Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Be Vewy Vewy Quiet

Shh! Don't speak too loudly. Make sure you weren't followed, too. I seem to be healthy. For more than five seconds this time!

Working on getting back into exercise and *oof* it's ugly. Starting from somewhere below zero in terms of fitness.

And I have the steroid munchies. Argh. (Yep, the cold was that bad.)

I'm trying hard not to be frustrated about it. Don't think, just do, right?

I really should be wrapping up edits on my next novel, but, instead, I'm over here procrastinating like I want a gold medal in slacking.

So much going on around here! I need to get my act together!

Kiddo starts school next week and, after some diligent advocacy on my part, she will be accelerated in math. I pushed for it, not because my kiddo is a brilliant special snowflake, but because she finished the last school year hating math and telling herself she was bad at it. She's ready to check out and give up on math and I am fighting to keep her engaged. (I've also told her she's not allowed to hate math until 5th grade. By then, I figure she'll have enough experience to know for sure that she can't stand numbers.)

If the math acceleration goes well, I may ask for a full grade skip. We'll see. It's not just about being smart, because of her early fall birthday, she's really a full year older than the rest of her class. Developmentally she's way ahead of her current peers and I am wondering if she should just go be in the grade that matches her age.

Her test scores support a grade skip. She has perfect scores on the assessment tests, which is one of the data points used to determine if a child should grade skip.

But we'll see how the math skip goes, first. It could be a disaster. We won't know until we're all sobbing over math homework in September.

As I said, I'm wrapping up my next novel. Not sure how this one will go. It's a transition book. I had to do a lot of world building and managing the aftermath of what happened in the previous book. So...fanbase will probably like it, but it's not likely to grow legs and sell much beyond that.

Which means, I need to stop spending time on it. Time to git r' done and move on.

My next project should be more commercial. And in a series with good sell through to the other books.

Just have to find my work ethic, focus and perhaps some chocolate. Like maybe a feedbag of Nutella.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I Know Why I Had Diverticulitis

Iron pills.

The GI effects of iron pills were profound for me. Feosol triggered such awful diarrhea, I felt sick and couldn't leave the house as it was nearly continuous. I actually started to lose weight. After four days, I had to stop, hoping to also stop the diarrhea, but instead, the side effects of the iron somehow interfaced with my gallbladder-less system and produced bile salt diarrhea.

For three weeks straight.

I had to resort to cholestryamine powder to get things under control.

I had't needed it since the surgery to take out my gallbladder, but thanks to iron pills, I had to take it for weeks.

When everything seemed to go back to normal, I tried Slow Fe which was constipating.

Intensely constipating.

Then I ate some popcorn, which didn't go over so well. My system immediately had a negative reaction to it.

Within 40 hours or so, I had a fever along with severe abdominal pain and was in the ER wondering if I had appendicitis (the pain referred to the right).

And that is how I developed diverticulitis.

Without iron pills, knowing how bad my gut felt on them, I firmly believe I would have never gotten sick.

Monday, August 17, 2015

High Impact

I seem to have a few different posts brewing, so I'll be around for a bit.

As I always say, my exercise theme is two steps forward, one hundred steps back. It's is super frustrating. To the point where I don't know why I bother at all.

I have complained about my knee on this website for over year, but I never did anything with it because I had too many doctor appointments already for the GI stuff that started causing problems. It wasn't like I could really exercise then and, believe it or not, I don't actually want to go to the doctor. I don't enjoy it. It's not fun.

So I pace myself. I will defer appointments for non-urgent issues while I deal with whatever the crisis du jour is.

This is why my mammogram was a year late. I waited until the GI stuff had stabilized.

Anyway, this is what exercise has looked like for 2015 and I think it illustrates nicely the challenges of trying to have any healthy habits at all when your body insists on throwing curve ball after curve ball at you.

January: No exercise. Recovering from flu+asthma.

February: Able to exercise.

March: Flu (strain B this time)+asthma + sinus infection. No exercise.

April: Asthma+ sinus infection. No exercise.

May: Able to exercise.

June: Able to exercise. Woo! Two whole months in a row! Feeling lucky, I started PT for my knee.

July: Diverticulitis. Cancelled PT. No exercise, although I had increasing daily activity by the end of the month which has to happen before I can start working out.

August: Losing at least two weeks to this cold.

So 50% of the time, I'm not able to exercise. Some years are better, some are worse, but the only thing I can count on is completely de-conditioning multiple times throughout a year. I get to start at zero over and over and over again. It's not demoralizing at all! She said brightly.

And my poor knee is just doomed. I couldn't finish all the PT sessions because of the diverticulitis and then, of course, my karma being what it is, the doctor cancelled their follow-up appointment with me. I took it as a sign and just gave up.

My body has filled the medical agenda with other things.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hostile Take Over

I made all these lovely plans this week. Exercise. Play dates. Putt-putt. A business meeting with my admin with a side of splash pad for the kids and then...I got a cold.

Not just any cold.

This thing has aspirations.

It's hegemonic.

I forgot my place.

I don't get to make plans.

I don't get to be healthy on any kind of regular basis.

