Category Archives: FM/CFS

Five Things Make a Post

Or something to that effect. That’s how this used to work.

1. I have just signed a contract to work on a second edition of one my books that recently fell out of print after a decade. This is pretty exciting. It’s basically an update, tightening it up and refocusing it a bit for a new audience. It’s due back to the publisher around Easter, and will be (re)released this fall.

2. I am currently working on a different exciting project that I can’t say anything about because it Doesn’t Officially Exist Yet. It came about via networking (in other words, a series of instances where I was referred from one project to another and recommended back and forth); I don’t think I’ve written an actual CV in ages. Anyway, it’s forcing me to develop in a different direction, because (a) it’s scriptwriting, and (b) it’s not traditional scriptwriting. I’m learning as I go, and I’m so grateful for the support of fellow writer-friends who are also scriptwriting people. The scheduling is kind of blowing my mind due to the nature of the project; it’s… weird, and unlike anything else I’ve worked on. I can’t really explain without getting into specifics. This one is due out sometime this spring.

3. Things proceed apace on the three-year series project I’m writing for. A deadline every two weeks; it’s very steady. (If you can count to three you have just realized that I am working on three big things at once, and yes, if I think about it for too long I start to get panicky. For now it’s all balancing out very well, especially since the two most recent projects just revamped their delivery dates.)

4. I gave bullet journaling a try last fall and while it didn’t work for me in the popular trendy BuJo-ing sense, it does work in a simplified sense of keeping all my notes and to-do lists in one place. I just have to remember to take it with me when I walk around the house or go out. Also, it pleases my pretty stationery/fountain pen/office supply side.

5. Yesterday I saw my doctor for a follow-up to the increased dosage of my medication that she initialized a month ago. While I am generally feeling better, I told her that I wasn’t convinced this was the long-term solution for me because of other effects it was having. My doctor agreed; she said that those side effects wouldn’t fade, and that she’d been thinking of proposing a switch to a different, newer medication anyway. So three days of a half-dose of my current medication, seven days off completely to clear it out of my system, then two weeks of a half-dose of the new one, then increase to the full dose… it’s going to be a rough four weeks. And then it’s going to take four to six weeks for the new medication to settle, too. (For those of you keeping score… why, yes, this time period does overlap with working on three projects at once, two of them large and with Significant Deadlines.)

Thank goodness winter is almost over. Things will get easier in general to deal with as spring rolls in. WInter just takes so much energy to cope with.

General Recent Recap

Not thrilling reading, but I’d like to get back into at least noting down what’s been going on in my life, since the whole point of this being here is for my own records. Read it, or skip it.

My back has gotten screwed up again somehow. Driving? Knitting in the chair at my inlaws’ place? Sleeping in the same bed that has been fine till this flareup? Walking on snow in winter boots, which tends to engage muscles differently? No clue. I’m back on the prescription naproxen my GP prescribed me last year when this occurred. (Which was… January. Hmm. Maybe that snow thing is a contributing factor after all.)

I acquired a secondhand 3DS for myself last week (thanks Blade!) and surprised Sparky with it on Friday, when we went out for a post-report-card ped day treat. I was sorting through the secondhand games at EB Games and had him hold a copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf while I kept looking, and he asked why, understandably confused since he already had a copy. I casually pulled my DS out of my bag and said “So I can play it, too, and we can visit each other’s towns,” and he was absolutely thrilled. (Then we both got the Pokemon 20th anniversary code for a Mew download, and battled when we got home, since I also acquired Blade’s old copy of Pokemon Y along with the DS. My Cool Mum points have gone through the roof, I tell you.) We’ve been playing New Leaf together and trading stuff all weekend. Owlet is fascinated and loves the game, and is already making plans for playing it when she has bought her own DS once she turns eight (yes, same rules apply to her as applied to Sparky; we’ll pay for half, but she needs to save up the rest on her own). For now she sits next to me and asks to watch me go into all the little houses, chooses different clothes for my character to wear, run on the beaches, and catch fish. Playing it is surprisingly relaxing.

I’m fighting my usual beginning-of-the-year malaise and lack of energy, which compounds the back issues. I seem to be sleeping decently, which is a pleasant surprise. But I’m having trouble focusing on things and working through the fibro fog, which is frustrating, since I do actually have work. Lots of it, too. I’ve been editing a self-pub non-fic title from a charming repeat customer, which is fun but lots of work, and handling copyedit projects for the publisher as well. Not much down time, lots of energy-draining stuff.

Speaking of work, at the end of last week I got a very exciting e-mail from the large corp I worked for last year, with some very intriguing news and an invitation to work on a new, very different kind of project. Different for them, that is; it’s completely my skillset and toolbox and wheelhouse and other metaphors, and I am super, super excited. I hope it works out.

