My “Hears”

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This past summer, I suffered from what felt like a clogged left ear. It was hard to hear out of it. My primary care physician found nothing wrong, but sent me to get a hearing test.

At the audiologist’s, they ran me through a series of tests, most of which were made up of different tones piped into the headphones I was wearing. They determined that I have some mild hearing loss (25%?), though they didn’t say if this explained my ear’s “clogginess,” which eventually went away.

The loss is due to a combination of things like genetics, age, a history of going to loud concerts, playing drums in bands. I’ve had trouble with my ears since I was a child, getting numerous ear infections and stuff. They said I could get hearing aids if I wanted to but that it wasn’t necessary.

I was tired of asking people to repeat themselves and of not being able to hear what someone said the first time around. This grew worse over the summer. It got pretty bad, in my opinion.

So I opted for the hearing aids, and my quality of life has improved dramatically. My husband and I recently had brunch with his sister and her husband in a fairly loud restaurant. The entire time we were there, I didn’t have to ask anyone to repeat anything, which was great! I heard everything that was said at our table.

The devices are pretty tiny, which you can kind of see from the picture. They’re also very light — I don’t notice they’re there. I had a difficult time inserting them into my ear canals at first, but now I’ve got the hang of it. They’re rechargeable, and can be synced to my phone through an app, so I can talk on the phone hands-free, listen to music with my hearing aids serving as ear buds, and who knows what else.

I call them my “hears” — because they go in my ears and they help me hear. I absolutely love them!

Still doing pretty well, mentally.

A New Reason to Leave the House By Myself

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So I haven’t been leaving the house by myself, not even to walk Rudy because . . . snow. He has to wear boots because some sidewalk salts are toxic and can dry out paw pads, and because he likes to walk in . . . snow. He’s good about wearing boots, but not so good about putting them on. Or maybe I’m the one who can’t put them on properly because one or more of them always comes off when I walk him!

Another reason I haven’t done much walking is because my right hip started bothering me last October, and grew worse. For a while it was excruciating to walk, even in my own home. I saw my primary care physician about it, and we tried different anti-inflammatories, none of which helped. I had an x-ray done and the hip looks normal except for a touch of tendinitis, but luckily, no arthritis. Unfortunately, a cortisone shot didn’t help ease the pain. Next stop: physical therapy. Again.

Photo credit: NCSSMphotos on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Walking with difficulty certainly hasn’t helped my mood, especially since the doctor told me to avoid it when possible. All I’ve done since December is plod from the living room to the kitchen in excruciating pain.

Our condo has a hallway that runs the length of the place from the front door to the back door, and the rooms are off of the hall. Of course the living room, which is where I spend most of my time, is all the way in front, while the kitchen is all the way in back.

It doesn’t hurt when I sit, but as soon as I stand, there’s this burst of fiery pain in my hip, which gets a little better when I start to walk. But the longer I walk, the more it hurts.

The good news is that I once again have a reason to leave the house alone: to restart physical therapy. At least it’s not for my elbow again, which is good? I’ve had 2 sessions so far, and my physical therapist told me not to walk the 3 blocks to their office, so my husband drove me. Yesterday, the therapist and I decided that I’ll walk there on Friday, and see how it goes. My husband can pick me up, if need be.

While my depression isn’t as bad as it was a few weeks ago, my mood has been waning for 2 or 3 weeks now. I haven’t showered in a week. However, at this point I don’t think it’s bad enough that I need ECT. I believe though, that there’s a connection between my mental health and my physical health. Not being able to do something that many of us take for granted has been a blow to my spirits.

The other thing is that nothing happened to cause this pain. Until I started physical therapy for my elbow last fall, I led a pretty sedentary life. Then suddenly, I was briskly walking 3 blocks each way to the physical therapy office. Both my doctor and my current physical therapist believe that could have been the cause — going from one extreme to the other.

What?! I walked less than 2 miles there and back twice a week! That’s hardly a long distance! This could only mean one thing: I’m aging. I’ll be 50 next year, and that’s something I have to face, which I haven’t fully done. I told my physical therapist that my ultimate goal is to walk 20 minutes daily on the treadmill (really, it’s to go back to martial arts!), which she said is a good one. Well, now I have a reason to leave my house alone again, which will hopefully improve my mood.

Have you ever needed physical therapy? Have you found that not being able to do much, physically, lowers your moods?

via Daily Prompt: Restart


Showering Sugar Addict

Photo from Esperanza Magazine’s Facebook Page

Okay, I haven’t done very well in terms of my sugar addiction. I still eat candy every day, but at least I’ve cut down on the amount. I don’t think I’m going to be able to do this cold turkey, and have no idea how I did it last time. BUT, I’m not going to lecture myself about how I’m not trying hard enough. I’m not going to beat myself up, either.

On the other hand, I have good news: I showered yesterday and today for the first time in 2-1/2 weeks, and I’m so happy! My husband didn’t have to wash my hair, either, like he did during the “no shower” interims. I didn’t even have to push myself.

Getting up by 6:45 AM instead of 8:00 AM like I did before my recent hypomanic episode, helps. During the depressive episode, I didn’t have the energy or will to shower. The lethargy was like a heavy blanket covering me. I always felt behind on my morning routine, so in my head, it was too late in the day to shower. Besides, I had other things to do, like read blogs and write a post! Depressed or not, I’m determined to write daily.

