2020-10-14 New Addiction

I can feel it. I’m approaching being completely free of my benzodiazepine dependency. I haven’t taken a sliver of a pill since the end of August so it’s about effffing time! And my doctor was spot on when he said it would take up to six weeks to clear my system completely. Yeah… that.

Last weekend, when I was on my way to Colorado I commented to Jim that i was noticing more improvement. Some intermittent days without the withdrawal symptoms. The progression was so slow it comes close to imperceptible.

Now it’s Wednesday and I don’t think I had any symptoms yesterday. That’s a freaking incredible milestone! I’m looking forward to being done done. The day I can say I don’t remember when the last time was that my teeth hurt. That it’s just faded into the part of my past where the memory of it can no longer be pinpointed with accuracy.

At this point I’m not sure which affliction was slower to heal. The benzo recovery or tennis elbow recovery. That mess was also so terribly slow to recover from. Some days I think I still feel a ghost twinge. Now that I’m actually doing the math in my head, I’m pretty sure the tennis elbow took longer.

It’s also difficult to tell which was worse. In the thick of it, it’s just awful. The tennis elbow made me miserable for so long and to such a moderate degree. Something you can probably live with, like a toothache on one side of your mouth that causes you to chew on the other side. The Lorazepam withdrawal caused an actual tooth ache. Also moderate and tolerable but with no way to relieve.

To both I say “good riddance!!” Let’s hope that’s this is the last post I’ll ever do about that sort of crap. I’d much rather be writing about my apparent newest addiction. I mean, I use the word addiction with tongue in cheek, because what I’m really referring to is the fact that I’m spending a lot of time on Submittable, researching places to submit my writing and writing cover letters and putting together manuscripts somewhat tailored to what they are Looking for.

I started with a goal of doing one or two a week. Then my new target became daily. And now I’ve changed the measuring stick and want to have at least 50 open subs by the end of October. That’s not 50 total. It’s 50 new or in process with the publisher.

Feels a bit like gambling actually. You toss the dice and mostly the dealer just collects your money and says “please play again.” But sometimes a winning number comes up and you’re all like “Huzzah!!”, collect your 10 bucks and throw it right back down on the felt. Yeah, let’s go!!

I’m still green with this process but I feel like the insight I’m getting by doing all the research makes me a better equipped to be a success in my role as managing editor of The Good Life Review.

I’m getting exposed to a lot of magazines and publishers and their styles, approaches, and really have my finger on what’s hot right now. I already have a bunch of new ideas for promotion and adding a bit more personality to our public facing image. Yeah.. big ideas!

But back to my new personal affliction… with my aim to submit once a day, I found that one I started, mid morning, I really found it tough to close my laptop and move on to something else. I’d be all like “just one more” and “I wonder what submission windows will close tomorrow” and then “ohhhh, this one is a chapbook”.

Yesterday I was on submittable for 2.5 hours. I was only able to tear myself away because my stomach started grumbling and I realized it was past lunchtime. I was happy to sacrifice the time I had earmarked for cleaning toilets. The toilets can wait right??!! 😜

I’m up to 35 open subs, so I’ve only got 15 more to hit my goal by the end of October (unless I get some rejections, which is highly likely). I got one yesterday which was from a fairly recent sub.

That’s always appreciated.. punctual responses are delightful even if they are rejections. I have one open sub that’s been “in process” since February. I think the editors may have made a mistake. I’ve read the turnaround time with some of these publishers and am amazed at how long it takes. But I suppose some of those places get mountains of subs.

I’d send an inquiry note, but I’m kind of curious how long it will take.. like some sort of experiment. I love experiments.

I kind of love my new “addiction”. It’s much better (and a lot less destructive or personally harmful) than most other possibilities. And since I’m apparently immune to rejection now, I can submit away without any ill feelings. My bank account might get a little lighter, but I’ve certainly saved enough to ride this wave for a while.

Of course I’m keeping meticulous track of all the subs, moneys spent, and yes, moneys I’ve received. You kind of have to keep track because if something gets accepted, you have to withdraw it from all the other places you sent it. That will be a bit of a task indeed IF that happens.

Wowza.. and just like that I’m already at 10k steps for the day. Time to get rolling with the rest of my day.

Cheers to Good Health,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-06-23 Take Back the City Tour: Day 7 and 8

Continuing my course corrections this week and I’m still feeling better than I have in a while. Yesterday I went to the dentist and according to their records I had not been in for a check up and cleaning for two years. That’s one example of how time can slip by and a person just doesn’t realize that they haven’t done what they should have done. Two years.. really?

