Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Up to Date

We're gearing up to leave on vacation and I'm not bringing my laptop. Ergo this may be the last post for quite some time as we'll be gone almost a month.

I probably shouldn't say vacation because we're really just going to visit family. If a trip comes with extended family dysfunction, it's not a true respite.

But we'll have fun anyway. My husband and I are good that way.

I'm feeling okay. Tired and worn out, but I'm off progesterone right now. Plus, the kiddo is not sleeping well. She has prolonged night terrors that just go on and on and on. She cries, yells and talks in her sleep all night long sometimes. She sleeps through it, but we don't. They seem to pop up every few months.

She's also just had back-to-back bugs again. She just finished up what one kid gave her when her little friend came over and brought all her bug buddies to share. (Gee thanks.) So far, I've been solid and haven't been acutely ill, although I suspect I've flirted with it here and there. I think this means I'll be sick on our trip. That seems to be the way Murphy's Law works.

The dogs are a concern. Our black lab is relatively stable at the moment. She's incontinent once or twice a week with medication. We've set up her bed so it's pretty easy to clean up. The yellow lab is having pain of some kind. We took him to the vet and had him on pain medication for a week. He's better but not back to normal. I have no idea what to do for him and the vet doesn't really know what the problem is either. I am mostly just praying that he heals and is okay while we're out of town.

We are in the process of becoming exchange student host parents and hope to hear we've been approved soon. I typed out a 'year in our life' list of things we do (generally) month by month so our student kind of knows what they are in for with us and I couldn't help but add a silent 'assuming I'm not sick' after each activity. I hope I'm healthy. If not, I'll orchestrate things from my sick bed like I have done before, but it won't be as much fun for anyone.

I think we've decided what we're doing about kindergarten for the kiddo next year. She's going to the charter school. I don't think the grant would pan out for more than a year, which would put us in a position of needing to pay tuition or yanking her out of school just when she's made friends. Knowing her as I do, switching schools would not go over well.

I'm not opposed to paying tuition BUT the kiddo is going to need services that will be out-of-pocket for us and I'd rather conserve our money for that. We're fortunate in that her deficits are not large, but that means it's going to be up to us to bridge any gaps as she won't qualify for most state run programs after this year. So charter school it is. At least as things stand now.

I'm reserving final judgement until after we see the results of her cognitive assessment which should be soon. All they said during the assessment was that she talks like an eight-year-old. That's  it. That's all I got, so I'll be interested to see the full report.

The writing...can kiss my ass. It's been an uphill slog of late. I finished a novel that will be part of a larger promotional project with other authors. I haven't written anything since. I think my brain melted. I was pushing hard to get that novel out.  I'll probably be ready to write again while we're on vacation, right when I don't have a laptop. Boo hiss.

Having time to write but no impetus to do so (i.e. me right now) is un-fun. Wanting to write but not having time or computer access is just as unpleasant. Let's hope I'm bursting at the seams with words when we get back and enter into another highly productive period.

I keep telling myself, 'it's good to take breaks.' I guess I'll know if this is true by the end of March.

And that's the latest.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Not Following the Rules

I had a hot flash. It hit in the middle of the night. I kept peeling off clothes and kicking off covers trying to cool off.

Then my body went 'So you think you're menopause? I'll show you. Here's every cycle you've missed of the last nine months all at once.'

I believe that resets the clock on menopause, doesn't it? I have to go for a year without a cycle, right? I keep going almost a year since my kiddo was born and then coming up short.

Meanwhile I've been exercising and starving and not losing weight. The last ten days or so I've been trying a new approach. I don't eat dinner. We juice and then that's it, nothing until the next day. Kind of like an intermittent fast which is supposed to improve insulin sensitivity.

In practice, it feels a lot like starvation.

By nine p.m. my stomach is in knots and I can't tell if I 'm hungry or if I'm going to throw up. Last night I broke down and had a piece of cheese because I was afraid I wouldn't keep down my medicine if I took it on an empty stomach.

When I go to bed, I'm so hungry it's hard to sleep. I wake up hungry. I eat. I do eat, but it doesn't stop the hunger at night.

So I've been suffering for about ten days through this misery now. I'm working out too. Hard. Haven't lost a pound. Today I finally showed a loss of 0.4 lb. Ten freaking days and that's all I get? Wow. That sucks.

My husband is kind of doing the same thing I am except he eats more at night than I do--he can't stand the hunger and skips breakfast a lot. He's lost five pounds. Breaking all the rules.

My belief is that I can't eat anymore. My body is too insulin resistant to miss an opportunity to gain weight. I had hoped I could trigger weight loss with the current approach, but that's not happening. What I was doing before didn't work either.

So now what?  Starve all the day long? I don't know if I can do that. My saving grace right now is that I know I can eat the next morning, that gets me through the nights.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Adrenal Progress Notes

I thought it might be time to recap my continuing progress from the pits of adrenal hell.

