The Move

Photo by Steve McCullough ( via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

My husband and I arrived at my parents’ house a few days ago. It was a rough few days leading up to it, with trying to get everything packed and into the moving trailer, trying to get the apartment clean enough to have any hope of getting our deposit back, and then the long road trip to get here. My parents actually came out there to pick us up and bring us back here, for which I am very grateful.

I ended up hurting my back, which made things more difficult, and my husband had a massive, frightening panic attack in the middle of the night before we left. He was shaking and almost hyperventilating. He ended up running outside into the night air outside our city apartment building to try to calm down. At first I went with him, even though I was scared to go out in the middle of the night, but then after we came back in and I had gotten back into bed he ran out again alone. That was scary for me. I was worried something would happen to him out there alone so late.

Two of the hardest things about the move for me were not having a lot of my stuff accessible to me while it was packed (and some of it has still not been located and unpacked since we’ve arrived for various reasons and I am agitated by that), and having my eating disrupted. I usually drink a very low-carb green smoothie for breakfast, because I’m prone to hypoglycemia and I find if I eat carbs in the morning my blood sugar drops later in the day, but if I don’t eat carbs at all until dinner time my blood sugar remains stable. I realize this is not the common advice given to hypoglycemics, but it’s something I’ve discovered about my own body and I find that this works for me. I also find that if I don’t eat carbs early in the day, I don’t even feel hungry for most of the day and end up eating less food overall, which is a plus in our current situation, not knowing where our next source of income is coming from.

My breakfast smoothie usually consists of:

  • 3 cups baby kale
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or grape seed oil
  • 1 tsp flax meal
  • 1 squirt of Mio (or similar brand) water flavouring
  • 3/4 of a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder
  • water

I used to add some fruit until I realized the full extent of what the morning carb consumption was doing to me and realized I felt better if I didn’t include it.

Unfortunately, as we were preparing for our move, I ran out of kale and protein powder, and I wanted to eat up what we had on hand and not buy anything new because that would mean more to either move or throw out. So this meant for a few days before the move, the two days of the road trip to get here, and the first two mornings here until we went into town to buy groceries, I was not able to have my smoothie. I ended up eating more carbs than I’m used to, and it made the road trip in particular hard because every few hours I felt nauseated and irritable from the hypoglycemia and I had to pester my dad to stop somewhere. He is not a big fan of stopping on road trips. It’s amazing we (me, my husband, and my mom) were ever allowed to pee.

As for my parents’ house, in a lot of ways it’s better than I thought it would be. (They only moved here a couple years ago and I had never even visited before this.) I’m actually quite pleased with the basement suite. We have more space here than we did in our apartment. It does need work to make it look nice but that is part of the deal; we will help with the renos. My husband has been painting for the last two days and it’s already making a big difference.

I’m a little disappointed that the suite’s kitchen can’t be used yet. It’s all a bit of a bait-and-switch, where I was told, “You will have your own kitchen,” and then I get here and find that it’s not even really a kitchen; it’s just a space where the kitchen will be, and my husband will have to help my dad put it in. (I do realize I was not lied to; I will have my own kitchen, just not immediately.) Just to be clear, they are not doing this solely for us. They had planned to do this anyway to increase the value of the house, they’re just moving up the time frame for our sake. My parents estimate it will be done by Christmas. Right now all there is is a small, bar-sized fridge, a disgusting, unusable sink, and a counter piled with my parents’ junk. But the rest of the suite is usable, thank goodness. The bathroom is nice and the shower has great water pressure. That’s a big plus.

I truly am grateful for the place to live, but to be honest I hate sharing my mom’s kitchen with her. She doesn’t tend to follow food safety rules and we bicker about it. I seem unreasonable and neurotic to her, but I am only like this because I get sick so easily and when I get sick it hits me ridiculously hard. I am only trying to take care of myself and prevent that. If others were as prone to such awful physical maladies as I am they would be more cautious about such things too. That is only logical.