The good news is that my teeth and gums are in great shape. There’s no evidence of what might be causing my random teeth sensitivity. The dentist, who I’ve had a longer relationship with than any other man, worked his magic in adjusting my bite so that a non load bearing tooth wasn’t taking the lions share of the force when I bite down. The jury is still out on if that will improve my situation.

Today the health check up train continues. I go in for a mammogram and I think I know how long it’s been since my last one but I could be surprised there too. For anyone who has not had this procedure before, I will say it’s a treat (I’m lying of course).

My aunt once described it like this…. lying sideways on the ground and having a heavy garage door repeatedly smash down on your boob. Only you are standing and there’s a person there to position your boob perfectly on the surface of the platform so the machine can get some good pics of your parts smashed as flat as they will go.

Yeah. Exciting times! But ruling out one more serious thing will ultimately lift even more weight off me.

To recap.. Last week I had a head CT that proved I did not have a brain tumor or bleeding on my brain. I had labs drawn to check for all sorts of other potential problems. My thyroid is normal, chemistry looks great, my hormones are within acceptable parameters, and I’m not pregnant. The nurse called yesterday and indicated that the hormone levels indicate I’m not going into menopause yet. I hadn’t even thought of that.

Menopause is like one of those things that feels like it should be far away. But maybe it’s not as far as I think. 🤷‍♀️

The only test that’s not back yet is the testosterone. Being female, one might think that’s not relevant, but it is. Low T in women can be a cause of fatigue, low sex drive, lack of focus. All the things that sound familiar to yours truly. I won’t go into the medical saga I went through in 2018 trying to get to the bottom of these chronic problems, but I will say, I’m very interested in the results.

For real, though, even if my primary objective has temporarily become getting clean with regard to substances I’ve been abusing, I feel like original issues will likely still be there. So getting free of benzodiazepines is step one. Cutting out alcohol is happening at the same time as is minimizing the caffeine.

It’s Day 8 and I have not had a drink. It has been no problem, as I predicted. The caffeine is a little tougher but I feel like I’m over the hump with that (maybe) and kind of shrugging the occasional cup of coffee. But all this does, in my estimation, is remove a few variables and hit a reset. I’m not focused on my eating habits (yet) and have not scratched the surface with regard to my exercise routine. As in, still doing the same things. Probably need a change up there too.

I feel like I’m not quite ready yet, you know.. baby steps. Make some adjustment, rebalance, reevaluate, and add something new in.

And so far, there’s no appearance of a Llama or an Ostrich in this story. But I feel like there’s about to be. I’m planning something that is sure to be more interesting than a daily rehash of my body and mind cleanse.

I’m outta time now though so that’s gonna have to wait till tomorrow. 🦙

Until Then,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-06-16 Take Back the City Tour: Day 1

Day 1 and I’m feeling good about my decision yesterday to make some changes. No sleep meds last night and it was a rough start to the night, but eventually sleep came to me. I slept until just past 5 and that was quite nice.

I’m also going to ween myself off caffeine. This I’m fairly certain I can’t do “cold turkey” like cutting out the Xanax and Lorazepam. I’m gonna start by not taking any caffeine as a supplement in the AM. I might still sip a coffee. I might need to do that to avoid a withdrawal headache. Or at least that’s what I’m sure I will tell myself when I start jonesing for a cup. Sometimes it takes baby steps though, you know?

The trifecta for this tour is the abstaining from alcohol. Historically that’s been easier than the caffeine. I think with the lack of Meetups and happy hours, it will likely be the case this time too. We’ll see.

So the goal here in the next couple of weeks is to sort of cleanse my body and rid myself of substances that might be contributing to my feeling so unwell all the time. And knowing that everything is connected, I’m hoping it also improves my mental health and mood. I’ve been down too much and I’m getting so tired of that. Literally.

This goal by itself is kinda boring though. Don’t you think? I mean a cleanse all by itself is just so basic bitch. What this story needs is a camel, or a llama, or an Ostrich. So what’s that look like?

One of Jim’s suggestions yesterday was to get some good cardio during the day. I did 2.4 miles on the exercise bike at a rigorous pace. Felt like crap but I gotta not give up too easy. I suppose I’ll give that another go sometime today. Get the heart pumping a little. But does that cardio infusion qualify as an Ostrich? I don’t think so. What I need is something really interesting. Like a poem-a-day or a bonafide road-trip or, at the very least, some daily change up in the normal routine.

I’ll have to think on that and see what materializes. 🤔

That’s it then. Time to cut and run.
I sure hope the good motivational vibes I’m feeling this morning last.

Cheers to Change,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-17 The Ultimate Broken Record

Sometimes I say the same things over and over and that can get really boring. But just like that song that is “your ultimate favorite”, there’s another record out there we repeat over and over again and it remains just as sweet as the day (night) before… sleep.

