Categories
Emotional Work

Day 641 and Recovery

This might sound a little shocking but I sleep at least 9 hours a night. Sleep is one of the obsessions of the biohacker. If I’m lucky I might be able to get to ten. It’s always a sign of me doing poorly if I am not sleeping a TON.

It’s usually the first sign I am not adequately reserving time to bring down my central nervous system into rest and digest. I’ll stay up till 11pm and then it’s a hop skip and a jump to only sleeping seven hours.

The best combination of effort and exertion for me is only adding in specific necessary stressors during the day and give ample time to recovery. Much of my work requires focus and information processing and synthesis. And that isn’t improved by overwork and exhaustion.

Nevertheless I am still carting around a lot of lessons from my childhood about the value of hard work. More is better. More hours is best. And this is a fine and noble thing if you do work intelligently with your goals in mind. Simple exertion is sometimes the best option. But not always.

Categories
Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 636 and Waves

Yesterday I was on top of a wave of positivity, so naturally this means today I was prepared for that wave to crash. The rhythms of both life, and my body, must accommodate the full range of highs and lows. After several intense days of work and activity I spent my day reading and absorbing news and financial reports in bed.

I am becoming modestly less indignant about having to monitor and meter my energy carefully. This is a new development in some ways as I’ve struggled quite publicly with mixed feelings about accounting for fatigue and pain in my workflows. I have in the past easily fallen into envy and jealousy when I see how much able bodied friends give little thought to their physical realities.

I have slowly let go of negativity around around around my body and come to embrace the rhythms of requiring rest. I’ve even come to see it as a strength as being forced into mitigating stress loads and cortisol spikes means I have more control over my sympathetic nervous system. Rather than give in to fight or flight, I am able now to able to choose how I respond.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 634 and Responsibility

The best part of committing to therapy and emotional work is taking responsibility for your feelings. This is also the worst part of doing any kind of emotional growth. I suppose this is how you know therapy is a worthwhile use of your time.

Emotional work has a bit of the “wherever you go, there you are” tension of acceptance. I’ve also come to appreciate the truism that having is evidence of wanting. We are always living exactly the lives we want. Attachment and delusions and self limiting beliefs are all part of the way we protect our ego.

I’ve got a lot of my identity wrapped up in my coping mechanisms. I’m sure this is quite relatable to many people. If you are willing to be a vulnerable you start to see just how many habits and behaviors are built to protect yourself.

For me I have found comfort in overworking. If I crash and fail I protect my ego by saying little stories like I’m fragile or have high standards or whatever else seems acceptable. When of course, I could have simply made different choices to accommodate my physical state or the expectations I had for quality.

But accepting that I am ultimately responsible for my strengths and weaknesses in equal remains elusive. Personal enlightenment is a minute by minute experience. Ego destruction isn’t easy.

I try to remind myself that any traumas I may have experienced that enabled the development of these coping mechanisms are in the past. I am now the parent to my inner child. And no one is responsible for her happiness but me.

Categories
Aesthetics Travel

Day 633 and Hospitality

One of the things my husband Alex and I were most excited by when we bought our homestead in Montana is inviting our friends and family to stay with us. We have an entire floor of the house dedicated to guests and have plans to turn part of our barn into a separate guest house as well.

We’ve begun the process of designing and furnishing our guest floor. We have two rooms, a bathroom and a separate living room. The furniture is slowing turning up. Which means it is time to work on the details of making it as comfortable and hospitable as possible. Naturally we asked Twitter to weigh in on what makes people feel at home in someone else’s house. And you did not disappoint.

Toiletries

Traveling with full toiletries and skincare can be a challenge especially when flying. Here is a list of the most requested grooming items and toiletries

  • Hairdryer
  • Roundbrush & Styling Tools
  • Shampoo & Conditioner & Body Wash
  • Lotion & Body Moisturizer
  • Skincare Basics (SPF, Face Creams)
  • Skincare single use masks for face & under eye bags
  • Dental Care (Brush, Paste, Floss)
  • Small Individually Wrapped Soap
  • Q-Tips & Cotton Rounds
  • Tampons & Pads
  • Tissues
  • Bandaids & Pimple Patches
  • First Aid Items (Headache, Allergy)

Bathroom Comfort

Grooming items isn’t the only thing that you need in the bathroom. Personal hygiene requires some thought.

