Recuperation Nearly Complete

It’s been quite the bumpy road back to health, but the destination seems to be within sight now. I’m telling you, recovery’s tough when you can’t eat adequately. Happily, I’ve now drained all of that bloody awful IV fluid, and can fit things in my belly, which is delightful. I’ve lost weight, but not quite as much as I feared I had, and once I take the last antibiotic this morning, my body can get back to normal function. Huzzah. I shall now proceed to eat ALL THE FOOD.

I’ve been able to do a bit of work on our Christianist textbook series. Easiest way to get back to serious writing is making fun of them, how sad is that? But it does force me to research and think, which is good exercise for the gray matter. It would be proceeding much more quickly if it weren’t for Misha, who has that peculiarly feline attraction to open textbooks, and insists on cuddles the instant I crack one.

Photo shows Misha smugly lying in my lap. A textbook is open on the arm of the chair beside her.

Misha is very pleased she’s ejected the textbook from my lap and substituted herself.

The same thing happened tonight, when I’d just finished my heaping plate of fajitas, and digested a bit, and was just about to haul the book over. Bam! Back in my lap.

Image shows Misha lying in my lap. I'm petting her back.

Yep. Typical cat. Only wants cuddles when I’m trying to do something else…

Eventually, she had her fill of cuddling, and I was able to return to debunking good Christianist education. Yes, life is indeed returning to something approaching normal. I’m just sad I missed Halloween. I didn’t have the energy to go out, so B and I sat at home eating Indian food and watching Labyrinth. It was nice, but damn it, I love doing the costume thing. I shall have to live vicariously through others – if you’ve got Halloween pics you want to share, send ‘em! dhunterauthor at gmail.

I’m off to finish this ridiculous chapter, then. Mostly normal posting should be resuming now that I’m more functional. Eventually, I’ll even start to sound clever again, with luck (and ALL THE FOOD omigod you have no idea how much I’ve missed eating gargantuan meals). See you soon, my darlings!

Hooray For Clean Blood

I don’t have to go live in the hospital after all – my blood came back clean, so oral antibiotics will finish the job nicely. In fact, I’d be feeling almost myself again if it wasn’t for 8 liters of IV fluid swelling me like sausage. Oy.

I visited our UW Urgent Care down the road so they could make sure I wasn’t gonna die of pulmonary edema, and get advice on how to make this wretched fluid leave me. It was gratifying to hear the doctor talking to the nurse in the hall before he came in, incredulously repeating, “Eight liters?”, which words have been my mantra whenever I look at my incredibly ballooned abdomen, my bulging ankles, my bratwurst legs, and my lil smokie fingers. He determined that my lungs and heart were holding their own despite the reduced room, so all we need to do now is let nature take its course. We’re not trying drugs because my poor kidneys are already unhappy enough, so it’s best not to antagonize them. We’re going to check them again on Friday, and if they’re recovered but I’m still Water Balloon Woman, we can drug the fluids out then.

Good thing I don’t love salt, because he recommended I keep my sodium low. I’ve already cut back drastically, because carbonated sodas and I aren’t currently on speaking terms. And I don’t salt my food, so I’m basically free to eat what I want. Now if I can only free up enough abdominal space to eat lots of it…

I managed a trip to Target all by my lonesome, and was able to haul everything upstairs without total collapse, so it’s Dana’s Independence Day. B would’ve done all that, but he’d been awake all night worrying after I sent him home for rest and didn’t sleep until I emailed at 4am to let him know mild fever all gone. Then he slept through the morning, and his brother took the car, leaving him stranded. It was a nice, sneaky way to force him to take the day off, really, and he needed it. If I’d needed help, there are other people I can tap, but I don’t think he quite believes that. That poor kid is getting so much TLC from me when I’m fully functional again.

So now, it’s just a matter of tottering around on swollen pins, and grazing throughout the day rather than having meals, and trying to be patient while the last of the infection is murdered and the excess fluid goes away. I anticipate long periods of napping. I’ll probably take several days off from the blog now, unless one of those suddenly-better events happens, in which case we’ll get right back to it. And, of course, either B or I will update you if anything goes wrong. So don’t fret at radio silence.

I love you, my darlings, and can’t wait to be really-for-reals back!

Image shows a cat face-planted on a bed. Caption says, "I will nap... HERE."