What kind of dumb bitch am I to think I can do anything? To think I can count on being able to show up and follow through?


Yeah, it's *just* a cold, but I also *just* finished up the diverticulitis. It's not like I'm coming into this with all this amazing health behind me.

I haven't had a bad cold like this in a while, which makes me wonder if I'm going to go back to catching every little bug around me. This happens every few years or so. I don't know if the bugs mutate and outpace my immune system or if it's some other causative factor but man does it suck.

And now I have to go make sure I have prednisone because this cold might come to that.

PS: Some more on A mazon. I found out half the authors never received the contracts that were promised to them by A mazon's management. They published their stories anyway (whereas I would have walked).

We all spent days wrestling with their upload interface (which is an internal system they use for their imprints, it's not what indies use.). The upload process was so bad, we actually developed a drinking game based on all the glitches!

THEN as if to punish us for our cooperation in the face of their incompetence, they promptly shoved all of our books into the wrong category.

So picture fiction shelved in cookbooks. We weren't coming up properly in their search engine results AND our sales were displacing books that should have been ranking in their category (so they were screwing more authors than just us!). Imagine Nora Roberts' books taking over the entire cookbook category and its bestseller list. That's what A mazon did. Good luck selling any books beyond your fan base! Sheesh!

What a travesty of a project. I will never work with them again. I can't picture a scenario where there's enough money in it for me to subject myself to these people again.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

About Celiac's and A mazon

1. Celiac's.

It did cross my mind before. However, the way this all started was with a rash, asthma and flu-like symptoms. I didn't have digestive issues. Every time I ran across someone who had Celiac's they were often ranting about how being 'glutened' had caused them to have to wrap themselves around a toilet for three days. Since that wasn't me, I thought I just had an allergy or a weird food intolerance/inflammation thing.

Now I do sometimes have digestive issues after eating wheat. And the rash. And asthma. And sneezing. And joint pain. And brain fog. And a bulging stomach that everyone thinks is a hernia but it's not. And chronic low iron with occasional bouts of anemia.

The one good thing about the fancy pants specialist is I took a deeper look at Celiac's. I have no way to know for sure, but while I don't have much in common with IBS patients, I do mirror a lot of what Celiac patients say. Not everyone With Celiac's has digestive issues and some have only mild digestive issues.

That's me!

I might just be that weird.  Who knew?

2. Regarding my A mazon project. OMG. I killed myself finishing the damn story they wanted, working through feeling like crap thanks to the diverticulitis and part of my vacation, and they left me hanging. They managed to get everyone else the contract but me. So I couldn't do anything. Couldn't plan marketing. Couldn't coordinate with the other authors. Nothing. I was in limbo.

A mad limbo that fueled some furious bike rides where I swore under my breath for the entire five miles. I was SO. MAD.

I'm still pissed. You have no idea. I showed up. I did my job. They wanted XYZ, I gave them XYZ and ABC and 123. Where was A mazon?

I watched everyone else get their contracts and start organizing their marketing campaign week after week while I got bupkis.

Then I started getting 'the contract is coming' emails. A whole string of them. And still no fucking contract.

Three weeks later...I finally get the contract. AFTER I'd already gone through the mental gymnastics to make lemonade out of my lemons. I'd made my peace with it, was prepared to move forward and had figured out a way to make good money. I'd even stopped following up, but they sent me the contract anyway!

Damn it!

I had to reverse my entire mental game and opt back in because I decided I wouldn't back out of my initial commitment.

So, seething with resentment, I made like a team player and signed the contract. There were other authors involved and this bullshit hurt them, too. Not that A mazon cared.

I'm waiting to see how much money I'm going to lose on this. It was always the case that I could make more on my own. This was not a money move, it was a PR and networking-with-A mazon-management move...which has failed spectacularly as I'm now that author, the one who kept emailing and emailing and emailing about the fucking contract.

Which, in the end, I didn't even want anymore, but felt honor bound to accept.

So I made no friends at A mazon*, things got weird with the authors because no one wanted to speak ill of the Master**, and I'll make pretty much no money.

Go me.

I am going to have to do a lot of deep breathing exercises to find my Zen on this one.

Sometimes I wonder if the person at A mazon was the GI specialist's twin or something. They were both SUCH special treats. How did I get so lucky?

*Not much of a loss. Sheesh. Corporate paychecks sure do make people complacent. Wish I had the luxury of that kind of laziness! Rep me, don't rep me. Merch my books, don't merch my books. Whatever. I've got work to do. Call me when you're back from your three hour lunch.

**Everyone was hoping to impress A mazon, so no one dared acknowledge what was happening to me lest the mighty Z on have NSA level access to our email accounts. (Given that some authors were sending Z on screen caps of confidential conversations last month, attempting to curry favor via tattling, this is not an unjustified level of paranoia.) (Yes, authors are crazy. So are readers.) This whole thing was a fucking author pageant. I thought I could be a contender, but I have zero patience with people who can't do their jobs. Do your job or leave me the hell alone because I will not smile and nod when you've proven to be incompetent< -- pageant fail.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

More Fancy Pants Updates

So the first order of business with the fancy pants GI doc (beyond not listening to me at all) was to test me for SOD.

