a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
fresh cuttings 
19 June 2018 00:02 - Upcoming stuff 'n' things
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16 April 2014 17:33 - "Bread and circuses"
threesome, analytical
Spoilery thoughts on Winter Soldier. I keep meaning to turn these into some sort of coherent post, but I haven't done that, and having a tab I can't close is annoying me, so here, have a bunch of paragraphs.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS if you haven't seen the movie and don't want spoilers then CLOSE THE TAB this is your FINAL WARNING EJECT EJECT EJECT etc.

Did I mention SPOILERSCollapse )

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16 April 2014 17:33 - "Few and far between"
zombie, retro, tired, groggy, video games
Fun things, Apr 15: took possession of the new apartment!
Apr 16: ate tasty Seder leftovers

The apartment remains amazing. I cannot wait to move in. Sooooooon.

After several days of my ear being very blocked and loud, I woke up at 5:40 a.m. today with mild vertigo. Blah blah details blahCollapse ) Nine days since the last bout. They're getting further apart and milder. Still lasting an obscenely long time, but I don't mind so much as long as I'm reasonably functional.

We're moving in ten days. X has a "what if R gets vertigo on moving day" plan all ready, which means I don't have to worry about it, so I am doing my best to think about anything else. Like culling and packing. Once I can move my head again.

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15 April 2014 02:38 - "Aim my smiling skull at you"
ear, overheard
Fun things, Apr 14: giant ice cream sundae.

I earned that ice cream. Today was the Menière's treatment study enrollment day, which ate four hours of my work day with a lot of paperwork, a blood test, a hearing test, an ear exam, and more paperwork. I put on my most bright and cheerful and funny attitude, and made the study coordinator's day when I pulled up all my carefully tagged LJ/DW entries and was able to give exact dates for diagnosis and various treatments. I was the perfect patient. Then I got lunch, got ice cream, attempted to work a bit, came home, and fell over.

In four weeks I get a cold liquid injected into my ear that then turns into a gel and hangs around for a month. Four months after that, I find out whether it was the medication or the placebo. Yay science, or something.

The hearing test shows that the hearing in my right ear is the worst it's been (or at least the worst it's been on a day when I'm getting a hearing test). I've been braced for vertigo for days. I almost wish it would show up just so my hearing would improve for a few days. Only almost, though. Being hard of hearing in one ear is better than vertigo. It's just tiring having to work so hard to hear people. And today I got talked at a lot, by people with thick accents who were telling me very important things that I needed to understand fully, so there was a lot of active listening and careful hearing going on. I am so wiped.

I went up on the roof earlier to watch the lunar eclipse for a bit, but it was chilly and I was tired, so I came back in. It's nearing totality now, so I'm going to take one last look. Then I'm passing all the way out, with no alarm set.

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14 April 2014 03:01 - "FAABulous"
Fun things, Apr 13: got prettied up for the Seder.

Today's outfit was entirely logic-driven:

* going to the Seder at my mom's place, so dressing up a bit
* want to wear a skirt and sandals because it's warm and breezy
* needs to be a long skirt so my mother doesn't give me the hairy eyeball over my hairy legs
* following the recent de-femming of my closet, I have precisely one long skirt, one top that goes with skirts, and one jacket that goes with that top
* oh right, girly clothes mean earrings and a necklace, I remember that
* it's warm enough to justify a straw hat


a photo of me in a long black skirt with a grey short-sleeved blazer and a pale straw fedora with a black band

(Image is a link to a larger image. Photo by [personal profile] xtina.)

When I cleaned out my closet, my rule was that I would keep any femme clothes that make me think "I look smashing in this", on the theory that those are the ones that really work for me rather than being about conforming to what other people think I should look like. This was my first time testing that theory and I am extremely pleased with the results. This blouse (which you really can't see at all under the jacket--it's a black sleeveless blouse with a deep v-neck) was my cleavage blouse back when I had cleavage, but I've lost so much weight since then that my chest is practically flat, which is great for menswear and gives me a fun bit of cognitive dissonance when I femme up. I also just got my hair buzzed, and gave my face a nice proper shave this morning. I didn't feel like a guy in drag, though. I just felt like me, looking and feeling good. It's nice. :) And something of a relief. I always want to have the option of girling up, even if I don't often take it.

Originally I was going to wear a women's wide-brimmed straw hat, but it didn't quite work when I put it on--too much of a muchness with the long skirt--and then I tried the straw fedora and it was far better than I expected. I think I always need something just slightly gender-dissonant like that. Even if I'm not in a particularly transgressive mood, I look better and feel better when I'm a little bit audacious.

Oh, and I think this is my first photo post since going back to wearing contact lenses! (Contacts + completely buzzed hair = my face looks naked, so when I got rid of my hair I switched to glasses.) I LOVE them. I love how I look in them, I love how much easier life is with them, love love love. I plan to stick with this hairstyle for a while--still buzzed on the sides and back, but longer on top--so I can keep wearing them.

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13 April 2014 00:39 - "Playing catch-up"
contemplative, pensive, thoughtful
Fun things, Apr 6: talked about Long Hidden on the Black Girl Nerds podcast.
Apr 7: giggled on Twitter about a book that opens at a black werewolf strip joint.
Apr 8: had that absolutely splendid anniversary evening with J.
Apr 9: an excellent dinner with X and J at Blue Water Grill.
Apr 10: family dinner at home for the first time in ages.
Apr 11: wore short sleeves and sandals! Spring spring spring!
Apr 12: got haircuts with X; went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier with J.

