Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.

30Dec/200

Kindness is a Warm Blanket

I made it out of the house with all my things, even though I tried to leave in my slippers!

I got to OHSU South Waterfront, where the diagnostics lab is, and got myself checked in.

There were a lot of kindnesses that helped so much.

The staff folks checking me in were very sympathetic and understanding of my anxiety about risk. They had me wait separate from the open atrium waiting area so there wasn't anyone coming by me.

It was a bit of a wait.

Being inside a closed up medical building waiting for a procedure is a whole new level of anxiety.

Once in I was delighted to find out that the scan used a CT, so I could wear my high-protective mask, didn't have to worry about my nose/ear piercings, and I even got to keep my bra on since it didn't have underwires! I kept on my tank top too since the electrodes could be placed around and under my clothing!

The very tall, kind man, Brandon, who conducted the test got a pillow to support my legs so my back was comfortable. He also brought me a warm blanket, which helped my anxiety hugely!

I told him I have Complex PTSD, he'd not heard of it before. I noted that for me it's due in large part to developmental trauma.

"My Mother had a personality disorder.", I said.

I've come to find that telling people that just lets them know enough to realize that I've survived some terrible stuff. Usually no one asks more, which is fine.

Brandon nodded, "Yeah, I hear you. That's too bad. You just let me know if you need anything else to make this easier."

Then three electrodes and lying still and breathing when the machine told me to. About five minutes.

We chatted a little at the end about why I was there. He laughed, "You mean you're here because you're being proactive about your heart health?!"

I said that was about it. I was keeping ahead of my family's genetic issues, where possible.

He told me he was proud of me and that he wished there were more patients like me.

That was pretty awesome!

Now I wait to hear from my doctor about the results.

28Dec/200

Carotid Calcium

I have a heart test at OHSU at 8am to measure the possible calcium deposite carotid artery. I was convinced to come in after being reassured that this lab is really safe and not where sick people go.

The test was ordered by my doctor last spring. She's continuing to assess risk to my heart health since my cholesterol popped up after menopause. Her hunch is that I'm genetically predisposed to high cholesterol and the results of this test will either reassure me or we'll discuss what to consider.

I've been taking a red rice yeast compound that's a precursor to statins. I've not noticed significant pain with adding it. After the first of the year she'll test my blood again to see if it's having a positive result.

COVID makes everything harder. I'm going to do my layered masks. I'm worried I'll need to remove piercing jewelry from my nose and ear; awkward to do with masks! I'll call before I go up and check, I'll bring my jewelry pliers set.

EKG pads on my chest; minimally invasive but I'm still feeling icky about being touched. Might bring my weighted blanket.

2Dec/200

Pie Over Indulgence

I’m waiting for my mild heartburn to subside. I polished off my pie for dessert with wine. One or the other, since it was really 2 slices worth, would have been fine after takeout burgers & fries, but both was too much.

I’d a simple plan to make something, but our new, inexpensive IKEA sofa showed up this morning and putting it together kind of wore us out. CK fed the creatures while I picked up food.

Last night I didn’t have wild dreams. I think starting the new memoir in therapy, along with all the grief stacking up around this time of year and Obie dying, really has been stirring up my subconscious.

That’s all without COVID which hangs over our lives. Vaccines are being rushed, but then we’ll have all the anti-vax folks out in force saying it’s a conspiracy! I’m so tired of these people.

I finished a new piece today, a tiny shrine, and got it into the post office this afternoon! Saturday my art group is all getting together online and everyone’s mailing a package this week so we’ll all have one to open when we’re together.

The bare tree has lost interest to Ursa, tomorrow we’re going to decorate! Thankfully we already have a theme of non-breakable ornaments!

16Aug/200

Sinus Headaches

The weekend has featured sinus pain. I've been so tired too, it's making my ears ring as well. No boxing today, having my heart rate up sounds painful!

Magnolia Clear Sinus tea as my night cap. It helped me make dinner for us both earlier once I realized I had a terrible headache.

I'm working on sending out patches, a really big project. The ongoing efforts to destroy the USPS leave me worried about all the medications I worked so hard to get to mail order. I'm worried about the envelopes in sending this week,

I'm glad I'm taking off some birthday time. I feel so tired all the time.

10Aug/200

Headache Day

It was with me all day. Aching, throbbing behind my ears. Temple spikes. Sinus aches. It occurred to me by the afternoon that I had both a tension and sinus headaches.

Ibuprofen and a nap didn't help much. Hoping tomorrow is better.

I'm grateful we're getting takeout. I'm feeling a little extravagant this past week, but I'm glad I got wok bowls for us.

9Aug/200

Stay or Go

During my doctor's appointment she confirmed what I'd believed:

I am high risk for COVID.

CK is VERY high risk. Our physician said to me, "CK can't get this. I don't think she'd die, but it would be very bad."

It's good to just have it out and clear. I feel justified in all my caution and my willingness to set boundaries with people.

I go out, with lots of precautions. She stays home unless she needs to be out.

Today we had our first physically distant visitors. Christie's sister and her two partners stopped by. They were all nearby, having hiked at a nearby park. I set up folding chairs in the driveway. We showed off the veggie garden.

6Aug/200

Genetics and Destiny

I was so relived after my doctor's appointment I had potato chips.

"Genetics isn't always destiny.", she said to me.

