Feb 202016
 

Today my post about not having asthma any more appeared on the Fettlogik überwinden-Blog which makes me rather happy. And then I realized two things: 1. I think I will need to write about that weight loss journey a bit but not today because I am extremely busy today even for me, and 2. I never posted the obligatory before and after pictures. Well, really they are before and during pictures because I plan to lose five more kilos (11lbs.). And no, that won’t make me too thin, that will bring me down to the weight I have always felt best at, and down to a healthy, normal-weight BMI in the low range of normal.

 

Behold before September 2013 at about 98 kilos:

P1030986

And this was taken last week at 68.5 kilos :

image

 

And yes, I know that fat Susanne on these pictures looks much happier than thin Susanne but you’ll just have to believe me that this is just because the first picture was taken on a really fun day hiking with my family, and the second one is a rather hurried picture taken to document a finished new sweater.

I have been trying to not talk too much about the whole weight loss thing because I was a bit afraid of comments, and I felt a bit vain, and I thought I was doing something unhealthy, and was afraid of how the whole thing would turn out because everybody knows that diets are bound to fail anyway, and all that but I think it’s time to talk about it anyways.

But I promise I won’t make anyone lose weight against their will.

 

Feb 012016
 

So I had this asthma attack in 2008, and years later I found out that I had exercise induced asthma. And every since I’ve been using two different inhalers, one with a steroid that I take every single day, and another one that I use before exercising or doing something strenuous.

And the last time I visited my pneumologist he looked at my latest spirometry and told me to try out what would happen if I only took half the dose of the steroid.

And I did, and what happened was – nothing. I felt fine. Which was great, especially since that particular inhaler costs me 47 Euros every time I need a new one which used to be every six weeks but has become every three months now.

Two weeks ago I went back to the pulmonologist for my regularly scheduled spirometry, and this time he said, „You might want to try out how you feel when you stop the steroid. Oh, and you can also try to stop using the other inhaler as well. You’ll have to wait a few days for the effects to show.”

So I stopped using the steroid. And nothing happened. And a few days later still nothing had happened.

And then I stopped using the other inhaler. I was quite nervous when I went jogging that day, and monitoring myself for signs of an impeding asthma attack but what happened was – you guessed it – nothing.

So I am now completely off every kind of asthma medication. And that makes me really, really happy.

And I think that maybe (but I don’t know for sure, of course) this has something to do with me losing a total of 28 kilos. In the book „Fettlogik überwinden“ the author cites a study about asthma and weight loss that came to the conclusion that weight loss reduced asthma symptoms in every single case.

Who would have thought? Not me.

Now I don’t know how the whole thing will feel once allergy season hits my respiratory system but I guess I won’t feel as bad as I did before.

I am still carrying my inhaler everywhere. I’m still not quite convinced. But the possibility of living without the permanent danger of keeling over for lack of breath is exhilarating.

Every morning when I brush my teeth without having to use the inhaler first I grin like a maniac from ear to ear. And when I want to run after a train I can do it. Just like that.

Jul 152014
 

and also why I haven’t posted anything.

It all started when we weregoing to Crete on Pentecost. The days before were a little stressful what with the usual things, and a friend staying overnight, and all the packing and preparing for a week away.

On the flight to Crete I was somewhat cold, and regretted not taking a scarf. The next day my throat was sore, and I felt the beginning of a sinus infection. So I spent the first day of vacation in bed, didn’t go to the beach, and hoped to be better the next day.

Which I was.The next day we walked six kilometers along the beach to Rethymnon which is beautiful, and went sightseeing there, and had fabulous lunch, and then walked all the way back with our son protesting loudly, and in the evening my left ear hurt. I took some ibuprofen, and hoped I would be better the next day.

The next day we had booked a guided tour to Knossos and Iraklion and such. My ear hurt very much during the night, it reminded me uncomfortably of all the middle ear infections I had as a child but otherwise I was feeling alright. No fever. Although it was a little hard to tell with all the heat and sweating because not only was Crete a little warmer than I had hoped, our hotel room also didn’t have airconditioning, and tended to get hotter and hotter during the day until we ad a choice of sleeping in an oven at night, or be woken up every few minutes by dogs barking, and goats and sheep baaing in a field right next to the hotel.

The guided tour was very nice, only we went from the really chilly airconditioned bus to the really hot Knosses site to the bus to the hot town center, back and forth. Because my ear hurt so badly, and it was windy all the time I had put a piece of tissue in my left ear by then. When I pulled it out some time during the dayt looked rather gross, a little bloody and by now it was really clear that there was some kind of infection raging in my ear.