  • Trash Bin
  • Dark Towel for Makeup Removal
  • Plenty of Extra Bath Towels
  • Wash Cloths
  • Hair Towel & Turban
  • Extra Towel Hooks
  • Plunger & Brush
  • Bidet and Squatty Potty
  • Septic Care Sign
  • Cleaning Items
  • Extra Toilet Paper
  • Tissues
  • Poo-pouri or matches to mask smells

Organization

Keeping your personal items from overflowing can help make a guest room feel more comfortable. Remember power strips & plugs! Some of the most requested items include:

  • Pens & Notepad & Scissors
  • Desk Power Station
  • Bedside Power and USB
  • Hangers (including pant & skirt)
  • Trays/Landing Zones for small items
  • Coat Hook
  • Dresser & Closet Space
  • Full Length Mirror

Bedding and Sleeping

Getting a good night sleep in a new place can be very challenging. Providing for your guest’s sleep and relaxing needs was a top request.

  • Extra Pillows
  • Hypoallergenic Options
  • Duvet Cover
  • Robes & Slippers
  • Dirty Clothing Bins & Laundry
  • Dimmer & Good Bedroom Lighting (not too bright, preferably lamps)
  • Books & Reading Materials
  • Nightstand Space (w/ power & USB strips)
  • Eye Masks & Earplugs (ideally also blackout curtains)
  • Water Glasses & Jugs
  • Wifi QR Codes
  • Speakers or White Noise Machine

Other requests including desks and working areas. Our current plans are to have adjustable standing desks and ergonomic work chairs in each bedroom. Plenty of landing spaces and areas to keep your items visible but not cluttered (including luggage stands) is also commonly requested. Separate sitting, sleeping and working areas is best. Also a surprisingly large number of people suggested a white board. So clearly our friends like to brainstorm on the road. External monitors and keyboard were also mentioned.

We have plans to write a basic FAQ document that includes things how the house works. We will include details on water filtration (we have an expensive filtering system so you can drink from any tap in the house), where food is kept and expectations on hours and interaction. Also details on things like heating and cooling are crucial for comfort. People should be able to maintain their ideal temperatures for sleeping and working.

We are also planning to outfit the guest common areas (private to guests and separate from the house common areas) with a mini-fridge stocked with favorite beverages and snacks. Having a coffee maker and tea service was a popular request as well. We are also considering extra boots and outdoor gear for city guests that do not have country gear or simply cannot travel with Wellingtons and barn coats.

Another huge area of interest was maintaining health and fitness. We have a full gym including squat rack, pull up bar, treadmill and a Pilates reformer along with mats for stretching and yoga. We’ve got a Theragun, medicine balls & foam rollers. I am also keen to have supplements for basics to keep your immune system happy like Vitamin D, C and Zinc. We also have a hot tub and have plans for an infrared sauna (might even include a cold plunge).

If you’ve got hospitality suggestions we’d love to hear them. And of course if you are one of our many virtual friends we’d be delighted if you’d consider becoming an “IRL” or in-real-life friend by coming to visit us. We are booked through October but would be thrilled to have you come for ski season!

Categories
Medical Preparedness

Day 630 and Sympathetic Nervous Response

One of the downsides of having any kind of medical bullshit is having to keep an eye on yourself. If you over do shit you’ve got no one to blame but yourself.

I’ve been doing a wilderness medical incident first responder course this week. I initially went into it slightly concerned with my ability to physically keep up given my ankylosis. I was easily the odd duck out in a group of former military folks, paramedics and wild land firefighters. If I’m honest I didn’t want to embarrass myself by showing too much frailty. I was already the only woman in the class. I didn’t need to be the cripple on top of that.

But over four days I’ve managed just fine. I did wound packing and splints. I did a number of incident scenario responses ranging from anaphylactic shock to heart attacks. I even did multiple mass casualty response drills. Today I managed one as a triage incident deputy and comported myself quite well.

I was feeling pretty cocky about how well I’d managed through the week. I was enjoying that sense of accomplishment right up until 5pm or so today when we had our last assignment of the day. We’d just finished up a drill with five patients who had been caught in a tornado. It was an hour of field work and triage outside. I was thinking alright maybe I’m getting the hang of thing. But no I was about to embarrass myself on one of the easiest tasks in the course.

