Fast Forward to Chapter Six!

Usually, the beginnings just explode out, all messy and nasty, like a can of Coke from my nephew. Then it settles down and I go with the rhythms of the characters and the story, sometimes the setting, too. That rhythm may usually will include some plot holes and some kicking and screaming but, gah, that screamin’ don’t usually happen so dang early!

Butch Girls 2 (aka BG2, aka Butch Girls and U-Hauls, aka Butch Girls: Intentional, aka What the Hell Am I Going to Call It?) is about Nikki Rogers and Ellen Hess. I actually started it before BGCFA but I didn’t like it and set it aside. Then I wrote BGCFA in NaNoWriMo ’04 and the rest is herstory. For one, I could never agree with myself on how the two of them were supposed to meet. And I guess I still can’t.

Option 1 was to have Ellen and her friend Samantha move down and be on Nikki’s mail route.
Option 2 was to have Nikki and Ellen meet online somehow.

I’ve written both ways several times and both has potential but I like Option 2 the best because it can be more, plot wise. Anyway, maybe because I went back and forth so many times, mostly on the dang beginning, that here I am doing it AGAIN, that my brain just says “WHY ARE YOU TORTURING ME!?!?!?!”.

Anyway, I need to get to writing it and stop whining it. Right? Write? Wright?

Bend, Not Break

I used to have a wooden sign that said in German: Biegen nicht brechen. Bend, not break. Like a tree in the wind, I bend but don’t break. Or that is my intention. I need to find that sign because I need to be reminded of that again.

When I was 14, few days shy of 15, I learned a big word. Over time, I mangled my memory of it and it isn’t the right word anymore. But it meant giant cell bone tumor. I learned other big words: ilium and encapsulated. I bent a lot that year. And the one that followed. I grew up a lot, too. I tried briefly to be a brat but didn’t like it that much. It just wasn’t my style.

When I was 25, I learned another set of big words: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. With it came hypermobility, sublux, and hyperelasticity. And I learned about morbidity and autosomal genetics.

I’ve learned about other things, other big words over the years. Some have been just breezes that ruffled a few leaves. Some have broken a few branches. One or two have been winds so strong, I was almost toppled.

I am 48 and have learned yet another big word. I lost some branches. I bent so low, some roots were exposed. The new words are epidural lipomatosis. Also known as a mass in the spinal column. In my case, it is at L4 (the 4th lumbar vertebrae) Theses fatty masses are very rare. Even more rare in females. They are usually caused by steroid use, obesity, or Cushing’s disease (which I do not have, thank God). I was told to live with the pain. That I had to lose 100lbs before the pain would go away. That until the spinal cord is compressed more and the symptoms much worse, there is no course of action other then treat the symptoms (which he was leaving up to my GP to handle). Of course, I was depressed as hell. A hundred fucking pounds? Was he nuts? That would put me at a weight less than what I was in college! The summer where all I could afford was bloney and bread. It wasn’t going to happen which meant I was stuck with yet another set of pain for the rest of my life.

I don’t think many people can understand the level of pain I have on a regular basis. And I hope no one ever does. But the idea of yet more added to it and I didn’t know if I had the strength any more. My back alone is like a Bingo card. C4-7 (compression, stenosis, impingement) , T2-4 (compression), L4-5. Bingo!

A family crisis pulled me out of my own funk this weekend and made me think outside my own head for a few days. Which gave me a chance to see the entire picture better. I broke the problem into chunks and will deal with it that way. It’s the only way I can, really. Else I’ll break.

Matters of the Heart

For the past few weeks, I’ve felt like crap. My heart has been skipping along, enjoying itself, while the rest of me was dizzy, stuttering, and tired. Tests take a while to schedule then take a while to be read so we’ve been in “hurry up and wait” mode.

I’m used to hearing “we don’t know what it is but you seem fine” and “we know but it’s nothing to worry about” and “learn to live with it”. My mother was once told she needed “the elixir of life”. Seriously.

