Friday, March 22, 2013


Over the past 48 hours or so since I began treatment for my ailments, I have felt the dense layers of fog I've been buried under start to clear away. I'm catching metaphorical glimpses of enough blue sky to make a Dutch boy's britches.

I don't even care if it's just placebo effect at this point. For the first time in a long time, I can imagine being myself again.

Last night while we were getting settled in for bed, I realized I actually felt light hearted. I asked Roger and Jack if they could tell a difference and they both immediately said, "Yes!"

Today I looked at the basket of laundry on the floor and just started folding it. No feeling of overwhelming dread that my arms were too weak or that my brain could not manage it. Seriously, I had reached the point that a basket of laundry felt like too much to bear. A basket of laundry!

What's been especially hard is that I've fallen way behind on my 50 physical feats project. There are things on my list that I've missed or am about to miss because I'm not ready. Things that I won't have an opportunity to do again until next year. So I'm adjusting my plans and instead of finishing at the end of 2013, I'm giving myself through to the day before my 51st birthday in July 2014 to finish. And that's okay, because the whole thing is meant to be a joyful adventure, not a weight on my soul.

It might take a while to get back up to speed. It might not. But I'm grateful that I'm no longer falling deeper into the abyss.

I am reset and moving forward.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I Will Not Die

At least not from anything I'm aware of anytime soon. And even better, I am not crazy!

Yesterday I went to a followup appointment with the doctor and she went over the results of the myriad of blood tests they did. Everything looked really great except for a few things which explain a lot. I have now embarked on a regimen in an effort to set those things right.

(Frankly, I am not much for regimens. But I'm relieved and hopeful that it will help fix me. So I will follow the regimen.)

The small things: I was slightly dehydrated at the time of the test and I have a minor vitamin D deficiency (the doctor laughed when I asked if I could blame three months of inversion for that). The regime: drink more water and take a prescription level dose of vitamin D twice a week for three months.

The expected thing: Hypothyroidism. Not a severe case, but the indicator was enough below the bottom of the healthy range to impact my energy level. The regime: A daily pill, maybe for the rest of life. I can't say I'm happy about joining the ranks of people who have to take a pill every day. But I am happy that in the scheme of things it is a small sacrifice to make for increased metabolism (and maybe less itchy skin).

The surprising thing: A severe vitamin B12 deficiency. I'm getting plenty in my diet, but for whatever reason my body isn't absorbing it. This could explain why I have been able to function at a reasonable level for only a few hours each day before crashing. And why it's been so hard to make my brain focus. And why my memory keeps failing me. And why my hands tingle. And why it feels like I want to jump out of my skin. I did some googling, and came up with this article from the New York Times. Apparently elderly people are sometimes misdiagnosed with dementia when what they really have is a vitamin B12 deficiency. I confess that over the past month I felt like I might be going nuts. It is comforting that it appears I am not. The regime: weekly B12 shots for the next month and daily B12 supplements.

I will go back for a followup in three months. Or better yet, my old self will be going.

Monday, March 18, 2013


It never fails.

Both of my jobs involve teaching and counseling with people. Of course, what I hope is that the people I work with come away from our conversations with some new insight or information that will be valuable for them. Or at least a reminder of something they'll hear differently this time and maybe remember.

What I know is that I usually do.

I recently spoke with a 20-year-old man who expressed bewilderment that a good woman had fallen in love with him. He had, he said, been doing drugs since he was 13. But he'd met her during his longest stretch of sobriety, when all sorts of things in his life were falling into place. Then he used again and screwed it all up.

What could she possibly have seen in him? he wondered.

I found myself saying something like this: It's so easy to see the "bad" things we do or think or say as reflecting our "real" selves. It's so hard to see that the good things reflect us as well, and maybe even more so. I'm not sure why our self-perception can get so scallywompus. But it can and often does.

I need to remember that.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Out of the Mouths

Warning: Explicit language ahead. So sorry. But, well, it expresses the point I was trying to make so succinctly.

One topic we discuss in the class I teach at the jail is how we react when we're called on something and how our reaction affects what happens to us next. We talk mostly in the context of being on good terms with people in the workplace, about not getting fired. And, okay, a little in the context of how to avoid being put in the hole.

"Hey," said a student from the back of the classroom. "If someone gives me shit, I'm going to give them shit right back."

"And then what do you get?" I asked.

He shrugged and grinned, "More shit."


Thursday, March 14, 2013


I've been more silent here on my blog than I've meant to be. I thought I would roar into 2013 with all of my plans. But mostly I've been tired. Deep-in-my-bones tired.

So tired, I actually went to see a doctor today.

That may not sound like a very big deal, but in the world inside my head it is a Very Big Deal. I rarely go to the doctor. I am seriously averse to being patronized when I report vague symptoms. Like fatigue.

Will find out what stories my blood has to tell early next week.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

On the Side of the Road

A few years ago, I started having a mid-semester creative writing contest for my university students to provide a bit of a break from more intense academic research and writing as well as a chance for the winners to earn some extra credit.

I came up with my go-to writing prompt for the contest as I was driving to campus one day and noticed a single, brand new running shoe lying on the side of the road. I wondered how it got there.

Over the years my students have come up with all sorts of ideas that they've written about in stories, poems, comic strips and so on. The shoe is a magical portal! It fell off Santa's sleigh! It belongs to the ghost of someone who died in a horrible car wreck along that stretch of highway!

My all-time favorite entry was patterned after the hushed narration of a nature show. "It is very rare to come across a shoe without its mate. They usually travel in pairs."

As I was driving to campus today to announce the writing contest, I notice something lying on the side of the road.

A bright pink bra.

I thought about tweaking my writing prompt for a second or two. But, well, you know.