Trigger Warning: I will seriously question the wisdom of sticking around in this world in the following post. You’ve been warned.
Oh great. Here we go. I’ve been feeling “off” for quite some time, now. Probably close to a year. My job was insanely busy, for about a year running. I was triple- and quadruple-booked in meetings, day after day after endless day, for months and months at a time, with a very rare 30-minute break every now and then.
My schedule was unreal. But that was the job. My boss’es schedule was like that. My coworkers’ schedules were like that. Everybody’s days were like that, on my team. At least we had jobs, right? And I was driving through on pure adrenaline and determination, the whole time. Just plain grit. Just buckling down and doing the job, because we were so short-staffed and I was committed to holding up my end of things.
In all honesty, I really wasn’t holding up my end of things. I was attending a lot of meetings. Constant meetings. On the phone, mind you, not in person. That was one blessing. At the same time – and all you Autistic folks out there can relate – it was on the phone, and that was about the nearest thing to hell that I could ask for.
It’s bad enough being Autistic and having to be on the phone, but I also have auditory processing issues. I’ve never been diagnosed with any condition. All the tests come back saying my ears can hear just fine. But I’ve rarely been able to hear things clearly, the first time they’re said. Someone says one word, and I hear another. And then I have to ask for clarification. I ask them to repeat themselves. It’s like standard for me. I always have to ask people to repeat themselves. I can’t imagine how annoying it is for other people to have to say shit over and over with me, till I actually get it.
So, in addition to the non-stop work and thinking and processing and dealing with neurotypicals who care only about their own position (it’s never about the job) and being denied what I consider my basic human right to reach a flow state at least once a week (is it so much to ask?), I had to do it all on the phone.
And it was brutal. I was constantly pumping myself up to get going. Constantly staying on point. Constantly being on alert. And at the same time, my partner has been declining, physically and cognitively. So usually while I’ve been on the phone arguing with offshore managers about whether a job their team screwed up was due to a change in requirements or simply a lack of understanding of the basic requirements, I’ve been taking care of my partner, who is essentially bed-ridden (she can still go to the bathroom herself and feed herself, which is a major plus). And she’s often confused, frustrated, and angry. So, I’ve been juggling Hard Conversations at work with making meals and shuttling needed items to and from the upstairs from downstairs.
Things have loosened up a bit, over the past months, since we got more help on the team, and I was able to offload a ton of meetings and tasks to another (hapless) coworker. But then we started remodeling our house, and the COVID-19 business kicked in. So, that was fun. We relocated to another place for a few months, while the house was worked on, which has been beautiful – such a lovely place to live for the time being. But managing the contractors, having a tree fall near the house (barely missed it – lucky for us), running interference with vendors who weren’t playing nice with our contractor, and making all these decisions about what needs to be put in place — and picking out stuff online and trying to get it shipped, when hardware and appliances that are supposed to show up on Monday so it can all be installed on Wednesday, suddenly won’t be delivered for another 6 weeks… well, that’s been fun.
And yeah. Running on adrenaline. While my partner calls to me from upstairs about how she needs her breakfast now, or she’s having a health crisis. Or she’s having a panic attack. Or she wants to just talk to me (why would anybody need to “just talk”? that’s puzzling). And I’m getting texted by someone about how something needs to be done, but it didn’t get done right. And oh, by the way, did you send out the check in the mail?
Pushing and pushing and just making it happen… that’s what I do. And I’ve been doing it. With surprisingly few meltdowns, I have to say.
But yeah, it wears thin.
And so have I, it seems. I’ve been feeling very lightheaded for weeks and months, now. My heart activity has been … interesting. Palpitations. Tightness. Feeling sick to my stomach and faint. Irregular heartbeat. I seldom go to sleep without my heart racing. I have to consciously slow it all down, which I can do.
And when I check my blood pressure, it’s usually low – the other day, it was 67/46. I know how to bring my BP up, so I’ve been doing my exercises to do that, but having a consistently low blood pressure (88/54 is another reading and I’m often around 95/65) gives me pause. It’s been even lower than usual. I have an enlarged heart, or so I’ve been told, so I wonder if that’s playing a role.
Okay, this is where the “female stuff” gets mentioned, so if you’re uncomfortable with it, you can scroll past the next few paragraphs. It’s not awful, but some people get squeamish, so you’ve been warned.