Media log:

29) The Mummy (1999). (Movie.) Rewatch. X and I haven't had much opportunity for movie-watching lately, so it was really nice to cuddle up and knit while indulging in something familiar. It's really not bad for what it is. The cast is great, especially Rachel Weisz and Oded Fehr. The special effects are tolerable. Actual people of color are cast as people of color (other than Kevin J. O'Connor as Beni) and the Americans and Brits are cartoonish ethnic caricatures just like everyone else. The plot doesn't make a lick of sense, but you're not watching it for the plot; you're watching it for nostalgic recollection of the days when Brendan Fraser was a leading man instead of a washed-up former actor.

Verdict: Entirely tolerable.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Tolerate.

30) Hot Lead, Cold Iron by Ari Marmell. (Book.) The word I keep coming back to for this is "cute". Harry Dresden is a better Chicago supernatural PI, and Vicki Pettersson writes better 1950s slang and characters by several miles, but if you want a book with both of those things together and a tolerable flair for description, this is your book.

Verdict: Fine while it lasted and then instantly forgotten.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Tolerate.

31) The Double Cross by Carla Kelly. (Book.) Another Carla Kelly book about people being kind to one another. The "Double Cross" of the title is not a doublecross in the espionage sense, but a rancher's brand. It's set in colonized New Mexico in the late 1700s; the protagonists are Spanish, but Kelly manages to make them some of the most ethnically sensitive colonizers you ever did see. She doesn't pretend the race relations are all sweetness and light, though. A number of Spaniards are killed by Comanches offscreen, and the death of a young enslaved Indio girl at the hands of a cruel and senile rancher is described rather more vividly, in a way that's calculated to horrify rather than titillate. There's also matter-of-fact mention of how many of the second- and third-generation ranchers have Indio ancestry (though no mention of that coming about due to Spanish men raping native women). There is a bit too much emphasis on the contrast between the honorable magistrate hero and a "lawless" Comanche warrior who thinks nothing of killing anyone who causes him trouble, but on the whole I felt such things were handled fairly well, given Kelly's choice to put the colonizers front and center.

I'm no expert on that time or place, but it felt incredibly vividly real, actually more so than the Regency England setting of Kelly's other books. The dialogue rang very true. The characters had little complexity, being either very noble and good (of the "troubled by my sins but always striving to improve myself" variety) or very nasty and spiteful, but I don't read Kelly for complex characters. I read her because she's willing to make characters really really kind. And I weep over them, and over the ways they blossom under one another's tender care.

Verdict: Light and sweet.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Share, with a heads-up about the racial issues.

32) Captain America: The Winter Soldier. (Movie.) Where Iron Man 3 was the post-9/11 civilian PTSD movie, this is the soldier PTSD movie: "I went to war because I thought the battle between good and evil was simple; I came home knowing it's not; now I have no idea what to do." I continue to be impressed with Marvel's handling of sensitive and complicated social issues in movies that are ostensibly about shit getting blown up. I'm not entirely comfortable with the conclusion that a handful of superheroes are what's needed to save the world from corrupt intelligence agencies, but I'm willing to wait and see where they take it.

Also, a big giant HOORAY for a movie with male and female leads on an equal footing who don't hook up and who explicitly disclaim any interest in hooking up.

I really felt astonishingly twitchy seeing Robert Redford play a bad guy. He did it very well, no complaints, but it's just... he's so typecast in my brain from childhood imprinting on The Sting and adolescent imprinting on Sneakers that I just can't believe in him as a villain.

And now I can finally read all the spoilery things that I've been avoiding, so if you wrote a CA:TWS spoilery thing or have seen some good ones, please share links. :)

Verdict: A strong addition to the canon.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Share, as both a fun action flick and an excellent history lesson. These movies are perfect snapshots of 2010s American culture.

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ear, overheard
Info I just sent the person running the experimental Menière's treatment study. Nothing new, just putting everything in one place.

RecapCollapse )

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me and josh
Ah, what different people we were when this photo was taken. (Ten years ago, maybe? Something like that.) My hair is considerably shorter, Josh's is a bit thinner, and we both have a lot more grey than we did. Tonight we were both in button-down shirts; that dress still hangs in my closet, but it's gathering dust. And yet we're not so different, because we still look at each other that way.

Twelve years since we fell in love; eight since our wedding. I don't always get sentimental over anniversaries, but I did this year, looking back over our ups and downs. I'm so proud of us for coming through it together.

Tonight we went for our first proper walk of the season, perhaps three miles meandering across Central Park amid daffodils and budding trees (we sometimes get cherry blossoms for our anniversary, but this year the trees are still timid after a long hard winter) and then down through Midtown. We discussed our various proposed cures for the gentrification problem--he wants to prioritize fixing income inequality and stagflation while I want to prioritize bringing down housing prices, though of course those are two sides of the same coin--while mocking the awful haute couture window displays on Madison Avenue. Eventually we ended up at Matisse, a little faux-French bistro that Yelp thoughtfully picked out for us, and had a very nice non-poisonous dinner of Moroccan lamb (in honor of the Moroccan restaurant where we had our wedding) and branzino to an improbable soundtrack of disco and R&B. We zoned out together on the train home and bustled a bit when we got in; my need to burn off energy grated against X's need for quiet alone-time, but J patiently waited while we sorted it out, and then J and I cuddled and made out and cuddled some more until he had to reluctantly admit that it was well past his bedtime. It was a very us anniversary, through and through.

