Posts Tagged ‘health’

Despite my the impending dermatology study windfall, I’ve recently been a little fixated on the idea of saving more money.

I am flat-out neurotic about money. Even when watching TV or reading a book in which a fictional character wastes money, I feel anxious. For example: in the episode of “Friends” where Ross buys a ticket for a flight he won’t be taking, so he can follow Rachel to her gate and try to win her back, I feel ten thousand times more upset about the money that Ross wasted on that airline ticket than the fact that Rachel rejected him. In a fifth season episode of The X-Files, a bad guy goes to a movie theater to commit horrific acts on innocent people. To get in the door of the theater, he buys a ticket to a movie that’s already half-way through. When I watched that episode, I felt much more flustered by the money he wasted on the movie ticket than the innocent people that he murdered.

Given this deeply-held fixation, it should come as no surprise that the ability to save money represents a lot of things to me. Like good grades, it is one thing that I have actually done well my entire life. It represents security and safety and my ability to be independent. It means good judgement and possibilities for the future.

My problem is that of anyone who fluctuates between extremes. When I’m in money-saving mode, I go into ascetic lock-down. It becomes a challenge. HOW MUCH MONEY CAN I SAVE?! HOW MANY CORNERS CAN I CUT?! When I allow myself a little more spending freedom (think: the holiday season), I make all sorts of purchases that I wouldn’t ordinarily buy. DVDs that I never watch, and shirts and shoes that I never wear. (Although, my spending free-for-all is what some people might think of as “normal.”)

I had put myself into an extreme money-saving mode prior to the dermatology study coming along, and now I can’t seem to snap out of it. Every wasteful dollar that I spend is a dollar that doesn’t go toward my adoption fund or a down payment on a house in my ideal neighborhood or a car that doesn’t need $1000 of work every single damn year or the complete series of LOST on DVD.

One of the easiest ways for me to cut costs is on food. That means that for the past couple of weeks, I have been eating a LOT of beans and rice, cereal, kale, and green beans. I have forgone trying new recipes in favor of a low grocery bill. Treats like my favorite coconut milk ice cream sandwiches have had no place in my money-saving mission. The food, while somewhat uninteresting, is SUSTAINING and that’s all I need to know.

On Friday night, I celebrated a friend’s birthday. That meant french fries and a panini and chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. As with money saving, with food, when I slip, I go from one extreme to another. As a result, all day on Saturday, I somehow wound up eating an insane amount of junk food. More cupcakes. Cheesecake. Popcorn. Candy. And then I got a stomach ache.

Moderation. Damn. Has anyone figured out that son of a bitch?


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Getting Old Fast

When I was at the Kentucky State Fair in August, I saw a booth that asked, “When was the last time you felt your best?”

I could identify that time pretty easily. Late May, 2009. It was my first dance recital after coming back to dance class, and I felt strong and healthy and confident.

Immediately after that, I started experiencing joint pain when I exercised. First my hips, and then my knees. Joint pain led to weight gain. I began to feel so exhausted, all of the time, that I went to my doctor and demanded to be tested for anemia. It was negative. Ever since then, I have started to feel old and creaky and tired. It was made even worse this past summer, when a pulled muscle in my right leg bothered and inhibited me for 10 weeks.

When I first went back to dance two years ago, the idea I had was that I would be kind of bad at first, but that I would get better and better as I got back into shape and into practice. Instead, I am starting to feel like I am only getting worse. The turns are getting harder, not easier, and tap dancing, oh, it is so hard on my knees.

I am wondering how long I’ll really be able to dance. Can really keep up with the whippersnappers anymore? Maybe instead, I need to start eating dinner at 4:00 and going to bed at 7:30. At some point, I am really going to bring the class down as a whole, and it’s going to be foolish for me to be up on stage in a costume, limping pathetically while everyone around me moves like a young gazelle.

Growing up is the pits.

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My first day of the dermatology study was mostly what I was expecting.

There were six people participating on this particular day. The lounge area we had to stay in was about the size of a small conference room, with ten very comfortable armchairs and ottomans. Despite the comfiness of the chairs, the room, for six people, over the course of 12 hours, did start to feel kind of claustrophobic.

Every three hours, we were called downstairs and evaluated by a doctor. Then we’d go back upstairs and continue on with our sitting. The demarcation of having to get up every three hours helped to break up the day. Really, it passed very quickly. They provided us with lunch and an assortment of snacks, and in fact, there was such an array of snacks that I felt spoiled, like I was back at my grandma’s house.

I would have been perfectly fine sitting in a room by myself for 12 hours. I would have had no problem finding a multitude of things to do. But of course, I forgot to take into account the human element. The thing that truly bewildered me was that two people of the six in the study brought absolutely nothing to occupy themselves for the 12 hours that we were. They brought their winning personalities. That meant they spent a large amount of time chatting. About what, you might ask? Oh, their motorcycle-riding habits (with a helmet versus without), how often “blacks beat each other up,” cruises they have been on, kids these days (“the language they use!”), food (“What is… hum-mus?”), Lifetime movies (“I love Lifetime.”), and etc. This put something of a damper on my plans to spend the entire day peacefully reading and writing. My ear plugs did not successfully block out the noise of their conversation. It was annoying for a little while, but all I had to do was remind myself how much I was being paid to be there, and it became instantly less annoying.

