Why Do I Need To Eat Every Day?

Yes, I know it’s because I’m human and we operate best if we eat with a certain amount of “eat multiple times a day” and “eat a variety of foods”. But it’s frustrating me at the moment, and I’m venting, so deal.

I know my pandemic experience has been a really good one. We have a house in the suburbs. We can go outside without immediately running into other people. The programmer has an office to work in – actually we all have an office. Plus other spaces! And a huge kitchen! Plus my husband likes to cook!

It’s the “not going to restaurants” thing that gets me down. Meal planning and cooking more started as a novelty, but now the “what do we eat today?” question is just … I’m over 50, y’all, and I get tired of trying to figure this out. Left to my own devices I would probably subsist on hummus (in single-serving packs), crackers (to scoop hummus with), bananas, and cheese. Or frozen food. And cookies. It’s a rut that served me fairly well after my pulmonary embolism. But it’s not really enough to thrive on.

I actually feel better when I eat more plants and otherwise have more variety. This week I got some baby spinach with the idea of making at least 2 salads. Instead, I added a salad’s worth of spinach to ramen (along with tuna and green onions.) Today I grabbed a big bowl and put in a few cups of spinach, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and salad dressing. I was a bit impressed with how good it tasted and that I was able to put it together quickly.

What are your food solutions these days?

Zero Fail by Carol Leonnig

Amazon link: Zero Fail

I found this a compelling book that details serious mistakes in Secret Service management and culture. In many ways the failures of described are human failures of the “I haven’t had a day off in weeks, why not go out to the bar? Why not bring a person I’m attracted to back to my hotel room?” It’s a compelling rationale, if you skip the details like “Need to be on duty tomorrow” or “My hotel room has sensitive information that would be really really useful for any wannabe assassins.”

Details matter.

The book reminded me of software teams I have known, and not just in the “We work hard and you can’t tell us how to change.” Like in tech, doing your job as an agent well doesn’t mean you’ll be a good manager. 

We are shown early in the book that consequences happen – if your misdeeds make the news. Everyone else gets a free pass. And, like many cultures, reformers are fighting both inertia AND specific sabotage from within. There aren’t easy answers, but it’s a good look at a problem culture with some amazing stories.

Support hose

Technically support hose is less than 20 mm, aka millimeters of mercury, which is the method of measuring how much they compress the legs. My compression hose is 20mm-30mm. But I still laughed at this, and thought some other folks would like it.

Woman in a skirted suit. Her stocking use word balloons to tell their wearer “C’mon, Tara, you can do it!” and “Yeah, Tara, I believe in you!”. At bottom: “Tara would go on to add her job interview, thanks to her support hose.”

Changing A Few Things

I’ve been struggling to do more than 10 minutes on the treadmill for months. I’ve also been concerned that my pulse was anaerobically high when I’d finish on the treadmill. I’d been toying with going to shorter times and just doing more of them, and then the new endocrinologist suggested the same. I’ve started doing 5 minute sessions, and found that 3 of them is doable. My pulse doesn’t get above aerobic levels; to put it another way, I’m staying in “vigorous”, sometimes even “moderate”. And I’m still feeling the exercise, all right.

I’ve been reading Every Body Yoga and doing six or so asanas, twice a week. I’m also getting on and off the floor twice a week – something that before my pulmonary embolism I didn’t regard as all that remarkable. In my case and my current levels of fitness, I’m using our bedframe (specifically the side rail) as a support in going down and up. I didn’t need that 5 years ago, and I’m working to not need it in the future. Still, like yoga teachers have told me many times, if a prop helps, use it!

Other props I have used to get off the floor are our coffee table and a chair. Do I need to write that I do not trust just any piece of furniture? Because no, I don’t. I also find – while the man of the house is always ready to help – it can be best for him to hold a sturdy chair steady for me, instead of him bending over. This saves his back.

Strength training is the same stuff I’ve been writing about for years, and it’s key to keeping everything else working :)

New Doctor

New doctors tend to result in me being anxious. In this case, it was a new endocrinologist. Reasons include: new insurance doesn’t support the prior endocrinologist and the prior endocrinologist is a sole proprietor leading to delays for anything. New endocrinologist was selected from the group practice at the hospital system where I have everything else. They know how my insurance works and they have support staff.

The prior endocrinologist was also great at pushing my buttons, but I wasn’t sure I’d find a better one.