"Let's keep doing this thing," I said at some point as we snuggled in my bed.

"I'm good with that," he said.

"Hooray!" I said. "We renewed our vows!"

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7 April 2014 18:24 - "Stick a fork in me"
ignored, racism, weary, impatient
Yesterday my right ear was very blocked/loud and vision was slightly unfocused in that impending vertigo way, so I spent the entire day staring at corners to see if they were moving. The bout finally hit around 3 a.m. I tried to sleep through it but it woke me at 5--not awful, but annoying. I took a quarter-tablet of meclizine in hopes that such a low dose would be enough to kill the vertigo and have minimal hangover. (Assuming most bouts of vertigo last 10 to 12 hours without meclizine, I figured I was going to be out of it until mid-afternoon and my workday would be shot regardless.) Alas, here I am 13 hours later feeling like a bobblehead doll. The cure continues to be worse than the disease, even at low doses.

Updated decision tree:

1) Is it hideously horrible terrifying constant-puking awful horribleness?
If yes: take 25 mg meclizine, write off the next 36 hours.
If no:
2) Is it bad enough that I throw up once but not again, and/or have a panic attack, and/or it wakes me up or I can't fall asleep?
If yes: take 1 mg Valium for the panic/awakeness and Tums for the nausea, sleep through it as much as possible, be a bit wobbly but functional the next day.
If no: take taurine for any anxiety and Tums just in case, sleep through it as much as possible, feel totally fine the next day.

Took today off but will go in to the office tomorrow instead. Was planning to spend tomorrow packing. Oh well.

I am so tired of this.

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6 April 2014 12:41 - "You're invited!"
green, books
We're having a book-packing party! Shoving our ~5000 books into ~200 boxes is a daunting task for three people, but ten or twenty of us should make quick work of it.

Date: Saturday April 19

Time: 2 p.m. until the shelves are bare

Place: Our extremely transit-accessible soon-to-be-ex-apartment in Crown Heights (if you don't know the exact address, email me)

You should bring:
* Yourself and any friendly book-loving people you feel like dragging along
* Antihistamines to ward against all the dust and cat hair
* Willingness and ability to put books in boxes
* Empty bags for taking home books we're getting rid of

We will provide:
* Snacks and drinks (please let us know of any dietary restrictions)
* Free books! (including many excellent ones we're replacing with e-books)

Please note:
* There are cats in residence, ranging from bitterly antisocial to merely standoffish
* There is a short flight of steps up to the building door
* We have limited crash space for out-of-town guests
* "They" is the house default pronoun; please use it for everyone unless instructed otherwise

Depending on what time we wrap up, we may order in food or haul everyone out to dinner somewhere in the neighborhood.

Please leave a comment or otherwise let me know if you plan to attend. Hope to see lots of folks there!

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5 April 2014 21:20 - "To tell the truth"
green, books
Today is catch-up day, apparently.

Media log:

27) Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind by Carla Kelly. (Book.) I will read basically anything by Carla Kelly because all her books are about people being kind to one another. This one nearly made me cry just because it was so, so, so kind. It's about 40 pages too long and by the end I was quite impatient for Mr. Butterworth to just propose to Miss Milton already, but otherwise it's basically perfect, and such a soothing contrast to the rapey and quasi-rapey alpha males I keep encountering in romance novels.

Verdict: Delicious.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Share, for sure!

28) "The Devil in America" by Kai Ashante Wilson. (Story.) I am deeply envious of Tor.com for publishing this story, which I would have leapt to include in Long Hidden had it landed in our slushpile. It's really, really brutal. I mean, it's about a massacre, of course it's brutal. But the brutality is in the everyday things, not just the massacre itself. It's brutal, brutal, and utterly necessary. Brace yourself, a lot, and then go read it.

Verdict: I just keep coming back to the word "necessary". The way Long Hidden is necessary. I don't really know how to explain it beyond that.

For FutureKid: share, tolerate, discourage? Share when they're at an age to learn about the horrors that human beings inflict on other human beings, without being entirely undone by it.

Wow, those two works could not be more different. But I loved them both, because they're both so real. They're just about entirely different kinds of reality.

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5 April 2014 21:11 - "It was on sale!"
laughing, joyous, frubbly
Fun things, Apr 3: Alex (Alex-the-cat's namesake) and Miriam came to visit and I got lovely hugs and snuggles.
Apr 4: I had a very nice dinner out on my own.
Apr 5: Alex and I took a stroll in the sun and heard a hilarious anecdote.

While we were getting packing tape at the local postal services shop, I saw some unplugged vending machines.

R: How much for one of the vending machines?
Clerk: You serious? Because they are for sale.
R: Well, I was joking, but now I'm curious.
C: Three-thirty.
R: ...I assume you mean thirty-three hundred.
C: Right, yeah.
R: Because for three-thirty I'd be tempted. Wouldn't that be great for kids? Fill them with healthy snacks, give your kids a bunch of quarters, everyone wins.
C: See, I had a deal with a guy who runs an illegal gambling den over in Brownsville, but it fell through. He was going to stock them with beer, chips, and onion rings so people wouldn't get up from the card table. But he backed out. I really wanted it to go through just because then I'd have such a great story!
R: ...you sure would. Wow.
C: *rings up transaction* You have a good day now.
R: You too! Good luck finding another gambler to sell those to!

