Friday, June 3, 2016

Hello 2:30, My Old Friend

Tuesday morning I had a full on anxiety/panic attack. I've experienced something similar on a smaller scale before but there was a reason. I don't remember what it was, but I do remember understanding why it was happening. Tuesday was different. Now, let me be clear, I have (had*) a lot going on. I have (had*) a lot of responsibilities that were coming to a head Tuesday morning, but it wasn't very different than usual for me. I always have a lot plates spinning at one time and that's how I have lived my whole life.

I remember "my previous life" as an insurance adjuster (yes, that was what I did before I met Prince Charming). I always had an overload of claims going at one time. I worked for a company that believed adjusters should not specialize so I might have a house fire and a school bus accident come in on the same day. What happens when you do a good job at something? You get to do more of it! I'm not tooting my own horn, but I didn't do a good job, I did an exceptional job. I won our district's "Adjuster of the Year" twice, Subrogation Adjuster of the Year, and the State Adjuster of the Year. I did an exceptional job. We had three adjusters in our office and a vehicle appraiser. One of the adjusters was NOT doing his job. He was fired and the majority of his workload was given to me because I was the senior adjuster in the office. I went from about 40 claims on hand to over 100 overnight. I handled them. Well.

I guess there was some fall out from doing my job very well. I failed at marriage. But I think I had a lot of help with that. It takes two to tango. But, to be clear, I sucked as a wife. But, about 2 weeks after he left we had a MAJOR hail storm in my county. It was the largest single county catastrophe in Arkansas ever. In my county. Two weeks after my husband left me. I was a single mother with a HUGE mortgage to pay (alone, because he sucked as a human) and I watched the news that night in horror as hail stones the size of softballs were hitting houses and cars all over my county. I remember the scene so vividly. I had brought home all my files that night, to get caught up. I was behind a little bit (because my husband had left) and, in true Dana fashion after my mom duties were done I put my head down and got my work duties caught up. And then the storm hit.

I was supposed to take my kids on a vacation to Florida the next week. Well, it was supposed to be a family vacation...and it was going to stay a family vacation, just a smaller family. That was cancelled. I went from being caught up to completely drowning in claims overnight. I got help (A LOT of help), but I handled what I had to handle. Fairly well. At least I came out of it on the other side of the storm.

Last fall, right before all the "health weirdness" started, I took on a huge responsibility. I was nervous about it, but excited at the same time. (It doesn't matter what that responsibility was; I'm keeping it general so this can apply to anyone reading...) This was on top of my already heavy load, but I felt like I could handle it. And I think I could have...before my brain was attacked by my immune system.

Since last fall I have had to give up and let go of several races I was planning to do: an "easy" 50K, a particularly tough 50K, a 50 miler, and my very favorite 25K and weekend after next I'll have to give up a 2.4 mile swim in the river. I've had to give up some opportunities to coach some amazing athletes. I've had to give up giving some swim lessons. I've had to hire someone to clean my house. (Okay, that one I'm not sad about!) I've had to sleep A LOT more than usual. But that doesn't get to be at night, like a normal person. I sleep like a newborn. In chunks throughout the day and night and sometimes very fitfully.

2:30. WIDE awake. 10am, I need a nap.

Now, I get that insomnia is a pretty common thing. There are things you can do to help sleep better. And, your brain works better when you get good sleep. And just not sleeping can cause a lot of health weirdness. Trust me, I have gone down that road a little ways. This is not the cause, this is a symptom. Solving the sleep issue doesn't solve the brain issue. It's the other way around. Surprisingly when I took my steroid treatment I slept like a baby (until I got off the steroids). That's because the steroids put a quietus on the antibody attack and (I think) calmed the inflammation in my brain, allowing it to work better. (Your brain controls your sleep pattern...)

My brain simply isn't working like it used it should.

And, because all stress goes in the same bucket, after I ran the 10K that my body was not ready for on Monday I had a full stress bucket Tuesday morning when all of my usual responsibilities came pouring in. I had an overflow.

