Saturday, July 16, 2016

Iron Woman

I just wanted to pop in and say I can tell things are better. My energy has increased along with my stamina, the birth control pills aren't as hard on me anymore and I am showing some fitness gains from my workouts for the first time in a year.

Biking is still weird. I've had good rides followed by bad rides with the muscle shredding pain. I think I might really need the B12 shots for that to go well. I don't know. I'll keep experimenting.

Right now I'm focusing on swimming. It's hot, the pools will close before I know it, my kiddo loves it and it's what feels like summer to me. Plus, every time I go swimming, I end up too sore to work out the next day (when I would typically do the bike or do an interval run). By the time I'm not sore, I just want to go swimming again. So mostly I am swimming. I love how much strength my arms and back are developing.

I know better than to get attached to anything, but it feels amazing to be in a body that is growing in strength, where inputs create positive outputs.

Gut's being weird, though and I'm not sure why. I avoided diverticulitis (knock wood it stays that way) and then ended up with a...stomach bug? Weird GI flare??? Too many tomatoes???? I'm not sure, but it knocked me flat on my back for 24 hours--as in I had no choice but to sleep with my puke bowl in between runs to the bathroom, the second I sat down, I passed out unless I had to be sick-- and things have been touchy every since.

I can't say for sure it was the tomatoes, but I know they don't help. Gluten free is easy. Tomato free is not. I have moments of weakness and do stupid things like eat marinara or salsa or other nightshade no-nos. Usually I do okay, with minor discomfort, but it's all variable. What I can get away with one day, flattens me the next.

I miss tomatoes. A lot. Enough to play the odds for them.








Thursday, June 23, 2016

Up and Down

Got my blood test results.

TSH continues to climb, unfortunately.  I don't know how long it will take to finally cross the line into official hypothyroidism or if there's any hope of it reversing itself.  Time will tell.

My ferritin is finally in range! Woot! I brought that sucker up from a 4!!!! Hemoglobin dropped though for a second time. Other values are low still as well. I am assuming it will improve as the ferritin continues to improve.

AND my husband says I got faster on the bike. That's the first I've heard that in over a year!

So maybe I'm turning this shit train around!

Except my gut is trying to have diverticulitis again. (What? You thought I was going to suddenly be healthy or something? Send me some of what you're smoking!)

They say avoiding certain foods is an old wive's tale BUT it would appear that popcorn is really a problem for me. I tried it again for the first time in 9 months. It was okay, initially, but on the third try I'm having issues.

And being on iron, even iron that I can tolerate, isn't helping. I'm finding I still have to be careful.

I'm doing my best to head it off at the pass. Wish me luck! I really hate Augmentin.

As for my writing, I left off last time thinking I was going to go out of business. Well, I reviewed my income for the last few months and it's better than I thought. I'm not thriving. Not even close, but I am surviving.

Sadly enough, I'm in the top 10% of authors per a recent earnings survey. Which means most people make nothing.

But I am tired of the stress and drama and constant changes. Not to mention business taxes suck. My husband is up for a big promotion that includes stock options and bonuses and there's a part of me that thinks I'll take a break if that happens.

(Although I am never one to sit and do nothing so I would probably just find some other new thing to do. But there would be a lot less financial stress. Who knows? Maybe I would write books and give them all away just to avoid taxes!)






Thursday, June 16, 2016

A+ to B12, F- to Medicine

So thumbs up on the B12 shots. I just did the second one and there's definitely less razor-blades-slicing-muscle-fibers pain in my legs. And I've doubled my mileage in some of my biking sessions. I'm still slower than a dead turtle, but maybe there's hope.

It's been tough to gauge their effect because I've had issues after each shot. The first one, my husband gave me a horrible cold so there was never any energy boost.

The second one, the puppy kept us up for 2 nights in a row (and puked in our bed at 3am the one night because this is my life) and then the kiddo had one of her prolonged night terrors...so sleep deprivation killed any immediate energy buzz.

Point to the patient though for finding a way to make things better.

I saw a new primary doc who was fine. My blood test results just aren't showing up in my medical record though, which is frustrating. I hope the new primary isn't refusing to release them or something weird like that. (Can they even do that for regular blood work???)