It was time to pack up our own medical kits. We got a big baggie with all the supplies we could possibly need for our our first aid kits and dumped it out on the desk. Our instructor began going over all the items and how to pack them up into the bright orange brick that serves as your kit bag. I was doing my best to follow along but my brain was just not having it. I kept trying to figure out what items went where and how it was meant to go. And I was not remotely keeping up with the class or the instructions.

I’m starting to feel overheated and I’m struggling to concentrate. And it’s then I realize “oh shit I’m in a bunch of pain” and I realize I haven’t taken my pain medication for hours and it is starting to show. I just ran around in a big field doing triage for an hour. So I think to myself well I’m having a sympathetic nervous system spazz out. The pain and fatigue is sending me into fight or flight and I’m losing decent coordination and fine motor skills. I am becoming one of my own patients.

I didn’t finish packing out my kit. I had to excuse myself. I briefly considered if it would be funny to have a medical incident in a first responder course. But I was fully capable of treating my own acute stress response. I was getting worked up by an inflammatory response from my ankylosis and low and behold the pain in my spine was going to spike.

The end of the story is that I’m in bed and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have kicked in. My pulse and respiration are fine. I’m no longer in fight or flight. And yes I’m a little embarrassed that packing a bag is what did me in. But on the other hand, that’s a very “Julie” way to learn a lesson.

Categories
Medical

Day 625 and Shitty Day

I had a shitty day today. Not as in I had a bad day. Although it wasn’t great. I literally had a shitty day. I’m on a combination of medications that just do not agree with my gastrointestinal tract.

I am supposed to avoid fatty foods and also somewhat inexplicably dairy. One of the antibiotics I am on says do not take within an hour of any dairy product or something with a lot of iron.

Maybe it was the croissant. Perhaps it has too much butter. Maybe it was the splash of milk in my coffee. Or more likely maybe getting Chipotle for dinner last night sealed my fate.

Either way I spent the day getting close with porcelain. A lot of time was spent over heated and miserable on nice cool bathroom tiles. I prayed for it to let up but I had maybe six hours of misery

My tongue feels so dry it’s got the texture of a kitchen sponge. I am trying to rehydrate myself but I am still modestly afraid to do more than a few sips of a rehydration solution. What I wouldn’t give for an IV bag of saline salts and Zofran. But since I don’t I’m just going to curl myself around a coconut water and my rehydration fluids and tap out for the day.

Categories
Emotional Work Uncategorized

Day 623 and Pausing

I am feeling a bit anxious about back to work season. I’ve traditionally had a terrible relationship with work. I’m a workaholic and struggle to pace myself effectively. I particularly love riding on the zeitgeist of a season like the fall as “everyone” is back at the grind and I like to ride the energy of the moment.

But I also need more frequent and shorter pauses than the American work week or season has ever allowed. I’ve always been afraid to take them because I fear being seen as lazy. “Only the morally weak rest” is a truism of English and Germanic lineage well prior to the Reformation. Though that’s kind of an aristocracy needs the serfs working thing.

But Protestant Work Ethic aside, I’m not really cut out for hustle culture. Being disabled, even modestly with something my spondylitis, is like the double whammy of being weak and lazy. I need to maintain a different schedule because I cannot overcome the foibles of my own body? That’s an affront! I’ve got a lot of self talk that basically goes like this

You soft feminine pathetic weak bitch get your ass back to work.

Me to myself. Sadly.

Does someone have internalized issues with feminine cycles? Oh yes she does! I guess it’s not just being lazy but it’s being female and a waste of productive worker all in one body. Super fun! And yet here I am a libertarian and I work in finance. Square that circle my friends.

Capitalism has enjoyed patriarchal structuring because it allows us to categorize the inconveniences of bodies that are harder to regulate. Women in the workforce was a pain in the ass until we figured out chemical birth control I’ve got to assume.

But all these legacies of who is worthy and who is strong and who is valued are kind of bullshit constructs. I can take what serves me. I don’t need to get all up in my head about having a less productive body because who even set the damn standard right?

So I am reminded I can pause without crashing. I choose to pause at my own leisure. I can choose to self nurture so I operate from my own point of maximum strength. I have to chose to pause. A pause is not is weakness.

A pause is like the ocean cresting before the wave breaks. And I can choose to ride that momentum. This is all a part of my own work on not just surviving the current moment but thriving with optimism. It’s peace from strength. While I recognize and even ride the chaos outside, I do not feel chaotic inside.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 619 and Indoor Clothes

I have one issue on which I am a little obsessive compulsive. I hate when someone wears dirty clothes on a clean bed. It just drives me absolutely up the wall.