First we did the simplest. We lowered my blood pressure medication. Beta blockers do a great job of treating hypertension but they also tend to slow the heart down. In my case, that was good since mine tends to run fast ’cause I don’t. Run that is.

No change, though so next I had an ultrasound of my carotid arteries. They are fine. That’s good.

I wore a Holter monitor for 24hrs. The results from that were mixed. On the one hand, I had normal sinus rhythm (meaning the heart beats in a rhythm linked to our breathing). But, I also had a lot of PVCs. I know I go to Lowe’s a lot but, really.

Okay, get serious here.

Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are extra, abnormal heartbeats that begin in one of your heart’s two lower pumping chambers (ventricles). These extra beats disrupt your regular heart rhythm, sometimes causing you to feel a flip-flop or skipped beat in your chest. Premature ventricular contractions are very common — they occur in most people at some point.

(…)

Your heart is made up of four chambers — two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles). The rhythm of your heart is normally controlled by the sinoatrial node (SA node) — or sinus node — an area of specialized cells located in the right atrium. This natural pacemaker produces the electrical impulses that trigger the normal heartbeat. From the sinus node, electrical impulses travel across the atria to the ventricles, causing them to contract and pump blood out to your lungs and body.

Premature ventricular contractions are abnormal contractions that begin in the ventricles. These extra contractions usually beat sooner than the next expected regular heartbeat. And they often interrupt the normal order of pumping, which is atria first, then ventricles. As a result, the extra, out-of-sync beats are usually less effective in pumping blood throughout the body.

Why do extra beats occur?
The reasons aren’t always clear. Certain triggers, heart diseases or changes in the body can make cells in the ventricles electrically unstable. Underlying heart disease or scarring may also cause electrical impulses to be misrouted. Premature ventricular contractions may be associated with:

Chemical changes or imbalances in the body
Certain medications, including common asthma medications
Alcohol or illegal drugs
Increased levels of adrenaline in the body that may be caused by caffeine, exercise or anxiety
Injury to the heart muscle from coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, high blood pressure or infections (myocarditis)

(source: Mayo Clinic)

So, that’s where we are now. And here’s the plan.

First, I am to go back to my original dosage of beta blockers. My BP has been slowly rising but the worrisome part is the systolic (upper number) has gone up to be way, way high. As in 100 pts or more higher than the diastolic (lower number) which is also rising. 195/70, 193/83, 196/91, etc. Not good.

Second, I am to cut back on caffeine. Not that I am a caffeine junkie, but I do drink Coke during the day at lunch. It is my treat of the day. If I have a headache, it is part of my treatment when one first starts. I’ve been having a lot of headaches since this started (which is why I had the carotid ultrasound) so I’ve been drinking more than one a day which didn’t help the PVCs which gave me more headaches which….you get the circle.

Third, I am to start taking my blood sugar levels more often. First thing in AM, 2 hrs, and 4 hrs after largest meal. It could be the high blood sugar is stressing my system which in turn freaks out the heart. Since my blood sugar is highest in the afternoons and that’s when the skips were the worst, we want to see if the dots connect.

And fourth, the line was drawn in the sand for me in terms of when to go to the ER. The other day, while yelling at the football games, my chest started hurting. Then it would go away. In the afternoon, when the skipping was the worst, my chest hurt after each hard THUMP then would slowly go away. Until the next one. So the doc fussed at me then said “If it happens again, go to ER. If nothing else, we get a picture of what is going on, even if nothing is going on.”

See, I have EDS and my muscles are constantly tight trying to hold me together. So on the one hand, it could be the heart was under a lot of stress and reacted with pain. Or it could be that two weeks of being chest conscious, I was unconsciously tightening those muscles which started having spasms. We’ve had heart concerns before but the pain was from sternum inflammation. Which hurts like the bejeebers, by the way. Don’t try that at home.

And fifth, one I added on my own, I am to continue doing the mini-meditation work I’ve been doing. A good friend said to use emerald green and sometimes pink (shudder) so I’ve been meditating on enveloping myself in emerald green that has a pink line around the edges. Doesn’t look as bad in my head as it does outside of it. If nothing else, it is making me feel like I am doing something to help myself vs sit here on my ass all day, worrying.

