Why Does my Brain Hurt?

Last week I posted a note for a group that I hang out with (WANATribes). I had had kind of a bad week with family and with myself and I wrote that something just didn't feel right. Like, I don't normally go to work with mismatched shoes on. I threw away my prescription for Stupid Pills, so I wasn't sure what to make of this new, incompetent-yet-rather-amusing Earnie Painter. I did the most logical thing I could do, and that was to visit my doctor. Because, don't you visit the doctor when you're stupid?

My suspicion was confirmed that I was anemic, though not terribly so. The issue is, the iron level has gradually been going down. I had been trying to counter the effects with coffee, but it didn't really help. I was more alert, but I was an alert idiot. Slightly more aware of the mistakes I had made in retrospect and abundantly more reactive to them.

So, armed with this knowledge I doubled down on my efforts to eat leafy vegetables and I began taking iron pills. (Along with vitamin C because my niece is a nutritionist and told me that it would help me absorb the iron.) It's not that I don't eat beef, because I do. It's not that my beef is fast food, because it's not. Hamburgers upset my tummy so I don't eat them, but I'm down with some steak. And, adding greens to my diet actually meant increasing the greens, because I already eat them. I just added spinach to my salad mix. I am to be retested soon.

I think I'm feeling better already. Monday was a little rough because I was dealing with things that I had done last week. Plus, I still get dizzy when I eat first thing in the morning, so some of my reactions were a little out of proportion to what I had actually done. Among the things I did was to write in the time for an online workshop that I took on Monday, and I neglect to note the time zone indicated, which means that I showed up an hour late. At first I thought that the person leading the class was just chatting before it got started, but then I was thinking, "Wow, she's really serious about this chat." I looked around and saw my mistake and lost it just a little bit. I was tired, but mostly I was tired of dealing with things that somebody else was doing to me — that somebody else being myself. At my job I have clients from Atlanta to Anchorage, so time zones are a big part of my life. There was really no excuse for that, except that I was under the influence of stupid when I put it on my calendar. There's been a bit of clean-up lately.

But, I do have more energy and I have gone several days without wearing mismatched shoes. I feel a bit of tightness at the top of my head, like on the scalp, and my head hurts a little bit. There is a ringing in my ear, which might mean that I'm still anemic, from what I've read. We'll see. But, I was wondering why my head was hurting, and why the tingling.

There is still the question of whether or not I'm still anemic. And, either way, one has to ask why I was in the first place. But, for the moment I'm glad to be able to trust myself a little bit more.

Dizzy to a New Level

There were sounds around me – things being moved around. Music. Normal sounds for a house that has people in it. I had been thinking about something; what was it? I couldn't remember. It was like waking from a dream and trying to remember what you were dreaming about, but not quite able to do so. My head was on my arm on the desk and I listened to the music (my music) and the sounds filling the air around me, trying to piece things together. I stayed there for a few seconds, wondering. Trying to remember what brought me to this moment. I lifted my head up, a little groggy, and I was in front of my computer and the screen was unlocked with windows open. The air was warm and the music was coming from the computer; sounds were coming from my partner cleaning in the next room. I sat up. "What the hell just happened?" left my mouth and Barry stopped cleaning momentarily to look at me like I had lost my mind. "What's wrong with you?"

Nothing was wrong, per se, but I was curious as to why I had had my head on the desk and why I was in front of the computer in the first place. I hadn't actually been asleep; I knew that. My thoughts had blended with the ambient noise, like it happens when you're falling asleep. But, I had NOT been asleep. If I had been, then there would be no need for an explanation.

I looked at the computer and I saw that I had been working on my blog. That seemed familiar. It was coming back to me now. I had several tabs open, as usual, and one of them – as usual – was Facebook. I had been on Facebook. I had been laughing. My sister, my brother and I had been chatting and he had asked me an embarrassing question. I tried to change the subject, then ignore him and get back to work on my blog, but he kept asking. Then he posted a picture. I was laughing and laughing. Laughing so hard I couldn't write. I started to get thick-headed and I had laid my head down on my arm on the desk. That's what it was. That's how I had come to be in that position.