No doubts about it, I’m a huge fan. I’ve gone through times in my life where a good night sleep has been really elusive. From those times I can make two direct connections.

First is the fact that the status of my life and relationships and work impact my sleep. Without fail. In tough times when I’m stressed or have too much going on or dealing with a large life problem, I can’t sleep. I’m afflicted with insomnia. I wake up at all hours and my brain is firing on all cylinders. It’s trying to find a way out. It’s trying to solve the problem.

You only have to rewind right here on this very blog to earlier this year to read the evidence. I was a complete mess and inside the darkest place. That darkness was terrifying and I didn’t want to close my eyes for the monsters waiting at 2AM.

I was dealing with the end of a five year relationship that I could not let go of and on top of that a job that was killing me. Every day a new crisis and I felt responsible for all of it. The not sleeping well bled into the day and resulted in exhaustion and the inability to function. I was “on” when I had to be and very much “off” the rest of the time.

This meant my home life suffered, my children suffered, and I personally suffered. Which leads directly to the second connection and that is that lack of sleep causes mental distress.

If you don’t get enough, you start to go coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs. Sadness, anxiety, memory loss, mental focus, and lack of enthusiasm for life are all intensified by sleep deprivation. What’s worse is that all of this leads right back to the first problem.

This is an ugly viscous cycle that can be a downward spiral into oblivion. You’re stressed and can’t sleep and the lack of sleep makes the stress worse. If you don’t break the cycle how can you ever recover? And what if it’s something worse like depression. That spiral can lead to thoughts of suicide. That’s when the brain has exhausted all other solutions and come to the conclusion that it’s the only way out.

Thankfully I did not fall far enough to get to that place, but I was not so far from it that I could not see it. I could see how someone might end up in that place. I could recognize my own dark thoughts about not wanting to try and navigate my life as it was any longer and for a moment had a glimpse of what that would be like. It was terrifying.

I drank so much one night that I ended up drunk and naked in my shower with the water pouring down on me as I cried aloud that “I just can’t do it anymore” and that “I don’t want to have to do it anymore”. Most of the rest of that night was a blur, and thankfully I had a friend close by that took care of me.

Even in my despair I recognized sleep as a key factor for finding my way back. Again rewind to blog post after blog post where I wrote about sleep. So many times, in fact, that I created a category for it so anyone who wanted to follow just that part of my journey could tune into all things sleep related. So far just this year, I’ve written about sleep 46 times, 47 if you count this one (gotta love statistics).

I went through trials of taking sleep aid meds, trying to regulate my sleep by going to bed at the same time every night, and watching the results on my FitBit to see my progress. Each week I was becoming increasingly more aware that it would be a combination of stress reduction and better choices. If you are following along, this culminated in me deciding to quit my job and take some time off of work. It was the best decision of my life.

Every day I’m awake and every night I sleep I get farther and farther away from that terrible state I was in. I’m pleased to report that I’m sleeping well almost every night now and have been free of medications and suppliments for months. I’m not yet getting a full solid 8 hours a night, but I am able to sleep through the night and I think it is now down to just choosing to go to bed at 10 every night. My average night sleep is hovering right around 7 hours, which is worlds better than where I was.

Thankfully the cycle works in the other direction too. The less stress you have, the better sleep you get, and the more relaxed and stress free your days are. I’m not yet to the point of going back to work, but I know that when I do, I will be able to take on whatever challenges are before me. I’m actually getting excited at some of the possibilities that are out there. I’m attributing a huge amount of my bounce back to getting this sleep thing under control.

The bottom line is, whatever is going on in life, sleep is a concern and needs to be a priority. In the constant balancing act between self and work and relationships and family, there should be no compromise when it comes to sleep.

That being stated, I’m just one person and by no means an expert so don’t take my word for it. Here’s a really great article that goes into a deeper dive about sleep and it’s importance in your overall health. Just one more click down the rabbit hole and you’ll be a believer too.

The Importance of Sleep

From this article it’s clear that sleep deprivation can lead to all sorts of issues and has a huge impact on your physical health as well. It’s just one more supporting set of facts that confirm that my quitting my job may actually add years back to my life.😃

No need to bookmark any of this though, because like sleep, this is one record that will always be on repeat and I am sure if one waits long enough, it WILL “play” it again.

No Longer Sleepless in Omaha,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-04-25 Phoenix – Day 4, This Can’t Be Healthy

I know I wrote a little bit before meeting my co-workers in the lobby at 6:45AM this morning to go to breakfast, but I have no idea what I wrote. I know I only slept for 3.5 hours and have been non-stop working for about 48 hours now.

