Panic attacks suck, and so does having them at concerts

I’ve written before about how panic attacks suck. Your fight-or-flight instinct goes into overdrive, resulting in major not-fun-ness. Like, seriously.

The fiancé’s mom, who is an absolutely wonderful lady, invited us out to an Elton John concert. I like Elton John. Elton John is awesome, and his music is awesome, and he’s awesome. So yeah, of course I wanted to go.

I just didn’t quite realize what I was in for.

I’ll take a moment here to note that, along with not being correctly balanced for long periods of time, my panic attacks are also set off by a combination of strobe lights and really, really loud noise (think packed-arena noise) that has nowhere to go and thus reverberates through an entire structure and the people in it. It’s super-disorienting to me, and I do not like that feeling. If I’m in an open-air sports arena, I’m usually okay because that has steadier light, and the noise… has a place to go. Fireworks are about the most strobe-y thing I can handle.

So, when my brain gets strobe and overwhelming noise signals, I think this is roughly how it goes:

Lizard brain: Oh God, we’re being attacked!
Human brain: No, this is an Elton John concert; calm down.
Lizard brain: I don’t know who Elton John is.
Human brain: Seriously the strobe lights-
Lizard brain: No!
Human brain: -and the sound-
Lizard brain: Eeeeeeeeeek!
Human brain: -are totally okay! There’s nothing to worry about!
Lizard brain: Flashing lights and really loud noise! We’re being attacked!
Human brain: Did you listen to anything I said?
Lizard brain: Yes! Strobe lights and really loud noise! You need to get out of here!
Human brain: I’m staying put–I’m FINE.
Lizard brain: Tell that to me the next time you put your hand on a hot stove*. Engage fight or flight mode!

It’s less funny when your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest and you can’t breathe well. I’ll usually try to sit it out for a few more minutes, but at that concert, every strobe and every prolonged volume increase kept my brain pumping out the panic signals. And it really sucked, because this is Elton freaking John! You don’t get a chance to see him every day!

However, having a panic attack and/or passing out in the arena itself was about the worst option I had.

Long story short, it took about 15 minutes to calm down to the point where I could walk without wanting to throw up with every step. An arena employee offered to get paramedics. Thankfully, the fiancé and I talked her out of it. The last thing I needed after that was an ambulance ride. I understood and appreciated her concern, but I knew I was going to be fine eventually.

It’s upsetting that I can’t enjoy things like this. I’d really love to go see Trans Siberian Orchestra someday… but that won’t work as long as I get panic attacks. Even sports games in closed arenas are a bit dicey. Depending on the effects used, I sometimes find it hard to even get through plays. So, if I decline your offer to go see a concert or a movie, it’s not because I don’t want to see it; it’s because I don’t want to put you through the crappy situation of dealing with my panic attack.

*I have put my hand on a hot woodstove by accident before. Twice, and within like two weeks of each other. I was maybe six, and I didn’t remember that there was anything burning in it–we used it all of three weeks a year. The difference here is that I didn’t leave my hand on it for very long.

So many salads…

I’m trying to eat healthier. It’s not that hard–I like my fruits and veggies. But still, keeping it creative can be a little challenging.

My sausage-veggie bake is a pretty good start, and is great for winter.

But during these warm summer months, it’s nice to not heat up my kitchen.

This is where salad comes in.

I love salad. There is so much to do with it.

So, without further ado, here are two of my more recent creations:

Greek-style salad with French flair:
Combine and toss:
–a bed of Safeway’s fresh herb salad mix
–5-6 dry salame nuggets, cut into chunks
–black olives
–1 small-ish roma tomato
–an agreeable amount of cucumber
–half an avocado, cut into bite-size chunks
–Safeway’s cucumber-tzatziki dressing
–crumbled chevre (just found out this is a thing, OMG…)

Green fusion salad:
Combine and toss:
–a bed of Safeway’s fresh herb salad mix
–5-6 dry salame nuggets, cut into chunks
–red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-size chunks
–1 small-ish roma tomato
–an agreeable amount of cucumber
–half an avocado, cut into bite-size chunks
–Private Selection (QFC/Fred Meyer) miso orange sesame dressing
–crumbled chevre (just found out this is a thing, OMG…)

You may have noted, these salads have many ingredients in common.

I love the herb salad mix, but I think the second salad might do well with some dried noodles and some cabbage instead, and the tomato could be removed. Grilled salmon or chicken would substitute well for the salame, and it could be grilled teriyaki chicken or salmon in the second salad, and lemon and pepper for the chicken in the first salad. Both could stand the addition of snap peas. You could substitute pretty much any crumbled or cubed cheese for the chevre, or remove it entirely in the second salad.

The point? The possibilities are endless…

French Breakfast Muffins, à la Chickadoodle

So, Betty Crocker has a recipe for some incredibly tasty muffins.

I have made these particular muffins many times. Only once did I fail, omitting the leavening completely and turning out dense disks of nutmeg-y goodness. I still call them my fail muffins in a somewhat affectionate way. (I think it was the time after that when I was making Betty Crocker coffee cake that I managed to triple the baking powder when doubling the recipe. That was the day I learned how to clean an oven. Also, all the new recipes use Bisquik. Much as I love the stuff, it does not belong in coffee cake.)

But, per the usual, I make them… a little differently.

Muffin ingredients:
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1.5 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or 3/4 or a full teaspoon. I like ’em nutmeg-y.)
1/2 cup milk

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or 1.5 or 2 teaspoons. I like ’em cinnamon-y.)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted (1/4 cup is usually plenty, I find)

Directions
Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease 15 medium muffin cups, 2 1/2×1 1/4 inches.
Mix shortening, 1/2 cup sugar and the egg throughly in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg alternately with milk. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Mix 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon. brush tops of hot muffins immediately with melted butter, then dunk thoroughly in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Serve hot.

My dad, however, is the champion of eating these muffins. He will cut off the top and eat it, then put the left over cinnamon and sugar on it. This is a good idea.