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Pain management

Current state of affairs: the opioid painkillers have stopped being effective, so I’m gonna stop taking them for now. My doctor prescribed me a rather aggressive regimen of Tylenol (4000mg/day! holy crap) and some muscle relaxants, the latter of which help a little but not very much. She also increased my daily dose of gabapentin from 200mg to 400mg, and that isn’t helping much either.

I did finally get one of those old-school hot water bottles (the rubber kind which fill like a balloon and have a screw-in cork) and it turns out that this is a really good use for my sous vide machine, so that’s cool. The hot compress seems to do more for my pain than any of the meds do. Not enough to be, like, productive, but enough that I’m not screaming in pain. But maybe I can get back to work.

Anyway, on the plus side I finally got set up with a new rheumatologist, and I’m also starting physical therapy, so maybe those things will help with my ongoing fibro issues (which this could very well be yet another expression of, for that matter).

Things and stuff

Got an appointment with my GP today. She understands my frustration at how the ER went, and she did a brief physical exam, in which she saw that my muscles are… very, very tense.

She prescribed me muscle relaxants and increased my dose of gabapentin. Hopefully that’ll help. I took my first dose of relaxants about three and a half hours ago and I’m not in as much agony but things still hurt. But it’s an improvement. Hopefully this continues.

Another pain, another frustration

For the past few days I’ve had some low-grade pain building up in my shoulder, just like it did in November 2017. Today it got excruciating. So I went to the hospital to get it checked out to make sure I wasn’t going to die of an embolism. I shared my medical history with this stuff (repeatedly) and the nurse and doctor focused on getting an embolism diagnosed.

That turned up negative. Which is great! But I’m still in excruciating pain. Which isn’t.

The doctor was dismissive of my pain. The nurse was too. She said that maybe knowing it’s not an embolism means I’ll feel better, and suggested the pain was just anxiety. But no, it is absolutely not just anxiety. Or just chronic pain. I’ve been dealing with chronic pain for over 20 years now. I know what chronic pain feels like. This ain’t it.

I wasn’t in excruciating agony while lying down, but as soon as they discharged me they were nowhere to be found. As soon as I sat up I was in agony but I couldn’t find anyone to talk to. I already had my discharge paperwork, and it was late at night, and I wasn’t dying, so, just toss me out onto the street, don’t even try to find a sling or something that’ll help me.

I did at least manage to get a prescription for some painkillers. Maybe that’ll help, but I got home well after the pharmacy closed.

I mean I’m glad I’m not dying and that this probably wasn’t because of the clot, but holy heck am I in agony right now.

Maybe I should have put on more of a show about how much pain I was in. After the past two decades I’ve gotten pretty good at powering through pain and not, like, screaming and crying. That doesn’t mean I’m not hurting, it just means I’ve gotten good at not showing it. I’ve always learned to minimize my pain. So people see my pain as not being “real.”

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She-Ra Season 5 opening titles

Yesterday the fifth and final season of She-Ra was released on Netflix, and it was absolutely fantastic. The whole show is worth watching, and I feel it’s the best cartoon since Steven Universe.

Anyway, one thing that Netflix does is makes it really easy to skip the intro, which is a shame because on this show, the intro changes based on plot-relevant details throughout the season. Let’s take a look!

(Obviously huge spoilers below, you have been warned.)

Read more… (She-Ra Season 5 spoilers)

New keyboard tray

Back in 2010 or so I was trying a bunch of different approaches to putting my keyboard and mouse close to my lap for better ergonomics. I looked at all the height-adjustable keyboard trays and was really annoyed by all of the ones on the market. Either they were flimsy or they were way overpriced and hard to adjust well, and usually not able to actually accommodate my various input devices due to having built-in molded wrist rests and so on, and of course the ones always provided by workplaces were the worst. So I bought an Ikea DAVE laptop table (since discontinued, but here’s an Amazon affiliate link) and that became my usual go-to for a bit of office furniture, and I bought a few of them, all red. I still have two of them (one being from the office when I worked at Sony), and have continued to use them (one as a generic putting-stuff-on table).

A few years ago I got annoyed at the unwieldiness of the actual desktop on it and replaced it with a chunk of wood, and later melamine, shelving1, which made it a bit more manageable, and also had the benefit of being able to put it into a standing configuration pretty easily (tilting my monitor back so I can look down at it). But I was getting progressively more annoyed with the stand itself, getting in the way of my legs and not having a way to put my feet flat on the ground and so on. Plus, it made it very easy for me to keep putting off vacuuming under my desk.

So, a few days ago I finally ordered a new keyboard tray from Mount-It (I bought it direct from the manufacturer but here’s the obligatory Amazon affiliate link). Today it arrived and I installed it and I have thoughts about it. It’s mostly positive, but there’s definitely some places it could be improved as well.