Fainting Goat

I've been on Atripla for many years now and I've written before of the effect they warn about on the bottle: "May make you dizzy". The same effect that tends to make me drunk the first time I eat on any given day. I've gotten light-headed before when laughing or straining (as in to pick up a heavy bag of soil.) But, I had never blacked out before. Even this time I didn't fall on the floor or anything – I had kept my balance and stayed in the chair, but when I came to (and that is a very accurate statement of how it felt) I had no idea what was going on, or how I got to be sitting there in that position. It even took me a few seconds to realize where I was. I noticed that all of my skin was covered in a layer of perspiration. Afterwards, and for the rest of the afternoon, the top of my head was a little tight. It didn't hurt exactly, but it felt like the skin on the tippy top of my head was, I don't know, being pulled. Like it was shrinking and pulling the rest of the skin on my head up a little bit. It felt a little tingly. I decided to have a lie-down, after letting my sister and brother know why I had stopped chatting. I was a little tired for the rest of the evening.

I'm not going to lie; it's a little disturbing. My sister told me that she hopes I never get the giggles while driving. I've gotten used to the intoxicated feeling that comes along after breakfast and I more or less plan my life around it. Sometimes there's nothing to do but lay down and sleep, though that's not an option at work. (Interestingly, at work I never feel like I need to lie down. I think that keeping myself busy helps. Not having a bed at hand helps.)

All in all, though, I can't complain. I mean, I'm alive. That's good, and it's thanks to Atripla. And, laughing is good. Maybe blacking out momentarily can be a little inconvenient, but it's not the end of the world. It's actually a little funny, if taken in the right context with the right company. My friends and family don't seem to mind. I think that in a perverse way I like it. I mean, not everybody can say that they laughed so hard they passed out. That's a good time, right there.

Today I Am Sad

June 24, 2012

Today I am sad.

This is just a statement. It's not a complaint; it's not a cry for help. I am not fishing for attention – no more than usual, anyway. It really doesn't have much to do with circumstances, either. I mean, I can't say that if I had more money then I wouldn't be sad. If I fixed problem x then things would by fine. Things are fine and I am sad.

This is how it goes:

I got up yesterday and took my medicines. I drank coffee and then had a bit of breakfast. Then I putzed around the apartment a little bit, read on the patio while the cats played outside. Then I laid down for a "nap". Four hours later I woke up, and it felt like most of my Saturday was gone. So, this morning I woke up, took my medicines and went to a corporate coffee shop for morning coffee instead. That's when I noticed that I was sad.

As I've mentioned before, the meds I take have a certain side effect that kicks in when I eat or drink something other than water. (I have to take them on an empty stomach.) I made myself be out of the apartment when it hit, and that kept me from taking a nap for the rest of the day. But, it still felt strange. I don't quite know how to explain it. I saw a person drinking his coffee and I felt like I could feel how sad he was and that his whole life was futile. I felt very sorry for him. Then I felt very sorry for me because I live alone and don't have anybody to come home to in the evenings and don't have any prospects for finding somebody to come home to in the evenings. I tried to read a book called Room, which my little brother recommended as a feel-good book. Perhaps it is, but any book that actually has a plot inherently has a problem to work through, and the problem in this book made me feel very sad; it underscored how sad I felt, anyway. So, I put it down. I thought about rereading some of the letters from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but I could tell that wouldn't be a good idea.

So, I just decided to be sad.

I got restless so I picked up my things and left the coffee shop (where I'm currently writing, by the way) and started driving. I felt hungry, so I decided to eat something, because if I don't eat something then I become Very Angry Indeed, and that takes hours to get over sometimes, so it's best just to eat something. I had a couple of tacos at a place that's supposed to have very good barbecue and breakfast tacos, but I always think that their food is just so-so, but they were there and they have fountain drinks and it was sustenance.