So, there’s where I stand. Um, sit. Whatever. Still concerned but relieved my heart is fine, just not feeling well at the moment. If you can, keep me in your prayers. Envelop me in green (but not too much pink) and don’t send me chocolate. Dammit.

Spectacles

I wear prescription glasses and, because I hate sunlight, I wear prescription sunglasses, too (no, I don’t glitter when I stand in the sun). I recently had to get both (sigh, gettin’ old ain’t fer wimps). I usually just keep wearing the same frames and get new lens but both were getting rather fugly. So I had to get lens and frames. Ouch. Just under $800 for the two. Less than we thought it would be but still, wow.

Anyway, the staff at LensCrafters were very busy so L and I wandered around on our own which is always better. I could care less about brands. I don’t wear shirts with the brand emblazoned on the front (like Hillfinger). I guess the only thing I wear with the logo showing is my jeans. And if someone is close enough to my butt to read it, they really ought to be careful back there.

I also hate how eyeglass places are slowly drifting toward gender segregation again. As in men’s frames and women’s frames. Being the fashion queen that I am (stop laughing), you know I sooo want flowery crap on my glasses. And check out this $485 frame. So, as usual, I had to go to the men’s section to find frames I liked. We glanced through the women’s section but, yeah, move along, nothing to see here. Years ago, I had an argument with a sales lady at Sears. She basically refused to show me any frames designed for men. It took us about two minutes of push pull before she crossed her arms and refused. That’s okay, I refused to spend my money there. We both won, I guess.

My new glasses are by Brooks Brothers. The only reason I know that is its on the case. I don’t look for a brand or label. Silly me, I go for what looks good in the mirror. Not that I look in those evil things that often.

The new sunglasses are Ray-ban. I liked them because they curved and will keep the sunlight from creeping in from the side. And I wouldn’t have known they were Ray-bans but the sales guy said so. He was quite proud of the fact that their logo would be on the lens. I asked if I got a discount for the advertising. The guy had no comeback, bless his heart.

Anyway, I got the glasses last week (I. Hate. Bifocals.) and the sunglasses today. The guy who helped me today was much better but had no answer as to how to remove the logo without ruining the lens. Dangit.

For all their high prices and logo everywhere, the case is teh stoopid. It’s a soft case vs hard. The regular glasses have a cool hard case but the new sunglasses won’t fit. So I did a Google search to see where I could get a hard case. OMG WTF? It was like I had did a search for eyeglass porn. That’s how creepy some of the site addresses were. Ebay was the calmest one. Then there were all the “How to tell the fake from the real” sites. I learned on CSI that if they are upright when on the table in the morgue, they’re fake.

Where was I? Oh, right, the point. The point to this diatribe is to ask if anyone knows where I can get a better case. I don’t mind going back to LensCrafters and asking them. Or going to one of those sunglass kiosk cart things in the mall. I just would prefer not to.

Oh, and The Awakening is at 133,555 words. It’s alive and growing.

Wake Up Call

I had a doc appt. the other day. Nothing special. Just follow up for the new inhaler (love it) and blood work (hate it). As always, they had trouble finding a vein but it only took two sticks.

When I saw the doc, she had one of the blood tests back already. My fasting glucose was 135. Not good. Norm is about 90 or less. 135 is in the diabetes range. She then ordered another test called the A1c test. Luckily they had enough left over and I didn’t have to be stuck again.

I got some scripts refilled, got a lecture about some other stuff, then left. The blood test would take several hours to get back but they’d hear something that afternoon. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy. My grandmother, my mom, and my bro all have/had diabetes. So it’s been something I’ve been aware of for some time. And we’d been watching my glucose levels, too. But never had the fasting result been that high. I tend to be more hypoglycemic (too low).

Later that day, we got the call. The A1c test result said 4.7%. That is, like, way low.

