Ever since my cross-country move from Washington to Georgia, I’ve been living in a sort of time limbo.
I am fairly quiet these days. I work remotely for the same company I worked at in ND, which is wonderful. I truly love what I do, and the company’s flexibility has worked in my favor to allow me the privilege of doing what I love, while living where I’m happy.
I’m just minutes away from BelovedNephew, now, and we get to see each other pretty much whenever we want, barring work.
I’ve been here now, for a little over 2 months, and yet…
Every once in a while, I stop, and realize that I am actually doing this.
Soft reset of the brain and emotions.
I’m actually fulfilling a dream I’ve had for years by moving cross-country – and twice, at that!
It’s only a little over over a week shy of the 1 year anniversary of my first move from North Dakota to Washington.
I’m really here. I’ve really done it.
And, my 2nd move from WA to GA I drove a 36-foot RV with only 2 cats for company!
When I have these moments, I’m overcome with almost all the emotions; awe, fear, happiness, sadness, excitement, & dread.
It’s a lot, & there are times I have to pull back into myself to try to process the rush.
Nothing jarring, no explosion of temper or giddiness. Just a quiet withdrawal, a period of isolation, until I can stick my chin out again & move forward once more.
Today, I’m sitting in an airport, headed North for the weekend. (I’ll write a separate post for that after my return home, it needs its own space)
I had my soft reset moment, staring out the window of the terminal.
I can’t have my physical withdrawal right now, in all the public.
But, I can withdraw behind my mask, and drop into my Kindle, mentally.
It’s gonna be a loooong day of flights, airports, walking, & sitting uncomfortably.
But, I’ll get through it.
Look how far I’ve already come to realize my dreams!
As a kid, it was the fact that I loved sweets so much.
Ugh, Ice cream is my Nemesis.
As a teenager in high school, I was called “the fat girl” in my class, even though I was a pretty healthy 130-135 lbs at 5’7″.
I’ve never been svelte, like some of my Scandinavian extended family members; instead being closer to the stockier build of my Germanic/Austrian family.
Looking back, I don’t see a fat girl when I look at myself, but I was sure made to feel that way by others.
After having my third child, my weight ballooned. Part of it was getting older, having kids, & not fighting super hard after the third one to get back to my pre-baby weight.
Part of it was emotional abuse I suffered during my marriage.
And, the weight was a “convenient” way to subtly protect myself, and fight back.
The weight prevented anyone from getting “too close”.
It prevented anyone from seeking to get to know me, because there’s that invisible dividing line that stands around fat people…
Fat people are lazy
Fat people are not attractive
Fat people aren’t worth the time, because if they don’t care about themselves, why should anyone else?
And so on…
I lost a bunch of weight after my divorce, too. I went on a program of supplements, worked out really hard, & lost almost 70 lbs, at one point. I felt better physically, sometimes, & mentally, a little.
And then, shit started to go downhill.
I had a bunch of things happen that affected me both physically and mentally, that just…stopped… any progress I’d made.
And, I started to go backwards as far as my weight was concerned.
Physical limitations due to my Rheumatoid Arthritis didn’t help.
Well, the weight was yet another wall between me & the outside world.
People couldn’t, wouldn’t get close enough to hurt me if my weight was keeping them away, right?
I’m sarcastic. This is a given fact, and if you’ve ever met me in real life, it’s fairly obvious after about 5 minute’s worth of talking.
When I’m at work, in front of customers or certain coworkers, I mask.
Masking – a process in which an individual changes or “masks” their natural personality to conform to social pressures, abuse or harassment.
If I’m in an unknown social situation where I’m expected to “conform” to social norms, I mask.
But catch me in a known, comfortable, or laid-back social setting (ex., with friends, or my kids)? And you’ll get the Sarcastic Sister.
And… I use it to deflect criticism, as well.
In fact, I will use sarcastic self-deprecation to head off criticism from others.
I mean, if I’m cutting myself down… what good is it for someone else to attempt microaggressions & insults?
After all, I got there first, and with far better sarcastic insults about myself than anyone else can come up with. Who knows me better than me? Who knows right where to stick the knife so as to thwart further injury by outsiders?
I emotionally cut myself to prevent others from doing so.
That’s priceless logic, ain’t it?
So, to show what I mean, a friend of mine upon moving away, gave me a box of affirmations. In the “advent calendar” style, you can pop one open & read something nice, that’s supposed to boost your mood about yourself.