Naturally, all the spasming stopped right before the nuclear imaging of my biliary ducts. Save for a week this past May, the damn ducts haven't stopped twanging like a banjo for over a year.

The imaging showed no issue.

Which was no surprise given how normal my gut is at the moment. (I cut out some foods while on vacation, just naturally, and seem to be uncovering some additional sensitivities that might be a trigger. Right now, it twinges after I eat and occasionally spasms, but is remarkably well-behaved.)

So I cancelled the upper GI scope. There didn't seem to be much point in continuing with this specialist. If the imaging had shown SOD, I might've stuck around, but, you know, there's nothing wrong with me according to them (except IBS, so they say, and there's nothing they can do for that, apparently).

Plus...I tried to go up after my nuclear imaging thing and ask them about updating my medical record and no one cared.

I asked for a nurse's appointment so I could update their records, but nope, no go.

Call me a wimp, but I'm just not willing to undergo anesthesia when their attitude is so cavalier. I've done procedures in this medical system and I've seen their pre-anesthesia s.o.p. and this bullshit ain't it.

Also, I don't know why I need a scope. That was not explained to me. The primary impetus seemed to be the fact that I hadn't had one in two years, not any actual medical issue. (God, that appointment was really horrible.)

My thought at the moment is to go back to my regular GI and ask about testing for Celiac's. And keep an eye on my TSH and pray my ferritin/iron goes up.

I did find a multi-vitamin I can tolerate (sort of) but there's not much iron so I'm not sure how much help it is.

Oh and I received a survey on the fancy pants GI doctor, which I thought was unusual. Either they're new or they're bad or both. Anyway, I politely explained my issues and I hope someone somewhere gives a shit.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

I Wish I Was Making This Up

Lots going on here. I hope I can frame it all coherently. We just returned from a lovely vacation full of seafoam green water and lazy mornings. It was a fantastic break and I'm thankful it coincided with finally feeling like I was over the diverticulitis. 

The big news on the health front is I finally got into the fancy pants hospital system, and so far, it is a disaster. No one wants to listen or properly review my case.

The appointment veered in strange and wild directions, from revoking various diagnoses to invoking other diagnoses and back again as the specialist played catch-up with the medical records. It went a little like this:

"You did not have pancreatitis.

Why did they take your gallbladder? It was fine.

You don't have Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction. If you did, the ERCP would have worked.

You probably have IBS. Yes that can be point specific and high up under your rib cage.

Oh, I see. Huh. There were stones*.

You probably did have pancreatitis.

They did need to take out the gallbladder.

Still not sold on the SoD and still thinking you have IBS.

But I'd like to test for Celiac's and do some imaging on the SoD."

All of this was addressed to my husband, by the way. Which is why I bring him on some of the more critical appointments. He is allowed to exist**. I am not even allowed to speak. To wit, I was never permitted to explain I have been gluten free for a while now in response to the idea that I might have Celiac's Disease***.

So I had to pay for useless blood work because I wasn't able to get a word in edgewise and there was zero interest in anything I had to say. Everything I said was immediately shot down and negated. This is "care that cares****" folks. Lucky me!

If I had realized the blood work required me to be eating gluten, I would have attempted to be more vocal about it. Stupid me. I thought the specialist knew what they were doing. Gah. At least I was able to send a follow-up email later on explaining I no longer eat wheat.  

I have no idea what's going to happen from here. Do I do a gluten challenge? How do I mitigate the asthma and manage the risk of wheat + flu?

And I guess we'll be finding out if I'm somehow the only person on the planet with IBS so high up in the rib cage that it feels/acts like pancreatitis. Out of curiosity,  I read hundreds of patient accounts about their experiences with IBS and I don't match any of them.

I don't care about the diagnosis at this point. Call my GI stuff whatever the hell you want, just optimize my system so I can function. I get the feeling the gastro thought I was arguing against IBS when what I really wanted was for them to LISTEN to me already. 

My 'questioning' of the IBS diagnosis was focused on the lack of attention to details and the forcefulness with which I'd been put on mute as a patient. I mean, hell, just slap a ball gag on me when I walk into the exam room why don't ya? Or I could just not come to the appointment at all since my presence, apparently, isn't all that important.

As for the specialist...if they keep this up, I don't know what I'll do. Maybe they'll chill out. Maybe the various tests will offer some clarity and give me enough credibility that I'll be allowed to have a voice. It's really disheartening to have finally broken through the administrative dysfunction at this place and get an appointment only to find out this is the kind of doctor I'm stuck dealing with.

AND on top of all the BS above...My medications weren't even updated and I haven't been in this medical system for a decade. So they're planning to do general anesthesia for a scope, but have no idea what meds I'm on, what I weigh or what has changed in my health history. I'm going to go have to hunt someone down and bug them about updating their system. 

Or is it not important to know these things before you take someone's life in your hands? 

*Stones were news to me! No one ever told me!

**The problem is the hubby isn't so hot at medical stuff. He could tell the appointment was bad, but didn't have any idea of what to say--since he was the one with all the respect--to get it back on track.

***You know, Celiac's is a real possibility. 

****I made that slogan up.