one of the first ones to pick up the idea, followed by Instant Chemistry and many others, however none of them really made it big.
It is hard to say what role genetics is playing in sexual attraction in humans, especially since the attraction seems to be determined by smell. We are all showering with soap, wash our clothes with softeners and eat dishes that can leave very specific odours. But it seems that there is some old mechanism still in play. So next time you find someone irresistible, you can blame your genes. And if you are saying “there is chemistry between us” you are scientifically correct.


Not a typo. My snooze and wake cycle continues to epic levels. Tonight it was nightmares combined with sheer terror. Nightmarrors. I am not talking buried alive or being chased by a machete wielding maniac terror. I am talking “this could really happen and I would never ever do that and yet I am doing it, tell me this is a fucking nightmare!”

As mentioned many times previously, for several months I’ve had this “issue” where I start to drift off, then jolt awake in terror. It’s much like falling down into a dark well and jolting awake is my way of grabbing for dear life to save myself. I finally managed to nod off on my own sans pill tonight, only to jolt several times.

I was awake within an hour of nodding off. Took a melatonin because the jolt terrors had me too rattled and pissed off to nod off naturally again.

THEN came the dreams. No, the nightmarrors.

I dreamt the donor showed up at the door, spewing his usual lies and drama. How he’d lost everything and gf of the year threw him out and could he crash and…UGH. Even in my dreams I am pathetic for I let him stay. I asked Spook what she thought of daddy being back and she said she wanted him to go. Then it was more of his lies, blaming everyone for everything, taking no responsibility for himself, and even asleep, dreaming, I could only think, oh jebus, not this shit again, you dumb bitch…

This was followed by some sort of showdown with my mother where she just kept nagging me and insulting me and..I got so mad, so fed up, I punched her. I could see this happening. Of course, in the dream I was cursed and disowned and everyone sided with mom and she was prattling about how I wasn’t her daughter anymore and I mentioned her hypocrisy at always saying you never give up on your own kids no matter how much they hurt you….

Then I woke for the sixth time in five hours and my heart was pounding and dread permeated my cells, immediately followed by the relief of it all having been a bad bad dream. Except for the momentary elation of actually venting my rage toward my mother with that punch…It was all very gross, very disturbing. I mean, it had to be for me to  leave the warm comfort of vanilla bean and turn on lights and decide to stay awake rather than risk more nightmarrors just for a couple more hours of splotchy sleep. This vile hour should not be witnessed unless you haven’t been to bed yet. Here I am, enduring it by choice, even if the warm vanilla bean blankie is beckoning me to its loving arms…

No. more. dreams.

I’m up, I am gonna stay up. Maybe I will finally go grocery shopping, finish up the housework. Could clean out the trash can,er my car, pick up the yard where the cats and wind have strewn trash everywhere…Or I may nap after I drop her off. I don’t know. jUst know I am not gonna deal with the dreams right now.

Sleep used to be the place I escaped to when my own mind became too scary to deal with. Now even sleep is too scary to deal with. The proverbial catch 22.

If life is a lottery, I got the losing ticket.

Not woe is me. Just like….ugh, not this shit again.

27 Things to Do When Being Stared at by a Random Penguin

When you're smiling, it's creepy. Because you're knitted.

When you’re smiling, it’s creepy. Because you’re knitted.

We’ve all been there. It’s early on a Thursday morning, and you’re typing an email to a friend about how the hell to do something on Goodreads. Or perhaps you’re contacting an artist, about some art. Because that’s where art comes from.

Then you look up, and see this chap, looking back at you:

Cute? Or creepy?

Lurking in the Dark: cute? creepy? both?

You put on the light, and write the following.

27 Things to Consider When Being Stared at By a Knitted Penguin

  1. Ask if it wants a cup of tea – preferably not yours.
  2. Discover that it’s not a vicar.
  3. Try not to mention cake. As a) there isn’t any, and b) if there were, you’re not giving it to just any penguin who happens to pop round.
  4. Consider asking it if it was brought up in a barn. On account of the staring.
  5. Or a sewing basket.
  6. Remember that you weren’t brought up in a barn, and that both 4) and 5) are rude.
  7. Show it the Guardian website, as perhaps it just wanted to catch up on the latest news.

    "All penguins read the Guardian" is a sweeping generalisation.

    “All penguins read the Guardian” is a sweeping generalisation.

  8. Try and sell it a copy of your book.
  9. Suggest that if it wants cake (see 3 above), it pop to the shop at the far corner, as it opens around fiveish.
  10. If it prefers, there’s a tin of tuna in the bottom cupboard, next to the cat biscuits.
  11. Or maybe it would prefer cat biscuits.
  12. Forget about 10) and 11) above, as it would probably annoy the cat.
  13. Ask if it’s going on holidays: this works for hairdressers, after all.
  14. Remember that you haven’t been on holiday for some years, and perhaps the penguin hasn’t either, and your parents did raise you to be polite (see 6).
  15. Ask if it would like to see your collection of toast racks.

    Is three toast racks a collection? Or an obsession?

    Is three toast racks a collection? Or an obsession?

