Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Strange Days Indeed

I’m forty-one years old.  I don’t feel forty-one years old in my heart and soul but my body has been feeling it.  My father acts like every inconvenience of aging is the Universe’s personal judgment on him, not a natural part of getting older that millions of other humans are dealing with. I’m not my father but I have got to admit there have been a couple “What the fuck” or “Nobody told me this is a thing…” moments.  It is kind of funny and kind of ridiculous.

For example, did you know that as you get older you can’t sleep in?  I used to be able to sleep until 2:00 PM but now the longer I sleep, the more pain I am in.  It’s not like my brain even allows me to sleep in anymore.  The only sleeping in I do is heavily medicated and waking up after that I expect to see bruises on my hips and shoulders I am in so much pain.  I need to do the hospital roll to get out of bed those days too.

Coughing can lead to injuring yourself in your forties apparently.  After a bad coughing attack, I pulled a muscle in my back and irritated my crumbling cervical discs.  I am actually enthusiastically watching home medical device commercials nowadays. That doohickey that can help you put socks on – someone get the inventor a Nobel Prize!

Let’s not get too detailed about digestive and reproductive changes either. But stuff definitely gets weird.  I don’t know if I have an allergy, IBS, endometriosis, or perimenopause but I’m tired of trying to figure it out.  I have backup options and supplies stashed at home and at work.  It’s like middle school all over again.  Speaking of, my goddamn skin!  It has become dry and flaky plus I break out at least once a month.  I don’t mind the lines and wrinkles, I mind the red bumps that appear on my nose and forehead!  This week I have been dealing with foot spasms/cramps from who knows what. According to WebMD, it could be a pinched nerve from a herniated disc or diabetic neuropathy.  I’m going to try getting new shoes to help the situation. But those were fun anxiety inducing options, thanks WebMD!

A couple weeks ago, I wound up explaining to my co-workers why the Challenger accident was a big deal since they weren’t alive when it happened. It is a fun running joke on my team. Any dig about my age gets a pouty face and a hearty laugh from me.  Sometimes I stop and think about all the changes and styuff that has happened in my lifetime – it is wondrous and a little exhausting. When I try to turn my attention to what could shift in the future, I mentally give up. Flying cars, civilian space travel and tricorders would get me excited! Aging isn’t all downsides though. I grew up with thin stick straight hair that could barely hold a curl. Now, I have a wavy mop on my head peppered with cool diamond white strands. When I wake up, I look like Goku. Having the hair I always dreamed about is definitely a bonus. 

Basically, aging is a weird ride in a body that sometimes cooperates and other times decides to hurt randomly. Considering that I never thought I would live this long, I appreciate the newness of even the inconvenient stuff!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Somewhere All Bright and New

Life has been pretty darn good lately! Don't worry, I am knocking wood and throwing salt over my shoulder as I type this. 

The new year started off very sadly with a co-worker dying suddenly. She was such a sweetheart with a smile for everyone. She gave me awesome hugs and listened.  I was a wreck for a couple days.  Other than that, I am enjoying my current work situation now.  

Sparkle Analyst is pregnant with twins due in May so between Baby Analyst and me, we are the pending Mama crew. I send links to articles or items that I know my cousins use/love.  Baby Analyst helps with styling and decor. Sparkle Analyst has mild gestational diabetes so I'm also the one who points out that she knew her body until two little people took over.  Fun fact, I thought gestational diabetes is just the stress of the pregnancy affecting the pancreas' processing of sugar but it isn't! Apparently, the baby hormones interfere with glucose processing.

A member of staffing who has been around for over a decade was fired last week. So, that was shocking.  There was no announcement or farewell. I just found out by seeing the discharge paperwork. Baby Analyst was very close with her so its another brick on the Should I Quit side of the scale for her. 

Nu Boss has been here for over a year so he needs a new name. UMass Sass Boss? Oh I love it when he declares something "garbage" or when he gets a pouty face, shakes his head and declares, "That's not our job - tough." He has an awesome sense of humor, has an open door policy, and works collaboratively.  I'm usually his second in command and when shit hits the fan, I'm the one who points out 1. How to catch the problem proactively and 2. How to assess the scope of the current disaster.  This past week's disaster is the new HR system vacation accrual program is not working as intended.

The HR Analyst team are my joy and sanity. There are four of us.  Three of them were born in 1989 so I"m the grandma born in 1976. They all sit in cubicles outside my office so listening to them joke, discuss current events, and complain is like having my own live sitcom throughout the day. "Okay, pause" and "This fool did X..." is batted back and forth all day.  I love it! Granted a couple weeks ago I wound up explaining why the Challenger accident was a big deal to them but the energy, humor, and mutual support is priceless.