When I googled my symptoms back at the hotel I found that yes, this was a middle ear infection, yes, my ear drum had ruptured, and also that there wasn’t much I could do. I was not keen on finding a doctor and trying to talk to someone who probably could speak Greek and not much more, so I kept taking ibuprofen, and also some of the nose spray my husband takes, and on top of that the antibiotic that we had happened to have lying around at home, and had taken on vacation as a silly precaution.

At that time I couldn’t hear properly with that ear as well but I thought that would become better once the infection would be gone.

So after that it was clear I was really sick, and we spend the rest of the week at the hotel with short walks to the supermarket, and while my husband and son went to the beach swimming I spent my days in the shade reading, away from the wind and sun, or in our hotel room sitting in bed and reading. I did try knitting and spinning but mostly it was just too hot.

I did stay deaf in that ear for the rest of the week which was rather disconcerting and inconvenient.

We came back after a week, and were very happy to be home again, I unpacked all the things, spent one night in my own bed (without goats blearing, and much cooler), and since I was still sick, and since I still couldn’t hear much I went to my ENT on Monday morning.

He told me that yes, I was almost deaf in that ear, that I had a toxic inner ear which sounded rather ominous, that the antibiotic I was taking would not help against ear infections even though it said so on the package, and also that I needed a tube in my ear drum, and infusions, and that I would go home, pack a bag, and go to the hospital over night.

So I went home, told my husband who was desperately wrangling laundry at home, and dealing with a week of neglect in the garden that I would go to the hospital now, and stay over night, and then I went to get my toothbrush and pajamas and such, and repacked a bag.

The doctor had told me I only had to stay one night but I would have packed fresh clothes anyway, only I didn’t have any fresh clothes. Laundry hadn’t happened just before we went away, and therefore I was wearing my last set of clean underwear.

I went to the hospital, got admitted, got my tube put in by a really nice young doctor, and it only took four or five tries, and that one time when he almost didn’t get it out again, and then I got a nice bed, and my own TV, and prednisone and antibiotics via IV, and the doctors told me that I could surely go hometwo days later.

My hearing got somewhat better with the tube because there wasn’t all that fluid clogging up my ear but there were still quite a few frequencies I couldn’t hear properly, everything sounded as if I was sitting in a tin drum sloshing with water but I pretended to be patient.I also called my husband and asked him to bring me fresh clothes, and all the chargers for all my electronics.

And then I spent the next three days sitting in bed, reading until the battery of my ebook reader gave out, and knitting awkwardlybecause I had an IV in my left hand. (I have really bad veins, and at first the nurses had wanted to put the IV in the back of my right hand which would have meant I coudn’t have done much of anything.)

Fortunately I had a room to myself for most of the time because otherwise I would have gone crazy. Also nobody told me that prednisone makes you unable to sleep, and rather hungry, I only wondered why I was so restless.

On the fifth day after arriving in the hospital I could finally go home.That day I wondered why I felt so tired, and exhausted, and weak but by now I can tell you that that are the effects you get after you have taken large doses of prednisone because then your body has to make its own again, and that takes a few days.

So I went home, spent the next few days in bed reading, and continued taking antibiotics.And being grateful that it was still Pentecoste break because if your self-employed it is a little hard to spend a week in the hospital. But since I didn’t have to teach anyway I was good.

Then I started teaching again, without most of my hearing in my left ear, and that made students sound rather badly but it couldn’t be helped. The bad thing was that my hearing wasn’t improving. So I went back to my doctor, and he suggested another round of prednisone shots. Which I had to pay for myself. So I went to the doctor three days in a row, on a weekend, and got more prednisone. With the not sleeping on that weekend, and the subsequent crash the next few days.

By then I was growing a little desperate because I still couldn’t hear properly. I didn’t want to go anywhere, and I didn’t listen to music, and I wasn’t playing any music because t all sounded horrible. And all in all I had taken antibiotics for about three weeks in a row because the infection wasn’t going anywhere as well.

So right when I was about to resign myself to stay half-deaf for the rest of my life I went back to the doctor, did my sixth hearing test in two weeks or so, and found that my hearing had actually gotten better. There still was the tinny sound, and I still had a tinnitus but I was almost hearing properly.

So right now I’m hoping to get my hearing back, once that tube is taken out. Which will happen tomorrow. I am not thrilled by the prospect of having someone poke in my ear again, especially since it is really, really loud when someone is working on your eardrum but I hope to get rid of that cheap sound in my ear for sure.