Another problem is the smell. As I wrote in my post on my other blog, my parents’ houses have always had a very distinct odor. They have always blamed it on various things but the smell follows them wherever they go so I think it’s just them. You’d think I’d get used to it, especially having grown up with them, but I never have, and it’s especially bad when I come back after being away for a long time like this. I was finding it really hard to bear at first. But then I found my stash of plug-in air fresheners and plugged them in, and I discovered that one of my Bath and Body Works shower gels had leaked out into the bag it was in, which at first I was upset about, but then I realized that hanging the bag up in the bedroom made the wonderful scent fill the room. I feel so much more comfortable now that I can smell my favourite scents here. It’s ridiculous how unpleasant and distracting the odor of my parents’ house was for me before that.

Generally speaking, in spite of certain negatives, I think I can actually be fairly content here, especially once the kitchen is in.

The main problem right now, of course, is the lack of income. My husband and I both have appointments with a local employment counselor tomorrow and I really hope my husband can find something. I am willing to work too, but to be perfectly honest I am hoping I won’t have to, because of how sick and stressed and prone to embarrassing and debilitating meltdowns I get when I’m working. I would be so much happier at home. But I realize I’m not in a situation where I can choose how I want to live. I just have to do what needs to be done and I hope I can handle it and stick it out as long as possible.

Oh, I almost forgot: One really great thing about this move is that I don’t have asthma here. I am completely inhaler- and wheeze-free all of a sudden. The same thing happened in 2006 when I moved back to my home province from elsewhere. I’m certain I am allergic to something that doesn’t exist here. My asthma was pretty scary sometimes, and inhalers are expensive, so it’s a huge relief to be free of all that!



My Unreliable Body, Part One

Photo by Snugg LePup via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons. Photo has been altered (colour).
Photo by Snugg LePup via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons. Photo has been altered (colour).

I was born premature with jaundice and breathing issues. I spent my first days in an incubator. If I’d been born in another time or place I wouldn’t have survived, which might have been for the best, because my body seems unequipped for this harsh world.

During my first few months of life, I did not thrive. I lost weight instead of gaining it. My mom says after she brought me home, she felt her mothering skills were being judged by a health nurse who regularly visited to check on me because I wasn’t growing the way I was supposed to. She was told that her milk was inadequate and that she should try bottle-feeding me, but that didn’t work because I refused to drink out of a bottle. Then she was told to start feeding me solid food earlier than normal. Only then did I start gaining.

As I grew, I suppose I looked like a relatively normal kid, at least at first, and I ran around a lot outdoors on our own property with my dog and cats, but my body still couldn’t perform like other kids’ bodies could, which I learned once I started school. I remember at my first school Sports Day at age 6, I came in last in all the races. My mom was a volunteer helper and I asked her why I couldn’t run as fast as the other kids. She said she didn’t know.

Throughout my childhood, as well as the usual childhood illnesses (measles, mumps, chicken pox, pink eye, etc.), I had long bouts of bronchitis that didn’t respond to treatment. At age 6, my teeth were already so rotted I needed extensive dental surgery that I ended up being hospitalized for.

I was mostly pretty skinny, especially during my long illnesses, until I inexplicably ballooned at age 7. My mom insists I didn’t eat too much and there was no change in my diet or activity at that age, so she was baffled as to why it was happening and didn’t know how to stop it. She did get me to be even more active by buying me a bicycle and making me go on long bike rides, buying me a trampoline (which I loved), and enrolling me in gymnastics (which I hated), none of which made a difference. Again, my mom felt people were judging her, this time because I was gaining weight, when before it had been because I wasn’t.

Meanwhile, I was oblivious to what I looked like until boys at school started teasing me for being fat. I was finding school overstimulating enough without all that added to it.

