The Great Re-Fattening…

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I look like I’ve been plumping up in preparation for hibernation. A narrator with a lovely accent will voice-over me sitting here saying something along the lines of “this female human has literally stuffed herself stupid with everything in sight for weeks and has developed a lovely layer of fat. Look at those rolls! She’s increased her body mass by nearly 30%! It’s an amazing transformation! She’ll survive the winter slumber with fantastic body condition because of her planning and determination to eat every damn thing.”

I will never be skinny. Ever. I’ll never know what it’s like to put clothes on and not obsess about the fabric clinging across my gut or the cellulite showing through the thinner fabric of dress pants. While I can and do, look at other people and am not fazed by less than svelte forms (I think Ashley Graham is gorgeous and her body is perfect and if you don’t like her cellulite you’re stupid), I can’t look at myself with anything but hatred and loathing. It’s a thing. I know it’s not healthy or productive or whatever, but it’s honest. I absolutely hate my body. I hate myself. I am a fat, pale wad of hatred and neurosis.

I’ve spent most of my life in various forms of dieting but the weight comes off of me so slowly it might as well be a sloth in quicksand. Low-fat diets, low-calorie diets, low-fat AND low-calorie diets, exercise, combinations of types of exercise and types of diets and don’t eat after 7 and fast and only eat after 7….you name it I’ve tried it. I’m still fat. I could give you lectures on nutrition and still…I’m fat. I could tell you a surprising amount of information about exercise for one so ridiculously unathletic but still…I’m fat. And while I love that people are accepting themselves when they don’t have the body shape you’re supposed to have (supermodel thin yet giant boobs and perfect, hairless skin…do you feel me?) I can’t. I am too old and set in my ways I guess, but I’ve never been able to view myself as anything other than grotesque. I’m the palest Italian I know, I’m blessed with super dark body hair that makes me so self-conscious I could throw up thinking about it too much yet an inability to do much about it as I also have the MOST sensitive skin on the planet and react to shaving, waxing, bleaching, lasers, etc., as if I’ve had acid poured on me. I’m obsessed with my arms. I stare at all of you people with no hair on your arms. Or blonde, barely noticeable hair on your arms. You are all so lucky. You jerks. I could knit a sweater with my arm hair alone. A very dark, very noticeable sweater. So, in case you are not keeping up, I’m fat, pale, fuzzy, and there’s more. I have horrible skin and allergies and I’m getting tons of gray hair that is, again, extremely noticeable in extremely dark hair.

So I’m not living my best life.

I decided a little over a year ago to try the keto gig. There’s a ton of debate about the health benefits vs risks, but as someone who just does not lose weight with conventional diets (and I’m pretty sure I’m rocking some PCOS)…I thought, whatever. I don’t have to do the super high-fat stuff. I don’t have to eat bacon for every meal. I can eat healthy fats like avocados (my love for those fat green little morsels of deliciousness is out of control…I’d slap a baby to get an avocado) and cutting out most sugar and starch doesn’t seem like it would have a negative impact on nutritional intake as long as I’m smart…blah blah blah.

I lost weight. But I have had all sorts of stupid health junk going on and sometimes I just don’t have the energy to think about it. And sometimes I just want a damn donut. And for the past couple months work has been insane and life has been insane and I just didn’t care. I am so used to hating myself it didn’t seem like it was something I needed to focus on. And even though I feel better when I stop eating sugar, the unhealthy relationship I have with food says “go sit outside Walmart and eat a huge bag of Reece’s by yourself before going home because hiding your binge eating is super healthy and okay”.

Today I put on jeans that were pretty loose a month ago. They hurt my feelings. They were so tight I thought I’d picked up the wrong pair. Nope. I just fattened up like a grain fed steer. My blubber is doing well. It oozes. I’m thinking about naming it.

I thought about sitting down and crying but my rosacea/eczema/allergies are all acting up at the same effing time and I don’t have any redness to give to a weeping session. Plus I get all snotty. Plus, it’s my fault. I knew I was out of control. I just didn’t care enough to stop.

I’m getting back on the sugar-less wagon this week. I’m going to just feel strange about it and prioritize my health. And I’ll still hate myself. Even if I lose enough weight to feel okay about my body (let’s be really honest here, I’ll never be cool with my body but I’m hopeful I can hate it less) I’m still going to have a bright red face and a pale, fuzzy body and skin that’s trying to divorce me and weird features (why are my eyes so very small…no one else in my family has little tiny beady eyes…and where the hell are my cheekbones?). I will still find plenty of details that disgust me. I’ll still have an unhealthy relationship with food. But the only thing I know to do is to keep trying. And I’m hoping that trying will calm the loathing. And I’m also hoping that knowing I’ll screw up will keep it from being impossible.

If it doesn’t work I’m hoping I’ll morph into an actual bear and just be considered adorable and deadly when fat. Plus I’ll get to sleep all winter. Win-win.

