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.

Greek-ish Chorus

I mentioned a couple of days ago on Facebook that my life needs a Greek Chorus. I think I was off the mark a little bit. I think that what I really need is to get my Greek Chorus into line. At the moment, they are more like what we see in the musicals Evita and Mamma Mia. Rather than a chorus talking in unison, I have a disparate group of voices chatting higgledy-piggledy. They follow me through my days, adding color and commentary to my life. When I'm feeling down they are there to echo my emotions, a sort of musical call and response. When I'm happy, we're dancing around the room, bowing to each other and lifting our glasses. If I can't sleep, a heap of them are sitting atop bed, discussing formulas for spreadsheets.

If I'm dizzy from my meds I have a very laid back guy saying, "Dude". Sometimes I'll be doing something – something productive, let's say – and I start to get dizzy. If I'm at home I generally take a nap, but if I'm out and about there's not nap to be had. I sit still a moment and think, what was it I was doing? Then we're all in the car together, happily singing along, ABBA blaring from the speakers, driving to Jerry's Artarama to get art supplies. Or, I'll be enjoying a nice cup of coffee and think about a beautiful tree outside the window. I'll consider that it is older than the building I'm sitting in, and suddenly there's all this chatter about what the neighborhood was like 50 years ago when it was all trees and fields, and how did they select this one tree to stay and lean on the railing of the porch, when they razed all of the others to make the shopping center. Sitting next to me, head-to-head, is a handsome Hispanic man and we're looking at each other knowingly, singing about the tree and how good the drawing is going to turn out. Then I take out the art supplies that I keep with me and begin drawing. Others chime in about the depth, and the need for shade in this one area and how this area is flat and they sing (in chorus) when I begin to make it better. And then the railing coming toward the viewer and taking a sharp turn, running parallel with the window I'm looking out of. Just kind of sketched in there, not detailed like the ♪ BEAUTIFUL TREE that is just outside my window! ♫♪♪ And the beautiful drawing that I'm adding to my journal, and I'm going to be able to retire from work and write and draw and a ♫ NEW EARNIE – A Rather Earnest Painter ♪ ♫ ♪ is coming into his own in a coffee shop in this wicked little town of Austin, TX.

Not quite the award-winning piece of art that my Greek-ish Chorus would have me believe, but they lost interest after about 20 minutes.

Other times they mock me. Why am I still working at this job where everybody is so mean? (In reality, the people I work with are delightful.) Why am I still sitting in front of a company computer marking time until I die? What happened to those wild dreams, when we were soaring and laughing and the Rather Earnest Painter was going to have it all? So, what happens now? Don't ask... any more. You made your bed, now lie in it. You have three novels started, you have writing skills that you've put into a drawer. At work I sit at my desk while, dancing around me, men and women sing about what I've done with my life, and more to the point what I haven't. Where is the success that would let me own a home in two towns, a place to get away and a place to come home to? Or, did I forget to try?

All in all I have to say that I like this group of singers, this Greek-ish Chorus, better than the one I used to have... or the way they used to dress? Does one lose the voices in one's head, only to be replaced by new voices? Or, do the voices age as we do? Anyway, I used to have voices taunting me about futility and ending my life. That group wasn't quite as much fun to be around. Even then I used to dream at night about being in a musical – a happy, upbeat musical that was my life and life was good. In the darkest times my chorus was there, somewhere, just out of sight, encouraging me, singing to me. I'd lose track of them and then they'd come to me in my dreams. Now, having moved beyond that other shady crew, I have with me a lovely, if somewhat bewildering, Greek-ish Chorus.

And, we're gonna make it after all...