I live two blocks away from the Orange line so this past month I've been taking Lyft to or from work at least twice a week. Those new train cars cannot be deployed fast enough!  One morning I had three alerts on my phone before I woke up about delays, a dead train, signal issues etc. I went downstairs and every neighbor I could see was hailing an Uber/Lyft. 

I narrowed down my list of breeders and found a place with an upcoming litter that will be available to take home in May.  I asked for a red male and put down a deposit. Here's what the kitty could look like:

I am hopeful/nervous now. But I have four months of prep to get through the nerves. I am so looking forward to the snuggles! Here are some potential names:

I've figured out how to heal clean from grief. Let every emotion happen, talk to good people, be patient with yourself, and don't avoid or stuff things down. The more you avoid/stuff, the worse you'll feel. 

My brother has moved out of our parents house finally after four years! I'm so happy for him. That house is a black hole of happiness. We used to joke when our parents sell, we'll set up lawn chairs with beers to watch the house get pulled down. I haven't seen bro's place yet but he has been sick this past week.

A ton of menfolk in my life are down with a version of the flu!  Super Boss texted me last weekend letting me know he has pneumonia and pleurisy. My brother has wicked congestion.  UMass Sass Boss sounds like Snuffleupagus. My head is a little blocked up and I have invigorating morning coughs. Roomie has been sick as well.

I had a wonderful massage a couple weeks ago that worked out so many kinks, I discovered those kinks kept nerve pain at bay! I had sciatica for the first time in twenty years. My cervical nerves were not happy either.  Now I'm all tensed up again with manageable pain.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Rolling with the Punches

They weren't kidding about this flu season!  I have been sick twice in the past month. It was all head and upper respiratory grossness.  After the congestion and cough cleared up, my ears are still plugged up and achy. I tried to rally/push through. I've used a month's worth of sick time in 2017 so I'm a little worried that will get me flagged by management.

My new therapist is pretty good and has introduced me to something I had never considered - making my own boundaries as self-care.  I've been going to family get togethers with no planned out for years and have been miserable but at least I kept up appearances. Guess what? I don't have to do that! I can show up and stay until things go south then take out a prepared excuse to leave.  My brother helped me with Christmas, figuring out the smallest amount of time I needed to be around my parents. Perfection!

My father has recovered pretty well from his heart attack and broken hip. He's still nasty to my mother, turns off his hearing aid so he doesn't have to interact with others, and has his recommended daily ounces of booze.  Over the last couple of years my dad has become a functional alcoholic. After the heart attack, he made sure he could still drink. On Christmas, his one task he assigned himself was getting glasses of Riesling ready for the family. His pants fell off as he was shuffling around the house with his walker. His nastiness found me as a new target. Prepared exit excuse deployed.

I'm still sad about Rasputin's death but it's like an undercurrent to my life. My sensory memories of him are fading. I can't remember his meow, his smell, or how it felt when he laid on me. Occasionally, I get sideswiped by remembering putting him to sleep. This is the fun side effect of PTSD - how upsetting memories affect me. I don't just have a hazy memory of something happening, I am back in my own skin while its happening having the same emotions coursing through my body. I'm pretty sure that's why I have developed panic attacks.  My body can't go from mundane daily routine to being flooded with crisis brain chemicals and back to mundane. My doctor has prescribed me Lorazepam to take occasionally.

Work has been not as frustrating lately. My group has gotten into a good groove. I have developed expertise in some key analysis/reporting which we jokingly call "job security".  The biggest annoyance is dealing with other work groups where we wonder how they are able to tie their shoes. When that happens, I have three other analysts and a great boss who I can go to and ask in disbelief "How can they not know this information?"

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Vermont Brewery Weekend

In honor of a friend's 40th birthday, a bunch of us surprised her with a Vermont brewery tour.  It was the first time I've spent time with anyone other than my roommate or family for a weekend.  I was a little nervous!  Exiting New Hampshire on route 89, I started thinking about Rasputin to get it out of the way before I had to socialize.  I kid you not, 103.1 FM started playing "Wildflowers" by Tom Petty - the same song I played before I put Ras to sleep! I started bawling and I took it as a sign as, "It's okay, Mama. Please have fun.  I'm okay."  That helped.