I did manage to finish one book, completely read a second one, and begin a third one. That was nice.

As far as the study itself, I felt self-conscious about my level of rosacea–like I wasn’t badly enough affected to be there. Everyone else in the study had much more obvious issues than I had. In fact, they actually questioned why I was there. And then, I felt even more awkward when I caught a glimpse of the doctor’s assessment of my face. Every three hours, I had to fill out a questionnaire about how I felt about the levels of my facial redness. On a scale of 0-5, I usually gave myself a 2 or a 3. When there was no one in the examination room, I took a look at what the doctor had put down for his assessment, and he had consistently given me a 1. It made me feel like a self-conscious, pale-faced whiner. I consoled myself that the pharmaceutical company probably wants this information of how red people feel their faces are, as opposed to how red a doctor determines them to be.

Some days, like today, I remember how different I feel from all the people who are around me. Today, I was the weirdo with pale skin. I was the weirdo who brought all of her many (many) belongings for the day in a rolling suitcase. I was the weirdo who brought homemade fruit leather for a snack (“Is that beef jerky?”). I was the weirdo who, when I was asked what snack I was gonna get from the ones provided for us, responded, “Oh, I’m just marveling at the diversity of my choices!” (and then I realized that I sounded like a tool). I was the weirdo with the bright orange ear plugs in my ears, when everyone else was happily talking to one another about the texting and the Facebook.

If this truly was a secret psychological experiment, I hope I have given whoever is running it some good material to work with.

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Without fail, February is the longest month of the year.

February 2010 will be remembered in the years to come as the month of three things:

  • Snow
  • Sickness
  • House Hunters International

While it’s true that Louisville didn’t get as much snow this February as, say New York or Washington, DC, we got gobs more than we usually do. I like snow in December, when it’s novel and festive. I don’t like snow in February, when it does nothing more than turn my street into a solid sheet of ice, dirty up my car, and require me to go searching all over the city for a damn snow shovel.

I kicked off the month of February with a fever, the highest fever I’ve had in years. I had a virus for a couple of days, and then spent the rest of the month with a cold or sinus infection that never actually seemed bad enough to warrant my going to the doctor, but never actually went away either. It just lingered. On and on.

Between being sick and being snowed in, I actually started feeling restless and isolated doing nothing but sitting in my house, which is nuts, because I am the sort of person who is happy when winter begins because it gives me an excuse to not go outside.

What was there to do with myself during those long days and nights inside but to watch hours upon hours of my newly discovered show, House Hunters International.  It’s simple and formulaic and comforting.  Someone is moving someplace other than the United States.  They look at three homes, each with pros and cons.  Then they pick a home.  And then they do a “3 Months Later!” and everyone is happy and smiley about it. Their terrace is wonderful, and perfect for entertaining! And they’ve already made so many new friends!

The best part about the show is that there are a seemingly infinite number of episodes.  I have had a season pass on Tivo for the entire month of February, and I have never seen a repeat episode, even though it records at least an episode a day.

Yesterday, I greeted March 1st with much enthusiasm. I was all smug with my, “Good riddance, February! I am done with you!” attitude. But so far, March hasn’t seemed all that different.

It’s still cold out. I am still sick-but-not-really-sick. Yesterday, I was coughing quite a bit, and I finally resolved to go to the doctor. It was March 1 now, after all, and things would be different. Plus, I felt less stupid about going to the doctor to say, “I am coughing up stuff! Dr. Internet says it’s pneumonia!” than I would about going to the doctor to say, “I’ve got the sniffles. Wahhh.” But I couldn’t get an appointment. And today, I’m not coughing anymore. I’ve just got the sniffles back again. Wahhh.

Fortunately, there were still new episodes of House Hunters International waiting for me when I got home.

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My Day in Television

Today, I continued to not feel well, and I even started running a low grade fever, which totally vindicated my decision to leave work early yesterday. (Of course, the low grade fever has since disappeared, but maybe that’s because I am rapidly healing myself using an unexpectedly powerful immune system.)

Since I was not feeling well, I resigned myself to a day of doing nothing. It used to be that being sick wasn’t all that bad, because it gave me a free pass to do nothing but lie on the couch and watch TV and enjoy myself–a free pass that I don’t give myself regularly. Now, it seems like doing nothing is getting harder for me, even when I am sick.

Today, instead of happily sitting on the couch watching “Everyday Italian” or something, I found myself curled up, reading “Good Old Neon” in Oblivion, a collection of short stories by David Foster Wallace. Because there is nothing that makes you feel better when you’re sick than reading a short story about the inadequacies of language and suicide by a writer who later committed suicide himself.

Finally, I landed on an activity that would simultaneously involve sitting on the couch staring at the TV and doing something productive: watching Lost.