To explain, the A1c test kinda sorta can give you the average of your blood sugar levels for the past several weeks. A diabetic needs to keep that number below 6.5 or 7. A non-diabetic person usually has between 4-6. I’ve read up on the test and I haven’t a freakin’ clue what it is saying.

But what the two different results mean – and they are very different – is that I am now an official “pre-diabetic”. My glucose levels are experiencing huge swings as my body tries to get the insulin to do what it is supposed to.

I had several hours to sit here and think while I waited for the news. I thought about what I was about to lose. Pasta. Chocolate. Mtn Dew. The ability to eat a meal without thinking about what was going in and calculate the damage to benefit ratio.

Pre-diabetes doesn’t mean I will actually get diabetes. Chances are I will but I could keep it at bay for some time. That is IF I can do all the good things. I can’t exercise but I can change my diet. I’m to go see a diabetic counselor/nutritionist. I saw one many years ago and she was about as useless as tits on a bull. Hopefully, whoever I see this time will be better.

We’ve already started looking at our food. More salad. Less colas. Smaller, multiple meals with small snacks. Cheese, fruit, nuts.

Anyone have any advice?

Brrr Freakin’ Chill!

That’s our forecast for the coming week (screenshot from Weather Underground). Look at the highs for each day. While not unusual here, it typically only happens for a week max, warms back up to “above Celsius” (a joke at the post office), and maybe dips back down this low for another week later. And that’s it. But this just keeps going.

We’ve had snow on the ground since The-Big-One-That-Knocked-Our-Power-Out-For-Five-Days. It has snowed about four times since then. We’ve got another new inch of snow last night. Typically, whatever snow accumulations we have are gone in three days.

UK is getting more snow and colder temps than their average.

Beijing (that’s in China) got a record snow.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

Jesus Saves

There’s an old joke about the devil and Jesus seeing who could write the best program within a certain time frame. During it, the power goes out. When it comes back on, they get back to work and, of course, Jesus wins. Reason why? Jesus saves (his work).

If you need that ‘splained, well, I dunno.

Anyway, normally I am a big believer in using “autosave” when I write. I use OpenOffice.org which has this feature. Yesterday, I was writing like mad. Had about, oh, four new pages done. And for some dumbass reason, my laptop rebooted.

Insert silent cursing, silent staring, silent rage. Silent because it was at night and Precious was asleep. Had it been the daytime hours, well, it would have been loud and it would have scared the dogs.

OpenOffice has a lot of different options in regards to saving your work. One of them is “always create a backup copy” and the other is “save autorecovery information every” and there’s a drop down menu with time choices. The backup option is not an automatic save option. What it does, basically, is when you tell it to save, it first puts the old copy somewhere then saves the new copy. So if when you last saved and was on page 42 and this save is on 52, the 42 page version is saved somewhere and the 52 page does the usual save thing. AutoRecovery, meanwhile, sets aside copies of the current document at the time interval you specified. If, for some dumbass reason your computer reboots, when you next open OpenOffice.org, it will give you a menu to auto recover that document (and any others you had open at that time).

This has saved by cute butt cheeks many times. My Dell had a series of fits where it would randomly lock up and I’d have to unplug it and take out the battery. Back then, I had the timer set to 5 minutes. I was also writing a lot back then and in 5 minutes, that could be several hundred words lost. But the autorecovery is annoying because when it is doing that, the program momentarily pauses. You can’t enter text. It royally messes up any writing flow you had going. So once the Dell got over its fit, I moved it to 10 minutes. Then when my writing started to be so sporadic, I changed it to 20.

I suppose it is a good thing that I just moved it back to 10.

And speaking of saving, I also realized I’d not done any backups in a long time. I used to be quite religious about it, even making backup copies of my WIP folder in several places. That is on my agenda for today. That and take over the world.

Oh, and I can’t believe I never announced this! On October 28, 2009, OpenOffice.org 3 was downloaded for the 100,000,000th time (that’s one hundred million) since it was released just over a year ago.