Home for Now

Writing from me own bed, yay! I checked out against medical advice because my body was telling me it would conspire with the bacteria to murder me if I didn’t get real sleep. You cannot do that in a hospital, especially when they spend half the night fast-pushing fluids to try to raise your blood pressure. I’m not kidding when I tell you I’m carrying an extra 20 pounds or so of liquid under my skin. I’m swollen all over and my poor lungs have limited room to work, so I sound like a Victorian woman in an extra-tight corset when I talk or breathe. I can’t crouch down to get thing without my legs feeling like they’re gonna pop like water balloons. Luckily, my kidneys are functioning fine and doing their best to deal with the situation.

And the best-worst thing is, I suspect it was all over nothing. I run low anyway, but I’m usually not tested after I’ve been lying down for hours. It’s usually shortly after I’ve had some ordinary but briskish activity, and then I clock in somewhere between 100-110 over something I can never remember. I had absolutely no other signs of too-low pressure. I wasn’t faint, light-headed, dizzy, or tunnel visioning my way to a blackout. I was merrily popping to the potty whenever, and the only difficulty unplugging and plugging in the IV pump came from excess fluid making it hard to bend, and muscle weakness from so much inactivity. But that improved plenty with all the lovely electrolytes, so my muscles are much more inclined to stay cheerful.

My morning bloodwork (taken at 4:48 in the ay-em, people – after the nurses had been dicking around with fluid pushes until after midnight, and then I had to wait for my main nurse to catch a break in her duties so we could go walkies, because all that fluid pressure pressed on nerves that made my legs do the St. Vitus’ Dance) came back with good results: all the numbers, including white cell count, were in acceptable ranges. The kidney ultrasound showed both working as advertised. The doctor was mainly concerned with the low pressure, which is NEVER going to go back up to where she wants it if I don’t get out of bed more) and my heart rate, which stayed fast. Well, the poor thing has an extra 20lbs of fluid to push around now. And they’ve checked my concern, which is the shallow rapid breathing, and aren’t too worried. The fluids aren’t leaking where they shouldn’t, and my oxygen sat is awesome as always. It’s all, “Medical crisis? What medical crisis?” We don’t have the blood cultures back saying fer sure that my blood’s actually infected. So I decided to risk going home, with the promise that I’ll be back in a jiffy if the cultures show a blood infection, or if I take a turn for the worse.

I spiked a fever this evening, which the charge nurse familiar with my situation said was normal and just come back in the morning if it was high, or earlier if other scary stuff happened. B did my laundry, kept watch over me while I slept, and only left when my fever went way down and I was able to watch teevee and joke a while. He’s got his phone by his ear just in case. I’ve started oral antibiotics, my appetite’s improving, and I haven’t had any nausea. I’m able to stay hydrated with water and Gatorade, plus the immense quanties of IV fluid my poor kidneys are frantically trying to process right now. Everything’s right as it can be, and disaster plans in place just in case.

Ima go take care of my poor, swollen legs for a bit, then get some more sleep, and we’ll see what the bloodwork tells us tomorrow. Here’s hoping that, even if the infection is in my blood, I can just do outpatient infusions rather than having to go back to constant insomnia… but we got the bags packed just in case.

Thank you again for all your patience and well-wishes. Not sure yet when I’ll be back to full Dana capacity, but hopefully soon. And really, despite my caretakers’ obsession with blood pressure numbers that I suspect don’t fit me, they’ve been amazing, and I know they’ll make sure I’ve got the the knowledge and resources I need to make the prudent decisions. Not to mention, if it wasn’t for the lack-of-sleep issue, I totally would’ve stayed for the food. Amazing good food, people. And best nurses ever.

We’re on a bumpy road, but at least all the signs say we’re on our way to recovery!

Gray kitten in scrubs walking toward right, caption says, "Dr. Tinycat to the OR, STAT!"













The Joye of Sepsis

Greetings from my hospital prison! Turns out this wretched little illness wasn’t just a kidney infection. No, the little bastard bacteria escaped into my bloodstream, after pretending they’d gone. I went to urgent care, and they pumped me so full of fluids I nearly popped, topped me off with antibiotics, and shipped me over to the hospital next door. Fun times. At least my female nurses have been unrelently awesome, my one male nurse was hawt, and all of the doctors so far rock, even though they won’t let me return to my memory foam mattress and cat.

B’s got me covered for fetching things and transport. He’ll also watch over my very upset felid. If all goes well, I’ll be going home tomorrow sometime. Probably will not be back to full Dana for a few days, though. Sepsis is srs bidness. However, I already feel miles better and am happily sucking down fluids, so I’m hoping recovery won’t take forever.

We shall see…

Thanks for your patience and well-wishes!