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Followup from yesterday

So, the update from yesterday is that I am now on anticoagulants again, and I am not terribly happy about it. On the plus side I’m on Xarelto which takes way less management than Warfarin, but on the minus side I am told that I likely need to be on them for a long time (at least a year, possibly forever) due to my prior clot history, and so far it’s been giving me a headache and I’m also constantly worried about, you know, bleeding out and dying.

I’m also still in considerable pain, both in my leg but also in my everything else, because this fibro flare just will not end. And I’m under a lot of stress right now, and I’m frustrated at a lot of things.

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Clot II: The Sequel

Back in November 2017 I had a clot in my leg that turned into a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. Fortunately it was a pretty mild one, so I’d have only died a little bit. Anyway, after that I was on warfarin for 6 months and then have been hyper-vigilant about leg pain ever since.

About a year ago I had leg pain for a while that felt like it could be another clot, so I went to urgent care and got a sonogram; they found nothing and said it was probably just fibromyalgia playing tricks on me.

Anyway, about a week ago I started having familiar leg pain again, but what with COVID-19 shutdowns it wasn’t particularly easy to find options for getting it diagnosed. It wasn’t getting any worse but it also wasn’t getting any better, so yesterday I asked my doctor, who had me come in for an in-person diagnosis, and the doctor who saw me was concerned enough to schedule a sonogram for me.

I just had that sonogram, and there is indeed another clot. But! It’s pretty benign.

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Re: Gallery 2020 - MK II

Colin has a pretty neat implementation of a javascript-free lightbox gallery, which works by using the :checked attribute on a radio select and making the image a label for it. I think it could also be taken a bit further:

  1. Use <img srcset> to serve up alternate renditions for the thumbnails; for example:

    <label for="gallery-2020-2-0">
        <img class="thumbnail"
            src="image-fullres.jpg" srcset="image-fullres.jpg 2048w, image-halfres.jpg 1024w, image-retinathumb 320w, image-smallthumb.jpg 160w"
            alt="Steampunk explorer" />
    </label>
    
  2. Use CSS transitions to provide nice opacity and position animations for the items

1 in particular can save a lot of bandwidth, as the browser will only fetch the high-resolution renditions as they become visible. (And providing half-resolution renditions will also help on mobile clients.)

My dream art program

Photoshop has gotten unwieldy, slow, and unstable. It has a lot of features I’ve grown to rely on but sometimes I feel like they just get in the way.

After playing with Strike I’ve come to realize that my relationship with art programs has gotten pretty dysfunctional.

So here’s a list of things that I’d love to see in a drawing program.

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A better way to handle multi-account GitHub

I mentioned my crappy approach to using multiple GitHub accounts on a Slack I’m on, and someone else pointed out there’s a much easier approach: Instead of using wrapper scripts to set up different environments, you can fake it using .ssh/config and .gitconfig rules.

First, set up key rules with .ssh/config:

Host  github-work
  Hostname github.com
  IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_work
Host github-personal
  Hostname github.com
  IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_personal

Next, set your origin based on whether the workspace is work or personal; for example, git clone git@github-work:work-org/project.git (and of course you can git remote set-url origin for existing workspaces).

Finally, to handle the different author name and email, git 2.15 and later support conditional includes. If you keep all of your work projects in a separate directory, you can put this into your .gitconfig:

[includeIf "gitdir:~/wfh"]
path = ~/.gitconfig-work

then .gitconfig-work includes your work-specific configuration, e.g.:

[user]
name = Boring Legal Name
email = work-email@example.com

Thanks, Silas!

Updates

Oops, I guess I haven’t been posting here as often as I’d like. I guess I’ve mostly been using Discord to keep in touch with folks.

I’m fairly busy at the day job. I’ve already rolled out a few important features for our websites and soon I’ll be ramping up on another project. So far everyone there has been super great and I’m glad I lucked out with this job, even without the societal/financial catastrope that happened shortly after I started.

Isolation hasn’t been great for me. I’ve been having a pretty bad fibro flareup lately, and I still haven’t quite shaken whatever this dang thing I have is. It’s not gotten severe enough to require medical attention but at the same time I’d love to not be missing occasional workdays when I’m feeling especially lousy. It might also just be part of the fibro flare, too. Fortunately the new job has unlimited sick days, because dang I’ve been taking a lot of them this past month.

I’ve had to switch back to decaf because it turns out having even half-caf espresso every day has gotten me sensitized to caffeine again, and I was starting to have panic attacks again. Phooey. I still love my Flair though. I’ve also had a couple of people ask me about selling my custom tampers so I should see about, like, doing that.

Improving my tamper

I’ve been very much enjoying the Flair, and have gotten very used to pulling shots with it. Since the making of the video I’ve streamlined my morning routine, and also started using a cork trivet as a tamping pad, which is easier on my countertops and the portafilter.