The nurse did call me and say my iron had improved, my cholesterol had improved, fasting glucose was its usual high normal and said nothing about my thyroid (so I assume it was also normal).

But I want to know how much my iron has improved because I've been suffering through the process of getting it back up. I've been doing all the work. I want the payoff of seeing the damn number.  And I want to know how normal my thyroid is.

Because it is always the case that I pay more attention than the medical system does. I am the quality check. So give me data, please.

As for the iron...The iron supplements I've found that I can tolerate (in lower than recommended doses, I've never hit the 18mg they said I should take) are a dessicated cow liver pill (that could be filled with anything) and a liquid supplement called Floradix from Europe. I did a month of cow liver and am now on the Floradix which seems to be better regulated than the liver pills.

Again, point to the patient for not giving up and sticking with it to find something that worked.

In other news...

Publishing is going down the tubes for authors. The system serves Amazon's hegemony alone. I suspect I am going to go out of business. And I say this as someone who has built a great marketing coop with an annual advertising budget of $30,000. If the coop can't make a difference, there's not much else that will.

So I need to figure something out. The top earners in publishing are spammers and those few authors that break out in a big way. If I'm going to keep writing, I've got to pick one....and find another job to pay for the marketing.

Sigh. I'm working on a really cool series right now. I'm bummed that unless I come up with five figures in marketing money, it won't even have a chance.











Monday, June 6, 2016

Dear Life: Just Slow Down

This is my Monday...

Car wouldn't start.

Naturally, I needed to get my kiddo to summer camp.

Last night, I went to bed with the beginnings of pink eye (No doubt contracted during puppy training class which was really an hour long pee sprinkler session. An almost 1 year old pup with serious anxiety spent the entire class piddling, dragging her tail through it across the dirty floor and then wagging it all over us).

So I figured I would be in Urgent Care for that sometime today.

Plus our puppy has diarrhea all the time and needs to go to the vet. (She's a lab, labs eat stupid shit and get sick. Mine has been chomping on the toilet for a month now--ya wouldn't think one could chew porcelain but my dog has found a way. The other day, she ate all the dust bunnies before I could get to them with the vacuum.)

But I have no car.

Bonus...I have asthma today due to wheat. A tiny speck of wheat was all it took. I was up using my rescuing inhaler in the middle of the night.

Am I having fun yet? NO! I am not having fun! Glargh.

Thankfully...

My husband is great with cars and quickly fixed the problem on his lunch break.

My wannabe eye infection cleared up on its own which was a huge help.

I knew another family going to the same camp and I caught them before they left their house. They graciously gave us a ride.

The puppy has a Vet appointment tonight. Hopefully they'll do something productive for her. (IME vets don't get arrogant like human doctors, but it's just as difficult to find one who can actually problem solve in a proactive manner. You think this is the first time I've brought the puppy in for diarrhea? Ha. Try third. You must not need medical care too often.)

And wheat is still drop-kicking me all over the place.

Meanwhile nothing on my to-do list beyond the vet and summer camp is getting done today. Ugh.

PS: I didn't get the flu from that conference!

PPS: For the sake of other lab puppy owners: Labs puke, poop, and pee their way through their first year. It gets better, but you might have to replace all the carpets in your house by the time they get past it. (We did!) Vets are mostly useless when it comes to labs and their sensitive stomachs so here is my advice:

1. Kaopectate is your friend. Google for the dosage.

2. Firm Up is also your friend. This is a dried pumpkin and apple fiber powder you can add to their food to help make stools more solid.

3. Try to keep them from eating stupid shit. This means crate training when you're not around and not leaving them in your yard unattended. They'll still eat something--eating inappropriate things is the breed's raison d'etre--but they won't get as much which means less diarrhea...maybe.

4. Think about a sensitive stomach dog food.

5. Keep doing stool samples at the vet just in case they do pick up an infection/parasite. Labs put so much crap in their mouth, the odds of an infection/parasite are probably higher than other breeds.