We laughed all the way home.

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3 April 2014 02:04 - "You do something to me"
Fun things, Mar 31: J and I had an excellent dinner at Nyonya. I was craving a specific sort of thing, and what I got wasn't that thing, but it was tasty anyway.
Apr 1: the otologist did funny things to my head and neck that made my positional vertigo go away. It was lovely to feel steady on my feet again.
Apr 2: saw Ricky Jay interviewed by Paul Holdengräber, which was pretty superb. Then I came home and X fell asleep on me, which is one of my favorite things ever. No sarcasm! It's just lovely and cozy and warm and great.

Unfortunately, the otologist's maneuvers yesterday also triggered some Menière's vertigo a few hours later. It was mild--I could stand up and walk around, with some effort, and I didn't lose my dinner--but not much fun. I got to try treating it with 1 mg Valium for the first time. As predicted, the Valium did nothing at all to reduce the vertigo symptoms, but I entirely stopped caring. Not caring was really nice. I did get a bit of anxiety when I went to bed, a couple of hours after taking the pill, but I'm used to that, and I turned the light back on and breathed through it and was fine. Then I slept for about 11 hours total: woke up at 6, the walls were still moving a bit (something like 12 hours from onset of symptoms, which is ridiculous), went back to sleep, woke up at 10 pretty much fine other than a little bit of post-drug wooziness. I went to work today and was actually productive, moreso than I'd expected.

So, my current vertigo decision tree:

1) Is it hideously horrible terrifying constant-puking awful horribleness?
If yes: take 25 mg meclizine, write off the next day.
If no:
2) Is it bad enough that I throw up once but not again, and/or have a panic attack that I can't be easily talked down from?
If yes: take 1 mg Valium for the panic and Tums for the nausea, sleep through it as much as possible, be a bit wobbly but functional the next day.
If no: take taurine for any anxiety and Tums just in case, sleep through it as much as possible, feel totally fine the next day.

I can live with that.

The Valium is a lot like all the best parts of being drunk. Nothing seems important at all. I make lots of jokes and find them totally hilarious. I'm aware that I'm intoxicated, so I think I'm capable of maintaining self-control, but I'm actually probably not all that capable of it. I run the risk of getting into ridiculous arguments and otherwise doing foolish things, so my Twitter usage is restricted to book recommendations (I can make those in my sleep) and timestamping meds and symptoms, and I can draft LJ/DW posts and emails but I'm not allowed to press "post" or "send". The don't-care feeling is extremely appealing, so much so that I am very strictly forbidding myself to touch the stuff unless I absolutely have to. It helps that there is something of a hangover, though it's not NEARLY as bad as the meclizine hangover.

Oh, and I get wacky dreams. I dreamed an entire grimdark fantasy epic, and then I dreamed that I was starring opposite Robert Downey Jr. in the film version of the first dream. He was very nice when I forgot my lines; he wrote down a cheat-sheet of mnemonics and reminders that I could have on the table near where I was sitting in one scene. I woke up thinking, "What if the audience can see that in some of the shots? ...never mind, they'll fix it in post-production."

I have media log entries to post before I forget, but right now I sure don't feel like I slept for 11 hours last night, so right now I sleep and tomorrow there will hopefully be more posting.

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peace, garden, home
Fun things, Mar 21-24: I have no idea. That was a million years ago. This week has been a whirlwind of apartment hunting and vertigo and freelance work and aaa.
Mar 25: went to an apartment we really liked and met the landlord and got his approval. :D And then had a marvelous joyful celebratory dinner at Dutch Boy that I will remember happily for a very long time: all of us in top form, joking with the server and speaking in sync and laughing and snarking and being so good together.
Mar 26: got the draft lease from the broker!
Mar 27: went out and had a proper actual restaurant meal with J at Blue Water Grill, since I no longer need to be hyper-careful about salt.
Mar 28: read a book, first over dinner on my own and then in a lovely long hot bath.
Mar 29: did a walkthrough of our new apartment, took lots of measurements, and made a floor plan.

LOOK AT THIS APARTMENT. (The link has been working for 90% of people--if you have trouble with it, try refreshing.) It's GORGEOUS. Our black wood bookcases will look utterly stunning against the white walls and black beams.

Obligatory floor plan. Furniture arrangement subject to change, of course. We're getting nearly 180 additional s.f. of usable space!

The landlord and his family will be our downstairs neighbors: two adults, both of whom are extremely nice, and three kids. We've only met the youngest child so far; she's adorable.

I love my family so much, so much. I can't wait to move to a place where we will be happier and healthier. More light, more air, more space. Enough wall space for both books and artwork. Fully separate bedrooms; no more walking through another person's room or the building hallway to get from one part of the apartment to another. (The layout of our current place is... a thing.) No more narrow hallway. A big tub to soak our cares away. A big open kitchen for collaborating on making healthy food with love. Instead of upstairs neighbors, rain on the roof. Instead of clanking radiators, baseboard heaters and sunlight. Instead of a temporary space where we nervously hope we can live together without bloodshed, a family home where we feel comfortably settled and solid and confident in one another.

As a bonus, it's thunderstorming right now--the first of the season. :D I've always loved spring rain and its promise of splendid new things.

All the squee! :D :D :D :D :D

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zombie, retro, tired, groggy, video games
My ear has been blocked and loud for days.