The big downside to the cheapest Flair model is it doesn’t really come with a tamper though, it just comes with a dosing cup that sort of doubles as one. But it’s not very good.

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Brewing with Flair

Today I got a Flair manual espresso maker, and I found that the manual that came with it was a little hard to follow, and the official “how to use Flair” videos were all about the higher-end models and also not that great to follow, and I couldn’t find any useful videos from reviewers on how to actually use the darn thing.

So after I played with it a bunch I figured out how to use it and drew a few shots (which all came out excellent! Espresso Vivace knows how to roast.). So I decided I’d share how I do it, which might be helpful for someone else.

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Non-COVID-19 medical care wonkiness

So, because I’ve changed insurance plans, I need to change my specialists as well. One of those is my sleep specialist, which I mostly want to get a DME provider set up with my insurance, which requires a screening in order to get DME approval.

Because of COVID-19, appointments are limited, and they can’t see me until June 1, which means if I need to refresh my mask et al I’ll have to go out-of-pocket until then. Not the worst thing in the world (and honestly I found out-of-pocket to be cheaper than the copay on my previous DME anyway), but annoying.

But there’s a bit more that this leads to which is a little wonky… because of COVID-19 they had to ask me the usual appointment pre-screening questions regarding SARS-NCoV-2 symptoms and exposure. But those questions are based on right now, and probably won’t be valid in three months. Like, one of them was “have you traveled in the last 14 days or been exposed to someone known to have the virus in that time?” and regardless of how I answer now that has no bearing on how it’ll be on June 1. Similarly, just because I have no symptoms or fever right now doesn’t mean anything about how I’ll be in June.

If the appointment were within two weeks I’d say this was reasonable, but… it’s two months away. How does that make any sense?

Surprise frustrations

So, I am using way more soap than usual when washing my hands, which has been drying out the skin a lot. To try to counteract that I’ve been using lotion a lot more. But it turns out that this leads to more tactile stimulation on my fingers (basically I constantly feel like I’ve just been soaking in the bathtub for an hour) which in turn leads to a sensory overload/pain flare, and it doesn’t even help with the dry skin anyway, and the dry skin also leads to its own level of sensory issues too. And Fiona’s insistence on sitting on my lap while I work isn’t helping at all. Just before lunch I had a bit of a meltdown because of it.

I guess I need to figure out a better way to periodically clean my hands without leading to other issues.

I could also really use a haircut, because my wild scraggly hair getting in my face is making this worse. Of course all the hair stylists are (rightfully) closed right now. I suppose I could break out my Flowbee but that feels like it’s taking the “mental stress due to isolation” look a bit too far. (Plus I don’t want my hair to be that short right now. I need every femininity cue I can get these days.) Maybe it’s time to finally learn how to use hair clips, but I suspect feeling them bouncing against my face would make me flare too.

Why is my brain like this? Ugh.

Teleconferencing tips, advanced edition

In the last article I talked about how to teleconference without too much hassle; my main, key point was to wear headphones. But headphones can be a problem for some for various reasons (sensory issues, needing to get up and walk around, and so on).

Since I teleconference from a home recording studio, I have a reasonable amount of semi-pro audio gear. Lately I’ve been experimenting to see about a headphone-free setup that still works, and I’m pretty sure this setup is fine and workable. However, do note that it’s a lot more expensive than just wearing headphones.

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Mosaic Palette 2S on an Artillery Genius

A few days ago my Palette 2S arrived, and I’ve been having some amount of fun with it. I won’t do a full review of it (there are plenty of those on YouTube, after all) but I’d like to talk about some of the things I’ve learned and how I have it set up.

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Join me on Discord

Just as a reminder, if you’re bored and want to chat with other bored people about geeky things, I have a small but friendly Discord community. We mostly talk about the sorts of stuff I talk about here, but lots of hobbies are welcome.

I’m trying to keep it cozy and comfortable, so if you need somewhere that’s cozy and comfortable, hopefully this is a reasonable place for you!

Updates from Elsewhere

So, my cold symptoms came back somewhat today, so I took another sick day and took it easy. And now I’m feeling better, so, yay.

The last few days I’ve been having trouble with my sleep apnea again so I’m giving my CPAP another shot. Since I’m on new insurance and getting healthcare at a different place now maybe I’ll get a new sleep doctor who actually listens to my concerns instead of just taking shortcuts based on simple apnea.

I also of course still want to get tested for COVID-19, if only for peace of mind. I’m not fond of this constant uncertainty. If I can get a clean diagnosis I can stop having an anxiety attack every time I cough or feel short of breath. And on the off chance I do have the virus I know what to prepare for. (Plus I switch to no-contact grocery and food delivery for a while.)

Inside I’m going to ruminate about the virus itself.

Read more… (COVID-19 rumination)