At my age, there are a couple of words that scare the Hell out of me. Those words were spoken to me a few days ago.
My stress levels have been very high for months now. There are numerous reasons for this, some personal, some work-related, some most likely a sort of PTSD from the pandemic, losing a friend, feeling isolated. That stress has been manifesting most recently as a lack of focus and motivation. My ability to get work done has suffered. No surprise there for those of you who’ve been paying attention to my recent writing output.
A couple of weeks ago, though, something new popped up. I started going numb on my left side, specifically in my fingertips and face. This typically only happened during moments of intense stress. There have been a few of those. My first thought was that I was experiencing some form of panic attack. I’ve had a handful of those over the years and in the lat few months. But I thought it best to give my doctor a call.
During my visit with the doctor, we ran an EKG test, which indicated some irregularities that MIGHT mean I’ve been experiencing some sort of cardiac event.
That’s fun to hear.
It MIGHT be something else, yes, but now I set down the path of figuring this all out. That means bloodwork and stress tests to start. Then, depending on what we find (or don’t find) more tests.
So… there are a few changes I’m making in my life, such as:
- Exercise - I’ve been doing this anyhow for the past couple of months. Going to the gym. Walking/running. I was just about to the point where I was going to up the intensity level.
- Diet - Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been eating like a monster. I guess I figured, “the world’s ending, so break out the Pop Tarts!” I gained more than 20 pounds. So, I need to fix that. I’ve been trying to eat better. I did well 4 out of the past 5 days. The problem for me is I’m a stress eater, but I’m trying to get it under control. I’m also trying to change the intake of red meats, because my cholesterol has been bad for a while.
- Medication - For Cholesterol. I’ve been taking it for a few weeks now.
- Paying Attention - to my health a little more than I have in the past. You know, monitoring blood pressure (which is running high) and the like.
- Clearing Out Nagging Distractions - All those little things I’ve let build up over the months. Small, nagging items on the to-do list that are stressing me out, not because they are, themselves, stressful, but because I keep putting them off.
In addition to my physical health, I’m taking a little better care of my mental health. I’m going to start seeing a therapist. I’m getting medication for depression, wakefulness and focus, and anxiety.
I’m fine. I want to stress (pun intended) that. I have some things I need to do. I have some things I need to change. I have some things I’ll need to address. But I’m all right… or I will be. I just felt like sharing what’s going on with me. I want others to know that there’s no shame in paying attention to physical and mental health. Everything that’s going on right now absolutely impacts my work and my writing and my interactions with people. I’d like to stay around for a while longer. Historically, I haven’t done well when it comes to taking care of my health. Frankly, I’ll need all the support I can get.
The good news is I have a lot of help and encouragement from Cindy. For some reason, she wants to keep me around. I think that’s a character flaw on her part, but I love her for it.
I’m sending this week’s newsletter out a little early. I can’t sleep right now, so why not? In a couple of hours, I’m setting out on a road trip to Lawrence, KS, to sign comics at Chops Comics!