Saturday, May 05, 2012
When I regularly consumed more than 4,000 mg of sodium every day, I thought I didn't know what dehydrated was. After using Spark for a couple of years, I finally got my sodium levels down to the max recommended - around 2300 mg/day. And, in the past year, somewhere between half that and the max, regularly.
I didn't know how dehydrated I was before. I didn't know that I was actually poisoning my body every day.
The only reason I NOW know how it affects me is that sometimes I get a reminder. I now know what GOOD feels like. I've lived depression-free, even in some of the toughest times of my life. Not that I haven't seen sadness during that time. It's different.
Experiencing what GOOD feels like is a powerful thing. It helps you recognize that feeling bad isn't normal. I thought it was. I had migraine headaches twice a week, or some form of headache for what seemed like an endless stream of consecutive days.
It turns out that I didn't move enough, didn't eat enough, didn't eat well enough, didn't drink enough water, didn't sleep enough. When I deprived myself of what it needed to be healthy, I got bigger, somehow. Yet giving myself MORE made me feel better, and slowly, naturally, become a bit smaller.
The short version of the rest of this blog is that I slipped into an old habit that I recognize now that the day is over of not eating enough, having too much sodium, and not moving. I also had unreasonably high expectations of myself, adding to the tension of an already stressful situation. The end result was a storm of pain through my neck and head, that felt like a migraine, if it crushed my skull instead of piercing it.
***The details are:
Today at 8, I left the house only having a banana and some chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookies. I went into work early. I sat in my chair for over two hours without moving anything except my swiftly typing fingers and micro-movements of my wrist, updating hundreds of financial records for work. Hundreds of times over it was some version of these keystrokes: ALT-E, P, enter, Y, enter, P-K, enter, V, (stare), enter,V, enter, D-E-L, enter, 3, enter, 3, enter, 3, enter, 3, enter, 3, enter, 3, enter, /, enter, , enter, , enter, , enter, , enter, , enter, *, enter, 1-3, enter, B, enter, , enter, A, enter, (mouse click), /, enter, Q, enter, /, enter, then the next one. My pinky on the righthand gets a workout. My shoulders build tension. I forget to take a break. I drink water mindlessly, as long as I can keep my bottle filled up. I am focused on the numbers on the screen. I type too fast and wait for the system to catch up. I forget to blink. I zone out for a second, running too much on autopilot-autohands, and have to refocus, do one of the records again.
I refill my bottle and drink another 3 cups of water by 11 am. This does nothing to stop me from feeling ravenous. But it's Friday and there are free bagels in the break room. I'm late for them, of course, so I pick through what's left to find a cranberry one, and the last scrapings of the cream cheese (which is still over 2 tablespoons, slightly runny). I leave it to toast while I sneak into the ladies' room (because I had been ignoring that urgency- lots of water).
50 more records updated, and the pressure in my brain is growing steadily because this special priority task is pushing the other 3 things that were a "1st-thing-in-the-morning" task further delayed. And as soon as I finish, I have 2 other priorities placed on my desk that need immediate action, and I can't fulfill my obligations.
I need to hurry to go to lunch around 1 because I have an anti-harassment training this afternoon that will take up 1 hour of precious time. So I volunteer to cut my hour lunch in half. (But I didn't bring anything.) This means I can try to squeeze in a couple more reports that were already past due this morning, and the minutes tick by too fast because it's already 1:20 before I'm even close to forcing myself to quit.
My co-worker drives us to get fast food (that I haven't had in months). I order a pared down version of a grilled chicken sandwich, and drink my water. I eat it on the way back to work in big bites, knowing that if my normal lunch time is too short, this 20 minute excursion will eat up my minimized 30 minute schedule. After returning we have to take an extra 5 minutes to walk around the building because the doors on that side of the street have suddenly stopped working, and we are locked out.