 

PS. I couldn’t stomach (pun intended) taking a picture of my fat gut and stock photos are a pain to come by and I don’t want to be sued because I don’t have any money anyway so the featured image is me making a stupid face. It does show off my very squat, fat nose and double chin highlighted in green though. So…it’s kind of equivalent to a gut pic. You’re welcome.

 

Cats Ruin Everything.

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I have a dream. A backyard patio with grass, flowers, spring in the air, birds chirping, the animals lounging around, coffee….you know….that stereotypical relaxing backyard scene. Our neighbors on one side have a lovely, if plain. On the other side, there is a much more exotic, busy yard with flowers, statues, windmills, chimes, and planters for more of the same crammed into a small space. It’s eclectic and not something I would want to deal with, but it’s amazing in full bloom.

We had a dirt and rock pit type landscape going with a lot of weeds. Mancandy doesn’t care about it. At all. As long as the grass (what little there is) doesn’t get too high (only because the HOA will send nasty letters that piss him off) he couldn’t care less.

Last year I was excited that our neighbors had an old patio set they gave us. Wanda, the coolest neighbor ever, came over in the blazing summer heat to help me sand it down and spray paint. We were so sweaty we couldn’t stand ourselves and I thought really hard about having a heat stroke, but the result was a somewhat decent looking set (if you don’t get too close to it). I harassed Robert into getting more strapping since a lot of the original had rotted and snapped. That strapping is still in a roll someplace in this house. Until the strapping is on cushions are pointless and sitting in the chairs is a test of faith in gravity’s lack of hold on thine rumpage. It is also insulting when you stand up and see how far the few straps that remain stretched out to cradle said rumpage. I have plans, but it’s a very slow and frustrating process when the Mancandy drags his feet getting on board.

Not to be deterred, I was determined to enjoy time outside after work yesterday. It’s still light when I get home now that the time has changed and it was gorgeous weather. We’ve been in the seventies, sunny, no humidity, etc., the past couple days. I’m aware the hellish heat is coming so I stay outside or by open windows as much as possible. We took the pup for a walk and the two “normal” cats came with us. We had our tiny puma patrol. They were quite pleased with themselves.

As we came back to the house I suggested evening coffee and outside time. Bell can’t do much in the way of running now that her back legs are in such back shape, but she loves laying outside and telling off anyone she notices. Or thinks she notices. The cats enjoy vacating their bladder and bowels in the one area of dirt we optimistically spread grass seed on every so often. You know, relaxing stereotypical stuff. We spent our time arguing about global warming, arguing over which cat is the best hunter (we both though Neo but he assumed Tsuki didn’t hunt because she didn’t bring back kills while Neo assumes we’re too stupid to hunt for ourselves and brings back little dead bodies all the time), and agreeing that we hate most people.

We really were relaxing and beginning to think about dinner. The weather was gorgeous, the dog was happy, one of the cats was entertaining us; pouncing and playing as if he was finding moles, arching his back and crab walking,  it was pretty awesome. I was sure I was making headway with ideas to improve our “outdoor living space”. He was pretending to listen to me, happily jabbering about planters and a raised bed for veggies when Tsuki started belly crawling through the yard away from us, quickly picking up speed. I had time to say “oh crap” while Robert sucked in his breath to curse. A couple of mockingbirds had been scolding the cats the entire time we’d been outside. After a couple unsuccessful attempts to smack them the cats settled back to ignore them. I was scared she was going after them again, but instead, Tsuki launched herself into one of the huge bushes (it’s a bush but it’s probably….9 feet tall and 6 feet across….superman vegetation). Neo, the other cat, started hauling butt that way. Tsuki let out a hunters scream at the same time birds explode everywhere, also screaming. It sounded like we’re skinning animals alive, the sheer volume of sound was incredible.

We could hear something screaming at a higher pitch as if in excruciating pain and the dog starts trying to run that way as Robert and I also take off across the yard. The two adult birds are shrieking in defiance and raining down bird rage as they swoop and smash themselves into a blur I took to be Tsuki. Fuzzy running things that I eventually realized were fledglings, unable to fly yet, haul ass across the yard, Neo in pursuit. I yell at the dog to stay out of it, scream at Neo to knock it off as Robert gets to the bush Tsuki has disappeared into and starts kicking and yelling. More birds explode out and there’s so much noise and motion I can’t tell what’s what. Neo is startled by my manic scream and pursuit that he pauses to stare at me and the fledglings have a chance to get into taller grass past the walking trail. Mom and Dad bird are about to have heart attacks between the cat assaulting their feathered children and the humans yelling and scrambling and the other cat running after more children. Tsuki has crawled all the way to the center of the bush and we can’t get to her nor can we tell if she’s got a baby bird. I couldn’t hear any noise from her direction so I figured if she had one, it was either dead or close to it. I turned my attention to saving the rest of them. Neo was having a full excitement induced weirdo attack. He was puffed up, darting at anything that moved, running back over to stare and hiss in Tsuki’s general direction, and basically look insane.  I’d gotten Bell inside and we tried to corner Neo. He was not having it.