# Start of Female Stuff
In addition, I’ve been having some spotting and cramping, despite being post-menopausal for nearly 10 years. The spotting only happened twice over the past month. I noticed a little bit of cramping, but I didn’t think much of it. Then I noticed the spotting. Not a lot, just a little. But still. That’s not supposed to happen. And the cramps are certainly not supposed to happen. But they’ve been there. I was thinking maybe they were constipation or related to my lower back pain, but these are definitely menstrual-like cramps. I had them intensely enough and long enough, that I know what they feel like. And that’s what menstrual cramps feel like.
Now, I started menopause about 10 years “ahead of schedule”, and they love to tell you that you run a greater risk of cancer or early death, if you are menopausal earlier than what’s usual. There’s precedent for early menopause in my family, so I never worried about it that much. But of course, now I’m flashing back on those conversations with “healthcare workers”, and it’s irritating.
Also, I’ve had a cervical polyp in the past, and I believe that caused me some cramping and spotting. It was benign. Sometimes women get these little “tags” of growth on their female plumbing, and it’s a simple thing to just reach up there and snip it out. Not painful at all, and the cramping and spotting stopped, right after I had that done.
So, this could be a polyp. No big deal. Or it could be something else. I’ve just been feeling so off, for months now… I honestly can’t tell what the hell is going on with me.
#End of Female Stuff
When I say off, I mean I’ve been feeling woozy and wiped out and feeling like I’m about to fall over, day after day. Exhaustion? Maybe. I mean, life is exhausting enough for me, without all this extra stuff, and there’s been a lot of extra stuff, lately. I know how to push through. I know how to keep going. I know how to prop myself up, so I don’t fall over. I know how to do a great impression of a highly functional individual who’s got it covered.
No need to worry about me! #IGotThis
That’s how we’re supposed to be, right? In America, you’re supposed to be positive and proactive and confident and bold. You can’t have misgivings. You have to always be ON, always be Convinced That We Will Prevail, No Matter What. It’s a sin, in this country, to have reservations, to doubt, to question, to not have faith. It’s anti-American blasphemy, and you’re sternly punished, anytime you show weakness or misgiving. So, despite having a distinct lack of all of the requisite attitudes, I’ve learned how to simulate all of that. Because it keeps people off my back, and I can just go about my business and do what needs to be done.
But feeling like shit, every waking moment of the day… well, that gets old, after a while. It’s kind of my default state, and I’m used to it. But this level of shitting-feeling has been noticeably higher over the past months. And now I have spotting and cramps on top of it.
So, what do I do?
I’m insatiable, when it comes to information, so I guess I’ll reach out and talk to someone. I’ll get on the phone with a TelaDoc later this week, when I’m away from my partner — we’re moving back to our house in a week, and I’m going back for a few days to get the house ready, before we completely move back in. Then I’ll be able to speak freely without worrying that she’s listening and I’ll then need to assauge an endless, relentless borderline-panic-attack that she can’t manage herself (story of my life).
Based on that information, I’ll decide what to do from there.
But I have to admit I’m really torn about what I’ll do. The healthcare system and I are not on good terms. I’m a woman over 50, so I fit the profile of their standard-issue concept of a woman who’s just looking for attention. I’ve gotten that, tons of times, over very real concerns I had about health issues I was having – but nobody took very seriously, nobody explained well, and everyone just dismissed. They didn’t get it at all that I am both highly sensitive in some ways and not sensitive in others, so I have to have a professional opinion to help me make sense of what’s going on, so I don’t inadvertently die. I’ve been on the verge of pneumonia, as well as having an eardrum burst, because I couldn’t tell what was going on in my body, so there’s precedent.
In much larger ways, I’ve been so close to losing everything – and I mean everything – because of health issues that needed to be managed, that nobody took seriously. At all. I had to fight, tooth and nail, to find someone to help me, and then insurance wouldn’t cover it, but I didn’t care, so I nearly bankrupted myself getting help. Same story as a lot of people. And yet, here we are in 21st Century America… Why am I surprised?
But I digress.
Anyway, I’m thinking through my algorithmic process for how I’ll handle things. Of course, without the correct information, I can’t make a firm decision, but I’m doing heuristic analysis at a high level, just considering my options. I have to think it all through carefully, because I’m the sole caregiver for my partner, and she is Extremely High Risk for COVID-19, so I have to add in an extra layer of caution in Everything I Do.
How will I handle getting tests done, if they’re needed? How will I get to the hospital? How will I tell my partner?
How will I deal with the results? If they’re fine, do I just stop thinking about it, and pretend it’s not an issue? If they’re not good, do I go with invasive procedures, or do I just settle into making the most of whatever time I have left?