Back messed up, new DS and games, work. There. I’m behind on Owlet’s monthly posts again, and there are more spinning pics to post. Another day.

Alpaca!

Dizzy spells yesterday. Charming. This medication can settle down any time.

I recently spun some raw alpaca I bought from my friend Jenn, who runs an alpaca farm and sells alpaca fibre at Frayed Knot FIbres. I got an ounce of cream, caramel, and chocolate alpaca, washed them, blended them together on my hackle:

And dizzed the roving off:

And then spun it into a lovely, fuzzy, deliciously soft single:

Mmm. I could cuddle it for ages.

Reboot

Yesterday I got a surprise book in the mail with no clue as to the sender, and this morning I got some Peaches & Cream tea from DavidsTea! The book is from our friend Helen in Australia (actually, I have two friends named Helen in Australia, thanks to the magic of the Internet), and the tea may be as well. Random acts of kindness are so special, and it came at a good time and cheered me up.

In mostly unrelated news (because being happy is what being treated for depression is all about, right?) I met with my doctor this morning. He says the numb/tingling tongue issue is odd, because I’d been taking the medication for a while at a lower dose for fibro with no side effects, but to be sure he wants me to take it at the half dose again for a few days. If there’s no reaction, I’m to up it to the full dose again and watch for the same tongue thing. By that point we’ll be at our next appointment in a week’s time, and we’ll go from there. If it turns out I’ve developed a sensitivity to it, we can switch to the medication I was on twelve years ago, but he wants to make sure I have a sensitivity to this one first, to resolve the open issue, so to speak. He doesn’t want to leave a question mark in my file; if I have a reaction to it, he wants to be able to confirm it and enter it in my permanent file. I can understand that. And he doesn’t think it’s dangerous, or he wouldn’t ask me to do it. Although I did the right thing by coming in, he assured me.

So we’ll reboot the medication, and see where it goes. La.

Blurry

Owlet and I are both sick with colds. She seems to be chugging along with the usual bounces and energy regardless and is back at daycare today with just a bit of lingering chest congestion, but I feel like I have cement in my head. Beyond this, something odd and worrisome happened over the weekend. On Saturday, I finally got irritated with the odd tingling in my tongue. It had been happening for a few days, and I had ascribed it to spring finally deciding to drag itself out of bed. Sometimes the roof of my mouth tingles when I’m having trouble with my allergies, so it wasn’t that much of a leap to put the tongue tingling down to the same thing, especially when I noticed it more when I ate chocolate or peanut butter, two things that sometimes make my mouth feel a bit odd in the spring when my system is already handling allergy overload. Except it wasn’t going away, or getting any better when I took antihistamines. In fact, it was kind of getting worse. So maybe it was something else? What else could it be?

The only thing I could think of was the medication my new doctor put me on. But I’d been taking it in a lower dose already for fibro; surely the higher dose couldn’t be triggering it, could it? I looked up side effects to be sure, and, um, there it was, in big “seek emergency medical help if you feel any of these following symptoms” letters.

So I stopped taking it. I wasn’t going to go to the emergency room of the hospital saying that my tongue felt a bit odd, not when I’d been taking the higher dose for three weeks already. But it was worrisome enough that I wanted my doctor to know, and to discuss alternate medications with him. I left a message this morning and the receptionist got back to me at lunch (on her lunch hour, I think) and gave me an appointment tomorrow morning. (Bless her; it really does pay to always be super understanding about cancellations and rescheduling on their end.)

Stopping my medication isn’t a huge thing. I mean, it is, and it isn’t. I haven’t been taking it for long enough for a full stop to have significant negative effect. On the other hand, the blessed sleep it was ensuring has taken a hit, and that’s ungood for the physical rest I need for the fibro (proper muscle relaxation and all that) as well as the mental and emotional wellbeing (bad sleep makes me short-tempered and significantly reduces my available spoons with which to cope with basic day-to-day stuff). And I still can’t think of why I started having the reaction three weeks into the treatment. Did it hit a particular saturation in my body or something? Or were my allergies stacking, as they sometimes do, and I started having a reaction to it now because there are so many other things taxing my system? I have no idea. Perhaps the doctor will. But stopping it and the reaction vanishing within twenty-four hours was pretty significant, I think. Even if it’s a stacking issue, it needs to be dealt with.

In Which She Takes A Deep Breath

Yesterday morning my blog started displaying php errors at the top of the screen. The last time this happened was in 2008, when my host upgraded their end and my blog software didn’t play nicely with it. I tried to upgrade, we lost the RSS feeds for a while, and the blog was broken in a way I couldn’t fix. It mysteriously fixed itself a year or so later, but having been scarred by previous upgrade attempts (the great mySQL disaster to 2006, anyone?) I resisted upgrading until I absolutely had to. Which was yesterday.