At this point, the neighbors have heard blood-curdling screams of pain and fear, our screams of anger, excited barking from a big dog, cats yowling, and now us yelling KITTY KITTY KITTY as if that will coax anything to come to us. The only chance those babies had was for us to get the stupid cats inside. Eventually, Robert resorted to a controlled pounce and snagged Neo. I had door duty and made sure the dog stayed in while the cat was tossed in. The treat jar was grabbed and more “KITTY KITTY COME HERE YOU ASSHOLE CAT WE WERE RELAXING!” ensued. Tsuki, amazingly, became interested enough in the idea of treats to stick her head out and was also pounced upon.

We found ourselves with wide eyes, clutching our coffee, standing in the kitchen panting, while the cats stalked each other, hissing and poofing with excess adrenaline.

Stereotypical relaxing outdoor space activity.

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Bus People of Nashville Adventures

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Writing is cathartic. And I am to the age I prefer to read, and write, amusing stories. Many of them are not flattering, but they’re genuine, which tends to be what people respond to. We’re so programmed to only show the perfect, pretend we’re all the same, that someone telling their worst moments is extremely appealing. I don’t much like crying in my coffee so I prefer to mock the bad and make it tolerable. The problem with that is when I’m not in a good mood, or things just aren’t going smoothly, I don’t write because, well, it’s not fun to be not at all funny or upbeat. We all know life is hard, why say that over and over? If you read any news articles at all you have to be a bit on the “ugh” side because, really, it’s just dismal. But, the news doesn’t tell the complete story. Especially on racism. Especially on racism in the south. So here’s another episode of bus people. I can’t say the bus is fun, if I was offered a fancy ride in a helicopter I’d jump on it. Sitting in traffic for hours each day sucks. Yesterday we had the delightful, overwhelming reek of body odor and weed to marinate in for hours, with the heat on full blast because I am, apparently, the only individual with sweat glands that rides the bus. But, there are moments it is an interesting, enlightening experience. This was one of those moments.
The majority of people who ride the bus with me are of a darker skin tone (I’m so pale that could be almost anyone on the planet if we’re being really honest, but I do mean other races in this instance). The majority of that majority is black but there are plenty of Hispanic women and a few Hispanic men. Of the regular bus riders on my express route, there are a few blue collar men who sleepily sit and nod off in the morning as they hop on the earliest from their apartment complexes on the outskirts of the suburbs. Most of the bus drivers know who gets off where and stop whether the stop is requested while we rouse whoever is too deeply asleep to notice they’re at their stop. A couple younger black men work white collar jobs, suits and business casual with brief cases and spiffy, shiny shoes (I like to look at men’s shoes…I have no clue why…it’s just a thing I do). I have noticed, to my dismay that I tend to treat the two types of workers differently. I didn’t realize I do it, I absolutely did not intend to do it, but I do. The men with battered, stained sneakers and the clothes of service type job that you classically see on those who wash dishes and maintenance type positions are less confident when they walk, they don’t make eye contact or speak unless spoken to. They are withdrawn and have a tired air. But I noticed after a few months that I have a tendency to speak first in greeting to the confident, direct look of a black man in a suit, but I continue the silence between the tired black man I often sit next to. I treat them differently, and I am not, to be completely honest, sure why that is. I don’t hold any animosity toward anyone until you earn it, I don’t care what you look like. I will wake up my sleepy seat buddy and let him know he’s missing his stop. But there’s a slight difference in the way I treat different categories of people and it bugs me that I would not treat everyone the same, the way I always assumed I do. I have the same tendency with other races, I guess it’s a class distinction or bias rather than a racial thing, but since I’m pretty working class myself it makes zero sense to me. I like that interacting with so many people different than myself challenges me, but occasionally I’m confronted with my own petty instincts and assumptions about people I don’t even know. I’m trying to look at it as learning experiences and chance to change my behavior.
We do not have many teenagers that ride our bus. Most school age teens catch the bus before ours and there aren’t many older teens that appear that early. I’m fine with that. I didn’t like kids when I was one, I definitely don’t like them now (yeah, I just talked about changing my preconceived notions but on teenagers, I’m pretty set in the avoid at all costs category. Not proud of it, just what it is). One day when I pulled up to the bus, the line was starting early and it was massive. The bus before ours hadn’t shown up, and now we had way too many people for our bus to accommodate. Knowing I’d be late if I drove, I waited until the kids got on and then tried to find a space to occupy for the ride. I noticed a couple of the elderly women didn’t have seats, and while I hated they had to stand with bad knees and bad backs, I was also standing and couldn’t help them. I was crammed into the “Do Not Stand Here Or You Might Fall Off Of The Bus” area trying to give them the best access to hand holds and rails to brace against. I was in full body contact with several men. We all tried to pretend none of this was happening, but I have never had as much of myself squished up against as much of a stranger, not to mention multiple strangers, as happened that day. We were so tightly pressed against one another that I felt the intake of air before the man behind me yelled over the teenage chatter to be heard. He announced that there were several young men sitting down while women were standing. He wasn’t raised that way and he knew they weren’t either. He basically announced that the young guys needed to get up, offer their seats, and act like men. It could have gone very badly. These weren’t 5 year olds, they were 15ish and very proud of themselves. The little boys had already been told to get up and let others have the seats. The older of the kids weren’t into it at first, but eventually, they begrudgingly got up and let the older women sit. I was so impressed that someone would actually do something and be willing to challenge an entire gaggle of teenage guys blaring extremely graphic rap music and talking loudly to be heard over the loud music in offensive terms about offensive topics. I wouldn’t have been that brave. Which saddens me, but there we are. I wouldn’t have tried to shame a group of teenagers of any color that I didn’t have authority over. I taught for a hot minute, I know how teenagers are. They’re vicious and gross in a pack. Nope. Not me.
The ride into the city was miserable. My little sardine-esque group had no hand holds, nothing to brace against, and we couldn’t help but get to know each other much too well. The guy who’d taken on the group of teens eventually told me to stop apologizing that every sway of the bus meant I assaulted him with my hips and rear. If I was some svelte young thing I wouldn’t have felt so bad, and also we wouldn’t have been quite so squished, so I felt bad on two fronts. That’s bizarre. I’m not going to erase it, it’s honestly how I felt, but it’s weird that you’d feel bad because you were unintentionally touching people with a less desirable body. Whatever, not examining that too closely, it’s a mind hole trap I don’t want to get stuck in.
We got toward the first stop I could reasonably walk to work and I was poised to dive through the door and get the first deep breathe since the crazy ride began when I felt my ass attack victim take another deep breath. He whistled to get everyone’s attention and when all eyes were on him (not on me mind you, but I was smashed up against him so it FELT like they were staring at me and I turned bright red and my ears caught fire and it was not fun) he bellowed that the young men who’d stood up and helped out someone else deserved a round of applause for acting with dignity and respect and we should all show our gratitude. Nothing like that had occurred to me, and from the surprised looks it hadn’t occurred to anyone else either. We got into it quickly though, and everyone was clapping and whistling and cat calling. It sounded like a party bus when we pulled up to the stop.
The gruff, annoyed faces of the teenage boys trying so hard to look tough completely broke down and the little boys that I should NOT forget are still in there shone through. They couldn’t help but start grinning and looking at their feet and flushing in embarrassment. The older women who’d gotten their seats made a huge fuss over them and if those kids don’t remember to offer their seats in the future I’ll eat my hat. My poor ass attack victim didn’t know those kids. He didn’t know the women standing. He saw an opportunity to teach a group of kids how to act like adults and took it. It occurred to me that society might be a lot different if everyone behaved that way, if we all took responsibility for how we want others to act. Not by screaming at them and expecting them to obey us, but by using social pressure and positive reinforcement.
I’m making a concerted effort to speak to everyone or speak to no one. I shouldn’t cherry pick. Especially when I don’t even understand the criteria for my picking of cherries. My ass attack scared my brave friend away from bus riding from that day forward, but I bet those kids won’t forget him. I’ve tried to make sure I act when I see something I can help with, rather than just feel bad. I have been forcing myself out of my comfort zone and have fun new friendships starting that help remind me to stop categorizing people I don’t know. I have never thought of myself as racist. I try to be politically correct with phrasing and terminology, now more so than in the past, but I sometimes fail to use the correct term or phrase. I’m learning so much from my bus people and meeting so many different types of people. I’d still take a chopper ride, but until then, that’s the latest and greatest of bus people of Nashville!

