Sunday, March 29, 2015

it's only in the blood

here's a thing: i've been anemic for at least six years now.

i was first notified by my doctor in 2009, who called me after doing some bloodwork to say that my iron levels were "incredibly" low; normal levels for women are between 35 and 45 percent, and mine was like, 6. i'm not sure how i wasn't dead. anyway, this made sense given i was coming off of my ill-advised couple years of being a vegetarian, and clearly not taking enough vitamins to compensate.

being anemic isn't uncommon for women, since we bleed once a month, and it can be worse if we're in the gym a lot too (something about sweating out the minerals). my lifestyle in particular has never been conducive to a healthy iron level -- too much working out, not enough red meat because i can't afford it, sometimes crap diet in general. also, it's tricky to get your body to absorb iron, since if you're eating something high in iron, you generally need to pair it with something high in vitamin C in order to absorb the maximum amount of iron available. (so like, eggs with tomatoes, or spinach salad with red peppers) all told, it's a lot of work to not be anemic, basically.

so as a mild hypochondriac, i was pretty alarmed by my doctor's diagnosis way back when, and really did make a valiant effort to fix my health for a while. i took iron supplements (palafer) continuously for a couple years, but eventually dropped off because 1) i didn't want to keep paying for them (they're not covered under ontario health care); 2) they're difficult to take; 3) the side effects are painful and gross. at the time, it really felt like the cure was worse than the disease, so i figured, why bother? my anemia wasn't life threatening and it wasn't interfering with my day-to-day life, so i let treatment fall by the wayside and put on a sheepish grin every time my annual physical came up with "your health is fine, aside from the fact that you're anemic". whatever, it was fine. it's easy to be young and stupid.

but lately - and as i've gotten older - i've had a harder time putting my crappy blood aside. i can get tired pretty easily, and i occasionally have heart arrhythmia, where my heartbeat sort of speeds up or flutters in my chest (i had it checked out at the doc's years ago and my heart is fine and normal, so the anemia is the only explanation). also, and more annoyingly, there's now usually a day or two during my time of the month where i feel so exhausted from loss of iron that i nearly faint. which...isn't a good thing. it's alarmed my poor boyfriend enough that i figured i better start taking care of myself again, less he keep wringing his hands over my health. (he worries about me a lot.)

so i'm back to taking palafer, as recommended by my doctor, even though i hate it (the pills, not my doc). i take it dutifully every night before bed, on an empty stomach, with a glass of orange juice, then i lie back and wait for the weird burning sensation in my stomach to cede. then the next day can potentially include bloating, gas, and other unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects. if i skip a pill during treatment, i usually have headaches the next day. again, it does feel like the cure is worse than the disease -- but i know from past experience that once you're taking it regularly, the side effects lessen and everything evens out. which is a good thing since you need to take palafer for at least three months to notice any difference in your health/energy levels/what-have-you. anemia, man. it's a tricky one.

at the very least, it gives me the excuse to occasionally put together very nice meals for myself:

red wine as standard.

as i said in my last blog post, march has been - and april will continue to be - months of self-improvement and care for me. when you don't have health coverage (which i currently don't, and i try not to think about it), you really need to make sure you do stuff for your health like take vitamins and exercise often and drink a ton of water and floss every day. (dental health is suuuuuuuper important, you guys. when i lived in vancouver back in 2007-08, my job didn't give me health benefits, so i didn't go to the dentist for like two years. i think i had three cavities that needed to be filled when i got back to my dentist in toronto.)

aside from actively trying to fix my anemia for the first time since 2009-10 (because honestly, i don't want to be exhausted and fainting anymore), i'm attempting to wrangle my budget and take better care of my finances. i'm committed to going to the gym for an hour and half four days a week, including two spin classes and walking 10,000+ steps a day. i'm doing an anti-aging face mask once a week. i'm trying to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. i'm doing a lot of laundry. i'm paying all my bills on time. and i'm flossing. all the little things that are within my power to make me feel satisfied that i'm not a complete fuckup at being an adult. because sometimes that's all you can really do, right?

