Ow! My Eye!

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I had two appointments today, one with my new college advisor and one with my ophthalmologist. First one first.

The appointment with my advisor was fairly straightforward. We looked at the application checklist for the degree program that I’m trying to get into, we figured out that I’ve got two years’ worth of pre- and co-requisites before the calendar will allow me to apply for the program. (While they haven’t released the 2018-2019 application deadline yet, this year it was June 1, and there’s no way I can get everything done in time for next year’s deadline if it’s similarly scheduled.) The good thing is that all this coursework will count toward the degree, and getting it done prior to applying to the program will favorably effect my application when I do. We mapped out a plan to get everything done, and so I feel a little better about that.

The ophthalmologist appointment was a little rough, however. Because I’m diabetic, I get a more thorough annual exam than I would otherwise, and one of those procedures checks my ocular pressure. (They may do this in regular exams as well, I honestly don’t remember.) They put a drop of a numbing agent in each eye to mitigate the effects of the drop of dye that they use to check your pressure. The dye stings without the numbing agent. After they checked my pressure, they gave me the usual dilation agent drops and asked me to wait for a few minutes in a darkened room while it had a chance to kick in.

A few minutes later, the doctor called me back and said that he wanted to re-check my pressure. Mine came up high the first time, and since the test is very sensitive to outside influences, up to and including holding one’s breath, he wanted to be sure nothing was effecting the result. So I got another round of numbing agent, and another round of dye, and this time the result came back normal.

We finished the exam, I said farewell to the doctor, who’s leaving the practice later this month, and went out to pay my co-pay and get my appointment set for next year. I also grabbed a pair of the rolled-up plastic sunglasses that fit behind regular glasses – to which I had affixed my own clip-on sunglasses. So I had two layers of protection over my eyes before walking outside in the bright central Texas sun.

Driving home was challenging. I couldn’t see my dashboard very well, so I drove keeping pace with other drivers rather than by watching the speedometer. Even with the two pairs of sunglasses, it was too bright outside, so I made liberal use of the sunshade in the car, and opted to avoid interstate highways to get back home in favor of slower surface roads.

I made it home, rested for a bit, and then went to pick my wife up from work, again driving with both pairs of sunglasses on. By this time the fatigue of everything they’d been put through during my appointment was catching up with me, and we switched drivers once she got off work.

We got home and I started in on trying to program my radio show for the evening. By this time my eyes were downright hurting, and looking at the computer was hard to do. Between the brightness of the screen and the brightness of the sun pouring in through the closed blinds I decided that I couldn’t do my show tonight, and so I asked my wife to let proper channels know while I went to go lie down and rest my eyes.

A few minutes later, I got an idea, and got back up to ask my wife if she’d be willing to program the show on her laptop and give me an assist with song names during talk breaks. She was willing to do that, so we threw a show together and went on the air, with me doing the lion’s share of the talking while she managed the actual broadcast. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but it worked out very well.

And now I’m winding down for bed. Even well after sundown, there’s only two lights on in the entire apartment, where there would usually be a lot more. My eyes are beginning to feel better, and I anticipate they’ll be back to normal in the morning. But for now, I think that finally giving my eyes the rest they’ve been wanting all afternoon and evening is wise.

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Gooey

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Man, do I feel good.

Today I had a friend that offered to have my wife and me come over for massages to help test out her new in-home studio. We visited a while before our massages and had a good visit. It’s the first time we’d been to visit her at her new place, so we got the nickel tour. My wife went first while I waited, and then it was my turn.

I’ve been experiencing a fair amount of pain in my left shoulder recently that’s been aggravated by the position I hold my phone while I’m working on it. I told my friend about it and about the broken kneecap, and she said she’d pay special attention to both areas. She went lightly around the knee, but she used trigger point therapy on my shoulder. It was a little uncomfortable, but tolerable, and the rest of the massage was straight relaxation.

The timing was perfect, coming just a few days after the trip to Arizona for my father-in-law’s funeral. I almost fell asleep on the table while she worked. She turned me into a puddle.

We visited for a while longer when we were both done, and then headed out for a bite to eat before coming home.

As we were leaving I took note of the amount of pain my shoulder was in.

There was none.

It wasn’t diminished. She didn’t just help. The pain was completely gone.

Since then I’ve been very careful not to aggravate it again. Some of the pain has since come back in the hours since the massage but it’s nothing like what it was.

I’m trained in massage therapy, though it’s been years. I never learned trigger point but was aware that it could be very therapeutic in certain situations. I didn’t imagine that it would help this much, and I am indebted to my friend for giving me the first pain-free moments I’ve had in weeks.

An Unwelcome Development

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This morning I awoke, had to have help getting dressed, and immediately sat on the couch with heating pads on my lower back and across my shoulders. The pain in my back eventually faded to the point of tolerance, but the pain in my shoulders and neck remains.

I’m used to pain in my left shoulder. If I overuse it, it can hurt for days or even weeks afterward. But the tightness in my right shoulder is new. Turning my head is a slow process; tilting my head from side to side is even worse.