Imagine a juggler. She can juggle a lot of things REALLY WELL. And then she breaks her hand. She can still juggle with one hand. She's done that as part of her act for years. But she can't juggle as many things, and can't do it for as long as she could juggle with both hands. She needs more frequent breaks to rest the good hand. Yup...that's a pretty good analogy of where I'm at right now/

I am part of a Face Book page for people with all forms of Autoimmune Encephalopathy. The admins post a lot of current research and helpful information. Sometimes they post it in the form of memes. Tuesday as I was in the midst trying to process what was going on with me they posted "A letter from your brain" (click to enlarge).

I don't know if what I'm experiencing is from the attack of antibodies, or if it's lingering effects of a previous attack. I'm hoping the trip to Mayo will help sort all that out. And, more than that, I'm hoping they will have answers on how to get me back to juggling chainsaws and flaming swords with both hands!!!

* So why did I say I "had" a lot going on and I "had" a lot of responsibilities?? Well the thing that I put on my plate last fall has been removed!! That's a big relief.

For my local friends, I'm not directing Pesky Piranha anymore this year. It's been returned to it's previous director. I was getting the job done, but at a great cost and not as smoothly as I would have liked. Dwayne offered to step in, but he's never directed a race and there would have still been a great amount of the weight falling on me. It's ever so slightly sad, just like not being able to participate in the races I had registered for. But unlike the races I was going to participate in, this involved so much more than just me.

Thanks for dropping by and sticking around.

By the way, if you have ever wanted to learn to juggle, I found a great site with several videos right here:  And, let me say, when you google images of "juggling two balls with one hand" you will not like what you find.... :D

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Paying the Tariff for Cotton Row

What happens when you have a bill you don't have the funds to pay for? Well, I guess there are choices. You don't pay the bill until you have the funds, or you borrow the money (loan of some kind or you pay on credit).

There is scene in the movie Ya Ya Sisterhood where Willetta tells Vivi something to the effect that at some point "everybody's bill comes due".

When you don't have the currency to pay a bill, and you borrow to pay for it, you not only have to pay the original amount, but there is always some kind of interest attached.

Running Cotton Row Monday was super fun. I loved it. I had a great time (experience, not finish time). AND...I didn't have the "funds" to "pay" for it. I cashed a check at a race and ended up with an overdrafted account.

Usually that analogy would have to do with training. When you don't train for something you either end up with a poor result, a long recovery time afterward or an injury. I wasn't trained but my body was able to withstand the distance enough that I wasn't injured. But I have taken a pretty big hit neurologically.

Here's the thing. I preach all the time about how ALL STRESS GOES IN THE SAME BUCKET. But I'm a hypocrite. I try to segment my life into neat piles and stacks. I had convinced myself that I could handle a 10K because I could handle it physically. I mean I considered it might not be the best thing given my condition...but only long enough to stick my head back in the sand and ignore (what is probably) the truth. That (possible) truth is that I should not have put that stress on my brain.

The big problem here is that I don't want any of this to be true. I don't want to see it. I don't want to acknowledge it. There are so many good analogies I can use here, but I'll stick with the finance one.

When a person has a bill they don't have the money for and the borrow to pay it, they go into debt. If they just ignore that debt, the debt grows. It doesn't go away just because they want it to. Sure, that person can file bankruptcy, but there are consequences that will follow that person for years after that decision to abandon the debt. And, there are even more far reaching consequences because that debt didn't get paid so someone didn't collect. Your debt doesn't just impact you.

The decision for me to run Cotton Row wasn't a BAD one because I've learned another lesson. (I don't completely know what that lesson is just yet because it's like a puzzle that I'm putting together and I don't have all the pieces in place yet.) Or, to keep the same analogy going I don't have all my debits and credits outlined in a good solid budget just yet.

Going on a trip isn't a bad idea. But when you go on a trip that you haven't saved for, and you haven't figured out how you will pay for it, you might have a GREAT time when you are gone, but you have to come home sometime.

I wish I had a more well thought out post to give you here, but my account is overdrawn and my brain simply isn't working like it should....please stick around until I've had time to make some deposits into my account. :D