Sorry this is so long but now you probably understand why I wasn’t doing much of anything in the past few weeks.

 

Feb 222011
 

So I spent a bit of time these last weeks going to doctors and such. First of all I was determined to get to the bottom of my breathing problems. Some of you might remember that in the fall of 2008 I had what I thought was an asthma attack. I went to the doctor, and he couldn’t find anything. He did say to come back if it happened again but there never was an attack as severe as that one time. Mostly because I never ran after trains like that again.

So I thought it was all due to me packing on weight, and not exercising much. But still, something was weird with my breathing, and I felt like somebody was sitting on my chest a lot. But then I really was out of shape. My mother suggested that I had high blood pressure. Nope, not the problem.

Then I found that I became breathless immediately when walking around in the cold. So obviously cold air doesn’t agree with me. And there was this feeling of somebody sitting on my chest that was certainly not usual but not really alarming as well. And I thought that I was short of breath because I was so out of shape. And I often cough when I smell something irritating like cigarette smoke, or perfume, or chilies. Nothing unusual there.

And over time I just got used to it. When walking outside for errands in the winter I just walk very, very slowly. I feel like a fool, mind you, overweight with all my bags, walking at a snail’s pace but at least then I didn’t have to be afraid to keel over from lack of breath. And when somebody is smoking on the street I change to the other side. And when somebody is smoking on the train platform (it’s not allowed but people do it anyway), I go to the other end. I got really used to this until finally I watched myself and realized that my life is really defined by these things. Changing sides three times on a five minute walk because there is somebody smoking in front of you is not normal behavior. Walking at a snail’s pace wheezing when you’re only 43 is not normal either.

Then I started jogging. It was almost exactly a year ago. Since I felt so ridiculous about it, and since I knew I can’t stand to exercise in the cold air I started jogging up and down the annex corridor. Yes, it does feel a bit weird, and yes, that corridor has only ten meters but still. You know those overweight people that you see huffing and puffing while being all red in the face? The ones where you can tell that they just decided to take up jogging after spending years on the couch eating potato chips? I knew I would be one of them so I started to run in the safety of my own home. That has the added bonus that I can stop at any time if I don’t feel up to it. That hasn’t happened often but still.

So after a few months of running I was still short of breath when walking up the hill to the grocery store, and I thought, “This is odd. I’m in better shape now than ever, so why is it so hard to breathe?” It isn’t always hard to breathe, mind you, when I’m sitting on the couch in front of the TV everything is peachy. But it was odd.

Then I taught this knitting class, and after one class I had to dash to the train station. There was a student whom I knew to be going in the same direction, and I thought we could walk together. And then she said that she had to walk very slowly because it was cold, and she has exercise induced asthma. I had never heard of something like that before but there are actually people who mostly get their asthma attacks when exercising, or walking uphill, especially in the cold. That was really interesting. Did you know there was a thing like that?

So I went to the library and got some books on asthma. And there it was: an asthma attack can of course be wheezing, and gasping for air but it can be as mild as having a coughing fit (throw a chili pepper in the frying pan and watch me), or the feeling that somebody is sitting on your chest. Duh.

So I went back to my doctor. He did the whole routine again: blood check, cardiogram, ultrasound, spirometry to check whether the lungs work properly, and everything came back normal. Since he is a cardiologist he looked at my heart twice, and everything was fine. I was slowly getting frustrated, there was obviously something wrong but all my tests showed that I’m perfectly healthy.

Then he did a spirometry while doing a stress ECG, and wham. I knew I’d feel lousy but I went for it. A stress ECG is not a pleasant experience. You’re taken to your physical limit so you always feel like you’re going to die even when you’re in good shape. So I sat on that ergometer pedaling away until I had the feeling I couldn’t breathe any longer. One of the weirdest things was that sensation that my muscles, and my heart were perfectly fine. I could have pedaled much harder, and my heart was far from beat. I only started wheezing, and gasping for air. The nurse asked me how I felt, if there was any pressure on my chest, and all I could do was nod vigorously. Then she fetched a doctor to watch over me while I finished the test. It’s an interesting feeling, working out like a maniac, topless, while hooked up to two machines with two people watching you intently because they’re afraid that you’ll have a heart attack or something.

So. Now I officially have asthma. When I told a friend she said, “Only you can manage to be happy about having asthma.” But that’s not the point. I’m not happy about having asthma, I’m happy that I have an official diagnosis with the possibility of treatment instead of the constant feeling that something is wrong. And I never could be entirely sure if I were a hypochondriac or maybe dropping dead the next minute.

