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.

Yoga revisited

I never really stopped stretching, but now I’m starting to do a few yoga poses again.  I stand in a “warrior” pose and marvel at how my mat holds my feet still, and I remember being able to have my feet further apart without any of the balance wobbling I’m doing.

I remind myself I used to spend 30 minutes on the treadmill and when I started again it was 3 minutes, so quit worrying about “used to do” and just do.

So. A few standing poses. I’m aware of my balance. A few floor poses. I’m aware of my back. A few twists.  I feel looser. Getting off the floor is harder but doable.

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MegaYoga by Megan Garcia

I often refer to the book MegaYoga by Megan Garcia when I’m unsure about how to position my feet and so forth.

This is written as I am rebuilding strength and stamina after a pulmonary embolism and other issues that made me persistently short of breath. 

 

Review: The Relentless Moon

The newest Lady Astronaut book from Mary Robinette Kowal is fun. It features a 50ish woman, Nicole Wargin, who finds and defeats bad guys in an alternate world where the space race started in the 1950s; by the early 60s, there’s a moon base and a mission to Mars.

Nicole is an ex-WASP who admits she was probably only accepted to astronaut training because her husband, Kenneth Wargin, was a senator. To the surprise of everyone else, she excelled. By The Relentless Moon Kenneth is governor; Nicole wants more time with him, but is happy to live in the moon base 3 weeks a month since her arthritic toes like less gravity and no heels. That said, Nicole is frustrated that she doesn’t get to pilot the “big rockets”, just the on-moon “puddle jumpers”.

This world is like ours in the early 1960s, with sexism, racial segregation, and protests.  Add in rapid global warming, food shortages, and an expensive space race, and Earth isn’t exactly a quiet place to be. Both the civilian government and the space organization – including Kenneth, Nicole and her coworkers – must deal with protests, riots, and sabotage.

The Relentless Moon is set on Earth and the moon in parallel with the Mars mission in the prior book, The Fated SkyThe Calculating Stars is the first book in the series.  Amazon has a page with all three books.

I loved this book, but I also have some content warnings.  If you are a completely “no spoilers” person, stop reading.

LadyAstronaut

First: Eating disorders. In particular the narrator forgets to eat, doesn’t want to eat, and deals with resulting dizziness, muscle weakness, and fainting.  She is supported in her recovery and her symptoms are treated.  I came out of this book with a new awareness that forgetting to eat is not a virtue.

Second: A polio outbreak occurs at the moon base. (Polio vaccine development was delayed in this history due to the event that kicks off The Calculating Stars.) It’s noted that polio has an incubation period of up to 10 days, most people who have it are asymptomatic, and it can affect patients who’ve recovered years later – does that sound familiar? A recap of how polio spreads and how they wouldn’t know who had it for up to 2 weeks had me trying to back up through the couch, if that makes sense.

Third: Intentional weight loss to join the space org is discussed.

Disabled or not?

A person with a disability is defined as: A person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or A person with a record of such a physical or mental impairment; or A person who is regarded as having such an impairment. – NW ADA Center

“Disabled” is still a term I wrestle with. I have a disabled parking permit because I use a cane to walk and often can’t walk more than 200 feet. I use a mobility scooter at big box stores or events. But I’m not considered disabled by the US Social Security Administration, because I can do work that I did before (software testing, which physically means “park self in front of computer”) (just not at the pace and hours expected by Amazon of a senior person) (which really the US tech industry assumption that everyone has 60 to 80 hours a week to dedicate to work is a serious problem that I’m pretty sick of, and has me considering other, part-time options).

So yeah, I’m disabled, but I’m not.

I looked up the Social Security info because my primary care ARNP suggested it.  I still don’t think I would probably qualify – from what I’ve heard, it’s a pretty onerous process.

ACK

Cathy yelling “ACK!” Cartoon by Cathy Guisewite

In the mean time, I went from feeling a bit chuffed that I handled the walking at the primary care office fine while wearing a multilayer cloth mask, to … having an asthma attack walking down the hallway at another appointment in the hospital medical offices.

(I am a grownup, so I didn’t actually YELL “ACK!” out loud. Just, you know, THOUGHT IT really loud.)

I did take a minute away from other people to use my inhaler, which of course required removing my mask. But the inhaler helped my lungs relax.  I continued walking.  Slowly.

One step forward, one step back.  Walking is aerobic and improves my blood pressure; aerobic exercise is an asthma trigger. Strength training reduces/removes knee pain; strength training can be boring.

That’s kind of life, I know.

 

Back On The Treadmill

Got back on the treadmill today. (Actual for-exercise home treadmill, not a job.) I started this a while ago, but the last 2 weeks my schedule has been a bit off.


I don’t do much, because I can’t. The shortness of breath persisted way past the rest of my recovery from the pulmonary embolism.


I walk about five minutes at 0.8 or 0.9 or 1 mph to The Hidden Almanac podcast. Not long!

Yet.

My resting pulse has dropped below 100.

My blood pressure is dropping.

The leveled treadmill with support rails on both sides lets my knees & hips walk in the most neutral position so that they can relearn good habits.

Yes, I’d like to be able to walk further. But this is what I can do now, so it’s what I’m doing now.

Thankful Thursday

Starting this practice again.

  1. Our single-story home. We’ve been here for 2 years now, and it’s still the right decision.
  2. Unpacked some boxes this week. (We’re old and thus have lots of stuff.)
  3. Chosen family.
  4. Twitter friends.
  5. My mobility scooter, which makes events and shopping easier.

December Again

Reviewing old posts tells me that in December 2010 I was unemployed and job hunting. Now I’m unemployed and not job hunting.  In a lot of ways I’m resting now, catching up on day to day.  I’ve been cooking again.  I’ve been sorting through clothes and fighting my “but I might never find this again and what if my body size changes?” reactions to actually part with some of them. And, of course, I’m working with a specialist on why I’m so short of breath all the time.