So I did. I backed everything up a billion different ways, and I struggled with an anxiety attack all day. And then after the upgrade… the blog wouldn’t display. Nada. White page. This is so common, I later discovered, that it even has a colloquial term on the boards, “the White Screen of Death.”

Anywhats. I let it go, knowing that the upgrade had worked (mostly) since my dashboard and back end were all functional. I left a note on the support boards asking for help, and Meallanmouse sent me a message with a link to more common fixes and saying she’d try to help if I needed it, which was terribly nice of her. I couldn’t do anything overnight, so I let it go.

That’s huge for me, you know, not obsessing over something I can’t fix right away. I’ve been having a lot of trouble with anxiety lately, which was one of the reasons I’m back on medication. (Which, conveniently enough, addresses my fibro issues, too, so more bang for my buck. Yay for doctors who actually trust that I know what I’m talking about, and yay for being able to admit I need help!)

Anywhats, I delivered children and ran errands this morning (I am now well stocked with tea again, yay), and when I got home, I checked my messages. Someone had answered my board post with specific suggestions, so I ran a couple of those checks and found the error in a misbehaving theme. So voila, now the blog is upgraded, behaving, and displaying, in tidy new clothes. I’m leaving well enough alone for the moment; I’ll play dress-up with it sometime later. (I miss having a photo banner across the top, for example; I’ve missed it for years and years.)

So that’s where the wee blog owlies are at. If you couldn’t see them yesterday, that’s why. But now they’re back in line and hooting softly to themselves about their new digs. We’ll spruce the place up once we’re comfortable painting the walls.

Creative Activity Distracts The Brain (In A Beneficial Way)

I think this is incredibly fascinating.

Jacque Wilson’s article is called “This is Your Brain on Knitting,” but the observations extend beyond just knitting, of course.

Crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, experts say. It may also ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from damage caused by aging. […]
Our nervous system is only capable of processing a certain amount of information at a time, [psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi ] explains. That’s why you can’t listen and understand two people who are talking to you at once. So when someone starts creating, his existence outside that activity becomes “temporarily suspended.”
“He doesn’t have enough attention left over to monitor how his body feels, or his problems at home. He can’t feel if he’s hungry or tired. His body disappears.”
The effects of flow are similar to those of meditation, says occupational therapist Victoria Schindler. Science has shown meditation can, among other things, reduce stress and fight inflammation.
Our bodies are in a constant state of stress because our brain can’t tell the difference between an upcoming meeting with the boss and an upcoming bear attack, Schindler says. The repetitive motions of knitting, for example, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which quiets that “fight or flight” response.

And this is why I’ve become so appreciative of fibre arts in the last few years. When I’m spinning or knitting, I’m focusing on something not-me. I distract my brain from observing how achy my muscles are, the pain in my joints, the effort it takes to think through a problem. Writing is hard on my brain (no, I know everyone says that, but it’s particularly hard for me, because I’m thinking through a fibro fog), and cello asks a lot of my back and hands, which aren’t always up to the task. I used to meditate a lot, but it started causing anxiety (ironic, that) because I couldn’t quell the “I should be doing something productive now instead of just sitting here” feeling. (Fibro has done a real number on my sense of self-worth as relates to productivity, let me tell you. Do I accept that my output is necessarily lower? Yes. Do I not worry about it? I worry about it all the time.)

The hardest thing about knitting is the decision paralysis that grips me while starting a new project. I can’t just grab a nice yarn and start something randomly; I have to calculate yardage and ask myself if I’ll actually use the finished product (or if I know someone who can/will), think over the yarn’s construction and figure out if it’s appropriate for the item, and so forth. And then I have to grapple with the whole “but what if I do it wrong?” panic. Once I’ve started, things settle down, but even working through those questions comes very close to fight-or-flight for me. It’s not limited to knitting, either; it’s the same with fibre. There is a lovely braid of dyed Polwarth/silk blend that Ceri bought for me. Is it gorgeous? Yes! Will I love spinning it? Yes! Have I spun it? No, because what if I spin it wrong somehow? What if I make pretty yarn that is utterly unusable for anything I might ever want to make? What if I chain-ply it and decide after it’s done that I should have done a traditional three-ply, or even a two-ply?

The entire article is interesting to read and makes several observations about crafting in general and its connection to dopamine release, the use of leisure activities/crafting in therapy, and the benefits of stimulating several areas of the brain simultaneously.

In general, this is what a lot of crafters — knitters, weavers, painters, miniature railroaders, people who build RC aircraft — already know on a subconscious level. It’s calming, it makes you feel good when you complete something, and it’s an easy way to give your brain a break. It’s just interesting to read about it in more scientific terms, and to see what therapists and doctors have to say about it.