Also, for the past few nights in a row, I’ve slept through the night. My sleep hygiene still needs improvement, but I hope this continues, despite using the light box for 1 hour and 15 minutes daily. I took my psychiatrist’s advice and increased the amount of time I use it by 15 minutes each week. Though I’ve used light therapy for years, I was never really sure if it worked for me, but now I know it does. Between my “happy light” and the increased dose of Prozac, things are turning around.

We’ve had a ton of snow in Chicago the past several days, and although it’s been mostly gray, it’s lighter out for a longer period of time. I think this is helping, too.

I’m still going to make my decision after this weekend as to whether or not I’ll undergo ECT, but signs point to no!

Has it been light out for a little longer where you live? Have you noticed any changes in your mood?

via Daily Prompt: Lecture

Sugar Addict

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I am one. I have a huge sweet tooth. But it goes beyond that. Awhile ago, I wrote a post about weird cravings that I get, usually for one specific, sweet, thing. Last summer, it was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream from Baskin Robbins.

I had a scoop every day for the entire summer and put on about 5 lbs,, which I usually lose once the craving ends. Except I didn’t lose them. Then came the holidays and I gained about another 5 lbs. In my mind, I gained 100 lbs. altogether.

After almost every meal, I need something sweet to cleanse my palate. At least that’s what my brain tells me. Sometimes I eat sweets even when I don’t want to, like if I’m bored. And if I have the entire package in front of me, I usually finish it off.

Most of my weight gain comes from eating sugar. My regular meals are mostly unprocessed, and I’m a vegetarian. By cutting out soda, sweets, and meat, I lost 50 lbs. that I needed to lose in real life, not just in my head. That was about a year ago. Oh, and from using the treadmill. (See above-linked post for a Before and After picture.) So if I was able to cut sweets from my diet then, I should be able to do it now, right?

Apparently, it’s not that easy. I’ve read articles recently, that say sugar is a hard habit to kick, almost as hard as kicking heroin. I wouldn’t know about that, because heroin is one drug I stayed away from during my partying days.

The articles also say that, like cocaine, sugar stimulates the reward center in our brains. I often reward myself with something sweet if I feel stressed, miserable, or great. Candy and desserts are my prizes! I deserve them no matter how I feel! Can anyone sympathize with this?

Two years ago, I was 70 lbs. overweight according to some medical measurement that dictates how much you should weigh based on your height — at 5’1″, I’m supposed to weigh 110 lbs. I was between 140 – 150 lbs. when I put on the extra weight, which happened after my gall bladder was removed in an emergency situation.

My primary care physician later told me that the gall bladder is what processes the fat you consume. Wonderful. It would have been nice to know that like, right after the surgery, so I could have watched what I ate.

Walking around with those extra pounds made me feel really bad about myself. It lit the fire under my a$$ to lose weight. Now I’m back up to 140 lbs. Okay, 138 lbs., but still.

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Other articles I’ve read state that quitting sugar causes withdrawal symptoms such as depression and fatigue, and that the cravings last about a week afterward. Well, I’m already depressed and fatigued right now, so I figure it’s a good time to cut sweets from my diet. As soon as I finish this bag of incredibly yummy, handcrafted, Cabernet Dark Chocolate caramels!

Do you eat sweets to make yourself feel better?

Post inspired by Daily Prompt: Sympathize

I Married Him for Love & Insurance

33165940281_16d24ef49e_zSimply put, my husband and I got married so I could be on his insurance policy. We’d been dating for 3-1/2 years, since 1999, and loved each other and knew we wanted to marry one day — like when we could afford it. “One day” got pushed up to March 2003.

I was scheduled for surgery, but my student health insurance, which was good for a few months after I graduated, was going to expire the week before the operation. I also didn’t have a full-time job. There was no way we could afford the profuse cost of the procedure, so we went to City Hall and got married.

Because of the unexpected and hasty nature of our marriage, we didn’t have the big, fancy wedding that I’d always envisioned growing up (same with my first marriage). My dad and all but a handful of relatives, live halfway across the country. My husband’s family lives closer, but out-of-state. There wasn’t enough time for any of them to attend. Our guests included my mom, my sister who was my maid-of-honor, and her then-boyfriend/now-husband who was the best man. We wore jeans and went out for ribs after the ceremony. They were mighty fine ribs, too!

Wedding CakeFor a few years afterward, I mourned not having the type of wedding I’d dreamed of as a little girl. Then it hit me that a big wedding was just part of the life expectations we sometimes subscribe to, and which I no longer believed in. The only thing I regret is not having a cake! Oh, and maybe the $20,000 Chanel wedding dress I saw in a magazine as a teenager in the ’80s bwahahaha! For our 10th anniversary, my husband made me this cake. And I don’t have to worry about it spoiling. 🙂

The important thing was that I was able to have the surgery, thanks to my husband’s gift of health. To this day, I remain fortunate enough to have great healthcare because of him.

If you’re married, did you have a “deadline” when you wed? If you’re single but in a committed relationship, would you marry if a “deadline” loomed on the horizon?

via Daily Prompt: Profuse

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