I’ve been in bed most of the day sleeping my way through a muscle relaxer, and now that I’m awake the pain in my shoulder is still there. I’m not sure if I slept through its efficacy or it just bounced right off without effect, but either way I’m back to putting the heating pad across my shoulders.

This started yesterday morning, and I didn’t think much about it, chalking it up to that old favorite, “sleeping on it wrong.” (What does that even mean, anyway? Does that mean that I’m going to have points taken off my grade for sleeping when I die? When are midterms? It would be nice to know when the final is, at least. Anyway …) But it was worse this morning so under the heating pad I went. Tylenol isn’t doing it much good either.

The end result is that I’m basically useless around the house today, which I dislike. I normally can’t do a LOT of stuff, but at least I keep house well, and today I can’t really even do that.

Maybe this should be chalked up to the mileage I’ve put on this body. I’m not a young man, by any stretch. But then again, neither am I old, although I think sometimes I’m closer to old than young. I haven’t really taken very good care of myself and I’ve come up with every excuse under the sun to avoid devoting the time to self-care that I should.

So I think later tonight there might be a walk around the complex to try and loosen up these stiff old bones. Besides, there’s Pokémon out there, and I’m not old yet.

Status Report

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Yesterday I wrote about the difficulty I’d been having about keeping the various aspects of my life organized and productive given the recent bout of depression I’ve been dealing with. I also committed to re-establishing my use of my daily checklists and my food tracker app yesterday, and wrote that I’d be back today with a report of how things went.

I accomplished all but one item on my daily checklist yesterday (I missed exercise, but I was also in a fair amount of pain throughout most of the day) and I logged everything that went in my mouth yesterday.

Given that it had been 10 weeks since I logged anything into my food tracker and just about that long since I’d paid much attention to my checklist, I’ll call that a definite win.

My mood was better yesterday as well. I think the push to get everything done distracted me until there was nothing left to do, and then my mood started tanking again late at night, shortly before bed.

I’m working on the checklist and food tracking again today. I can’t say that I’m looking forward to the next day – it’s far too soon to be turning this depression around – but at least I have something to look forward to doing with my day, and that keeps me at least mindful of the future instead of obsessing about how I’m feeling right now.

I don’t really have much to report beyond that, so I’ll keep this short this time.

Yay me.

The Sunset of My Mind

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I’m awake dealing with a headache. It really hurts. I’d give it a solid seven on the pain scale. But that’s important to note: I’m in a lot of pain. It’s also important to note that it’s about to turn midnight as I write this, and I’m currently sitting on the couch in a dimly lit apartment. It’s quiet, and I’m alone, and there’s not really anyone to talk to.

This is a dangerous combination for someone with depressive tendencies in their mental illness.

Science tells us that the more pain someone is in, and the longer they’re in pain, the less jovial they’ll be. That’s a given, really – if you hurt for a long time, you tend to get grumpy about it, and then you tend to get grumpy about other things, and eventually you’re so grumpy you get your own Friskies contract and a Lifetime movie. (Yes, I specially crafted this sentence just to have a reason to post the header pic above. That’s me and Grumpy Cat at SXSW last year. She’s actually a delightful kitty with a wonderful purr, but I didn’t tell you that – she has appearances to keep up, and they’re just awful.)

Science also tells us that there is something called seasonal affective disorder, wherein the lack of natural sunlight during the long winter months leads to environmentally induced depression, what many people refer to as “the winter blahs.”

Nighttime tends to affect me very much like the darkness works against those with SAD. Without the distractions that are available when other people are awake, with the perceived need to stay quiet in the apartment, I’m left to sit in silence interacting with no one. And that’s when the negative thoughts and self-talk start to rear their ugly heads like zombies rising from the grave. (Great, now I have “Thriller” stuck in my head. Way to go, mental jukebox.)

That depressive tendency is compounded by the toll that pain exacts on the body, and the two work in tandem to try and tear me down.

“You deserve the pain you’re in, you know. It’s punishment for being a bad person.”

“If you do anything to try and pull yourself out of this, you’ll wake your wife up and she’ll be pissed, so you might as well just sit and suffer.”

“Why are you even bothering to write a blog? No one reads it anyway. You should just delete it altogether.”

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve actually had a good day, and I have someone that I’m talking with, so my thoughts aren’t as dark currently. But I do feel lonely, and loneliness can very often spill over to depression.

So I’m blogging to try and process some of what I’m experiencing while it’s at the early stages and can be more easily dealt with. Sharing what I go through and why I go through it is a cathartic thing, and self-analysis tends to remove the emotional impact from the experience. “I’m feeling down, but why am I feeling down? What happened to make me feel this way?”

The answer is simple. It’s past midnight, I’m awake and in pain, and the darkness looms in the wake of the sunset of my mind.

And with that explanation, I’m off to find something to distract me. Maybe some Grumpy Cat memes.