Posts Tagged ‘Health’

For the last few days I’ve been getting a lot of double takes, some deep eye staring, and, frankly, a bizarre amount of attention.

The conceited part of me was like “yeah! all the weight loss is paying off! I must look gggggggggoooooood!”

I strut a bit when I think this.

But oh vanity, thy name is Erin!

Today I realized it wasn’t so much the thinner me people were staring at (though I still secretly hope that was part of it). People were actually staring at the crazy sick person who sounds like she’s been smoking a pack a day for the last 15 years.

For example, I came downstairs early the other morning to open the door for some handymen. They all looked shocked at my appearance at the door, but at least no one cringed. When I managed to whisper loudly that I was a bit under the weather, all of their faces changed to expressions of relief and pity. The foreman even managed a sad smile and said “That’s ok, honey. why don’t you go back to bed?”

I would have been angry at the patronizing tone of a stranger if I hadn’t actually been desperate to follow his direction and return to bed.


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Dear Erin,

You are white. You are the epitome of whiteness. When people in this country think of their ancestors in the “old” countries, like Ireland, France, Germany, you are the lily white person that springs to mind. Evolution has not caught up with you.

Please remember that when you decide to spend 6 hours laying out in the baking 115 degree sun.

Yes, I know you were in the shade for 5 and a half of those hours. And yes, I know you stayed hydrated. Yet in that half an hour you spent in the sun you managed to get burned on every surface that showed above the water, including your scalp…through you hair. And all this was despite your 30 SPF sport/waterproof sunscreen.

You really should know better.

Also, spending that much time in the “shade” doesn’t actually equate to making you cooler. It was maybe 15 degrees cooler in the shade, still making it about 100 degrees. So for those 5 and a half hours in shade, you essentially cooked. Good job.

This type of behavior literally makes you sick. You learned this again yesterday when you had to skip an evening of raucous entertainment. When will the lesson become permanent in your brain?

OK, so let’s come up with a game plan for the next couple warm weather excursions: you MAY go sit in the shade for a couple hours maximum, you MAY NOT go into the sun while it is at its zenith, ever! It would be best, in fact, if you stayed inside until the sun was far into its descent. Please stop confusing yourself with someone who tolerates extreme heat and has the skin pigment to endure sun exposure without resembling a tomato. This is not you!

You’ve disappointed me, hopefully, for the last time. I hope you won’t force me to so painfully remind you that you are not meant for the sun; this hurts me more than it hurts you.

with concern,

your skin

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Finally feeling better, but still worn out. Hand Foot Mouth disease basically sucks. And as much as I love my son, I now view him as a tiny disease incubator.

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One is now fully dialated, while the other remains normal. I’m so disoriented that this will be my only post for the day. My tales and trials will have to wait for another day.

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It’s been a crazy couple days, all beginning with an allergy attack, then a huge fight with my husband, house hunting, a book fair and an eye infection, though not in that precise order. I promise to write all about it and make up for several days absence. But I need to wait until after my doctor’s appointment today because reading for any prolonged period of time is quite painful (and my worst nightmare, you can imagine). So I’ll catch you all up later, hopefully without an eye patch.

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Roughly 10% of the US adult population suffers from some various form of depression. It may be anxiety based or mood based. It may be moderate and affected only certain times of year by seasonal changes or it may be severe and require constant attention, drug and talk therapy. It may be undiagnosed until late in life or present and obvious since adolescence. In short, millions of Americans suffer from this disease (since it is not “the blues” or something that can be wished away), but so little is offered to help this portion of the population.

There are a variety of reasons for this that would take too long to delve into in one short blog post; there are entire books on the subject. Instead I wanted to focus on the multitude of self help books out there right now that are focusing on “happiness.” These books instruct the reader on a variety of ways to feel happier in their day to day life. Each book has its own special strategy: force yourself to smile more and you’ll feel happier! say to yourself everyday “I am a happy person” and you will be! try small amounts of kindness/pampering/exercise/insert innocuous activity here every day and you’ll feel happier! And then in small print somewhere on the back insert or credits page “not intended for actual depression.”

Not intended for actual depression? What is then? Who are they marketing these books to? Are there millions upon millions of readers out there who are suffering a daily unhappiness that nags at them so deeply they feel compelled to buy a book about it? And are these people without the tell tale signs of depression? If the authors have such great ideas on helping reasonably happy people feel happier, couldn’t they put a little effort towards helping clinically unhappy people feel moderately happy? Why is depression excluded from these books? Would it be so hard to add one chapter about those who suffer from this disease and things they might do to help themselves?

