Day 24, with Inspirations

CW: Coping or lack thereof, discussion of a death unrelated to COVID-19

It’s funny how many tiny inspirations a person can pull from their immediate surroundings when trying to cope with a mass trauma event. I’ve been through more than one, and normally I get my coping juice from being outside or with blooming thigs. This is the first time I’ve started trying to pull some ‘power’ from these intensely localized events and observations. But I figure talking about my little inspos might help others find their own. So here goes!

First inspiration is my wee hydroplants. I adore purple passion vines* and they root really well in water, so I have six different cuttings in water around my office, four of which come from the same plant. Well, yesterday I noticed that one of the plants has decided it wants to have purple roots. In my coupla decades of water-propagating purple passion vines, I have neeeever ever seen this. This one plant has three purpling roots, one long and two just starting the pass the coloring down the length of the already-flourishing root. I am so proud of this baby for pioneering a new way to be purple.

Second inspiration is our adaptability as humans. Today I “sat shiva” with a dear friend via Skype. It wasn’t an unexpected death, but my friend couldn’t go to the funeral without endangering the rest of his family. So he stayed home, and participated in the funeral via Skype, and oh I am so so proud of him for agreeing it was best and being willing to sacrifice his own bit of closure. Seeing my friend do all of this remotely, navigating his mourning, was a strong reminder of how quickly humans adapt to adversity and keep moving.

Third and finally, I made a mask for Jon yesterday. I’d been meaning to anyway, even before the “everyone wear masks outside” directives, but the fact that the sewing machine is both dusty and hard to access right now was a deterrent. However, I realized I had a few holey cotton yoga pants I could repurpose, and an idea struck me. I was able to make a no-sew mask – not the best quality but a better-than-bandanas mask nonetheless. I’m thinking of posting a video, because a lot of people don’t have the resources (or spoons) to sew.

I’m hoping that these kinds of things keep happening, because I’m anticipating at least another 4 months of this. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m preparing to be right.

Day 14, With Spring

It’s the time of year I love the most*. This morning I looked out my office window and the sun was shining juuust right on the magnolia tree and forsythia bush across the street, and I felt…

Well. Back in my early days I’d have felt overflowing, like a cup fuller than full, in the good way. I’m slowly getting back to that emotion, but now it’s simply a wee swell in the heart, an ease in the lungs, a sense of both return and newness.

It’s a BIG conflict when compared to the sorrow and devastation this global illness has wrought, and it changes how I respond to the feeling. My immediate inclination, almost a compulsion, is to go outside and bury my face in the flowers like I’m a nectar-hunter. I can’t, though, because I’m still within the “might be a carrier” zone. So I’m staying in. No biggie, right? But when you’re contemplating your mortality, these things loom larger. I’m glad we’ve got a lilac bush really close to the front door; it’s not due to bloom for another week but if the CDC/WHO determine people can be carriers for longer than 21 days, I’d be in agony. It would be a hell of a struggle for me to not huff a lilac when there was one within walking distance. While I was in Texas, I missed lilacs more than I ever expected.

In the meantime, I feel simultaneously lucky and helpless. We’re doing reasonably well in this crisis but others I know and love are not. My stepfather has a health crisis unrelated to the virus wracking the world right now, and I think of him hourly – alongside everything else. And I think of my mother, who can’t go visit him. Alongside everything else.

And there’s nothing I can do for anyone except stay home.

I understand why people break quarantine. I’m not sympathetic, but I understand. We’re not used to accepting helplessness. We’re always told we can do something, we can change it, we can fix it, if only we did x or y or z.

I think it’s time to revisit what helplessness means. Because gods know, as individuals we’re helpless to stop the spring from coming. So I’m practicing imagining the discomfort of helplessness as a bud, enclosed in the chill of the wind…

about to turn into a flower, if it can just. hold. on.

* …allergies notwithstanding.

Day 7 (Or 8, Depending)

CW health issues, pandemic

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It’s not yet 9 pm where I am and I’m in bed, exhausted either due to side effects of Bactrim or the stress of the past week. I have not been out of the apt except to walk Kizu since last Saturday midday, when I went to urgent care due to a nasty-looking lump on my left shoulder. It was obviously infected; that’s what the Bactrim is for. Interestingly enough, I wasn’t prescribed that by urgent care but by my PCP three days later via secure teleconference, when the redness had turned dark.

Good news – two days of Bactrim and it’s not even warm anymore. 👍🏼

I’m doing much better than a lot of folks. I was in NYC on Thursday the 12th but work closed all physical locations on Friday and warned us to take our personal stuff home, just in case. I’m working remotely and, due to the nature of my job, I am *swamped.* Everyone is trying hard and we’re helping each other generously, though. It’s nice.

Even if AOC mentioned us in an IG story and slashdotted the back end of our app. Oops.

The thing that bothers me most right now – that is if you subtract the horror show that is my government – is that I can’t help in any significant way. Particularly having been in NYC, working at a public institution. I can’t visit people, I can’t sew masks, I can’t deliver stuff for older folks. Not yet, anyway. It’s my upstairs neighbor’s 80th birthday tomorrow and I can’t make her anything. It’s a much different world than visiting neighbors with gifts of cornbread during 9/11.