To my surprise – and after stressing for days – the visit with the new doctor went well. Staff did not show surprise about my arriving on a mobility scooter. They were fine with me “parking” it in the waiting room, and pointed out I could use it the entire time. I explained I’m more comfortable walking in the more closed in offices, but the scooter made it easier to navigate the hospital complex where their office is located. The waiting room had a variety of chair widths; the exam room had a wide chair, exam table, a stool, and another chair. I was able to move comfortably. The blood pressure cuff was appropriate.

I arrived with a list of things to discuss, mostly involving meds. I was treated respectfully. I was not told to diet. I was not asked what I eat, much less lectured on my assumed eating habits. We discussed tests to check on my hypothyroid and other function. I agreed with the recommendations. One prescription was renewed. I was given written directions to the lab for my tests (down the elevator, down the sloping ramp to another building – this is why I brought the scooter).

That afternoon I had email notifying me of an update in the hospital system’s portal. My labs were fine. I was reminded to feel free to reach out in the portal if I have questions or need another prescription.

Overall, I’m relieved.

I’m also a bit frustrated that being relieved is good, and that my expectations were low based on experience.

Importance of Comfort

If you’ve played The Sims, you know each Sim has various needs: Energy, Bladder, Hunger, Social. The one that surprised me was Comfort. Sims want to be physically comfortable, and get grouchy if they’re not. More expensive beds filled the Energy and Comfort needs faster than cheaper ones.

Are you comfortable where you are?

Comfort is something with many meanings. The Sims focuses on physical comfort, including seating and sleep. There’s also being comfortable moving through a space: Is the floor level? Are hallways and openings wide enough? Are stairs at a good climbing height, with a rail? There’s also being comfortable with the people around you, at home, work, or in public. And then there’s money.

Thing is, you deserve a level of comfort. Start with the physical: are you able to move around your home? Maybe some stacks need to be rehomed. Are there comfortable chairs or beds? Ideally you can get some that work for you, but in the meantime, you can do a lot with pillows and even crate foam.

Can you practice your hobbies? One day I realized that I had several physical books I’d bought but hadn’t read. Meanwhile I read ebooks daily on my phone. I realized I didn’t have a comfy spot with good light for reading print on paper. I’ve since moved a few lamps to make a few good reading spots with a side table for water or coffee.

Think about what is comfortable for you.

Year In Review…Kinda

We don’t quite have one “lockdown now” date. View of Seattle Skyline

Hubs went to the Seattle Sounders Opening Day game on March 1, 2020, and the next home game on March 7, 2020.

The programmer (along with Microsoft, Amazon, and other tech employees in the area) started working from home March 4th, 2020.

Our last eating out day was March 8, 2020.

It’s been a long year.


I will preface this with: we had the 10% quarantine experience. Maybe even 5%.  We are doing fine, money-wise.  We have space. We’re in a suburban house, even, so we don’t have to worry about anti-maskers down the hall or sharing an elevator.


In everything else, my life isn’t what I expected. When I left Amazon in the summer of 2019, I figured I’d badger specialists, finish rehabbing from my pulmonary embolism, pitch articles, and be reborn as a freelance writer who doesn’t necessarily need a mobility scooter to go to the mall.

Of course it wasn’t that simple.

I did get some improved diagnosis and meds, which help! I am improving my stamina!  It’s just that 1) everything takes forever, 2) my body is like a Jenga pile at this point.

Going from 2 or 3 minutes on the treadmill to 10? Took months. I’m coming up on the 1-year anniversary of starting on the treadmill. And naturally, starting the treadmill made my back unhappy.  And my knees unhappy. Both of which I’ve whined about before, and know how to manage (other exercises) but it’s still there and not just FIXED.

Oh, and brain fog. When I started the treadmill would physically wipe me out for hours, and mentally I would have trouble playing solitaire after the treadmill. Solitaire!  It’s better now, but I tend to rest until I can complete a word search and not just solitaire.

More recently, I was sometimes getting dizzy when I’d stand up. Checked and my blood pressure was 100/60.  I’m TOLD this isn’t that low, but dizzy is bad, so we dropped one of the blood pressure meds.

In addition to all the physical stuff, I also can’t see friends. Go out to lunch. Browse at the bookstore.  Go to the farmer’s market.  Most festivals and cons are canceled. This is frustrating.

My health has improved over the last year, but slowly.  Walking in general is easier.  Strength training (for knees etc) is making moving around easier in general.  Able to discontinued one of my high blood pressure meds.

And yes, maybe I’ll start sending out pitches for articles again. But not tomorrow.

