Messages in a Bottle #6: Cool as a Snowball in H#ll

From what I can tell, we briefly hit temperatures that were literally hotter than (the 9th Circle of) Hell this week. And, just as the Northeast might get a break from the insane heat wave that is gripping most of the country – for two days at least – I might be leaving it for another roundtrip to Hell. Argh. The 9th Circle of Hell additionally lives up its name by having always been unlivable in the summertime for someone growing up with undiagnosed Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and the dysautonomia that likes to hitchhike.

I recently(ish) read two separate blog posts (by Narcoleptic Aspie and Crafts, Chronic Illness and Adulting) about how bizarre trying to use a Fitbit or another fitness tracker is for someone with a condition that includes autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Lavender from two years ago completely agrees with that sentiment.

I also discovered this random “journal” entry – not even written in my usual locked leather-bound journal because I was simply too out-of-it to hand-write anything – floating around in the flotsam and jetsam of my personal Dropbox.

The date of syncing of the post was late-July 2016, though given that my text notes sync to Dropbox only when I use wifi, not data, on my phone, the note itself could have been written on my phone anytime within a few weeks of that date. Out of curiosity, I went back and looked at my phone to see what Samsung Health recorded as my low heart rate at around 5:30am in July 2016. (Yes, this does mean my phone is over two years old, for anyone asking. I drop it constantly I’m not going to replace it every time a new model comes out just to shatter another screen!) I suspect this entry corresponds to a heart rate of 46 on July 12th, 2016. My recorded high for that month (156) also seems to have come at a time I marked myself as “at rest.”

It’s strange to think that if, on that date, I’d considered that I actually did have those extremes of heart rate while simply sitting inside in the A/C – and that it was my body, not my technology, that was broken – I might have been diagnosed at least a year earlier. But, of course, I assumed the technology just wasn’t that reliable. (Also, would that I could go back in time to a moment when the world wasn’t ending right now, as was the case two years ago! You know it’s a Messages in a Bottle when it contains that line. The world most certainly isn’t okay in “right now, right now!)


July 2016

I hate nightmares. I hate waking up at 5:30am and feeling like I now have to be up and doing something – anything – productive to keep myself safe when the hands-down best something I could be doing would just be to go back to sleep for two more hours.

I wish bargaining with myself actually worked. I wish could actually convince my nervous system that self-care sometimes is the best thing I can do for myself and that sleep makes the things I just had nightmares about less likely to actually spin out of control. I wish I could convince my nervous system I’m more likely to make my deadlines and avoid the failure it thinks is inevitable if I just got more than six hours of sleep in a night.

Unfortunately, I can’t. I can’t even get the satisfaction of proving the effect of PTSD on my nervous system by seeing my fears reflected in my physiological symptoms. Who was that person who first described “heart-pounding” anxiety? Did they not know what they were talking about? Were they alone in history and, ever since, people have assumed that the poetic license of a writer in ancient Mesopotamia reflected the truth? Do they remember how hot it is in the fertile crescent? Maybe that was enough to account for the whole shebang…

I thought it would be reassuring to see a crazy pounding heart when I looked at my heart rate reading on the Samsung Health app immediately after I awoke. No, instead it thinks my heart rate is below the normal resting heart range. It even gave me a helpful little reminder that a resting heart rate as low as mine is not necessarily an indication of disease. “Elite athletes” often have resting heart rates lower than 66. Well, I’m not an elite athlete – especially when I can’t set foot outside even at 11pm without keeling over from heat stroke – so what does that say about me?

Are my peripheral and central nervous system really that out of whack, or is Samsung just touting rather beta-version technology as a standard part of its pre-installed app suite? I’m going to assume the latter because I also don’t see how I can have a heart rate as high as I might expect after exercise (or at least a nightmare) when I’m sitting comfortably at rest. I have many kinds of anxiety, but I refuse to add health anxiety to the list.

If I simply must wake up every morning convinced the world is ending when (so far as I know) it isn’t right now,  I’d at least like the sarcastic satisfaction of scaring my phone with how “scared” I am. It has a little indicator where I can mark I am “afraid” during the reading, so presumably, that should have some actual physical effect on my overall well-being?

Nope. My phone thinks I’m an elite athlete, which means it also appears to think that my problems are all in my head. I’d uninstall that phone app for stigmatizing mental health if it didn’t appear to be a core component of the operating system and not able to be uninstalled.

Need a recap of anything I’m talking about in any post? Check out the Glossary of Terms.