Around 02:45 I started lurching a bit while walking.

Vertigo, againCollapse )

Around 12:45 the walls had stopped moving but I had given up on sleep, or it had given up on me.

Ten hours. TEN HOURS. Ten really very wretched hours.

But I rode it out, with no meclizine. It was really hard, and I don't think I could have resisted the siren song of sedatives if the bout had been any worse, but I did it and I think I was right to do it. Right now I feel tired in a way that's commensurate with the little and very interrupted sleep I got. I don't feel drugged. I don't feel like my head is a balloon. I'm still a bit wary, the way you are after a headache when you're not sure it's all gone and you don't want to nod just in case, and my stomach is still a little upset. I started to watch a video and immediately felt queasy, so I'm clearly still prone to motion sickness. But I can get work done today and meet my deadline, and meet with a prospective landlord tonight (even if I have to walk there--it's two miles away, which is usually well within my walking limits), and go to work and an important publisher lunch tomorrow.

It was a nice eleven days without any vertigo. Maybe the next break will be longer.

I do wish my ear would unblock and quiet down. It's so loud. :(

Now to shower, and brush my teeth forever, and drink some ginger ale, and have some Tums and then later some chicken soup, and see if I can get some work done.

EDIT: Dr. A (the otologist) will give me a prescription for a low dose of Valium on the theory that it's less sedating than meclizine and will help me sleep through the milder bouts of vertigo; it won't address the vertigo symptoms themselves, but that's fine. Last night confirms that the anxiety keeps me up at least as much as the feeling of motion. Sedation + anxiolytic? GIVE IT ME. And there's no known interaction between Valium and Zoloft (unless you count a very tiny study from back in 1997 that had absurdly high doses--200 mg of Zoloft and 10 mg of intravenous Valium!--and still had to measure blood levels to show the actual effects of the interaction, which mostly seem to be that Valium takes a bit longer than usual to clear out of the system), so that's excellent. And I have my journal entries from 2008 so I know exactly what dosage works for me (2.5 mg = 7 hours of groggy uselessness) and don't have to mess around with it. Yay for meticulous record-keeping.

One bit of good news: I've been scrupulous about a very very low-sodium diet and clearly that has had a minimal effect on my symptoms, so I can stop being quite so fussed over it. I should still keep it on the low side, but more like 1 to 2 grams a day than 500 mg a day. I can eat in restaurants again, hooray!

Another bit of good news: Dr. A emphasized that "Menière's" is really a bunch of different things that all have similar symptoms, so it's totally normal to try a whole lot of different avenues of treatment until you find one that matches up with whatever caused the problem. He estimates that 80% of patients respond to medicinal treatment (oral steroids, diuretics) and diet management. For the 20% who don't, the various injections and surgical options are 75% to 99% effective at eliminating vertigo, though all have some side effects/risks. He also said that he cares very much about preserving my hearing as well as treating the vertigo, which is why he wants to take the slow conservative course. So it's a long slog, but there are reasons for that, and there's good reason to be optimistic that I will eventually be done with all of this, even if it takes a couple of years to figure out the best way to go.

I have a follow-up appointment with Dr. A in a week, to do another hearing test and further discuss prognosis/treatment plans. He's giving me great care and I'm really glad my ENT sent me his way.

EDIT EDIT: Wow, my hearing in my right ear is a lot better than it was yesterday! I didn't notice at first because the ringing was so loud, but yesterday I got water in my ear while I was showering and it literally made no difference to my hearing, and today I could actually tell when the water had trickled out. That's excellent.

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20 March 2014 03:49 - "Got to take your chances"
Fun things, Mar 18: nice date with J
Mar 19: nice coworking tea with X

I've gone six full days without vertigo. I am... cautiously hopeful.

I took on a big rush freelance project today, so my life between now and next Wednesday will basically be work. Worth it, though--if I can make this client happy, I think I'll get a lot more work from them, and the pay is decent and prompt. (She's a new-to-me editor at a nonfiction publisher I used to do a lot of freelancing for, so I know I can expect payment on time.) Today I wrapped up everything else I had going so I could fully focus on this; I'm pleased with my diligence.

Thursday schedule:

* Sleep
* Get to work, eat lunch
* Prep for radio show
* Format this week's reviews
* Do radio show
* Assign books
* Fact-check reviews (if there's time)
* Doctor's appointment
* Come home, have dinner
* Freelance work from approx. 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., until the first part of the project is done and/or I pass out

Ah, the joys of 14-hour work days. But as I said, worth it. I just hope the vertigo stays away and lets me dive into this the way I want to. I know it's risky to take on a gig with zero schedule leeway when the vertigo could come back at any minute, but I can't let that fear rule my life. I just can't.

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18 March 2014 00:14 - "Tie a knot and hang on"
exhausted, spoons
Fun things, Mar 13: interviewed Helen Oyeyemi for PW Radio
Mar 14: none, bad vertigo hit the night of the 13th and I spent the 14th recovering
Mar 15: took a walk with X in the sun
Mar 16: nice family dinner
Mar 17: pinged Tea to say "hi! I miss you!" and had a great catching-up chat

Just to recap, vertigo bouts of the past three weeks (how has it only been three weeks?!), on a scale of 1 to 3 where higher numbers are more horrible:
Feb 24, early morning, level 3
Feb 28, early morning, level 2
Mar 2, late night, level 1
Mar 8, early evening, level 1
Mar 14, late night, level 3

Specific symptoms for my referenceCollapse )

To each of those, add 12 hours of meclizine hangover--meaning total non-functionality--per level. So you can imagine how tense I am right now, waiting for the next one. Anxiety ideationCollapse ) I was going to go off the Zoloft and now I'm considering cautiously increasing the dose because the anxiety is so bad. I have no idea how I'd be coping right now if I weren't taking it.