1.I can get up in the morning. There's just such terrible noodle bones with adrenal stuff, you want to get up but you can't. You're limp and weak and just useless.

A lot of times, if getting up went okay, I would hit a wall of insurmountable fatigue within an hour of going upright. Adrenal suppression/insufficiency/whatever you want to call it has a gravitational pull....right into bed.

It's been the one adrenal symptom that lingered way too long and I'm glad to see it go.

2.I've been able to increase the intensity of exercise without coming down with a cold or stomach flu. Barring any further illness like the bronchitis last May, I will be able to do anything I want this summer.

3.I can't lose weight, but I can gain. The next time my HPA axis suppresses I don't think I'll work so hard to make sure I eat. I plan to maximize the weight loss effects of adrenal insufficiency because it's clear that I can't do much with this insulin resistance fat assery I've got going on.

Case in point, I've been really working to lose weight and nothing. Nada. No go. Literally nothing. It's depressing. I am always going to be fat at this rate, exercise is just to package it as attractively as possible.

4.I haven't thrown up in a long time. Remember how I had food poisoning or the stomach flu almost every two weeks? I was so clueless. It was the adrenal stuff, but I was blind. The constant stomach pain is gone too.

5.I am still susceptible to illness. I think. The kiddo has a bug and I spent most of the afternoon sleeping, which is unusual for me. I'm just exhausted and all I can think is I'm coming down with her boogies combined with the aftermath of killer workout I did last night. Plus the kiddo's kept us up the last two nights with night terrors. Like trying to sleep through a damn horror movie you can't turn off.

(Note: Details of #5 may slightly contradict #1 and #3, but I swear it's better. Really.)

Speaking of bugs and going off on a tangent for a moment...

I was reading a slam site that felt a certain mommyblogger is faking it because they and their kids are sick so often.

Ummm hi. I didn't fight a bug without antibiotics until my 20s. Seriously, I used to fist pump and hiss 'yesssss' when I got through a bug all by myself without any medical attention. I still get excited.

Some people have shit immune systems.

Other people bring their sick kids to a dance recital and sneeze all over you, which is what happened to us last week. The culprits were/are my friends, but I still wanted/want to smack them. Stay home, dammit. No one wants your germs.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Real Life Experiments

I'm having a weird out-of-sorts day. Everything's too loose and too tight at the same time. Not sure what to do with here I am.

I think I found a way to limit my reaction to wheat. Or not. I don't really know, but I did experiment with taking Alpha Lipoic Acid with wheat and it seems to have reduced the reaction markedly.

Why that works, I can't say. For whatever reason Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a wonder drug for me.

The asthma still triggers, but at least the ugly itchy leper rash response is limited. Any new rash I see while using ALA is pretty light. Plus, I also added in some otc hydrocortisone cream to treat the existing rash. My neck looks half way normal now.

ALA is not good enough for me to eat wheat on a regular basis or anything, but when we're out and about, keeping it out of my system is crazy difficult. It's nice to have a tool to use to combat the problem.

As it happened, we went to a fancy dinner dance. It was a fundraiser with a fixed menu full of wheat thickened sauces*. So I popped the alpha lipoic acid as I ate, danced furiously, got a good whiff of second hand cigarette smoke and then had an asthma attack.

But my neck didn't break out. She said brightly.

I did, however, fall asleep in the car on the way home. I am always surprised at how quickly asthma like that can eat up my energy. You would think that brand of exhaustion would be old hat to me, but I think most of the time I have bad asthma, I'm also too damn sick to really care or notice how I feel. That's why you'll find me trying to grocery shop with an oxygen level somewhere around 90, completely stumped by the fact that I don't have the strength to push the cart. Classic sign of not-with-it-ness.

These attacks that aren't associated with a germ overlay have a strong contrast between okay and not okay. One second I'm fine, the next I can't even stay awake because I'm so zonked. It's jarring, like a sudden power outage. My husband had a terrible time getting me up and into bed.

The attack wasn't serious, but raged for several hours. I used the albuterol quite liberally and it just squeezed me tighter. The next day wasn't too bad though, so fairly limited in scope.

*Yes I tried to think of other ways to mange this. Eating before the event. Bringing food to the event. However, I wanted to try the ALA again and see how it shook out. I wish I hadn't gotten a whiff of smoke because now I can't tell if the trigger was the food or the cigarettes.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


I saw the allergist the other day. I did not react to wheat on the scratch test, however, when I eat it I still get immediate itching and a rash. All the information I can find says that this kind of reaction is consistent with an allergy so I'm not sure what all this is about. It's frustrating. Maybe I am allergic to an additive or preservative used in wheat products, I don't know. Perhaps it is gluten intolerance, I can't say and I don't think anyone else knows either.

I liked the allergist for once. Most of the allergists I have worked with in the past have been very strange and I find that the allergic paradigm does not work for me as a general rule.

But there was still some weirdness which I have come to expect from this field of medicine and just medicine in general.

I told the doctor, "I did the shots but I am still allergic to cats."