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19 thoughts on “Messages in a Bottle #6: Cool as a Snowball in H#ll

  1. I swear I left a comment here previously, or maybe I didn’t.🙃 The heat is really taking me down for the count. You have me soooo curious where this 9th circle of hell is (top two guesses are Phoenix and Los Angeles area). I feel like I should know but my memory, well, plain and simple, it sucks. And wow, I never knew, how could I have, what an impact the heat has on a person’s heart rate! You’d think I was training for the Olympics, or at the very least spending 7 hours a day at the gym. My Fitbit thinks I’m a pretty active gal, little does it know I’m sitting in bed all day. Well actually the step counter probably gives that information away. Sending strength as you continue to wade through life’s challenges.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can say it’s not Los Angeles because the first time I wrote about it I admitted it was in a Red State that was well-known for being Red. For Phoenix… Well, I can’t confirm or deny. The kinds of things that Arizona has been in the news for are sufficiently overlapping with the 9th Circle of Hell that to say either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would still probably end up giving its location away in a few short cognitive leaps! I’ll just hedge that if one of my readers pictures a place like Maricopa County when they think about the administration and politics of the 9th Circle of Hell, they would be good enough for “government work” (har har) and that I can’t ever confirm or deny without potentially compromising my anonymity!

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    1. A company called Parachute. I got them on Amazon. They have a whole series of geometric pattern ones. I heard recently about a site that will let you design your own fractal coloring book pages and try them out. I might eventually do that, if and when I can remember the name of the website. Grrr, brain fog.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I completely understand what you mean. I experience brain fog all the time so I’m glad I’m not the only one.
        I actually create my own adult colour ins as I am an artist.
        Would you like me to share them with you on my blog? Any suggestions of what you would like in them? Maybe that will allow you and my other followers to share something with me as I can’t travel to the other side of the world to work with you all in person.
        You can follow me on coolncreative.wordpress.com

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That would be cool! I wonder what it says about my personality that my first thought was “ooh, could there be a coloring book of natural disasters?” – then I realized that probably wouldn’t have asked much universal appeal :-p Maybe an actual field of lavender-looking flowers for my blog?

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      3. I will totally promote your coloring books when I use them, btw. Hopefully that was obvious, but just in case. I haven’t worried much about credit for commercial ones that specifically say share the work with free use, but for yours I’d make sure they knew who the designer was on any post. 🙂

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      4. Yeah OK. That is weird, what exactly do you mean by that? But I guess you could make a lava colour in or something, but definitely not fires or tsunamis or floods or anything. That would NOT be good. Is that meant to be a joke or just brain fog? The lavender one sounds lovely though. Will do when I get a chance.

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      5. I follow a bunch of nature photography on Pinterest, so I was thinking things like pretty supercell thunderstorms over mountains or tornadoes arcing into the ocean or volcanoes spitting lava. Not the ugly ones, but I guess that could sort of limit which ones make for good coloring. Though given I lived in earthquake country, I’m sufficiently weird I’d color a picture of the San Andreas, too. This is why I immediately thought of those things then realized they probably don’t have enough mass market appeal to be worth making. (Though, I guess I should give myself a bit more credit – there is at least enough mass market appeal for a subset of weather photographers to make money taking pictures of the storms they chase! I am not the *only* weirdo out there!)

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      6. Oh, you live in California. When you put it that way hat makes sense. I can do that for you if you send me some pics of storms etc where you live. It will give me something to do.

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      7. Lived in (and miss it). 🙂 I’m on the East Coast now. I have lived on both Coasts and the middle, with time visiting the South courtesy of my Partner. I have the minor party story of having been tangentially around (meaning close enough to take pictures of, but fortunately always evacuated and/or in shelter in time to ride out safely) most types of natural disasters. Earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards, wildfires, dust storms – even a sinkhole once! My Partner is technically one up on me, as he’s experienced a hurricane and I haven’t. I’d probably send you storm photos as my “best”, if I sent you anything of mine, though mine are not anywhere as pretty as the photographers I follow on Pinterest. I’m not that great a photographer at all, but photographed well, storms are the prettiest nature scenes I’ve seen. Erupting volcanoes might tie them, but I haven’t yet seen one close enough to photograph safely. I have just seen some pictures from others that suggest that.

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    1. Thank you! I love blog awards. I’m trying to do them in order – and thanks to ADHD forgetfulness and the previous inability to save posts on WP – I’ve got a couple before this one. But, I will definitely complete it in the near future since I’ve made blog awards into their own series on my post. I get *very* into them. 🙂

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