After the first elation about the diagnosis and the shiny new inhaler, though, I started realizing that, yes, I now have a chronic illness. And while using the inhaler is great because for the first time in years I could just run without feeling like breathing through a tiny little straw; it doesn’t make the asthma go away. There is no pill to cure it, there is only better days, and worse days.

Still, at least now I know what I’m dealing with. And you know, I told you so the whole time. What I learned from this is this: when you know there is something wrong go to the doctor, and then go again, and then tell him, “I know you didn’t find anything last time but every time I walk uphill I feel like somebody’s sitting on my chest.” and then get some books, and talk to people, and go back to the doctor again. Because if I hadn’t thought that he wouldn’t find anything anyway I could have gotten that diagnosis far earlier.

Jan 302011
 

So after trying a multitude of things to change my life and me for the better I’m trying to stick to one goal again. The Goal. I don’t do all that well with goals. While deadlines usually help me a lot (if they aren’t too tight.) In my experience I just state goals, get all enthusiastic about them, and then wander off. At the end of the year I often don’t even remember what I started out to do. Goals like: get to bed on time, lose weight, exercise more, become a tidy person get stated on a daily or weekly basis, and then abandoned.

But this year I thought I’d give it a try again. My one (not only but most important) goal for this year is:

Lose 10 kilos of weight or more.

I know. Pathetic, boring, and unexciting goal.

I thought I’d do it properly this time, think about my goal in advance, make it public, hold myself accountable, and such. Well, I did state it in December, I told my husband that this time I was adamant about losing weight, and that I would start January 1st. And I did. I made a few rules for myself because this time I am actually going on a kind of “diet”, and I did pretty well for about, um, two weeks. I will keep on trying, though, because defeat is not an option.

Now you might think why is my weight such a big deal? Well, for one I am heavier than I have ever been in my life. That would be quite okay if I hadn’t gained weight steadily for the past three years. While I might resign myself to be a somewhat overweight person, I can’t resign myself to be a really fat person in the near future.

I did lose weight between 2005 and 2007. My lowest weight in the past years has been about 70 kilos in the summer of 2007. this year on January first I weighed 89.9 kilos. And there were days when my weight was even higher. I could just see myself go over 100 in a few years. (And just for comparison that means that I went from a BMI of 23.1 to one of 29.7 which is quite overweight.)

Of course I had thought that if I just lived a bit better – getting enough sleep, exercise, and eat real food – that my weight might just drop by itself but it didn’t. Even adding running to the mix didn’t do it.

So after a year where I focused on becoming a happier person, I know want to focus mainly on becoming a slimmer person. My rules are:

  1. No alcohol but on special occasions. (Like my husband’s birthday and such. I found throughout this month that there were quite a few special occasions which meant an average of 1 1/1 beers per week.)
  2. No sweets but an occasional piece of dark chocolate.
  3. No crackers.
  4. No potato chips.
  5. No grazing all afternoon or evening.

At the moment I just don’t buy any foods that I tend to binge on. After almost a month of this I did buy some gummy bears for my son again but I don’t get to eat any of them. I used to store some snack foods in my studio for afternoon snacks but I cleared them all out. Now I have to go to the kitchen, get myself an afternoon snack, and that’s it.

And yes, I feel a bit defeated because I need to do this, and when I succeed I want to do it for yet another year so that in the end I might just feel like myself again. Also I want to be able to wear dresses in the summer without my thighs rubbing against each other, and I want to be able to run without my knees hurting. I’m fine so far but of course all this extra weight strains my joints.

I’ll be using this blog to hold myself accountable but I won’t turn this into a diet blog. Just know that as of today I’m weighing 88.9 kilos, on kilo down. When I started this I had told myself that if I didn’t lose at least a kilo by mid-February I would have to join Weight Watchers.

While I’m happy to have lost any weight at all, I also found myself getting lax with my rules after about three weeks. One reason was that in the beginning my husband also didn’t drink any alcohol. But then he went back to his glass of wine in the evening. One reason is that I am obviously not able to stick to any rules for any amount of time. Well, that means I have to forgive myself and do better today. And tomorrow. And the day after that. For the next few years.

I just have to be all “only today” about it, otherwise I’ll be driving myself crazy.

I still long to be a person who just eats, and that’s it but so far it hasn’t worked.

Feb 102010
 

So, yes, I am definitely happier than I was last year, I’m doing something right here. Of course, I’m writing this now after a night of completely uninterrupted eight hours of sleep. If I had written it yesterday it might have turned out a bit different since I had 4 1/2 hours of sleep that were interrupted four times.