Gray kitten in scrubs walking toward right, caption says, "Dr. Tinycat to the OR, STAT!"







Currently Ill. Back Soon!

I’m so sorry, my darlings, but my body has gone into full rebellion. First, Aunty Flow showed up, then I developed what’s probably a kidney infection. Alas, of course, it didn’t make its wretched self obvious until after every Urgent Care clinic closed. Sigh. B is a complete angel and rushed over with necessary drugs and fluids, so I’m feeling much better and the fever’s going down. If it’s still a thing in the morning, or worsens unexpectedly, he’ll whisk me off to brave the indignities of the American health care system. Whee.

I’ll be posting again ASAP, but it might take a few days. Apologies to those who are languishing in moderation – I am definitely not up for admin duties, but hopefully tomorrow! I’m now going to drink a gallon of green tea and pass out.

Gray kitten in scrubs walking toward right, caption says, "Dr. Tinycat to the OR, STAT!"



Hold My Calls, Pleez

I know, I’ve not been around much lately, and I’m afraid that’s going to continue for just a bit. I got sucked in to some rather intriguing sporkings, which also led to some new books, and I’ve pretty much been a 24/7 layabout. There will be payoff for you, I promise. I meant to have that for you this week, but then awesome personal life developments intervened, and well… I’m taking the rest of the week off. I’ll return next week, when we’ll restart our… well, interesting, if not exactly fun… Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education. I’ve got many posts written, just need to type them up. I’ll be introducing you to an awesome new earth science comic to ease your pain. It’s because I love you, and also because I got sent an advanced copy and fell in love with it.

This came up while I was searching for a suitable picture for this post, and I love it, and want you to have it:

Image is split in half. On the left, a woman is chucking her golden retriever under the chin, while a gray cat looks on in the foreground. On the right, the woman is smiling at her dog, and the cat is now looking into the camera with a disgusted expression. Caption says, "My cat disapproves of human/dog love... I didn't even know she could do that face..."

I covet that cat. What gorgeous green eyes! Misha’s got them, too, but of course she’s not all silvery-gray. The last Russian Blue (which I think is that cat above) we had got stolen by the neighbor’s visiting in-laws. Funny ol’ world, innit?

Summer’s almost over. Get your adventuring in while ye may, for those of you who still have some lovely days ahead. For those in the southern hemisphere, get out and enjoy the waning winter! Indulge in the things that make you happy, my darlings, and I’ll see you soon!

Image shows a winking white owl. Caption says, "Owl see you later."

If you have any special requests for the winter’s postings, please do let me know in comments.

Ha Ha Ha Whoops. Also: Help Me Keep an Eye on Creationists

I’ve had myself so buried in Christianist textbooks, frantically trying to get this talk pulled together, when I wasn’t compulsively reading about the awful things police in Ferguson are up to now, I haven’t thought to keep an eye on my email… and it turns out that due to unforeseen circumstances, FtBCon’s postponed anyway. We’ll be trying again in a few months. So what does this mean? It means you’ll still get a talk on Why Geology Matters – To Creationists, only it will be a much better talk, because I’ll actually have gotten through these books. Well, at least through all the geology bits of the books. Ye gods, it takes ages to fact-check and debunk this stuff now that we’re in to the portions of Earth science Christianists love to hate.

Image shows an orange kitten sitting in a terra cotta pot, with one paw over an eye. Caption says, "Whew! Close Call!"

Thank you, all of you who helped me calculate mammoth populations! You’re amazing. You’ll also love the resulting post, although it’ll take a while before it comes up in the queue – trying to do this stuff in order.

Now I’m going to ask you all now to do me another favor: over the next few months, would you keep an eye out for any news about creationists and geology? It can be things like creationists infiltrating the American Geophysical Union or Geological Society of America meetings (again), creationists trying to sneak “Flood geology” in or fighting earth science standards, creationists trying to pull the wool over journal editors’ eyes and attempting to slip religion in to science publications, anything like that. You can send tips to dhunterauthor at gmail.

Some of you who are interested may want to join me for a private dry-run of said talk when it’s finished – if you’d like to help me not suck in public, and be one of the elite, exclusive ETEVers who gets to hear it first, let me know. We’ll set up a Google Hangout and do the thing when I’ve got it all written. And, if there’s room on the schedule and you’d be interested in joining me for a panel on Women in the Geosciences, also let me know that.

But wait! There’s More!

