Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hypnogogics: The Puppet man, blood on the cinch and other images of insomnia

Puppet man, Scary evil man with sharp teeth
hypnogogic image from last night
Blood on the cinch
Hypnogogic image from last night
Avocado, watch, toll money, jelly jar
oil pastels on textured paper in handmade sketchbook
Insomnia painting/sketch for me
by Heidi Chester
watercolor, oil pastels, colored pencils.

Click any image to view larger.
(Click the back button to return to story)
Heidi's bouquet
watercolor, by me
Last night, I suffered from insomnia.  This is, unfortunately, fairly common for me, though I've discovered that if I avoid certain foods, I sleep much better.  Last night, I did not sleep well at all, and as often happens, I had weird and scary hypnogogic images so bright as to be almost hallucinatory.  Those are the first two images.  The third I drew ("painted") with oil pastels at the motel when I was awake at night.  The fourth image my friend Heidi drew for me in my handmade sketchbook when I was visiting her, and the lsat I painted of her bouquet right before bed.  A delayed bedtime, due to doing art.

In the blood on the cinch painting, I was rubbing blood and a beautiful highly decorative cinch on my horse.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Tachyarrhythmia Event

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Tachyarrhythmia Event
            I had an attack of tachycardia last night that lasted for hours and hours and was very scary. L  It was the worst one I’ve had in years, and left me over- exhausted, heavy-chested and frightened.  I did not get to bed until after 3 AM, and did not sleep for a while after that.
            In some ways, it was worse than other tachycardia events, and in some ways, less bad.  It was worse by lasting longer than “normal” and also by seeming more irregular.  The latter part was better because it slowed down some (though still irregular and more rapid than usual) and wasn’t as painful. 
            A couple weird things:  during the event, I had to keep peeing, and peed a lot.  As it subsided I drank well over a quart of water. (I was desperately thirsty!)
            Dr. John, my cardiologist, wants me to go to the hospital if a tachyarrhythmia event lasts more than 20 minutes and ask to be put on a heart monitor so that they can pinpoint the electrical malfunction that causes it.
            I am concerned about why I suddenly had it and if something I did triggered it—I don’t want another!
            Of course I was wracking my brain for possible causes:
  • ·         Sex?  But we have sex fairly regularly, and I don’t normally respond with tachycardia.  ©©©
  • ·         Something I ate?  Ginger?  I didn’t eat anything particularly unusual. 
  • ·         Dehydration?  I didn’t drink much yesterday as I ran around doing stuff.
  • ·         Stress?  I was feeling a little stressed-out by the day, particularly because I’d had several bad sleep nights immediately preceding and was tired.
  • ·         Overtiredness?  But I am always (often) overtired.
  • ·         Some combination of factors? 
  • ·         Sleep apnea?  I’m wondering if I fell asleep right after peeing and had an apnea event.  I wasn’t aware of one . . .  But I often wake up from apnea events in a panic with rapidly beating heart.  Apnea events can cause heart attacks!  L

o   Cardiac arrhythmias are common problems in OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) and (SDB) (Sleep-Disordered Breathing) patients, although the true prevalence and clinical relevance of cardiac arrhythmias remains to be determined. The presence and complexity of tachyarrhythmias and bradyarrhythmias may influence morbidity, mortality and quality of life for patients with OSA.”
o   “We frequently encounter patients who experience symptoms of acute heart failure, unstable angina or arrhythmia occurring primarily at night, due to apnea. These patients often have a difficult time losing weight despite trying various weight-loss methods. In these patients a significant portion of their weight is fluid that accumulates due to their sleep apnea phenomenon.”
o   “Obstructive sleep apnea can cause arrhythmias, as it aggravates autonomic nervous system imbalances.” Steven Y Park, MD,
o   “Presentation of arrhythmias: Some patients truly are asymptomatic – the arrhythmia is usually discovered during a routine physical examination. However, most patients are symptomatic in some way when an arrhythmia occurs. Patients having paroxysms of arrhythmia may have symptoms of palpitations or out-right heart racing. Other symptoms may include chest pain, pulsations in the neck, dyspnea, light-headedness, fatigue, sweating etc. After a spell of arrhythmia, the patient may have frequent urination (due to release of atrial naturetic factor, a polypeptide released from the atria that stimulates diuresis) or feel fatigued for hours to days. Other arrhythmias may cause syncope with the attendant risk of injury. More serious arrhythmias may result in a cardiac arrest or death. In the United States alone, about 400,000 sudden cardiac deaths occur annually, which approaches the total number of deaths from all forms of cancer.  (Emphasis mine.)