Tsuki and Toddlers…

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Tsuki is a social cat. She’s so social she gets on my nerves regularly. She’s solid black and small and adorable but I don’t want a tiny little black smudge in my face all the time. She also head bonks. But not a light hey-how-ya-doing bonk. She makes me see stars. She must have the skull of a ram. And she likes to surprise bonk you. It makes me livid.

Tsuki and Neo (aka nugget aka buttface) are indoor/outdoor cats. They go crazy and destroy things unless they’re allowed to go outside and murder small creatures. I feel bad about it, but after throwing out 3 separate sofas and planning to toss a 4th, not to mention needing to repair the carpet in the entire upstairs portion of our home AND the flooring in the back room (not just because of them but they didn’t help)…they can go murder all the small things. I’m over it.

Neo doesn’t really like us all that much much less strangers, so he stays to the shadows and does not socialize. Tsuki tries to invite herself into other people’s houses. And succeeds at times. We can’t let her out if folks are having parties in our neighborhood because she will harass them into constant adoration (a nice outside event with grill and drinks turns into a Tsuki centered event) and if they don’t let her into their house (thinking you’re getting away from the annoying little shadow? No sir. Not this time.)  she makes rounds to doors and windows (front and back of the house) to stare into their soul and make horribly pitiful noises. She sneaks in and steals other animal’s food as she has no fear of other animals. She has persistence we could all learn from.

I routinely find myself apologizing for her horrible behavior. Some find it charming but there are plenty of people who don’t like animals and will hurt them given the excuse. I’m always nervous she will find her way to that sort of situation, but she refuses to stay inside. She needs more than just our attention.