For the next few days, I’m preparing the Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education series relaunch, and also hating my uterus, and going to go photograph All The Sea Mammals for your squees and enjoyment. I’ll also have a social justice post up on our fucked-up police state and ways you can help soon. And there’ll be a little something over at Rosetta Stones eventually this week. I have a super-awesome geology comic book I was sent that I’m going to review for you, probably early next week. People, you have no idea how excited I am about it! But you will know. I’ll also be reviewing a book I read the other morning that will give you a whole other look at the Christianist homeschool life. It’s called Homeschool Sex Machine: Babes, Bible Quiz, and the Clinton Years. And yes, it’s as whacked as it sounds.

Also, YES I AM WRITING A BOOK ON MOUNT ST. HELENS I PROMISE. I know you won’t stop asking, and it makes me happy you don’t, but I figured I’d better reassure you. I’ll be jumping back into that series shortly as well. And yes, finishing the Seattle Seahawks rings. SO MANY THINGS TO DO.

There will also be a post coming soon on that awesome bird at Mount Rainier, and muchmuch more. Good times ahead! Now if you’ll excuse me for just a bit, I need to lose the last of my hair to the geology chapters in ES4 and continue arguing with my uterus over paying attention to the pain relievers I’m feeding it…

Your Wish List?

I’m relatively certain The Powers that Be™ are getting vigorous feedback from a variety of sources, but I figured we’d do up a list of wants and needs here just to be thorough. Now that we’ve got the new theme up, it’s time to make it moar awesomer! Dream big, I’ll compile, and then compare our list with what Ed’s given to our tech guru for fixin’.

I can tell you that Recent Posts in the sidebar for all FtB is definitely on the list already. (And no, you don’t have to repeat yourself: if you already said what you’d like in the previous thread about the theme, you don’t have to do it here.)

While you’re at it, let me know if you want threaded comments to forever vanish from the face of ETEV. Because I can make that happen if you want, yo.

And do tell me what you particularly like about the new theme, so we don’t inadvertently destroy it.

Also, a bit o’ a challenge! I’ve added a background. All the kudos to the first person who a) notices and b) figures out what it is.

Image is a black and white cat lying in front of a blank pad and a pen, looking up expectantly. Caption says, "You maek list. I pass it on."

I’m Not Dead! Just Sleeping Like It…

I think I figured out where my new medications put my anxiety: it transferred it to all of you! I didn’t mean to worry you, my darlings! Should’ve checked my email weeks ago… dear, oh, dear. All the hugs and apologies for scaring you!

Rest assured, I am alive, in reasonably good health, and much better spirits. Of course, the first week on the new meds was pretty rocky. The anxiety and depression vanished almost instantly, but I was loopy and slightly nauseous and couldn’t really think. Then they flipped the sleep mode switch, and so my routine has been basically see bed > lie down > sleep until dragged to day job > repeat endlessly. I’m not even kidding. Opening the computer became a Sisyphean task. I’d sit up, pry open the lid, then it snapped closed and the bed swallowed me again before I could open a page.

Image shows a cat face-planted on a bed. Caption says, "I will nap... HERE."

This has gone on for over a month, but is now getting better. I can even be awake almost hours at a time! And tonight, I can skim email and focus on a blog post. Woo-hoo progress!

Ye olde day jobe, which I am sadly stuck with until I get my medical stuff straightened out, has been utter chaos. After gods know how many years of the most obnoxious yellow walls and dingy swirly-patterned industrial carpet filled with more stains than design (and duct-taped down in places, not even kidding), they decided to remodel. While having us take overflow calls for about every type of phone we’ve ever offered. Even the ones we have no training for. While telling us to use their nifty new technical troubleshooting gadget. Which is horrifically broken. Which Starspider, myself, and others have desperately been attempting to fix for over a month now. Our master design guru had gotten part of it into excellent shape, with features that made all the reps on the floor drool. Only to be told a few days before launch that our nifty ideas had been scuttled, and our guru had to redesign the entire thing in less than a week. Stress? You betcha! I swear I thought that poor kiddo was gonna jump off the roof a time or two. But we got ‘er done, and our guru lives.

Needless to say, I didn’t have time to read email at work, or blog. But the new medication did the trick. I should’ve been ripping hanks of hair out and having a complete breakdown. Instead, I laughed a lot at the utterly predictable disastrousness of it all. Then I’d go home to my kitty and – you guessed it –

Image shows a cat sleeping with its tongue hanging out. Caption says "Drool"

Yeah, I have been incredibly exciting – if you like watching marathon snoozing. Add to that Starspider moving, and B needing help battling a doctor who doesn’t believe anxiety is really a thing, and having to change supervisors suddenly, and having people in meatspace need me for things every time I had a conscious few hours… yeah, I’ve been neglecting my online life big time.