 

*Wordpress if the 4 periods in a row breaks you I’ll be unhappy.

Happy Saturday

In no particular order:

My household continues to abide without strife, hooray.

I appear to have hit on a balance for strength training and stretching that keeps my knees happy and doesn’t disappoint my back or hips or anything. else.  Yay.

My state, Washington, has decided to start vaccinating more non-frontline workers who are under 65, and even to count comorbidities, so I may be vaccinated sometime in April. Hooray.

Washington state is also reopening indoor dining again. This was greeted with sighs and “Again?” and “That’s dumb” in my household.

I acquired and read Seanan McGuire’s new InCryptid novel, Calculated Risks. Recommended but makes the most sense if you have read the other books.

We’ve been watching the Australian “Miss Fisher’s Mysteries” of late. I appreciate that the attention to detail includes 1928 laws regarding women, along with how nearly everyone 30 or above was affected by The War (or as we would call it, World War I).  I’ve also read a few more of the Phryne Fisher books by Kerry Greenwood.

Sadly, I am dealing with more acid reflux these days. I’m not sure if it’s stress or what, but I am making some changes as a result.

Cold Cold Cold

It’s cold for the Seattle area, which is to say, below freezing for days at a time. Fortunately we don’t have to go out much – so far there’s been a few forays to the freezer in the detached garage, but that’s it.  We have power and hot water.

And yet I’m dressing differently. It’s colder around the edges inside, and also drier.

To cope with the drier air (from more forced-air heating than usual) I am moisturizing areas I normally don’t bother much with and switching to the heavier cream moisturizer that is mostly is for my feet and hands.  Basically if it itches or feels dry, it’s getting moisturized before I dress.  The long-handled lotion applicator is still my friend.

To cope with the cold, I’m wearing knee-length bike shorts above my knee-high compression stockings.  (Together it’s like leggings, and avoids the difficult-to-adjust-stockings-if-leggings-are-over-them problem.)  Then sweatpants, knit top, and hoodie or cardigan. I have sweaters that I could wear instead of the cardigan, but something easy to remove when I go to a warmer room or start on the treadmill is handy.

Hubs, meanwhile, has made one concession to the cold: If he feels cold – such as in our sunroom – he adds his fleece robe over his top and shorts.

What’s your strategy?

A catsuit is also warm under clothing

Catsuits from Love Your Peaches can also be warm under clothing

And Now She’s Gone

Just want to drop a recommendation for the book And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall. It’s a gripping thriller that made me laugh as I tried to solve the mystery within. Grayson, our protagonist, is trying to move from writing reports for investigators to solving her first case. It starts as a simple missing person case. Over time we realize that both Grayson and the woman she’s trying to find have reinvented themselves – but for very different reasons. The conclusion felt satisfying in Grayson’s success and hope of her future. Content warnings: domestic abuse, including some body shaming.

Hi there, February

January both took forever and was a blur. Insurrection. Impeachment. Inauguration.

On the personal side, I had used all 18 months of COBRA by the end of December 2020, so I started new insurance in January. Thanks to Washington state expanding Medicaid via the ACA and me earning … basically a pittance in interest and dividends … we are now on free insurance. Much better than the $1440 we paid per month for COBRA, but new insurance means notifying doctors.

Per the new insurance website, I expected that my endocrinologist wouldn’t take my insurance and that I would need a new one. I did NOT expect my asthma specialist’s office would not even make an appointment with me, since my asthma doc was listed as “covered” by the state. In the meantime I made an appointment with the lung doc (pulmonologist) who treated my pulmonary embolism, and she’s agreed to manage the breathing meds. This is good! Breathing is important!

I’ve also had to work through new insurance with pharmacies. My local pharmacy works with both the old and new insurers, so that’s cool. The one item I get through a specialty pharmacy? Where the specialty pharmacy is owned by the prescription insurance company? Yeah, no. Fortunately I was able to call the (old) specialty pharmacy and get them to forward the script to the new specialty pharmacy. There will probably be questions and such from the new specialty pharmacy, but that’s for another day.

Anyway. Hello there February. Hopefully things will work out.

When the days flow together

You can add definition.

I “retired” (maybe permanently, maybe until my health is better) in late June 2019. Husband ended his contract test job around Thanksgiving 2019. Housemate began working from home to avoid COVID-19 in the first week of March 2020.

Each of these transitions came with its own changes and flow. Initially I was the only one home weekdays. Then it was two of us. Now three. And while I didn’t go out all that often before, now we’re at home except for grocery, pharmacy, and medical trips.