6. Keep your dog hydrated. With diarrhea, I stop all dog food and give my labs a mix of rice and broth to keep fluids up. (As they get better, I add in cooked chicken, then start mixing in their dog food and then transition to regular dog food 100%.)

7. Puppy proof your house so they don't get into anything and eat it! If you have kids...God help you. Just accept you'll be pumping the puppy's stomach or paying for surgery to remove intestinal blockages sooner or later. (I have a kiddo so I'm probably doomed! Our puppy has already been gnawing on various toys despite our best efforts.)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

2 for 1 Special

We left the country for a work conference for me, sight-seeing for the rest of my family.

My husband got sick.

But hid it and brushed it off.

So I thought he was okay.

He wasn't.

Kiddo got sick.

I pulled night duty two nights in a row as she was miserable with congestion.

While also trying to juggle the conference at a hotel with really uncomfortable beds.

Mostly everything was one big giant fail.

I missed most of the conference because I was so tired. Bad beds. Sick kiddo. No sleep for this mom.

But I thought at least I might not get sick. It had been a few days and I seemed to be fine.

And then I got sick.

Normally that would be the end BUT...

People came to the conference in the throes of the flu. Documented flu. Like, they had Tamiflu prescriptions and everything.

And they hung out with me All. The. Time.

I must be crazy because the flu is the point at which I just stay home, but what do I know? Maybe a temperature of 103 is more fun in a hotel.

My nurse friends say you can actually get the flu AND have a cold at the same time. I was hoping that the universe wouldn't be that cruel, but she is.

So I'm just waiting to see if that's going to happen now, too.

I wouldn't be surprised.

Oh. And tomorrow? We get a puppy.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Like a sitcom...full of suck

Just when you think you're safe, I show up again!

Hi!

Hey, guess what? I found the ONE health thing that isn't all over the internet: Where to go to get B12 shots. I decided I wanted to get a B12 shot but couldn't find any information online about where to go for one. So I made some calls and found that I can get them at Physicians Weight Loss Centers for $25.

Of course, you can also go to your closest alternative medicine clinic, fork over $200 for a new patient visit and then pay $25 for a B12 shot.

Either way.

Why am I pursuing B12 shots? I'm trying to be more proactive about my iron levels and a B12 shot can't hurt. I'll have more blood work soon, and depending on what that shows, I'll be pushing for some kind of IV iron infusion.

If low iron is my problem, I want to get it fixed. No more farting around.

Nothing has happened despite my improved ability to eat and a low dose iron regime. I'm still tired. My legs hurt so much during bike rides that I've dropped from 5 miles to 4 to 3 to 2 now.  I never get more fit no matter how much I exercise. There's never any progress.

Time to git 'r done. If primary care won't take care of it, but the blood work is still off, I'll go direct to a hematologist.

Meanwhile, we're hosting a new exchange student this coming school year and getting a new puppy (our elderly dogs went to the rainbow bridge this past winter). With our first student, I had pancreatitis off and on and the whole year. Plus various procedures.

As if importing and parenting a moody teenager for the first time wasn't difficult enough!

I got through it, but it was a tough year for me. Not something I want to repeat.

I'd like to have decent energy for our student and the puppy. And be able to eat. I am crossing fingers and toes that isn't too much to ask.

But, of course, the second I make plans, things get weird.

I have a dark, wide line in my nail bed that goes from the cuticle to the end of the nail. And it's getting darker. It's about 2 months old from what I can remember. I didn't really think much of it because it started out pretty light and is just now getting dark. But I did get curious and googled to see if it could be related to low iron which is when all the other stuff came up.

I haven't called the derm yet because we are getting ready to drive into Canada for a business conference. Then we pick up the puppy because living like I'm running a marathon in the midst of a tornado is apparently my lifestyle.

Once that's all out of my way, I'll get in touch with the derm and I imagine there will be a biopsy in my near future.

Probably it's fine. I get pigmentation in other weird places, like my palms. Just one more thing to deal with.

On top of that, I'm waiting to hear on some lung stuff. The pulmo sent me for some additional testing. I guess they didn't like the part where I coughed until I puked for several days with that flu bug.