As I told you last month I made a bunch of resolutions. Those were:

  1. Go to bed on time.
  2. Pick up after myself.
  3. Write 500 words of fiction at least six times a week.
  4. Think about the things I love about my family, students, and friends.
  1. And again, I didn’t manage to go to bed on time very often but still I have slept more than the months, or years, before. I find that I have to cancel watching DVDs most evenings. In order to get enough sleep it’s a very good idea for me to go to bed very, very early, and just read a bit. That’s seriously cutting into my knitting time but still, every single day I manage to sleep enough or nearly enough I feel happier the next day.
  2. I’ve been doing very well on the “picking up after myself front, and that makes me happier as well. There are still heaps and piles in some areas but I’m getting there. And I manage to do a bit more housework which my husband appreciates very much.
  3. I did write 500 words of fiction (or sometimes more) about five times a week. It seems that there’s always something coming up, and that six times a week is very hard to accomplish. But still I have several thousands of words more of my story than I had before January. It’s great.
  4. I didn’t do that well on the “thinking about the things I love about my family, students, and friends”-front. Especially with my son I got decidedly cranky. But I can say that his sleeping is getting better. It did take a bit of a threat, though, I have told him that he is not to come to me at all until morning. Since he wants me to leave both his and my bedroom door open all night so I can hear him I told him if he so much as calls me throughout the night I will not only close the door but lock it. Apparently that was just the thing it took. You might want to wish me luck, we’re currently working on the “debate everything your mother says”-issue.

The other thing that makes me happy is that I’m starting to lose weight. Well, to be honest I’m down by 100 grams over the last month but still that’s something because over the last two years my weight has been climbing up every single month. Losing weight is something I hope to achieve through becoming a happier person but I’d say the goal of happiness is much better than the one of getting slim.

The thing that makes me even happier than losing a hundred grams is that I might be starting to exercise again. I did some yoga on Sunday (very slow, very easy yoga that made me realize how much out of shape I am), and yesterday I did my very first ever “Couch to 5k”-workout. See, I’m decidedly not a runner. I’m not built for it, not even when I’m a normal weight and fit, and I have never been able to run for any length of time. But when I was thinking about what kind of person I want to be I found that I’m really envious of people like my husband who just put on their running shoes and then go off jogging through the fields for an hour or so. And then I thought about what Mel had started some time ago, and then I read Kris’ post about how she managed to run a marathon, and that got me motivated.

I didn’t know whether I should talk about it here because all I’ve done so far is alternately walk and jog for a total of thirty minutes once, and I did it at home just staying in one spot (and I know that’s not quite the same as moving forward while doing it, but trust me I did work out and I can feel every single muscle in my lower body right now). I’m not about to go out on the street with this anytime soon, and I’ll never run a marathon for sure, ever. But still. I feel pretty amazing having tried out something new. I plan to do the next session of walking and running tomorrow in the morning.

So this will be the fifth resolution in my “happiness project”, exercise three times a week or more.

Jan 172010
 

Those of you who have been reading here for some time have seen me self-diagnose on a regular basis. As if I always have the feeling that there is something wrong with me, something to be put right. When I’m feeling particularly down I then hope that it’s something that can be cured by taking a pill. First there was the eating-disorder, then I thought I might have cyclothymia, then I thought I might be merely depressed, then I thought I might have ADD (something I did not write extensively about), and then, out of the blue while I was at the first German raveler meeting telling stories about how OCD I often am to over-compensate for my ADD tendencies, one of the nice knitters I was talking to said, “Maybe you don’t have ADD, maybe you’re gifted.”

My first reaction? Hahaha! Me? And then I thought, well, I’m not exactly stupid, but then I thought of all the really intelligent people I know like a friend’s husband who is a genius working in AI research, and people I met in university with a mind so sharp they seemed to cut themselves, and everybody else. But then this nice knitter told me a bit more of it (and with every trait she described I thought “That’s my husband!” and “That’s my husband too!” and “But that’s me!”), and she recommended some books to me which I immediately bought and read. One of the books was full of the life stories of gifted people, most of them hadn’t known for ages. And while I certainly have never learned a language in three months, or done anything that remarkable until reading those books I had operated under the common prejudices that gifted people are people who wear glasses, are a bit awkward in social settings and get high grade in math and science.

Well, I do wear glasses but my grades were never really good, all of my teachers were seriously disappointed of me because “she could have done so well if only she had applied herself”. She, on the other hand, felt that she had applied herself as well as she could, but never got it quite right. For all my life I have been suffering from having this great potential. I know that this is a luxury problem but it does not feel good, the knowledge that you could have if only you had done things different or maybe if you could have turned yourself into a different person.