So, of course, I’ve started opening them, & immediately twisting them.
Cause of how I do.
One day, I decided the shit was deep enough around me, so I’d take it easy on myself…
One of my coworkers asked me yesterday
“How the hell.do you think these things up? Do they just pop into your brain as soon as you read the cards?”
It’s called Maladaptive Cognition.
There’s always that small “voice” in my brain that pipes up to knock me “back into my lane”.
Another coworker told me I should write “sarcastic self-affirmations”, cause they’d sell like crazy. Meh. I know they might, but why risk yet another form of rejection among so many others?
I usually just shrug it off in front of others, & lay it off to “Well, I’m just twisted.”
They agree, & we go on about our business. They’ve been entertained with my antics, & I’ve prevented someone else from hurting my feelings by beating them down a little myself.
Ok, I’m ready to talk about the health crap I’ve been going through for the last few months. It’s not pretty, but also not lethal. Except to my mental health.
It really started at the end of March, when I came down with bronchitis. I thought it might be covid, because many of the symptoms match, so I got tested. Obviously, it came back negative, so I got on antibiotics & recovered from that.
At this point, I started working from home, since we were planning that anyway at my office, & I wasn’t the only one from my department that was going to be doing work from home. We hadn’t planned on me starting so soon, but it worked out.
Then, I got the flu about a week later. Good thing I was working from home, as I was able to log in & work when I could, without having to travel to the office, feeling like crap, & possibly infecting coworkers.
Then, a couple of days later… I started to notice hives.
Just a few spots to start, they quickly seemed to spread, until they covered most of my body in extremely itchy, raised red welts.
And I do mean covered.
As in, at least 85℅ of my body was itching, welted, or felt like it was extremely sunburned.
These are pictures I took to show my doctor. They are just of my arms, and aren’t of the worst days.
I went through 2&1/2 bottles of calamine, and was double dosing myself with antihistamines. (I can’t take anything with diphenhydramine in it, like benadryl, as it makes my heart race, so I had to take what I can)
I also ended up with chemical burns from all the calamine. It dries your skin extremely well, so well, in fact, that if you use it for 2 months, you get dry-skin burns. And believe me, they hurt. It took copious amounts of lotion to relieve and reverse this. Don’t overdo calamine, folks. Trust me.
Think of it like pouring hydrogen peroxide into an open wound. After the bubbling stops, it turns white, right? Because it’s dessicated the tissue. Dried it to oblivion.
I also found a lotion that has menthol & camphor in it, which helps to kill the itch, & makes your skin feel extremely cold in the process, which helps with the burning feeling the inflammation causes. (It’s called Sarna)
My doc put me on prednisone, to help with that, as well as another issue, & it seemed to help.
During all of this, I tried to figure out if the hives were a reaction to a medication I’d started taking for my depression, or if it was a new allergy. Joy.
I stopped taking the antidepressant, on recommendation of my doc, and my emotions went haywire again.
I stopped eating the one food I thought might have caused the allergy. (I’m extremely picky in my eating, there aren’t a lot of things it could be, anymore)
And… The hives started to go away. It took a while, but it seemed to be working.
Then, last weekend, when I had my Schnicklefritz for the weekend, I ate something I hadn’t had for a while, & the hives flared again that night.
I thought this was my answer!
I’d found the culprit, and eliminating this would stop the hives, right?
I made an appointment with an allergist, anyway, just to make sure, but I was fairly positive I had my answer.
After seeing my doc this last week, I told her my theory, & she agreed with me, that it was probably a food allergy, had nothing to do with my med, & I could start taking it again, so I did.
That was 2 days ago.
Yesterday night, I noticed a couple of hives – on my face – and some itchy, raised patches on my thighs. I treated my legs with calamine, & my face with hydrocortisone cream.
I can’t show you pictures of the other places I found hives, because it was the back of my scalp, & along the back of my neck. Kind of difficult to get pictures of that, but believe me, I felt every welt.
And I’m not allowed to take any antihistamines. None.
Not until after my allergist appointment – next Wednesday.
So, I have literally zero idea what’s causing the hives.
No product changes, everything I use from soap to shampoo to laundry detergent, is stuff I’ve been using for years.