By the time I get back, I hit the filtered water machine on the way in, and it's time to log into the computer to wait for the website to load to punch back in. While it's loading I look at the pending email requests that piled up in our absence and try to figure out how to maximize the 5 minutes before we need to walk to the other building for the training. I rationalize that I almost have 10 minutes (not true) and keep trying to do one more thing before my co-worker drags me away, threatening that we'll be late. She's right. There's not enough time to fill up my dangerously-low water bottle. I have maybe 4 oz left for the next hour (right after my salty lunch). :(
There's just a couple of us there, a few others missing because they were in the middle of reports (and I say, "Wait, we can do that?! Because we're understaffed today!" to no avail).
Sexual harassment videos are not fun. THey're not just boring either, it's really uncomfortable for me, manifesting physically, and the acted-out scenarios replay and continue and continue. I try to soothe myself by remembering that the people acting in them are aspiring stars that were probably really excited to have this paid acting gig.
My "break" is walking back to the other building after the meeting. And I walk into a tornado of having to fix an error I made on a report that was sent to all the production supervisors. It turns out to have been one swapped number, but was a very big deal to the person who was slighted. Luckily a fast fix before my boss informs me we were supposed to drop everything 10 minutes ago and JUST FOCUS ON verifying the checks processed.
Today, everything was a priority. But it really wasn't THAT different than any other day. Most of the time we can just finish one priority in time for the next deadline.
The other new girl and I are cross-training each other on the tasks we mastered during last month (so we are each scrambling to do both jobs or at least help each other, and less "efficient" [whatever novice version of that we established in the past 2 weeks]). The A/C stopped working very well while we were at lunch, and there's not really any moving air (my body HATES this, and always has, especially if my neurons are firing so rapidly for such extended time), my blood vessels expand in my head, more pressure, and the sickness starts. (From a science-y POV, it's probably higher blood pressure from the sodium-laden chicken burger, expansion to cool myself, and rush needed oxygen to my brain - but those over-taxed vessels are pressing on the brain I need and my whole system is starting to try to FORCE me to S L O W D O W N. It won't happen.)
Too quickly it's after 4, we're supposed to start wrapping things up in preparation for some 5pm deadlines and gearing up for the AMPED up URGENCY, though that has been there NONSTOP ALL DAY LONG... Then there's the pressure of needing to balance our team's money processing at the end of the day, wrap up the electronic $ processes, finalize and scan the paper checks and m.o., save files, send them to the bank to deposit in time,(my new task) ... all of this coming up, too. ANd we can't stay there too late (in fact, why aren't we already DONE???).
It feels like being squeezed from both sides while we're locked in our tiny & intimate windowless room. As a team of 5-missing 1 today, we all try to stay calm while coordinating the dance of end-of-day (some of us more understanding and patient than others)... The blur of the next two hours and FINALLY we're done with the most pressing urgencies, even if it was 17 minutes past the cut-off. The boss is long gone, along with a co-worker, and the other new girl and I risk more unauthorized overtime if we attempt to clean up some of the unresolved "priority" tasks that are strewn about our memories and our desks.
We leave before 7:30.
It's been over 5 hours since I ate anything, and 4 since I was away from my desk. I forgot to hit the bathroom on the way out, since I'd been ignoring it, but remembered to refill my water.
I ache, am slightly irritable and the nauseating pain that I was trying to ignore becomes more insistent. I find another chocolate oatmeal piece of cookie and quickly eat it while dashing across a busy street (WHY DO PEOPLE NOT STOP FOR PEDESTRIANS?!? I wasn't even jaywalking; did they just speed up?!?) and hiking over to my car for a few minutes.
Um, I accidentally walk right past my car and have to turn around in the next aisle. I have to hurry to unlock it because that guy walking down the sidewalk looks a little shifty. My head pain feels like a terrible migraine, luckily without the pain behind my eyes (because I have to drive a couple of miles). I neglected to have any caffeine today, and though I'm sure that I'm probably dehydrated but the only thing that has worked consistently to relieve this kind of pain in the past has been a large Starbucks with extra espresso.
