Wednesday, July 25, 2018

New Glasses

High-index lenses for nearsightedness are thinner. Thinner lenses are lighter. This should be a good thing, right? 

Lighter glasses means less pressure on the nose and ears to hold them up. When one reaches the point that if one's glasses were made of glass, they'd be inches thick, thinness and lightness are desirable qualities. I do get that. 

I don't get why high-index lenses are so awful. 

For me, at least. 

I've had a hell of a time adjusting to wearing high-index lenses. For the first few weeks, I thought I wouldn't make it. The prescription was supposed to be a small change from my old one, just a tick or two on each eye. But as soon as I put on the new glasses, I felt like I was wearing the wrong ones. I couldn't focus right. Everything seemed too rounded, too bright. I couldn't read words at a distance - like street signs while driving - though everything within about a ten foot radius looked okay. 

After multiple adjustments, I managed to adjust to my new glasses. But this year, my husband and I decided I should get two pairs. 

And the second pair still isn't quite there. For backpacking, they work. Because I don't have to read signs at a distance while backpacking. So I don't notice any blurriness. At least that's how it worked for the coast trip. The glasses were fine while I was on the trail and started to hurt my head as soon as we hit the road again in a car. 

I might go back for more adjustments. Or I might just wear those glasses for backpacking only. I like that they are transitions lenses, because that means I don't have to carry sunglasses - and I know when UV is shining through the clouds (i.e. when to use sunscreen on a cloudy day). 

But considering I got new glasses to try and see if my old glasses were giving me headaches, the entire exercise rates a fail for me. 

Now I'm trying to improve my posture to see if that gets rid of the headaches that I'm still getting (the ones that aren't from trying to adjust to high-index lenses!). 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

IBS Update

To try and get a handle on my irritable bowel syndrome, I've been tracking my symptoms, taking notes where my symptom grid doesn't quite cover every contingency and tracking what (though not how much) I eat for about 6 months now. There are a few gaps where I stopped or was backpacking, but I've got a lot of data at this point.

Overall, I feel like I'm doing better with tracking than I felt like I was doing without tracking. Possibly because I can see patterns. I know I'm not imagining that things have been happening more often or less often, because I can see what I recorded. I know how often I'm getting certain kinds of tummy pain. For example, I have burning pain almost every day, sharp pain most days, but rarely severe pain.

I downloaded an app to try and track symptoms before I came up with my homegrown google spreadsheet, but the app was too difficult to use. I had a hard time opening it up and recording every time I had a bowel movement, especially because it would then ask me to classify it as to kind and I had difficulty deciding how to describe it according to the options the app provided. With my spreadsheet, I'm not being as precise, but I'm making the records. I just mark a box if I have the type and note the total number at the bottom.

In the past, I've panicked when it seemed like I had a new kind of pain, but now I can just look back and see that I've had that pain before. And I can remember better what the result of the pain was. For example, I got a pain that felt like stitches in my side even though I hadn't been exercising. That turned out to be a sign that I was going to have diarrhea soon - nothing to panic about.

Since stress is often cited as a cause of IBS flare-ups, I've also been tracking some stress related symptoms. Just having headaches on the tracker helps me feel less stressed about when I do get those intractable headaches that stay for days. I can see that however bad they feel at the moment, they don't stay forever and they aren't clinically frequent. It's stress and I need to continue trying not to let the stress freak my body out and make things worse.

I might try to get more granular with my tracking, see if I can stand it. If I want to lose weight, tracking food portions along with what I'm eating would be a good step. And I could try to be more specific in my tracking of other symptoms as well, including more about frequency and time of day. But for now, I feel like I'm in a good place. I can recognize when I'm going to have bowel trouble, in a general way. And as long as I keep drinking a good 6 quarts of water/herbal tea per day I feel pretty good.

Of course, it was 4 quarts at the beginning of the year. And I tried cutting back at the end of June and it wasn't pleasant. Somehow my body is demanding more and more water to continue to function in the same way. Something to bring up with my doctor at my next annual appointment, I suppose. Unless I start 'needing' more water than I can drink in a day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What Do You Take Me For?

"What are you?"
The question never bothered me as a child. I was proud to know my heritage. Proud to answer, "English. Irish. German. French. And Peruvian!"
It was always that last one that they wanted to hear. And then I'd ask them what they were, these little white kids, and they - mostly - wouldn't even know.

It wasn't until a long time later that I realized that sometimes those questions weren't so innocent. And, of course, as an adult I don't hear it so much because it isn't polite.

I had a teacher in high school two years in a row and it took him a year and a half to realize that I wasn't Italian. And it isn't like he "realized" not really. It came up in the course of conversation in class somehow.

My husband thought I was white when we met.

And I am white.

And I'm not white.

It all depends on what you take me for.

I have a precarious white privilege. Straddling the line between the pale generations my mother's family can trace back in time to grand old Europe and the fact that my father was born in South America.

I've been presumed Mexican
cursed as a lesbian
but the privilege my pale skin produces is
utterly dependent on
what I am taken for
day to day
hour to hour
face to face to face
I lucky
am I lucky?
To be able to "pass" on cursory inspection?
With only a hint of the exotic if you're looking for it
A trace of the hot blood, as I've heard it called
not worse. not the worst.
to be able to pass.
but scary in the way that I don't know
which kind of face the face I'm facing will see in me

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Dry 6 Months

The last time I drank an alcoholic beverage was on my husband's last birthday, December 28th of 2017. I was going to have a drink the following Saturday with a friend, but she had to reschedule and I ended up not having another one since. The goal is to a whole year without to determine whether consuming alcohol has had a detrimental effect on my irritable bowel syndrome.

My husband and I figured that a test of long duration would be best for this, because I'd already tried doing it short term. A month off here, several weeks there. And after drinking, sometimes I'd get really sick to my stomach the next day and sometimes I wouldn't - and I'm not talking college level binge drinking here. I'm talking one or two drinks in a social setting.

So the idea for a long term test came about. I haven't so much enjoyed it, but I've stuck to it. I like being able to have a beer after a backpacking trip. I really earned a beer after finishing the Spartan Race, but I had a Gatorade instead.

I'm not sure if not drinking has had an effect on the irritable bowel syndrome or not. I think I've felt better once I started tracking my food and symptoms, though I haven't found any correlations yet. Sometimes I do want to have an adult beverage, but by now, half way through, I'm committed to this goal.

It may or may not be actually helpful, but I won't quit before a year is up. I will argue that since I originally wanted to go the whole of 2018 without a drink, but ended up taking my last drink on 12/28, that I should be allowed, within the goal, to imbibe on my husband's next birthday - but I'll leave the call on that one up to him.