"But the shots are 95% effective," they said with obvious surprise.

"Well I'm the 5%."

I really wanted to say you know, medicine is about 100% of the patients.It's not about the number for whom the treatment is effective, it's about all of us. I feel like when I go to see doctors that they're playing the odds. If medicine says 80% or 95% or 60% of patients will show resolution of their problem then I must, by default, always be in that majority. It's like the other 5% or 40% of patients just stop existing, at least in these physicians heads.

I would think that the attention would be on recognizing those patients who still have problems despite treatment. Instead medicine essentially gives you a pill and denies that it doesn't work. I have seen this over and over again when I have worked with physicians and it is really kind of scary because, if you ever are in that percentage where medicine is not effective, they don't know what to do with you. It's not even part of their thought process. They can't even acknowledge it. There won't even be a discussion of trying different treatments. There's no decision tree for outliers.

The dynamic is very toxic and is the core reason why I have been the one driving most of my medical care. If patients don't push back, this majority medicine will bury them.

So, of course, you know that the allergist gave me another scratch test for cats so that they could prove that I wasn't allergic, except guess what? I am allergic to cats. Still.

Then we had a very interesting conversation because it came up in the allergy testing that I am allergic to fish.

"Should I not eat fish?" I asked. "I've eaten fish without a reaction."

The answer was something about how a positive allergy test doesn't always mean you will have a systemic reaction. Okay fine. So I can eat fish, but I was told I need to cover all my mattresses and pillows in plastic tout suite because of my positive reaction to dust mites. On one hand, the allergy tests can be ignored and on the other hand, I must immediately take action against dust mites.

WTF? Either the tests are accurate or they are not. Pick one. It can't be both.

I argued with the allergist a bit on the plastic mattress covers because I've used them before for years and they made no difference for me. The allergist insisted that I was wrong, but they're the ones who set up the logic: If I can be allergic to fish and eat fish with no problem why can't I be allergic to dust mites yet still not react when exposed?

So let's recap, I'm allergic to fish but I can eat fish and have no reaction. I'm allergic to dust mites and should avoid them even though I have no reaction. And I'm not allergic to wheat even though I continue to have an obvious reaction to it.

Any questions?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Smack Me, Pinch Me

Why did I stop taking progesterone? If I ever do that again, please come smack me. This particular cycle has been very smooth. No lumpy bumpy lurch into progesterone, very smooth transition. I don't know what I was complaining about. Maybe this means the dose is finally right.

Now let's talk about writing because I have no place else to delve into my thoughts on the topic and I'd like to be anonymous when I do it.

My writing skills have changed recently. All this writing I've been doing, I've improved. This is fantastic. However, I have a story that will be in two parts. Part one is the old me. Part two is the new me. So now when I go to combine them to publish them as a full, complete story, it's going to be very uneven for the reader.

Okay, it'll be uneven for the 1% of readers who can notice that kind of craft issue. Most readers are fairly undiscriminating and they don't even care if you spell words correctly...up to a point. (As an example, it took me two reads to realize an author had used yoke for yolk in a novel I edited as a favor.) If you can entertain them, they're happy, but this one percent of readers is a concern. They'll leave reviews that will peel egg shells clean off the egg. Scathing in other words.

Most writers I know live in fear of that 1%. We don't care if they read our books and hate them, we care about when they scare off the other readers with their vicious reviews. Because their criticisms are really only going to resonate for readers who are in that 1%, the rest of the reading world can enjoy the same story that they hated.

So that should be interesting in terms of marketing and reviews. Ideally, when you have this kind of growth spurt, you don't want to do it in the middle of a story. You want to finish a story. Go on to the next story and that's the one that shows all the growth.

And no I'm not going back to rewrite the first half. That's not going to be a productive use of my time. I'll just have to take my lumps.

As for sales I made even more money this past month. I keep waiting for the gravy train to end. I'm sure I'm about to fall off a cliff because none of my books are in the top 100 anymore, and my latest release from January didn't even sell 50 copies. Of course that book was not in my primary pseudonym and maybe there was a problem with it or something. Still, the previous book I wrote under that name sold quite well and I specifically wrote it to match that one,so very strange. (By the way, in case you haven't guessed, I am mercenary about my writing. I write what sells. No 'books of my heart' here. There are only the 'genres of my paycheck'. Period.)

And then there are all these established writers telling me that their earnings are in the toilet and people who are publishing everything they can,but they can't seem to recover their sales. This is concerning for me,obviously.

I'm working to build a brand for the one pseudonym and, to build a mailing list,to do relationship marketing with readers so that I have a core fan base to help insulate my income. Crossing fingers that this approach is the answer I believe it to be. Otherwise no one has any idea of how to fight back when things go south with their sales.(Beyond having a huge breakout hit and getting a very juicy publishing contract, but that's like .005% of authors writing.)

I'm excited about my recent growth in ability and hope it will result in even more sales. If things keep up I will out earn my last corporate gig at a Fortune 500. I can't believe it. It's crazy!