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Checking in

I’m still alive, I just haven’t had a lot to say I guess. At least not publicly.

Work is work. Lots of frustrations not worth getting into. I was at least managing to get some music done which felt good, and my pain was improving until it suddenly wasn’t, so it’ll still be some time before I can work on comics again. Which is a shame because I really want to work on both Lewi and Unity, gosh I have so much more story to tell on both of them…

I’ve been wanting to do an online concert in lieu of Song Fight! Live (which was canceled due to the pandemic) but I doubt I’ll be in any position to do that either, and my ideas for how to do an ersatz performance would take a lot more effort than I’m willing to put into it right now.

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Various health updates

Two and a half weeks ago I got a COVID-19 test, and it finally came back, negative for both PCR and antibodies. So, it’s pretty unlikely that I have or ever have had COVID-19, which means that’s probably not at the root of my recent health issues.

One and a half weeks ago I finally got a followup, proper sleep study, which found that while I do have occasional apnea events, it’s not to the extent that CPAP treatment is warranted or even beneficial. Which is unsurprising; even when I was using CPAP I never found it to be very helpful, and this diagnosis means that I do not have access to my current provider’s DME1 so I can’t, like, get my equipment refreshed.

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Life update whatever things I dunno

Publ survived the load test. Will fluffy survive the ego test? Time will tell.

Anyway. Today I finally had my first appointment with the new rheumatologist. It went really well. I didn’t get any real new information, but at least this rheum is way friendlier and actually treats me like a human, rather than a pile of symptoms. Plus she actually listens to me and is interested in the things I’ve learned about fibromyalgia and so on.

Since my current meds aren’t doing enough for me, she offered two immediate possibilities, either switching the gabapentin with Lyrica (pregabalin), or supplementing it with Cymbalta. Both were things that the previous rheumatologist had suggested but I loathed working with him and never felt like going back1.

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Regular check-in

I’m personally physically all right, at least for now. The house guest also made it here safely, right before things got really weird.

I gotta say, getting an urgent group text informing my building of an incoming teargas cloud and “Close your windows” is not a thing I thought I’d ever experience first-hand.

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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).

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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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.

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.

Living in a future ghost town

Pretty much all of the tech companies (mine included) have moved to a “work from home unless absolutely necessary” policy. We’re all suddenly getting into a remote-worker mindset — which I think is a long-term good thing, but it’s jarring. Looking out my dining room window I still see a typical amount of foot and car traffic for this time of day, but there’s an air of desperation and paranoia. Maybe I’m just projecting though.

My own symptoms have all but cleared up. I do have a persistent ache in my back and shoulders, which I’m not sure if it’s attributable to this mystery illness or is simply my fibromyalgia flaring up as always. My temperature is back to normal. I’m still coughing on occasion but it’s infrequent, and it’s gone from dry to productive. My shortness of breath is… well, still lurking, but doesn’t feel like an impairment at the moment. I’m still glad that I have a pretty strong reserve of albuterol, all the same.

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Balance

So, in anticipation of my new job starting next week I’m trying to figure out what the right balance of medications should be for my various neurological issues, and I’m not sure where the balance point should be. I’m mostly thinking out loud here, but I am going to try to walk through it and maybe folks with more experience can comment, or something.

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Why I’m open about my mental health (and other things)

Back in 2015, I was a complete mess, and I did everything I could to hide it. I was still having panic attacks regularly, and they would be brought on by the slightest provocation. But I felt, working in tech, that I had to be quiet about it, and just let things pass and things would get better if I ignored them.

One day a coworker did a thing that triggered a pretty big panic attack. It wasn’t anything malicious on his part, just a cavalier, morbid joke in gestural form that happened to tread upon one of my biggest triggers.

I felt awful, and I wanted to keep from feeling that way again.

So I messaged him on our work chat, and told him that the gesture he made happens to be a huge trigger for me and I was having a pretty major panic attack as a result. And his response was incredibly helpful: he didn’t realize, he understood, and he wouldn’t do it again. And he stuck to that.

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Happy 2020

So, a new decade has started1. Hopefully this next one will go a lot better than the last one.

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wellp

That ended up not going very well.

It’s still a good to-do list of stuff I want to do, but making comics, working on AR stuff, and generally being in pain/depression while also figuring out my ADHD meds has taken a lot more out of me than I expected.

Really gotta stop being overly ambitious.

GeekGirlCon 2019 wrap-up post

So, GeekGirlCon was yesterday and today, and for once I vended at it, having been put on the waitlist every time I’d applied for the last few years.

I already have quite a few thoughts about how things went and how they could have gone better for me, and my thoughts about my future as a potential convention vendor. Which is to say, I probably won’t be doing this again – but not because of anything wrong with GeekGirlCon. (Just to get that out of the way.)

Note that this isn’t my first time tabling at GGC, as I had previously done so with the Seattle Indies in 2017. But that was a completely different setup for a completely different intention – promoting games and the Indies organization.

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ADHD

So, this post about signs of undiagnosed ADHD showed up on one of my fibro communities and so much of it seemed PRETTY FAMILIAR, and I also found out that fibromyalgia and ADHD are highly comorbid, and then I was realizing that I stopped being able to focus on work and Getting Stuff Done when I had to go cold turkey on caffeine when my panic disorder started in 2011, and, wellp.

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Death poop from hell

Ugh, not only was the medication itself making me incredibly nauseous, but it was making me incredibly constipated, and I had my first death poop from hell since last December.

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Gabapentin 300mg day 6

So on this, the 6th day of being at 3x daily gabapentin, I noticed that I haven’t been in severe agony all over for the first time in a while. I’m still feeling tendon pain in the parts that get chronically overused (especially my thumbs) but it’s not doing the usual radiating thing that turns into systemic pain all over.

On the minus side, after taking my afternoon dose I got incredibly nauseous which only really started to let up 7 hours later (which is, incidentally, the elimination half-life of gabapentin), and this is the worst the nausea’s been. I’d been getting somewhat nauseous from the doses before but as it builds up in my system it’s just been getting worse and worse.

So I sent a note to my doctor asking if there’s a better way of dealing with it (because I’ve been very unable to get stuff done for the last couple days and I have a lot of stuff that needs to get done!) and meanwhile decided to go back to 2x/daily.

Supposedly the nausea subsides after 2-3 weeks but I really can’t wait 2-3 weeks for that to happen right now. I have GeekGirlCon prep to do, I have a job interview down in Portland sometime in the next week or two (for a job I’d probably be staying in Seattle for but it’s Portland-based and this means I might have to go to Portland more often, oh the horror! no, not the comfy chair!), and I have AR stuff to do in the meantime.

Anyway. Hopefully this means there actually is some hope in sight, and I just need to find the right balance of things. Or maybe something else that helps to counteract the nausea while I’m still acclimating to the gabapentin.