The Other Side of Fear

In November 2021, I sold my house and moved.

Now, that’s a very generic statement, for the extremely complicated and intricate dance of events that took place.

I’d been wanting to move for years.

Living where I was, in North Dakota, had so many painful memories and so little joy left for me. Yes, I have many good memories there as well, and I treasure those; but you can’t live in memories.

I struggled everyday to find a reason to get up, to go forward, and couldn’t find enough reasons to stay.

So – I made a lot of choices that ended up with me moving to Washington, to be closer to my ElderDaughter & my grandbabies.

And, my life has changed so much, that I’m still amazed on the daily that I actually live here now!

Pre move-in

I bought myself a used RV, & hooked it up in my ElderDaughter’s backyard.

It’s perfect for me & Sal.

Front window wins!

It’s big enough for the 2 of us, without being too much for me to handle.

And, I haven’t been this at ease in a long time, if ever.

My anxiety has dropped to the point where I’ve been able to lower my meds in half.

I’m finding myself having moments of pure contentment and joy out of the blue. It’s been years since my depression has been this minimal.

I’m finding a new balance, here.

Everything you’ve ever wanted, is on the other side of fear ~ George Addair

The Weight of it All

I’ve had to deal with weight issues all my life.

As a kid, it was the fact that I loved sweets so much.

Ugh, Ice cream is my Nemesis.

When I die, this is how I’ll probably go.

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.

Age 17, I’m the one on the left. My cousin on the right is German/Italian.

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.

And mentally?

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?

Right.

Yet another unhealthy coping mechanism I adopted.

*sigh*

But, unfortunately… It’s very effective.

Sister Sarcasm

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?

Yup.

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.

Pandora’s box, Trojan horse…same feel.
My body doesn’t make the sweet feelings anymore, so I use store-bought.
Because – science.
Cloning – not for everyone.
*sigh* is the picture clear enough, or..maybe a couple more.
No caption necessary
My personal favorite – simple & eloquent

One day, I decided the shit was deep enough around me, so I’d take it easy on myself…

Nice enough, yeah?

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?”

*sigh* yeah.

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.

It keeps the hyenas off my lawn.

Sarcasm – the ultimate self defense.

Hives, but no Bees

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.

This morning…

My legs.

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.

But…

I’m frustrated.

And tired.

And depressed.

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.

A Witch in the Forest Primeval

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…

Ugh.

Even the first one made me nauseated.

No lie.

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.

*sniffle*

Save me some sunflowers, Lil dude.

Have You Tried The Bread?

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.

And I fucking miss him.

And yes, Shane, I tried the bread.

It is good bread, dammit.

Snake Bite!

It’s funny what the cessation of pain can do for your perspective.

And for your attitude.

It’s hard to realize just how much your attitude is affected by pain, until the pain stops.

Now, I’m not normally someone who goes around recommending products for anyone.

I might try new things for myself, say they “work for me” or don’t, or whatever, but I don’t try to tell anyone else whether they should use something or not.

But – I’m breaking that “rule” today.

I’ve also never come right out and publicly endorsed a product on my blog.

I’m doing that today, too.

Any of you who’ve been reading my blog for very long, know that I have rheumatoid arthritis in my hands.

I’ve been seeing a Rheumatologist for a few years now, and get steroid shots in my hands about every 6 months, just to keep the pain at bay. I also take daily anti-inflammatories to keep the swelling down. (My fingers get like little German sausages without them, and sometimes even with taking them – it’s yet another cause of discomfort, pain)

There is also a prescription gel that I have that’s supposed to help with pain. It does…a very little bit, but not to the extent I need anymore. It’s just not strong enough.

Well, I’ve been putting off going to see my Rheumatologist, because it’s kind of expensive, even with insurance, and I’ve been in a lot of pain. My thumbs, mostly.

Most people don’t realize just how much they rely on their thumbs for everything their hands do.

Pick up a stack of files?

Pressure on your thumb.

Lift a pitcher of juice out of the fridge?

TONS of pressure on your thumb.

Typing, which I do all day for my job, and typing on cell phones. Yes, different motions, but both rely on thumbs.

Getting dressed??? Try it with your thumb taped to the rest of your hand once, just to see what I’m talking about.

Luckily, the worst pain is in my left thumb, and I’m right handed, so at least I can “wipe” myself without pain. Geez.

Ok, so we’ve reviewed why I need pain relief.

Now, here’s the WHAT.

*I’m not getting paid to endorse this, wasn’t asked to endorse it, and the makers have no idea I’m writing this blog post. (I’m sure they have zero clue who I am, so, why would they know what I’m writing?)*

This is CobraZol.

And I’ll tell you right now, I’ve tried at least 4 other “arthritis pain relief” things that did- Zip. Nada. Zilch.

2 different types of daily supplements that were supposed to “boost your immune system, slow degeneration of joints & lessen pain, as well as 2 completely different type of creams. None of them worked – At. All. Binned- all of them.

But, the first time I rolled this stuff on my hands?

THE. FIRST. TIME.

