Subway Sociology #1: Showing Ini-$h*!-ive: Business Meetings with IBS and ADHD

I just came back from a business meeting in another state. A small group of us went. We stayed at different hotels, and we agreed to meet up half an hour before the meeting to make sure no one was late. The meeting was in a city with good mass transit, so my boss encouraged us to take the subway to get to our meeting. It would be “less complicated” and cheaper.

I had a terrible, no good, very ADHD time getting there. First, I got lost on the way to the train. Big surprise!? Then, the train readers weren’t taking credit cards because of a malfunction, and I never carry cash. Using cash means I can’t track my spending on my statement, which is a recipe for frivolous ADHD spending. The only ATM around was one that needed a branded debit card to enter before business hours. Guess who isn’t a Bank of America customer, and thus couldn’t use her own debit card to unlock the doors of the 24-hour ATM? I was on the verge of panic when a passerby finally took pity on me and unlocked the door with her card.

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*Press It* Presents for Your Loved Ones with Chronic Migraine — The Migraine Chronicles

via Presents for Your Loved Ones with Chronic Migraine — The Migraine Chronicles

My own migraines have been getting the best of me this week. I’m about to go out of town for a business trip, and I’m praying I can get them under some control before I leave. I wasn’t aware before this reblog that pre-prepared gluten-free meal services were a thing, but I now feel like my life has been lacking something critical. I wonder if they also have FODMAP-friendly meals?

I’m sure those prepared meals are ridiculously expensive, but I would accept them in a heartbeat as a gift! They would be especially welcome after my colonoscopy, when I am finally able to return to my normal low-wheat allergy rotation diet. It has been fun in some ways doing a full-gluten challenge in advance of the test. I haven’t eaten this much cake, pizza with real dough, or non-cardboard-tasting pasta in ages! It has also been unpleasant in more ways – even more GI symptoms, random hives, congestion, and nausea! (At least my partner thinks I have “cute little sneezes.”) I already knew I had a wheat allergy. Celiac disease would be worse, and I do think it is important to know whether that could be causing my issues. I’ve been doing my ‘challenge’ meals at home, to minimize work symptoms, but I haven’t been able to avoid them. I’m worried about symptoms on my upcoming trip, though my GI suggested I follow my previous diet during the trip and resume the challenge when I return home.

I already own a lovely quiet immersion blender and I have a partner who acts as my non-robotic vacuum cleaner most of the time. I felt like this list of gifts was speaking to me personally as I read through it until I came to the (sensible) suggestion of migraine-tinted sunglasses.

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CBT and the Statistician

Catastrophizing is an interesting phenomenon when you are a statistician. It’s ingrained in me to work out the odds, even for the things I fear the most. I am the girl who corrects her therapist that, “No, I don’t actually think X, Y or Z is going to happen. I objectively assign only about a 15% probability of X happening in the next three months; however, I fear X enough that even those odds trigger nightmares.” I am either terrible at Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or amazing at it, depending on how you view it.

Sometimes the odds are somewhat reassuring, and sometimes times they aren’t. Either way, never tell me those odds unless you can back them up with peer-reviewed citations. I work in public health, and epidemiology is not often kind. I consider myself an advocate because I see in the odds how rough it is for anyone different from population expectations. I see the odds for those who aren’t neurotypical, for those who live in poverty, for those of color. I see the odds, and I both fear and advocate more because I see them. After the first few therapy sessions – wherein I bombard them with the worst of the depressing odds ratios I work with every day – most therapists pursue a different therapeutic direction. CBT is an evidence-based treatment, but I don’t know that anyone has ever evaluated whether it works as well on those who estimate the odds of catastrophe every day to earn their paycheck. I’ve had better luck with therapeutic methods that stress radical acceptance. I know the odds, but I am still learning how to sit with those fearful odds.

So, what does a statistician say to someone else experiencing the same physical symptoms when that person does catastrophize? What does she say when someone states without hesitation that she has cancer? What does she say when the odds are higher for that person, but more tests need to be run? What does she say when she’s been discussing the catastrophic scenario for her own symptoms for hours, and no one is catastrophizing over her?

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