So, after a couple of weeks where I felt that the things that are wrong with me, the things that make me stand out, and never fit in anywhere, and that make me say the wrong things, and forget to smile at people, and that make me jump to conclusion, and talk in a way that people go “Huh?” all the time, that these things might be due to my IQ. Sounds weird, doesn’t it?

I went here and took an IQ-test. I felt very nervous that day, my son had woken me up early, I was seriously sleep-deprived, and also had hormones that made me feel like I was thinking my way through pea-soup-like fog. I went to the test and there were only five other test-subjects, all of them male and looking as if they were studying math or engineering. The guy guiding us through the test was wearing a suit, and I immediately disliked him.

Then came the test. There were only four parts to it, some language, some math, some where you had to rotate cubes in your head, you know that kind of test. I found the language tasks quite easy, I had the feeling that I should have taken the spatial orientation test a bit more serious (typical for me all I could think about was that I wanted to get out and drink something at that point), and the math tasks made me realize that my daily life doesn’t include any math whatsoever. I was too slow to finish that one in time.

When the test was over I was certain that my score would be too low but I knew that I can solve this kind of problems if only I can think straight. After the test a couple of us went out to have a beer, and there we met a few Mensa members. And that was really interesting. All of those people were testified gifted. That was about the only thing they had in common because they were very, very different, but: You know how annoying it is when you go to eat something in a restaurant as a group? How people always take ages to order and can’t decide? Not with these people. I have never seen a group of people that big order that fast. And not one of them did the, “What are you getting? Do you think I should get the duck? Does anybody know if the duck is good here? Really? You’re getting the pork? I don’t know, maybe I only eat a salad.”-thing. None.

There was a scene with the waiter at the restaurant – and I won’t bore you with the details – that was quite funny, and usually this would have been one of these moments when I burst out laughing, and then everybody looks at me with that “what’s funny there?”-look, and then I try to explain, and then nobody gets it but with these people the waiter went away, and every single person at the table burst out laughing. They were all very much awake, had a spark in their eyes, and don’t like small talk.

I know that a lot of people consider standardized IQ-tests to be irrelevant, and I know that the only thing they can tell you something about is the exact same kind of cognitive intelligence that they measure but still this meeting together with the information from the books I have read point me towards the conclusion that having a very high cognitive intelligence might make one different enough from most people that you don’t fit in.

It doesn’t make you smart in every situation. It might make you perform very badly on tasks that are too easy, for example. You might have problems with people, you might abhor small talk, or you might do well, and have no problems whatsoever. It usually makes you quite stubborn, quite independent, relatively exhausting, and in some cases so perfectionist that you never finish anything.

Not to leave you hanging, I got my test-results, my IQ (when sleep-deprived and feeling dumb as a brick) is in the top 1% range of the population. Usually I don’t tell that to people because when I do I feel like boasting, which Im not. I don’t feel particularly smart. I’m pretty confused most of the time, I often don’t get things, and the knowledge of it makes my unfulfilled potential weigh even heavier on me. And while I’ve always known that my mind often works really fast that doesn’t keep it from drawing the wrong conclusions very fast too. I either get things right away or they never really stick. Also I’m still the same person I was before the test.

First I thought I shouldn’t tell anyone. Then I thought, wait a minute, I talk about things here like thinking I might be bipolar or having ADD, and now that I find out that I’m gifted I don’t tell? Now that I have found out that the thing that makes me feel different and not fitting in is not something that’s wrong with me at all, now I won’t tell anyone? What kind of a reaction is this?

Well, it’s understandable especially when you’re living in Germany. You get the “So, you’re good at math, that doesn’t make you special.”-response quite often. Not that I’m good at math. Or that look that now you have told someone they think that you feel superior. It does get worse when you tell somebody that you think your child might be gifted too. I told it before, my son is bored in school. I remember starting school, excited to learn something after all, and then I waited for it to become really interesting and challenging. And waited. (It did become interesting when I did my dissertation but then I never got my PhD. Failure again.)

People here in Germany mostly don’t get what the problem is. They think you’re just a bit smarter (and in their heads they think “Well, if you’re so smart why aren’t you doing better in life then?”). For me the problem has shrunk since I know the reason for all this feeling weird. It also helped me because now I know that I’m not alone, there are others like me out there, and there are ways to find them. One of those ways has been the internet, I have this feeling that there are quite a few really smart people out there writing blogs.