The first definition is that housemate has senior programming job, and is often on meetings or focusing on computer code. We try to be considerate of the demands on his time and to give him space and quiet to focus. It also makes us more aware of things like “Labor Day” and weekends.

My exercise pattern also adds definition. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are treadmill days. Since the treadmill is in the not-AC sunroom, this means that summer mornings involved meds, coffee, breakfast, and treadmill – before anything else. These days I’m more relaxed, but those are still treadmill days.

I’ve also moved from “when my back hurts I’ll remember to do crunches” and “when my knees ache I’ll do squats” to having Monday, Wednesday, and Friday be days when I do squats, clamshells, leg lifts, and arm/core exercises.

There are other rhythms to the week:

  • Release days for favorite podcasts.
  • Recurring chores scheduled for different days – doing my pill minder on Mondays, cleaning a floor on Tuesdays, recycling etc. (I do this using Habitica).
  • Saturday & Sunday I watch AM Joy (on the TiVo, not at 7am Pacific).
  • Sunday night I enjoy the “All Blues” music on one of the local NPR stations, KNKX.

Finally, Sundays I have no exercise and no chores scheduled. It’s a nice contrast with the rest of the week.

Who thought knees were a good idea?

You may remember that I can’t take NSAIDs anymore.

I’ve also written about knee issues, and that recently I wasn’t having them.

Apparently I tempted the fates or something, because last weekend I managed to do something to my left knee.

The good thing is that I have been able to treat it with using my cane more to reduce strain; elevation; an ice pack; and doing more of the exercises I learned in physical therapy.

I’m also very aware of how moving is affecting my my knee. Placing my foot in one direction or another can be painful or not. I’m more self-aware.

Would I like to take some ibuprofen occasionally? Yes! But I’m managing without, and with little pain.

A post

I have installed Habitica again, and setup a system of things to do daily, things that repeat frequently, and occasional to-dos.

One is to “Write a blog post”. So. This is a blog post. :)

Life Without Ibuprofen

I became aware of ibuprofen in high school, as a reliever for period pain. I used it with happy abandon for assorted cramps and pulled muscles. When my knees started hurting, I used ibuprofen. Headaches weren’t much helped by ibuprofen, but that’s what acetaminophen is for.

Eventually I had knee issues that ibuprofen didn’t handle, I added physical therapy exercises to ibuprofen. I didn’t stop taking it.

Enter blood thinners, to avoid another blood clot in my lungs.

You know what’s bad when you’re on blood thinners? Any other blood thinners. Like aspirin or naproxen or ibuprofen.

Seriously, that’s why older folks are often advised to take a low dose of aspirin a day – it’s a mild blood thinner, to avoid unneeded blood clots. But if you’re on specific medicine to make your clot less, then meds that adjust your clotting are bad.

Which means: I no longer take ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin. I can take acetominophen, but carefully, since my blood thinner med keeps my liver too busy to clear things like alcohol as fast as usual. Acetominophen goes through the liver, too, so I’m mindful about it. And, y’know, acetominophen didn’t really help with cramps anyway.

So here I am, in my mid-fifties, having to face arthritis, pulled muscles, and other ills without ibuprofen or naproxen. What to do?

  • I am more focused on strength training to support my knees and back.
  • I am more regular in stretching to prevent muscle cramps.
  • I am dealing with things like “sore neck and shoulder from sleeping wrong” with slow stretches and patience.

….and, if needed, I can drink. I just need to be aware it has stronger and more lasting effects than it used to have. :)

Fat Bias In Treatment

Researchers are looking at data on N1H1 flu to see how COVID-19 might go. For example, reviewing how fat people fare.

Results: We identified 22 articles enrolling 25,189 laboratory confirmed patients. The pooled estimates indicated obesity significantly increased the risk of fatal and critical complications of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 infection (for fatal, OR = 1.81, 95% CI: 1.23-2.65; for critical complications, OR = 1.67, 95% CI: 1.13-2.47). However, we found significant interaction between early antiviral treatment and obesity (β = -0.28). After adjustment for early antiviral treatment, relationship between obesity and poor outcomes disappeared (OR = 1.14, 95% CI: 0.94-1.39).

Gee. Fat people didn’t get the same disease treatments as thin people, and didn’t recover as well thin people who were aggressively treated. It’s almost as if not treating diseases in fat people is a problem.

It’s unreasonable to wait for people to lose weight before treating diseases.