I'm out of paid sick leave for the year. The YEAR. It's MARCH.

I have been strenuously resisting adding an "experiences.vertigo" tag. I guess I really should at this point.

My otologist wants to enroll me in a study for an experimental treatment that might help a lot. TW: injectionsCollapse )

The minimum symptoms to qualify for the study are two bouts of vertigo in four weeks, each bout lasting at least 20 minutes. Cue hollow laughter and envy of people whose vertigo only lasts 20 minutes. I could handle that. I could handle it without drugs, even, and then I wouldn't lose an entire additional day or two to the meclizine. I asked the otologist whether there were other sedatives he could prescribe and he said they all give you hangovers. Maybe I didn't sufficiently make it clear that it leaves me completely non-functional for an entire day, and at maybe 80% functionality for a day after that, and I cannot mentally or financially afford this. Surely they can't all be that bad. I realize the meclizine is the only thing that actually stops the vertigo, but if something else would sedate me so that I don't have to be around for the vertigo and then leave me feeling human the next day, I'd consider that a pretty big win. I will attempt to explain this again when I see him next week.

I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss me. I miss being able to make plans without caveats. I miss being able to assume that if it's Monday and I feel fine, I can safely make a lunch date for Thursday. I miss not being utterly undone by anxiety. I miss my back not being a mass of fiery knots. I miss making deadlines and not having to rely on the flexibility and kindness of colleagues and clients (all of whom have been splendid).

I started this entry with a catalog of fun things for a reason. Life has not been unremittingly awful. There's been a lot of good stuff. Spring is slowly springing, at last, at last; the crocus shoots have become crocus blossoms, and sometimes the air is warm and soft instead of bitterly harsh. I've been getting in good snuggle time and talk time with X and J, though I always want more. My mother has been very sweetly fussing over me via email and phone in a way that leaves me feeling loved and understood and supported; I can tell she's worried about me, but she doesn't express it in a way that makes my own worries worse, for which I am profoundly grateful. The baby planning is really exciting, even the dull paperwork parts (we just went to a lawyer and started the process of getting wills drawn up!). I managed to get a final copy editing pass done on Long Hidden and it's off to the printers; we're getting in some wonderful reviews and blurbs. Sara Eileen brought me copies of the last issue of #24MAG. I've been working on some really enjoyable freelance client manuscripts. The cats are adorable, even when they bicker. I'm still playing S&P2 and enjoying it, and I've moved my shop to a pretty excellent town full of other dedicated players who are fun to chat with. No matter how groggy I am, I can usually manage to converse a bit on Twitter, so I don't feel entirely cut off from socializing. It's not all doom and/or gloom. I need to remember that. But boy, the hard parts are just really, really hard.

The taurine and tiredness are kicking in--I was up until 4 a.m. working on Long Hidden, probably the last time I'll be able to say that--so I'm going to wrap this up and go to bed. I don't have any proof that being really tired makes me more vertigo-prone, but it's not like getting enough rest is going to somehow be bad for me.

Comments are off because I can barely deal with writing this all down and I really can't deal with discussing it. Your well-wishes are sincerely appreciated. Your offers of help are also appreciated, but there really isn't much anyone can do beyond the well-wishing. Emails from local or visiting friends with offers of flexible lunch/dinner plans would be lovely. Emails with advice on medical or psychological matters will be deleted.

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13 March 2014 02:54 - "Happy happy joy joy"
laughing, joyous, frubbly
Fun things, Mar 11: EVERYTHING. It was warm and sunny! I got work done! My client was really happy and said lovely things! I sat out on the back deck for an hour in short sleeves and got very very slightly sunburned! I vacuumed the living room and hallway! J left work early so we could have a walk in the park while it was still daylight, and the walk was great! We made a kickass dinner! We had super hot sex! It was a day of win. :D :D :D
Mar 12: had a really good family conversation over dinner

Also good today, though I wouldn't call it fun: X and I spent most of two hours consulting with an excellent fertility specialist. She was extremely smart and extremely thorough, and we now have a PLAN, which is what we didn't have and so desperately needed.

Less good: Alex got into something smelly, and while X and I were washing him he managed to scratch my chin. It's just a little scratch and I'm sure it'll heal up quickly, but it's annoying, not least because I have Liquid Skin on it and I keep wanting to pick at the edges. Bah. Stupid cats.

Ungood: It's 4:20 a.m. and I'm still awake. Must go fix that immediately.

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11 March 2014 00:56 - "The results are laudable"
accomplishment, craft
Hey, it's been a while since I did this:

Fun things, Mar 6: inadvertently launched the #SoWeary hashtag on Twitter
Mar 7: went to Dave and Danielle's new place, hung out with them for a bit, and acquired their empty book boxes (hooray for synchronous moving)
Mar 8: went out with X in the SUN SUN SUN and got haircuts
Mar 9: MORE SUN and good talking and happy fun snuggles with the spouses
Mar 10: felt totally on the ball at work and got lots done (work is fun when I'm in the groove!), opened this week's issue of PW to find a review of MY BOOK :D :D :D

I'm going to leave off doing the hour-by-hour logs because a) it's difficult to keep track of things while I'm at work and b) at this point I'm pretty comfortable with the steroids. I'm constantly thirsty (though not badly dehydrated) and peckish (though not starving) and beyond that I can't identify any side effects at all. That's pretty great.