Life goes on. :)

Hi Again

Didn’t mean to leave things on a cliffhanger, more that I wandered away from the keyboard and didn’t come back.  (Oops!)

My lung function is, apparently, fine.  My shortness of breath and fatigue are due to another issue that I’m working on with yet another specialist.

In other things, I’m trying to write more (failing), have a book to beta-read (failing), and trying to keep up with housework (bleh).  How are you?

Medical Tests of the Itchy Sort

In May 2018 I was short of breath. I thought I might have pneumonia.  Turned out they  found a pulmonary embolism and I spent 4 days in ICU. I was finally discharged to go home and rest. This also came shortly after a kidney stone and high blood pressure diagnosis, and I was really, really, tired.

But my lung capacity, while better than with the PE, still sucks. “It takes time to recover from a PE”.  Uh-huh. Also I was busy trying to hit deadlines at work, despite being tired all the time, and I only had so much time and energy to deal with crap. So I didn’t push to hard on why my lung capacity is still smaller than normal.

It’s over a year later. I still get short of breath trying to walk any distance. Slowing down helps but is frustratingly slow. So this week I’m going to the Pulmonary Clinic for lung capacity testing!  Good!  And to find out my unmedicated state, I’m not taking asthma meds and anthistamines for a day beforehand!

Oof.

“You can use a rescue inhaler like albuterol if needed up to 4 hours before the appointment.”

Uh, right.

What really worries me is that I’ll end up itching. I did confirm I can use topical meds, like hydrocortisone cream or antihistamine eyedrops.  I may be focusing on itching to avoid thinking about shortness of breath.  But still. No Zyrtec. Eek. 

Carol Gwenn Interview

Carol emailed me after I mentioned BBW Magazine in a post to tell me she used to write for it!  I asked her to do an interview as someone who’s been around fat acceptance since the 70s…

Q: How would you introduce yourself?

I’m Carol Gwenn, former writer and lifelong big person. I’ve had numerous occupations, almost all of them in & around the entertainment industry (performer, writer, teacher, agent, etc.). I currently function as sort of caretaker/watchful eye over a building belonging to the owner of the company I work for. We use it as office space & I’m kind of the babysitter for the property.

Q: Are you comfortable with the word “fat” for yourself?

Sure – am confortable with “fat” for myself because it’s what I AM. Have never seen anything wrong with the word fat when it’s used for what it is: a descriptive word, like “tall” or “blonde”.

Q: How would you describe your body size?

I’d describe my size as fat-to-middling (5’6″ and a size 18, 1X ). I’ve been larger & smaller, but my current size (where I’ve been for the past 13 years or so) is comfortable for me.

Q: How has being fat affected your life?

Only as much as I’d allow it, which is VERY little. I always put myself out in the world as a great looking, sexy broad, and with VERY few exceptions that’s how I was perceived. Have always believed in the principle of mind over matter in many parts of life, and one of those things is that if I believe in my own value & in my own terrific looks, then that’s how the world will see me. The down side to that is that, now that I’m past middle age & into the stage of life where things are disintegrating before my eyes, trading on my looks is something that will no longer work: you can’t trade on something you no longer have. But it sure was fun while it lasted!

Q: How did you encounter fat lib/fat acceptance?

5. I came upon the fatosphere as an entity sometime in the late ’70s. There was an article in my local newspaper (the Los Angeles Times) about NAAFA and the Fat Underground, and shortly after that the original BBW Magazine started up & I began to write for it. The sad thing is that we don’t seem to have gotten terribly far in the past 40-off years: if anything, I see more rampant fat phobia out there then ever, people becoming more and more obsessed with being thin and regarding fat people as alien beings. Wish I could think of a way to fix this -suppose we ALL would like that – but there doesn’t seem to be one. There seems to be something in human nature that compels people to find someone to dislike and/or look down on. Unfortunately, in many cases, it’s us.

Q: What’s the worst part of being fat for you?

The worst part of being fat for me …all the people I’ve encountered in my life who persist in telling me that I’m somehow broken and that they can fix me, if only I would torture myself via eating disorders (i.e., diets) and crazed physical exertion to make myself smaller. The other worst part? It’s SO not legal to stomp those annoying people into little blobs on the ground.

Q: What’s the best part of being fat for you?

The best part of being fat for me…it’s that wonderful song title from “La Cage…”: ‘I am what I am!’ I wake up each morning & say “Thank you!” for my nice, big, healthy body that does so many nice things for me. Also – and this is SERIOUSLY important – being able to make use of as many teachable moments as possible when I encounter diet talk or fat phobia, trying to combat that attitude of “But YOU’RE not that fat…” Hey – fat is fat, however much of it we’re wearing this year, and it’s great to be able to put it out there that we ALL deserve the same respect.

Q: What’s your favorite place to buy clothing?

TJMR (That’s TJ Maxx – Marshall’s – Ross). I’ve been buying clothes at these stores for a LONG time, and have found a good selection of clothes at VERY reasonable prices in everything from my current size up to a 4X when I needed it. There’s a shopping center in L.A. that I refer to as heaven: the above-mentioned stores PLUS Nordstroms Rack, Off 5th, Target…ALL IN ONE PLACE! It’s not just fabric clothing I buy – am one of those gals with a need for shoes in a size not always easy to find – and Marshalls has been great about stocking the size I wear.

I understand that for someone my size, finding clothes is relatively easy – have shopped Macy’s, Target, etc. and there have always been items available . Friends who were much larger than I have told me how tough it can be to find nice things in sizes above 26 or 3X.