We rented a van to take us from brewery to brewery.  This company was amazing!  Full service, punctual, flexible, and a friendly interactive driver.  We went to Lost Nation first.  The beer was good and the crowd was nice and chatty.  Then we went to Rock Art.  They had my favorite facility and delicious beers.  Next we hit Alchemist Beer.  I tried Heady Topper for the first time - which is their huge hit.  But I actually liked Focal Banger better! Von Trapp Brewing was our next location.  Oh my word, so pretty and the food was great!  They had a couple beers I liked too. I only like a certain kind of hops and tend to gravitate towards stouts. Their Dunkel semi stout was delish.  I also really liked Helles and Vienna.  Our last stop was Prohibition Pig. I loved the location and vibe.  We headed back to the Air BnB afterwards for dinner and board games.  I am pooped people!

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Queen of the Orange Line

November 8 wasn’t a great day anyways with the year anniversary of the downfall of America.  The weather had shifted so every old injury in my body was aching all day.  When I got onto the orange line that evening, I saw an empty seat so I wove my way through the crowd to sit down.  Finally a break in the shittiness of the day for me. The woman sitting to my left muttered, “Well, I guess you need to sit down more than me.” and for absolutely no reason got up in a huff. 

The WTFness of her attitude and the bad day frustrated me so I asked her, “How many stops should I stand to deserve this seat?” She scowled at me. Then I asked, “Do herniated discs and months of physical therapy count while you judge?”  I am sick of people not treating each other as fellow human beings. I sat there wiping tears off my face while Her Highness scowled at every person who bumped or jostled her.  I could not figure out what her deal was but as we pulled away from Mass Ave, I decided to apologize to her because hey she might have been having a bad day as well.  Then she looked me in my eyes and claimed she never said anything to me. Ummm… bitch what? So, fellow commuters enjoy this delusional, judgmental prize who knows better because she is better than all of us.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

The Bow and the Target

I have not been doing so great. The first morning it dropped into the 40’s, I pulled out a long sleeved shirt and spent the next 15 minutes sobbing because the last time I wore that shirt, Rasputin was alive. My heart has been racing at night while I try to fall asleep. My body hurts all the time.

I’m not going to give birth to my own children, it’s too late for me. I poured all that love and attention into my cats. The enormity of what I’ve lost comes in waves. I cry every day. Since I have been in such a state, I have backed out of socializing. I feel like such a downer and can’t guarantee that I have a handle on crying. If I get sympathy, it’s all over - waterworks central.

I also have a handy bunch of avoidance techniques: drinking and computer games. Designing a house and family in The Sims feels calming and enjoyable. With enough wine, I might be able to grab a full night’s sleep. Going for days with these ultimately makes me feel worse! It’s like they dam up the flood of sadness for a limited time.

Stella has become a very needy affectionate kitty. Of course there’s still the biting and apologetic licks (she’s still a tortoiseshell). She hates being picked up and held but lately she tolerates it for me, it seems. Rasputin was a huge snuggler - he’d climb up my body and just lie under my chin. I miss that so much, I’m considering getting a 14 lb bag and covering it with fur material so I can at least get the tactile comfort.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Numb Shuffle

The mornings have gotten easier. The pain in my heart is not as oppressive.  We have downsized the feeding area and I’ve washed all the drool stained items.  One shirt is completely ruined but I’m keeping it because I could not stop sobbing seeing it.  I have packed up Rasputin’s special grooming gear and toys for storage.  I had a couple decent days Sunday and MondayWednesday morning, I was in bed when I had a panic attack or when my heart decided to try a gallop.  I was half asleep thinking “Well, this isn’t a bad way to go” On top of that, I broke out in hives on my arms and legs. So I took a sick day to get some rest and do some cathartic wailing. My theory is that my body rebelled against my push to feel better.

Stella figured out Rasputin isn’t coming back around Sunday and she has been very sad – sleeping away from us.  When I find her snoozing, she wakes up with a faraway blank look.  I pet her and talk about Rasputin to her.  Shanna has been extra affectionate with me, which I don’t mind at all.  Those two are not getting along any better.  In fact, Stella has been extra hissy. We all grieve in our own ways, right?

I have been very impatient with myself.  Sadness is such a sucking void of energy and I hate feeling like I’m wallowing.  My therapist has told me it’s important to honor my feelings and let them happen.  With my shitty childhood, finding value in how I feel is a struggle.  I wasn’t allowed to express strong emotions without punishment. I was “sensitive” or “dramatic”. I just get impatient or angry at myself for being sad over Rasputin’s death then eventually I am able to tell myself that it’s okay to feel what I feel.  Basically, not only am I grieving, I am also unpacking a lot of psychological baggage plus self-parenting.  Sweet baby Jesus, I am pooped!

A couple things have been helping my spirits. I enjoy playing the Sims game. I’m on the third generation of my main family. The house building is a ton of fun too. I have been researching local Maine Coon breeders and have enjoyed looking at pictures of their kittens.  It is way too soon for me but eventually I’d like to get a kitten.