When I finally took the courage to tell my parents my mother said (slightly bored), “Of course, we always knew. That’s why we had you start school early.” Of course? So why did nobody ever tell me? All I ever got was the “We are so disappointed that you’re not doing better.”-look. Together with the “It’s so easy for you, don’t think you’re something special.”-talk. And then my mother said, “Well, since you’re not in academic research it doesn’t make a difference anyway.”

To all those parents out there who might have a gifted child, and who don’t want their child to know so that it doesn’t feel different from the others I say: Please tell them. Your child doesn’t need you to tell them they’re different. They can’t hide it anyway. It’s just good to know the reason why one is different. It’s not a deficit, it’s an asset. One can have a lot of fun with a brain that works well and fast. Really. And trying not to set yourself apart won’t work. Trust me, I have tried all my life.

Feb 082009
 

We’re all still living, that’s the good news. I have been teaching with a fever on Friday (new discipline, and I did splendidly, and managed not to cough on students, that’s a plus). You have to know that I never get as much as a temperature. If my temperature rises I’m really, really unwell. But I did it, thanks to ibuprofen.

My husband has been fighting the flu with a vengeance, and successfully, until last night. Now he’s the one spending the day in bed, which I did yesterday. While I feel much, much better today, I still would like to spend a bit of time in bed today for recovery purposes. Which I will, just after I have cleaned up the kitchen, done the monthly taxes, and have written this post.

My son is the one who feels worst right now. After a week of flu, fever, coughing, not being able to sleep because of coughing, and then finally feeling just a tiny bit better on Thursday; he has been feeling worse again. Starting Friday afternoon, of course, when all doctors are closed.

After a bit of debate my husband and I diagnosed him with a secondary bacterial infection and gave him a bit of penicillin that we have had around. So far it’s not working. It will be big fun when, on Monday, I take him to the doctor again and tell that I thought it was a good idea at the time. (Don’t worry, we’re not foolish, it’s a completely new and unopened bottle of children’s penicillin, still fresh, and there’s enough to give it to him for five days. Chances are that the doctor would have given some to him anyway, only I think it should be working faster.)

Also, my father comes to stay overnight tonight. I’m still contemplating how to make him comfortable while avoiding actual contact. I don’t want him to get sick too. My mother-in-law offered to have him sleep in her guest room. Maybe that’s the best solution.

And? Thank God my mother-in-law is still feeling well because she has to babysit again next week.

I didn’t want to sound all whiny, this is just to tell you why I have been almost incommunicado for the past days. I hope to be well again tomorrow or the day after, and will send both my son and husband to the doctor tomorrow morning.

Oct 162008
 

and I missed them both. Remember, how I told you about blog action day? The theme was poverty. Lucky for me things like that don’t depend on me and there were thousands of posts regarding the subject. Even on blogs about marketing craft. Well, I missed it but I have the excuse that I have written about child poverty in the past (If you’re going over there you also should take a look at the comments).

And then I found out that yesterday was also Love Your Body Day. On the one hand I think that we may have just a few too many blogger holidays (Talk Like a Pirate Day, anyone? Towel Day?) on the other hand, of course, every day is a good day to love your body. In fact since this body might be the only one we have we’d better treat it with respect and love. One of the commenters to my last post called her body a “heap of cells” and I felt quite uneasy about this.

I know it took me quite some time to learn to love my body but it was really worth it. Yes, I am overweight (that’s a fact) but I don’t really feel that there is something to hide. From the inside my body feels good, it’s strong, it’s curvy, my husband likes to look at me, and while I see that it’s aging and far from perfect I can tell you that I felt fatter, less fit, and less lovable at the age of twenty than I feel now.

Then all I could see when I looked in the mirror was a heap of “problems”: butt too big, shoulders too narrow, thighs too big, arms too skinny, waist too narrow. When I dressed I thought about things to hide all the time.

I did learn this from my mother. When she speaks of her body she only speaks about the things she doesn’t love about it. She taught me to wear clothes like tents so that people wouldn’t realized that my bottom part is bigger than the rest. Only later did I find out that the tents actually covered everything so that I looked equally big all over. Only later have I learned that there are indeed people who like women to be on the curvy side. And I learned that I prefer real women over coat hangers every time.

I went to the sauna and the pool and looked at other women’s bodies. Look at them in a friendly way, not the “Look at her, if I were looking like that I wouldn’t wear a …”-mindset. Study other women and find something beautiful about each and every one of them. And look at myself in the mirror every day and learn to love me as I am.