Today I have the windows open (it’s in the 70s and sunny and we’re soaking up the gloriousness). I heard the neighbors toddler talking gibberish and sporadically screaming in that terrifyingly loud, sudden way that little kids have. Tsuki was out laying on the front porch soaking up the sun and I didn’t really think about the fact a small human would attract her quickly. She’s had multiple flirt fests with older children so I should have known better. I hear the little kids gibbering take on a more excited tone and I look up from my couch to see Tsuki laying in the middle of the street rolling to show her stomach. The little girl is talking to her and cooing and talking to her dad who is standing beside her laughing. Kiddo would walk closer, Tsuki would flop around faster, Dad would laugh harder. Soon there are two kids, two adult dudes (don’t know if they were both dads or what), and one little black cat flopping like a fish on land. I can hear her making little trilling squawks. Every time the kids got a little too close she’d heave herself up in a mobile flop and get a bit of distance, but she made sure they thought they just needed to move a little faster to touch her. The men were getting video of the bizarre little cat show and the kids were working themselves up into a frenzy while dads wrestled with them and the phones they were using to film.

Things came to a crescendo when both little girls let out horribly shrill, extremely loud kid screams at the same time (you know the one, when toddlers stand rigid, ball up their fists, and release the Kraken of sound that makes everyone’s heads immediately ache and shakes them on their chubby little sausage legs) and Tsuki went from cutely flopping to launching 5 feet straight up with hair on end and took off towards home. I met her at the door laughing and let her run past me in a panic while the kids stood in shock and about 3 seconds away from crying. I waved at the guys and came back inside while they cajoled little ones and walked toward home.

I knew it was going to be amusing and tried desperately to get my phone to video the interaction but it was in the middle of a temperamental freeze and wouldn’t respond. I got the battery out and had it booting back up when the shrieks sent Tsuki back over home so I missed it all. But it was epic and makes dealing with the tiny tyrant easier.

Thankfully she’s now traumatized and wants nothing to do with harassing me. She’s instead roosted on top of a clean blanket I folded. She’s making weird little snortle snoozy sounds as she dozes and occasionally stretches in an adorable manner. I’ll want to kill her again soon, but for right now I’m highly entertained. Also, Weebs keeps getting up on the couch and laying with half of his body draped off of the edge. I’m just waiting for the moment he falls off.

Cats are the worst and the best at the same time.

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The more time that goes by…more of him slides over the edge.

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We all sleep with one leg straight out and toes splayed…right?

Latest Weebs Adventures, Turdlette Slings, and Stuff…

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Weebs loves to watch. He’s a super creepy little man and he will stalk me all over the house while I’m doing chores. It usually makes things like laundry or loading the dishwasher more fun because he stares in wonder at everything. So as I was switching laundry he comes creeping up behind me and flattens himself to blend in with the carpet that he does not match at all. I try to get pictures because it’s ridiculously cute but if he sees my phone change to camera he immediately does something less cute.  He will lay as flat as possible, even his ears go sideways and flatten out, but he’s got a gut on him and it flows out on either side and ruins the predator vibe he’s going for. I love it.

I like to get my chores going as soon as I wake up on Saturday morning for two reasons. 1. If I don’t I will wait until bedtime Sunday night and be extremely angry and tired on Monday. 2. If I look super busy right away I can choose the easier chores and Mancandy will usually feel bad and is left with the chores I avoid like the plague and wanted him to do anyway. And I don’t have to say a word. This doesn’t always work, but when it does I feel extremely sneaky and clever.

I started out with towels because if I got busy with something else and forgot them it wouldn’t be a big wrinkled mess. I don’t understand ironing, it doesn’t work for me…I’m pretty sure it’s voodoo. So if it shouldn’t be wrinkled I have to catch it right away when the dryer finishes. Which takes more attention to detail than I possess without a lot of coffee. So I was pulling towels out of the dryer and throwing underwear in (same reasoning). My little fat predator was watching every move. If socks dropped he swatted at them (from a good 2 feet away), what he lacks in depth perception he makes up for with determination.  He made little happy chortle sounds (to himself, as all great predators do) and waited with huge eyes to see what would happen. His world was made even more exciting when I stepped beside him (he immediately grabbed my sock, got a nail stuck on it, scratched me for holding onto his foot, and fought like a small tiger while I unsnagged his nail) to begin the lovely process of cleaning the litter boxes.  He LOVES playing defense while I try to remove what he deposits.

As I go I can usually avoid his swats at the scoop quite easily. He’s not exactly athletic. However, every now and then he uses a surprising amount of dexterity and his aim is true and he wins the round. Today he wasn’t even swatting at the scoop that often, he’d become sidetracked by the bag eating the scoops contents and was talking to it. All cats should talk to inanimate objects like this cat does. It’s the best.

I let my guard down. As I was moving several large, fresh movements o’cat bowels he struck. A little brown foot whipped out from underneath the scoop and smacked up and over. He has never been that quick nor that coordinated. I was neither of those things when cat crap attacked my face. MY FACE. I had to go wash (and there is NO amount of washing that suffices) little skid marks off of my face. And then go back and corral the freed turds from the great outdoors and get them back in the bag. And not squish the cat who was back in predator mode trying to make contact to smack his freed friends around the laundry room.