I went by the Goodwill that I like, but they're remodeling. So, I went over to the one on Lamar and Koenig, next to a Half Price Books store. It turns out they don't open until 11 AM, so I went into HPB and spent some time. I picked up a copy of Guernsey Literary etc. and read some of the letters. They made me feel good, but they also made me cry. It's beautiful how the characters get to know each other, and that made me cry, and it also made me cry that I don't have anybody to write a letter to. I felt very lonely. So, I put the book down and looked around at the people milling about. Some people had healthy legs, some people had skinny legs and one person had legs that made me think he constantly struggled with his weight and always would. One scruffy-looking guy was looking around and I fell in love with him. For no particular reason. I just needed to fall in love with somebody and he looks like somebody who's been to the school of hard knocks and knows how to work. He actually looked a little out of place, but one doesn't judge in a bookstore. Another guy was there who looked like the stereotype of a guy you'd expect to see in a used bookstore. Goofy clothes and haircut, thick-rimmed round glasses, walking around with his nose slightly in the air like all of this was actually beneath him but he had to be here so he may as well look and see what the cretins had on their shelves.

When it seemed that Goodwill would be open I went over there. I wasn't looking for anything in particular. I had my eyes open for interesting jars for a project that my friend Tami has on her blog, but I'm always interested to see what treasures people give to Goodwill. In the past I have found hand-made pottery by artists that Nameless recognized and there are frequently good books. I didn't find any good jars, but I did see at least three of the people from HPB. The guy with the round glasses was there with a child. Another rather young guy was there and seemed to be flirting with me. Or, should I say fishing? He looked like he was interested in something, but probably not in getting to know each other, eventually buying a house and making a life together. The impression I got was that he was interested in a more ephemeral pleasure. (I've noticed that since I turned 40 guys in their early 20's are suddenly much more interested in talking to me than guys in their early 20's were when I was in my early 20's.)  Also, the guy I fell in love with was there; he was working – volunteering I think. Probably working off community service. If I had to guess I'd say it was a drug-related offense. (I set my standards high.)

After perusing the glass section 5 times and deciding that I wasn't going to find any interesting jars or Waterford crystal I got back in my car. I was heading home but it felt good to drive. Jack Johnson was playing on the radio and music is very soothing. I drove down Burnet to a junk store that I know about. The windows have the words "Antiques" and "Collectibles" in them. Mostly it's junk. Shelves and shelves of dusty junk higher than my head and a labyrinthine layout that has about 2 feet between the shelves in some places. It's fabulous. I stayed there for about 30 minutes. I didn't find any jars to buy, but I had a very pleasant time.

Driving home I left the windows of the car down and drove slowly. I have 3 weeks worth of laundry to fold (literally) and I have pictures to hang and carpet to vacuum. It's a beautiful day, even if it's a little hot. When I got home I let my cats run around outside a little and I talked with a friend on the phone while I watered the plants on my patio. I got some of the clothes folded and answered a few emails. I was less sad than I was when I was first drinking my coffee this morning and felt like everything in my life was futile and I would never be happy.

Now I'm sitting here back at the coffee shop writing about what it feels like when the medicines that save your life affect your mind. It's a dilemma. Clearly I'm going to continue taking the medicine that keeps me from dying, but I have to learn to live with these side effects. Any choice of medicines will have side effects and frankly, these are preferable to perpetual nausea and diarrhea. But, sometimes they make me sad.

I'll write more later.


Follow-up to Dizzy

I thought about my last post today, and about my weekend in general. One thing I forgot to mention, that I had completely forgotten about, is how tired it makes me when I miss a dose and then get back on the next day. If it happens to be a weekend I usually end up taking a (long) nap, whether I want to or not. Sometimes I almost don't make it to the bed or sofa in time, the sleepiness hits me so hard and so suddenly. But, nap or no (I didn't get one last Saturday) I end up feeling drained. The entire weekend was kind of a fog for me  I said that more than once on Sunday. Maybe if I had taken a nap on Saturday it would have been better. But, even today I'm a little lethargic.

I don't like it. I need to not miss a dose again.