While I've got significant family history of cardiovascular disease, I have done a really good job keeping the risks down.

My doctor was looking at seven markers, cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, inflammation, and others I'm not recalling clearly. I have over risk factor, high LDL cholesterol.

In that risk, the shape of my LDL particles is the least likely to accumulate. Big, fluffy LDL is good, if you've got it.

I've done everything I can do with dietary changes. I'm dealing with my lousy genetics on both sides. Entering into post-menopause life flipped me over after keeping it low through diet for over 12 years.

I could just say I don't want to do anything else at this time. My doctor backs this up because the good numbers in my tests after very good.

However, I feel like it's a moral obligation to not ignore it. So I'm going to be getting a test at OHSU that will measure any build up in my carotid artery. If that's really low, I'm further reassured that I'm controlling risk factors well.

If it's high, we'll discuss.

I'm also going to try taking a supplement made from red rice yeast that contains naturally occurring statins. It might not cause the usual side effects associated with this class of drugs, muscle pain and brain fog. If I get side effects, I don't take it any more.

We test again in 6 months.

She's delighted I'm boxing on our Switch. Doing cardio exercise daily is "extra credit". Not required, but might help my LDL. Definitely will help the rage I've been dealing with.

We even talked through what "cardio" looks like for someone who's asthma is triggered by usual cardio.

Talked about Intuitive Eating, I'm to stick with it. She's in agreement that I'm lucky to not have a full blown eating disorder. I'm to be work at not skipping meals even though food isn't always appealing.

I'm so grateful.

30Jul/200

Good News, Anxiety

I heard back from my doctor this morning in response to my letter. I have her permission to continue to explore Intuitive Eating and stop reading, and obsessing about, the saturated fat numbers on all food I consume.

I realized after reading her response that I'd be holding my breath with anxiety this whole time. I was giddy with relief as I started to teach, so I shared that and then did a meditation on the sensations of gratitude and relief in the body.

I've spent much of the day feeling anxious. Being seen, valued, and having my needs met in this way feels good, but also leaves me feeling unsettled. As though my brain can't distinguish between happy excitement and certain dread.

Tomorrow I'll practice really celebrating that I have more good happening with my health even if I've lousy genetics. I'm really grateful for our doctor.

23Jul/200

My Needs

Still trying to convince my critical self that I deserve rest, movement that isn't a household task, make at, and play on my own.

It is when I center myself that I get stuck. I don't put my own needs first on the list. I was trained not to and was still told I was selfish when I would try to do my own thing.

I then had spouses who took advantage of this. Which further pushed me into the habit of not caring for myself.

CK actively appreciates that I put her first, but also reminds me that I have to take care of me. We've lived through my not taking care of myself.

I'm not yet ready to say, "Me first!", but I'm accepting I need to be in the top 3.

We've been playing a bowling game! Exploring more things we can do at home together with more movement! CK ordered a set of controller for me, they won't get here until next month because I'm waiting for a set that are purple and orange!

22Jul/200

Cardio & Cholesterol

For most of my adult life I've been chasing a lower cholesterol number. For over a decade following a vegan diet and doing yoga has done the trick. Now at 50 it's not working so well. My doctor tested my blood at the beginning of the year and the numbers were high.

This month she tested again, an expanded panel on lipids, and the numbers are still high. Better than January, after months of student cookie gifts, donuts, and fried potatoes of all kinds. We hoped we'd see a significant change since the pandemic has kept us from eating out as much and I don't see students anymore.

The numbers did improve, but not as much as we'd hoped. Also not as much as expected, given my diet. I am not fat free and do get a fair bit of saturated fat from things like nuts, avocados, coconut milk in stuff, chips, and chocolate. Even then, I don't eat those things daily or excessively.

My doctor said she's wondering about a genetic issue.

I really don't want to have to go on a long search for a statin that doesn't cause joint pain, something I already live with, and doesn't cause brain fog. Something I also live with since C-PTSD causes me enough Trauma Brain fog already.

Today I sent my doctor some more family history, my concerns about statins, and a couple of questions of things I haven't done yet. The big one question I have is around exercise that raises my heart rate. The yoga I do has helped reduce my cortisol levels, but it doesn't really get my heart rate up.

My therapist and I discussed this too, I noted that in these pandemic days the only way my heart rate is getting up there is rage. While this is a good joke, we both agreed that some amount of time each day with my heart rate up will help with the rage and anxiety I'm experiencing, even if it doesn't help my LDL cholesterol!

I jumped right into it after that discussion. The past couple of nights I've done a very brisk, twenty minute walk on the treadmill. Today I also explored the Fitness Boxing game on the Switch, it's got a 3 day trial. I was surprised to find I really enjoy the boxing, so we're going to buy it and more controllers so we can both play it together.

I'm not actually getting my heart rate up to true "cardio" range, but high enough that I'm sweating and a little winded. Our treadmill gives some heart rate details, so I know I'm not staying up very high. My asthma doesn't do great at a high rate, it never has. I mentioned all this to my doctor in my letter today and asked if I have to be at a high burn for a long time to make any difference or is just getting it up higher for 20-30 minutes a day enough to potentially help?

I got to sleep faster last night. Tonight my mind's going fast, so I'm just writing this all out on my laptop to get it out! Now onto a little down dog and meditation.