I think part of the author’s fear is that someone with undiagnosed depression, or even diagnosed and desperate for help, will read this book and not achieve the success it guarantees. This failure to achieve happiness may be just another nail in the coffin of their depression.

So where can people turn if they are depressed or suffering from depression? There aren’t really a lot of places to turn. There is drug therapy, which is helpful for some sufferers and not others. There is talk therapy or counseling, which is proven to be the most helpful for all patients, but is expensive. And after that what is there left for people to turn to?

You may ask, dear reader, why those suffering from depression who are receiving treatment would need something else? Shouldn’t the pills they take everyday turn them into normal, happy people? One would like to think so, dear reader, but that is not the case. There is no 100% cure for depression, no guarantee that therapy or drugs will work forever in every situation. The loss of a job for a normal person might be hard to deal with, but a person suffering from depression might find the situation heartbreaking and impossible to navigate. So if they had been taking drugs or attending therapy, they should be better equipped to deal with it. Still it could send them into a deep depression even with the drugs and therapy. So what do they do now? What tools are there left for these people to employ?

Now that is only one example of a situation in which a depressed person might need assistance. But the truth of the matter is that some depressed people need help on a day to day basis. Drugs and therapy alone may not be enough for them to conquer their daily battles with the disease. They need something more to help them lead a happy and healthy life. But what is there?

In my experience, I have found only one group that offers help beyond these two types of therapy. It’s called Recovery, Inc. It was founded by Dr. Lowe over 50 years ago, when even less was known about mental illness, such as depression, than today. This group runs today in several countries, and in this country nationwide. They offer meetings for those seeking help in the form of moral support from other people just like them. Or they have several books on the subject of how to combat the daily effects of living with a mental illness. These techniques are meant to be used in conjunction with traditional therapy. I have read a few of the books myself and found several techniques helpful. While the language is a bit antiquated and the examples can be sometimes hard to follow, I have found that I could identify a few techniques that would help in my own struggle with the disease.

This may not be for everyone, but I thought that if there was just one person out there like me, looking for a way to deal with the day to day of living with metal illness, then I thought, it was worth writing about. You, dear reader, may not need help or you may find your deal with your unhappiness successfully. But, dear one, you may know someone who needs help. You may know someone who wants to pick up those self help books that aren’t intended for actual depression. You may know someone looking for that little something extra to make their life better. Maybe you could help them towards Recovery.

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Or so you might think given the number of times I’ve been to see a doctor or have a procedure in recent weeks. The number of times is going up rapidly and is now a weekly thing, sometimes twice a week! I’ll be going to see the doctor again on monday and depending on what he thinks, I’ll be going back for a follow-up within days, for a procedure within weeks, and possibly for surgery within a month.

I was talking to my sister about doctors the other day. We both enjoy the show “House” and were discussing how nice it would be to have a doctor as brilliant as the main character it is. It’s hard, Ellen was saying, because you forget that doctors are only human. They don’t have all the answers, they can’t automatically tell what’s wrong with a person, sometimes they don’t even know what tests to have done.

I too fail to realize this sometimes. I want the doctor to tell me the problem and have the solution, like I’m a math problem waiting to be solved; just insert the numbers for x and y and an answer will pop out after a certain amount of work. Instead, I’m a theoretical problem. I’m a problem where x and y are unknown and continue to remain unknown, since the doctors aren’t even sure how to solve for x. When they do it appears that x=y, both being unknown, thus leading us back to the beginning. So the only way to fix me is through good old fashioned trial and error.

But that’s another problem: I think of myself, my health as something to be fixed. I desperately want someone to pop up the hood and point to some corroded wiring and say, oh! there’s the problem! And I’d be better just as soon as they got those replacement wires in from Omaha, where they’ve been back ordered. There would be an identifiable problem, a cause, and a solution. But at the end of the day, my body is still a mystery.

It’s with this in mind that I have to remind myself that the human body, in general, is still a mystery. There are areas of the body that medicine still knows nothing about, or relatively little about. I found a disorder online the other day called chronic pelvic pain that had no discernible cause and absolutely no cure. I am so glad that I don’t have that! But it seems that this area of the body, anything below the heart isn’t as well known. I wonder if that is because it isn’t as profitable to figure out disorders in this area or maybe it’s because people can live with stomach infections and pain, but not without a heart.

I did finally get the doctor’s attention though. My body has created 3 cysts in one ovary. My ovary and fertility are now in serious jeopardy. My doctor had concern in his eyes and urgency in his voice. And that, for the first time in a long time, scared me.

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