18 February 2011

In the cold blue light of the artificial sun

It would seem obvious that someone who has a long history of depression and gets mildly depressed every winter suffers from seasonal affect disorder. And yet, I only realized this year that this was the case.

I use many approaches when I experience a bout of depression: medication adjustments, talk therapy, cardiovascular exercise, yoga, massage, meditation, and beginning this year, bright light therapy. Something is bound to work, even if I never know exactly what. So although I have no evidence that light therapy is doing me any good, I quickly became enamored of it. Short of damning evidence linking it to a rare form of face cancer, nothing will get me to stop.

Light therapy has given me back the one thing that motherhood robbed me of: my breasts an opportunity to sit on my ass undisturbed.

Bright light therapy provides a bonafide medical excuse for my morning coffee ritual. The recommended dosage of light therapy is thirty minutes, so every morning I brew my coffee and settle in with my lamp. I set a timer and wrap my hands around my warm mug reading the news in the undisturbed quiet. Halfway through, David brings me a second cup of coffee; I especially appreciate this unanticipated perk of being served while sitting around doing nothing. Children might need helping, the cat could shit on the rug, but somebody else must take care of it when I am in treatment.

So if you are longing for some quiet contemplative time, I suggest you try faking mild depressive symptoms; feign an existential air of despair or adopt a mien of sadness, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and settle in.

14 February 2011

In which my children reveal large gaps in their knowledge of popular music

A transcript of my children watching the Grammy’s

Sarah: Can we watch the Grammy’s?
Sarah: They're what old people watch!
Gabriel: Sarah, you missed a Cover Girl commercial!
Sarah: Wait, we're watching the Grammy's LIVE?!
Sarah: She has too much melanin.
Sacha: What's Justin Bieber doing there?
Gabriel: I love this commercial; I would love to be in that land.
Sacha: Is this the Granny awards?
Gabriel: Why do they hug and kiss? Is this like a relationship with everybody?

During Lady Gaga's performance:
Sarah: The people dress so cool.
Gabriel: Joe respects her.
Gabriel: I don't know why Lady Gaga takes off her clothes.
Sacha: Is that when I was born?
Gabriel: This is the second time she took off her clothes!

Sarah: Is Elton John still alive?
Sacha: How old is he, 96?
Gabriel: Who's Elton John, is he like a music performer?
Sacha: No, he’s a Beatle.

Gabriel: Is Elvis Presley still alive?
Me: No.
Gabriel: I'm thinking of the other Elvis.
Sarah: What? When did Elvis die?

Sacha: The Muppets are reforming. On the Grammy’s. I'm so sad that they're dead.
Sarah: They're not dead.
Sacha: Oh yay; they're still alive!
Sacha: I don't get why the Muppets are reforming on the Grammy’s.

08 February 2011

allergy shot drop-out

There is virtually no airborne substance to which I am not allergic: pollen, ragweed, grass, mold, dust, mites, down, cat, dog and guinea pig. If it can be inhaled, it will make me sneeze. Aside from a two-week period in January, there is always something in the air to aggravate my immune system. If I don't start taking medicine well in advance of spring allergy season, I spend a few weeks wishing I could scrape the backs of my eyeballs clean. And so last summer I began immunotherapy. For the first few months everything was fine. I even felt optimistic enough to get a cat, thinking I would soon be impervious to its danderous effluvium.

Despite the fact that I was getting jabbed repeatedly, I looked forward to my weekly appointment. The doctor’s office was pleasant and sunny, and after getting my shots I sat in the waiting room pleasantly frittering some time away.

A few weeks ago though, I had a mild allergic reaction. It was more annoying than alarming, a sudden onset of sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes. The doctor decided to step down my dose for a few weeks, instead of continuing with weekly increases. The following two weeks I had similar reactions.

I had a more severe reaction last week, this time with Sacha in tow. I began sneezing, and my nose and throat began itching. The doctor kept me for observation. A few minutes later I started having trouble breathing. Although an allergist’s office is a great place to have an allergic reaction, it did not make the sensation of my throat constricting any more bearable. With the doctor and nurses fussing over me Sacha began getting nervous, pinging around the room and hanging on my legs with more than his usual verve. So not only did I need to remain calm with my lungs in brochospasm, but for Sacha’s sake make a good show of how very relaxing decreased small airway function was.

When my symptoms began to subside the doctor checked me one last time and departed for lunch. Did he have a nooner? My symptoms were improving, and I was in the care of extremely competent nurses, but couldn’t he have delayed his lunch assignation by ten minutes?  

I spent the rest of the afternoon in a pleasantly abstracted state, thanks to a combination of Benadryl and Albuterol which left me feeling like a narcoleptic hamster on speed.

And thus ended my brief flirtation with an allergy-free existence, thanks to which I gained the somewhat rare distinction of flunking out of allergy shots.