Thursday, December 31, 2009

A time for reflection - ooh, goody! Reviewing this year, looking forward to next.

Here we are, then, on the eve. I'm home from work with a migraine, and while the head pain waxes and wanes the nausea is a constant, punctuated by the sharp shots of a sciatica flare-up. Snow is falling outside - the second real fall this December - and I won't go out for fear of falling. Ah, life.

I am sad to say that this year has been one largely defined by my health, or really, the problems therewith. Perhaps my body knows it's actually in its thirties now; maybe that's why my condition has taken such a dramatic nosedive. I cannot do what I could do a year ago. That's an odd thing to have to say - in my mind I still feel young.

Even so, I want to say that good things have happened this year. I just have to dig them out is all. They're not big and flashy. They're more the kind of thing you learn to appreciate because it's foolish to take them for granted.

For one, Jonathan and I moved. And while the move itself was difficult, overall it's been a good thing. It strengthened our relationship and gave us a more comfortable living space. It let me have a christmas tree! It's much more quiet here, which makes it easier for me to rest when I need to. And since we're now on the second floor, and in a house instead of an apartment building, I feel much safer. These things have a real impact on quality of life.

For another, I managed to get through another year at the office. It's killing me, but it's important to our survival. Is that contradictory? We need the income, and heaven knows I need the health insurance. And the fact is that the longer I'm there and the more senior and indispensable I am, the more power I'll have to negotiate if I need to, say, work part time or go on medical leave.

Then there are the dozens of micro-achievements that make daily life worth living: the blog posts that people enjoyed, my work with the Vegan Etsy team, the couple of zines I've managed to write, the Etsy sales I've made and positive feedback I've received, the train rides I've taken and blogged about. There was some pure enjoyment as well: reconnecting and spending of time with cherished friends, visiting my former homes and actually taking a real vacation for once, and just exploring the city with my baby like we do. And, you know, the eating.

It's been a hard year for many people in my life, but always there are spots of hope. One of my dearest friends became a mother this year; at this very moment she is doubtless curled in the warm glowing love of her new baby girl, just two weeks old. It's good to know that such happiness still exists in the world. Another friend has gained an ever growing acknowledgment of her craft and design skills, each day getting a little closer to fulfilling her dream. Yet others will be a rock star, a professional photographer, and a famous author any minute now, despite it all. Maybe this is what my wildly diverse group of friends and I have in common: no matter what life throws at us we just continue to strive for... whatever the hell it is that we can't live without.

So, next year? 2010, the year sci-fi movies are made of? (Where is my jet pack? Where is my hovercraft? Where is my homicidal supercomputer?) It's hard to say. As of my doctor's appointment yesterday, I am coming off of the Savella. That will be a somewhat slow and possibly sickening process, but I'm trying not to psych myself out over it. Once I'm off of it... Well, I have some real fears. I began the medication because I was rapidly approaching real disability. Unfortunately, while it helped the fibro somewhat, the side effects have made it hurt more than help. So off of it, I really just don't know where I'll stand. (Or hell, if I'll be able to stand at all, ha.)

Once I'm weaned, we may try Cymbalta, another medication in the same class. It may help, it may not, it may make things worse. There's a lot of guesswork and wait-and-see in this process. It, um, sucks. But there's nothing for it but to keep trying, because I'm not just going to go, oh, OK, well I guess I just don't function anymore. That's not really my gig, you know?

Of course I'll keep up with the chiropractic and all of the other things I do as well. I've never once believed that medication is the complete answer.

2009 was the year I got worse; maybe 2010 is the year I get better.

And I'll keep writing. There is so much that I want to write. Maybe 2010 is when I get another short story published - hopefully somewhere where someone might actually read it this time. It's almost a sure thing that I'll be having some blurb-ey, short expositive writing bits published in the Zinester's Guide to NYC, scheduled to be put out by Microcosm this coming summer. Don't want to say it's definite, because who ever knows what'll happen, but let's say it's supposed to happen, and at least for that I'm excited.

Will I make visual art? Probably. I can't help it. I just comes sometimes, though not as often as I'd like. Meh.

And, oh yes, I'll get married. I'll be Mrs. Breedlove. I'll spend a day dashing around in a big blue dress, and at the end of it I'll have a husband; I'll be a wife. It's really an intriguing concept. I'm quite interested to see how it turns out.

It will be a year, composed of 365 individual days. I intend to do my best to make the most of each one - whatever my "best" might be on each of them. Because honestly, what the hell else would I do?

Monday, December 21, 2009

A health update.

The truth is that much of the time I don't want to think about the status of my health, especially when it 's not too hot. Right now I'm totally sick of thinking about it - I feel like a broken record. Like I keep having to explain to everyone in my life that I just can't do what I normally would because of "my health." It's driving me crazy. But it doesn't seem to want to go away, so here we are.

I even had to bring it up in my review at work. I need them to understand that part of why the unreasonable workload there stresses me out is that it makes me physically ill. Like, for real. And they need to really and truly get it through their skulls that the days of 55-hour-per-week Mel are dead and gone. They can have 35 hour Mel, and occasionally even 45 hour Mel, but that's about where it's got to stop.

Today I am exhausted, swollen, in pain. I shouldn't be at work but I've used up all of my vacation/sick days for the year, so I just have to tough it out. It's not horrible; it's just not good. As it is I got in an hour and a half late, and I don't think I'm going to have a very productive day. I don't really get it - I got home on Friday and literally didn't leave the house again until this morning. Maybe that's why this is happening? I didn't move enough? But what with the giant snowstorm and severe cold, it didn't seem like a good idea to go out. It's a bit damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't. I'm sore as hell... from what? Knitting? Wrapping presents?

The hives-from-showering thing seems to be getting worse. I'm getting them in weird places now: my face, my knees, the palms of my hands. I'm even doing mental relaxation exercises before I get in, to no avail. I've given up shaving altogether; it's winter anyway, and it just aggravates the situation. For a while I thought the hair loss had stopped, but it seems to be back in full force.

I really, really need to go back to the doctor. It's getting ridiculous. But I think I'm avoiding it. I don't believe he'll have anything useful to tell me. What possible answers are there? That I should stay on the Savella longer to see what happens. That I should come off the Savella and deal with the withdrawal. That I should try yet another medication with god-only-knows what side effects. That something more serious is wrong... I can't imagine any outcome that would make anything better.

So I'm avoiding it. But that's not going to help either. Because if something more serious is wrong, I need to know. And if I need to be off this medication, it should happen sooner rather than later.

Once again, I feel as if life is asking for more than I have to give. With "the holidays" and all, there's a whole new batch of things to take care of. Being me, of course I have to send presents, and of course they have to be wrapped pretty. And I want to decorate, and bake, and bla bla bla. And then there's so much writing I want to be doing. The more frequent migraines and almost constant exhaustion / brain fog are making that nearly impossible, though.

I want to believe this is temporary. I want to believe that no drastic action must be taken. How long can I go on believing it? It's like a battle of wills between my mind and my body, and I honestly don't know who's going to win.