I suspect this is born of some totally rational preferences. I am very outdoorsy and always have been. As a child I spent as much time as I could negotiate at the barn. I worked as a stable hand as part of keeping my own horse’s board and feed paid. If you’ve ever kept animals or worked on a farm you know how barn clothes smell at the end of a long day. You don’t wear your barn clothes except when you are choring. It’s rude.

Then when I left Colorado for New York City I found another reason that your work clothes should be taken off at the door. Instead of smelling like manure, urine and stale sweat after a long day mucking stales you’d smell like shit, piss, the subway and traffic exhaust. City smells are no more polite to bring inside than barn smells. Getting splashed by a cab or sitting too close to someone who hasn’t showered in a while on the subway is just normal life in a city.

You can probably imagine now a routine in which I take off my outdoor clothes and swap them for my clean indoor clothing. I try to do this as fast as is possible. I can’t fully relax unless I know I’m in my indoor clothing. Because unless I’m clean I cannot get into bed. And there can be no dirty clothes on clean beds.

I simply will not let myself even get on top of the comforter of my bed with outdoor clothing on. If I want to get under the covers and fully relax at home, I better be in clean designated “indoor clothing.”

It still upsets my brain when I see a teenager on television lounging on their bed with shoes and jeans on. Maybe suburban sitcoms neighborhood are a cleaner environment than the one I grew up in?

Or when an adult couple is about to get it on and then tumble into bed with their coats and jackets and high heels. I just hate that. I shudder. I don’t want to bring dirt and shit into my love making. Sorry it’s just my preference no shame if that’s your kink. But absolutely not in my house.

I’ve finally fully trained my husband on this quirk. He keeps a clean set of pajamas to change into and is careful to keep barn clothes to the barn. As for me, I like this quirk. I keep a cleaner house because of it. Sure it’s a little weird but I love a nice clean safe place.

Categories
Culture Politics

Day 610 and Labor Day Weekend

America isn’t much for holidays compared to say Europe. The Chinese outwork us with 996 but by and large Americans are a people that work. Paid time off isn’t really our thing. Well, it’s not something that capital is keen on allowing labor to have as a thing.

But you can rely on Memorial Day and Labor Day to act as the basic bookends of summer and as days you should have off from work. I find it a bit comical that we have a holiday celebrating the labor movement. You’d think we would have rolled it back with the Reagan Revolution. But Labor Day is the summer ending day off we all know and love even if we killed most of the unions.

Ive got labor on my mind as I’ve taken all of August to move my family to Montana this summer. Most of my energy went into getting us here and settled. The month flew by. It still feels like I have so much left to do. And not just because we still don’t have a dining room table or a mirror in the bathroom suitable for doing makeup. Getting unpacked is a process.

I’m slowly readjusting my mindset back to a workflow that includes labor outside the home. Well, I still work from home. But labor with other people beyond my family. Calling it labor is a bit funny in the context of Labor Day as my labor is working with capital I suppose I’m allowed to celebrate Labor Day as the spiritual placeholder for back to work season even if I am technically “the man.”

Categories
Biohacking

Day 606 and Recovery

As you might know, biohacking is more than just a hobby for me. It’s the way I keep on top of any remaining chronic health challenges. In particular, I love how my Whoop helps me pinpoint where I am between strain and recovery.

I had absolutely stellar recovery scores last week even as I pushed my strain significantly. I was “in the green” which meant I was getting enough rest to recover from all my activity. But I’ve had a few days of yellow “warning” recovery scores that suggest I may need extra sleep and less activity strain.

I felt it this morning when I had some anxiety hit me hard as made a run to the grocery store. If I am feeling particularly tired I can easily let myself get anxious and overwhelmed if I don’t feel I’ve got the space and time to recover myself physically. I was racing against the clock to get lunch for everyone (both Alex and our house guest) hoping I’d be home within enough time for making meal and taking shower before my usual Monday therapy power hours.

I was thus quite relieved to find that therapy was canceled. A little end of summer reprieve. All the rushing to get things done went poof as did any remaining anxiety. I didn’t need to push. I could pay attention to my recovery. I was now free to heed the edicts of the Whoop. I hope this bit of good luck puts me into the green tomorrow.