He will not be helping me with chores anymore.

My life is a dumpster fire. Swamp monster level 100 today folks. Happy Saturday!

Medications and Plagues sent by God.

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Dramatic title, I know, but I’m feeling dramatic today.

This won’t apply or resonate with everyone, but in case you are struggling with Atopic Dermatitis, Eczema, Eucresa, steroids, or Dupixent, I figured I’d throw my personal experience into the mix and maybe give someone a heads up or a “you’re totes normal” for moral support.

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is something a lot of people struggle with, but for the most severe cases it often starts in childhood. I am lucky that that was not the case for me. I had a severe flare up in high school that was treated and went into remission for years. It wasn’t even diagnosed as eczema. Many years later I worked in a lab setting and had to wear latex gloves. My hands started to react and I was diagnosed with eczema, told to avoid latex, and given steroids that took care of the issue. Lately, I had a couple small spots that wouldn’t heal and those small spots suddenly led to a large flare up.  So I went back to the doctor (under the impression this was not a big deal and the fix would be simple and quick). I was put on prednisone and Eucrisa. Due to the history they suggested Dupixent. I still had no idea how bad it could be. There was a mix up with the Dupixent prescription and I went off the prednisone. The flare-up was like a literal fire that has been given a strong wind to stoke it. My entire body flared, the only portion of me that didn’t have some sort of lesion was my feet. There was no sleeping, showers were a misery, I wore black to hide the fact most of my body was raw and bloody and it soaked through my clothes regularly, and I battled what I’m guessing was situational depression. I was absolutely miserable and had no relief, it was a constant horrible sensation.

Since that time I’ve done quite a bit of research and have fought multiple battles with the doctor’s office. I don’t know why my experience with atopic dermatitis has been atypical, and I still have no idea what my triggers are (aside from gloves which I do not come into contact with anymore). I have been giving myself injections of Dupixent for about 2 months now and while I’m by no means in full remission, I was able to wean myself off of the steroids and use Eucrisa only in my worst problem areas.

I do have side effects with Dupixent and have been blundering through trying to find ways to cope. Today I’m actually home instead of at work because my side effects are too severe to go in. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. Now, as with any medication, not everyone will have side effects, and if you do they may not be the same as mine. But if you do have side effects, and you’re looking for relief, hopefully, some of these tips will help.

  • Eye irritation (conjunctivitis, pink eye, etc.). Some people have this to a severe degree but mine has been limited to a couple days after the injection thus far. The optometrist recommended Refresh Advance eye drops and gel drops. Eye drops at least 4 times a day and gel drops before bed as they make your vision fuzzy. Both are otc. They’re magic.
  • Skin irritation around the eyes (especially eyelids and under eye areas). This area is never going to go back to normal, I’m pretty sure. The skin stays extremely swollen and looks kind of like elephant skin. The crease in my eyelids breaks open occasionally and that’s always a good look. The skin goes from weepy and oozy to dry and crusty. It does not look attractive. I have come to love Vanicream. Walgreens has a pound tub of it with a pump. I smear that on until I can’t open my eyes and let it soak in. I stopped using Eucrisa in that area because the burning had become so severe I just can’t deal with it anymore. And I’m not a wimp, I don’t mind a little stinging, but this would take my breath away and make me want to vomit. So I’m sticking with Vanicream.
  • Headaches behind the eyes. These aren’t migraine strength but have the tendency to turn into migraines if I don’t deal with them quickly. I’m an Excedrin migraine girl, even with normal headaches, but any sort of pain med would probably work.
  • Irritation of my lips. The corners of my mouth split open, kind of like the joker. While this would happen with eczema it seems the Dupixent makes it impossible to clear it up completely.
  • General blah feeling. It goes away within a few days and isn’t a deal breaker. Honestly, despite not enjoying these side effects, none of them are deal breakers. Things were so bad before I’ll take whatever.

 

Other useful items: Cetaphil facial soaps, creams, etc. These aren’t quite thick enough for the irritation I have going right now but they’re lovely under makeup and as a maintenance item. Masks you can stick in the fridge or microwave feel fantastic. The optometrist recommended the heated one to increase oil production into the tears you naturally produce, and the cooling feeling is delightful on the angry tissue around my eyes. Despite Youtube recommendations, most dermatologists don’t recommend elimination diets as it is rarely a food reaction causing the flare-ups.

It’s scary that there are so few options to deal with severe flare-ups, especially when I don’t know why it happened. I don’t want this to be my new normal, but I’m trying to roll with the punches and not let it affect my mood/outlook. If you have experienced any of this feel free to weigh in. It helps to know you aren’t alone.