All ear things have been great today. It's marvelous to be able to hear clearly with my right ear again! I hadn't realized just how much I'd gotten used to reduced hearing in that ear. If systemic steroids didn't have nasty side effects when used long-term I'd seriously consider seeing whether my doctor thought that might be a good way of keeping the Menière's in check.

Unfortunately, there's no way to tell whether the steroids are having an effect on the vertigo, because it was already trending in the direction of going away on its own. But the steroids are definitely doing something for my ear, so I hope they're helping to make sure the vertigo goes away and stays away. I'll just have to wait and see.

Today I was full of energy and focus in a way I haven't been in weeks. I got SO MUCH done. And then I came home and did more, both household things and work things. And now I'm wiped out, because I haven't been sleeping quite enough, so I'm going to take my nighttime dose of meds and go get some good sleep.

Plan for tomorrow:
* Finish the freelance gig that was supposed to be done last week (I'm very grateful to my client for being flexible)
* Evaluate a potential client's manuscript and write back to her
* Vacuum the living room and hallway
* Find some excuse to go out in the warmth and sun (I sat on the back deck and worked for an hour!)
* Proofread Long Hidden
* Have a really good date with Josh
* Keep proofreading Long Hidden

I have so much to catch up on. But it feels so good to be able to do it! I just have to be careful not to run myself into the ground, especially with the steroids depressing my immune system.

Bah, I'm in that state where I can't tell whether I'm starting to get a little vertigo or just wobbly from being tired. Probably just tired. Bedtime for sure.

EDIT: When I'm sitting in bed and I close my eyes, the room tilts a bit. When I'm standing and I close my eyes, it's perfectly steady. I'm going to firmly call that "just tired".

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9 March 2014 21:04 - "Talking is foreplay"
loved, happy, satisfied
It occurs to me that these logs should be tagged with a content note that I'm sodium-counting and being very careful about what I eat, so heads-up to anyone who might have stuff triggered by those things.

Today in numbers:
20 mg methylprednisolone
2.5 g taurine
150 mg ranitidine
12.5 mg sertraline
1 g calcium carbonate
0 mg meclizine (yay!)
455 mg sodium
2 meals
3 snacks
2 hours looking at apartments
0 feasible apartments
1 household meeting
2 rounds of talk-snuggle-smooch (yay!)
1 hour lost to DST (grrr)

LogCollapse )

I remain astonished by how well I tolerate the mpn. By all rights, given how ultra-sensitive I am both to stomach irritants and to mood agitators, I should be feeling wretched. Instead I feel great. This time around it's not even making me ravenous. And wow, it's so nice to be able to hear again!

Taking all that taurine is probably a big part of why I feel so mellow and cheerful. Maybe I should make it a daily thing (though not at these levels).

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8 March 2014 18:47 - "Ups and downs"
Embarking on my second biennial course of steroid treatment for Menière's symptoms (last time it was tinnitus, this time it's vertigo). No vertigo since evening of Sunday 3/2. Aggressively low-salt diet (under 700 mg/day) for the past week. Hearing in right ear has been reduced, but no ringing, just the quiet rushing/roaring sound that I associate more with "ear is blocked"; Menière's tinnitus for me is more like the extremely high noise of "someone left the television on and muted".

Today in numbers:

24 mg methylprednisolone
12.5 mg meclizine
12.5 mg sertraline
3 g taurine
150 mg ranitidine
1 g calcium carbonate
580 mg sodium plus whatever's in the tap water I've been drinking steadily all day
3 meals
3 snacks
5 hours of mild, non-nauseated vertigo
1 bout of tinnitus (ongoing, variable)
1 bout of frustrated tears (brief)
1 haircut
1 nap
0 panic attacks

LogCollapse )

I had hoped for better, I admit. I'm just so glad I didn't need to take more meclizine. The hangover is usually about 12 hours per 12.5 mg, so I'm hoping that by the time I wake up my head will no longer feel like a balloon. Most importantly, I had very little of that staring-into-space can't-form-words thing, which is what I most despise about the stuff.

I think I really might have to keep my sodium intake under 500 mg a day for a few weeks, and spread it out more (no more having half my quota for breakfast!).

No words for how incredibly incredibly maddening this is. I sure hope the steroids help because I am ready to break things.

On the bright side, no panic attacks. I'm taking a bit less taurine than I did last time, and the Zoloft appears to be making up the difference. Yay drugs that work.

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7 March 2014 18:33 - "They pull away her earplugs"
ear, overheard
I saw a very nice otologist today who confirmed the Menière's diagnosis (not that anyone's really surprised) and suggested a course of steroids to treat the current flare-up. I took steroids for a flare two years ago, and I remembered that I'd made some notes about it in my journal, so I went back and looked.

a) I tagged all the posts so I could find them easily.* Yes, it took a bit of work to do the initial set-up of my meticulous tagging system. Yes, it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.

b) My "notes" were hour-by-hour logs of my physical and emotional reactions and what I did, ranging from "this visualization technique helped with a wave of anxiety" to "a friend says I have to take the pills with food, but the literature disagrees, and I feel fine as long as I take antacids twice a day". For the full six days.