There are about 4 or 5 foods that I eat right now, and none of them have caused this since I cut the last one out. (It was barbeque, both chips & sauce, which is probably going to make me very sad, because I love barbeque. It’s one of my favorite condiments)
Most of the hives have settled down again tonight. Probably from the facts that, A) I applied calamine to every affected patch of skin I could reach, except my scalp; B) I used lidocaine spray on ALL of the welts. If it’s numb, I can’t feel the itch, so I won’t scratch, which just makes spread; & C) I haven’t eaten anything all day, but one of the few meals I know for a fact has nothing in it that will affect me.
I’ve had so many problems with allergies over the years.
And now, to add hives into this?
What if the allergist can’t figure out what’s causing them?
I have enough trouble with getting people to believe me about my allergies.
I need a large change in my life.
I want to move.
And I want to get a job where I can work from my home.
I’m tired of other people pissing on my feelings, & endangering my life, because they want to eat something I’m sensitive to, something that could possibly kill me.
I’m tired of having to excuse their lapses in memory.
I’m tired of turning the other cheek when their actions impact my health.
I have an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, which impacts so much more than just stiffness & pain in my joints. And I’m tired of people not believing me when I tell them that, too.
I need an out.
And I need it soon.
Or my mental health is going to continue to nosedive, antidepressants or not.
At Christmas, my daughters got me tickets to go out to visit my EldestDaughter & her family in Washington State.
The trip was this last weekend.
I was gone Friday through Monday, and it was…amazing.
This was my first view from the plane… Yeah, it was a wing seat, so?
Ironically, the last time I flew, I was pregnant with EldestDaughter… And this time, 28 years later, I was going to see her.
(And her husband, and my grandkids, yes. My other daughter & her boyfriend were going too, I met up with them in MSP/St.Paul!)
The trip was a whirlwind of sightseeing & visiting with the kids. I don’t know that I got to do a whole lot of sitting unless it was in the car, or in a chair to game with my grandson, Schnicklefritz. (We play Fallout 3 more or less together… I’m teaching a 7-yr. old the skills he needs to survive the Wasteland, don’t hate)
(Lots of “road” pictures, I miss tree variety…)
Skagit Valley Overlook. In the last picture, to the right, next to the trees, you can see the oyster farms, as the tide was out.
Schnicklefritz & MiniMoose (in the background) We went to a Mexican restaurant Saturday night for dinner. The food was excellent, had a meander through town with Youngerdaughter & her beau afterwards, then MOAR GAMING, saith the Schnicklefritz…
Sunday was a trip up towards the “pointy mountains”, as EldestDaughter called them, but they were pretty well hidden in the clouds. We did see Deception Pass. I was able to walk across the first walking bridge…but not the second one…
Even the first one made me nauseated.
I just can’t do heights anymore.
As a kid, I used to climb like a monkey up & down the cliff behind our house in Iowa, using saplings like a ladder. I was fearless.
I’m not that kid, anymore.
But, being in Washington…was like stepping into a forest primeval.
Everything was so…lush…
The trees were coated in moss from roots to branches, the ground littered with huge ferns that trailed and meandered everywhere.
And everything seemed to be in bloom.
I wish I’d gotten more pictures, but my head was on a constant swivel, and things seemed to rush by so quickly. I just couldn’t take it all in.
The trip was over far too soon.
And now, I have a huge Schnicklefritz-sized hole in my heart again.
I made some cinnamon streusel bread today, needing a little pick-me-up after the last few days of feeling like trash, between being sick and being in a depression.
I actually got a couple of household chores done today, as well, surprisingly, which means my energy is starting to come back, so this is a good thing.
I’ve kind of bottomed out now, though, which is not a shock. I know I need more rest to get well, I just hate this worn-out feeling. I really do.
Anyway, tonight, as I was getting ready to put the loaf of bread in a big ziploc… I suddenly heard in my head –
“Have you tried the bread? It’s good bread…”
In a voice I haven’t heard in years.
Ahhh, the voice of Ren. That infamous Asthma-hound chihuahua.
But, it was his voice as interpreted by one of my beloved Chosen Family. A “little brother” from my past, who loved Ren and Stimpy as much as I did.
And a pang went through my heart.
Because I don’t get to hear his voice anymore. He died a few years ago, taken by an inoperable cancerous brain tumor. He was smart, funny, fiercely protective of those he loved, and he was my friend, Shane.