Life with Boys….Part 2 (and other random observations)

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I keep thinking as I get older I’ll figure things out. I think that’s why I am in shock at my actual age; shouldn’t I be smart by now? Have my shit together? And yet, I’m a gigantic mess with no clue. This, while fun at times, leads to complications. I should probably know more about investments and portfolios and making my money (what little of it there is) work for me. I couldn’t possibly be closer to 40 than 30. That’s ridiculous. And insulting. People in their 40’s have their careers figured out, they’re married with kids (ew), they have savings accounts that aren’t sneeze worthy. I have 4.5 years left to work out the kinks. I’m a little nervous that isn’t enough time. I still laugh at farts, so obviously I’m not maturing at warp speed here.

Almost everyone I know in my age range is, or has been, married. Most with multiple children running about the place. Since moving in with Mancandy the whole family unit thing has been kind of foisted into my lap. And things I never knew would anger me force me to lose my shit regularly. For example, when in the restroom for sitting activities, male humans apparently find the need to throw things on the floor (the female child is here irregularly and I find she throws EVERYTHING on the floor, not just bathroom stuff, but since she’s here less often I am able to control my rage a tidly bit better). I don’t throw things on the floor because I’ll just have to pick them up later. Unfortunately, I do most of the cleaning because I live with heathens, and it’s a safe bet that at any point in time I can walk into one of our bathrooms and find an empty toilet roll on the floor. Like, they take the empty roll off the thingy to put a fresh one on (good job!) and then suddenly get pissed and throw that cardboard down in a very dramatic way. Why? What possible purpose is there to this? What about cardboard pisses men off?

Another example, everyone else is blind, deaf, and has no sense of smell. Today I watched the mini candies step over a huge pile (impressively huge) of cat puke. I was honestly curious how long it would sit there before someone cleaned it up, but then I realized I was stupid because no one would clean it up. They’d just manage to step over it without ever noticing it. Then it hit me that they may step in it, squish it across the carpet, and throw the sock in a pile of dirty laundry for me to find later. I’d already planned on cleaning it up but that thought made me screech at them not to step in it, forbid the dog from cleaning it up for me, and finding carpet cleaner in record time. Might I point out, the puke was cold, so it sat there for a while and by some miracle, I noticed before the dog. This is proof I live with boys and a fluffy pig and age is slowing my gross little pig down. Not too long ago she’d have hoovered that and I would have never known it even happened.

The original, Mancandy himself, is not much better. He will notice that one of the animals has made a mess (or the kids, or hell, he’ll make a huge mess) but his solution is to text me about it, open a window with a fan on, and go quarantine himself in another room. I came home from a ridiculously long day a couple months ago to find the dog had left a trail of shame turdlettes across the front room floor. Now, my dog is a big girl and is 13 years old. She has arthritis in her knees, hips, and back. She is housetrained and will hold it until she just absolutely CAN’T hold it. I do not ever punish her for going inside, it’s an accident and if we don’t get her out in time that’s on us, not on her. So this is not a story about us being ignorant and shoving her face in it. This is a story about a man who stayed in the house for HOURS with a trail o’turdness and didn’t clean it up. Just left the room.

I don’t know how I never saw the amazing audacity people have when others tend to clean up after them, but I can’t help but take a lot of this as a personal insult. You know I’ll be the one dealing with it, so why would you think it’s okay to leave this stuff for me? Also amazing to me, I find they really don’t think about the fact I will end up having to clean it up or live in a slovenly hovel. Now, I’ve tried the passive aggressive technique of just refusing to clean up after them all. They don’t care. They were gross before I moved in and are happy to continue being gross. I can’t. I can handle messy, but flat out filth is not okay.

Another thing I knew but didn’t KNOW; children lie. They lie when it would be easier to tell the truth. They will lie about anything and everything and if you call them on it they will double down and SWEAR TO THE ALMIGHTY and be lying just big as can be. I know this because I realized the kid’s bathroom had no soap. At first glance I thought, oh they must have body wash or something. Nope. No soap. At all. Who knows how long they hadn’t had any either, they’re gross. So I go and get soap. I even got manly smelling soap. I put it in the bathroom. I told them “Hey guys, there’s soap in your bathroom.” I got blank stares. I was scared they didn’t know what soap was for so I just left. When I see one has been in the shower because their ridiculously beautiful hair is wet, I asked if he remembered the soap. He indicated he had. Great. I thought nothing of it. The next time I walk into their bathroom, what do I find still in the wrapping on the counter (in the exact same place I’d put it no less)? The soap. I guess they just stand in the water and flutter like damn birds to get clean. So the next visit I caught them unawares in their room with no escape route. I ask them if they’ve used the soap I put in the bathroom. They all nod. I ask how they manage to do that through the cardboard box. They all blink. One says “Ohhhhhhh”. Like he just then realized I am not a complete moron. I point out that if they are going to lie they can at least be bright enough to take the soap out of the wrapping and place it in the shower. I advised them to up their game because they were sucking. They blinked some more. The soap is now sans wrapper and in the shower. Who knows if they actually use it.