I can tell you that your butt doesn’t get smaller if you hate it. And that there is no magic number on the scale that makes you feel beautiful. I have felt fat at every weight between 57 and 84 kilos. And I have felt more beautiful when I was heavier and older than when I was thinner and younger.

I did write about feeling fat back in June so I won’t do it here again, (instead I’m shamelessly pointing you there). So, let’s all step in front of the mirror, take a look at ourselves, smile (genuine smile, please, no faking) and say, “I love my body. I look fabulous!” Repeat until you really mean it.

Oct 102008
 

Welcome to the September Just Posts!

buttonsept2008

There are two things that I want to write about today. First I want to remind you that next week on October 15 there is Blog Action Day. On that day more than 7,000 bloggers will all write about the same topic to raise consciousness. Last year it was about the environment, and this year it will be about poverty. (I want to thank Lia for bringing Blog Action Day to my attention again.)
Unlike most parent bloggers this month I won’t be writing about elections. Not that I’m not interested in them, there’s just that I’m only watching this whole circus show from afar. I do hope though that every single one of you who can vote has been doing so in the US, and will be doing so in Canada. As for my German readers I’m sorry to say that in the last county election where I live only 60% of those who could have voted actually did. Shame on those who didn’t!
I guess that means I’m writing about three things after all. Well, the main thing I had wanted to bring to your attention this month is Alzheimer and Dementia research. As most people I hadn’t thought about these things at all until Terry Pratchett, one of my very favorite authors of all times got diagnosed with an early form of Alzheimer’s and decided to tell the world about it. Having a disease like that still can stigmatize you. Not much is known about the disease, and how to treat it, mostly it’s just assumed that some people get a bit weird in the head when they’re old, and all you can do is hope that you’re not one of them.
As most of us, though, I know people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, people in my family, people who because of their disease turned into mere shadows of their former selves. As most of us, I know people who tried to take care for these people at home, caretakers who had to lock their parents in and treat them like little children to get them through the day. And who often in the end had to make the decision to have them move into a nursing home because they couldn’t do it any more on their own.
There is a lengthy interview with Terry Pratchett on-line if you’re interested in more information. One thing that Mr. Pratchett said moved me the most:

It seems that when you have cancer you are a brave battler against the disease, but when you have Alzheimer’s you are an old fart. That’s how people see you. It makes you feel quite alone.

I don’t know how to make people with Alzheimer’s feel less alone but talking about it might be a good start.
And because talking about matters of social justice is at least a better starting point than doing nothing, here is the list of posts we collected in the parenting part of the blogging community. (And this might be as good a place as any to remind everybody that every person can send in a link at any time pointing towards a post he or she has read or written. You can find my e-mail address on my “About”-page.)
Ladies and gentlemen, the list:

Alejna with September 12, 2001
Border Explorer with Everything for Wall Street; Nothing for Main Street
Chani with Financial Smackdown, My Last Sarah Post, and Steal This Meme: Politics
Daily Kos with Amazing: Obama helped a stranded stranger
Denguy with Fear
Emily with Saving the planet for Starbucks customers of the future
Ewe Are Here with Busy Would Be and Understatement
Girlgriot with Speechless and Supermoms and super colliders
Holly with I couldn’t hold it any longer and Pennies for peace
JCK with IMC project: Saving the lives of malnourished children
Jen at A2EATWRITE with How to vote/how to buy a car
Jen with Good morning America, how are you?
Jennifer at Faking It with To Support of not to support, that is not the question, as I see it
Julie with How you can help recent hurricane and tropical storm victims
Lia with Age And Ageism and Give Some Thought
Leslie with The most problemmatic of times
Los Angelista’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness with Shiny and Bright Sarah Palin
Mad with Losing at the waiting game
Magpie with Ways to Make a Difference
Mary Murtz with Unfriended? Defaced? What?
Mir Kamin on Blogher with Men and Women: Becoming more alike makes ’em more different. What?
Mother Woman with Manning the Phones
Rebecca with That creepy obsession with virginity and In defense of a silver tongue
Red Stapler with Why I am voting for Barack Obama
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee with Dear Mr. Harper
The Ascent of Humanity with Construction and the Glass Factory
The American Prospect with Everybody Calm Down, Obama is hitting back
The Buddha Diaries with A Fistful of Bills
Under the Overpasses with The Sky is Falling–really! and The View from Down Here

The considerate people who read and sent links:
Alejna
Thailand Chani
Painted Maypole

And as always you should check out what Mad and Jen have to say this month, too. Without them there wouldn’t be such a thing as a Just Post Roundtable.