Within 5-10 minutes, I had fucking relief from the pain.

The shoulders-falling, breath-blowing, muscles un-knotting, instant-smile kind of relief.

I found it on Amazon, & decided to give it a shot, after the last stuff I’d tried failed to live up to its hype. (I tried a hemp-derived cbd cream, no joy, & a strong smell, it went in the bin).

The CobraZol wasn’t expensive, just a little under $20 for a 2oz. roll-on bottle, so I figured, if it didn’t work, it wasn’t a big loss, right?

Well, I’ve been using this now since Wednesday night, so – approximately 3&1/2 days, & haven’t had to use my gel once, which is normally used 4 times a day. My hands have felt amazing, just some lingering muscle soreness (which could honestly be the beginnings of carpal tunnel, too, as I’ve been noticing some tingling & numbness in my fingers for about a week or so).

Ok, so, for those who noticed the name of the product. YES, it does mention COBRA.

The list of ingredients are on Amazon, as well as on the bottles, but, here are the main active ones:

Arnica

Capsicum

Rattlesnake venom

Bushmaster venom

Indian Cobra venom

Yes. 3 different types of venom. You read that correctly.

No, I don’t want to hear negative comments.

You see, I’ve done some research on this (I am a Google research nerd, don’t doubt).

I know the benefits of arnica and capsicum, so didn’t have to research those. (Witch, remember? I’ve read up on herbs, tinctures, & homeopathy)

Snake venom being used and useful for pain relief, however, I wasn’t familiar with, so I fucking looked it up. I don’t just buy things because some yahoo on the internet says so.

(Sorry, my mother had some things to say about this, or rather, we had a passive aggressive non-discussion about this, so I’m still a little tender around the mouth)

If you go look, and no, I’m not putting links in here, go look it up yourself if you want to read about the benefits of cobra venom in pain relief, you’ll find that there are many studies being done into how cobra venom, and even black mamba venom, have a better analgesic value than morphine, with fewer side effects.

A BETTER ANALGESIC VALUE THAN MORPHINE WITH FEWER SIDE EFFECTS.

Big pharma’s going to haaaaate that.

But, anywho.

Even if I couldn’t convince my mom that this was worth trying, I did convince many of the women in my office. I even got one of the others to try it, & she was convinced after about 20 minutes, when the pain she’d been having in her back for about a week was seriously reduced, & she had a better range if motion again.

She got on her Amazon account right away & ordered some for herself.

If that’s not a convincing endorsement, then I don’t know what is.

All I know right now, is that CobraZol works for me. The pain is so much less, which makes me feel better, & brings my mood up.

And lately? Anything that can bring my mood up is pretty much gold.

If that means snake venom?

Then…bite me.

Time Travel happens when you’re not looking, so wear sensible shoes

I lost my damned wifi password today.

And, of course, I never bothered to write it down for myself, because it was stored in my phone, so why bother, it was right there.

I wrote it down once for OnlySon, but, like all good tragedies, his room was struck by a cyclone before I could get to the Post-it note, and he’s not here to find the grumble-fucking thing for me.

ANY WHO…..

During my rip-tear-toss of a search around the house, I decided to try my rusty, trusty… (Drumroll please ****)

ADDRESS BOOK!!

YES, this is a thousand years old, the binding is cracked & in desperate need of some form of bonding agent, but!

It’s also a vehicle of time travel.

Honestly, I think I picked this book up at Ben Franklin in the little town I used to hang out in, my senior year of high school… It. Is. That. Old.

My Mom always told me to write addresses into these books in pencil. (wicked, morbid woman).

Because you know what pencil means…right??

TEMPORARY.

It makes my heart hurt & my brain ache, just thinking about all the names my mom would’ve had me erase from this book if I’d kept following her stricture.

But…I’m an ink-pen kinda girl.

Yeah, some of the names in my address book are written in pencil, but I’ve still never erased One.Damn.Name.

Not. One.

Ohhhh, I’ve scribbled out a few, hooo boy, yah I have.

But erased?

Nope.

My Grandma’s name, last home address and phone number are still written in this book, and she’s been gone a couple of years now.

My friend, Shane, he’s still in the book…and he passed away quite a few years ago from a cancerous brain tumor.

A great aunt & uncle, both passed, many years ago… Still in the book.

Friends I haven’t talked to in years, but if I saw them on the street tomorrow, I’d hug the crap out of them?

Still in the book.

Multiple addresses for my male sibling… Some crossed off, some not, none current. All still there.

People’s names, addresses, and/or phone numbers that I haven’t thought about or used in years, they’re probably no good anymore…

But when I look at their name in that old handwriting, I’m suddenly transported back to whatever time of my life that was, & remember that person.

And…in the back of the book…carefully scribbled

Anniversaries

Birthdays

Important numbers belonging to people I cannot forget – my children, my parents.

For a book small enough to easily fit in the back pocket of my jeans…

There’s a whole lot of living time crammed into those pages.

Step lively, step lightly, but step forward.

…….

…………

No, I never found the damned wifi password. I’ll call the cable co. tomorrow. Dammit.