My hypothesis is, from the evidence, that I had an arrhythmic tachycardia (tachyarrhythmia) event triggered by sleep apnea, triggered in turn by obesity.  And that I seriously NEED to lose weight and need all the support I can get. Positive support. (I did weight less this morning, the least I’ve weighed since December 23rd, 2014. Of course, I had no lunch).

The sleep apnea event (if indeed, I had one and that’s what triggered it), could have been caused in part by some of the other factors (super over-tiredness, for example).

Friday, May 02, 2014

health report for Thursday May 1, 2014

Fun and Games IIIe (Insomnia)
by me, Mary Stebbins Taitt
digitally altered Photographic composit from my own photos
click to view larger

Health report for Thursday, May 1, 2014:  My fibromyalgia seems to be slowly improving, knock on wood, with ups and downs. Also my itching seems to be improving, knock on wood, generally, with ups and downs.  Yesterday, I walked to Rolandale and back again with a stop at the store, as you know, which was a long stop.  My fibro didn’t bother me much, although I was eager to sit down when we got home, but I was able to put away the groceries first.  However, after dinner, my let hip started hurting, and was getting gradually worse, and I was considering applying Voltaren, but decided to wait.  Then I developed asthma (relatively mild—but enough to disturb my sleep for a while), and I starting feeling itchy.  I had a restless night and have been up three times.  I am up now, of course.  I am all itchy.  At 4:08, I took some Benadryl, but it hasn’t helped yet, and now (5:20, it’s been well over an hour!).  One of the previous times when I got up, my fibro was pretty bad, but that has subsided some.  My neck has really been bothering me, too (arthritis).  A couple days ago, whichever day it was that I felt dizzy (I think the day before yesterday), I took some Niacin and again yesterday. I was not too suspicious of the Niacin, since I’d been taking without a problem (that I was aware of) for so long.  I was suspicious of the shallots for the fibro pain, but here is the thing--I got this whole complex of symptoms which I certainly can’t place at the feet of the shallots, since most of them I’ve had without any shallots!  I suppose the Niacin could be a problem. (?)  The shallots also could be a problem, because they are listed as a possible fibro trigger—there are many.  But would the small amount of shallots I had trigger all those symptoms?  That is, asthma, worsening arthritis, itching etc.?  Here’s the thing:  I can’t think of anything else I ate that’s different—I had a veggie omelet for breakfast with the same bran mix I’ve been having and rotten cabbage, plain dry toast and almonds with bran and cabbage for lunch and you know what I had for dinner.  (Spaghetti, salad, bran, cabbage.)  There was no grazing at VM.  I know K thinks that whatever is causing the problem may be unrelated to what I eat or consume (e.g., meds).  And it may well be, but I am suspicious of foods and meds because I know for a fact that dairy causes asthma and soy causes fibro in me, and I seem to be quite sensitive to many foods and am allergic to a number of meds.

Also, Dr. Ferarra was saying that my sudden bad rash was bilaterally symmetrical and thus internally generated and not caused by contact, but that doesn’t mean the original itching might not be caused or exacerbated by contact (detergents, etc.).  The original itching was not necessarily bilaterally symmetrical (hard to tell, since I couldn’t see I, usually) and the sudden bad rash (SBR) did not follow the same pattern as the original itching.  The SBR is fading and peeling, but it was bothering me in the night (itching).  My eyebrows and head and back and buttocks were also all itchy in the night.

If the cabbage is actually helping me, it is definitely not a protectorate against flare-ups at this point.

I do seem to be feeling, on the average, knock on wood, somewhat better than I had been except for my insomnia, which does not seem to be improving.
I had been thinking about not bothering to see that allergist, since I seemed to be gradually improving, but tonight (last night and this early morning), I do not feel improved.  I was hoping to avoid further trouble, annoyance and expense.  Once you start going to an allergist, it’s a long-term deal, most of the time.