[ music | holy ghost!, "wait and see" ]

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#Reverb15: Spring Favourites

Cleaning out the closet, updating your beauty regime, tackling DIY projects. What are your favorites this spring?

hilariously, this question was posed just as i'm going out later today to buy one of the most boring of all tools: a squeegee with an extendible handle, so i can wash my apartment's windows. because yes, spring is coming, and the outside of my windows are filthy with what i can only assume is caked-on smog. i've determined that the only solution - aside from standing on one of my balcony chairs, which is a terrifying prospect at 18 storeys up - is to purchase an expensive sponge on a stick. wheeeeeee.


other than that, for me it's the typical spring-cleaning business: open up all the windows as much as possible to air out the apartment, keep things tidy and vacuumed, do tons of laundry (except for this bullshit yesterday), and perform general upkeep that makes me feel like a responsible, productive adult. because no matter how fucked up my life gets, i can at least feel proud that i'm able to keep my clothes washed and my floors clean. yay?

also, it's mostly a time to take stock of current habits and try to improve things, because the only motivation i have in the summer is to find as many patios as possible. so right now in the last days of winter, i try to take better care of myself - face mask once a week; iron pills once a day; floss every night; try to get back in shape so i can fit into my cute spring/summer dresses - so the only thing i have to worry about in the summer is not sweating to death. (i've mentioned i don't like the summer, right?)

[ music | pj harvey, "bad fortune" ]

Sunday, March 22, 2015

keep on surviving

hello! me and my gigantic sunglasses and spotty post-pms skin are back.

for a while, anyway -- i can never really tell when i just won't be in the mood to write about my life, or when i won't feel like putting stuff down because i doubt it'll be of interest. but then i'll sit down at my laptop and be like, "oh yeah, this thing happened, and this thing..." and then before you know it, i've written for like an hour and filled up a massive blog post about all the dumb shit i've been up to. i guess i can't gauge things by how my father calls and asks what i've been up to and i reply, "uhhhh, nothing."

so here's some stuff that's happened, mostly gleaned from my tumblr (this will likely be image-heavy, js):

- celebrated one year with the import boy. i know, right? one year already.

this is the box of stuff i've collected over the last year -- little tokens, cards, ticket stubs from events we've attended together and the like. i am a mushbag.

as i admitted to him recently, if i hadn't gone out on that date with him last march 1st, i'm fairly sure i'd still be single right now. because for one, i'd become pretty okay with it at that point (sure, i had tinder, but only as a joke -- and ironically, that's how i ended up meeting him in the first place), and for two, i don't like doing things i don't want to do -- and i do not like dating. i remember going for coffee with my friend katy the day of that date last year and moaning about how much i hate dating. but yeah, the whole thing worked out. he'd be the first to tell you about how nervous i was that evening. (in my defence, i hate dating, and also i knew there was a good chance he and i could be a match and i was nervous i'd fuck it up) but whatever, we're gross, the end.

- went to london! not the london of sean's homeland, but rather the more accessible option (and thank god, the one that doesn't require me to get on an airplace) -- london, ontario, to visit my cousin and his wife. in another universe, london might have ended up being my own adopted hometown rather than toronto; back in 2002, i'd gotten accepted to the university of western ontario (as well as mcmaster university in hamilton), but i held out an extra couple nervous weeks until i got the letter of acceptance to u of t. as it stands now, i'd only ever really gone to london to see gigs at call the office (an awesome live venue btw), but it'd been ages since i'd seen my cousin, plus it'd be a good time with my boyfriend along. so! off we went.

here is a pictorial of a night of hockey, free coffee from mcd's, cake, and old video games:

we only hung around for the overnight, then hit the bus back to toronto the next afternoon. this, unfortunately, turned out to be something of an adventure. see, once you get off the highway and into downtown toronto, this is the route the bus usually takes:

this is the route our bus took:

yeah, you know it's something when more than a few passengers are loudly discussing the fact that this is clearly not how you get to the bus station. (also, it was rush hour on a saturday, and we got stuck behind two streetcars. and for no reason, apparently -- the regular street was completely fine and clear. i feel like the bus driver got lost. fuck that.)

but at least i got back to the city in time for bloor cinema's special screening of control, one of my favourite movies of all time. i scribbled a short blurb about my feelings on it here.

speaking of film and tv, we have been...