Even before I’d started gaining weight, P.E. class was an absolute nightmare for me and in later grades consistently brought down my GPA. I was always picked last for teams, and for good reason. Not only was I physically slow, but my sensory issues (which I was unable to explain because at that time I didn’t realize that not everyone experiences the world the way I do) made participating in team sports difficult, as I could not quickly process what was going on to make instant decisions about courses of action. If a ball came towards me, I froze, unsure what to do. Then my teammates would yell at me that I sucked and I was a loser, which only increased the sensory overload I was feeling and added performance anxiety into the mix. Afterwards, I would think about it and know what I should have done, but in the moment, everything was a blur, there wasn’t time to process or think, and without having time I was useless.

Also, during our annual fitness tests, there were some things I was simply unable to do. One in particular was the flexed arm hang. As soon as they pulled the chair out from under me, despite my best efforts, I went down. I could not stay up for even one second. (I had no idea why at the time, but I will shed some light on it in my next post.) I was accused of not trying, and I often got “needs improvement” for effort on my report cards, one of many examples of how I was misunderstood. I truly was trying my best, but my body wouldn’t cooperate. Some of my P.E. teachers were quite horrible to me as a result.

I entered puberty early, at age 10. I immediately started having problems with my cycles and grew thick, dark facial hair. Again, I was utterly oblivious to this change until my mom told me and taught me how to shave daily. She took me to doctors about these issues, but they were of no help.

In my teens, I started having nausea in the mornings, which has continued to this day. I call it my morning sickness, but I have never been pregnant.

In my adulthood I have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome and hypothyroidism, both of which cause weight gain and fatigue, and both of which I’ve had symptoms of since childhood. I also have asthma, gastrointestinal issues, unexplained bouts of hives, eczema, psoriasis, severe pain with my menstrual periods (and sometimes similar pain at other times of the month), vomiting about twice a week, episodes of hypoglycemia, bouts of kidney stones (which is the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life), and crippling daily fatigue.

Despite my efforts to eat a healthy diet (green smoothie, anyone?) — which I need to do anyway because of my PCOS and my tendency to gain weight — as well as having taken a much-needed course in stress management, I also have an inexplicably weak immune system. Especially when I’m in the workforce, I get every virus that goes around. At those times, a month doesn’t go by without me having a bad cold or worse. Since I can’t call in sick for a week or more every month, as long as I’m able to drag myself out of bed, I work anyway, so I can save my sick days for the days when I can’t drag myself out of bed. But then I get criticized for showing up sick and potentially passing the virus on to others. I don’t know what else I can do; I agree that it’s best to stay home when you have a virus, and it’s not like I enjoy working while sick, but I’m sick so much of the time that having a job at all means working while sick. That’s just the way it is.

I don’t get viruses as often when I don’t have a job, which is probably due to a combination of less exposure and being less run down from stress and lack of sleep. I tend not to sleep well when I have a job (I lie awake thinking about things that happened at work, and when I do sleep I have nightmares about work), which frustratingly is when I need adequate sleep the most.

Because of my illnesses, fatigue, spacing out, social issues, sensory issues, stress levels, and meltdowns, when I can get away with not having a job (meaning when my husband is earning enough for us to get by), I happily stay home. I like being at home, and my husband likes it when I’m at home, but unfortunately, I take a lot of flack from others who don’t understand or approve, and it’s hard to explain myself without just sounding like a lazy hypochondriac. The worst part is when people think I must feel entitled. That is not the case at all. I don’t think I somehow deserve to be looked after. That’s why in the past I did keep trying time and again. But in one way or another I crashed and burned every time.

To be continued in my next post.

P.S. Please, I respectfully request that no one offer me any unsolicited advice about what I should or shouldn’t be doing, what I should or shouldn’t be eating, what medications I should or shouldn’t be taking, or what home remedies I should or shouldn’t be trying. I’ve heard it all, read it all, tried it all (all that isn’t completely idiotic and that I have been physically and financially capable of trying, at least).