I drive through with the AC on HIGH (even though my car hates it and threatens to shut down sometimes); luckily no one is behind me because they forget to make it with non-fat milk as I requested and I wait for a new one. The second time they accidentally forgot to put the sweetener in -- I drink at least 6 oz trying to decide if it's just that I have the extra espresso in there making it bitter or if it's really off before I pull into a spot and walk in. They pump out some stuff into it at my request and insist on giving me a free drink card (most likely because I and slumped forward and looking like I've been run over by a truck while reassuring them that I'm just not feeling well, and it's not them at all, IT'S ME, no thank you). They insist, so I take it and leave.
I drink it as quickly as I can, as fast as I drink water (which is fast, and a lot); I drink some water to try to help push it into my cells and my blood, shrink my vessels... And I sing.
I sing and sing and sing along to Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up". I replay it and sing along again, doing AT LEAST as well as anyone who first auditions for show Voice. (LOL- well, as long as I'm just singing along and can get my "confidence voice" boosted.) I try to sit up straighter and take deep breaths to hold the notes, sing from my diaphragm like they taught me in 5th grade. Some of the tension melts away.
I got home to an empty house and played with Heather's cat. I drank more water and went outside as the light was fading to find her solar light backyard string of glass globes glowing softly from the charged solar panel. She'll hang them soon, and I'm so happy that they're beautiful. I see her vision of what they'll be when she hangs them and want her to have the prettiest things, and for her to capture the joy of the promise the idea held. It makes me smile.
Some more cat therapy helps me relax a little some more, and I have a growing need for actual food. (It's about 8:30 p.m.) Luckily I'm feeling less sick.
It's almost 9 by the time I get to the coffeehouse (I know they have some semblance of less-processed food, and get a greek chicken salad wrap, have half of it.)
It was kind of stupid for me to go there, though. Because that's where my ex-husband has a weekly gathering (that I used to help run), and he's there with his new girlfriend (kind of used-to-be-mutual-friend). I have mixed feelings. I think I decided to go tonight because I figured that IF it was really stressful, I already felt like crap earlier so it wouldn't be ruining anything. He's pretty much the same, doesn't ask about the new job or anything, and talks about Adam West. She and I talk in a second conversation about my apartment/room share hunting, and interview with a (possible drug addict?) girl last night. Talking to her again in person confirms what I thought when I first found out that they were dating: It's really too bad we weren't better friends before, because we have enough in common for it to be interesting. Now, I feel like my attempts in that area might seem weird. Plus, I don't want to spend that much time with my ex-husband.
I also remember how I can't help but have an undercurrent of .. what? disappointment mixed with in-credulousness and the beginning embers of some anger that I keep trying to dampen. The less I see him as a victim by my hand (from leaving him), the more slightly outraged I've become over the past few months at leftover injustices, inconsiderate actions, and manipulation. It's a very low simmer, but it keeps me a little on edge around him, critical of his actions and reactions, more judgmental than I need to be. It feels unhealthy. And it's a reminder of how we don't really mix anyway. I remember why I was avoiding much contact before.
I got ready for bed, and came to Spark about 10:30, once I reconvened with Heather & her husband at home. I got distracted and looked at a 100 or so butterfly garden pictures I took at the beginning of April that I haven't downloaded from my camera. I was going to work on the birthdays but started this blog. Now it's past midnight and I have another room-rental interview to go to at 8 a.m.
I've learned many things from today. It's almost the same thing that I keep re-learning about TAKING CARE of myself. I'm not dieting. I truly am trying to live a more healthy life. I've tasted FEELING GOOD, and I want more. I don't need more food, or more indulgences. I need more simplified, delicious, goodness. And the resulting happiness and contentment that goes with that. ANd love, lots of self-love and love to and for the world around me.
I remember what I wrote when I was losing 100 pounds here on Spark - I am working toward a FIT body and a FIT mind. Fit equals strength, health, and vitality to me. And moments of peace.
Okay, sweet dreams now.. really... I think the caffiene could be wearing off (I hope!)