- watching all the netflix. boy and i have already gone through the fall, orange is the new black and the unbreakable kimmy schmidt, and right now i'm eyeing bloodlines as a new series to start bingeing. it's really quite a nice couples activity, watching the entirety of a tv series together, though lately it's more been nights of the boy plowing through resident evil: code veronica while i watch, eat candy, help with puzzles and scream at zombies and monsters. (which is also hella fun.)

also, in tv news, game of thrones' new season starts in a few short weeks, and my number-one love, penny dreadful, is back in early may, so my sunday nights are going to be a wild ride. as if my blood pressure hasn't been beat to shit by the walking dead recently. still, it's nice to finally make use of the bazillion tv channels that i pay to have access to, yet have rarely watched up until now. (though i suppose i could make do with just hbo, amc and showcase.)

- warmer weather = the need for delicious cocktails. i don't know, maybe it's a seasonal thing with me. (though man, do i ever just love winter for red wine and strong beers) but lately i've been taking advantage of my stocked home bar - i may be running out of groceries, but i have a surplus of alcohol - and coming up with things like the below.


alcoholic thin mints!

pimm's cup while there's a blizzard outside!

obviously, i can't do these on an empty stomach, so i've been working away in the kitchen as well (or, more accurately, just defrosting things that i made back in january when i knew times would be lean). some examples being buffalo chicken chili:

korean beef & quinoa:

and of course, cookies:

so yeah, you could say i've been keeping myself busy. (though really, a lot of it is simple self-preservation since it's way cheaper to cook and bake for yourself rather than eat out at restaurants all the time, which i try to do as little as possible)

now, for the more serious stuff, and i'll try to keep 'em brief because nobody likes a bummer attitude:

- job hunting in this city is tough going. it's pretty well known that it's a super competitive environment out there, although i don't like to use that as an excuse. but at the very least, i've been applying for positions that i really want with companies that i really want to work for, and it's nice to have that luxury rather than just flailing and accepting something, anything that i can find. that'll come later when i get desperate and scared. but right now, it does sort of hit you right in the self-worth. maybe that's what i need, though -- something to force me into considering what i really want to do with my life, and if i need to be taking other, potentially different steps to get there.

- i feel a bit stuck in toronto. maybe it's just the time of year, and maybe it's just too much access to social media where everything's sunny and bright and everyone has awesome lives, but it seems like everyone i know is going away on cool trips and vacations and i'm stuck here. and believe me, i want to go places; i just don't have the money or the means right now. sadly, i can't even plan travel in the near future, although it's more or less a given that i'll be visiting england with sean at some point. so it's kind of a downer to see how everyone is posting vacation snaps and travel plans and i'm just like okay, cool guys, have fun. i'll just stay here in my apartment until the end of time.

- i didn't have a very good february. i made a lot of relatively poor decisions for my health and well-being, my finances and my personal motivations, and now i've decided to spend the next couple of months righting the ship. i want to go into this spring & summer feeling better about myself and what i'm doing. for the most part, march has been a success so far; i've stuck to a lot of my plans for self-improvement, and aside from a couple of down days (as well as the two points listed above), i'm feeling better about myself and where i'm headed. i want to hang on to this drive and motivation through april, so i can look at myself in may and know that i've been doing everything in my power to stay on track. there's not a lot i can control in this life, but if i focus on the stuff i can control, then i think i'll feel better.

ummmm that's all for now, i think. to the gym!

[ music | kisses, "midnight lover" ]