And neglected you. And worried you. Which is bad. And so I’ve made arrangements with Starspider and B to let you all know if anything actually happens to me, so that you won’t ever have to worry again! They’ll keep you informed as to what’s going on if I suddenly go silent again.

The side effects from ye new drugs are fading, and I might have a combo that allows me to stay awake for more than minutes at a time after work, so I should be returning to blogging seriously here very soon. And the dreams – cinematic, incredibly detailed dreams that have the Muse rubbing her hands with glee and saying, “Hey, we can work with this!” Those dreams have provided me a story line or two which I’m pursuing, so it won’t be just geology and social commentary you get from me, I hope!

For now, though, it’s time for me to

Image is a gif of a tiny kitten yawning and falling asleep.

Adventures in Mental Health Care

You may have noticed from the fact I’ve flaked recently, but Wellbutrin stopped working in a big way. It did a great job removing depression at first – which unmasked an underlying anxiety that increased and increased and increased. Then it stopped working on the depression. Sigh.

My day job has spent the past several months jabbing the rage, depression, and anxiety buttons nearly constantly. It’s got to the point where I have nightmares about it, which added insomnia to the list. Double sigh.

And my doctor is on sabbatical so she can spend time with her kids. Triple sigh.

Image is a cat collapsed face-down on the back of a sofa. Caption says, "I love you, couch. You understand me."

It’s really hard to cope with change when you’re super-depressed and anxious, so it took me a while to work up the courage to go through the process of getting a new doctor. Luckily, a friend at work went from all storm clouds all the time to near-blissful happiness, and her doctor was accepting new patients. I saw her Tuesday. I bloody love both her and the new clinic. She was a lot more prompt and thorough than my previous doctor. She found me something that will, with any luck, destroy both the anxiety and the depression in one go. We’re phasing out Wellbutrin. I’ve got some Xanax to fill in the gaps while the new stuff gears up to full effect. She listened to me when I told her my tiny little body burns through ordinary doses of drugs in a flash, and dosed accordingly. And she also sent me down the hall to the lab to get my thyroid tested, which I’d meant to ask for and completely forgotten. I love docs who actually look for other underlying causes rather than just assuming you’re mental.

She assessed me for bipolar, what with my mother’s history, and assures me it doesn’t sound like that’s me. A bit SAD, depressed and anxious, yes, but the Dread Disease is not mine. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. I was terrified I’d end up in my mother’s shoes someday. Sounds like that bullet’s been dodged.

So that’s one doctor I hope sticks around for absolute ages, because I already love her. And I love the lab tech, who shoved a needle in my arm without even a pinprick of pain. I have no idea how she did it. Maybe voodoo. And then, I was able to skip a few steps down the hall and fill my Xanax prescription right there in their own pharmacy, in five minutes. Gorgeous.

While the Venlafaxine works its way up to therapeutic doses, I’m self-medicating with Buffy and sewing. Side effects have me sleeping more than usual and feeling wonky, but they’re not bad and getting better as my body adjusts. Communication comes in bursts, so my apologies to those who’ve been waiting to hear from me – I’ll be contacting you soon! My brain will begin functioning adequately to do more than one thing at a time with a big rest between, so blogging will ramp up to full capacity soon.

And, biggest news: I’ll be leaving my dread day job soonish, no later than the end of summer at the outside and likely much earlier, so you’ll have much more of me. Yes, my darlings: I’m gonna make a go of writing at last. Also, sewing. And swag. And prints. I figure with all that and a lot of shameless self-promotion, plus having some of you spread the word to folks who might enjoy my stuff, I should be able to mostly make it. I’ll probably pick up a part-time job to pay some of the bills and get me out of the damn house, but it won’t be the constant stress marathon my day job has been, and not nearly the drain on my time.

Thank you, Obamacare, for making it possible for me to make that move. And thank you, my darlings, for being there while I struggled my way to a point where this can even be considered. Without you, I wouldn’t risk it. With you cheering me on, I’m willing to leap that cliff and see if I can sprout wings.

If not, people will always need a friendly voice on the phone to walk them through technical stuff, so I’ve got a fallback. I’d say no worries, but I’m a native worrier, so I’ll just say, few worries.

Thank you for being patient with my vanishing acts. I shall return with much substance soon. For now, you’ll get more pretty pictures, and I’m off to have another dose of Buffy. Laters!