Do you know what being tired and overworked does to your productivity? It makes it take a nose dive. Seriously. But I managed to power through another full day at the hospital with a smile on my face, most of the day. All I can say, is that I am doing my very best.

When we finally got back to the hotel at 7PM, all I could think to do was change out of my damn pantyhose and dress and lay down on the bed. My brain was literally too tired to think about what I should do next. I didn’t know if I should eat or sleep. I couldn’t think about anything. I was zoned out.

Have you ever been so tired? I know in the last couple of months I’ve had nights that I have had 4, 3, 2 and even 0 hours of sleep… and in all those instances I’ve not felt like I felt today. The extra ingredient is the effort that I’m being required to put into work and using my brain to solve problems and focus on specific tasks.

In all those other days, I could kind of coast the next day without issues. Not this time. This time, people are depending on me and I don’t want to let them down. So I’m fighting this exhaustion hard.

I know it will take its toll. It may have already taken a toll. My sleep issues are real even without this added stress, so piling it on probably is more of an exponent than a multiplier.

Right now it is about 8:15PM and I just had a bit of leftover cheeseburger, yogurt from the morning breakfast I saved in my fridge, and some Cheetos I bought at Walgreens for dinner (also not healthy). I’m sitting outside by the pool and it’s a lovely 80 degrees but I feel like I can’t even enjoy it.

I know it’s not even 9 but I am really needing to try and sleep. Maybe tonight will be my night for 8 hours.

Fingers Crossed,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-02-01 And the Winner is…

A month of the year is gone already. In that time, I’ve been focussing on exercising more and, for those who are following along, now tracking the foods I am eating too. I think I have been somewhat successful with adding more activity to my days/weeks thus far but came to the conclusion yesterday that this deep dive into analyzing the calorie tracking applications on my phone sort of became a mechanism enabling me to procrastinate actually making changes in my diet. Recognizing this, I know I need to close the book out on that so I can start some forward progress.

With that, it’s time to declare a winner. At present, the two remaining candidates are MyFitnessPal and MyNetDiary. They are both very, very similar in most aspects and I think what it comes down to is what one app does just a little bit better and offers just a little bit more of than the other. So no real deficiencies for the MyNetDiary, but MyFitnessPal is just better.

The databases are both good, but MyFitnessPal had about 98% of items I was searching for by keyword and actually had 100% of items I scanned the barcode of. Those numbers were slightly lower with the other app. If you recall, strength of database was one of the primary reasons the first two got cut. It’s pretty important because I don’t have time (or don’t want to spend my time) looking up or manually inputting nutritional info.

Noteworthy is the use of foods other people have “contributed” in what can be searched and selected. There are two main problems with this.. One, I found, is that people might have entered in the calories for an item but not the nutrient breakdown. If you want to track carbs, protein, and fat, then you will have inaccurate data in your calculations throwing off the numbers. So garbage in garbage out applies. The second thing with this is that using these in the search sometimes yields 10 + things that match and have varying degrees of numbers, so the confidence is not high that there is any verification of the data that’s been added whatsoever. This is a design choice. Allowing folks to enter their own numbers is a good and necessary feature, but dumping that into what should be your “gold standard” database is completely different.

I will say that MyNetDiary has a setting to turn off showing “contributed” foods, but in doing so, I found that greatly reduced the number of positive hits on a keyword search. So then I circle back to the DB not being as strong.

Here are the top three items that put MyFitnessPal over the top…

– Data analytics. I can get 1 day or 1 week views of nutritional charts and graphs with breakdowns both by nutrient and then within each nutrient by meal of the day. The other app had very little to offer in this area without purchasing the premium version. (and I would never spend money on an upgrade without even having a sneak peek at what I was going to get).
– I was able to add a recipe and save that for future use AND edit it after the fact when I realized how the serving size was going to affect what I was actually eating from that recipe. The other app allowed me to put in a recipe, but again, one would have to buy the premium version to do any edits.
– I was able to sync MyFitnessPal with my Fitbit. This automatically pulled my step count each day which plays into the calculations of how many calories I could consume above the baseline. The simple fact that it was easy to sync up the apps and again, not requiring the purchase of a monthly subscription, was very nice.

I may at some point do an official breakdown of my analysis of all four apps, but I’m not making any promises on that because it’s time to get on with things and start using the data. I wanted to establish a realistic baseline of what I am eating now, and I think I have that. So in February I’d like to “maintain” on the exercise front and start making better choices in my day to day eating that will lead to a positive change. I just have to take it one day at a time and one meal at a time. Today is a good day to start. 😃