Also, there are the almonds, which I’ve been eating a lot of.  I was worried at one point that nuts were causing a problem for me, but then I was eating them and my fibro was not worsening (but my insomnia was not improving, but it wasn’t visibly worsening either, since it was already bad.)  But they could be causing a problem.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Problem with Holidays

Bumbleberry Pie

One of the problems with holidays is that not only do I gain weight on
the holiday itself, even if I only eat fruit pie and fruit, but it
makes it difficult to get back to a healthy diet--it gives me

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Insomnia Report for March 6, 2014

INSOMNIA #140306

Thursday, March 6, 2014:  I had terrible insomnia last night.  I was very agitated and could not sleep and did not in fact have a single wink of sleep until after 4:30 AM and then had less than 4 hours.  I am very tired.  In examining factors, I am looking for things that are different from days when I slept better, and here are some possibilities:
·         Lack of Exercise:  I did not get my normal amount of exercise yesterday, as I was working on a story for my class and didn’t have time to walk.  Nor did I do my other exercises.
·         Potato chips:  If I remember right, I’ve suspected potato chips before.  They have a very high glycemic index, and sugar seems to affect my ability to sleep.  Potato chips taste so good to me.  L
·         Blueberries:  I ate more than the normal amount of blue berries at lunch yesterday.
·         Raspberry vinegar:  I put in the spring rolls I made for lunch.  I was in a hurry and not as careful as usual tipping it in.  (Got lots).  I think it may be high in sugar.
·         Excitement:  reading my story in class was exciting and somewhat stressful.  I often do not sleep well after ANY evening event, such as the opera.
·         Stress:  That business last night with Graham and the car was extremely stressful and I lay awake worrying about it when I did try to sleep again.  However, I was already having insomnia, which how I even knew he took the car—otherwise, he might have taken it without my knowledge.
What I ate yesterday:  vegetarian omelet, non-vegetarian spring rolls with carrots, cabbage, turkey, spinach, raspberry blush vinegar, a hamburger and stir fry for dinner, with scallops.  And my bran mix with Psyllium at every meal, which was oat-free and wheat free.
What I would like to do is NOT EAT potato chips for a while, and see if I sleep better, and same with blueberries and raspberry blush vinegar.  (This will not be easy or fun.)  YES, I am aware that it could be a chemical imbalance in my body that has nothing to do with food, but I have to check this out.  I should do it systematically, but that is not so easy to do with food.  I guess the thing to do would be eliminate all of the suspected foods and then, assuming I sleep better, reintroduce them one at a time. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Something “Bad” ("Bad" Food)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

                I made myself a 1/3 batch of Chocolate pudding using hemp milk instead of whole regular milk + half and half. 
                This is bad because I do not need the excess calories.  It is also bad because it may keep me awake.
                It is also bad because I wasted time I needed for other things making and eating it—but I really wanted to have some.
                The worst bad part is that chocolate tends to make me grumpy, reactive, cranky, angry, defensive and annoying and no one will love me anymore.  WAHN!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Long Fall

The Long Fall
Watercolor sketch by Mary Stebbins Taitt (me)

I made a new watercolor sketch the evening of June 30, shortly after I came home from the hospital. I was thinking about my current health issues. I have now been sick almost four months. (Four months feels like an interminable time!)

The sketch also seems to be a metaphor for life (a somewhat pessimistic one, perhaps). I try to be REALISTIC, not pessimistic or overly optimistic, but realistic. The truth is, we age, we often become ill or incapacitated in various ways and then we die. Everyone we love will die. Including ourselves, of course.

I am not without hope. I do hope I will recover and have some happy productive and engaged years before I go. I am getting incrementally better, I THINK, each day. It is is difficult to tell, with the ups and downs and the pain.

Cartoon of unknown provenance
I apologize for using it without permission

The Long Fall II
by me
Click on any image to see all of them larger

Images: Watercolor sketch, in sketchbook. (The second version is inverted and hue altered.) The cartoon came from a forward, and I know nothing of its provenance, but it resonated for me, so I apologize to its author for using it without permission. Why is it that sad things are so funny and funny things so sad?