All this to say, this isn’t fun and it’s a lot of work. It has fun moments, but it’s not fun. I imagine it may be more fun if they’re yours and you have them full time, but I can’t see how it’s any less work. I also get why so many people are happily married until they have kids. And then. Mancandy and I do really well without little ones around. Not that we’re perfect, no couple is, but we are uncannily well matched most of the time. Add little ones to the mix? All of that goes out the window. Suddenly he’s a big kid that I have to clean up behind. I didn’t birth any of them and I don’t particularly want to clean up constantly. Every now and then? No problem. Want me to do most of the cooking? That’s cool, you guys can’t cook and I like to eat stuff that actually tastes good/has a semblance of nutrition. But the completely childlike state is not attractive. It’s actually rage inducing. And these aren’t even my kids. If they were my kids and I was more than just a casual adult they hang around occasionally, we’d be in a constant battle. As it is, they have a mother and a father, if neither of them feels the need to parent the way I think they should, that’s really my problem. I get that. I don’t have a say in how they are brought up. However, I do have a say in how they behave in my little sphere and when their behavior impacts me. So I piss them off mightily. At 13 (x2) and 14, you are old enough to do your own laundry. Do not wait until you’re about to leave and then cram 40 loads into my poor old washer and leave it for me to finish up. Uncool dudes. Today I’ve stayed on them about switching loads and not overloading the washer and then actually folding and putting away their clothes so they don’t end up taking every single laundry basket and piling things up in towering piles that fall and end up being washed again. The looks they give me when they think I’m not paying attention are hilarious. They have not learned how to glare effectively. His daughter has, but she’s small and not intimidating so I don’t care. The boys are trying, but they suck at it. Plus they can’t maintain, they end up starting to glare and then getting sidetracked so they end up just looking constipated. It amuses me.

I don’t regret being here (most of the time, ask me when I’m really pissed and that answer may fluctuate) but I don’t know that I want to have kids either. I don’t know anything really, but I’m pretty sure I like to live life without constant battles. And kids are never-ending battles. They have good moments, don’t get me wrong. There are times they make me laugh so hard I have to really put effort into not peeing on myself (another byproduct of age that I don’t relish). And there are occasional glimmers of really sweet guys in their gross little shells. But I do find myself wanting to smash them a fair amount.

As for marriage, I find the older I get without being married the less of an appeal it holds. I sometimes think it would be nice, but I also wonder how it would change things. As it is right now, if things go sideways I can just cut my losses and roll on down the road. Once you’re married things get so very complicated. And that’s not to say I think we’re going to split, but who knows. Life is weird. Things happen. With marriage, I am a little scared the person I am would disappear entirely. Not that I’m some super fabulous thing, but I don’t want to become someone who relies on someone else to be who they are fif that makes any sense at all.

Relationships, in general, are tough. Add pre-made families and it gets really complicated really fast. It’s not all bad, I’m not saying I hate my life or hate the people in it, far from it. But if we’re being brutally honest (and I don’t see the point in being anything else) this is freaking tough. It forces you to be mature when you don’t want to be. It forces you to give up a lot. Everyone paints relationships as this fantastic, mushy, greeting card inspired thing. I wonder about myself because that’s not really how it goes. I mean, there are parts that are fun or sweet or whatever. But there are a lot of parts that suck. Hardcore suck. And I wonder if we set ourselves up for failure with our need to seem perfect. To take the perfect Instagram pictures and always put forward such a happy face. I’m not saying all the personal drama should be put out on Facebook, some things shouldn’t be shared (as much as I have a tendency to overshare), but still. I don’t think we are honest with ourselves. Or each other. I have a theory that it’s normal to question things, to wonder what the hell you’re doing, to have fights that don’t end in a few minutes with a hug and a peck on the cheek. I think it’s probably perfectly normal to have things you don’t ever see eye to eye on. Setting boundaries is freaking hard and if you do the work it is good after the difficult stuff has been seen through to the end but in the interim, it is a battle that hurts everyone. Knowing it’s necessary and healthy doesn’t make it easier. Bring in each other’s families? Oh my, now we’re really ready for a rumble. Add ex-wives, children, baggage, families of ex’s, etc., and there’s no way it’s going to be perfect. I’m pretty sure it would be easier if we talked about things honestly. If we all didn’t put on happy faces all the time and pretend everything is always glorious. It’s not. Sometimes it sucks. And I don’t know how I feel about marriage factored into the mix. Maybe that’s my immaturity showing, but some part of me still see’s marriage as a really big deal, the promise you don’t break. But realistically, that promise breaks all the time. And how do you really know the person you’re with will be the person you want to be with 5, 10, 15 years down the road? That is a huge commitment. I find my affection for Mancandy fluctuates wildly with his inability to throw dirty clothes in the hamper, but instead right beside it.

Maybe I’m not marriage material. Maybe I’m not mother material. I’m okay with that, it’s just one of those things I puzzle over. How do so many people know for sure that’s something they want? Or something they will be good at? How do you go into it knowing so very many people fail at it? I am a firm believer in seeing someone at their worst, but when you see the broken part of families after all of the worst has happened, when you watch two adults melt down into children every time they fight (which is a lot) does that not make anyone else a bit nervous? Am I a wackadoo? Also, next chapter, fighting with boys about the need for deodorant. If I can smell you, you’re failing.