That whole question of whether to pursue extreme measures or not is a big concern for me. I’m not sure how worth it, it would be. For others, sure! They love me and depend on me! No shit. I’m a fucking asset to the world – no joke. I’ve turned becoming indispensable into an art and a science, and there are so many people who love me. But what’s in it for me? Everyone asks way more from me than they give back. And I seem to be surrounded by people who are ninja-level Takers, but haven’t the faintest idea how to give unconditionally with an open heart. And anyway, they’re not interested.
All anybody cares about is themself and their own corner of the world. There are some who think they care about others, and maybe they do on some level, but ultimately, everybody’s just trying to stay alive, while the world burns down around us and we do less than nothing to stop it.
All of our “leaders” are killing us. They just are. The companies that crank out all that trash of “packaging” that is now settling to the bottom of the ocean… the manufacturers who over-produce all kinds of shit we will never need and rarely use, just because they can, and because it will line their pockets… the community and government managers (I won’t say “leaders”) who refuse to put any regulations in place to protect us from those predatory manufacturers and marketers because it might impact the economy… the people in charge of police forces who just carry on as they always have, no surprises there… and the people telling the rest of us that the police forces can or will ever change, which I have no confidence can or will happen.
We have been well and truly betrayed by everyone who holds any form of power, and they show absolutely no sign of acting in the best interests of us or our planet. They are legitimately deficient in logic, reason, compassion, and conscience, and they have no accountability to anything or anyone. We wouldn’t be in this situation, if that weren’t the case. If any of them cared enough to actually act – if they cared more about principles and the survival of others – they’d take action. But they don’t. So they won’t. And here we are.
So, if I get bad news, why would I stick around? Why would I bother making myself even sicker, in hopes of prolonging the agony of being in the world that neurotypical and autistic assholes have created. Whatever your neurodiverse location on the grand spectrum, assholes are assholes, and their numbers are legion.
Why would I subject myself to the violation of the American healthcare system, which has rarely done me much good, anyway, and has ridiculed and dismissed me and my pain and discomfort time after time after time? Why would I fucking bother? If I have to leave, I might as well do it with my dignity intact, you know?
Plus, prolonging the agony of being around all this… I just don’t know. It’s too much. All of it. It’s relentless. It never stops. People are assholes. Uncompassionate, self-centered, planet-killing assholes. If they really cared at all, and they had any intention of doing what’s really right for the planet, they would walk way from all the plastic-using, manufacturing-produced, poison-infused shit that props up our modern life, and live off the land, off the grid, with zero impact. Quit driving the fucking Priuses and cars in general. Quit buying shit on Amazon that’s so wasteful and exploitive of fucking everything you can think of.
But nobody wants to do that. It wouldn’t be comfortable. It would be inconvenient. And we need our retail therapy. We need our … stuff. Yeah, you can have it all. But you have to do it differently. Very, very differently. And unless you’re 100% not impacting the planet — or other people — negatively, you’re still a problem. You’re a liability and a threat. It’s pretty binary, actually. Either you’re a problem for the planet, or you’re not. I don’t know of anyone who’s NOT. Including me.
Hell, just by typing this on my ancient laptop that’s sucking electricity, I’m a problem. I now sit at a table that was made from artificial materials and wood from some hapless tree… with a lamp that’s also sucking electricity… in a house that’s built out of all kinds of shit that’s either toxic itself or was manufactured with highly toxic processes… I’m a problem. I know that. And all my online venting is just adding to the burden I’m placing on the planet. Yay, me…
So, why stick around in this failed experiment? If I’m going to go, I might as well do it on my terms. Why deal with the medical establishment that practices medicine (and has yet to master it) and uses us all as test cases? I know, I know… they can deal with extreme cases, sometimes. And their extreme measures can sometimes be successful (I’ve seen the promotional ads with smiling survivors). But I’m feeling a bit like Planet Earth — all used up, abused, neglected, taken advantage of by uncaring and unfeeling narcissists. And since I can’t do the wildfire, earthquake or tsunami thing, all I can really do is determine my own fate. Kind of.
All that being said, I do think there are many other things I can do for myself to help my situation. Really take care of myself and what my body and mind need. Quit worrying about shit. Get more exercise. Eat right. Focus on what’s right in front of me. Mind my own business. Get on with it. And see what other options I have that don’t involve anything that doesn’t have anything to do with what I love and value in the world.
I don’t know exactly what’s going on with my health, and I can’t draw any conclusions till I get some more info – if I ever do.
In the meantime, I’ll just focus on what’s in front of me. I feel like crap, so what else is new?
When have I ever not felt like crap?