  16. Offer it a cuppa again after having shown it your toast racks, and discovering that the penguin does fancy some tea, after all.
  17. Share a laugh when the penguin mentions “Talkie Toaster” from “Red Dwarf”.
  18. Have a good old chat about “Black Books“, and discover that, whilst knitted, this penguin isn’t really a bad sort.
  19. Inadvertently let it slip that whilst you own a DVD of “March of the Penguins”, you have not yet played it.
  20. Watch the penguin ruffle its feathers in a fit of temper. Which is weird, given that it’s knitted.
  21. Attempt to divert the conversation by asking if it has read “The Penguin & the S-Reg Volvo“.
  22. Pour it another cuppa, to drink whilst it reads.

    Oi, penguin! That's my mug!

    Oi, penguin! That’s my mug!

  23. Discover that, like many knitted creatures, it only reads at 2nd grade level.
  24. Offer to read the story to the penguin.
  25. Do so tactfully. After all, it’s knitted. It may turn your socks against you.
  26. Remember that, between you, your husband and you own lots of socks.
  27. Find out, too late, that it’s invited a friend round for breakfast.
Even knitted penguins need friends.

Even knitted penguins need friends.

If you enjoyed these random observations, please come to “A Beer & Yer Ear” at Doncaster Brewery Tap, 7 Young Street, Doncaster on Thursday 26th November, at 7:30 pm to listen to author friends & myself read from our books. We’ll also be selling books (fancy that…)

Battling The Inertia Of Bipolar Depression

I know the socially acceptable party line: “We all have those days where we just can’t get going and don’t have the motivation…You just gotta force yourself to do what needs to be done.”

Spoken by mindless dish dwellers who have zero clue what a bipolar depression is.

When I call it depressive inertia, I am not being dramatic or creative. I am not amping up the woe is me factor. Depression could be a synonym for inertia. I battled myself for three hours this morning, trying to “just do” what needed done. And I’d get up and fiddle and forget what I was doing or see what all else had to be done…I’d just collapse into my chair, exhausted mentally by it all.

One thing I have learned about myself…I cannot be bullied into things, not even by myself. My rebel nature kicks in and it gets ugly. It is much more productive to go with the inertia until I reach a point where my mind has slowed enough to tackle one project at a time instead of getting overwhelmed.

Today was like that. I did like six loads of laundry, cleaned the kitchen floor (ish). I cooked myself supper, on a stove, instead of a microwave. I gave my kid a bath, showered myself. I even folded two baskets of laundry, leaving a lot for tomorrow along with the dishes but…I got something done.

With a minimum of anxiety, too , except when hearing people outside. Walking by, whatever, it always makes me think the maintenance guys are gonna demand instant access to my home due to some shared problem in the trailer park and…NOPE. The only person I let in my home without a shred of give a damn about its biohazard level is R. He’s known me long enough to know I am a slob of epic proportions and it’s not likely gonna change. Everyone else critiques and tells me I’m gonna lose my kid to the system if I don’t get those shelves dusted or clean down the cobwebs in the corner…R doesn’t do that shit and it helps me relinquish control of my safe bubble knowing I won’t be facing harsh criticism. Everyone else…needs to fuck off. Not like a single one of them have ever offered to help in the slightest.

So the spawn was devil-lite, my night was not dominated by social obligation, and truthfully…I am ready to drift off to sleep under vanilla bean. It will require sleeping pills eventually, no doubt. I will give it a college try without them. I knew once I started taking sleepers it’d get to the point (again) where my body is so adapted to having the help nodding off, I can barely go a night without them. Methinks the doctors are dumb as dirt, handing us more problems when we’re asking them to help us get fewer problems.

Oh, if anyone is curious…the sun played peek a boo all day and my mood was less lethargic. Unfortunately, the sheer curtains in the living room resulted in my retinas being scorched so I had to seek the dimness of the crypt.

Yeah,  I don’t get me, either. Lends an air of mystery, doncha think?


God’s put patience on my mind a lot lately.  I’ve sat behind a lot of red lights today, I’ve dealt with more obstacles, and I’ve waited on more people this week than I have in a long time.  ANd I keep feeling the inner prodding to be less pushy, less jumpy, and less agitated than all those things usually make me.  Makes me wonder what He’s preparing me for next.

I really put myself out there this week on my project I sent in for workshop this week.  I talked about my salvation experience in terms of helping me cope with my mental illness.  The university I’m attending online is very liberal, and my daughter says she has trouble with people as she’s an open Christian there.  Some of it is the type of students she is around–most think of themselves as highly intellectual.

So I was expecting a little pushback from people about being so explicitly Christian, but everyone was supportive of my project, telling me that it was really good and told my story effectively.  I’m not quite sure how to take it–but if it gets the word out about Jesus, then I’m all for their support.


Acute Stroke Rehab Starts Now

Providence Little Company of MaryToday my mother transferred from the hospital to acute rehab. She will be doing 3-5 hours of occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy each day for the next two weeks.

My sister and I are trying to figure out how to best help my parents once she leaves rehab. Wish us well. Thank you for your love, support and prayers.

Filed under: Family, Health Tagged: aging, occupational therapy, physical therapy, senior care, speech therapy, stroke, stroke rehab, stroke rehabilitation

Happiness for happiness sake

The beautiful neighborhood where I live.