Now I feel completely prepared! Taking new meds really stresses me out, especially when they can exacerbate my chronic anxiety, and it's wonderful to be going into this course of treatment feeling so relaxed and ready. Thanks, past-me!

Also, today's tests show that the flare isn't any worse than past flares have been, which means the condition isn't progressing, which is VERY good news. The doctor was fabulous and didn't talk down to me. He told me about a pilot study for a new treatment that might be really helpful for me, and I won't disqualify myself from treatment by taking the steroids, so I can wait to see whether they work before trying a new thing. His office staff comfortably called me "Rose" (I don't always out myself as trans* to customer-facing folks, but I do ask them to use my first name because I hate having gendered titles applied to me), and they got me out of there quickly enough that I could get to work not too late and get a lot of work done. So for a day that could have been pretty awful, it's been pretty great.

* If anyone's curious, the posts are here. My biochemistry and neurochemistry are a bit wacky, so my experiences may not be applicable to anyone else's.

Usual request: Please don't offer medical advice unless you think I'm about to do something that will significantly harm me.

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5 March 2014 02:00 - "C'mon join the joyride"
zombie, retro, tired, groggy, video games
Fun things, Mar 4: made a delicious salt-free dinner with J for our date night: tilapia on a bed of mirepoix, sautéed fennel, white rice.
Mar 5: tea with Gail Carriger, who complimented my outfit. (Those are lousy pictures but you get the gist. The knot is an Ellie knot, which I love because it looks really impressive and I can tie it the night before so I don't have to rush in the morning.)

Also: felt human, thought coherent thoughts, typed without typos. For the first time in days.

Also: cried and raged and still felt stifled and choked no matter how much I cried and raged.

I told J--rather alarming him, I think--that I am always full of anger and pain. That's why I work so hard on being happy and productive. This is both true and not true; yes, I'm generally not all that good at expressing it when I'm angry or hurt, but I'm a lot better at it than I used to be, and I don't stifle it much. I'm just really angry and hurt right now. (Both in the sense of "WTF body, why are you doing this to me?!".)

The difference between vertigo and anxiety is that when I close my eyes and the room tilts and I say "No" and it stops tilting, that's anxiety. And if it doesn't stop, that's vertigo.

Depression is exhausting. Hey, guess what happens when I'm depressed and/or exhausted? I start to feel a little loopy and disconnected, the room starts to tilt...

No idea how much worse I'd be feeling right now without Zoloft and taurine. Don't want to think about it.

I think I'm basically having a panic attack all the time right now. I'm so tense that my jaw aches. But if I unwound I wouldn't be able to function and I have to function. I'm behind on everything.

Boobs are sore, so I get PMS on top of everything else, YAY.

Hate this hate this hate this.

No comments. Can't deal.

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4 March 2014 13:37 - "Dreamtime"
examined head, introspective
Meclizine/vertigo dreams are... a thing. Lots of water and motion; no surprise there. Very vivid. These are the ones I remember from the past week:

I dreamed that I was in a tour airplane that was super comfortable. I lounged in a plush recliner. We flew low to the ground, swooping about, visiting wonders of the world: a prehistoric whale skeleton embedded in a mountain, that sort of thing. Unfortunately my racist subconscious populated the Amazon jungle with stereotypical spear-chucking natives who saved us from poisonous water snakes while mocking the clueless white tourists. Way to go, brain.

I dreamed that I was sailing in shallow waters and a great white shark rose up to attack us. (I think the water was so shallow that it had no choice but to swim near the surface.) I killed it with a harpoon. The older guy I was with wanted me to marry his son, and he hinted that the shark's testicles would make excellent wedding gifts, or perhaps presents for our future twin children. Alas, as I discovered when I woke up and went directly to Google, sharks have internal testes, not testicles.

I dreamed that I read a story in a book where the color of the text and the paper changed with the mood of the story. If you didn't like this, you could tilt the book at a certain angle and change it back to black text on a white page. The story was about someone who psychically bonded with a horse, and it was so beautiful and moving that the ending--where the horse disappears but lives on in the person's mind--reduced me to sobs. I put the book back in the library and went back into the other room, where I broke my glasses (maybe from crying so hard? not clear). Nisi Shawl very graciously offered me hers, even though we have totally different prescriptions.

I dreamed that a small press hired me to edit an anthology of aquatic horror stories. I was very firm about wanting NON-Lovecraftian work. We argued over whether the title should be From the Deep or From the Deeps. When I woke up I had a head full of submission guidelines and ideas. (I tweeted about it and a couple of people suggested I do a Kickstarter. HAHAHA no. Way too much work. I just want a publisher to pay me so I can focus on editing instead of relentless promo.)

I dreamed that I drove from California to Arizona to visit Miriam. On my mental map, Arizona was about where Kansas is, a straight shot east from San Francisco over a picturesque mountain range. On the way back, Miriam and I went to get haircuts and when I said "clipper cut" the barber--who looked like Cypher from The Matrix and had a similar attitude--began to shave the back and sides of my head. Miriam was appalled, as was the owner of the barbershop, but I pointed out that my hair was long enough on top to cover the shaved parts and I actually kind of liked it.

And now I'm awake and my head is CLEAR and I can THINK and I am going to go do ALL THE WORK.

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