I know isolating myself for another week or two is critical, and it’s the best thing I can do. And I don’t mind isolating with Jon -it’s kinda nice, actually. But it still doesn’t feel like helping, no matter how much I try to logic myself into believing it.

I’ll be fine. I’m just hoping talking about this a bit will ease the weird “you could do something” guilt.

1/26/2020

A bit worn out physically from attending two days of a conference when it hurts to stand too long or walk too far. Circulating the exhibit floor was a bad choice.

A lot worn out emotionally from a lot of loved ones going through a variety of health/life/work struggles and then being inconsiderate enough to engage in a political conversation when depleted. :headdesk: I should know better. I should also do better.

That said, I’m delighted with my job. The conference, as much of a struggle-bus as it was physically, really revved my mental engines and I’m excited about my projects. I got to connect with some of my co-workers and community members in a more personal way than I had before, and after my job history it really meant a lot to me to be able to do so.

And as much as it hurts for people I love to be struggling, so many across a lot of communities, I’ve been able to be present with most of them without too much trouble.

I’m promising myself to focus hard on the good in my own life so I can be there for those close to me. Job happiness, writing happiness, animal snuggles, and a wonderfully supportive spouse.

…. oh, hm – maybe I should write a protection spell for those, given the trend I’m seeing :x Anyone else want one?

1/12/2020

It’s too warm.

I’ll say it again: It’s too freaking warm. It’s SIXTY FOUR degrees here. It’s more than that in NYC.

In the meantime, where my family is it’s below freezing, and in Toronto it’s harsher.

My back surgery site aches like hell because the temp is changing so rapidly.

This climate change thing is not only horrific in the macro, it’s rough in the micro. Time for me to start supporting tree-planting services. *sigh*

1/1/2020

Like someone fucked up a numerical palindrome
Doesn’t want to check one two three like a
Real roadie would do
Unbalanced, the beginning of a song
Yet to be written –

And with every time I say it in my mind
I wish for its final definition to be something beautiful

Seriously, What the Hell, Body

Dealing with multiple sickers ickers REALLY sucks.

Not only do my feet hurt and my hip on my left side twinge with whatever nerve thing is going on there.

The trapezius and deltoid in my left shoulder is spasming painfully and the spasming resists stretching, massage, heat, ice, topical lidocaine, NSAIDS, extra magnesium (internally and externally), valerian, passionflower, chamomile, peppermint oil, etc etc etc. I’d be slathering lavender oil on even though I’m allergic, buuuut…

I also might be allergic to SOME fucking thing in the house. I’ve been good with my food but my eyes keep blowing up, even though I’m taking 25mg benadryl 3x a day to make the shoulder thing livable. Any allergies should be conquered by that, right? And for most humans it’d mean you’re knocked right the hell out? But no, not me. I’d go to urgent care to get a prescription for muscle relaxers buuuut…

I am really hesitant to take anything new because I ended up allergic to my new fucking ALLERGY PRESCRIPTION. Full face blowup, venom sac-like things and all.

*headdesk*

And on top of all of this BS?

I’ve been struggling with a nasty cold (which Jon opines is the source of my eye blowouts since stopping the prescription, but I’m not so sure) including sore throat and loooong drawn out coughs. So pleasant. Plus? The extra magnesium has not helped my belly much. *side-eye*

I am fighting REALLY hard to not have this be the way I segue into 2020. A little help, here, Universe?

Transitional Phases

I’m in a weird state of disability right now, in which I have a foot with four different conditions that doesn’t want to heal, and a back that has decided it’s going to stab me with burning cold stilettos if I move even a centimeter the wrong way. Even better, while sleeping helps the former, it makes the latter MUCH worse.

(I’m glad I didn’t Konmari; my Lordoloc back brace from my disk surgery in 2016 is proving to be a life saver.)

Before this happened, a dear, beloved friend of mine actually asked me “If you could heal yourself just by not eating meat, would you?” I had to remind her I’d already been vegan. I’m not that kind of meat eater. And I was well aware that her intentions were “holy cow there’s got to be a way my friend can heal. Maybe I can help her.”

It’s got me thinking about transitions and liminal spaces, and how much people want to be, and help you, through them. Most forms of sickness and disability are viewed as a phase that you need to get through. Healing is to be rushed through to get you back to an “acceptable” state.

There’s no real space for accepting where one is.

It’s frustrating, this rush to get back to the “healed” state. I mean, certainly I do NOT want to be in pain. That’s a given. But it’s not like I’ve had a trustworthy body all my life that has suddenly fucked off on me. I’ve had all sorts of issues since I was quite young. Skin, feet, back… all before I hit the double digits.

It’s not like all this stuff I’m going through wasn’t heralded.

When I put my foot back in the protective boot in order to not be in pain I felt a surge of rage at my backsliding that surprised me. My mental process was “As if I don’t have enough to deal with, the only way I can be pain-free is to encase my left foot and ankle in this clunky plastic-and-foam-and-velcro… almost exoskeleton. What the actual fuck.”

Didn’t even occur to me to be grateful there was an option. Some folks are just… in pain. And sometimes I… am just in pain. So on comes my lower back, stabbing me, to remind me what THAT constancy of agony felt like.

I think it’s about time that I stop treating this aspect of my life as something I can heal from, and quickly. That’s pretty ableist of me.

It’s time for me to think about what I can do to make this life, this immediate, as-I-am-right-now, life work for me.