Health report: I THINK, as I said, that I am incrementally improved today over yesterday. I will know more later when I find out if I can do my exercises, prepare meals, walk at all, etc. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR LOVES AND LOVING SUPPORT!! 7-3-13 11:00 AM

Monday, May 20, 2013

Remediating Fibromyalgia Pain

In my late twenties, I developed terrible asthma.  I ended up in the hospital and almost died.  This continued apace, really knocking me down.  Bear with me, it does relate.  A man taking a course I was teaching named Peter Pfeiffer told me that I seemed like a person with a dairy allergy.  He suggested that I go ten days without dairy and see if I felt better.  I did--it was like a miracle.  I was a new person.

I looked at my diet and discovered I was having cheese omelets for breakfast, toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch, macaroni and cheese for dinner (etc).  I literally did not know what to eat.  Dairy was in everything I ate.

I started substituting soy milk for milk, tofu and soy cheese for cheese and I developed fibromyalgia.  Slowly.  I didn't connect it with the soy.  But eventually, it got so bad I literally couldn't walk to the end of my driveway I was in so much pain.  I did a rotation diet and discovered it was the tofu and soy.  When I eliminated that, I felt better, BUT then I developed a sensitivity to beans, peas etc, especially the dried ones.  

Meanwhile, my allergist suggested reintroducing dairy, since I hadn't had it in many years--she thought I may have outgrown the allergy.  Wrong--I immediately developed asthma AND fibromyalgia (or fibromyalgia-like symptoms.)

What this means is that I have to prepare all my own meals from scratch because everything (all prepared foods) has either dairy or soy or both.  And it was the protein in dairy and the protein in soy that created the problem.

After experiencing fibromylagia so bad I literally couldn't walk, it now is more of an inconvenience most of the time.  I totally avoid sugar and refined grains (Which turn into sugar), nuts of all kinds, dairy, soy, caffeine (I have no soda, coffee, tea, chocolate etc).  I exercise (walk, run, bike) 45 minutes a day and go to bed around 10-10:30 (good sleep is essential).  I drink only water and eat only fresh whole foods, organic if possible.  I do eat nightshades, in limited quantities.

I do eat wheat (whole grain only) and have been considering testing that as well, since I still have some residual pain that flares up toward the end of a long walk.

Isolation and Loneliness

I read that isolation and loneliness contribute to depression and that isolation and depression contribute to dementia.  In any case, isolation isn't fun.

I'm home alone all day.  Keith comes home, and then, leaves again as soon as possible.  Today, he went to Home Depot, and then R'dale to do some work.  The work does need to be done.  AND he probably doesn't want to be with me when I am miserable.  I do not blame him.  I am miserable when I'm miserable.

I am also lonely.

And no one can come visit.  And really, no one can call.  Scott called this morning to be supportive, and I was in so much pain I couldn't concentrate or make good conversation or even be a good listener. I am stuck.  Alone.

I can read Cowbird stories, theoretically, or send emails, or go on facebook, but most of the day, I was in too much pain to sit and read or type.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Jogging in Place in the Shower

Jogging in Place in the Shower

I want desperately to take a shower.  I haven’t been able to take on in a number of days because of the pain.  It’s been hot, and I’ve had to use a heating pad nearly continuously, and that causes sweatiness.

But the pain makes it hard to stand.

Some of the things that help the pain include:

  • Ø  hot water, hot baths, hot compresses
  • Ø  walking, running or leaping about, depending how bad the pain is
  • Ø  hugs and touch, massage
  • Ø  ibuprofen (takes the edge off a little)

No one is here to hug me.  I’m an hour and a half into this round of ibuprofen.

The hot water helps some.  When it doesn’t help enough, I march in place under the water.  When it still hurts too much, I jog in place.  The washing and shampooing become hurried and urgent.  Luckily, no one is here to see me. 

I wonder how far I’ve run, if I were going forward.  Three quarters of a mile?  I‘m going pretty fast and that’s about how much ground I’d cover on foot in the time it takes to wash up, shampoo, shave my legs.  Shaving my legs at a dead run is pretty tricky though, I have to slow down to easy jog for that, then quick speed up to knock the pain down.  Owy.  Well, I did it!  I'm clean!

During the high-pain phase of the flare-up, I ran around the house (upstairs only, for the most part) reorganizing things because it hurt too much to sit.  Moving rapidly around seemed to help.


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