Lost has always seemed like a show that I would like, but it began while I was in college and not watching a whole lot of television. I knew that it was a show that one has to watch from the very beginning, so I never had an opportunity to jump in. Since the final season of Lost is coming up in the beginning of 2010, my sister decided that she and I really needed to watch the first five seasons, so that we could be a part of the cultural event that will be the show’s final season. (Of course, now she is going to be doing her internship in another state, and not even have a TV, so that’s kind of a moot point.)

But I have committed myself to the task of catching up and being ready for the final season. My sister borrowed the first three seasons from a friend, and while she tore through them all and has been finished with them for months now, I am just now making my way through season three. For a while, watching the show really felt like homework. Now, though, the show is hitting its stride, and things are starting to pick up.

Still, it’s something that must be accomplished, so it gives me the same sense of engaging in a purposeful activity.

And it turned out to be the perfect show to watch. Nothing makes you more appreciative of your couch and your blankets and your fuzzy robe than watching crazy people run around in a jungle while getting beat up and shot at for hours on end.

Although, the problem that I have with Lost is that it makes me feel extremely suspicious–suddenly behind every vent is a hidden camera, or one of The Others, or, come on, who knows, a freaking black smoke monster. So, to end my evening on a happier note, a happier note which will hopefully keep me from having Lost-inspired nightmares, I finished out my TV-watching today with the new episode of iCarly.

There is nothing weirder than going straight from watching five hours of Lost to watching an episode of iCarly.

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Sick (Half) Day

I did something completely out of character today: I went home from work because I wasn’t feeling well.

I struggle with taking sick days, because I always have it in my head that when I’m not feeling well, my mind is probably exaggerating my symptoms and I’m just being a wuss about things. Unless I have a fever or I am actively in the middle of throwing up, I find it difficult to really believe that I’m all that sick.

I acknowledge that I can be kind of a hypochondriac, so I tend to guard against being accused of hypochondria by downplaying the possible severity of my illness. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from whining about how I don’t feel well. Often, conversations go a little something like this:

Someone: How are you today?

Me: Oh, I’m not feeling too great. My head hurts and my throat hurts and my legs are sort of… aching. And I’m congested.

Someone: Oh no! I’m sorry you’re sick!

Me: Well, I’m not saying I’m sick. I could just be having a bad day. Or maybe I’m getting sick.

Someone: Oh, well, it certainly sounds like you don’t feel well! Maybe you should go home/go to the doctor/etc.

Me: Oh, but I’m not necessarily sick.

If I’m going to call myself sick, it had probably better be something dramatic, something to write home about, lest all the people in the world who are actually suffering from illness band together to smack me across my face for being a big fat faker.

So, today I was sitting at my desk agonizing about whether or not I should go home, because my legs were aching and I had no energy and my throat was sore and I was congested. And I should be clear–I work at a place where people are very supportive of employees taking sick time when they are actually sick.

I agonized for about 45 minutes while I finished up a mailing when I made a snap decision that I would go home. I didn’t feel well. It wasn’t the end of the world that I went home and go to bed instead of sitting at my desk and feeling bad. It seems like such an… obvious decision when I think about it now.

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Ode to Illness

Really, it was only a matter of time. Who goes the rest of their life without ever getting sick? No one’s immune system is all that powerful, no matter how many vegetables one eats. So, I am sick, probably just with an annoying cold.

Being sick has been a nice change of pace. Something about my body not working right considerably alters my inner dialogue about what I am supposed to be doing at any given time.

Sickness gives me an excuse to lie on the couch and watch The Millionaire Matchmaker (oh, those wacky douchebags!) without shame or guilt. Whereas, most of the time, when I am lying on the couch watching The Millionaire Matchmaker, I berate myself internally, because is that how I want to spend my short life? Really?

Sickness gives me the excuse to not exercise. I have fallen off the exercise train recently, and when I’m sick, instead of saying to myself, “Damn, you are lazy and should be exercising,” I can say to myself, “Your body needs to rest. You don’t have to exercise.”

Those who know me are likely familiar with the fact that I tend to overthink everything in life. Just the tiniest bit. When sick, there is absolutely no thinking required other than, “Hmmm, I think I will lie on the couch. I think I will drink this water. I think I will now watch Wonderfalls in its entirety.”

I get really whiny when I am sick, and not just about feeling bad. I get whiny about every minor perceived inconvenience. I can’t figure out if everything generally feels more magnified in its ability to bother me, or if I’m letting loose the whiny-ness that is within me all the time. Sickness, like natural disasters or severely delayed flights, gives me a reason to feel bad. Whereas, most of the time, when I feel bad, it is without any sort of legitimate reason.

Yesterday, I told my sister that I was feeling a lot worse than I had been the day before. She said, “That sucks.” I said, “Not really.”

I suppose there is a down side or two. Like being unable to sleep because your face is inexplicably sweating so much it is sticking to your pillowcase. Or having to blow your nose constantly, and regularly getting snot in your mouth. Or the worst, when my nose gets chapped from all the tissues with which it comes into contact. And of course, it would be inconvenient if there were something remarkable going on that would be disrupted by sickness, or if it were a particularly serious illness.

I recognized that this is a disgustingly privileged viewpoint to have, but mild sickness, every once in a while? Is kind of refreshing.

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