I know it's never going to happen, but I would really like a decade (might as well be greedy, right?) where I can exercise without being interrupted by my one-star body and eat normally.



Saturday, March 19, 2016

Still Sick

But slooooowly improving. This bug comes with a side of fatigue. My kiddo and I are just pooped. I'm on week 4. She's wrapping up week 3.

The asthma finally stopped. There's still gunk in my lungs so I'm not doing any hardcore aerobic activity anytime soon. Me being me, I got some kind of stomach bug/food reaction/food poisoning that reinforced the Augmentin's (aka Poop Blaster 5000) impact on my gut so last week was not fun in any way.

I took the kiddo to the ped two weeks ago hoping for antibiotics. There was a moment where she stopped getting better and started getting worse. I heard one cough and I knew she had a secondary infection.

But the ped didn't see it.

So she festered another week missing even more school and then finally qualified for antibiotics (sorry science, I know you like your data, but a mom always knows). I had my stomach thing and couldn't even leave the house so the hubby had to pinch hit on our second trip to the ped. I texted him the whole litany of symptoms and signs for him to read off to the ped.

My poor kiddo has been really gunky and has really suffered with this bug. Explaining the concept of being sick but not sick enough for antibiotics even though we knew she needed them was challenging. She was annoyed and I can't say I blame her.

And then my hubby, not being health inclined in any way, didn't fill the antibiotic prescription. He just brought the kiddo home and thought he was good. I pulled my kiddo aside (under the belief that she'd be easier to teach than my hubby*) and explained when you're sick and a doc gives you antibiotics, you fill the prescription immediately and take the first dose ASAP.

So while I was trying not to puke my guts out, I had to manage the antibiotics and medical stuff for the kiddo, too.  Plus I had a ton of stuff going on at work that could not wait. At one point I was making business calls, but my stomach couldn't make it through. So I would hang up, go be sick and then call people back.

Yeah. Not fun.

As for work...I've discovered there are some massive structural problems in publishing and in my genre in particular. While my new release was flailing, the news broke that spammers are so pervasive on Amazon that they've been walking away with millions (PLURAL!) of dollars a month from the shared KU pot.

So it's like a restaurant that makes wait staff split tips (I hated working for those places when I was in college), but before the tips are split, someone steals 20% off the top. The spammers have been skimming off the top for months. (A ma zon did nothing. NOTHING.)

Now, I'm not in KU, but as these spammers are stealing money (by the millions!!!!)  they are also eating up oxygen when it comes to visibility and discoverability across the board. Believe it or not, spamming A ma zon's algo is really effective and profitable. Spammers can outpace organic book sales without much effort.

(I now belong to every spammer forum I could find in the hopes of finding ideas I can use to create legitimate business strategies. Or, if not, hell, maybe I'll write make spam too. Quite of few of these assholes were walking away with six figures a month.)

As if that wasn't enough....an author in my genre is becoming a breakout phenomenon. She's at Fifty Shades of Grey levels. But where FSOG was three books, this author has 33. All of which took up the top third of the top 100 list in every single genre related to mine...just in time for my new release. I can't rank if a brand that strong is taking over the top 100. If I can't rank, my visibility and discoveribility won't improve and the money just won't be there.

I can't grow. I won't reach new readers. I'm locked out and so is every other author in the genre.

I did some scary math. This author will be at 40+% of the top 100 this year. By next year she'll be at 50%, if she keeps up her release schedule.  I don't think publishing has ever seen something like this. Her back list is huge and her fans just go from book to book. I've never seen an author pull 33 books up into the top 100 with one new release.

Most authors don't even have that many books in their back list or they're like Nora Roberts...there's enough time between new releases that readers already have the older books so there's no meteoric rise of the back list.

She's making seven figures a month.

Which is great. Good for her! That's amazing!

But it's killing the other authors in her genre.

So I'm over here scratching my head and trying to figure out if I can survive. And if I can't, do I care enough about another genre to make a run for it? I'm not sure.

*I love my hubby. He is awesome at so many things, but he doesn't do health or medical anything. Oh the stories I could tell you, but I'm out of time.