Saturday, January 11, 2014

Blustery winter night musings

Hurts to sit, hurts to stand, let's see if I can type semi-reclined...with a cat on my arms because apparently this is an open invetation.

Quote of the day: "Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything's different." C.S. Lewis

Current weather: pouring down rain, windy, 46F...in January! The exclamation point is for the temp, not the wind and the rain.

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Apparently I am terrified of "doing it wrong" or not knowing how to start or over-thinking everything I want to do, so I've made a vow to just write something, anything, every day. There used to be a nifty little web site where you typed like a crazy person and earned little rewards for typing more than X amount every day, but about two months after I discovered it the site went to paid subscriptions and I bailed because I just can't afford pretty much anything that isn't food, household expenses, gas, and other boring grownup things. I'm just going to have to make my daily quota without benefit of virtual awards, because I really need to make writing a habit and a need as much as brushing my teeth and drinking enough water. I think it's that important for me.

I don't have kids, but that doesn't mean I don't have plenty of distractions to keep me from just sitting down (or standing up) and getting the writing done. At this moment I can just barely hear my rooster crowing in the henhouse behind the gusting wind and the rumble of the rain on the kitchen skylights, and I'm tempted to go see if they're all right. Even though I know the difference between the squawk of a terrified chicken and the casual call of a rooster who doesn't care that it's the middle of the night but feels the urge to alert the world to his magnificence, I still worry, because a few minutes ago I heard the neighbor's mare whinnying in her paddock next to my chicken coop. In a suspense film this would be a dead giveaway that some creature, human or otherwise, was lurking about in my yard. In this case, however, knowing what I know about horses in general and this one in particular, I'm pretty sure she's just annoyed that her "boyfriends", the two geldings who live in our pasture, are locked up in the barn for the night and not able to visit with her across the fence, and she's calling to them for attention. A whole pack of coyotes could parade by any of those horses and they wouldn't bat an eyelash, but separate them for five minutes and it's the end of the world.

Being very distractable means I tend to go through my day bouncing from one task to another and not really completing anything. I start to do something, but then that something reminds me of another thing I should do first, so I defer to that, then the process repeats itself. Making a list of things to do helps a bit, but I still rarely if ever get to the end of a list, no matter how small I make it. Right now the most important thing I keep putting off, besides writing, is walking. I really need to walk at least three times a week, and really more than that, if I ever want to get my health back up to a decent level. The flat disk in my spine is acutely painful all the time these days, but I don't think walking on level ground will exacerbate it much. I have to get my overall health buffed up or I'm doomed. Walking, pilates, and some free weights are where I need to start. I was doing pretty well with weights over the past few months, but then I dropped the ball over the holidays. I'm trying to keep painkiller use to a minimum, so I'm in pain most of the time and spend several sessions each day lying on ice packs so I can stand and walk a bit. Maybe the walking will help with pain management as much as taking vitamin C seems to help, I don't know, but it can't hurt to try, I guess. If my pain escalates I'll have to do something different.

Changing my diet has certainly helped. Removing wheat from my life was huge. Within a week I saw a major change in my GI system and went from borderline IBS to almost normal function for the first time in my life. After a week or so I noticed something else: my headaches, an almost daily condition, almost disappeared. Now, instead of being thankful for the occasional headache-free day, I'm surprised by the occasional headache. Again, this had been going on pretty much since my teenage years, non-stop. Nothing seemed to help prevent them, and only ibuprofen relieved them. Now I rarely take anything for a headache, and it's usually because I cheated and ate wheat or too much sugar and that triggered it.

Fixing my terrible sleep patterns is an ongoing struggle. I know I'd feel better, have less depression, and probably less pain if I could get to bed earlier and sleep through the night, but I fail more often than not in this department. My biggest hurdle is having to share a bed with my spouse, whom I love, but...I'm just not great with sharing sleeping space with another human. It's hard for me to relax when there's another person in my bed because I really need my personal space. The cats are fine, but another human, especially one who becomes very annoyed if awakened in the night by anything, makes for stress that impairs my ability to relax most nights. The upshot of this is that I want to be sure he's good and solidly asleep before I crawl into bed. Occasionally I make an attempt at getting to bed before him, but this usually results in us heading for the shower at the same time and then doing the "After you." "Oh no, after you!" dance. Then either I feel like I need to rush through my ablutions and race for bed, or I send him in and start some project which results in my usual staying up too late again. Someday I hope we have a house with two bedrooms so this won't be an issue. Until then, I really need to find a way to get to bed earlier, because I need a lot more sleep than he does. He seems to be good with around eight hours, but I'm groggy with less than nine or ten, especially if I don't sleep soundly. I'm experimenting with various supplements to help with this, and niacin is helping a lot. Valerian root and melatonin never seemed to do much, but 1,000 mg of niacin about an hour before bed seems to help me relax. Herbal tea is good, too. I read an article that talked about using honey before bed, so I try that sometimes, too. Then there's the pain management. Right now I'm pretty much stuck with taking a couple of naproxen every night in order to notch the spinal pain down enough to get to sleep. By morning it's worn off, but it usually gets me through the night. Getting a better form of magnesium has helped with muscle cramping, too. It's a constant experiment to adjust the supplements and diet and painkillers, but I kept myself out of the ER in 2013: yay!

It's half-past midnight, so I should quit. I dreamed about the "square house" night before last. It shows up every once in awhile. Not sure what it means. In my dreams it's supposed to be the house of a family in Seattle, the kids of which are friends of mine and I believe my sister's. It's not really the old Lyons' house on Queen Anne, at least I don't think it is, but then I barely remember that place. It's like a cross between that house and a place near the U of WA in which I rented a room for a few months after college, not long before I moved to Japan. Edwardian, square, bigger than a bungalow. Three stories with a central staircase and a sun porch on the East side. A house of many rooms, once grand but now a bit frayed at the edges. Lived in, loved, and full of the accumulated detritus of the years. It doesn't represent "home" to me, but I'm not sure what it does represent, then. I've been dreaming about it since the 80s, I think. One of these days I'll figure it out. In the meanwhile, time to hit the shower and sneak in to bed. Sam cat is probably warming up my spot right now, as is his wont. He won't mind when I move him over so I have a place for my feet. He'll just curl up and go back to sleep. Cats are pretty unflappable when it comes to sleeping arrangements.

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