Category Archives: FM/CFS

Homework?

My therapist wants me to start blogging again.

Which, okay. I’m a writer, and the way I used to work things out was to write about what was going on. But something happened to me a few years ago that made that outlet impossible to use properly for a few years; it basically broke my ability to journal. And yes, it had repercussions on my mental health and cascaded into a bunch of other issues in other areas of my life.

So, I am to start again.

The kids are great. HRH is loving his part-time gig with the Navy. (See, I stop blogging and things happen. HRH joined the Navy Reserve two or three years ago.) It’s so wonderful to see him excited about learning and doing stuff with his hands. He feels valued and fulfilled and we are all so happy for him.

That medical leave that started in January went on for months. It turned into a full-blown medical leave with notes from my doctor to my employers, and the book I was writing was put on hold. I worked small part-time assignments here and there, but only occasionally. The medical leave was extended three times, for a total of seven months of formal medical leave. I’m getting back into full-time now, and the publisher has already asked me to write another book, to be released before the one that I wrote a third of in January. So that book is on hold while I wrote this other one. And they have promised to work on a delivery schedule together with me and be responsive to my needs, so that is very encouraging indeed. In the meantime, one of my books was released in a new updated edition this year, and another will be released in a new edition next year, too. It floors me to go through the book community on Instagram and see my books come up over and over again in gorgeous pictures, with people raving about them.

My health is not great. This year has been awful, quite frankly, and it’s directly related to overworking last year and part of the year before. I have to limit my work hours and be very, very forgiving of myself. It’s frustrating, because I am used to producing a large amount of content in a short period of time. I can’t do that any more.

I’m still spinning and knitting. In fact, I am knitting a shawl for Rhinebeck out of my handspun, and I’m really enjoying working with it. I spun the yarn specifically for another shawl, too. The designer randomly gifted me with her pattern because it was on my wishlist, and I was so excited that I spun the yarn right away. The Rhinebeck shawl has priority at he moment because there’s a deadline, but once that’s done I”ll be knitting the other one. I have one sock for me almost complete, knitted on two circular needles and toe-up, two techniques I’ve never tried before. I also have all but the last two inches of toe on the second of a pair for HRH. Those will need to be finished, too.

I have to finish expanding the proposal for that new book now.

Not Dead; Or, Making Sure Life Signs Continue

In short… I overdid it last year.

I wrote two new books for publication in the first six months. Also during that time I expanded a previously written book by at least 25%, a lot of reference material for which didn’t really exist yet. Over the rest of the year, I wrote the second half of my first video game script plus the accompanying in-game documentation. I revised two — no, three — previously published books for rerelease. And I wrote an issue of a collectible magazine every two weeks, all year long.

I was tired, and things were getting harder, and there were kid things going on at the same time. And about a month ago, I realized that if I didn’t do something, things were going to go Very Badly, Very Rapidly.

So I reached out to the people on my local team to say that I was sorry things were falling through my fingers on our project, and, in the interest of transparency, that it would be a while before I caught up. And the next thing I knew, they’d voluntarily arranged time off for me.

I didn’t realize how bad I’d gotten until I burst into tears and sobbed hard for about ten minutes straight when the email landed in my inbox.

So I’ve taken some time off. Ideally I would have taken a full six weeks, but I was in the middle of negotiating a new book, which had a series of deadlines that needed to be met. So I took as much time as I could, thinking about the book and casually reading stuff now and then to get my brain juice flowing behind the scenes, and have started the actual writing this week. The deadlines are still close, but I’m not as stressed as I was a month ago, so it’s easier to handle them. And I have a full month to focus on just that, before I pick things up with my other project again.

Even that single month away from my desk and computer has done so much good. For the first two weeks I couldn’t even go up the stairs to my office because I had such terrible associations with the stress and overwork. The third week, I flitted up every day or so to grab something from my desk or my fibre stash then went right back downstairs, or played cello for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. The fourth week, I sat down and checked email at the desktop, tidied my desk, and spent time in my rocking chair spinning some lovely fibre, just getting used to the space again.

During my stress leave, I spun yarn, read actual books, played mindless games on my phone, binged podcasts, and napped. I did nowhere near enough yoga. Sometimes I just cuddled with my cats, or brought the rabbit out and watched him run around the living room. I gave my mind a lot of time to heal and didn’t feel guilty about it.

I’m easing back into the saddle cautiously. I’m optimistic.

Adjusting

Sparky’s beginner watercraft course is from 10 to 12 every weekday in Lachine. This means I don’t have time to come home again after dropping him
off. Well, I could, I suppose, but then I’d have to turn around and drive back. (Why Lachine when we live on the South Shore? Because they were the cheapest and have a terrific reputation.)

Yesterday I tried to set up in a cafe with my laptop to work. I had great hopes for this. People seem to have excellent success with this sort of thing, and it was my fervent hope that I could get work done while I had to be out there.

Reader, it did not go well.

I’d forgotten that standard chairs are all wrong for me. They’re terrible for my back, and cafe tables are all the wrong heights for typing. My energy was taken up feeling that my feet weren’t flat on the ground like they’re supposed to be for stability, my lower back was tipped backward and stressed the exact way every osteopath has told me *not* to do, the table was too high, my wrists were super awkwardly angled over the uncomfortably high keyboard. More energy was used trying to ignore the music being piped in despite having earphones and my own music, the unfamiliar food smells, the *people* all around… it was kind of nightmarish. I was very glad Sparky had an amazing morning. But if I kept doing this, I would accomplish nada this week because I would be coming home exhausted. I got next to nothing done in the cafe, and was so drained when I got home that I couldn’t work then either, let alone after picking Owlet up from camp. It was, in short, a disaster, and not sustainable.

I decided that today would be different. Last night I pulled out and prepped some SweetGeorgia BFL (Songbird! I’m planning a two-ply: one ply spun end to end, the other ply a four-repeat fractal!) and packed my spinning box. I would bring my small spinning wheel and sit by the water, spinning and listening to an audiobook.

My view across to the canoe club.

Finn! One of my comfort fibres to spin.

And that is exactly what I did. Apart from a tiny bit of social anxiety about spinning in public and possibly having to field people, it was lovely. I sat on a park bench that was the perfect height, right by the water next to an oak tree that gave me dappled shade. There was a perfect breeze. I listened to Pride & Prejudice. I finished the Finn I was spinning to make up the missing yardage for a cardigan (it’s only two or three years after I spun all the rest of the yarn; maybe I’ll even knit the sweater someday) then started the Songbird after sampling to see what whorl and drive and braking methods I wanted to use. I have come home relaxed, and psyched to attack the project I’m working on that’s due by the end of the week.

It’s such a major shift from yesterday that I’m really excited about this plan, and I intend to do this every day that it’s nice enough to be outside. Adjusting my expectations of when to sink energy into working for the maximum output has made an enormous difference.

I had forgotten how much I love the sound of water against jetties, buoys, and the sides of boats, and the smell of the lake, too. Part of me is already hoping Sparky will do this again next year.

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.